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  #1431  
Old 07-06-2012, 02:47 AM
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Default Jul. 6

Stop!

July 6, 2012

Read: Psalm 131

I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. —Psalm 131:2

Life is a busy enterprise. It seems there are always more things to do, places to go, and people to meet. And while none of us would want a life without meaningful things to do, the fast pace threatens to rob us of the quietness that we need.

When we’re driving a car, stop signs and other signs warning us to slow down are reminders that to be safe we can’t have our foot on the accelerator all the time. We need those kinds of reminders in all aspects of our lives.

The psalmist clearly knew the importance of times of calm and quiet. God Himself “rested” on the seventh day. And with more messages to preach and more people to heal, Jesus went apart from the crowds and rested a while (Matt. 14:13; Mark 6:31). He knew it wasn’t wise to accelerate through life with our gas gauge registering on “weary” all the time.

When was the last time you could echo the psalmist’s words, “I have calmed and quieted my soul”? (Ps. 131:2). Put up a stop sign at the intersection of your busy life. Find a place to be alone. Turn off the distractions that keep you from listening to God’s voice, and let Him speak to you as you read His Word. Let Him refresh your heart and mind with the strength to live life well for His glory.
Life can make me weary and stressed at times.
I want to stop right now though, Lord, and take the time
to quiet my soul before You. Speak to me from
Your Word. Please refresh me.
Stop and take a break from the busyness of life so that you can refuel your soul.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1432  
Old 07-07-2012, 02:46 AM
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Default Jul. 7

Looking Back

July 7, 2012

Read: Genesis 48:8-16

God . . . has fed me all my life long to this day. —Genesis 48:15

George Matheson, best known for the hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go,” wrote another song titled “Ignored Blessings,” in which he looks back to “the road gone by.” It was by looking back he could see that his heavenly Father had led him all the way.

God has an itinerary for each of us, a “course” that we must run (see Acts 20:24 and 2 Tim. 4:7). Our route is charted in the councils of heaven and rooted in the sovereign purposes of God.

Yet our choices are not irrelevant. We make decisions every day, large and small, some of which have life-altering consequences. The question—aside from the confounding mystery of God’s sovereignty and human choice—is this: How can we discern the course to be run?

The answer is clearer to me now that I’m older and have more of the past to look back on. By looking back, I see that God has led me all the way. I can truthfully say, “God has been my shepherd all my life to this day” (Gen. 48:15 NIV). Though clouds surround the present and I do not know what the future may hold, I have the assurance that the Shepherd will show me the way. My task is to follow Him in love and obedience, and trust each step to Him.
O Father of light and leading,
From the top of each rising hill
Let me cast my eye on the road gone by
To mark the steps of Thy will. —Matheson
We can trust our all-knowing God for the unknown future.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1433  
Old 07-08-2012, 04:54 AM
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Default Jul. 8

The Viral Gospel

July 8, 2012

Read: Acts 7:59–8:8

Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word. —Acts 8:4

The term “viral video” refers to a short clip posted on the Internet that spreads rapidly as the link is sent from one person to another. The video may be funny, inspiring, or thought provoking, and it can quickly spread around the world and be seen by millions of people. It’s an advertiser’s dream, but few marketing experts are able to exploit it. Lacy Kemp wrote: “How do you make something spread like wildfire? The answer is that you can’t. It’s not something to plan for or else everyone would be doing it. It has to be awesome enough on its own to get there.”

The gospel of Jesus Christ is “viral” in the way it spreads from one person to another. After Stephen, a leader in the early church, was stoned for his faith, the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem were persecuted and forced to leave their homes (Acts 8:1-3). Instead of fearfully holding back, these Christians told people about Him wherever they went. “Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word” (v.4).

When we truly know Christ we cannot keep the good news about Him to ourselves. Even in the most challenging circumstances, we want to keep on telling others about our Savior and Lord.
Lord, You have been so gracious to save us
and give us eternal life. We love You and want
to tell everyone we can
about Your amazing grace. Lead us, we pray.
Spread the gospel; it’s contagious!
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1434  
Old 07-08-2012, 10:48 PM
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Default Jul. 9

Who’s Behind It?

July 9, 2012

Read: 1 Chronicles 17:16-24

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights. —James 1:17

At a cultural show in Bandung, Indonesia, we enjoyed a wonderful orchestra performance. Before the finale, the 200 people in the audience were each handed an angklung, a musical instrument made of bamboo. We were taught how to shake it in rhythm with the conductor’s timing. Soon we thought we were performing like an orchestra; we felt so proud of how well we were doing! Then it dawned on me that we were not the ones who were good; it was the conductor who deserved the credit.

Similarly, when everything is going well in our lives, it’s easy to feel proud. We’re tempted to think that we are good and that it is by our abilities that we’ve achieved success. During such moments, we tend to forget that behind it all is our good God who prompts, prevents, provides, and protects.

David remembered that truth: “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: ‘Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?’” (1 Chron. 17:16). David’s heart swelled up in appreciation of God’s goodness.

The next time we are tempted to take credit for the blessings we enjoy, let’s pause and remember that it is the Lord who brings blessing.
No strength of our own, nor goodness we claim;
Our trust is all thrown on Jesus’ name:
In this our strong tower for safety we hide;
The Lord is our power, “The Lord will provide.” —Newton
The hand of the Father is behind all good things.
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  #1435  
Old 07-10-2012, 02:07 AM
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Default Jul. 10

It’s Okay To Ask

July 10, 2012

Read: Luke 7:18-28

Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, . . . the poor have the gospel preached to them. —Luke 7:22

It’s perfectly natural for fear and doubt to creep into our minds at times. “What if heaven isn’t real after all?” “Is Jesus the only way to God?” “Will it matter in the end how I lived my life?” Questions like these should not be given quick or trite responses.

John the Baptist, whom Jesus called the greatest of the prophets (Luke 7:28), had questions shortly before his execution (v.19). He wanted to know for sure that Jesus was the Messiah and that his own ministry had therefore been valid.

Jesus’ response is a comforting model for us to use. Instead of discounting the doubt or criticizing John, Jesus pointed to the miracles He was doing. As eyewitnesses, John’s disciples could return with vivid assurances for their mentor. But He did more—He used words and phrases (v.22) drawn from Isaiah’s prophecies of the coming Messiah (Isa. 35:4-6; 61:1), which were certain to be familiar to John.

Then, turning to the crowd, Jesus praised John (Luke 7:24-28), removing any doubt that He was offended by John’s need for reassurance after all he had seen (Matt. 3:13-17).

Questioning and doubting, both understandable human responses, are opportunities to remind, reassure, and comfort those who are shaken by uncertainty.
When my poor soul in doubt is cast
And darkness hides the Savior’s face,
His love and truth still hold me fast
For He will keep me by His grace. —D. De Haan
Reassurance comes as we doubt our doubts and believe our beliefs.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1436  
Old 07-11-2012, 01:59 AM
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Default Jul. 11

Sweet Slumber

July 11, 2012

Read: Leviticus 26:1-12

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. —Psalm 4:8

Photographer Anne Geddes has made an art form out of taking pictures of sleeping babies. Her photos evoke smiles. Nothing is a better image of peace than a sleeping child.

But between naps and nighttime, caring for children is an exhausting and relentless responsibility. In their innocence and enthusiasm, children can get themselves into life-threatening situations in no time. After a hectic day of chasing, entertaining, protecting, feeding, dressing, guarding, guiding, and making peace between squabbling siblings, parents are eager for bedtime. After the toys are put away and the pajamas are put on, the sleepy toddler slows down, cuddles with mom or dad for a bedtime story, and finally falls asleep. Later, before putting themselves to bed, parents check on their children one more time to make sure all is peaceful in dreamland. The serene beauty of a sleeping child makes all the day’s frustrations worthwhile.

Scripture indicates that God’s ideal condition for His children is peace (Lev. 26:6), but too often in our immaturity we get into trouble and cause conflict. Like parents of young children, God desires for us to become weary of wrongdoing and to rest in the safety and contentment of His loving ways.
Lord, help me not to squabble and cause friction
with others about unimportant matters.
May I instead find rest in Your love and wisdom,
and seek peace. Amen.
In His will is our peace. —Dante
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  #1437  
Old 07-12-2012, 02:10 AM
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Default Jul. 12

Mysterious Invisibility

July 12, 2012

Read: Acts 2:1-11

Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. —Acts 2:2

Across the United States and around the world, we often experience the dramatic effect of something no one can see. In 2011, for instance, several US cities were devastated by tornadoes that blew apart neighborhoods and business districts. And during each hurricane season, we are shocked as winds of more than 100 miles an hour threaten to destroy what we have built.

All of this is the result of an unseen force. Sure, we see the wind’s effects (flags flapping, debris flying), but we cannot see the wind itself. It works in mysterious invisibility.

In a sense, this is also true of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2, when believers experienced the filling of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, “suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). That wind was a tangible demonstration to those early Christians that the unseen Spirit was at work in their lives. And He still works in our lives today! If you are a follower of Christ, be encouraged. The Holy Spirit bears fruit in your life (Gal. 5:22-23), forms believers into one body (1 Cor. 12:13), and assures you of God’s presence (1 John 3:24). The Holy Spirit is a powerful Person in our lives—even though we can’t see Him.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my heart—illumine me,
Spirit divine. —Scott
The Holy Spirit works powerfully, though invisibly.
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  #1438  
Old 07-13-2012, 12:35 AM
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Default Jul. 13

Ant Safari

July 13, 2012

Go to the ant . . . . Consider her ways and be wise. —Proverbs 6:6

In his book Adventures Among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions, Mark Moffett reflects on his early childhood fascination with ants—an interest that didn’t die as he grew older. Moffett’s preoccupation led to his earning a doctorate at Harvard and then embarking on worldwide travel as an expert on the subject. His study has given him marvelous insights about these industrious creatures.

Long before Moffett discovered some of the wonders of the ant world, the Scriptures remarked on the ingenuity and work ethic of these tiny insects. Ants are held up by wise King Solomon as an example of industry for those who tend to be lazy: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain . . . provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest” (Prov. 6:6-8).

The marvels of God’s creation are beautifully illustrated as God uses His creatures to instruct us. For instance, from the ant we can see the importance of planning ahead and laying away provisions for the future (30:25). God built spiritual lessons into nature itself, and we can learn from creatures even as tiny as an ant.
In the open book of nature faith remains unmoved—
Patterns of the Master-Builder by each fact are proved;
So with reverent hearts we ponder all the grand design
Of the universe around us, wrought by hands divine. —Peterson
In God’s pattern book of nature we can trace many valuable lessons.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1439  
Old 07-14-2012, 03:03 AM
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Default Jul. 14

Two Lessons Learned

July 14, 2012

Read: Deuteronomy 8:1-10

The Lord your God led you all the way these forty years . . . to humble you and test you. —Deuteronomy 8:2

Afew weeks after writing an Our Daily Bread article about the importance of obeying the law, I set out on an 850-mile trip—determined to stay within the posted speed limit. While driving out of a small town in New Mexico, I became more occupied with unwrapping a sandwich than with watching the road signs, and I got a speeding ticket. My first lesson that day was that not paying attention costs the same as deliberate disregard for the law. And I still had 700 miles to go!

My second lesson was that our resolve will always be tested. I thought of Moses’ words to God’s people as they prepared to enter the Promised Land: “You shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Deut. 8:2).

Pastor and author Eugene Peterson called the process of following Christ “a long obedience in the same direction.” Every resolution to begin to obey must be followed by many decisions to continue.

God gave me a humbling reminder of how vital it is to keep my heart set on obeying Him—and to pay attention along the way.
Thou who hast freely given
Thine all in all for me,
Claim this life for Thine own to be used,
My Savior, every moment for Thee. —Christiansen
To love God is to obey God.
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  #1440  
Old 07-15-2012, 12:40 AM
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Default Jul. 15

Opening Our Homes

July 15, 2012

Read: Acts 18:1-4

Because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. —Acts 18:3


In Outlive Your Life, Max Lucado writes: “Hospitality opens the door to uncommon community. It’s no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, for they both lead to the same result: healing. When you open your door to someone, you are sending this message: ‘You matter to me and to God.’ You may think you are saying, ‘Come over for a visit.’ But what your guest hears is, ‘I’m worth the effort.’” This is what the apostle Paul must have heard and felt when Aquila and Priscilla opened the doors of their home to him. When he arrived in Corinth, he was probably exhausted from his journey from Athens. He may also have been discouraged because of his seemingly unsuccessful ministry there (Acts 17:16-34). He later wrote, “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3). Aquila and Priscilla probably met Paul in the marketplace of Corinth and opened their home to him. They provided a spiritual oasis through Christian hospitality. As followers of Jesus, we are called to be hospitable, to be a “hospital” that helps those who are going through life’s storms and need restoration. We can be used by the Lord because He has provided for us.

Heavenly Father, make me open to be willing to serve others through showing hospitality. May I provide a safe haven for those going through the storms of life. Amen.

Christian hospitality is an open heart and an open home
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