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  #1381  
Old 05-19-2012, 02:39 AM
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Default May 19

A Sense Of History

May 19, 2012

Read: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

All these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition. —1 Corinthians 10:11

As my wife and I toured the British Museum, we were struck by the history and legacy contained in that massive facility in London. We looked at artifacts that were centuries older than anything found in the United States, reminding me how valuable it is to have a sense of history. History gives us a record of perspective, context, and consequences that can help us make wise choices as we learn from both the successes and failures of those who have gone before us.

Paul also saw the value of embracing the lessons of history. He warned of the destructive nature of bad choices by recounting the story of the children of Israel and their wilderness wanderings—a result of their refusal to trust God and enter the Promised Land (see Num. 14). Then Paul told the believers in Corinth, “All these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11).

God has given us the Bible, partly to help us learn from the history of His people. Biblical lessons contain both examples and warnings to guard us against our worst inclinations and to lead us into wiser living. The question is whether we will learn from the lessons of the past or repeat the mistakes of those who came before us.
Lord, teach us from the stories in Your Word.
We know You’ve put them there to guide us and
give us wisdom. Help us to make obedience
out of love for You our purpose. Amen.
Valuable lessons are learned from examining the lives of God’s people who’ve gone before.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1382  
Old 05-20-2012, 01:21 AM
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Default May 20

Prepared For The Real Thing

May 20, 2012

Read: Luke 12:35-40

Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. —Luke 12:40

Through the years, quite a few people have predicted the return of Jesus at a specific time. Just last year an American radio preacher stirred up the interest of the mainstream media with his prediction that Jesus would return on May 21, 2011.

Anyone who knows Scripture well knew that this advance warning wasn’t accurate, because Jesus Himself said His return would be “at an hour you do not expect” (Luke 12:40). But I do have to admit that this prediction captured my attention. Often I get so caught up in the busyness of life that I live as though Jesus’ return is some distant reality. I forget that Jesus could come back at any time. The prediction, wrong as it was, reminded me about the importance of being prepared for my Savior’s return, and it renewed my excitement that it could be any day—even today.

Sometimes when we think of being ready for Jesus’ return, we think about what we shouldn’t be doing. But being prepared is really about purifying ourselves and becoming more and more like Him so we are pleasing to Him when He comes back for us (1 John 3:2-3). Jesus taught that being ready for His return requires living according to our Master’s will now (Luke 12:47). Will we be prepared when it’s time for the real thing?
Keep me praying, keep me trusting
Every step along life’s way!
Keep me waiting, keep me watching,
For He may return today! —Thiesen
Look for Christ’s return and you’ll live for Christ’s glory.
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  #1383  
Old 05-21-2012, 01:36 AM
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Default May 21

Night Crew

May 21, 2012

Read: Colossians 3:22-25

Obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. —Colossians 3:22

Pat’s first job was working on the night crew at a grocery store. After closing time, he and the other employees stocked the shelves. Pat’s boss had instructed them to always turn the soup cans forward so that the label could be read easily. But he had gone a little further by saying, “Make sure that they’re facing forward—three cans back.” One night as Pat was arranging the shelves, his co-workers began to scoff, “Just make sure the front can is turned the right way. Who’s gonna know?”

It was a moment of decision for the teenager. Should he obey what his boss had asked him to do, or just do what was easy?

We’ve all been in similar situations where we’ve had to make a choice. The apostle Paul encouraged his fellow believers to be obedient even when no one was watching: “Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God” (Col. 3:22).

Doing the right thing should not be dependent on whether our employer is around or if anyone else is watching. It’s not always easy or convenient to be obedient. But it’s right.

Remember, “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
Lord, help me to follow Jesus,
To obey Him day by day,
To be His faithful disciple
And please Him in every way. —Fitzhugh
Our character is measured by what we do when no one is looking.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1384  
Old 05-22-2012, 01:45 AM
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Default May 22

Fear Not

May 22, 2012

Read: Isaiah 43:1-4

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. —Isaiah 43:1

My wife became seriously ill during her pregnancy with our second child. As the doctors struggled to find the problem, she continued to grow weaker—dangerously so.

Watching her suffer was a helpless and horrible feeling for me, and there were days when it felt as if God were not hearing our prayers. One Sunday, while I was looking for comfort from Scripture, my eyes landed on the first verse in Isaiah 43.

“Fear not,” it begins, and ends with “you are Mine.” Instantly, the Holy Spirit made the words personal. The intimate way God addresses Israel reminded me of His always-present attention to us too: “When you pass through the waters . . . through the rivers . . . through the fire” (v.2). Each phrase rose up in crescendo, from the pages to my heart.

Our comfort in that hour came not from promises of healing or miracles, but from knowing we were never alone. We had many other frightening times, including just after Ethan’s birth, when it looked as if both he and Cheryl would be lost. But God had used His words to comfort us and prepare us for those harder moments!

Let these words be a reminder to you that you are never alone.
At times our fears may loom so large,
We long for proof that God is near;
It’s then our Father says to us,
“Have faith, My child, and do not fear.” —D. De Haan
Never forget in the darkness, what you know to be true in the light.
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  #1385  
Old 05-23-2012, 02:20 AM
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Default May 23

Taking Risks

May 23, 2012

Read: Acts 15:7-26

Barnabas and Paul . . . have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Acts 15:25-26

In his book Stuntman! My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life, Hal Needham reflects on taking risks. Needham has slugged it out in fist fights, raced cars at high speed, walked on wings of airborne planes, fallen off horses, and has even been set on fire! He risked his life to entertain film audiences and to distinguish himself as a top Hollywood stuntman.

Paul and Barnabas were also “men who have risked their lives” (Acts 15:26). But their motivation was far different. Their goal was to exalt Christ through the preaching of the gospel. As a missionary in the Roman Empire, Paul faced hazards that resulted in shipwrecks, beatings, persecution, and imprisonment—just to name a few (2 Cor. 11:22-30). But Paul was more than willing to take these risks to make Christ known.

Many believers take risks to spread Jesus’ good news. But fear of rejection causes others to remain silent. Have you been passively sitting on the sidelines ignoring opportunities to share the gospel? God has provided His Spirit to empower you (Acts 1:8) and His Word to make the message clear (Rom. 1:16). Ask God for the courage to speak up and witness for the Savior. Taking the risk will be well worth it.
Will you be bold in your witness
By giving lost sinners God’s Word?
Jesus will honor your service,
And sinners will surely be stirred. —Bosch
The rewards of witnessing are well worth the risks.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1386  
Old 05-24-2012, 02:36 AM
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Default May 24

Coverups Stink

May 24, 2012

Read: Psalm 32:1-5

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. —Psalm 32:1

The smell at an overflowing garbage landfill site became a growing public concern. So workers installed high-pressured deodorant guns to counteract the smell. The cannons could spray several gallons of fragrance a minute over a distance of up to 50 yards across the mounds of putrefying garbage. However, no matter how many gallons of deodorant are sprayed to mask the odorous rubbish, the fragrance will serve only as a coverup until the source of the stench is removed.

King David tried a coverup as well. After his adultery with Bathsheba, he attempted to use silence, deceit, and piety to mask his moral failures (2 Sam. 11–12). In Psalm 32 he talks about experiencing the intense convicting hand of God when he remained silent (vv.3-4). Unable to withstand the conviction any longer, David uncovered his sin by acknowledging, confessing, and repenting of it (v.5). He no longer needed to cover it because God forgave him.

It’s futile to try to hide our sin. The stench of our disobedience will seep through whatever we use to try to cover it. Let’s acknowledge to God the rubbish in our hearts and experience the fresh cleansing of His grace and forgiveness.
Father, I know that I cannot hide my sins from You
for You know what’s in my heart. I confess them
now to You. Cleanse me, forgive me, and help
me to make a brand-new start. Amen.
Own up to your sin and experience the joy of confession.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1387  
Old 05-25-2012, 02:54 AM
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Default May 25

Conversion

May 25, 2012

Read: 2 Corinthians 12:14-21

I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls. —2 Corinthians 12:15

Bible in a Year:
Job 38-42

Before my husband and I travel, we go to the bank and trade in our US dollars for the currency of the country we’ll be visiting. We do this so we can pay for expenses while we’re away from home.

When we become Christians, another kind of exchange takes place. Our lives are like currency that we convert from one medium to another. We trade our old life for a new one so that we can begin “spending” ourselves in a different kingdom. Instead of spending ourselves for the causes of this world, we are able to start spending ourselves for the cause of Christ.

The apostle Paul is a good example of this difference. After his dramatic conversion on the way to Damascus (Acts 9), he began spending his life in a dramatically different way. Instead of pursuing Christians to imprison and kill them, he began pursuing non-Christians to convert them. Then he spent the rest of his life for their welfare. He wrote to the church at Corinth, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Cor. 12:15). Everything he did was for the edification of his spiritual children (vv.14,19).

Conversion is far more than just changing our final destination. It’s changing the way we spend each day of our lives.
Lord, help me to spend myself on what will last,
not on what will fade away one day.
I give my life to You that I might spend and be spent
for others and Your will. Amen.
Conversion takes only a moment—transformation takes a lifetime.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1388  
Old 05-26-2012, 12:49 PM
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Default May 26

Stand Or Go?

May 26, 2012

Read: Exodus 14:5-22

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord”—Exodus 14:13

The Israelites were trapped. Soon after leaving slavery and Egypt behind, they looked up and saw a distressing sight. A cloud of dust was moving their way, and in that dust was a massive army. Pharaoh’s “disease” had returned—hardening of the heart (Ex. 14:8). As a result, he sent his chariots after Moses and his people.

Once the Egyptian army caught up with the Israelites, all seemed lost. They were trapped between a wall of soldiers and a sea of water. In panic, they cried out to both Moses and God.

Both of them responded with instructions. Moses said, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. ” (14:13). And God told them, “Go forward” (v.15). While that may seem to be contradictory advice, both commands were from God and right. First, the people had to “stand still” or “firm” long enough to get instructions from God. What if they had rushed headlong into the Red Sea without consulting the Lord? But in standing still, they heard God’s instructions, which included both what they were to do—move on, and what Moses was to do—stretch out his hand over the sea in obedience and God would part the waters.

Do circumstances have you trapped? Stand still. Take time to consult God and His Word. Then, using His instructions, move ahead and let God guide you.
It matters not how dark the way,
How thick the clouds from day to day,
God will direct in all we do
If we take time to pray it through. —Mead
If you’re looking for guidance, follow Christ as your guide.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1389  
Old 05-27-2012, 02:18 PM
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Default May 27

A Sense Of Dread

May 27, 2012

Read: 2 Timothy 2:19-26

Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. —2 Timothy 2:23

In Tennyson’s classic poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” valiant cavalry troops riding into battle are described by the imposing phrase, “Into the valley of death rode the six hundred.” Those words portray a sense of foreboding that anticipated the tragedy that lay before them. When I was a pastor, I sometimes felt a sense of dread when heading to church meetings. Being aware of current or potential areas of conflict can easily cause serious concern. But this does not need to be the case in the church. To a young pastor struggling with the pressures of ministry, Paul wrote, “Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 Tim. 2:23). This applies to pastors as well as church attenders. Our personal conduct can help to reduce the amount of friction instead of elevating it through unwise actions or words. We can model for others the biblical way to avoid, manage, and even resolve conflict. Verses 24-25 encourage us to be gentle, patient, and humble in relating to others. As James says, “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18). Pursuing the goal of being a peacemaker can reduce the sense of dread that conflicts generate.

O Lord, help us to turn aside From words that spring from selfish pride, For You would have Your children one In praise and love for Your dear Son. —D. De Haan

Christians at war with each other cannot be at peace with their heavenly Father
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  #1390  
Old 05-28-2012, 03:55 AM
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Default May 28

The Gathering

May 28, 2012

Read: Revelation 7:9-17

The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd [us] and lead [us] to living fountains of waters. —Revelation 7:17

During Oswald Chambers’ service as a YMCA chaplain in Egypt (1915–1917), he touched the lives of many soldiers who died in World War I. On November 6, 1916, Chambers wrote in his diary: “We have a letter from a New Zealand friend telling us that Ted Strack has been killed. And so Ted Strack has ‘gone to be with Jesus.’ That is just how he would have put it . . . . [He] was a rough beauty of nature and of grace, a fearless, loveable little saint. Thank God for every remembrance of him . . . . So they are gathering one by one.” As we grieve the death of those we love, we cling to Jesus’ promise of life beyond the grave. The book of Revelation records John’s vision of a great multitude from every nation, tribe, and language gathered around God’s throne in heaven (7:9). The overarching truth of this passage is a glad, eternal reunion when “the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd [us] and lead [us] to living fountains of waters” (v.17). The passing of every believer in Christ foreshadows the day when we will join them with the Lord. In our sadness today, we are hopeful as we see that “they are gathering one by one.”

Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion With our dear loved ones who’ve gone before; In that fair homeland we’ll know no parting—Beyond the sunset forevermore. —Brock

Goodbyes are the law of earth; reunions are the law of heaven
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