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  #1371  
Old 05-09-2012, 01:15 AM
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Default May 9

Building A Life That Matters

May 9, 2012

Read: 1 Corinthians 3:9-17

I have laid the foundation . . . . But let each one take heed how he builds on it. —1 Corinthians 3:10

My grandkids love to play with Legos. These small colorful building blocks capture their imagination for building forts, planes, houses, or whatever the instructions may call for.

Emptying the contents of the box onto the floor, my grandchildren begin to put the pieces together. But soon they think they don’t need to consult the directions. This eventually leads to a point when they realize that building according to their own instincts has resulted in a bad outcome. So, they break it apart and start over again—but this time they have a keen sense of how important the directions are.

Do you need the pieces of your life broken apart and put back together according to God’s directions? If you have Jesus Christ as your foundation, begin to follow His blueprint for living. Paul wrote, “Let each one take heed how he builds” on the foundation (1 Cor. 3:10-11). What is the blueprint? Value others above yourself by humbly serving them (Phil. 2:3-4), give generously of your resources to those in need (James 2:14-17), respond with love to those who have wronged you (Rom. 12:14-21). These are just a few of the pieces that God wants you to put together to build a life that is worthy of being His temple (1 Cor. 3:16).
Because of the grace and forgiveness that You have
shown me, Lord, I want to live a life that’s worthy of
knowing You. Help me to follow Your plans that
You’ve laid out in the Scriptures. Amen.
The Bible is the Christian’s blueprint for life.
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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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  #1372  
Old 05-10-2012, 02:32 AM
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Default May 10

Apologies

May 10, 2012

Read: Matthew 5:21-26

If you . . . remember that your brother has something against you, . . . first be reconciled to your brother. —Matthew 5:23-24

Mark messed up. He arrived an hour late at a restaurant where he was to meet a friend from church. The friend had already left. Feeling sorry about his mistake, Mark purchased a gift certificate from the restaurant and stopped at a local card shop to search for an apology card. Among hundreds of cards, he was surprised to find only a few “sorry for my actions” cards in an obscure part of the store. He purchased one and gave it to his friend who accepted his apology.

Although apology cards may not be popular, apologies are frequently needed in our relationships. Apologizing is a biblical action. Jesus instructed His followers to make things right with those we’ve offended (Matt. 5:23-24; 18:15-20). And the apostle Paul said, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18). Living at peace may require apologies.

Apologies can be hard to make because it takes a spirit of humility to admit our mistake, which may not come naturally for us. But taking responsibility for how we were wrong in a situation can bring healing and restoration to a relationship.

Have you messed up? Swallow your pride and make the first move—even if you can’t find a card to help you say it.
Whenever you offend a friend,
Apologize and make things right;
For if you will admit your wrong,
You may avoid a needless fight. —Sper
The best way to get the last word is to apologize.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1373  
Old 05-11-2012, 01:37 AM
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Default May 11

A Sense Of Concern

May 11, 2012

Read: Galatians 2:1-10

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy. —Proverbs 14:31

Statistics are tricky. While numbers give us information, sometimes they can also desensitize us to the people those numbers represent. This hit me recently as I read a statistic: Every year 15 million people die from hunger. That’s chilling, and for those of us who live in cultures of plenty, it’s hard to fathom. In 2008, nearly 9 million children died before their fifth birthday, with a third of those deaths related to hunger. These are staggering numbers, but they are much more than numbers. They are individuals loved by God.

We can show the Father’s heart of love by responding to people’s physical needs. Solomon wrote, “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy” (Prov. 14:31). We can show mercy to the needy by volunteering at a soup kitchen, assisting in a job search, financially supporting the drilling of wells in places in need of fresh water, distributing food in poverty-stricken regions, teaching a trade, or providing lunches for school children.

Accepting this responsibility honors the Father and His concern for all. And those who are starving might be better able to hear the message of the cross if their stomachs aren’t growling.
If God ordained to give
One gift for all my days,
I’d want the way He loves
To permeate my ways. —Verway
The more we understand God’s love for us the more love we’ll show to others.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1374  
Old 05-12-2012, 04:07 AM
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Default May 12

Outside The Boat

May 12, 2012

Read: Psalm 107:23-32

They mount up to the heavens, [and] they go down again to the depths. —Psalm 107:26

Katsushika Hokusai was one of the most prolific and celebrated artists in Japanese history. Between 1826 and 1833, when he was in his mid-60s and early 70s, he created his greatest work—a series of color woodblock prints titled Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji. Among those paintings was his masterpiece: The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. This painting, created during a time of financial and emotional struggles for Hokusai, shows a towering wall of water edged with clawlike foam about to crash down on three slim boats full of rowers.

Psalm 107 also tells a story of people in peril at sea. Afloat on the waves, “they mount up to the heavens, [and] they go down again to the depths.” And as a result, “their soul melts because of trouble” (v.26). Eventually, the sailors send an S.O.S. to God, and He responds by smoothing out the sea and guiding them to their destination (vv.28-30).

When we face desperate circumstances, we tend to look to other people for guidance and comfort. They are in the same boat, however—lost in an ocean of life’s ups and downs. Only God is outside the boat, sovereign, stable, and strong enough to calm the storms (vv.24-25,29). Facing trouble? Call on Him!
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain? —Owens
We worship a God who is greater than our greatest problem.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1375  
Old 05-13-2012, 02:27 AM
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Default May 13

A Woman Of Influence

May 13, 2012

Read: Proverbs 31:10-31

She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. —Proverbs 31:27

During the early years of the Protestant Reformation in Europe, Katharina Von Bora, a former nun, married Martin Luther (1525). By all accounts, the two had a joyous married life. Luther said, “There is no bond on earth so sweet, nor any separation so bitter, as that which occurs in a good marriage.”

Because Katharina rose at 4 a.m. to care for her responsibilities, Luther referred to her as the “morning star of Wittenberg.” She was industrious in tending the vegetable garden and orchard. Also, she administered the family business and managed the Luthers’ home and property. In time, the couple had six children for whom Katharina felt the home was a school of character development. Her energetic industry and care for the family made her a woman of influence.

Katharina seems to have been a woman like the one described in Proverbs 31. She was indeed a virtuous wife who awoke “while it [was] yet night” and provided “food for her household” (v.15). She also watched “over the ways of her household, and [did] not eat the bread of idleness” (v.27).

From role models like Katharina, we can learn about the love, diligence, and fear of the Lord that’s needed to be a woman of influence.
Lord, thank You for the influence our mothers and wives
have had on us. We too want to touch the lives of
others, to point them to You. We know we need Your
Spirit’s power to do that. Fill us and use us, we pray.
Good mothers not only tell us how to live— they show us.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1376  
Old 05-14-2012, 01:01 AM
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Default May 14

The Old Windmill

May 14, 2012

Read: Galatians 6:6-10

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. —John 7:38

A man who grew up on a ranch in West Texas tells about a rickety, old windmill that stood alongside his family’s barn and pumped water to their place. It was the only source of water for miles.

In a strong wind the windmill worked well, but in a light breeze it wouldn’t turn. It required manually turning the vane until the fan faced directly into the wind. Only when properly positioned did the windmill supply water to the ranch.

I think of that story when I meet with pastors from small churches in remote areas. Many feel isolated and unsupported—caregivers for whom no one seems to care. As a consequence, they grow weary and struggle to bring life-giving water to their flock. I like to tell them about the old windmill and our need to daily reposition ourselves—to intentionally turn toward the Lord and His Word and to drink deeply from Him who is the source of living water.

What’s true for pastors is true for all. Service for God flows from within, outward. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, . . . out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). It’s when God speaks to our depths that we are able to touch the lives of others. To refresh others, let’s return to the Source of life regularly.
When our hearts grow weary,
When our spirits dim,
He will go before us,
Leave it all to Him. —Anon.
When you’re weary in life’s struggles, find strength in the Lord.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1377  
Old 05-15-2012, 12:25 AM
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Default May 15

Seeing Near And Far

May 15, 2012

Read: Psalm 145

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him. —Psalm 145:18

Having two healthy eyes is not enough to see clearly. I know this from experience. After a series of eye surgeries for a torn retina, both eyes could see well but they refused to cooperate with each other. One eye saw things far away and the other saw things close up. But instead of working together, they fought for supremacy. Until I could get new prescription glasses 3 months later, my eyes remained unfocused.

Something similar happens in our view of God. Some people focus better on God when they see Him as “close up”—when they think of Him as intimately present in their daily life. Other Christians see God more clearly as “far away” or far beyond anything we can imagine, ruling the universe in power and majesty.

While people disagree about which view is best, the Bible works like a prescription lens helping us to see that both are correct. King David presents both views in Psalm 145: “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him” (v.18) and “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable” (v.3).

Thankfully, our Father in heaven is near to hear our prayers yet so far above us in power that He can meet every need.
Lord, You’re the high and lofty One,
Yet close enough to hear our voice;
You’re powerful, yet personal;
Your love for us makes us rejoice. —Sper
God is big enough to care for the smallest needs.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1378  
Old 05-16-2012, 01:04 AM
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Default May 16

Courageous Conversation

May 16, 2012

Read: Galatians 2:11-21

When Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed. —Galatians 2:11

Is it possible that technological advances in communication have left us unable to confront people properly? After all, employers can now send layoff notices via e-mail. And people can criticize others on Facebook and Twitter instead of talking face to face. Perhaps it might be better to put all that aside and emulate how Paul communicated with Peter when they had a disagreement.

Paul had to confront Peter for compromising grace (Gal. 2:11-16). Peter had been fellowshiping with Gentiles, but when the Judaizers arrived (who believed that sinners are saved through Jesus plus keeping the law of Moses), Peter separated himself from the Gentiles. He ostracized them while professing to be one with them. Seeing this hypocrisy, Paul, in love and with passion, confronted Peter face to face for cowering to a legalistic system that was powerless to change lives. He vigorously reminded Peter that grace leads to freedom from sin’s slavery and to obedience to God.

Having courageous conversations with fellow Christians can be difficult, but they will promote purity and unity. We can carry out our responsibility to one another to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, give us courage to confront
Believers who have strayed;
And then with gentleness restore
By coming to their aid. —Sper
A well-chosen word can speak volumes.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1379  
Old 05-17-2012, 12:24 AM
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Default May 17

A Place For You

May 17, 2012

Read: John 13:36–14:4

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. —John 14:3

A couple who brought their elderly aunt to live with them were concerned that she would not feel at home. So they transformed a room in their house into an exact replica of her bedroom at the home she left behind. When their aunt arrived, her furniture, wall hangings, and other favorite things felt like a special “Welcome home!” to her.

In John 13:36–14:4, we read that at the Last Supper Jesus spoke to His disciples and tried to prepare them for His death. When Simon Peter asked, “Where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward” (13:36). Jesus was still speaking directly to Peter (and also meant it for all of His followers) when He said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions [rooms]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (14:2-3).

Heaven is a family gathering of believers from every tribe and nation, but it is also our Father’s house—and in that house He is preparing a room just for you.

When you arrive in heaven and Jesus opens the door, you’ll know you’re home.
I have a home in heaven above
From sin and sorrow free—
A mansion which eternal love
Designed and formed for me. —Bennett
For the Christian, heaven is spelled H-O-M-E.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1380  
Old 05-18-2012, 12:54 AM
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Default May 18

Not What I Planned

May 18, 2012

Read: Psalm 37:1-8

Rest in the Lord. —Psalm 37:7

This isn’t the way I expected my life to be. I wanted to marry at 19, have a half-dozen children, and settle into life as a wife and mother. But instead I went to work, married in my forties, and never had children. For a number of years I was hopeful that Psalm 37:4 might be for me a God-guaranteed promise: “He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

But God doesn’t always “bring it to pass” (v.5), and unmet desires stir up occasional sadness. Like mine, your life may have turned out differently than you planned. A few thoughts from Psalm 37 may be helpful (even though the psalm is primarily about comparing ourselves to the wicked).

We learn from verse 4 that unfulfilled desires don’t have to take the joy out of life. As we get to know God’s heart, He becomes our joy.

“Commit your way to the Lord” (v.5). The word commit means “to roll.” Bible teacher Herbert Lockyear, Sr., says, “‘Roll thy way upon the Lord,’ as one who lays upon the shoulders of one stronger than himself a burden which he is not able to bear.”

“Trust also in Him” (v.5). When we confidently entrust everything to God, we can “rest in the Lord” (v.7), for He is bringing about His best for our lives.
As I walk along life’s pathway,
Though the way I cannot see,
I shall follow in His footsteps,
For He has a plan for me. —Thiesen
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. —Proverbs 16:9
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