March 28, 2009
Have You Left A Tip?
READ: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9
Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor. —2 Corinthians 8:9
The practice of tipping is commonly accepted in many countries. But I wonder: Has this courtesy influenced our attitude toward giving money to the church?
Many Christians regard their financial giving as little more than a goodwill gesture to God for the service He has rendered us. They think that as long as they have given their tithe to God, the rest is theirs to handle as they please. But the Christian life is about so much more than money!
The Bible tells us that our Creator owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10). “The world is Mine,” God says, “and all its fullness” (v.12). Everything comes from Him, and everything we have belongs to Him. God has not only given us every material thing we have, He has also given us His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who provides our very salvation.
Paul used the Macedonian Christians as an illustration of what our giving should look like in the light of God’s incredible generosity toward us. The Macedonians, who were in “deep poverty,” gave with “liberality” (2 Cor. 8:2). But “they first gave themselves to the Lord” (v.5).
God the Creator of the universe does not need anything from us. He doesn’t want a tip. He wants us! — C. P. Hia
Whatever, Lord, we lend to Thee,
Repaid a thousand-fold will be;
Then gladly will we give to Thee,
Who givest all—who givest all. —C. Wordsworth
No matter how much you give, you can’t outgive God.
March 29, 2009
READ: Romans 14:1-13
Resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. —Romans 14:13
I once decorated a notebook with definitions of the words idea, thought, opinion, preference, belief, and conviction to remind myself that they do not mean the same thing. The temptation to elevate an opinion to the level of a conviction can be strong, but doing so is wrong, as we learn from Romans 14.
In the first century, religious traditions based on the law were so important to religious leaders that they failed to recognize the One who personified the law, Jesus. They were so focused on minor matters that they neglected the important ones (Matt. 23:23).
Scripture says that we need to subjugate even our beliefs and convictions to the law of love (Rom. 13:8,10; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8), for love fulfills the law and leads to peace and mutual edification.
When opinions and preferences become more important to us than what God says is valuable to Him, we have made idols out of our own beliefs. Idolatry is a serious offense because it violates the first and most important command: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3).
Let’s resolve not to elevate our own opinions above God’s, lest they become a stumbling block and keep others from knowing the love of Jesus. — Julie Ackerman Link
Lord, help me not to elevate my opinions and
make others follow. You are the convicter of hearts.
May others learn of Your love through me.
The greatest force on earth is not the compulsion of law but the compassion of love.
March 30, 2009
Unclean? Be Cleansed!
READ: Mark 1:40-45
Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” —Mark 1:41
As I read Mark 1:40-45, I imagine the following scene:
They saw him coming toward them from across the way. He was waving his arms to warn them away. They recognized him by the bandanna covering his nose and mouth. His garments were torn and his skin peeled away from his body. He was a leper—unclean!
The crowd around Jesus scattered as the leper charged into their midst. Everyone was afraid of being touched by him because they themselves would then become unclean. Lepers were barred from the religious life of the community, isolated from society, and compelled to mourn their own death by tearing their clothes.
But this leper threw himself at Jesus’ feet, appealing to Him out of desperation and faith to restore him to wholeness: “If You are willing, You can make me clean” (v.40). Moved with compassion, Jesus touched the man and said, “I am willing; be cleansed” (v.41). Jesus healed the man of his leprosy and told him to show himself to the temple priest.
Jesus has the power to cleanse, forgive, and restore those who are hopelessly and helplessly caught up in their sin and can see no way out. Trust Him to say to you, “I am willing; be cleansed.” — Marvin Williams
The Savior is waiting to save you
And wash every sin-stain away;
By faith you can know full forgiveness
And be a new creature today! —Bosch
Jesus specializes in restoration.
March 31, 2009
Does God Care?
READ: Mark 14:32-42
[Jesus] began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” —Mark 14:33-34
One dreadful year, three of my friends died in quick succession. My experience of the first two deaths did nothing to prepare me for the third. I could do little but cry.
I find it strangely comforting that when Jesus faced pain, He responded much as I do. It comforts me that He cried when His friend Lazarus died (John 11:32-36). That gives a startling clue into how God must have felt about my friends, whom He also loved.
And in the garden the night before His crucifixion, Jesus did not pray, “Oh, Lord, I am so grateful that You have chosen Me to suffer on Your behalf.” No, He experienced sorrow, fear, abandonment, even desperation. Hebrews tells us that Jesus appealed with “vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death” (5:7). But He was not saved from death.
Is it too much to say that Jesus Himself asked the question that haunts us: Does God care? What else can be the meaning of His quotation from that dark psalm: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Ps. 22:1; Mark 15:34).
Jesus endured in His pain because He knew that His Father is a God of love who can be trusted regardless of how things appear to be. He demonstrated faith that the ultimate answer to the question Does God care? is a resounding Yes! — Philip Yancey
The aching void, the loneliness,
And all the thornclad way,
To Thee I turn with faith undimmed
And ’mid the darkness pray. —O. J. Smith
When we know that God’s hand is in everything, we can leave everything in God’s hand.
April 1, 2009
READ: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. —1 Thessalonians 2:7
Don Tack wanted to know what life was like for homeless people. So he concealed his identity and went to live on the streets of his city. He found out that food and shelter were offered by many organizations. At one shelter he could spend the night if he listened to a sermon beforehand. He appreciated the guest speaker’s message and wanted to talk with him afterward. But as Don reached out to shake the man’s hand and asked if he could talk with him, the speaker walked right past him as if he didn’t exist.
Don learned that what was missing most in ministry to the homeless in his area were people who were willing to build relationships. So he began an organization called Servants Center to offer help through friendship.
What Don encountered at the shelter was the opposite of what the people who heard the apostle Paul experienced. When he shared the gospel, he gave himself too. He testified in his letter to the Thessalonians, “We were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8). He said, “We were gentle among you,” like a mother (v.7).
In our service for the Lord, do we share not just our words or money but our time and friendship? — Anne Cetas
I want to do service for Christ while I live,
And comfort and cheer to poor lonely hearts give;
For this is the program approved by the Word,
To visit the needy and speak of the Lord. —Bosch
One measure of our likeness to Christ is our sensitivity to the suffering of others.
April 2, 2009
His Part; Our Part
READ: Joshua 1:1-9
Arise, go over this Jordan . . . . I will not leave you nor forsake you. —Joshua 1:2,5
Whenever the Lord assigns us a difficult task, He gives us what we need to carry it out. John Wesley wrote, “Among the many difficulties of our early ministry, my brother Charles often said, ‘If the Lord would give me wings, I’d fly.’ I used to answer, ‘If God bids me fly, I will trust Him for the wings.’”
Today’s Scripture tells us that Joshua was thrust into a position of great responsibility. No doubt the enormity of the challenge before him made him tremble with fear. How could he ever follow such a great leader as Moses? In his own strength it would be impossible to lead the people into the Promised Land. But along with the marching orders, the Lord gave him an assuring promise: “I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Josh. 1:5). Then He said, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (v.9). Such reassurances were the backing Joshua needed.
If God has given you some special work to do that frightens you, it’s your responsibility to jump at it. It’s up to the Lord to see you through. As you faithfully do your part, He will do His part. — Richard De Haan
I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
O’er mountain or plain or sea;
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord,
I’ll be what You want me to be. —Brown
Where God guides, God provides!
April 3, 2009
The Journey Home
READ: Hebrews 11:1-10
[Abraham] waited for the city . . . whose builder and maker is God. —Hebrews 11:10
Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, was diagnosed years ago with the terminal disease pulmonary fibrosis. Eventually he required prolonged bed rest. Bright used this time of quiet reflection to write a book called The Journey Home.
In his book, Bright quotes Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who said: “May we live here like strangers and make the world not a house, but an inn, in which we sup and lodge, expecting to be on our journey tomorrow.”
Struck by Spurgeon’s perspective concerning his own terminal prognosis, Bright commented: “Knowing that heaven is our real home makes it easier to pass through the tough times here on earth. I have taken comfort often in the knowledge that the perils of a journey on earth will be nothing compared to the glories of heaven.”
Abraham, the friend of God, illustrates this same otherworldly orientation: “By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country . . . for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:9-10). His sojourn was that of a traveling foreigner, who by faith sought an eternal city constructed by God.
Whether death is near or far away, let’s exhibit a faith that focuses on our eternal home. — Dennis Fisher
Home from the earthly journey,
Safe for eternity;
All that the Savior promised—
That is what heaven will be. —Anon.
We may walk a desert pathway, but the end of the journey is the Garden of God.
April 4, 2009
Humility And Greatness
READ: Matthew 20:20-28
Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. —Matthew 20:26
As a 7-year-old, Richard Bernstein admired Jackie Robinson’s athletic ability and courage as the first African-American man to play Major League baseball in the modern era. A few years later, while working at a small-town golf course, Bernstein was astonished to find himself carrying the bag of his hero, Jackie Robinson. When rain postponed the game, Robinson held an umbrella over the two of them and shared his chocolate bar with the young caddy. Writing in The International Herald Tribune, Bernstein cited that humble act of kindness as a mark of greatness he has never forgotten.
True greatness is shown by humility, not pride. This was powerfully demonstrated and taught by Jesus Christ, who told His ambitious disciples: “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:26-28).
When God Himself walked on earth as a man, He washed feet, welcomed children, and willingly gave His life to deliver us from the self-centered tyranny of sin. His example gives credence to His command. — David C. McCasland
True greatness does not lie with those
Who strive for worldly fame,
It lies instead with those who choose
To serve in Jesus’ name. —D. De Haan
We can do great things for the Lord if we are willing to do little things for others.
April 5, 2009
The Measure Of Mercy
READ: Philippians 2:5-11
You were not redeemed with corruptible things, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ. —1 Peter 1:18-19
What is the distance from God’s throne of splendor down to the abyss of Calvary’s cross? What is the measure of the Savior’s love for us? In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he described Jesus’ descent from the heights of glory to the depths of shame and agony and back again (2:5-11).
Christ is the eternal Creator and Lord of all existence, exalted infinitely above earth’s foulness and decay. He is the source of life, with myriads of angels to sing His praises and do His bidding. Yet, motivated by love for our lost human race, “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (v.8). He came to our puny planet, was born in a cavelike barn with its smells and filth, and was placed as a helpless baby in a feeding trough.
When He grew to manhood, He endured homelessness (Matt. 8:20). Thirsty, He asked an adulteress for water (John 4:7-9). Weary, He fell asleep in a boat on a storm-tossed sea (Mark 4:37-38). Sinless, He was adored by the multitudes one day (Matt. 21:9), and then condemned as a criminal and died on a Roman cross in excruciating pain.
That’s the distance from God’s throne down to Calvary! That’s the measure of His mercy and grace! — Vernon C. Grounds
O the love that drew salvation’s plan!
O the grace that brought it down to man!
O the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary! —Newell
God broke into human history to offer us the eternal gift of salvation.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"
24-17 ABC Fight Corner
April 6, 2009
Nothing Left But God
READ: 2 Chronicles 20:3-17
Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. —2 Chronicles 20:15
A wise Bible teacher once said, “Sooner or later God will bring self-sufficient people to the place where they have no resource but Him—no strength, no answers, nothing but Him. Without God’s help, they’re sunk.”
He then told of a despairing man who confessed to his pastor, “My life is really in bad shape.” “How bad?” the pastor inquired. Burying his head in his hands, he moaned, “I’ll tell you how bad—all I’ve got left is God.” The pastor’s face lit up. “I’m happy to assure you that a person with nothing left but God has more than enough for great victory!”
In today’s Bible reading, the people of Judah were also in trouble. They admitted their lack of power and wisdom to conquer their foes. All they had left was God! But King Jehoshaphat and the people saw this as reason for hope, not despair. “Our eyes are upon You,” they declared to God (2 Chron. 20:12). And their hope was not disappointed as He fulfilled His promise: “The battle is not yours, but God’s” (v.15).
Are you in a position where all self-sufficiency is gone? As you turn your eyes on the Lord and put your hope in Him, you have God’s reassuring promise that you need nothing more. — Joanie Yoder
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace. —Lemmel
When all you have is God, you have all you need.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"
24-17 ABC Fight Corner