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  #1491  
Old 09-03-2012, 03:09 AM
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Default Sep. 3

Why We Work

September 3, 2012

Read: Ephesians 6:5-9

Not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. —Ephesians 6:6

In the late 1660s, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to re-design St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. According to legend, one day he visited the construction site of this great edifice and was unrecognized by the workers. Wren walked about the site, asking several of the men what they were doing. One worker replied, “I am cutting a piece of stone.” A second worker responded, “I’m earning five shillings two pence a day.” A third, however, had a different perspective: “I am helping Christopher Wren build a magnificent cathedral to the glory of God.” What a contrast in the attitude and motivation of that worker!

Why we do what we do is extremely important, particularly when it comes to our working lives and careers. That’s why Paul challenged the Ephesians to do their work, “not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Eph. 6:6-7).

If we do our work merely to earn a paycheck or satisfy a supervisor, we will fall short of the highest motivation—doing our best as evidence of our devotion to God. So, why do we work? As that laborer told Wren, we work “to the glory of God.”
Be not always wanting
Some other work to do,
But gratefully perform the task
The Lord has given you. —Anon.
No matter who signs your paycheck, you are really working for God.
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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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  #1492  
Old 09-04-2012, 12:38 AM
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Default Sep. 4

Well Prepared

September 4, 2012

Read: Ephesians 6:10-20

You also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. —Matthew 24:44

The idea of always being prepared makes me think of the man who lived next door to us when I was growing up. When Mr. Nienhuis came home, he never failed to back his car into the garage. That seemed unusual to me until my mother explained that Nels was a volunteer fireman. If he got a call, he had to be ready to race to the fire station. He backed in so he could leave quickly when he had to report for duty.

To be well prepared is important in so much of life. “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend 6 sharpening my axe,” said Abraham Lincoln. We prepare for a career by studying. We buy insurance in case of a car accident or a house fire. We even prepare for the end of life by making a will to provide for loved ones.

The Bible tells us we must prepare ourselves spiritually as well. We do that by putting on spiritual armor to protect ourselves from spiritual attack (Eph. 6:10-20); by preparing our minds for holy living (1 Peter 1:13); by making sure we’re always prepared to answer questions about the reason for the hope we possess (3:15); and by ensuring that we are ready for the promised return of Jesus (Matt. 24:44).

How well prepared are you for what lies ahead? Unsure? Ask the Lord for His help and guidance.
When I awake at early morn
To meet the coming day,
I want to be prepared to take
Whatever comes my way. —Simmons
Spiritual victory comes only to those who are prepared for battle.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1493  
Old 09-05-2012, 02:39 AM
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Default Sep. 5

The Hidden Door

September 5, 2012

Read: James 1:12-21

Blessed is the man who endures temptation. —James 1:12

It wasn’t the first time it happened in sports, and it certainly won’t be the last. But perhaps mentioning it again can help keep us from making a similar shameful error.

A college coach—one noted for his Christian character—resigned in disgrace after it was discovered that he had violated rules clearly spelled out by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. One magazine article concluded: “His integrity was one of the great myths of college football.”

This was certainly an embarrassing time for the coach, but here’s the most sobering part: It can happen to any of us. The temptation to go behind the hidden door of secrecy in our lives and do things that dishonor the Lord haunts us all. Indeed, we are all capable of turning our own integrity into a myth—of turning our testimony for Jesus into a sham. No matter what the temptation, we are all vulnerable.

So, how do we avoid giving in? We acknowledge the universality of temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). We recognize the dangerous results of giving in to sin (James 1:13-15). We keep accountable to fellow believers (Eccl. 4:9-12). And we plead with God for help not to fall (Matt. 26:41). Only God’s grace and power can keep us from falling and pick us up when we do.
The devil is clever, deceiving us all,
He cunningly causes the strongest to fall;
But we his sly methods are sure to discern
By making God’s warnings our daily concern. —D. De Haan
Each sin has its door of entrance; let’s keep that door closed.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1494  
Old 09-06-2012, 02:50 AM
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Default Sep. 6

Tuning In

September 6, 2012

Read: John 10:1-10

When he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. —John 10:4

I don’t know if this is true in every marriage, but for some reason I have a tendency to tune out everything around me and concentrate on my own thoughts. This is especially frustrating to my wife, Martie, when she is talking to me about something important. When she notices the distant look in my eyes, she often says, “Have you heard anything I’ve said?”

Listening is an important part of any relationship, especially in our relationship with Christ. If we belong to Him, we have the privilege of communing with Him through His Word and the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We know we are paying attention to the true Shepherd when His voice leads us to righteousness, love, grace, and all that is consistent with His character and will. As Jesus made clear when He identified Himself as the “good Shepherd” in John 10, those who diligently listen to Him become devoted followers of Him (v.4) who are becoming transformed into His likeness.

Just as listening attentively to your spouse or a friend communicates value and worth, paying close attention to the voice of Jesus is one way to affirm His importance in your life. So, let’s cast aside the distractions of life, tune in to His voice, and pray for the grace to do what He says.
I would be prayerful through each busy moment;
I would be constantly in touch with God;
I would be tuned to hear His slightest whisper;
I would have faith to keep the path Christ trod. —Walter
Listening to Jesus is the first step to following Him.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1495  
Old 09-07-2012, 03:06 AM
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Default Sep. 7

Consider The Clouds

September 7, 2012

Read: Job 37:1-16

Do you know how the clouds are balanced? —Job 37:16

One day many years ago my boys and I were lying on our backs in the yard watching the clouds drift by. “Dad,” one asked, “why do clouds float?” “Well, son,” I began, intending to give him the benefit of my vast knowledge, but then I lapsed into silence. “I don’t know,” I admitted, “but I’ll find out for you.”

The answer, I discovered, is that condensed moisture, descending by gravity, meets warmer temperatures rising from the land. That moisture then changes into vapor and ascends back into the air. That’s a natural explanation for the phenomenon.

But natural explanations are not final answers. Clouds float because God in His wisdom has ordered the natural laws in such a way that they reveal the “wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16). Clouds then can be thought of as a symbol—an outward and visible sign of God’s goodness and grace in creation.

So someday when you’re taking some time to see what images you can imagine in the clouds, remember this: The One who made all things beautiful makes the clouds float through the air. He does so to call us to wonder and adoration. The heavens—even the cumulus, stratus, and cirrus clouds—declare the glory of God.
The Lord’s creation you’ll adore
As you observe each day unfold;
Let your imagination soar
As you His handiwork behold. —Branon
Creation is filled with signs that point to the Creator.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1496  
Old 09-08-2012, 02:03 PM
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Default Sep. 8

Your Heart

September 8, 2012

Read: Nehemiah 1

I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. —Nehemiah 1:4

I loved Malcom’s prayer at church the other day. Only 7 years old, he stood in front of 100 other kids and prayed: “Jesus, thank You that some of us get to play football and go to church, and for safety on the ride here, and for forgiveness of our sins, and for eternal life. We love You, Jesus. Please don’t ever forget how much we love You!”

It brought tears to my eyes as he expressed his heart to God. As adults, we may tend to try to polish our prayers a little, thinking that it will sound better to God’s ears or to those around us who might hear us. But I think God must delight in hearing just what’s on His child’s heart.

Nehemiah’s heart was filled with concern for the welfare of Jerusalem, his homeland, when he heard that the people were in great distress and that the wall around the city was broken down (Neh. 1:3). Wanting to do something, he talked to God about it. He praised God for who He is (v.5), requested forgiveness for sin (v.6), reminded Him of His promise (v.9), and asked for mercy from the king (v.11). God watched over Nehemiah and His people through the whole rebuilding process.

What is on your mind? Thanks or burdens? Whatever it is, your loving God wants to hear your heart.
So lift up your heart to the heavens;
There’s a loving and kind Father there
Who offers release and comfort and peace
In the silent communion of prayer. —Anon.
The highest form of prayer comes from the depths of a humble heart.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1497  
Old 09-09-2012, 05:00 AM
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Default Sep. 9

Lesson Of The Horse Mask

September 9, 2012

Read: Psalm 119:33-40

Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way. —Psalm 119:37

Not far from where my husband and I live is a farm with a lot of horses. During certain seasons, some of the horses have masks over their eyes. For a long time I felt sorry for the horses who weren’t allowed to see. But then I learned that my assumption about the masks was wrong. The masks are made of mesh, so horses can see through them. But flies, which cause eye disease, can’t get through them. The masks don’t keep the horses from seeing; they keep them from going blind!

Non-Christians often make conclusions about the Bible similar to the one I made about the mask. They think of it as something God puts over our eyes to keep us from seeing all the fun we could be having. They feel sorry for Christians because they think the Lord keeps us from enjoying life. What I didn’t know about the horse mask, they don’t know about the Bible. It doesn’t keep us from seeing all that is good; it keeps us from being infected by lies that cause spiritual blindness. The Bible doesn’t keep us from enjoying life; it makes true enjoyment possible.

The Bible doesn’t keep us from knowing truth; it prevents us from believing lies.
O send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me
That He may touch my eyes and make me see;
Show me the truth concealed within Thy Word,
And in Thy Book revealed I see Thee, Lord. —Lathbury
When we see the world through the filter of the Word, we learn the truth about both.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1498  
Old 09-10-2012, 02:19 AM
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Default Sep. 10

Giving Directions

September 10, 2012

Read: Matthew 28:16-20

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. —John 14:6

Not long ago my wife’s car needed to be towed. When I explained to the man at the towing company how to find our home, I instructed him to tell the driver not to follow his global positioning system (GPS). Because another street with the same name as ours was separated from our home address by a field, special instructions were necessary. He assured me he would pass on my directions.

As I stood in the driveway wondering where the tow truck was, the driver called and said he had followed his GPS but couldn’t find my street number. Hmmmm. I repeated the directions I had given before, and the tow truck was there in no time.

Christians have a responsibility to give accurate directions for how a person can get to heaven by having a relationship with Christ (see John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-5). We need to help people see that following their own religious “global positioning system,” such as good works or hoping to be good enough, won’t get them to heaven. While being sensitive to people’s beliefs, we need to share the true gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

Jesus said it best, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Father, as we interact with others, may our lives and
words show Your loving grace. You’ve told us that
Jesus is the way of salvation. Help us to share
the gospel with love and truth.
Salvation is achieved by Christ’s atonement, not by our attainment.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1499  
Old 09-11-2012, 03:11 AM
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Default Sep. 11

Imitate The Good

September 11, 2012

Read: 3 John

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. —3 John 1:11

Most people would agree that life is a painful mixture of good and bad. It’s true in marriage, friendship, family, work, and church. Yet we are surprised and disappointed when self-centeredness takes the stage within a fellowship of those who seek to worship and serve Christ together.

When the apostle John wrote to his friend Gaius, he commended the truthful living and generous hospitality of those in his church (3 John 1:3-8). In the same fellowship, however, Diotrephes, “who wants to be head of everything” (v.9 Phillips), had created an atmosphere of hostility.

John promised to deal personally with Diotrephes on his next visit to the church. In the meantime, he urged the congregation: “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God” (v.11). John’s words echo the instruction of Paul to the Christians in Rome: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).

In a heated conflict, we may be tempted to “fight fire with fire.” Yet John urges us to turn away from what is bad and follow what is good. This is the pathway that honors our Savior.
For Further Study
Be patient and humble in conflicts (Rom. 12:12-21; Gal. 6:1).
Follow the guidelines in Matthew 18:15-18
with the desire to restore erring fellow Christians.
As light overcomes darkness, goodness can overcome evil.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #1500  
Old 09-12-2012, 02:35 AM
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Default Sep. 12

Good & Plenty

September 12, 2012

Read: Psalm 16

You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You. —Psalm 16:2

I have to admit that I’ve got a sweet tooth. Of all the candies I love, Good & Plenty is near the top of the list. Life is good when I have a handful of those luscious, sugar-coated licorice pieces!

There are a lot of good things in life. But like a feast of Good & Plenty, the goodness is soon over. Even the best of the good things can afterward leave us feeling empty and even regretful. So when the psalmist declares, “I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord, apart from You I have no good thing’” (Ps. 16:2 niv), I am intrigued. We all know that God is good. But when was the last time we embraced Him as the ultimate good in our life?

The psalmist explains just how good God really is: He is our preserver (v.1), our total goodness-giver (v.2), our counsel and instruction (v.7), and the One who makes known “the path of life” and fills us with joy in His presence (v.11). Now that’s what I call good!

Unfortunately, too often we let lesser “goods” eclipse our acceptance of the everlasting goodness of God in our lives. The fleeting nature of lesser goods will ultimately disappoint us—you can count on it. Only God is truly good! And there is plenty of Him for all we need.
Oh, taste the goodness of the Lord
And savor all that He has done;
Draw close and give your praise to Him—
The holy, sovereign, faithful One. —Sper
God alone is good. Don’t settle for second best.
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-Colossians 3:23

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