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  #1441  
Old 07-16-2012, 05:17 PM
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Default Jul. 16

Speech Study

July 16, 2012

Read: Proverbs 18:1-15

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth. —Ephesians 4:29

Dr. Deb Roy, a researcher and cognitive scientist with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recorded the first 3 years of his child’s life to learn how humans acquire language. He and his wife rigged their home with recording devices, which they used to collect over 200,000 hours of audio and video footage. Amassing, condensing, and editing the recordings enabled them to hear baby sounds like “gaga” evolve into words like “water.”

If someone wanted to conduct a research project at your home, would you participate if you knew that your every syllable would be recorded and analyzed? What would the study reveal? Proverbs 18 offers insight about some unwise speech patterns. The writer notes that foolish people express their own opinions instead of trying to understand what others have to say (v.2). Does this characterize us? Do we sometimes provoke fights with our words (v.7), or speak impulsively and “answer a matter before [hearing] it”? (v.13).

We need to become students of our speech. With God’s help we can identify and transform destructive dialogue into words of encouragement that are “good for necessary edification” and that “impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29).

Take my voice and let me sing Always, only, for my King; Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages for Thee. —Havergal

Our words have the power to build up or tear down
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1442  
Old 07-17-2012, 02:26 PM
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Default Jul. 17

What’s The Trouble?

July 17, 2012

Read: Joshua 7:1-13

Be sure your sin will find you out. —Numbers 32:23


There was something wrong with my lawn. I couldn’t see what the trouble was, but I knew something was causing damage.

After investigating, I discovered the problem: moles. Those voracious little bug-eaters were crawling around just under the surface of my previously well-groomed lawn looking for food and wreaking havoc on my grass.

The children of Israel also had a problem with a hidden cause (Josh. 7). They were experiencing trouble, and they couldn’t figure out why. There was something hidden from their view that was causing serious damage.

The trouble became noticeable when Joshua sent 3,000 troops to attack Ai. Although that should have been a sufficient army to defeat Ai’s small force, the opposite happened. Ai routed the Israelites, killing 36 of them and chasing them back where they came from. Joshua had no idea why this trouble had come. Then God explained the hidden problem: One of his men, Achan, had violated a clear command and had stolen some “accursed things” from Jericho (Josh. 7:11). Only when that hidden sin was discovered and taken care of could Israel have victory.

Hidden sin does great damage. We need to bring it to the surface and deal with it—or face certain defeat.

Dear Lord, I don’t want anything in my life to hinder my fellowship with You. You know what’s in my heart. Reveal any areas of my life that are not pleasing to You and forgive me. Amen.

Confession to God ensures forgiveness.
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  #1443  
Old 07-18-2012, 01:25 PM
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Default Jul. 18

The Best Things In Life

July 18, 2012

Read: Proverbs 23:1-18

Do not overwork to be rich. —Proverbs 23:4

An old adage says, “The best things in life are free.” There’s a lot of truth in that. Some people, however, believe that the best things in life are expensive or perhaps elusive. Recently I saw a sign that made me smile and think. It said, “The best things in life are not things.” What a great way to say it! The value of family, friends, and faith points us to the realization that what matters most in life is all wrapped up in people and the Lord.

Solomon was well qualified to speak about material things because he “surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom” (1 Kings 10:23). His advice? “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (Prov. 23:4-5). His recommended course of action was, “Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge. . . . For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off” (vv.12,18).

The best things in life are the eternal riches that come from God’s goodness and grace in Jesus Christ. We do not hold them in our hands, but in our hearts.

The treasures of earth are not mine, I hold not its silver and gold; But a treasure far greater is mine; I have riches of value untold. —Hartzler

Our greatest riches are the riches we have in Christ.
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  #1444  
Old 07-19-2012, 03:52 PM
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Default Jul. 19

Dorian Gray

July 19, 2012

Read: Matthew 23:23-31

For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of . . . all uncleanness. —Matthew 23:27

The Victorian novel The Picture of Dorian Gray illustrates how the person we project to others may be very different from who we are on the inside. After the youthful and handsome Dorian Gray had his portrait painted, he dreaded the prospect of growing old, and he wished the portrait would grow old in his place.

Soon he realized that his wish had been granted. The portrait, which mirrored his troubled soul, aged and became more hideous with each sin Dorian committed, while he himself remained youthful. His outward appearance did not match his corrupted heart.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for displaying a similar hypocrisy. Many of them took pride in showing off their spirituality in public. Yet on the inside, they were guilty of many secret sins. Because of this, Jesus compared them to “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of . . . all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27).

We are tempted to cultivate a false image for others to see. But God knows our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7; Prov. 15:3). Through confession and prayerfully opening our hearts to God’s Word and the work of the Spirit, we can experience an inner goodness that is reflected in godly actions. Let God transform you from the inside out (2 Cor. 3:17-18).

Father, it’s easy to put up a front and hide from the public what we are really like. We’re grateful that we cannot hide from You. You know us. Please change us inside and out.

Only Christ can transform us.
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  #1445  
Old 07-20-2012, 11:48 AM
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Default Jul. 20

Blunders To Wonders

July 20, 2012

Read: John 21:15-19

Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored. —Lamentations 5:21

Artist James Hubbell says, “Mistakes are gifts.” Whenever he’s working on a project and something goes wrong, he doesn’t start over. He looks for a way to use the mistake to make something better. None of us can avoid making blunders, and all of us have favorite ways of dealing with them. We may try to hide them or to correct them or to apologize for them.

We do that with our sin sometimes too. But God doesn’t throw us away and start over. He redeems us and makes us better.

The apostle Peter tended to do and say whatever seemed best at the moment. He has been referred to as an “impetuous blunderer.” In his fear after Jesus was arrested, Peter claimed three times that he didn’t know Jesus! Yet later, on the basis of Peter’s three declarations of love, Jesus turned Peter’s humiliating denial into a wonderful occasion of restoration (John 21). Despite Peter’s flawed past, Jesus restored him to ministry with these words: “Feed My sheep” (v.17).

If you have made a “blunder” so big that it seems irreversible, the most important matter is whether you love Jesus. When we love Him, Jesus can turn our most serious blunders into awesome wonders.
Lord, I’m so human and make foolish mistakes.
And worse yet, I willfully sin against You.
Please forgive me, change me, restore me,
and use me for Your name’s sake. Amen.
God can change our blunders into wonders.
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  #1446  
Old 07-21-2012, 02:42 AM
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Default Jul. 21

Abide With Me

July 21, 2012

Read: Hebrews 13:1-8

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” —Hebrews 13:5

One of the highlights of English football (soccer) each year is the final match of the annual FA Cup Final. For more than a hundred years, the day has been marked by excitement, festivity, and competition. But what fascinates me is how the game begins. It starts with the singing of the traditional hymn “Abide With Me.”

At first that struck me as odd. What does that hymn have to do with football? As I thought about it, though, I realized that for the follower of Christ it has everything to do with sports, shopping, working, going to school, or anything else we do. Since there is no corner of our lives that should not be affected by the presence of God, the longing that He would abide with us is actually the most reasonable thing we could desire. Of course, the presence of our heavenly Father is not something we need to plead for—it is promised to us. In Hebrews 13:5, we read, “For [God] Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

Not only is God’s presence the key to our contentment, but it is also the promise that can give us wisdom, peace, comfort, and strength—no matter where we are or what we are doing.
Thank You, Lord, for walking with us every day.
You are our guardian, friend, and guide.
May we sense Your loving presence and always
know that You are close by our side. Amen.
Our greatest privilege is to enjoy Christ’s presence.
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  #1447  
Old 07-22-2012, 02:08 PM
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Default Jul. 22

Surrounded By Prayer

July 22, 2012

Read: Romans 15:22-33

Now I beg you, brethren, . . . that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me. —Romans 15:30

My friend Melissa’s 9-year-old daughter Sydnie was in the hospital for chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant when I had a dream about her. I dreamed she was staying in a central room at the hospital with her parents. Surrounding her room was a block of other rooms where family and friends were staying and continually praying for her during her times of treatment.

In real life, Sydnie wasn’t physically surrounded by family and friends in adjacent rooms. But spiritually speaking, she was and is surrounded by prayer and love.

The apostle Paul seemed to have a desire to be surrounded by prayer. In most of his letters to churches, he requested to be remembered in prayer to the Lord (2 Cor. 1:11; Eph. 6:18-20; Col. 4:2-4; Philem. 1:22). To the believers in Rome, he wrote, “Now I beg you, brethren, . . . that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me” (Rom. 15:30). He knew that he could not be effective in his service for God without His power.

The Bible tells us that Jesus also prays for us (John 17:20; Heb. 7:25), as does the Holy Spirit, whose prayers are according to the will of God (Rom. 8:27). What a comfort to be surrounded by prayer!
We give to those we hold most dear
No greater help and care
Than when we give them to the Lord,
Surrounding them with prayer. —D. De Haan
Prayer prompted by the Holy Spirit is powerful.
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  #1448  
Old 07-23-2012, 12:55 AM
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Default Jul. 23

Troubled Times

July 23, 2012

Read: John 16:25-33

In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. —John 16:33

If you’ve never heard of Murphy’s Law, you’ve probably experienced it: “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

Murphy’s maxim reminds me of the principle Jesus shared with His disciples when He told them, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33 NIV). In other words, we can count on it—sooner or later we will hit troubled times. It’s not the way God originally intended life to be, but when the human race first succumbed to Satan’s seduction in the garden, everything on this planet fell into the grip of sin. And the result has been disorder and dysfunction ever since.

The reality of trouble in life is obvious. It’s the reality of peace that often eludes us. Interestingly, when Jesus warned His followers about trouble, in the same breath He also promised peace. He even told them to “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (v.33). The word overcome indicates a past event that has a continuing effect. Not only did Jesus conquer the fallen world through His death and resurrection, but He continues to provide victory, no matter how much trouble we may face.

So, although we can expect some trouble in this fallen world, the good news is that we can count on Jesus for peace in troubled times.
Dear Lord, thank You for always being with us.
We ask that when troubles invariably come,
You would renew in us once again the blessed
peace of Your presence. Amen.
In the midst of troubles, peace can be found in Jesus.
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  #1449  
Old 07-24-2012, 02:59 AM
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Default Jul. 24

Planted In The House Of The Lord

July 24, 2012

Read: Psalm 92

They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing. —Psalm 92:14

After conducting a series of interviews with elderly people, author Don Gold published the book Until the Singing Stops: A Celebration of Life and Old Age in America.

Gold loved and admired his grandmother, and it was the memory of her that moved him to meet and learn from other elderly people. He recalls that on the way to one of his interviews, he got lost on a dusty country road in Missouri. When he pulled into a farm to ask for directions, a teenager came up, listened, shrugged his shoulders, and then replied, “Don’t know.” So he drove on. A few miles farther down the road, he stopped again at a farmhouse. The farmer, who was an old man, graciously gave him flawless directions.

Perhaps, Gold mused, that experience sums up what he was searching for when the memory of his grandmother sent him out to find people like her. He was looking for someone to guide him in his life journey.

If you’re “young,” seek out older people who have been drinking deeply from God’s love and goodness throughout their life. They have wisdom to share that will help you so that you also might flourish and grow in your faith (Ps. 92:12-14).
Dear Jesus, take my heart and hand,
And grant me this, I pray:
That I through Your sweet love may grow
More like You day by day. —Garrison
Fellowship with Christ is the secret of fruitfulness for Him.
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  #1450  
Old 07-25-2012, 02:25 AM
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Default Jul. 25

Remembering The Reason

July 25, 2012

Read: Mark 10:35-45

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. —Mark 10:45

Joe Morris flavors his ice cream with ingredients ranging from chocolate and strawberries to green tea and dried chipotle peppers. He’s one of three ice-cream makers for a successful Texas company known for its quality, creativity, and innovation. But Joe hasn’t forgotten why he does it.

He told reporter Ricardo Gándara that one of the longtime employees always reminded them, “Why are we making ice cream? It’s a happy food. We’re here to make people happy.” And that’s why Joe Morris makes ice cream.

We know that it’s extremely important to remember the reason for what we do as followers of Jesus. If we forget, we become like the disciples when a dispute over who was most important created anger and division among them. Jesus reminded them that “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:35-45).

If our goal is to share the good news of God’s love with others, we won’t become impersonal or harsh if someone resists or ridicules our appeal. As we follow our Lord’s path of loving service and sacrifice, we are reminded that He came to serve and save.

That’s the reason for everything we do.
He whose right was heaven’s glory
Chose to serve on earth below,
Leaving us a clear example
Of the love He’d have us show. —D. De Haan
Keep your eyes on the Lord, and you won’t lose sight of life’s purpose.
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