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  #1331  
Old 03-30-2012, 02:00 AM
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Default Mar. 30

Who Do We See?

March 30, 2012

Read: Luke 19:1-10

The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. —Luke 19:10

For many years, Allen Funt’s Candid Camera television program delighted viewers by using a hidden camera to catch the often hilarious reactions of ordinary people to unexpected situations. Their approach, according to his son Peter was: “We believe people are wonderful, and we’re out to confirm it.” Peter feels the perspective of some other similar shows is that “people are stupid, and we’re going to find ways to underscore that.”

His comments point out that our view of people determines how we treat them.

The citizens of Jericho were offended when Jesus went to the home of Zacchaeus the tax collector. “When they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner’” (Luke 19:7). Yet, when Zacchaeus had a deep change of heart (v.8), Jesus told him, “Today salvation has come to this house . . . for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (vv.9-10).

My friend Bob Horner says, “When we see people as losers, we treat them with contempt. When we see them as lost, we treat them with compassion.”

Jesus doesn’t see losers, only lost people He loves. When we look at others, who do we see?
Oh, give me, Lord, Your love for souls,
For lost and wandering sheep,
That I may see the multitudes
And weep as You did weep. —Harrison
Those who have been found should seek the lost.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1332  
Old 03-31-2012, 02:23 AM
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Default Mar. 31

Be Prepared

March 31, 2012

Read: Romans 5:1-11

Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. —Romans 5:9

Just as her friends were doing, my daughter Melissa was busily preparing for adulthood. At school, she was getting ready for college by taking the right courses and had signed up for the ACT college entrance test.

Outside of class, Melissa was learning the socialization skills it takes to get along with people by spending time with friends, classmates, and teammates. At her job, she was learning the relational skills needed for a future career of work. At home, Mell was preparing for future family life by experiencing the way a Christian family would interact.

Getting ready for life as an adult takes work, and Melissa was making good progress.

But none of that preparation was what she would need. In 2002, when she died in a car accident at age 17, the only preparation that mattered was her readiness for heaven.

When the truest test of preparedness came so suddenly on that beautiful June evening—when eternity’s door opened for Melissa—she was prepared. She had put her faith in Jesus and trusted His sacrifice on the cross for her sins (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8-9).

When she faced the ultimate test of being prepared, Melissa was ready. Are you?
God’s time is now, for the days fly fast,
And swiftly the seasons roll;
Today is yours, it may be your last;
Choose life for your priceless soul! —Fithian
If death comes today, will you be prepared to meet God?
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1333  
Old 04-01-2012, 01:51 AM
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Default Apr. 1

A New View Of Change

April 1, 2012

Read: John 10:7-18

I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep. —John 10:14

People hate change, or so I hear. But the change we generally resist is the kind that we think will make our situation worse rather than better. We eagerly change jobs when it means higher pay and more influence. We happily move to a bigger house in a better neighborhood. So it’s not change in general that we hate; it’s change that involves loss—sometimes physical; other times emotional or psychological.

Change is both inevitable and necessary. If everything stays the same, no one is growing. But we have a Shepherd who guides us through change and leads us to a better place. Getting there may be difficult, as it was for the Israelites in reaching the Promised Land. They grumbled when their situation got worse rather than better (Ex. 15:24; Num. 14:2). But we have the example of Jesus. In less than a week, He went from being the leader of many to being abandoned by all. Between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, the Good Shepherd became the Passover Lamb. Because Christ willingly went through suffering, God elevated Him to the highest place (John 10:11; Phil. 2:8-9).

Not all change is pleasant, but when we’re being led to a better place by Someone who loves us, we don’t need to fear it.
I know not, but God knows;
Oh, blessed rest from fear!
All my unfolding days
To Him are plain and clear. —Flint
Faith in Christ will keep us steady in the stormy sea of change.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1334  
Old 04-02-2012, 02:35 AM
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Default Apr. 2

Ordinary Versus Extraordinary

April 2, 2012

Read: Romans 8:12-26

You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” —Romans 8:15

For more than a century, the pinnacle of golf has been to score 59—a score that had been recorded only three times in PGA Tour history before 2010. Then, in 2010, Paul Goydos scored a 59—only to be equaled a month later by Stuart Appleby’s 59. Consequently, some sportswriters speculated that the most coveted achievement in golf was now becoming commonplace! It’s amazing to see two 59s in the same season, but it would be a mistake to begin to view this as ordinary.

For those who follow Jesus Christ, it is also a mistake to view the remarkable as ordinary. Think about prayer for instance. At any moment we can talk to the Creator God who spoke the universe into existence! Not only are we welcomed into His presence, but we are invited to enter boldly: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

There is nothing ordinary about access to God—yet sometimes we take this privilege for granted. He is almighty God, but He is also our Father who loves us and allows us to call on Him at any moment of any day. Now that’s extraordinary!
Our prayers ascend to heaven’s throne
Regardless of the form we use;
Our Father always hears His own
Regardless of the words we choose. —D. De Haan
God is always available to hear the prayers of His children.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1335  
Old 04-03-2012, 12:58 AM
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Default Apr. 3

The Name

April 3, 2012

Read: Matthew 1:18-25

You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. —Matthew 1:21

What is it about a name that makes it so special to us? I began thinking about this after talking to a teenager as we stood outside her church in Black River, Jamaica, one Sunday morning. She asked, “Would you mention my name in Our Daily Bread?” I asked her if she had a story to tell, and she said, “No, just mention my name.”

As I thought about her request—and her name—I wondered why her parents named her “Joyeth.” Seeing the happy nature of her personality led me to conclude that if their rationale was to urge her along toward “joy” in her life, they had succeeded.

Most parents have that choice when a new baby is coming. But one baby received His name in a far different way. It wasn’t His parents’ choice that led to His moniker, and His wasn’t a name given to coax Him toward a personality trait. I’m speaking of the One whose name was provided by an angel who told His parents to “call His name Jesus” (Matt. 1:21). Why? “For He will save His people from their sins.”

No wonder His is the name above all names (Phil. 2:9). It’s a name that reveals His purpose—to provide salvation from the penalty of our sins. Jesus is indeed the name worth mentioning.
The name above all other names
Is Jesus Christ the Lord;
He came to save us from our sins
So we could be restored. —Sper
Jesus: His name and His mission are one and the same.
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  #1336  
Old 04-04-2012, 02:55 AM
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Default Apr. 4

Hawks And Lions

April 4, 2012

Read: 1 Peter 5:5-11

The devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. —1 Peter 5:8

One morning, I watched a rabbit nibble grass in my backyard. He was on the small side, with brown flecked fur and a cotton-puff tail. Suddenly, a hawk sliced through the air as fast and precise as lightning. With talons outstretched, he snatched for his prey. But the rabbit recognized the approaching danger and sped to safety, just inches ahead of the hawk.

Like the rabbit that spotted its predator and scurried away, we as Christians need to be watchful so that we can evade our enemy. “The devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Satan wants to devour us by winning us over to his ways; he does this by toying with the truth (John 8:44) and trying to deceive us (Gen. 3:1).

The devil’s schemes reflect his dishonest nature, and his tricks are meant to catch us off guard. In response, Christians should be alert and clear-headed (1 Peter 5:8). Living in this state of active readiness helps us discern false teaching (1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 1:7-11) and overcome temptation (Matt. 26:41).

Today, watch out for your spiritual predator. What kind of lies is he whispering? How is he tempting you? Resist him, and he will flee (James 4:7).
The devil is cunning, deceptive, and sly;
He’s clever; he tricks us to swallow his lie.
But his crafty methods we’re sure to discern
If we make God’s warnings our daily concern. —D. De Haan
The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.
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  #1337  
Old 04-05-2012, 12:08 AM
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Default Apr. 5

World’s Longest Table

April 5, 2012

Read: Matthew 26:26-30

I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom. —Matthew 26:29

On Sunday, July 18, 2010, one of the busiest highways in Europe became what some called “the longest table in the world.” Officials closed a 60-kilometer (37-mile) section of the A40 Autobahn in Germany’s Ruhr region so people could walk and bicycle or sit at one of 20,000 tables set up on the roadway. An estimated 2 million people came to enjoy an event the director hoped would connect people from many cultures, generations, and nations.

This event made me think of an even grander table around which believers gather to share the Lord’s Supper. During communion, we remember Jesus’ death for us as we anticipate the culmination of history at His return.

Just before Jesus was crucified, He shared the Passover meal with His disciples, telling them, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29).

The Lord’s Table unites everyone Christ has redeemed by His blood “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). One day, in a scene of reunion and joy, all who belong to Jesus will sit down together with Him at a table that will dwarf the Autobahn gathering. We joyfully anticipate sharing that table together!
Here we gather to remember,
In the breaking of the bread,
Jesus, who for us was broken,
And is now our living Head. —Anon.
Christ’s love creates unity out of diversity.
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  #1338  
Old 04-06-2012, 01:23 AM
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Default Apr. 6

No Greater Love

April 6, 2012

Read: John 15:1-13

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. —John 15:13

Bill and his wife were driving through the Rocky Mountains when a near-miss with a truck caused their car to swerve off the road and plunge into the Colorado River. After scrambling out of their sinking vehicle, they frantically treaded water in the swift current. A truckdriver, who had seen the accident, ran ahead along the shore and threw a rope to them. Bill swam behind his wife and pushed her to where she could grab the rope—and the man pulled her out. Bill, however, was carried downstream and didn’t survive. He had given his life for the woman he loved.

To give your life so another person can live is the ultimate proof of love. During the night that Jesus was betrayed, He told His disciples of His intention to give His life in exchange for mankind. He told them: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). And then He set the ultimate example of self-sacrifice by going to the cross.

Have you ever given any thought to the fact that Jesus did that for you—that He died in your place? In so doing, He not only proved His love for you, but He also made it possible for you to be forgiven of your sins and to have an eternal home in heaven.
He who gave Himself to save me,
Now will keep me to the end;
In His care securely resting
On His promise I depend. —Bosch
Christ’s sacrifice was what God desired and our sin required.
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  #1339  
Old 04-07-2012, 02:33 AM
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Default Apr. 7

Too Helpful?

April 7, 2012

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me. —Psalm 139:23-24

Is it possible to be too helpful? Can our helpfulness actually make life more difficult for others? Yes, if we’re being bothersome, intrusive, smothering, manipulative, or controlling. If the help we are giving is driven only by our own anxiety, we may be just trying to help ourselves.

How then can we know if our heart and acts of service are truly symbolic of God’s unconditional love? How can we love from pure motives? (Prov. 16:2; 21:2; 1 Cor. 4:5).

In prayer we can ask God to show us any way we are hurting or hindering others (Ps. 139:23-24). We can ask God to help us show love that “suffers long and is kind; . . . is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil” (1 Cor. 13:4-5).

Our efforts to help others, especially those we love the most, will never be completely free from anxiety. But we can, by God’s grace, begin to love freely with no strings attached, as God Himself loves. The test, of course, and the measure of our progress, is the way we react when our “helpfulness” is unrecognized or goes unrewarded (see Luke 14:12-14).

Lord, help us to love with pure motives and for the good of others. Help us to love unconditionally, expecting nothing in return.
Please help me, Lord, in all I do
To act and think with motives true;
And by Your love reveal to me
Those sins that only You can see. —D. De Haan
In our desire to help, let’s love with pure motives.
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  #1340  
Old 04-08-2012, 03:28 AM
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Default Apr. 8

Run To The Cross

April 8, 2012

Read: Hebrews 10:28-39

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. —Hebrews 10:31

Whenever a tsunami warning is given on the northern coastline of Maui, Hawaii, the people living in Hana rush up the side of a mountain to a high place of safety. Nearby is a tall wooden cross that was placed there many years ago by missionaries. For their physical safety, people run to the area where the cross is located.

In a similar way, all of us need a place of spiritual safety. Why? Because the Lord gives us these warnings in His Word: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). Hebrews 9:27 states: “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” We might not like to think about what the consequences of our sin will be as we face a holy God, but it’s a serious thing “to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:31).

The good news is that out of love for us, the Father has provided a place of safety! He sent His Son Jesus to die so we wouldn’t have to be separated from Him forever (Rom. 5:8-10; Col. 1:19-22).

Because of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, that place of safety is available. Have you run to the cross?
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain. —Bennard
To escape sin’s curse, run to the cross.
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