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  #1411  
Old 06-16-2012, 02:56 AM
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Default Jun. 16

Wonderfully Made

June 16, 2012

Read: Psalm 139:1-16

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. —Psalm 139:14

When I was a child, someone close to me thought they could motivate me to do better by frequently asking me, “Why are you so stupid?” I didn’t know how much this had affected me until I was a teenager and heard someone behind me say, “Stupid!” At the word, I quickly turned around, thinking he was talking to me.

Knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord helped me to realize that because God created me in His image (Gen. 1:27), I’m not stupid but am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). God declares that all He has made is “very good” (Gen. 1:31), and the Psalms remind us that we are “skillfully wrought” (Ps. 139:15).

The psalmist David describes how God knows each one of us intimately: “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways” (vv.1-3).

Not only are we wonderfully made, but because of Christ’s death on the cross, we can also be wonderfully restored to a right relationship with God. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation . . . . All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17-18 NIV).
In His own image God created man,
He formed his body from the dust of the earth;
But more than that, to all who are in Christ
He gives eternal life by second birth. —Hess
Each person is a unique expression of God’s loving design.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1412  
Old 06-17-2012, 04:43 AM
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Default Jun. 17

Our Father In Heaven

June 17, 2012

Read: Luke 11:1-13

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. —Luke 11:2

When Jesus taught us to pray, He began, “Our Father in heaven” (Luke 11:2). It is one of many Scriptures that refers to God as a father. I find it both fascinating and instructive that when God wanted us to know what He is like, He chose to emphasize His fatherhood.

What do we know about God as our Father? According to Jesus’ prayer, we know that our Father in heaven is available and attentive to us. It is also clear that He provides for us. He forgives us and protects us from evil (vv.2-4).

What a wonderful pattern for fathers who aren’t in heaven! Granted, there is only one perfect Father in the universe, but as such He sets the pace for the rest of us less-than-perfect fathers. I discovered early in my ministry that my children were not impressed with books I wrote, titles I had, or places I spoke. They craved my time and attention, the provision for basic needs, a love that patiently forgave, and the creation of a safe place for them to grow and mature. It’s a short but very profound list of fatherly duties.

And what about those who didn’t get a dad who met those needs? Take heart in the fact that if you have been redeemed through Jesus you have a perfect heavenly Father—and He’s the best Father of all.
Thank You, God, for being our Father, Shepherd,
Guardian, and Guide. We will never outgrow our need
for Your love and care. We want to seek You
with all our heart that we might know You intimately.
The heavenly Father’s arms never tire of holding His children.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1413  
Old 06-18-2012, 02:05 AM
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Default Jun. 18

Hidden Away

June 18, 2012

Read: Psalm 119:9-16

Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. —Psalm 119:11

By the time I was born, my great- grandfather, Abram Z. Hess, had already lost his sight. He was known for the beautiful wooden objects he had carved on a lathe—and also as someone who could quote many verses of Scripture. He and his friend Eli would often share Scripture verses back and forth. A bit of a competitive spirit resulted in their admission that Eli could cite more references while my grandfather could recite more verses.

Today, the family often remembers Abram as “Blind Grandpa.” His practice of memorizing Scripture became a lifeline for him when he lost his physical sight. But why is it important that we memorize the Word of God?

Psalm 119 gives us instruction on how to follow God by hiding His Word in our hearts. First, in this way, we arm ourselves when temptation comes (v.11; Eph. 6:17). Then, as we meditate on His Word, we come to know Him better. Finally, when we have His words etched in our minds, we are better able to hear His voice when He instructs and guides us. We use those phrases of Scripture as we talk with Him, worship Him, and teach or witness to others (Col. 3:16).

The Word of God is “living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12). Hide its precious words away “in [your] heart” (Ps. 119:11)where they will always be with you.
Lord, Your Word is a treasure—priceless and beyond
compare. I’m not the best at memorizing but
I do want Your words to saturate my mind and heart.
Please use Your Word in obvious ways in my life today.
When God’s Word is hidden in our heart, His ways will become our ways.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1414  
Old 06-19-2012, 04:33 AM
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Default Jun. 19

Judge Rightly

June 19, 2012

Read: Job 42:1-8

You have not spoken of Me what is right. —Job 42:7

After a national news magazine posted an online story listing my community as one of the top-10 dying cities in the nation, local citizens were outraged. They registered their indignation, pointing out evidence to the contrary. One resident went to great lengths to disprove the harsh judgment. He recruited local citizens to show up downtown and appear in a video that showcased the vibrancy of our community. The video received international attention, and the news magazine admitted it was wrong. But the organization that had done the “research” stood by the conclusion, even though it was based on limited criteria.

Their self-defense surprised me because their careless conclusion seemed indefensible. But then I thought of how common it is to make faulty judgments based on minimal information. One of the classic biblical examples is that of Job’s friends. They wrongly concluded that because a series of tragedies happened to him, Job had sinned.

In the end, God defended Job and offered a startling conclusion. He didn’t rebuke his friends for judging Job but for speaking falsely about Himself (Job 42:7). This is a humbling reminder that when we make careless judgments about others, we are sinning against God.
Lord, please restrain my lips when I’m tempted to say
what I shouldn’t say about people made in
Your image. Use my words to bless and not harm.
May I reflect Your heart.
If you are a Christian, remember that people judge your Lord by you.
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  #1415  
Old 06-20-2012, 03:38 AM
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Default Jun. 20

A Good Neighbor

June 20, 2012

Read: Luke 10:29-37

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. —1 John 4:11

In June 2011, when disastrous flood- waters chased residents of Minot, North Dakota, from their homes, the people of that community did what seemed to come naturally to them—they helped others who were in need. People from more than an hour away, without being asked, showed up to help. Some loaned their campers to those who lost their homes and others allowed their garages to be used for temporary storage. The people of North Dakota were showing what it means to be good neighbors.

As followers of Christ, being good neighbors—showing love to others—should come naturally to us as well (Matt. 22:39; John 13:35; 1 John 4:7-11). Even though we may not have the opportunity to respond in a dramatic way to a natural disaster, we can all look for ways to love those around us. To be good neighbors, we can show others mercy (Luke 10:29-37), treat others fairly (Lev. 19:13-18; James 2:1-8), speak to others truthfully (Eph. 4:25), and forgive others completely (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13).

Christians can be the best neighbors around because our love for others flows out of the life of the ultimate neighbor—Jesus Christ—who loved and sacrificed His life for us.
Oh, to be like Him, tender and kind,
Gentle in spirit, lowly in mind;
More like to Jesus, day after day,
Filled with His Spirit now and alway. —Ellsworth
Our love for Christ is only as real as our love for our neighbor.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1416  
Old 06-21-2012, 12:54 AM
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Default Jun. 21

Tempting Outside; Toxic Inside

June 21, 2012

Read: Proverbs 2:6-20

Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path. —Proverbs 2:9

An Australian study concluded that plainer cigarette packages would make smoking less appealing to teens. In response, the Australian government introduced legislation that would require tobacco companies to replace color, logos, and promotional text on cigarette packages with health warnings and images of diseased lungs. In effect, the Marlboro Man would give way to the Grim Reaper in an effort to reduce the number of deaths caused by smoking. But cigarette packaging isn’t the only thing that may be tempting on the outside with a toxic product inside.

The Old Testament book of Proverbs urges us to carefully consider the long-term results of all our choices. The recurring phrase “in the end” (Prov. 5:4; 25:8; 29:21) is a warning to look down the road and ask if what we’re attracted to will ultimately lead to joy or sorrow, honor or disgrace, life or death. “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright” (2:6-7).

The key to avoiding the tragic results of foolish choices is embracing God’s wisdom as our guide through life. “Then [we] will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path” (v.9).
There’s so much wisdom to be learned,
So many ways for me to grow,
Lord, I would listen like a child,
And learn what You would have me know. —K. De Haan
Wisdom is understanding what’s really important.
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  #1417  
Old 06-22-2012, 02:14 AM
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Default Jun. 22

When Not To Witness

June 22, 2012

Read: Matthew 26:57-64

Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “. . . Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” —Matthew 26:63

Here in New England where I live, baseball is a near-religious pursuit. Even if it were against the law to talk about the Boston Red Sox while at work, the fans couldn’t stop—they love their team that much.

That raises a question in my mind for Christians: Are there times when a Christian shouldn’t talk about God? I think so. In the face of insincere challenges to our faith, silence may often be the best response. In the hostile situation of Jesus’ exchange with Caiaphas, He chose silence at first (Matt. 26:63). He understood that Caiaphas wasn’t interested in the truth (v.59). While we don’t always know another’s heart, we must be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit in every situation that we “may know how [we] ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6).

Also, if an answer to a question will move the discussion down a rabbit trail and away from Christ, we might want to stop the conversation and pick it up another day.

Are there other times when silence may be best? If talking about faith distracts us or co-workers from performing our job, we should stay focused on our work. Or if someone has shown a continual resistance, we might choose to stop pressing them. Remember, we can be a witness of God’s grace with our conduct as well (1 Peter 3:1-2).
Dear Lord, we want to be a testimony for You.
Give us wisdom to know when to speak or not speak,
and what to say or not say. Thank You, Holy Spirit,
for Your direction today.
Silence can be one tool in evangelism.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1418  
Old 06-23-2012, 03:27 AM
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Default Jun. 23

Enemy Deceptions

June 23, 2012

Read: John 8:42-47

But I fear . . . as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. —2 Corinthians 11:3

Written in the sixth-century bc by Chinese general Sun Tzu, The Art of War has been a guide for military thinking for centuries. But it has also been used by men and women in a wide variety of other arenas, including leadership, management, business, politics, and sports. What Sun Tzu wrote about military warfare can help followers of Christ to understand the tactics of our spiritual enemy: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”

Likewise, the spiritual warfare that Satan wages against us is also based on deceit. In fact, the very first sin was the result of the enemy’s deception. Notice what Paul said: “I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3).

This truth is what gives such importance to our Lord’s warning that Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), ever seeking to deceive us. What is our defense? To saturate our hearts in the truth of God’s Word. Only God’s inspired truth can protect us against the deceptions of the enemy.
Father, we know that the devil is clever, deceptive,
and sly. We don’t want to be tricked by him to swallow
his lies. Help us to discern his cunning methods
and fill our minds with Your truth.
God’s truth is the best protection against Satan’s lies.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1419  
Old 06-24-2012, 05:44 AM
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Default Jun. 24

Any Distance, Any Time

June 24, 2012

Read: Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching [and] preaching the gospel. —Matthew 9:35

For several years, I’ve corresponded with a pastor in Nepal who often travels with his church members to distant communities in the Himalayas to preach and plant churches. Recently he sent me his itinerary for the following week and asked me to pray.

His busy schedule revealed that over the course of a week he planned to travel by motorcycle about 160 kilometers (100 miles) to several cities to preach and hand out gospel tracts.

I wondered at the great distances my friend would cover over mountainous terrain, and I wrote to ask how he was holding up. He replied, “We had a wonderful time of marching in the mountains with our church members. All do not have motorcycles . . . so we all walked. It was a blessed time. Still more places to go.” And then I was reminded of how “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 9:35).

I thought of my reluctance to drive across town in the snow to visit a lonely widower; to walk across the street to help a neighbor; to answer a knock on the door from a needy friend when I’m busy; to go any time, any place, any distance for the sake of love. And I thought of our Lord, for whom no distance was too great.
Christ traveled to the earth below
And left behind His throne above;
No distance was too great for Him
Because He was compelled by love. —Sper
What God gave to us, He wants us to share.
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  #1420  
Old 06-25-2012, 03:47 AM
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Default Jun. 25

Pureed Pursuit

June 25, 2012

Read: John 6:42-51

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. —John 6:44

James was diagnosed with heart problems, and his wife, Becky, was no longer able to care for him or herself very well. They started looking for an assisted living home. One of Becky’s first questions as she visited each home was, “Do you puree your food?” She was concerned that James have the kind of food he needed for his swallowing difficulty. Several places answered “no,” so she kept searching. Finally she heard “yes” at a Christian assisted living home.

Even though they weren’t believers in Jesus and had often argued with a Christian neighbor about Him, James and Becky chose the Christian home because of the pureed food. They began attending chapel services, heard the gospel, and felt well cared for by the workers there. One day James surrendered his life to Christ. He believes that God was pursuing him (John 6:44), and He used pureed food to bring them to the Christian home where he received the care of God’s people and heard of Christ’s forgiveness.

Conversion is a work of God; in love He draws people to Himself. He uses circumstances, His Word, people, and even pureed food to pursue hearts. Be encouraged in your witness for Him. He will use your words and deeds in His pursuit of those who need Christ.
It is not always words galore
Nor brilliancy of speech
That opens wide the gospel door
Within the sinner’s reach. —Rotz
Love is the magnet that draws believers together and attracts unbelievers to Christ.
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-Colossians 3:23

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