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  #1301  
Old 02-25-2012, 01:34 PM
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Default Feb. 25

Let Down Your Hair

February 25, 2012

Read: John 12:1-8

Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. —John 12:3

Shortly before Jesus was crucified, a woman named Mary poured a bottle of expensive perfume on His feet. Then, in what may have been an even more daring act, she wiped His feet with her hair (John 12:3). Not only did Mary sacrifice what may have been her life’s savings, she also sacrificed her reputation. In first-century Middle Eastern culture, respectable women never let down their hair in public. But true worship is not concerned about what others think of us (2 Sam. 6:21-22). To worship Jesus, Mary was willing to be thought of as immodest, perhaps even immoral.

Some of us may feel pressured to be perfect when we go to church so that people will think well of us. Metaphorically speaking, we work hard to make sure we have every hair in place. But a healthy church is a place where we can let down our hair and not hide our flaws behind a façade of perfection. In church, we should be able to reveal our weaknesses to find strength rather than conceal our faults to appear strong.

Worship doesn’t involve behaving as if nothing is wrong; it’s making sure everything is right—right with God and with one another. When our greatest fear is letting down our hair, perhaps our greatest sin is keeping it up.
Whenever we gather to worship Let’s not hide behind a façade; Instead, let’s be open and honest With others and also with God. —Sper
Our worship is right only when we are right with God and with others.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1302  
Old 02-26-2012, 04:52 AM
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Default Feb. 26

The Devil In Court

February 26, 2012

Read: Zechariah 3:1-5

I have removed your iniquity from you. —Zechariah 3:4

The Devil and Daniel Webster” is a short story by Stephen Vincent Benet. In it, Jabez Stone, a New England farmer, has such “bad luck” that he sells his soul to the devil to become prosperous. Eventually, the devil comes to collect Jabez’s debt. But the eminent lawyer Daniel Webster is called in to defend him. Through a skillful series of arguments, Webster wins the case against the devil, and Jabez is saved from perdition.

Of course, this tale is only fiction. But the Bible records a vision in which Satan accuses a believer before the Divine Judge. Joshua, a high priest, stands before God. As a picture of his personal sin and guilt, the priest is dressed in filthy clothing. Nearby, Satan accuses Joshua. But the Angel of the Lord rebukes him and says to Joshua: “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes” (Zech. 3:4).

Only God can make a sinner acceptable to Him. And the New Testament tells us how: “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

Do you feel unworthy to enter the presence of God? Remember, as Christians, our Savior’s blood has cleansed us, and Christ Himself represents us.
The power of God can turn a heart From evil and the power of sin; The love of God can change a life And make it new and cleansed within. —Fasick
Justification means our guilt gone, Christ’s righteousness given.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1303  
Old 02-27-2012, 02:19 AM
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Default Feb. 27

Not My Kind

February 27, 2012

Read: Galatians 3:19-29

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. —Galatians 3:28

In the Star Wars trilogy there’s a scene that reminds me of some church people I know. At an establishment somewhere in a remote corner of the galaxy, grotesque-looking creatures socialize over food and music. When Luke Skywalker enters with his two droids, C3PO and R2D2 (who are more “normal” than anyone else there), he is surprisingly turned away with a curt rebuff: “We don’t serve their kind here!”

That strange scene captures the malady that we all struggle with in our relationships here on planet Earth. We are always more comfortable with people who are just like us. But think of where you would be if Jesus had felt that way. He was divine, perfect in every way, which makes Him far different from us. Yet He came to dwell among us and to die for us.

Those of us who follow Christ shouldn’t have “they’re not my kind” in our vocabulary. As Paul reminds us, in Him “there is neither Jew nor Greek, . . . slave nor free, . . . male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). So, whether others are different in attitude, perspective, race, class, political slant, or social standing, it should make no difference to those of us who call ourselves by Jesus’ name.

Find someone who is not your kind and share Jesus’ love with them today!
I pray, O Lord, reveal to me If I have caused disunity, For You would have Your children one In praise and love for Your dear Son. —Branon
Love your neighbor— even if they aren’t your kind!
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  #1304  
Old 02-28-2012, 03:01 AM
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Default Feb. 28

A Man Of Warmth And Wisdom

February 28, 2012

Read: Proverbs 15:21-33

A word spoken in due season, how good it is! —Proverbs 15:23

When Dr. Vernon Grounds, former president and chancellor of Denver Seminary, went to be with the Lord at age 96, tributes and remembrances poured in from former students, colleagues, and friends. Almost everyone recalled a time when Dr. Grounds had personally encouraged them through his teaching, his counsel, or simply his warm smile. He believed in the value of training pastors, teachers, and counselors who had a vital relationship with Christ and a willingness to serve others.

A vivid portrait of Vernon Grounds is seen in a selection of verses from Proverbs 15: “A man of understanding walks uprightly” (v.21). “A word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (v.23). “The words of the pure are pleasant” (v.26). “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer” (v.28). “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom” (v.33).

Dr. Grounds’ counsel grew out of his character, and his wisdom came from God. The warmth of his life was fired by his purity of heart. The result is a model for us from the Word of God and the example of a man who humbly followed his Savior.

Vernon Grounds ran well and finished his race. May his example of wise and compassionate living challenge us as we continue to run.
Life’s truest heroes never carve their name On marbled columns built for their acclaim; They build instead a legacy that springs From faithful service to the King of kings. —Gustafson
A good leader is one who knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way.
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  #1305  
Old 02-29-2012, 03:40 AM
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Default Feb. 29

How To Get A New Heart

February 29, 2012

Read: Ezekiel 36:26-31

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. —Ezekiel 36:26
Bible in a Year:

A friend who is a heart transplant cardiologist has an appreciation of Ezekiel 36:26 that not many of us can understand. Mike manages the pre-operation and post-operation care for heart-transplant patients. He’s often in the operating room as surgeons remove diseased, discolored hearts and replace them with vibrant, pink “new” donor hearts.

Mike explains that the process for selecting who gets a “new” physical heart is similar to who can get a “new heart” from God (Ezek. 36:26). In both cases, need alone is the criterion.

Ezekiel’s mention of the people of Israel someday getting a “new heart” is a foreshadowing of the change that takes place at salvation. Ephesians 4:24 and 2 Corinthians 5:17 refer to it as “new man” and “new creation.” For the Israelites of Ezekiel’s day and for those of us living today, only one criterion must be met for us to acquire a “transplant.” We must need it. It matters not whether we’re rich or poor, respected or scorned. Citizenship, social status, and ethnicity are inconsequential. If we need a new heart from God, we can have one through faith in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

What indicates that need? As sinners, all of us need a new heart. Have you had a spiritual heart transplant?
Christ asks you for nothing— Come just as you are; Come sinful, come guilty, Come give Him your heart. —Anon.
We need more than a new start— we need a new heart!
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  #1306  
Old 03-01-2012, 02:12 AM
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Default Mar. 1

Can I Trust You?

March 1, 2012

Read: Joshua 9:1-16

The Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. —1 Chronicles 28:9

According to lie-detection experts, “Our natural tendency is to trust people.” However, not everyone is trustworthy all the time. Signs that someone may be lying include fidgeting, lack of eye contact, and noticeable pauses in speaking. Even with these clues, experts warn that it is still quite tough to tell deceivers from honest people.

Joshua needed to know if he could trust the Gibeonites. When they discovered that God wanted him to get rid of some neighboring nations (Josh. 9:24), they pretended to be from a faraway land. They arrived in worn-out tunics and patched sandals, claiming, “Our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey” (v.13). The Israelites were suspicious (v.7), but they “did not ask counsel of the Lord” (v.14); and Joshua unwisely made a peace treaty with the deceivers.

Many want to gain our trust: salespeople, financial advisors, or estranged family members. If we wonder: “Can I trust you?” we shouldn’t decide quickly, based only on what seems right to us. It’s better to seek counsel from God’s Word (Ps. 119:105), godly people (Prov. 11:14), and God Himself (James 1:5). Wisdom from above will help us decide who to trust.
Protect us from deceivers, Lord,
Who lie and plot to take
Advantage of us and confuse
Decisions we must make. —Sper
A desire for discernment is God’s call to prayer.
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  #1307  
Old 03-02-2012, 04:03 AM
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Default Mar. 2

I’m Good

March 2, 2012

Read: Matthew 19:16-26

[Jesus said,] “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” —Matthew 19:17

When someone asks, “How are you?” it has become common for the response to be, “I’m good.” When we say this, we are really saying, “I’m well” or “I’m doing fine,” speaking of our general well-being and not our character. I have answered with that response more times than I can count, but lately it has begun to bother me. Because, whether we realize it or not, we are saying something specific when we use the word good.

Jesus once encountered a wealthy young man who called Him “Good Teacher” (Matt. 19:16). The young man was right, for Jesus is both good (completely perfect) and the Teacher. He is the only One who can truly make that claim.

The Lord, however, challenged the man to think about what he was saying in using that term good. “So He said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments’” (v.17). Jesus wanted the man to understand that the assertion he was making needed to be taken seriously. Jesus can be called “good” because He is God.

Next time someone asks you, “How are you?” it is great to be able to say, “I’m well.” But remember, only Jesus is good.
Eternal with the Father, One,
Is Jesus Christ, His own dear Son;
In Him God’s fullness we can see,
For Jesus Christ is deity. —D. De Haan
God is great and God is good, but without Him we are neither.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1308  
Old 03-03-2012, 03:58 AM
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Default Mar. 3

Caricature God

March 3, 2012

Read: Exodus 34:1-9

The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty. —Numbers 14:18

Caricature artists set up their easels in public places and draw pictures of people who are willing to pay a modest price for a humorous image of themselves. Their drawings amuse us because they exaggerate one or more of our physical features in a way that is recognizable but funny.

Caricatures of God, on the other hand, are not funny. Exaggerating one of His attributes presents a distorted view that people easily dismiss. Like a caricature, a distorted view of God is not taken seriously. Those who see God portrayed only as an angry and demanding judge are easily lured away by someone who emphasizes mercy. Those who see God as a kindhearted grandfather will reject that image when they need justice. Those who see God as an intellectual idea rather than a living, loving being eventually find other ideas more appealing. Those who see God as a best friend often leave Him behind when they find human friends who are more to their liking.

God declares Himself to be merciful and gracious, but also just in punishing the guilty (Ex. 34:6-7).

As we put our faith into action, we need to avoid portraying God as having only our favorite attributes. We must worship all of God, not just what we like.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—
Oh, Thou blessed Trinity:
One in essence, yet three persons—
Thou, our God, we worship Thee. —D. De Haan
All-powerful, merciful, wise, and just is the God in whom we trust.
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  #1309  
Old 03-04-2012, 03:16 AM
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Default Mar. 4

In This Very Room

March 4, 2012

Read: John 20:19-29

Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” —John 20:26

At our church we often sing the beautiful song by Ron and Carol Harris: “In This Very Room.” It begins, “In this very room there’s quite enough love for one like me.” This song reminds me that although there is great encouragement in gathering with other Christians for worship, the important thing is that Christ is present. But it goes beyond that. He is with us not just at church but in every room of our lives.

I wonder where you’re reading this—a kitchen, a coffee shop, a prison cell, a military post? Perhaps you’re in a hospital or a courtroom. It may be a room that reflects everything that’s right in your life or a place that represents all that’s wrong. And you might be afraid.

In the aftermath of the awful reality of Jesus’ crucifixion, His followers met in a familiar room. John records that “when the doors were shut [locked] where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (John 20:19). A week later it happened again when Jesus entered through locked doors to bring peace through His presence (vv.26-29).

Wherever you are today, “There’s quite enough hope and quite enough power to chase away any gloom, for Jesus, Lord Jesus, is in this very room.”
When in the midst of life with its problems,
Bent with our toil and burdens we bear;
Wonderful thought and deep consolation:
Jesus is always there. —Lillenas
Our loving God is always near—forever by our side.
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  #1310  
Old 03-05-2012, 03:31 AM
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Default Mar. 5

The Dalton Gang

March 5, 2012

Read: Proverbs 4:10-19

He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death. —James 5:20

The Dalton brothers were infamous outlaws during the late 1800s in the US. They started out on the right side of the law as officers. But then they followed a gradual descent into crime and became known for bank and train robberies. Their day of reckoning came when they tried to hold up two banks at once. Hearing of the robberies, the townspeople armed themselves and began to fire on the Dalton Gang. When the smoke cleared, Emmett Dalton was the sole survivor.

After serving 15 years in the penitentiary, Emmett was pardoned and set free. While in prison, he had come to see the error of his ways. So when he was released, he wanted to deter young people from a life of crime. Drawing from his own experience, Emmett wrote and starred in a film about the Dalton Gang in which he showed the folly of being an outlaw. In many ways, Emmett’s film was telling others: “Do not enter the path of the wicked” (Prov. 4:14).

In a similar way, when we have sinned but have genuinely repented and experienced God’s forgiveness, we can tell our own story. We can encourage others not to make the same mistakes we have made. James wrote, “He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death” (5:20).
If others learn from our mistakes, And it saves them from the pain That we ourselves experienced— Then it wasn’t all in vain. —Sper
When we learn from our mistakes, we are less likely to repeat them.
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