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  #1341  
Old 04-09-2012, 02:21 AM
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Default Apr. 9

Hope For A “Mudder”

April 9, 2012

Read: James 1:2-4

Tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. —Romans 5:3-4

When my husband built a covered porch on the front of our house, he anticipated that someday a bird might try to build a nest there. So he built the top of the corner post on a slant. Later we laughed smugly when we saw robins trying their best to claim squatting rights to a new home. Piles of grass on the porch revealed their wasted efforts. But after 2 days of steady rain, we saw that a nest had indeed appeared in the very spot we thought was impossible. Because of the rain, Mrs. Robin was able to mix up a batch of mud mortar. Weaving it with twigs and grass, our determined feathered friend had built herself a new nest. She had persevered.

Perseverance is inspiring! Trying to live a Christ-honoring life while experiencing hardship can leave us frustrated and discouraged. But when we depend on God to help us through our difficulties, we are empowered to keep going even when we can’t always see the resolution of our problems. Galatians 6:9 reminds us not to grow “weary while doing good” and encourages us not to give up.

Is our loving God using a seemingly insurmountable challenge in your life to produce perseverance? Let Him produce in you character, and through character, hope (Rom. 5:3-4).
When trials intrude to slow down your life,
It would be easy for you to give in;
But by perseverance you’ll overcome strife,
So just keep on plodding—with Christ you can win. —Branon
When the world says, “Give up,” hope whispers, “Try it one more time!”
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"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"
-Colossians 3:23

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  #1342  
Old 04-10-2012, 01:27 AM
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Default Apr. 10

The Power Of Soft Answers

April 10, 2012

Read: Proverbs 15:1-4

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. —Proverbs 15:1

My car broke down in a tunnel during rush hour in downtown Boston. Angry drivers expressed their frustration as they struggled past me. Eventually, the car was towed to a station for repairs. Later it broke down again, stranding me along the Interstate at 2 a.m. Back to the shop it went.

Unfortunately, the repair shop also doubled as a parking lot during Red Sox baseball games. When I arrived after work the next day to pick up my car, it was hemmed in by 30 other vehicles!

Let’s just say I was less than Christlike in my initial reaction. I ranted and raved, and then, realizing it was only making them less willing to help me at the close of their day, I decided to give up. I stormed toward the glass doors and struggled to get them open. My anger increased when the station workers laughed at me.

I had barely made it out when I realized how unlike Christ I’d been. Chastened, I rapped on the locked doors and mouthed “I’m sorry” to the staff inside. They were stunned! They let me back in, and I meekly told them that Christians shouldn’t behave as I had. Minutes later, they were shifting cars to free up mine. I learned the truth that soft rather than harsh words can change circumstances (Prov. 15:1).
O may I find in anger’s grip
The strength to temper tongue and lip;
But failing that, may God grant me
The courage for apology. —Kilgore
A soft answer has often been
the means of breaking a hard heart.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1343  
Old 04-11-2012, 01:36 AM
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Default Apr. 11

Open Doors

April 11, 2012

Read: 1 Corinthians 16:1-12

For a great and effective door has opened to me. —1 Corinthians 16:9

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) wrote: “If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but . . . for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible.”

The apostle Paul saw some great ministry possibilities in his life situations. He used the open doors God provided to witness for Christ. When he was arrested in Jerusalem and appeared before Governor Felix, he used the opportunity to proclaim the gospel (Acts 24:24). While he and Silas were in prison, they shared the gospel with the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:25-34). And later Paul used his imprisonment in Rome as an opportunity to encourage the Philippian believers in their faith (Phil. 1:12-18).

In writing to the church at Corinth, Paul told the believers he wanted to visit and spend some time with them, but that he needed to stay in Ephesus because of an opportunity for ministry: “I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me” (1 Cor. 16:8-9). And Paul also involved others by asking them to pray for open doors so he could speak clearly about Christ (Col. 4:3).

Ask God to show you possible open doors of service. You might be surprised at what you see.
Jesus said to one and all:
“Take your cross and follow Me.”
When you sense the Spirit’s call,
Seize the opportunity! —Hess
God writes opportunity on one side of the door and responsibility on the other.
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"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"
-Colossians 3:23

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  #1344  
Old 04-12-2012, 02:32 AM
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Default Apr. 12

Awake With His Word

April 12, 2012

Read: Psalm 119:145-152

I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your Word. —Psalm 119:147

My eyes fluttered open, but the room was still dark. It was too early to get up. I sighed, adjusted my pillow, and hoped for sleep. Unfortunately, a lengthy to-do list bombarded my brain. I needed to buy groceries, deliver a meal to a friend, answer e-mail, schedule a doctor’s appointment . . . .

If you’ve ever been overwhelmed and worried, you know how it feels to stare at the ceiling when you should be sleeping. The writer of Psalm 119 was no stranger to this experience. He wrote, “I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your Word” (v.147).

God’s Word delivered special comfort during the psalmist’s sleepless nights. Although he couldn’t make his problems disappear, he said, “My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your Word” (v.148). At night he reviewed God’s Word over and over in his mind. He concentrated on Scripture rather than his concerns. This practice allowed him to proclaim, “Oh, how I love Your law!” (v.97).

When worry wakes you up, remember, “The Word of God is living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12). Select a passage and mull it over. Our cares cannot compete with God’s Word!
If your soul is parched and thirsty
And you feel weighed down by care,
Go to God’s Word for refreshment—
You’ll find strength and comfort there. —Sper
Only God can still our hearts and quiet our minds.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1345  
Old 04-13-2012, 12:01 AM
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Default Apr. 13

When The Journey Gets Tough

April 13, 2012

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:6-11

We should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. —2 Corinthians 1:9

In August 2009, Blair and Ronna Martin lost their energetic 9-year-old son Matti when he was dragged to his death by a family cow. I had a chance to meet this Kenai, Alaska, family and share in their grief. And I know how tough this tragedy has been for them.

I also know that they are seeking God’s care and comfort for their pain. An observation made by Matti’s mom is valuable for anyone walking through one of life’s valleys. During one of her down times, Ronna was reading 2 Corinthians 1:9, which says that “we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.” She felt as if Jesus were telling her, “Ronna, I know the journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.”

When the journey gets too tough to navigate, 2 Corinthians 1:9 is a reminder to us that we don’t travel alone. We have the help of the One who showed us His power in the resurrection, and who will demonstrate His power again when He raises believing loved ones of all generations to eternal life. “My strength and my hope have to be in Christ alone,” Ronna said. That’s a truth we all need as we travel the journey God has for us.
When life’s journey gets so difficult
That it feels too much to bear,
Just remember, we don’t walk alone—
Our almighty God is there. —Sper
The storms of life remind us to take shelter
in the loving arms of our Savior.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1346  
Old 04-14-2012, 01:43 AM
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Default Apr. 14

Stick Together

April 14, 2012

Read: Ephesians 4:1-16

The whole body, joined and knit together . . . , causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. —Ephesians 4:16

For years, scientists have wondered how fire ants, whose bodies are denser than water, can survive floods that should destroy them. How do entire colonies form themselves into life rafts that can float for weeks? A Los Angeles Times article explained that engineers from the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that tiny hairs on the ants’ bodies trap air bubbles. This enables thousands of the insects, “which flounder and struggle in the water as individuals,” to ride out the flood when they cling together.

The New Testament speaks often of our need to be connected to other followers of Christ in order to survive and grow spiritually. In Ephesians 4, Paul wrote, “We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” He added, “But, speaking the truth in love, may [we] grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (vv.14-16).

Alone, we sink; but clinging and growing together in the Lord, we can ride out every storm.

Let’s stick together!
We can’t avoid the tossing storms of life,
And we survive while carried to and fro;
We’ll stick together as we face the strife,
And in God’s strength the victory we shall know. —Hess
Christians stand strong when they stand together.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1347  
Old 04-15-2012, 03:32 AM
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Default Apr. 15

Stop And See

April 15, 2012

Read: 1 Kings 19:1-12

Be still, and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10

When my ophthalmologist says, “Be still,” I am still. I don’t argue. I don’t become defiant. I don’t stay busy behind his back. Why? Because he is a renowned eye surgeon who is trying to preserve my sight, and he needs my cooperation. I would be foolish to ignore his instructions.

So why am I not as cooperative in matters of spiritual stillness? God considers rest so important that He built it into the rhythm of life. Without rest we can’t see clearly; we begin to see ourselves as more important than we are.

After Elijah’s stressful confrontation with Ahab and Jezebel, he ran himself into a state of exhaustion. God sent an angel to care for him. During a time of stillness, “the word of the Lord came to him” (1 Kings 19:9). Elijah thought he alone was doing God’s work. He had been so zealous that he didn’t know that 7,000 others hadn’t bowed to Baal (v.18).

Some of us may fear what will happen if we sit still and stop working. But something worse happens when we refuse to rest. Without rest we cannot be spiritually or physically healthy. God heals while we rest.

Just as I needed stillness so that my eye could heal, we all need stillness so that God can keep our spiritual vision clear.
Christ never asks of us such busy labor
That leaves no time for resting at His feet.
The waiting attitude of expectation,
He often counts a service most complete. —Anon.
Our greatest strength may be our ability
to stand still and trust God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1348  
Old 04-16-2012, 01:42 AM
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Default Apr. 16

A Heart Of Gratitude

April 16, 2012

Read: Psalm 19:1-6

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. —Psalm 19:1

My boyhood hero was American frontiersman Davy Crockett. In the book David Crockett: His Life and Adventures, Davy encounters a beautiful sight that causes him to launch into praise to the Creator. The writer describes it this way: “Just beyond the grove there was another expanse of treeless prairie, so rich, so beautiful, so brilliant with flowers, that even Colonel Crockett, all unaccustomed as he was to the devotional mood, reined in his horse, and gazing entranced upon the landscape, exclaimed, ‘O God, what a world of beauty hast Thou made for man! And yet how poorly does he requite Thee for it! He does not even repay Thee with gratitude.’” Crockett recognized that the Creator’s handiwork demands a response of thankfulness—a response that is often neglected or ignored.

The psalmist wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). God’s handiwork is a spectacle that, rightly understood, should not only take our breath away but should inspire us to worship and praise our God as it did the psalmist.

Davy Crockett was right—encountering the wonders of God’s creation should inspire, at the least, a heart of gratitude. Are we grateful?
Across the expanse God stretched out His creation—
Established the stars, gave the earth its foundation;
His strength claims our worship, His power our fear;
Yet Calvary’s cross sets us free to draw near. —Gustafson
God’s glory shines through His creation.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1349  
Old 04-17-2012, 01:44 AM
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Default Apr. 17

Who Gets The Credit?

April 17, 2012

Read: Philippians 3:1-11

What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. —Philippians 3:7

I’ve always been puzzled by the nursery rhyme “Little Jack Horner”: Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, eating a Christmas pie; he put in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, and said, “What a good boy am I!”

It seems rather odd that Jack is sitting in the corner with his plum- covered thumb held high, and saying, “What a good boy am I!” It’s usually bad boys who are sent to the corner for punishment. It seems he’s trying to draw unwarranted attention to himself and is wanting credit for the pie.

We naturally want to draw attention to ourselves, to show off our accomplishments and abilities. Sometimes we think that life is all about us. But living like that is self-delusion at its worst. In reality, our sinfulness has put us “in the corner,” from God’s point of view. Thankfully, Paul’s testimony gives us the right perspective. In spite of his impressive credentials, he gladly surrendered to the supremacy of Jesus: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7). Paul admitted that in order to “gain Christ” (v.8), he had to lay all of his trophies down.

So, give Jesus Christ the braggin’ rights of your life. Or, as Paul put it, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31)—not in yourself!
Lord, You are the One who is high and lofty.
I give myself today to the purpose of pointing
others to You, for who You are and what You do.
You deserve all praise.
We are nothing without Jesus, so give Him the credit.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1350  
Old 04-18-2012, 02:27 AM
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Default Apr. 18

Beautiful Scars

April 18, 2012

Read: Luke 7:36-49

Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. —Luke 7:47

A number of years ago I was hiking along the Salmon River and came across a grove of pine trees that had been partially stripped of their bark. I knew from a friend who is a forester that the Native Americans who hunted this area long ago had peeled the outer bark and harvested the underlying layer for chewing gum. Some of the scars were disfiguring, but others, filled with crystallized sap and burnished by wind and weather, had been transformed into patterns of rare beauty.

So it is with our transgressions. We may be scarred by the sins of the past. But those sins, repented of and brought to Jesus for His forgiveness, can leave behind marks of beauty.

Some people, having tasted the bitterness of sin, now loathe it. They hate evil and love righteousness. Theirs is the beauty of holiness.

Others, knowing how far they fall short (Rom. 3:23), have tender hearts toward others. They rise up with understanding, compassion, and kindness when others fail. Theirs is the beauty of humility.

Finally, when acts of sin are freely and thoroughly forgiven it leads to intimacy with the One who has shown mercy. Such sinners love much for much has been forgiven (Luke 7:47). Theirs is the beauty of love.
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me—
All His wonderful passion and purity!
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine,
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. —Orsborn
A forgiven heart is the fountain of beauty.
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-Colossians 3:23

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