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  #1391  
Old 05-29-2012, 12:51 AM
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Default May 29

Pride And Prejudice

May 29, 2012

Read: Acts 17:22–31

He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth. —Acts 17:26

Back in the 1930s, my childhood home was loving and happy, but my parents were often away. On those occasions, the center of warmth in our home was the kitchen and our tiny, joyous housekeeper named Annie.

I spent many hours with Annie, sitting at our kitchen table reading books or playing with toys and listening to her sing and hum spirituals and hymns. From her heart sprang a continual flow of wisdom, cheerfulness, and song.

One morning, with childish exuberance, I used a racial slur I had heard. “Oh my, no,” she said, and then proceeded to pour out her heart in a gentle lecture on the harm and hurt in that, accompanied by a terrible sadness in her eyes. I never used that word again.

I learned that we cause unfathomable sorrow when we dishonor and debase others through bigotry. Every human being is created in the image of God—more like God than any other creature and worthy of honor. To demean that image is to wound another human being at the deepest level.

There is but one race: the human race. God “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). We are of the same family, made to be treasured and cherished by one another.
Of all creation’s treasures rare,
Not one compares in worth with man,
In God’s own image he was made
To fill a place in His great plan. —D. De Haan
God desires that we show respect to all people, because everyone bears His image.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1392  
Old 05-30-2012, 02:46 AM
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Default May 30

God’s Wheelchair

May 30, 2012

Read: Psalm 46

His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire. —Daniel 7:9

Jean Driscoll is a remarkable athlete. She has won the Boston Marathon eight times. She has also participated in four Paralympic Games and won five gold medals. Born with spina bifida, Jean competes in a wheelchair.

One of Driscoll’s favorite Bible verses is Daniel 7:9, “The Ancient of Days was seated . . . . His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire.” Seeing a connection between Daniel’s vision of God and her own situation, she is able to pass along words of encouragement to others. “Anytime I’ve had an opportunity to talk with people who use wheelchairs and feel bad about being in a chair, I tell them, ‘Not only are you made in the image of God, but your wheelchair is made in the image of His throne!’”

Daniel’s vision, of course, doesn’t portray God as being impaired in motion. In fact, some see God’s “wheelchair” as a symbol of a just God sovereignly moving within human affairs. Other passages speak of God’s providence providing help to those who believe (Prov. 3:25-26; Matt. 20:29-34; Eph. 1:11).

Jean Driscoll’s faith in God has helped her triumph over personal challenges. We too can be confident that the high and holy One is near and ready to help us if only we ask (Ps. 46).
He cannot fail, your faithful God;
He’ll guard you with His mighty power;
Then fear no ill though troubles rise,
His help is sure from hour to hour. —Bosch
With God behind you and His arms beneath you, you can face whatever lies ahead of you. —Ward
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  #1393  
Old 05-31-2012, 03:45 AM
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Default May 31

Faulty Thinking

May 31, 2012

Read: Romans 5:12-21

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8

Four people—a pilot, a professor, a pastor, and a hiker—were flying in a small plane when the engines died. The pilot said, “There are only three parachutes. Since this is my plane, I’m taking one of them.” He put it on and jumped out. The professor said, “I’m brilliant and the world needs me, so I’m taking a parachute,” and he jumped out.

Then the pastor told the hiker, “I don’t want to be selfish, so you take the last parachute.” The hiker replied, “There are still two left, so we can each have one. The professor jumped out with my backpack instead of the parachute!” Though the professor thought he would land safely, his assurance was based on faulty thinking.

Some people have an assurance of salvation based on faulty thinking. They believe that church attendance, baptism, or just being good will gain them approval from God. But our thinking is faulty if it isn’t based on what God says in His Word. God says that “all have sinned” and that we are His enemies. But through the death and resurrection of His Son, we can be made right with God (Rom. 3:23; 5:8-10). By faith in what Christ has done, we can have peace with God (5:1) and the assurance of eternal life in heaven.

Do you believe it? Your eternity is at stake. Don’t trust faulty thinking but put your faith in Christ.
I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus—
Trusting only Thee;
Trusting Thee for full salvation,
Great and free. —Havergal
If we could earn our salvation, Christ would not have died to provide it.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1394  
Old 06-01-2012, 02:54 AM
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Default Jun. 1

Winning And Losing

June 1, 2012

Read: Colossians 3:1-12

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. —Colossians 3:2

The Masters Tournament is one of the most prestigious in professional golf. In 2009, Kenny Perry placed second after leading during the final round. Writing in The New York Times, Bill Pennington described Perry as “disappointed but not despondent” after the loss. “I’ll look back on it occasionally and wonder what I might have done differently, but I won’t dwell on it,” Perry said. “If this is the worst thing that happens in my life, I’ve got it pretty good. I won’t let it dog me. There are so many other things in life that matter more . . . . I’ll go home tonight with my family and we’ll have fun.”

The ability to look beyond our disappointments is essential for followers of Christ. Our focus determines how we face the victories and defeats in life. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2). This way of thinking looks to Christ, rather than our achievements, for significance and validation. We seek Him, not success.

When we strive for excellence and give our best effort, losing hurts, but it doesn’t have to harm us. The key is where we set our minds and hearts.
Lord, thank You that You are the one who measures
how we’ve done in life and determines
whether we’ve been successful. Help us to keep that
focus even in disappointments.
When Christ is the center of your focus, everything else comes into proper perspective.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1395  
Old 06-02-2012, 02:56 AM
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Default Jun. 2

Fragile Loads

June 2, 2012

Read: Colossians 3:12-17

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. —Ephesians 4:32

As Dolores was driving along a country road, she noticed that a car was following her rather closely. She could almost feel the irritation of the driver as she drove cautiously and slowly navigated several turns.

Of course, the driver of the other car had no way to know that Dolores was transporting 100 pounds of mashed potatoes, two crockpots full of gravy, and many other food items for a church supper—enough to feed 200 people! Sensing the other driver’s frustration, Dolores thought, If he just realized the fragile load I’m carrying, he would understand why I’m driving like I am.

Just as quickly, another thought occurred to her: How often am I impatient with people when I have no idea of the fragile load they might be carrying?

How easily do we pass judgment on someone, assuming that we know all the facts about a situation? God’s Word sends us in a more charitable direction, instructing us to treat each other with kindness, humility, and patience (Col. 3:12). How much more loving we are when we bear with and forgive each other (v.13).

Let’s treat others as we would like to be treated (Luke 6:31), remembering that we don’t always know the burden they may be carrying.
Kindness is a loving guide
That shows us how to live,
A treasure which, the more we spend,
The more we have to give. —Anon.
If you are tempted to lose patience with another, stop and think how patient God has been with you.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1396  
Old 06-03-2012, 04:45 AM
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Default Jun. 3

Careless Speech

June 3, 2012

Read: James 3:1-12

He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. —Proverbs 17:27

When my wife and I were visiting a church for a special musical program, we arrived early to get a good seat. Before the program began, we overheard two members seated behind us complaining about their church. They criticized the pastoral staff, leadership, music, ministry priorities, and several other things that made them unhappy. They were either unconcerned about or oblivious to the presence of two visitors in their midst.

It occurred to me that their unfortunate conversation could have pushed us away if we were there looking for a new church home. Worse, what if we were seeking God and their disgruntled opinions had driven us away? Their careless speech was not just a matter of the words they used or attitudes they displayed, it also demonstrated their lack of concern for the impact those words could have on others.

A better approach to the use of words is reflected in Proverbs 17:27, where Solomon said, “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” Most often, we would do better not to say all we think or know (or think we know), but instead seek to use words that promote calm and peace. You never know who may be listening.
Lord, I need Your help that I might control
my thoughts and words today. I want to be a
blessing to others, to lift them up that they might
see Your goodness. Amen.
Discretion of speech is better than eloquence with words.
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  #1397  
Old 06-04-2012, 04:20 AM
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Default Jun. 4

Getting It Right On The Inside

June 4, 2012

Read: Jonah 4

Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” —Jonah 4:4

I love the story of Jonah! It’s full of drama and important life lessons. After stubbornly refusing to do God’s will, Jonah finally preached a revival service in Nineveh that would have made him one of the most successful missionaries of his time. When the people repented and turned from their wicked ways—and when God relented and turned from His anger against them—you would have expected Jonah to rejoice. Instead, he was angry that God was merciful. Why? Although he was finally obeying God by doing the right thing in the right place, he was deeply flawed on the inside.

Like Jonah, if we are not careful, we can be spiritually “looking good” on the outside, but far from God in our hearts. He is most interested in what we are like on the inside. His Word is “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit” (Heb. 4:12). With it, He performs divine surgery to remove the greed, dishonesty, hatred, pride, and selfishness that live in the deep shadows of our hearts.

So the next time the Holy Spirit convicts you and asks you about your bad attitude (see Jonah 4:4)—listen carefully. Surrender and let Him change you from the inside out.
I confess, heavenly Father, that I know what it’s like
to be more concerned about my outward obedience
than my inner rebellion. I want to look good to others.
Forgive me. Change me and make me pure within.
If God controls you on the inside, you’ll be genuine on the outside.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1398  
Old 06-05-2012, 03:05 AM
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Default Jun. 5

Just This Once

June 5, 2012

Read: Psalm 19:7-14

Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins. —Psalm 19:13

As a boy, I used to ride a go-cart that was steered with a rope. On one occasion, as I propelled my way down the driveway, my parents’ warning came to mind: “Always look up and down the street for cars.” But I rationalized: It’s okay not to do that just this once. Then I heard the sound of screeching tires as a car came to an abrupt stop to avoid hitting me. Thinking I could break my parents’ rule nearly cost me my life.

The Bible has many examples of those who knew better but who chose to break God’s rules. From boyhood, David had meditated on the law of God while he tended his sheep. He knew that the seventh commandment condemned adultery, yet when he saw a beautiful woman bathing he used his royal power to take the wife of Uriah for his own. This sin resulted in terrible consequences (2 Sam. 11–12).

The psalmist wrote: “Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins” (Ps. 19:13). Have you felt tempted to do something “just this once” even though you knew it was wrong? Glancing at Internet pornography, “borrowing” money from an account at work, or stretching the truth may each seem like an isolated activity but can lead to terrible consequences. With God’s help, turn from sin and find His way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13).
Prone to wander—Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above. —Robinson
Temptations will knock at your door; don’t ask them to stay for dinner!
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  #1399  
Old 06-06-2012, 01:36 AM
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Default Jun. 6

A Better Place

June 6, 2012

Read: Revelation 21:4-11

God Himself will be with them and be their God. —Revelation 21:3

When my friend Marci’s father-in-law passed away, she stopped making his favorite dessert: pineapple salad. One day, her little boy asked why she no longer served it. She replied, “It reminds me of Papa, and it makes me sad; Papa really liked that dessert.” Her son replied in a chipper tone, “Not better than heaven!”

That little boy had the right idea. Heaven is a much better place. Remembering this can help ease our sadness when things on earth trigger memories of believing loved ones who have passed away. Our friends and family who have heavenly addresses are much happier there because:

• Heaven is God’s home. God’s followers will enjoy His presence for all eternity (Rev. 21:3-4).

• Heaven is comfortable in every way. Heaven’s residents will never be sick or upset (21:4), hungry or thirsty (7:16).

• Heaven is a beautiful place. A “clear as crystal” river will flow from God’s throne (22:1), and God Himself will give heaven its light (22:5).

Do things in this world sometimes remind you of believers who have moved on to the next world? If so, it’s comforting to think that they are now enjoying heaven—a better place by far.
If God has made this world so fair,
Where sin and death abound,
How beautiful beyond compare
Will paradise be found! —Montgomery
The pleasures of earth cannot be compared to the joys of heaven.
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  #1400  
Old 06-07-2012, 04:20 AM
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Default Jun. 7

Uncontrollable Unexpected

June 7, 2012

Read: James 4:13-17

Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” —James 4:15

Life is full of surprises—some of which take life in unwelcome directions. I still remember the shockwave that hit our family several decades ago when my father lost his job through no fault of his own. With a house full of kids to feed, it was a jarring blow. But as certainly as Dad’s job loss was beyond his control and unexpected, he still knew he could trust God for his future.

As Jesus’ followers, we must recognize that there are things in life that are the “uncontrollable unexpected,” as I call them. To help us in those moments, James 4:13-15 offers this wisdom: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. . . . Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ ” The people to whom James was writing were making plans while excluding God’s prerogative to direct their lives.

Is it wrong to plan for the future? Of course not. It is unwise, however, to forget that God may allow some “uncontrollable unexpected” events as He sees fit. Ultimately, all that happens is for the best—even when it’s hard to see. We must trust Him and His plans for our future.
I know who holds the future,
And I know who holds my hand;
With God things don’t just happen—
Everything by Him is planned. —A. Smith
We may not know what the future holds, but we can trust the One who holds the future.
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-Colossians 3:23

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