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  #141  
Old 03-10-2009, 03:21 AM
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Default Mar. 10

March 10, 2009

For The Birds

READ: Hebrews 13:5-16

You shall not covet . . . anything that is your neighbor’s. —Exodus 20:17

The bird feeder attached to my office window is just beyond the reach of the squirrels. But one squirrel has made it his mission to get the seeds meant for the birds. Having seen his tiny neighbors nibbling noisily from the abundant supply, the squirrel is fixated on enjoying the same pleasure. He has tried coming at the feeder from every direction but without success. He clawed his way up the wooden window casing to within inches of the feeder but slid down the slippery glass. He climbed the thin branches of the forsythia bush. Then he reached so far that he fell to the ground.

The squirrel’s tireless attempts to get what isn’t meant to be his calls to mind a man and woman who reached for food that wasn’t meant to be theirs. They too suffered a fall—a fall so severe that it hurt the whole human race. Because they were disobedient and helped themselves to food that God told them not to eat, He put them where they could no longer reach it. As a result of their disobedience, they and their descendants must now work hard to get what He originally had given as a gift—food (see Gen. 2–3).

May our desire to have what God has kept from us not keep us from enjoying what He has given to us (Heb. 13:5). — Julie Ackerman Link

Thinking It Through
What (or who) am I looking to for happiness?
Is this wise? Or do I need to make some changes?
How may I be content? (Heb. 13:5).


Godliness with contentment is great gain. —1 Timothy 6:6
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  #142  
Old 03-11-2009, 02:40 AM
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Default Mar. 11

March 11, 2009

Flying Machines

READ: Psalm 6

I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. —Psalm 6:6

Recording artist James Taylor exploded onto the music scene in early 1970 with the song “Fire and Rain.” In it, he talked about the disappointments of life, describing them as “sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.” That was a reference to Taylor’s original band Flying Machine, whose attempt at breaking into the recording industry had failed badly, causing him to wonder if his dreams of a musical career would ever come true. The reality of crushed expectations had taken their toll, leaving Taylor with a sense of loss and hopelessness.

The psalmist David also experienced hopeless despair as he struggled with his own failures, the attacks of others, and the disappointments of life. In Psalm 6:6 he said, “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears.” The depth of his sorrow and loss drove him to heartache—but in that grief he turned to the God of all comfort. David’s own crushed and broken “flying machines” gave way to the assurance of God’s care, prompting him to say, “The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer” (v.9).

In our own seasons of disappointment, we too can find comfort in God, who cares for our broken hearts. — Bill Crowder

Even in my darkest hour
The Lord will bless me with His power;
His loving grace will sure abound,
In His sweet care I shall be found. —Brandt


God’s whisper of comfort quiets the noise of our trials.
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  #143  
Old 03-12-2009, 03:40 AM
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Default Mar. 12

March 12, 2009

Incomplete

READ: Philippians 1:3-11

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. —Philippians 1:6

When I was a little girl, my parents bought their first house. One afternoon, the family hopped into the car and drove to see where we soon would be living.

I couldn’t believe it. The house had no windows or doors, and there was a strange odor. The basement was clearly visible through big gaps in the floor and we had to climb a ladder to get down there.

That night when I asked my mother why they wanted to live in a house like that, she explained that the builder wasn’t finished with it yet. “Just wait and see,” she said. “I think you’ll like it when it’s done.”

Soon we began to see changes. The house got windows, then doors. The “funny smell” of new lumber faded. The holes in the floor were covered and a staircase was added. Walls were painted. Mom put up curtains at the windows and pictures on the walls. The incomplete house had been transformed. It had taken some time but finally it was finished.

As Christians, we need “finishing” too. Although the groundwork is laid at our conversion, the growing process continues throughout our life. As we obediently follow Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), one day we too will be complete. — Cindy Hess Kasper

God sees in us a masterpiece
That one day will be done;
His Spirit works throughout our lives
To make us like His Son. —Sper


Please be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet!
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  #144  
Old 03-13-2009, 04:10 AM
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Default Mar. 13

March 13, 2009

To Be Or Not To Be

READ: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

We were burdened beyond measure, . . . so that we despaired even of life. —2 Corinthians 1:8

When I was a child, kids on the playground jokingly quoted Shakespeare’s famous line: “To be or not to be—that is the question!” But we really didn’t understand what it meant. Later I learned that Shakespeare’s character Hamlet, who speaks these lines, is a melancholy prince who learns that his uncle has killed his father and married his mother. The horror of this realization is so disturbing that he contemplates suicide. The question for him was: “to be” (to go on living) or “not to be” (to take his own life).

At times, life’s pain can become so overwhelming that we are tempted to despair. The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth that his persecution in Asia was so intense he “despaired even of life” (2 Cor. 1:8). Yet by shifting his focus to his life-sustaining God, he became resilient instead of overwhelmed, and learned “that we should not trust in ourselves but in God” (v.9).

Trials can make life seem not worth living. Focusing on ourselves can lead to despair. But putting our trust in God gives us an entirely different perspective. As long as we live in this world, we can be certain that our all-sufficient God will sustain us. And as His followers, we will always have a divine purpose “to be.” — Dennis Fisher

Lord, give us grace to trust You when
Life’s burdens seem too much to bear;
Dispel the darkness with new hope
And help us rise above despair. —Sper


Trials make us think; thinking makes us wise; wisdom makes life profitable.
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  #145  
Old 03-14-2009, 04:41 AM
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Default Mar. 14

March 14, 2009

Clearing Out The Clutter

READ: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? —1 Corinthians 6:19

My garage serves as “storage” for things that don’t have a place in our home, and, frankly, there are times when I am ashamed to open the door. I don’t want anyone to see the clutter. So, periodically, I set aside a workday to clean it up.

Our hearts and minds are a lot like that—they accumulate lots of clutter. As we rub shoulders with the world, inevitably, perhaps unknowingly, we pick up ungodly thoughts and attitudes. Thinking that life is all about “me.” Demanding our rights. Reacting bitterly toward those who have hurt us. Before long, our hearts and minds are no longer clean and orderly. And while we think we can hide the mess, eventually it will show.

Paul pointedly asked, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Cor. 6:19)—which makes me wonder if God often feels like He is living in our messy garage.

Perhaps it’s time to set aside a spiritual workday and, with His help, get to work clearing out the clutter. Discard those thoughts of bitterness. Bag up and throw out the old patterns of sensual thoughts. Organize your attitudes. Fill your heart with the beauty of God’s Word. Make it clean to the core, and then leave the door open for all to see! — Joe Stowell

More like the Master I would ever be,
More of His meekness, more humility;
More zeal to labor, more courage to be true,
More consecration for work He bids me do. —Gabriel


Don’t let the Spirit reside in a cluttered heart. Take some time to clean it up today!
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  #146  
Old 03-15-2009, 03:52 AM
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Default Mar. 15

March 15, 2009

Reaching Up To Heaven

READ: Romans 8:18-27

The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. —Romans 8:26

I see children reach up their hands to their mothers, eager to get their attention. It reminds me of my own efforts to reach up to God in prayer.

The early church stated that the work of the aged is to love and to pray. Of the two, I find love to be the most difficult, and prayer to be the most confusing. My infirmity lies in not knowing the exact thing for which I ought to pray. Should I pray that others will be delivered from their troubles—or that their troubles will go away? Or should I pray for courage to carry on through the difficulties that belabor them?

I’m comforted by Paul’s words: “The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses” (Rom. 8:26). Here the apostle uses a verb that means, “to help by joining in an activity or effort.” God’s Spirit is joined to ours when we pray. He intercedes for us “with groanings which cannot be uttered.” He is touched by our troubles; He sighs often as He prays. He cares for us deeply—more than we care for ourselves. Furthermore, He prays “according to the will of God” (v.27). He knows the right words to say.

Therefore, I needn’t worry about getting my request exactly right. I need only to hunger for God and to reach up, knowing that He cares. — David H. Roper

O God, too weak and worn for words, I shrink
From trials that deeply wound, and yet to think
Your Holy Spirit helps me as I pray
And gives a voice to what I cannot say! —Gustafson


When praying, it’s better to have a heart without words than words without heart.
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  #147  
Old 03-16-2009, 11:27 PM
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Default Mar. 16

March 16, 2009

Thomas Time

READ: John 20:24-29

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” —John 20:28

A young adult was struggling with his faith. After growing up in a home where he was loved and nurtured in a godly way, he allowed bad decisions and circumstances to turn him away from the Lord. Although as a child he had claimed to know Jesus, he now struggled with unbelief.

One day while talking to him I said, “I know that you walked with the Lord for a long time, but right now you’re not so sure about Jesus and faith. Can I suggest to you that you are in the ‘Thomas Time’ of your life?”

He knew that Thomas was one of Jesus’ 12 apostles and that he had trusted Christ openly for several years. I reminded this young man that after Jesus’ death Thomas doubted that He had really risen from the tomb. But after 8 days the Lord appeared to Thomas, showed him His scars, and told him to stop doubting and believe. Finally ready to abandon his doubts, Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-28).

I told this young man, “Jesus patiently waited, and Thomas came back. I think you will too. I’m praying that someday you will again say to Jesus, ‘My Lord and my God!’?”

Could you be in a “Thomas Time”—finding it hard to feel close to Jesus, perhaps even doubting Him? Jesus is waiting for you. Reach out for His nail-scarred hand. — Dave Branon

There can be times when our minds are in doubt,
Times when we ask what our faith is about;
But we can believe Him, we know that He cares—
Our God is real, as the Bible declares. —Fitzhugh


A child of God is always welcomed home.
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  #148  
Old 03-17-2009, 04:14 AM
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Default Mar. 17

March 17, 2009

Take One Step

READ: Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Love the Lord your God, . . . obey His voice, and . . . cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days. —Deuteronomy 30:20

At a shopping mall in Coventry, England, researchers posted colorful signs along the steps of a staircase that said: “Taking the stairs protects your heart.” Over a 6-week period, the number of people who chose to walk up the stairs instead of riding the adjacent escalator more than doubled. The researchers say that every step counts, and that long-term behavior will change only if the signs are seen regularly.

The Bible is filled with “signs” urging us to obey the Lord and follow Him wholeheartedly. Just before the Lord’s people entered the Promised Land, He said to them: “I have set before you today life and good, death and evil . . . . Therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days” (Deut. 30:15,19-20).

So often we hope our lives will change through a giant leap of faith, a profound decision, or a significant act of service. In reality, the only way we change is one step at a time, and every step counts.

Today, let’s heed the signs and take a step of heartfelt obedience toward the Lord. — David C. McCasland

It matters not the path on earth
My feet are made to trod;
It only matters how I live:
Obedient to God. —Clark


One small step of obedience is a giant step to blessing.
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  #149  
Old 03-18-2009, 04:12 AM
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Default Mar. 18

March 18, 2009

What’s In A Name?

READ: Acts 11:19-26

Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. —Ephesians 4:1

My Chinese family name sets me apart from others with different family names. It also confers on me a family responsibility. I am a member of the Hia family. As a member of the family, I am expected to carry on the Hia line and uphold the honor of my ancestors.

Believers who have been saved by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ have a spiritual family name. We are called “Christians.”

In the New Testament, the name Christian was first given to the disciples in Antioch by those who noted their behavior (Acts 11:26). Two things defined these early believers. They talked about the good news of the Lord Jesus everywhere they went (v.20). And they eagerly learned the Scriptures as Barnabas and Saul taught them for a whole year (v.26).

The name Christian means an “adherent to Christ”—literally, one who “sticks” to Christ. Today many people call themselves Christians. But should they?

If you call yourself a Christian, does your life tell others who Jesus is? Are you hungry for God’s Word? Do your actions bring honor or shame to Christ’s name?

What’s in a name? When the name is Christian, there is much indeed! — C. P. Hia

Teach us that name to own,
While waiting, Lord, for Thee,
Unholiness and sin to shun,
From all untruth to flee. —Cecil


A Christian reflects Jesus Christ.
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  #150  
Old 03-18-2009, 07:09 PM
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James 1:16-17 ESV
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights
With God's help...Mens sana in corpore sano
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