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  #1351  
Old 04-19-2012, 12:30 AM
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Default Apr. 19

God’s Unfailing Love

April 19, 2012

Read: Hosea 10:9-15

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; . . . for it is time to seek the Lord. —Hosea 10:12

The Old Testament book of Hosea is the story of God’s faithful love for His unfaithful people. In what seems strange to us, the Lord commanded Hosea to marry a woman who would break her marriage vows and bring grief to him (Hosea 1:2-3). After she deserted Hosea for other men, the Lord told him to take her back—a picture of “the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods” (3:1).

Later, Hosea was called upon to tell the Israelites that because of their rebellion against the Lord, they would be carried away into captivity by a foreign power. “Tumult shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be plundered” (10:14).

Yet in the midst of their sin and punishment, the grace of God toward His people was never exhausted. In a grace-filled exhortation, He said: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you” (10:12).

Even when we have “plowed wickedness” and “reaped iniquity” (10:13), God does not stop loving us. Whatever our situation today, we can turn to the Lord and find forgiveness to make a new start. His love never fails!
The Lord bestows unfailing love,
Forgiving when we fall
And then repent and turn to Him,
Responding to His call. —Sper
No force is greater than the power of God’s love.
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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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  #1352  
Old 04-20-2012, 03:14 AM
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Default Apr. 20

Called By A New Name

April 20, 2012

Read: John 1:35-42

When Jesus looked at him, He said, “. . . you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone). —John 1:42

In the article “Leading by Naming,” Mark Labberton wrote about the power of a name. He said: “I can still feel the impact of a musical friend who one day called me ‘musical.’ No one had ever called me that. I didn’t really play an instrument. I was no soloist. Yet . . . I instantly felt known and loved. . . . [He] noticed, validated, and appreciated something deeply true about me.”

Perhaps this is what Simon felt when Jesus renamed him. After Andrew was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, he immediately found his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus (John 1:41-42). Jesus peered into his soul and validated and appreciated something deeply true about Simon. Yes, Jesus saw the failure and impetuous nature that would get him into trouble. But more than that He saw the potential of Simon to become a leader in the church. Jesus named him Cephas—Aramaic for Peter—a rock (John 1:42; see Matt. 16:18).

And so it is with us. God sees our pride, anger, and lack of love for others, but He also knows who we are in Christ. He calls us justified and reconciled (Rom. 5:9-10); forgiven, holy, and beloved (Col. 2:13; 3:12); chosen and faithful (Rev. 17:14). Remember how God sees you and seek to let that define who you are.
I am so glad for the day that I came
Seeking relief for my soul;
Jesus the Savior gave me my new name;
Now by His grace I’m made whole. —Hess
No one can steal your identity in Christ.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1353  
Old 04-21-2012, 01:10 AM
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Default Apr. 21

Investment Advice

April 21, 2012

Read: 2 Peter 1:1-11

If these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. —2 Peter 1:8

“I want to help you invest wisely in your future.” That’s what the financial advisor said as he began his talk about investing in 401(k)s and retirement funds. He wanted his listeners to continue putting money in the stock market during all the ups and downs of the economy because historically a good return will eventually occur.

God wants us to invest wisely in our spiritual future as well. Through the ups and downs of life’s circumstances we should continually invest in a “spiritual account”: our character. The apostle Peter tells us to be diligent about character development (2 Peter 1:5-11). After we trust in Christ for salvation, we are to invest these qualities into our character: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

The future returns on our investment in character will be godliness (vv.5-7), fruitfulness in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (v.8), assurance of our calling (v.9), and victory over sin (v.10).

Investing money in retirement funds can be profitable, but investing in our spiritual lives offers the best kind of return for our future!
Let us grow up into Christ,
Claiming His life and its powers—
The triumphs of grace in the heavenly place
That our conquering Lord has made ours. —Flint
Now is the time to invest in eternity.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1354  
Old 04-22-2012, 03:50 AM
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Default Apr. 22

Undiscovered Country

April 22, 2012

Read: 2 Timothy 3:14-17

The Word of God is living and powerful. —Hebrews 4:12

I studied the map as my husband and I drove up the east coast of Virginia. We were looking for any road that would take us to the seashore. Finally, I found one and we turned toward the sun.

In only a few minutes, we were laughing in delight when—just before the seashore—we happened upon a national wildlife refuge. All around us were dunes and marsh and beach grasses and an abundance of gulls, egrets, and blue herons. It was active and loud and wonderful! We had arrived at Chincoteague and Assateague Islands—famous for the annual pony swim from one island to the other. Others had realized its value and beauty long before, but to us it was undiscovered country.

The Scriptures are like “undiscovered country” to many. They have never discovered the valuable treasures found in the eternal words of the Bible. The Bible is alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, exposing our innermost thoughts and desires (Heb. 4:12). It is like a lamp to illuminate our path (Ps. 119:105), and it has been given to equip us for God’s purposes (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Open the Bible and read it so you can find these treasures. It’s time . . . to discover!
Exhaustless store of treasured gems
Within this Book I hold;
And as I read, it comes alive,
New treasures to unfold. —Mortenson
Rich treasures of God’s truth
are waiting to be discovered by you.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1355  
Old 04-23-2012, 12:15 AM
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Default Apr. 23

All Day With God

April 23, 2012

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18

Pray without ceasing. —1 Thessalonians 5:17

Brother Lawrence (1614–1691) felt intimately close to God as he humbly scrubbed pots and pans in the monastery kitchen. Certainly Brother Lawrence practiced specific times of devotional prayer. But what he found more life-transforming was prayer during the workday. In his devotional classic Practicing the Presence of God, he says, “It is a great delusion to think our times of prayer ought to differ from other times. We are as strictly obliged to cleave to God by action in the time of action as by prayer in the season of prayer.” In short, he advocated that we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).

That’s a helpful reminder, because sometimes we tend to compartmentalize our lives. Perhaps we pray only during church worship, small-group Bible study, family devotions, and personal quiet times. But what about during our workday? To pray on the job does not mean we have to fall to our knees with clasped hands and pray aloud. But it does mean that work decisions and relationships can be brought to God throughout the day.

Wherever we are and whatever we’re doing, God wants to be a part of it. When prayer enters every aspect of our lives, who knows what God might do for His glory!
Let’s always keep the prayer lines open,
Knowing God is always there;
For we upon His name may call
Anytime and anywhere. —D. De Haan
True prayer is a way of life, not an emergency detour!
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1356  
Old 04-24-2012, 01:31 AM
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Default Apr. 24

Cutting A Trail

April 24, 2012

Read: Proverbs 4:1-7

Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding. —Proverbs 4:1

The Native Americans of Michigan were the state’s first highway route engineers. With few exceptions, Michigan’s major highways follow the trails they cut through the wilderness hundreds of years before the white man came. A trail was 12-18 inches wide, and for safety the people followed single file. Then pack horses followed these trails, widening them. Later came wagons, and the trails became dirt roads and then highways.

In a similar way, Solomon followed the trail of his father and in turn paved the way for his sons and grandsons. He did this by encouraging his sons to heed his instructions just as he had followed the sound teaching of his father (Prov. 4:4-5). So this father, giving his sons good practical and spiritual counsel, was passing on what he had learned from the boys’ grandfather, David, who was called a “man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). The younger generation of believers often learns best about God from the family.

Our physical and spiritual children watch the path we’re taking. As God’s men and women, let’s make certain we cut a righteous, wise, and clear trail. Then if ongoing generations choose to follow, the trail can become a highway—an ongoing legacy to God’s glory.
Lord, as I walk my path of life,
Help my feet step straight and true;
That those who follow after me,
Will be tracking straight with You. —Egner
When we follow God, we blaze a trail
for those who would follow.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1357  
Old 04-25-2012, 01:30 AM
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Default Apr. 25

Everything Is Beautiful

April 25, 2012

Read: Joel 2:18-27

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. —Joel 2:25

The beauty of the black lacy design against the pastel purple and orange background grabbed my attention. The intricacy of the fragile pattern led me to assume that it had been created by a skilled artist. As I looked more closely at the photo, however, I saw the artist admiring his work from a corner of the photo. The “artist” was a worm, and its work of art was a partially eaten leaf.

What made the image beautiful was not the destruction of the leaf but the light glowing through the holes. As I gazed at the photo, I began thinking about lives that have been eaten by the “worms” of sin. The effects are ravaging. Sin eats away at us as we suffer the consequences of our own bad choices or those of others. We are all its victims.

But the photo also reminded me of the hope we have in God. Through the prophet Joel, God said to Israel, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). And from Isaiah we learn that the Lord appointed him to “console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes” (Isa. 61:3).

Satan does everything he can to make us ugly, but the Light of the World can make us beautiful—despite Satan’s best efforts.
Sin ravages a fruitful life
When it is not addressed;
But God restores and makes us right
Once sin has been confessed. —Sper
God doesn’t remove all of our imperfections,
but He makes us beautiful by shining through them.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1358  
Old 04-25-2012, 11:41 PM
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Default Apr. 26

True Religion

April 26, 2012

Read: James 1:19-27

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. —James 1:27

I recently saw an ad for a brand of clothing geared toward youth. It consists of blue jeans and all the accessories designed to go with them. There is nothing novel about that. What got my attention, however, was the name of this clothing line. It is called “True Religion.” That caused me to stop and think. Why was that name chosen? Am I missing some deeper significance? What is the connection between a brand of jeans and true religion? What do they mean by it? My musings left me with questions for which I had no answers.

I am thankful that the book of James is clear when describing true religion or true faith: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (1:27). That is refreshing. “True religion”—genuine faith—is an expression of how we relate to our God. One evidence of our new identity in Christ is the way we care for one another—reaching to the most frail and vulnerable among us, to those most in need of help.

True religion is not a garment to be taken on and off. It is a lofty challenge about how we live before a holy God and others.
True religion is to know The love that Christ imparts; True religion is to show His love to burdened hearts. —D. De Haan
You don’t advertise your religion by wearing a label—
you do it by living a life.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1359  
Old 04-27-2012, 02:26 AM
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Default Apr. 27

A Call To Commitment

April 27, 2012

Read: Luke 9:57-62

No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. —Luke 9:62

Many health and fitness centers expect a flood of people to join every January who will come only a few times. They don’t mind if people pay the fee and never return. But fitness trainer Jesse Jones takes the opposite approach. If you sign up and don’t show up, he will terminate your membership. Jones says, “Save your money. Come see me in a few months when you’re serious. My passion is not for another three-month payment . . . we’re making people accountable to reach their goals.”

In Luke 9:57-62, we encounter three people who told Jesus they wanted to follow Him, and all received what seem to be harsh replies from the Lord: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (v.58). “Let the dead bury their own dead” (v.60). “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (v.62). For each person, Jesus stated the sacrifice and commitment required to become His disciple.

A man I admire as a dedicated and sensitive follower of Christ says that Christians need to be “ready for radical commitment and change.” The Lord calls us not only to leave the status quo, but also to take that calling seriously by following Him.
Lord, I want to be sold out for You. I want to
love You with my whole heart, soul, mind, and
strength. Give me the power to be who You want me
to be, and to walk in Your ways.
Following Jesus demands our all.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1360  
Old 04-28-2012, 03:58 AM
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Default Apr. 28

Self-Destructive Hatred

April 28, 2012

Read: Esther 7:1-10

Repay no one evil for evil. —Romans 12:17

George Washington Carver (1864–1943) overcame terrible racial prejudice to establish himself as a renowned American educator. Spurning the temptation to give in to bitterness for the way he was treated, Carver wisely wrote, “Hate within will eventually destroy the hater.”

In the book of Esther, we see how self-destructive hatred can be. Mordecai, a Jew, refused to bow down before Haman—a self-important dignitary in the Persian court. This angered Haman, who manipulated information to make Mordecai and his people appear as threats to the empire (3:8-9). When his scheming was complete, Haman called on the Persian king to kill all the Jews. The king proclaimed an edict to that effect, but before it could be carried out, Esther intervened and Haman’s devious plot was revealed (7:1-6). Enraged, the king had Haman executed on gallows the schemer had built for Mordecai (7:7-10).

Carver’s words and Haman’s actions remind us that hatred is self-destructive. The biblical response is to turn hatred around and return good for evil. “Repay no one evil for evil,” Paul said (Rom. 12:17). When offended, “do not avenge yourselves” (v.19). Instead, do what is right (v.17) that you may live “peaceably with all men” (v.18).
Harboring hatred in the heart
Will not lead to success;
But following truth and love and grace
Will lead to blessedness. —Hess
Hatred promotes self-destruction;
love fulfills Christ’s instruction.
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-Colossians 3:23

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