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  #1461  
Old 08-05-2012, 02:52 AM
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Default Aug. 5

Totally Clean

August 5, 2012

Read: 1 John 1:1-10

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9

A friend was updating me on his past year—a year in which he had been receiving ongoing medical treatment for cancer. The smile on his face was a powerful testimony to the good news he had just received. He said that at his one-year checkup the doctor announced that the test results all pointed to one thing: “You are totally clean!” What a difference two words can make! To my friend, totally clean meant every trace of the disease that had threatened his life only months before had been wiped from his body. We rejoiced to hear that he was totally clean!

King David, after his moral failure with Bathsheba, longed for a similar thing to happen in his heart. Hoping for the stains of his sin to be washed away, he cried out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10). The good news for him and for us is that our sins can be taken care of. When we need cleansing, John’s familiar words bring hope: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

We can’t cleanse our own hearts; only God can do that. If we confess our sins to Him, He promises to make us totally clean!
Search me, O God, and know my heart today
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin and set me free. —Orr
Confession to God always brings cleansing from God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1462  
Old 08-06-2012, 01:49 AM
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Default Aug. 6

Always

August 6, 2012

Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

We shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. —1 Thessalonians. 4:17-18

I love the words always and never. They hold so much hope! I would like to think that I could always be happy and that life would never fail me. But reality says that I won’t always be happy and that the things I hope would never happen just might. So, as good as these words sound, they struggle to live up to their potential—unless you are thinking about the promise of Jesus’ presence.

To a group of troubled disciples who feared facing life on their own Jesus said, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus said, “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’” (Heb. 13:5-6). And the apostle Paul assures believers that after death, “We shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). How encouraging!

No matter how scary our journey may feel today or how hopeless our future may look, the assurance of His never-failing presence can provide us with the courage and comfort to make it through. And best of all, when this short life is over, we will always be with Him. No wonder Paul encourages us to “comfort one another with these words” (v.18).
Jesus said He’s always with us,
He will never leave our side;
Someday we’ll be in His presence
Where forever we’ll abide. —Sper
Confidence in God’s presence is our comfort.
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  #1463  
Old 08-07-2012, 02:54 AM
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Default Aug. 7

Heavenly Exclamation!

August 7, 2012

Read: 1 Kings 8:22-30

The heavens declare the glory of God. —Psalm 19:1

In August 2011, NASA released a composite image from the Hubble telescope that left people smiling. The image is of two galaxies beginning to collide. The collision looks like a heavenly exclamation point (!). The latest statistic I’ve read says there are about 100 billion observable galaxies in the universe. Each galaxy has hundreds of billions of stars, and more galaxies are being discovered.

When I saw the exclamation-point image on CNN, I was reminded of our awesome Creator. The heavens exclaim His glory (Ps. 19:1), but He is even greater than the heavens He has made. After Solomon built a temple for the Lord’s presence to dwell in, he prayed: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). He knew that if the heavens couldn’t contain God’s presence, the temple he had made surely couldn’t contain Him.

The Lord is so much greater than our finite minds can grasp. Yet He has made it possible for us to know Him through His Son Jesus whom He sent to live on this earth, to die for us, and to be raised. When we believe in Him, our lives join the heavens in proclaiming His glory!
Sing praise to God who reigns above,
The God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love,
The God of our salvation. —Schutz
In creation we see God’s hand, and in redemption we see His heart.
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  #1464  
Old 08-08-2012, 02:17 AM
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Default Aug. 8

Winners And Losers

August 8, 2012

Read: 1 Peter 3:8-12

In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. —Philippians 2:3

As the NFL playoff game ended and the Green Bay Packers celebrated their victory over the Chicago Bears, my daughter Lisa noticed that her little girl, 4-year-old Eliana, was crying. That seemed odd, since neither of Eliana’s parents particularly cared who won the game.

When Lisa asked Eliana why she was crying, she said, “I feel sorry for the Bears. They look so sad.”

Can we learn something from a preschooler about compassion? In a world where winning is so important and losers get rejected, forgotten, and maligned, we need this reminder: People need compassion. When we see others struggling with a loss are we willing to shed tears with them, put our arms around them, and offer to help?

A number of Scripture passages challenge us to treat others with compassion. Philippians 2:1-3 tells us to think of others above ourselves, looking out for their interests—not just ours. First Peter 3:8-12 reminds us that compassion means treating others “as brothers,” and Colossians 3:12-15 says that mercy, kindness, and humility are marks of those God has redeemed.

Look around you. See anyone going through a difficult loss? Go beyond feeling bad for them. Reach out with compassion and God’s love.
Lord, grant me a heart of compassion
So burdened for others’ needs,
That I will show them Your mercy
In attitudes, words, and deeds. —Fitzhugh
One measure of our likeness to Christ is our sensitivity to the suffering of others.
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  #1465  
Old 08-09-2012, 02:38 AM
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Default Aug. 9

Comfort In Captivity

August 9, 2012

Read: Isaiah 39:5–40:5

Comfort, yes, comfort My people! —Isaiah 40:1

On February 10, 1675, 50 colonial families in Lancaster, Massachusetts, feared possible Native American raids. Joseph Rowlandson, the Puritan minister of the village, was in Boston pleading with the government for protection, while Mary, his wife, stayed behind with their children. At sunrise, the settlers were attacked. After some of the settlers were killed, Mary and other survivors were taken captive.

Mary experienced both kindness and cruelty from her captors. The Native Americans, aware of the religious nature of the settlers, gave her a Bible they had confiscated. Later she would write in her memoirs about God’s “goodness in bringing to my hand so many comfortable and suitable Scriptures in my distress.” God’s Word was her great comfort until she was ransomed by the colonists on May 2.

As the nation of Judah waited to be taken into captivity by a foreign power (Isa. 39:5-7), the despair of its people must have been great. But even in that dreadful anticipation, God’s words brought comfort: “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!” (v.8).

Have you been taken captive by circumstances beyond your control? If so, read and meditate on the Word. And experience God’s comfort.
Upon Thy Word I rest, so strong, so sure;
So full of comfort blest, so sweet, so pure,
Thy Word that changest not, that faileth never!
My King, I rest upon Thy Word forever. —Havergal
God’s Word is the true source of comfort.
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  #1466  
Old 08-10-2012, 02:51 AM
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Default Aug. 10

Seek And Save

August 10, 2012

Read: Luke 19:1-10

The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. —Luke 19:10

Lachlan Macquarie, governor of New South Wales from 1810–1821, had a way of making everyone feel included in the new colony. When the “exclusives” (free settlers, civil servants, and military officers) shunned the society of the “emancipists” (transported convicts given conditional or absolute pardon), Governor Macquarie insisted that they be treated as social equals. Jesus showed interest in Zacchaeus, a shunned tax collector in Jericho, and included him in the recipients of His salvation plan (Luke 19:1-10). A marginalized and hated man because of his profession, Zacchaeus was desperate to see Jesus and climbed a tree to get a glimpse of Him. When Jesus passed by, He saw Zacchaeus’ desire and told him to come down because he had a divine appointment at his house. Some complained that Jesus was spending time with a sinner. His loving attention changed Zacchaeus’ life. He repented and offered restitution for those he had defrauded. Salvation had come to his house. Jesus’ mission was simple: Diligently search for lost people, whatever their social standing, and offer them God’s salvation plan. As followers of Christ, we too have that as our mission.

Lord, help us show compassion To a world that’s lost in sin, So when we share the gospel, Hungry souls for Christ we’ll win. —Sper

Christ’s mission is our mission.
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  #1467  
Old 08-11-2012, 03:59 AM
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Default Aug. 11

Eyes To See

August 11, 2012

Read: Joshua 3:1-11

I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land. —Psalm 143:6

My first glimpse of the Promised Land from the hills of Moab was disappointing. “Did this look a lot different when the Israelites got here?” I asked our guide as we looked toward Jericho. I was expecting a dramatic contrast from the east side of the Jordan. “No,” she answered. “It has looked the same for thousands of years.”

I rephrased the question. “What did the Israelites see when they got here?” “The biggest oasis on the face of the whole earth,” she replied.

Then I understood. I had ridden across the barren desert in the luxury of an air-conditioned bus stocked with cold bottled water. To me, an oasis was nothing spectacular. The Israelites had spent years wandering in a hot, dry desert. To them, the sprawling patch of pale green in the hazy distance meant refreshing, life-sustaining water. They were parched; I was refreshed. They were exhausted; I was rested. They had spent 40 years getting there; I had spent 4 hours.

Like an oasis, God’s goodness is found in dry and difficult places. How often, I wonder, do we fail to see His goodness because our spiritual senses have been dulled by comfort. Sometimes God’s gifts are seen more clearly when we are tired and thirsty. May we always thirst for Him (Ps. 143:6).
Dear Lord, may our desire for You be like that of
a deer panting for cold, refreshing water. Please
don’t allow comfort or worldly success to keep us
from seeing You in every detail of our lives.
Jesus is the only fountain who can satisfy the thirsty soul.
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  #1468  
Old 08-12-2012, 04:18 AM
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Default Aug. 12

Doubts And Faith

August 12, 2012

Read: John 20:24-31

My Lord and my God! —John 20:28

Can a believer in Jesus who has occasional doubts about matters of faith ever be effective in serving the Lord? Some people think that mature and growing Christians never question their beliefs. But just as we have experiences that can build our faith, we can also have experiences that cause us to temporarily doubt.

The disciple Thomas had initial doubts about reports of Jesus’ resurrection. He said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, . . . I will not believe” (John 20:25). Christ did not rebuke Thomas but showed him the evidence he asked for. Amazed at seeing the risen Savior, Thomas exclaimed: “My Lord and my God!” (20:28). After this incident, the New Testament is silent about what happened to Thomas.

A number of early church traditions, however, claim that Thomas went to India as a missionary. It is said that while there he preached the gospel, worked miracles, and planted churches. Some of these churches in India still have active congregations that trace their founding back to Thomas.

A time of doubt doesn’t have to become a life pattern. Allow God to lead you into a deeper understanding of His reality. Renew your faith. You can still accomplish great things for Him.
When faith grows weak and doubts arise,
Recall God’s love and tender care;
Remind yourself of all He’s done
And of those times He answered prayer. —D. De Haan
Learn to doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs.
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  #1469  
Old 08-13-2012, 02:25 AM
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Default Aug. 13

Tear Down That Wall!

August 13, 2012

Read: Ephesians 2:14-18

Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith. —Romans 5:1-2

The Wall. For people living in East Germany over 50 years ago, those two words were the only ones necessary to describe the barrier erected on August 13, 1961. That date marked the beginning of the construction of a concrete barrier that separated East and West Germany. Eventually, the wall became nearly impenetrable—secured with barbed wire and armed men. But in 1989 the wall was torn down, removing the barrier between the countries.

Another wall needs to be removed as well—the wall between humanity and God. That barrier was built in the Garden of Eden when a man and a woman committed the first act of rebellion against God (Gen. 3). And we all have continued that rebellion ever since! Can you visualize that impenetrable wall? Isaiah 59:2 says: “Your sins . . . have cut you off from God” (nlt).

Jesus’ death and resurrection, however, has made reconciliation with God possible (2 Cor. 5:17-21). All those who accept Christ’s sacrifice for sin will have the barrier of sin torn down and be reconciled to God. Christ’s death has also demolished other restrictive walls—between the Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, male and female (Gal. 3:28).

Don’t let your own “wall” of indecision prevent you from accepting God’s gift of salvation.
The veil is rent; in Him alone
The living way to heaven is seen;
The middle wall is broken down
And all mankind may enter in. —Wesley
The Bible is a record of man’s complete ruin in sin and God’s complete remedy in Christ. —Barnhouse
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  #1470  
Old 08-14-2012, 02:39 AM
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Default Aug. 14

It Will Be Worth It All

August 14, 2012

Read: Hebrews 11:8-16

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. —Hebrews 11:16

We wondered why a friend of ours kept traveling to Hobart, Tasmania. Recently she invited us to join her there. From the airport we drove over a bridge and through the city and suburbs. Nothing outstanding—but we kept on traveling. After a few difficult hairpin turns that took us slowly and sharply uphill, we saw the outline of the coast below. Still quite ordinary looking.

But as we drove up the steep driveway and arrived at our destination, the spectacular panorama of the city became clear. Even the bridge we had driven over that seemed so drab looked beautiful! Now we knew why she so often traveled there.

The lives of the pioneers of faith in Hebrews 11 had their share of “hairpin turns” and “humdrum” situations. But they pressed on and did not turn back. Their destination? Heaven, “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (v.10).

Esther Kerr Rusthoi wrote about our journey to heaven in her hymn “When We See Christ”:
It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus;
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase;
So bravely run the race, till we see Christ!

Today, whether life is ordinary or difficult, keep pressing on. At the end of the journey, you will see the amazing place God has prepared for us. And it will be well worth it!
The joys of heaven will more than compensate for the difficulties of earth.
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