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  #1511  
Old 09-23-2012, 01:41 PM
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Default Sep. 23

Available Now!

September 23, 2012

Read: Psalm 119:89-96

I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life. —Psalm 119:93

The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in the late 1940s, contain the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament). For decades, the scrolls have been carefully guarded and their use often restricted to a small group of scholars. In an effort to preserve the ancient fragments while broadening access to them, the Israel Antiquities Authority, in partnership with Google, is making high-resolution images of the 2,000-year-old scrolls available to everyone online. That’s good news for scholars and curious students alike. It’s also a reminder of the great treasure we currently possess in the Bible itself. Throughout Psalm 119, the writer celebrates the eternal nature and life-changing wisdom of God’s Word. At the heart of today’s passage, the writer declares, “I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life” (v.93). Many of us have had a Bible almost all our lives, yet how much time do we spend in reading and studying it? How deeply do we think about the meaning of familiar passages? Why not make Bible reading a priority each day? Ask God to guide, teach, and strengthen you through His written Word. This amazing resource is accessible to all and available now.

Thank You, Lord, for the Bible, Your Word to us. Give us wisdom as we read and study it. Make us sensitive to Your voice and give us hearts to obey. Amen.

God speaks through His Word—take time to listen.
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  #1512  
Old 09-24-2012, 02:56 AM
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Default Sep. 24

Fighting Off Jealousy

September 24, 2012

Read: 1 Corinthians 3:1-10

For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? —1 Corinthians 3:3

The story is told of two shopkeepers who were bitter rivals. They spent each day keeping track of each other’s business. If one got a customer, he would smile triumphantly at his rival. One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, “I will give you anything you ask, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive twice as much. What is your desire?” The man frowned and then said, “Strike me blind in one eye.” Now that’s jealousy of the worst kind! The self-destructive emotion of jealousy had the potential of tearing apart the Corinthian church. These believers had received the gospel but had not allowed the Holy Spirit to change their hearts. As a result, they became jealous of one another, which led to a divided community. Paul identified their jealousy as a sign of immaturity and worldliness (1 Cor. 3:3). These believers were not acting like people who had been transformed by the gospel. One of the clearest indicators that the Holy Spirit is working in our lives is our contentment and our thankfulness for what we have. Then, instead of experiencing jealousy, we are able to genuinely celebrate the gifts and blessings of others.

God, You are so good! You have provided all we need and so much more. Help us to be content with what we have, knowing that without You we would have neither life nor breath.

The remedy for jealousy is thankfulness to God.
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  #1513  
Old 09-25-2012, 04:27 AM
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Default Sep. 25

For His Glory

September 25, 2012

Read: 1 Peter 4:12-16

Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, . . . but rejoice . . . when His glory is revealed. —1 Peter 4:12-13


You can learn a lot by walking with others through tough times. That’s been the case for us as our friends Sam and Carol have trudged through Sam’s cancer journey. For a year we watched and prayed as he endured the treatment and the pain. And just when it seemed he was in the clear, a new diagnosis reported more cancer. The disappointment was obvious. Year two would look a lot like year one as Sam would have to go through the chemo and the sickness and the side effects all over again. But when Sam told us about what he faced as more months of treatments loomed, he said something we can all learn from: “We want to make sure that through it all God gets the glory and we reflect His love to others.” Imagine that! As he faced another year of pain and struggles, Sam’s first priority was to show God’s love through it all. He was anticipating the time when God’s “glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13). Carol wrote to friends, “It has been a year of trials, but God has always pulled us through with His mercy and grace. May we never take our eyes off Him and His love for us.” What mountains do you face? Like Sam and Carol, you too can depend on God’s grace to get you through. Pray also that you might reflect His love.

Whenever life’s burdens oppress you And trials are too much to face, Remember God’s strength in your weakness; He’ll give you His power and grace. —Sper

The increasing darkness of trials only makes the lamp of grace shine brighter.
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  #1514  
Old 09-26-2012, 04:06 AM
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Default Sep. 26

Capture The Moment

September 26, 2012

Read: Ephesians 5:8-21

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time. —Ephesians 5:15-16

My wife, Martie, is a great shopper. When she shops for groceries, she reads all the nutrition labels and considers the best deal by looking at the price per unit. But her best trick is looking for the “use by” date. She doesn’t just grab the first gallon of milk she sees, but rather she goes for the gallon with the latest “use by” date so she can bring home the freshest milk from the store. In a sense, our lives are marked by “use by” dates—except that none of us knows the exact date when our heart will expire or we’ll take our last breath on this planet. Given that reality, shouldn’t we try a little harder to capture the moments we’ve been given? Capturing the moment means that we’ll do things like love more deeply, forgive more quickly, listen more carefully, and speak more affirmingly. Paul gives this good advice: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). He also instructs us to “walk as children of light . . . finding out what is acceptable to the Lord” (vv.8-10). Since none of us knows our “use by” date, we should capture the opportunities to brighten our world with the love of Christ today!

Lord, grant me grace throughout this day To walk the straight and narrow way, To do whatever in Thy sight Is good and perfect, just and right. —Huisman

Live each day as if it’s your last.
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  #1515  
Old 09-27-2012, 03:00 AM
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Default Sep. 27

To The End

September 27, 2012

Read: Acts 1:1-8

You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. —Acts 1:8

It was my first day of class at the Moscow Bible Institute where I was teaching Russian pastors. I began by asking the students to give their names and where they served, but one student shocked me as he boldly declared, “Of all the pastors, I am the most faithful to the Great Commission!” I was taken aback momentarily until, smiling, he continued, “The Great Commission says we are to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. I pastor north of the Arctic Circle in a village nicknamed ‘The End of the Earth’!” Everyone laughed and we continued with the session. The words of that pastor, who ministered in the Yamal (which means “end of the world”) Peninsula, carry great significance. In Jesus’ final message to His disciples, He said, “You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Every corner of our world, no matter how remote, must be touched by the message of the cross. The Savior died for the world—and that includes people both near and far. Each of us has the opportunity to take the gospel to people in our “end of the earth.” No matter where you are, you can tell someone about the love of Christ. Who can you tell today?

People can’t believe in Jesus If the gospel they don’t hear, So we must proclaim its message To the world—both far and near. —Sper

Any place can be the right place to witness for Christ
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  #1516  
Old 09-28-2012, 02:14 AM
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Default Sep. 28

Day Unknown

September 28, 2012

Read: Matthew 24:1-8

Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. —Matthew 24:36

To many Londoners, 1666 looked like the year when Jesus would return. Prophecy enthusiasts had added 1,000 years since Christ’s birth to 666, the number of Antichrist, to arrive at the date 1666. The world did seem to be on the verge of destruction when in 1665 a plague claimed the lives of 100,000 people in London. Then in September 1666, a London fire destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. Some wondered, Didn’t the Bible predict catastrophes at the end of the world? (see Matt. 24:1-8). Yet the year 1666 passed, and life went on seemingly as it had before. Even in our own day, there are those who have predicted the end of the world. A date is predicted, the media covers the frenzy, and then that day passes uneventfully. In God’s wisdom, the actual time of Christ’s return has been kept from us. Jesus said, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36). This any-moment aspect of Jesus’ return helps keep believers motivated in Christian service and spiritual growth all the time—not just near a certain date (25:1-13; 1 John 3:2-3). Be assured, Christ’s personal return will take place. And as we await that day, our lives should be marked by “holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11).

Should He come in the dawn of morning, At noon or at twilight dim, I only pray that every day I’ll be waiting and watching for Him. —Bearden

No doctrine is more closely linked to practical daily living than that of the Lord’s return
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  #1517  
Old 09-29-2012, 03:56 PM
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Default Sep. 29

Truth In A Taxi

September 29, 2012

One day when I was in downtown Chicago, I hailed a taxi. Once inside, I noticed several advertisements for a New Age guru posted on the seat in front of me. The driver claimed that this mystic was the “divine one” for our day. He believed that God appointed various leaders throughout the ages, and that Jesus had merely been the appointee for His time.

Of course, I had to disagree. As we talked, I mentioned Jesus’ words: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Contrary to the cabbie’s belief, Jesus was not just one in a series of enlightened religious leaders—He is the only way to know God, and only through Him can we get to heaven.

As the “Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16), Jesus didn’t simply declare Himself to be the ultimate spiritual authority. He proved it with His death and resurrection. Christ “offered one sacrifice for sins forever” (Heb. 10:12).

Jesus said of Himself: “I am in the Father and the Father in Me” (John 14:11). Therefore we don’t need to investigate any “new” path of salvation. It’s better to learn all we can about Christ; He is the only One who can provide spiritual certainty.

My heart is stirred whene’er I think of Jesus, That blessed Name that sets the captive free; The only Name through which I find salvation, No name on earth has meant so much to me. —Eliason

Spiritual phonies will only take us for a ride, but Jesus will take us all the way to heaven.
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  #1518  
Old 10-06-2012, 04:30 PM
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Default Oct. 6

Drop Your Hands

October 6, 2012

You’d think I would have my mother’s fingerprints embedded in my knee from all the times she squeezed my leg in church and whispered in no uncertain terms, “Be still.” Like any boy, I had a bad case of the wiggles in places like church. So for years, when I read, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10), I thought of it in terms of not being antsy.

But the Hebrew word for still means “to cease striving.” It’s the concept of putting your hands down and letting God intervene in your situation without your interference. This word picture is interesting, since we often use our hands to push things out of our way, to protect ourselves, or to strike back. When we drop our hands, it makes us feel defenseless and vulnerable—unless we can trust that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (v.1), and that “the LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (v.7). In other words, stop struggling and wait on God to do His work!

In the face of all of life’s circumstances, we can know the peace of trusting the presence and power of God in the midst of trouble as we wait patiently and prayerfully for His deliverance. So drop your hands, for God’s hands are busy on your behalf!

Be still and know that He is God For pathways steep and rough; Not what He brings but who He is Will always be enough. —Anon.

When we put our problems in God’s hands, He puts His peace in our hearts.
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  #1519  
Old 10-07-2012, 10:55 PM
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Default Oct. 7

Still Bearing Fruit

October 7, 2012

Sometimes the harvest comes late. Sometimes you sow seeds of hope without really knowing it. Sometimes the fruit of your life comes in a way and time you would never expect.

My daughter Melissa had accepted God’s gift of salvation at a young age. But she never saw herself as some great Christian who could change lives. She was just a high school junior trying to cope with a job, school, and sports while balancing friendships—just a kid trying to live as God would want her to.

Yet, in 2002 when He welcomed her into heaven when she was just 17, her faith in Christ and her faithful life stood on their own. No advance warning. No time to make things right with others. No new opportunities to “bear much fruit” (John 15:8).

Melissa tried to live in a way that was pleasing to God—and her life is still bearing fruit. Just recently, I heard of a young person who trusted Jesus as Savior at a sports camp after a coach shared Melissa’s story.

All of us are writing a story with our lives—one that affects others now and in the future. Are we living to please God? We don’t know when the Lord will call us Home. Let’s live every day with an eye on the harvest.

Only the truth that in life we have spoken, Only the seed that on earth we have sown; These shall pass onward when we are forgotten, Fruits of the harvest and what we have done. —Bonar

A fruitful harvest requires a faithful life
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  #1520  
Old 10-08-2012, 03:25 AM
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Default Oct. 8

Helping With Hurdles

October 8, 2012

When my daughter Debbie was a little girl, she took ballet lessons. One dance exercise involved jumping over a rolled-up gym mat. Debbie’s first attempt resulted in her bouncing off this hurdle. For a moment she sat on the floor stunned, and then she began to cry. Immediately, I darted out to help her up and spoke soothing words to her. Then, holding her hand, I ran with her until she successfully jumped over the rolled-up mat. Debbie needed my encouragement to clear that hurdle.

While working with Paul on his first missionary journey, John Mark faced a major hurdle of his own: Things got tough on the trip, and he quit. When Barnabas tried to re-enlist Mark for Paul’s second journey, it created conflict. Barnabas wanted to give him a second chance, but Paul saw him as a liability. Ultimately, they parted ways, and Barnabas took Mark with him on his journey (Acts 15:36-39).

The Bible is silent about John Mark’s response when Barnabas helped him over his ministry hurdle. However, he must have proven himself, because Paul later wrote that John Mark “is useful to me for ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11).

When we see a believer struggling with an apparent failure, we should provide help. Can you think of someone who needs your help to clear a hurdle?

Lord, I want to show the kindness of Your heart today. Please show me who I can help and in what way. I want my words and deeds to convey Your love. Amen.

Kindness picks others up when troubles weigh them down.
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