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  #1361  
Old 04-29-2012, 03:44 AM
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Default Apr. 29

A Long And Winding Path

April 29, 2012

Read: Psalm 142

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path. —Psalm 142:3

Sometimes the path of life seems impossibly steep and lengthy. I have no strength and no will for the journey. Then I remember God knew this path long before I was called to walk it. He has always known the difficulties I would experience, the pain that I could never explain to another. He knows and offers His presence.

Perhaps you’re overwhelmed with sadness today. It may be the weight of a difficult ministry; the worry of a hard marriage; the sorrow of a struggling child; the care of an aging parent; other troubles that come with life. “Surely,” you say, “God would not have me walk this way. There must be another, easier path for me to travel.”

But are any of us wise enough to know that some other way would make us into better and wiser children? No, our Father in heaven knows the best path, out of all possible paths, to bring us to completion (Ps. 142:3).

His ways are higher than our ways; His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isa. 55:9). We can humbly take the path He has marked out for us today, and do so in absolute trust in His infinite wisdom and love. He is wiser and more loving than we can ever know. He who sees has foreseen and will not lead us astray.
Be still and know that He is God
For pathways steep and rough;
Not what He brings, but what He is
Will always be enough. —Anon.
God will never lead you down a wrong path.
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  #1362  
Old 04-30-2012, 12:46 AM
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Default Apr. 30

My Way?

April 30, 2012

Read: Proverbs 16:20-25

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. —Proverbs 16:25

Think about the worst intellectual matchups possible. For instance, what if we put Albert Einstein in a room with a first-grader to debate the theory of relativity? Or how about George Washington Carver versus a middle-schooler discussing biochemical engineering?

It’s silly to think of putting these pairs together for discussions. One is the ultimate expert; the other would know little if anything about the topic.

Here’s another one: God versus anyone arguing about His plan for mankind. Now we’re talking mismatch! Yet we often hear of people trying to explain away God’s matchless wisdom and how their way is better than His.

I received a letter from a man in prison who said: “I came to the point in my life where I finally accepted the fact that God is real and the Creator of everything. I grew tired of trying to do things my way. When I started humbling myself and accepting God’s Word, I found the answer.”

How ridiculous to reject God’s plan of salvation because we think we know better! Only by placing our trust in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins can we be reconciled to God (John 14:6; Rom 3:23; 6:23). Are you still trying to do things your own way, thinking you know best? (Prov. 16:25). Agree with God and go His way.
There aren’t many ways into heaven;
The Bible says there’s only one:
Confessing Christ Jesus as Savior,
Believing in God’s only Son. —Sper
Jesus is not one of many ways to approach God, nor is He the best of several ways; He is the only way. —Tozer
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  #1363  
Old 05-01-2012, 02:06 AM
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Default May 1

Who You’re Meant To Be

May 1, 2012

Read: Romans 12:1-2,9-18

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice. —Romans 12:1

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Quoting those words of St. Catherine of Siena, the Bishop of London began his message to Prince William and Kate Middleton at their wedding in Westminster Abbey. Many watching on TV were deeply touched as the bishop affirmed their choice “to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that He gave Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.” Then he urged the couple to pursue a love that finds its center beyond themselves.

From Romans 12, the bride’s brother read: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (vv.1-2 NRSV).

That royal wedding reminds us all, single or married, of two great truths: (1) God’s great love for us expressed in the sacrifice of Jesus and (2) God’s desire that we find life’s greatest joy and transformation in our relationship with Him. Aren’t those the keys to becoming the persons God meant us to be?
Although I may not understand
The path You’ve laid for me,
Complete surrender to Your will—
Lord, this my prayer shall be. —Sherbert
We become who God meant us to be by giving ourselves completely to Him.
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  #1364  
Old 05-02-2012, 02:11 AM
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Default May 2

Are You Tuned In?

May 2, 2012

Read: John 16:7-15

The Holy Spirit . . . will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. —John 14:26

When I was growing up, I stayed with my grandparents for a week or two every summer. They lived on a street that dead-ended into some railroad tracks. I would often awaken several times on my first night as the box cars rumbled by or when an engineer blew the train whistle. By the end of my visit, however, I had grown so accustomed to the noise that I could sleep straight through the night without interruption. I had tuned out the sounds.

There are other interruptions that I don’t want to tune out! I love it when my husband unexpectedly brings me a cup of coffee when I’m working at the computer. And it brings me joy when I receive an unexpected call from a friend.

Sometimes we’re tempted to tune out “divine interruptions” of the Holy Spirit instead of listening to His promptings. He may nudge us with a realization that we need to ask forgiveness for something we said or did. Or persistently remind us that we should pray for someone who is experiencing a crisis. Or convict us that we have never fully shared Jesus with a person we care about.

When the Holy Spirit indwells us, He teaches us, convicts us, comforts us, and guides us into truth (John 14:16-17,26; 16:7-8,13). Are you tuned in to the interruption of His voice?
Holy Spirit, help us hear
Your inner promptings, soft and clear;
And help us know Your still, small voice
So we may make God’s will our choice. —D. De Haan
Make the right choice: Obey the Spirit’s voice.
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  #1365  
Old 05-03-2012, 01:48 AM
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Default May 3

Walk Away From Worry

May 3, 2012

Read: Philippians 4:1-9

Be anxious for nothing. —Philippians 4:6

A few years ago, our Bible-study leader challenged us to memorize a chapter of the Bible and recite it to the group. Internally, I began to protest and groan. An entire chapter, in front of everyone? Memorization had never been my thing; I cringed as I imagined long silences while everyone watched me, waiting for the next words.

A few days later, I reluctantly leafed through my Bible, looking for a set of verses to learn by heart. Nothing seemed right until I landed in Philippians 4.

I read this verse in silence, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (v.6). That’s when I knew which chapter to memorize, and how to walk away from my anxiety about the assignment.

God does not want us to agonize over future events, because worry paralyzes our prayer life. The apostle Paul reminds us that instead of fretting, we should ask God for help. When we continually take this approach to anxiety, God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds (v.7).

Someone once said tongue-in-cheek, “Why pray when you can worry?” The point is clear: Worry gets us nowhere, but prayer gets us in touch with the One who can handle all of our concerns.
When you feel the tension mounting,
And across the busy day,
Only gloomy clouds are drifting
As you start to worry—pray! —Anon.
It’s impossible to wring our hands when they are folded before God in prayer.
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  #1366  
Old 05-04-2012, 01:55 AM
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Default May 4

The Wright Stuff

May 4, 2012

Read: Genesis 1:1-23

Let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens. —Genesis 1:20

On September 29, 1909, a young man took flight in a strange contraption that resembled a huge box kite. As he gained altitude, the pilot manipulated the levers so he could fly over New York Harbor. People looked up in amazement. In the harbor, boats celebrated by sounding their steam whistles. Crowds near the Statue of Liberty exploded with cheers at the sight of Wilbur Wright taking a flight into the heavens.

Wilbur’s brother Orville, who had piloted the first airplane flight 6 years earlier, reflected on their inspiration to fly: “The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who . . . looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air.” The Wright brothers spent a great deal of time studying birds in flight before designing their planes.

In Genesis we read that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (1:1), and He said, “Let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens” (v.20). We applaud the inventiveness of the Wright brothers. Yet, the Creator, who made creatures capable of flight in the first place, deserves the ultimate glory—for the birds and for every other creation He has made!
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Soaring bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee. —van Dyke
The design of creation points to the Master Designer.
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  #1367  
Old 05-05-2012, 03:06 PM
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Default May 5

Before You Ask

May 5, 2012

Read: Matthew 6:5-15

Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. —Matthew 6:8

Bible in a Year: Ezra 5-7

An RBC Ministries international colleague shared with me her delight in serving as a translator of biblical resources. She said that she feels greatly blessed because she has the first opportunity to be ministered to by the teaching of God’s Word in the materials. As she works through them, she notes, “There is always something that addresses a need I’m facing.” Precisely when she needs encouragement from her Lord, relevant biblical help is provided.

As she spoke, I thought of how our God faithfully cares for us in numerous ways. In the different seasons of life, we find ourselves facing all sorts of challenges—but we do not face them on our own. As Christ said, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8).

In our time of need—whether spiritual, emotional, or physical—we can depend on the faithful care and concern of the Father. He knows us so well that He chooses the perfect time to give us what is best and to send reassurance of His care. “Not one [sparrow] is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear . . . ; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).

We can trust the wisdom of His love.

My heart overflows—the grace He provides Is just what I need for my care; It’s all I could ask, whatever the task, Whatever the burden I bear. —Anon.

God’s timing is always right.
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  #1368  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:56 AM
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Default May 6

A Father’s Invitation

May 6, 2012

Read: Ezekiel 18:25-32

Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. —Ezekiel 18:31

Bible in a Year: Ezra 8-10

The Old Testament book of Ezekiel tells of God’s judgment on His disobedient people. The Lord called them “a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me” (2:3) and “impudent and stubborn children” (v.4). The graphic descriptions of their sin and the violent images of their coming punishment are appalling. Yet in the darkest moments of God’s lament over His people held captive in Babylon, His love shines through in His call for them to walk again on the path of life.

“ ‘Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore turn and live!’ ” (18:31-32).

God does not ask us to feel worse than we already do about our failures or to try harder to keep His commands. Instead, He invites us to receive a fresh source of motivation and strength—“a new heart and a new spirit” from Him (36:26-27).

If you’re feeling that you’ve wandered too far away from God and that He is through with you, it’s time to embrace the truth. Will you accept the Father’s invitation to “turn and live” today?

If you’ve rebelled and turned away From what you know is true, Turn back to God—He will forgive; He waits to pardon you. —Sper

To enjoy the future, accept God’s forgiveness for the past.
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  #1369  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:28 AM
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Default May 7

God’s Timing

May 7, 2012

Read: Exodus 13:17-22

For every matter there is a time and judgment. —Ecclesiastes 8:6

Pastor Audley Black’s church near the south coast of Jamaica has been in a building program since at least 2005. That was the first time I visited his church and saw that they were expanding. The last time I was there—in the spring of 2011—some of the walls were up. By that summer, they had started on the roof. When I suggested to Pastor Black that perhaps the church would be done by 2013 when I thought I might return, he said it was a possibility.

There was no hint of disappointment that this project could take 8 years or longer! No, Pastor Black and his people are excited about what God is doing, and they’re patient with His timing.

We are often not that patient. We want our church to grow quickly, our young people to mature right away, and our problems to be fixed today.

Maybe we need to be reminded that some things take time—God’s time. For instance, when the Israelites first left Egypt, God sent them on the long route to the Promised Land (Ex. 13:17-18). During that time He prepared them, taught them, and challenged them.

In our microwave world, we want everything done instantaneously. But sometimes that’s not God’s plan. Let’s seek God’s help and learn to accept His timing.
He does not lead me year by year,
Nor even day by day;
But step by step my path unfolds;
My Lord directs my way. —Ryberg
God’s timetable may move slowly, but it does move surely.
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  #1370  
Old 05-08-2012, 02:04 AM
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Default May 8

Here Am I

May 8, 2012

Read: 1 John 3:16-23

Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. —Proverbs 31:9

In the courtroom while waiting for his case to come before the judge, Gary heard story after sad story of people who were losing their homes. Many went through the procedure as if it were familiar to them. But one woman named Leslie seemed bewildered. Gary sensed that she didn’t know what to do or where to turn.

He tried to silence the quiet voice inside him that was urging him to help, but he couldn’t. He thought of many reasons not to get involved. First, engaging strangers in conversation is not one of his strengths; second, he was afraid of being misunderstood. But he thought that the prompting was from God, and he didn’t want to risk being disobedient.

When Gary saw Leslie leaving the courthouse, he spoke to her. “Ma’am,” he said, “I heard your testimony inside the courtroom, and I believe God wants me to help you.”

At first Leslie was suspicious, but Gary assured her of his sincerity. He made some phone calls and got her connected with people in a local church who provided the help she needed to keep her house.

God has called us to active duty (1 John 3:18). When we sense His prompting to help someone, we should be willing to say, “I believe God wants me to help you.”
God calls into action today
All those who are children of light;
Whatever our hand finds to do,
Let’s do it with all of our might. —Hess
We are at our best when we are serving others.
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