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  #1421  
Old 06-26-2012, 04:11 AM
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Default Jun. 26

Cornered

June 26, 2012

Read: Luke 6:27-36

Pray for those who spitefully use you. —Luke 6:28

One Sunday morning, D. L. Moody entered a house in Chicago to escort some children to Sunday school. During his visit, three men backed him into a corner and threatened him. “Look here,” Moody said. “Give a fellow a chance to say his prayers, won’t you?” The men actually allowed him to call out to God, and Moody prayed for them so earnestly that they left the room.

Had I been in Moody’s situation, I might have called for help or looked for the back door. I’m not sure I would have acted on Jesus’ command to His followers: “Pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28 NIV).

Praying for the people who treat us with contempt is one way to “do good to those who hate [us]” (v.27). Jesus explained that Christians get no credit for swapping acts of kindness with other “nice” people. He said, “Even sinners do the same” (v.33). However, blessing our persecutors (Rom. 12:14) sets us apart from them and aligns us with the Most High, because God is kind even to wicked people (Luke 6:35).

Today, if you feel “cornered” by someone, seek safety if the situation calls for it, and follow Jesus’ teaching: Pray for that person (Luke 23:34). Prayer is your best defense.
We want to know Your heart, Lord, and have Your
wisdom to know how to handle opposition.
Give us patience to show kindness.
Guide us, we pray.
Returning good for good is human; returning good for evil is divine.
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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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  #1422  
Old 06-27-2012, 03:58 AM
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Default Jun. 27

A Commitment To Care

June 27, 2012

Read: Galatians 5:14–6:2

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. —Galatians 6:2

During the months following the death of my wife’s mother, we received a number of cards and letters from the hospice team who had so lovingly cared for Mom and walked with our family along the pathway of loss. One letter offered thoughts on dealing constructively with grief. Another said, “As the date of your mother’s birthday approaches, we remember her, and our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.” These wonderful caregivers know that grieving is an ongoing process that requires continuing help and support. They exhibit deep compassion in all they do.

Paul’s words “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2) come as an exclamation point to his description of life in the Spirit. In contrast to the destructive, self-centered acts of the sinful nature (Gal. 5:19-21), the fruit of the Holy Spirit in and through us is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (vv.22-23). The great freedom we have in Christ allows us to serve each other in love (v.13).

A word of encouragement to a hurting friend can come like a refreshing rain. When we continue to care in tangible ways, it grows into a life-giving stream of healing and love.
Love is giving for the world’s needs,
Love is sharing as the Spirit leads,
Love is caring when the world cries,
Love is compassion with Christlike eyes. —Brandt
Compassion is the capacity to put Christlike love into action.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1423  
Old 06-28-2012, 01:47 AM
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Default Jun. 28

In Praise Of Sovereignty

June 28, 2012

Read: Psalm 103:15-22

The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. —Psalm 103:19

In James Fenimore Cooper’s book The Last of the Mohicans, we become acquainted with a character named David Gamut. He is a devout Christian who delights in setting the Psalms to music and singing them no matter what circumstances life brings his way. Gamut believes that God can be trusted in crisis as well as in good times. He lives a life in praise of God’s sovereignty—His supreme power, authority, and control over the world.

The Bible tells us about another David, a flesh-and-blood person who was no stranger to unpredictable life circumstances and who loved to respond to God in praise: King David of Israel. He saw the giant Goliath fall by his sling, he was chased by the murderous King Saul, and he watched the nation of Israel rally under his own leadership. Yet in all these situations, David took time to write and sing psalms of praise to his sovereign God. For example, he wrote, “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all” (Ps. 103:19). David understood that in all circumstances we can worship and thank God for His care and control.

What are you experiencing today? A time of blessing or of testing? In any event, remember David’s example, and sing praises to God for His rule in our lives.
Lord, shape my life as only You can,
Guiding each day by Your loving plan;
Take what You need and give what You will;
My life is Yours to use and to fill. —Branon
Praise the Lord! Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! —Psalm 150:1-2
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1424  
Old 06-29-2012, 02:16 AM
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Default Jun. 29

Help Is On The Way!

June 29, 2012

Read: Revelation 2:12-17

I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. —Revelation 2:13

When 33 miners were trapped in a Chilean mine deep under the earth’s surface, I wonder if they felt totally lost and doomed to a slow and painful death. Imagine how they must have been filled with joy when they got a message from above that the rescue team knew exactly where they were and that the process of getting them out had already begun!

There are times in all of our lives when we feel like we’re stuck in a really bad place. Anxious and alone, we despair that we are out of options and that no one understands where we really are in life. But in such moments we need to remember God’s comforting words to the early Christians who were stuck in a world where Satan’s presence dominated all that was around them: “I know . . . where you dwell” (Rev. 2:13). Their situation had not escaped the heavenly Father’s notice. And as they were faithful to Him, He would sustain them until He rescued them and brought them safely home (v.17).

The fact that God knows where you are and that He is very much aware of the difficult situation you are in provides the confidence and strength needed to live for His glory. So be encouraged. Remember God’s words of comfort. Help is on the way!

For further study read Where Can We Find Comfort?
You know the struggles that we face, Lord.
You know just what we need to endure them.
Give us the confidence to trust You because of Your
goodness and to walk by faith. Amen.
Our greatest hope here below is help from God above.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1425  
Old 06-30-2012, 03:20 AM
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Default Jun. 30

Ignorance & Innocence

June 30, 2012

Read: Romans 5:12-21

As sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. —Romans 5:21

Some people avoid going to the doctor because they don’t want to find out that anything is wrong with them. Some people avoid going to church for the same reason. But ignorance of our sickness doesn’t make us healthy, and ignorance of our sin doesn’t make us innocent

Roman law is considered to be the source of the idea that ignorance of the law excuses no one. But the concept originated much earlier. When God gave the law to Israel, He established that even unintentional sin required a sacrifice for forgiveness (Lev. 4; Ezek. 45:18-20).

In his letter to Christians living in Rome, the apostle Paul addressed the issue of ignorance or lack of understanding. When people were ignorant of God’s righteousness, they made up their own (Rom. 10:3). When we live according to our own standards of right and wrong, we might feel good about ourselves, but that doesn’t make us spiritually healthy. Only when we are measured by God’s standard of righteousness (Jesus) do we know the condition of our spiritual health.

None of us can achieve the righteousness of Christ, but thankfully we don’t have to. He shares His righteousness with us (5:21). The good news about finding out what’s wrong with us is that the Great Physician can make us well.
Great Physician, You know my heart. I bow
before You now and ask that You show me
any attitude or action that doesn’t please You.
Make me clean; make me well.
God is the Measurer and Healer of our spiritual health.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1426  
Old 07-01-2012, 04:07 AM
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Default Jul. 1

The Offering Plate

July 1, 2012

Read: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9

See that you abound in this grace also. —2 Corinthians 8:7

Ed Dobson, my former pastor, often said that he disliked preaching about financial giving to the church. He said his previous job required fundraising, so he didn’t like putting any unnecessary pressure on people. But when he was teaching through 2 Corinthians, and he came to chapters 8 and 9, he couldn’t avoid the topic of giving. What I remember most about his sermon was the illustration he used. He placed an offering plate on the floor, stepped into it, and stood there as he talked about the importance of giving our whole selves to the Lord, not just our wallets.

Those two chapters in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians give us a number of attitudes and actions that we are to display in our giving to the Lord:

• Give yourself to the Lord first (8:5).

• Give, remembering the example of the Lord Jesus (8:9).

• Give according to your means (8:11-12).

• Give enthusiastically because of God’s love (9:2).

• Give generously, not grudgingly or because of outside pressure (9:5-7).

Next time the offering plate comes around at church, imagine yourself stepping into it. It will help you to excel in the grace of giving (8:7).
Thank You, Lord Jesus, for giving Yourself for me on
the cross. Because of Your love, I give all of me—
my heart, my time, my funds, my will—to You.
I love You.
When we give ourselves completely to the Lord, all lesser giving becomes easier.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1427  
Old 07-02-2012, 04:01 AM
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Default Jul. 2

A New Day

July 2, 2012

Read: Psalm 118:19-29

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. —Psalm 118:24

In a morning meeting I recently attended, the person who opened the gathering began by praying, “Lord, thanks for today. It is the beginning of a new day we have never seen before.” Although the idea seemed obvious, that prayer got me thinking about a couple of different things. First, because each day is a new opportunity, it will be filled with things we cannot anticipate or even prepare for. Therefore, it’s important that we recognize our limitations and lean heavily on God—intentionally choosing to live in His grace and strength rather than relying on our own resources.

The second thing that occurred to me is that the newness of each day is a gift worth celebrating. Perhaps this concept was what prompted the psalmist to declare, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).

Of course, we face many unknowns today—and some could be difficult. But the treasure of each brand-new day is so special that Moses was led to write, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (90:12). Every new day is a precious gift. May we thankfully embrace each one with confident trust and humble celebration.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest. —Berg
Each new day gives us new reasons to praise the Lord.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1428  
Old 07-03-2012, 01:45 AM
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Default Jul. 3

E-Mail Prayer

July 3, 2012

Read: Ephesians 1:15-23

[i] do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers. * —Ephesians 1:16

Not long ago, a friend of mine was facing surgery. Two disks in his back and a detached Achilles tendon were creating a lot of pain. After assuring him of my prayers, I was struck with the idea of sending him something in writing to further encourage him. So I sent the following e-mail:

“This is what I prayed for you today. ‘Living God, I thank You for Your sovereign control over life’s events. On behalf of Your dear servant, I ask that You would give him deep peace. I pray for the physicians as they apply their medical skills, that You would give them excellent results. May Your healing hand touch him and bring him back into full service for You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.’ ”

The apostle Paul wrote prayers to encourage other believers (Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-12; 2 Thess. 1:11-12). He wrote to the Ephesians: “[i] do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (1:16-17).

Do you have friends or family members who need your prayers of encouragement right now? Besides letting them know that you’re praying for them, try sending a written prayer as well.
Lord, help us be encouragers
By praying for our friends in need;
And give us opportunities
To show them love in word and deed. —Sper
Praying for others is a privilege—and a responsibility.
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  #1429  
Old 07-04-2012, 04:08 AM
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Default Jul. 4

Fireworks And Freedom

July 4, 2012

Read: Galatians 5:1-14

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. —Galatians 5:13

Thanks to the ingenuity of our Chinese friends, we here in the US celebrate our independence this month with massive displays of colorful fireworks.

Every year when we sing our national anthem and enjoy the vibrant patterns created by “bombs bursting in air,” I remind myself that most bombs are deadly, not beautiful like the fireworks display. Although both use similar ingredients, one is intended to kill; the other to entertain. In this metaphor we see an example of how something can be used for both good and evil. In the hands of capable, careful, and caring people, something dangerous becomes glorious. But the opposite is also true.

Freedom—the very thing we celebrate with fireworks—can also be used for good and evil. As believers in Christ, we are free from the restrictive Mosaic law, but the Bible warns us not to use our spiritual freedom for selfish purposes: “Do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).

Not everyone has political and religious freedom, but all believers in Christ have spiritual freedom. We must not use it as a weapon to impose our will on others but to display the glory of God’s will.
Free from the law—O happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all. —Bliss
Freedom doesn’t give us the right to do what we please, but to do what pleases God.
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  #1430  
Old 07-05-2012, 03:05 AM
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Default Jul. 5

My Buddy William

July 5, 2012

Read: 1 Corinthians 12:18-27

The members should have the same care for one another. —1 Corinthians 12:25

As we got off the bus at a home for mentally and physically challenged children in Copse, Jamaica, I didn’t expect to find a football player. While the teen choir and the other adult chaperones dispersed to find kids to hug, love, and play with, I came upon a young man named William.

I’m not sure what William’s medical diagnosis was, but he looked like he probably had cerebral palsy. I had grabbed a football before getting off the bus, so I tossed it gently to William, who dropped it.

But when I picked it up and put it into his hands, he slowly manipulated it until he had it just how he wanted it. Then, leaning back against a railing for balance, William tossed a perfect spiral. For the next 45 minutes, we played toss and catch—he tossed, I caught. William laughed and laughed—and stole my heart. On that day he had as much impact on me, I’m sure, as I did on him. He taught me that we are all needed as a part of Christ’s body, the church (1 Cor. 12:20-25).

People often dismiss others who are different from themselves. But it is the Williams of the world who teach us that joy can come when we accept others and respond in compassion. Is there a William in your world who needs you to be his buddy?
Lord, help us to see how much we need each other
in our Christian walk. May we show Your love
to others who are different than us. Give us an
open heart to learn. Amen.
We need one another in order to be who God wants us to be.
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-Colossians 3:23

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