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  #361  
Old 09-06-2009, 05:20 AM
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Default Sep. 6

September 6, 2009

Prelude Of Praise

READ: Psalm 150

I will sing praise to Your name forever, that I may daily perform my vows. —Psalm 61:8

We enter a concert hall, find our seats, and listen with anticipation as the members of the orchestra tune their instruments. The sound is discordant, not melodic. But the tuning is simply a prelude to the symphony.

C. S. Lewis suggested that’s how it is with our devotional practices and even our worship services. Sometimes they sound discordant, but God hears our prayers and praises with fatherly delight. We are really preparing for participation in the glorious symphony of heaven. Now we are making a minuscule contribution to the harmonies of angelic and redeemed hosts. But our adoration, though feeble, pleases the heart of the Divine Listener more than the finest rendition of earth’s greatest orchestra.

Are we eagerly awaiting our participation in heaven’s symphony of praise? Are we joyfully participating in the adoration that delights the heart of God? Or do we regard devotion as more of a discipline than a delight?

Our attitudes will be transformed when we realize that praise delights God’s heart. Praise helps us to tune our lives to heavenly harmonies.

Praise is an indispensable preparation for the worship that will be our eternal joy. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Ps. 150:6). — Vernon C. Grounds

Joyfully, heartily resounding,
Let every instrument and voice
Peal out the praise of grace abounding,
Calling the whole world to rejoice. —Routley

The heart filled with praise brings pleasure to God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #362  
Old 09-07-2009, 03:51 AM
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Default Sep. 7

September 7, 2009

Unanswered Prayers

READ: Luke 7:1-10

[Jesus said], “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” —Luke 7:9

An explanation we often hear for “unanswered” prayers is that we don’t have enough faith. But Jesus said in Luke 17:6 that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can command a mulberry tree to be uprooted and planted in the sea and it will obey us. In other words, the effectiveness of our prayers depends not on how much faith we have but on whether we even have faith.

Luke tells of a Roman centurion with “great faith” (7:9). His faith was expressed first as an appeal to Jesus to heal his dying servant. Then it was expressed as an acknowledgment that Jesus could heal his servant anytime, anywhere. The centurion did not ask Jesus to do things his way.

Faith has been described as “trusting God’s heart and trusting God’s power.” Some prayers that seem to go unanswered are simply instances in which God has lovingly overruled our wishes. He knows that what we have asked for is not best. Or it may be that our timing is not His timing, or He has some far greater purpose in mind. Let us remember, even Jesus prayed to His heavenly Father, “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours” (Luke 22:42).

Do we have the centurion’s great faith—a faith that trusts God to do His work, in His way? — C. P. Hia

Unanswered prayers are answered still
As part of God’s great master plan;
They help to carry out His will
To demonstrate God’s love for man. —D. De Haan

God’s answers are wiser than our prayers.
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  #363  
Old 09-08-2009, 04:34 AM
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Default Sep. 8

September 8, 2009

Comforted To Comfort

READ: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

[God] comforts us . . . that we may be able to comfort [others] with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. —2 Corinthians 1:4

While speaking to a group of Christian athletes, I asked them how they normally responded to hardships. Their responses included fear, anger, self-pity, aggression, despair, abusive behavior, apathy, and turning to God. I encouraged them to trust that God would comfort them and then use them to comfort others.

Just as I encouraged those athletes, Paul encouraged a group of believers in a town called Corinth. He reminded them that afflictions were inevitable for the follower of Jesus. Many were being persecuted, imprisoned, and oppressed—all because of their relationship with Jesus. Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that in the midst of their trouble God was their source of help. He would come to their side and help them to have godly responses. Then Paul gave one of the reasons God allowed suffering and brought divine comfort—so that the Corinthians might have the empathy to enter into other people’s sorrow and comfort them (2 Cor. 1:4).

When we suffer, let us remember that God will bring comfort to us through His Word, by the Holy Spirit, and through fellow believers. God does not comfort us so that we’ll be comfortable; we are comforted by God so that we might be comforters. — Marvin Williams

When you receive God’s comfort,
Be sure to pass it on,
Then give to God the glory
From whom the comfort’s drawn. —Hess

When God permits trials, He also provides comfort.
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  #364  
Old 09-09-2009, 04:36 AM
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Default Sep. 9

September 9, 2009

How To Become Rich

READ: Luke 12:13-21

Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. —Luke 12:15

I find it interesting that Jesus taught more about money than anything else. And He wasn’t trying to ratchet up the treasury. As far as we know, He never even asked for an offering. The reason He taught extensively on the subject is that nothing clogs our spiritual arteries more quickly than money—either working to have a lot of it or wishing that we had.

Think of the man who brazenly asked Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13). Amazing! He had an opportunity to “go deep” with Jesus, but instead he wanted deep pockets.

Jesus responded with a stunning, counterintuitive statement: “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (v.15). He then went on to tell the parable of a rich man who was wildly successful from a worldly standpoint—having so many crops that he had to keep building bigger barns—but who, in God’s eyes, was actually a “fool.” Not because he was rich, but because he was not rich toward God.

You’ll hear a lot of advice about how to become rich. But only Jesus tells it to us straight. It’s not about the money. It’s about the richness of our relationship with Him and the joy of turning our greed into generosity. — Joe Stowell

The riches of this world are vain,
They vanish in a day;
But sweet the treasures of God’s love—
They never pass away. —Bosch

Learning how to be rich toward God yields eternal dividends.
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Old 09-10-2009, 02:54 AM
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Default Sep. 10

September 10, 2009

Untended Places

READ: Psalm 119:9-16

Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. —Psalm 119:11

Our family had just arrived at the lake cottage we had rented for a week of much-anticipated vacation when my wife discovered the unmistakable evidence of spiders and mice in the house. It wasn’t that we had never encountered such things, but that we had expected the cottage to be cleaned and prepared for our stay there. Instead, the counters, cabinets, and beds were littered with the residue of infestation, requiring much cleaning before we settled in. It wasn’t a bad house; it had just been left untended.

We might be guilty of dealing with our hearts the way that cottage was managed. Our “untended places” can become breeding grounds for infestations of wrong thinking, poor attitudes, or sinful behavior—creating problems that require significant attention to correct. The wise path is to recognize our need to tend our hearts by staying in God’s Word and embracing its truths.

In Psalm 119:11, King David recognized the danger of not building our lives on the Scriptures. He said, “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

With a focus on the Word, we can build strong spiritual lives that will help us avoid the dangers that inevitably grow in untended places. — Bill Crowder

Give me, O Lord, a strong desire
To look within Your Word each day;
Help me to hide it in my heart,
Lest from its truth my feet would stray. —Branon

To grow spiritually strong, read the Word.
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  #366  
Old 09-11-2009, 04:20 AM
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Default Sep. 11

September 11, 2009

How Honest Are You?

READ: Acts 5:1-11

Those who deal truthfully are [God’s] delight. —Proverbs 12:22

Woman’s Day magazine surveyed more than 2,000 people to check out their honesty level. When asked, “How honest are you?” 48 percent said very honest, 50 percent said somewhat honest, and the other 2 percent said not very honest.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents confessed that they had taken office supplies from their job for personal use. And 40 percent admitted that they would cheat on their taxes if they knew they wouldn’t get caught.

Ananias and Sapphira must have thought they could get away with lying (Acts 5:1-11). But they quickly found out differently when Peter confronted them and told them that they had lied to the Holy Spirit. Immediately they were struck dead (vv.5,10).

The Lord’s desire was to keep His new church pure so He could use the believers in the lives of others. As Bible teacher G. Campbell Morgan says, “The church pure is the church powerful. . . . The only power [able to make] a church pure is that of the indwelling Spirit of God.” The purity of the church led to their testimony spreading, and “believers were increasingly added to the Lord” (v.14).

Let’s be the kind of people who “deal truthfully” (Prov. 12:22) so we can be used by the Lord. — Anne Cetas

Lord, by Your Spirit grant that we
In word and deed may honest be;
All falsehood we would cast aside,
From You, O Lord, we cannot hide. —D. De Haan

There are no degrees of honesty.
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  #367  
Old 09-12-2009, 05:44 AM
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September 12, 2009

Lateral Violence

READ: Matthew 20:20-28

Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. —Matthew 20:26

An intriguing article in Michigan Nurse magazine called attention to “nursing’s dirty little secret”—the incivility and verbal abuse that occurs among some nurses. This peer-level bullying (also known as lateral violence) takes the form of back-stabbing, innuendo, infighting, sabotage, verbal affronts, failure to respect privacy, and others.

Not only is lateral violence occurring among nurses, it’s a growing problem in a host of other work environments. This bullying always includes an imbalance of power, an intent to harm, and the threat of further aggression.

Of course, this would never occur in the church—or would it? Think about the personal interaction in deacon and elder boards, church office staffs, Bible-study groups, and youth ministries. Are they ever marked by the kinds of behavior that harm, denigrate, or intimidate others? And what about in our families?

When the disciples were jockeying for position in the coming kingdom, Jesus rebuked them and said, “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). With that attitude in all our relationships, bullying will never be found among us. — David C. Egner

Lord, may we have a servant’s heart
In all we say and do
By placing others’ needs above
What we want to pursue. —Sper

Only the one who serves is qualified to lead.
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  #368  
Old 09-13-2009, 03:29 PM
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Default Sep. 13

September 13, 2009

Mell’s Smiley Face

READ: Romans 5:1-5

We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance. —Romans 5:3

Some people think you shouldn’t draw in your Bible, but I’m glad my daughter Melissa drew in hers. In the margin next to Romans 5, she used a green ink pen to draw a small, simple smiley face, and circled verse 3.

How could she have known that her family and friends would need this passage when she left us so suddenly in a car accident at age 17? How could she know that these verses would tell her story, while guiding our lives and the lives of others over the past 7 years?

Romans 5 begins by explaining our justification through faith, which gives us peace with God through Jesus (v.1). Melissa had that peace. And right now she is enjoying the fruits of her faith, as verse 2 describes: We “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Imagine the smiley face she could draw now!

And then there’s the rest of us—all of us left behind when loved ones precede us in death. Somehow, we “rejoice in our sufferings.” Why? Our suffering brings perseverance, which brings character, which brings us hope (vv.3-4).

We feel helpless in times of tragedy, but we are never hopeless. God pours His love into our hearts—and with it the great hope of His glory. It’s all part of God’s mysterious yet marvelous plan. — Dave Branon

For Further Study
If you have lost a loved one and want to learn more
about heaven, read the online publication Our Eternal Home at www.discoveryseries.org/rd911

God often digs wells of joy with the spade of sorrow.
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  #369  
Old 09-14-2009, 03:10 AM
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September 14, 2009

Leaving A Legacy

READ: Deuteronomy 6:4-9

You shall teach them diligently to your children . . . when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way. —Deuteronomy 6:7

Recently my grandson Alex accompanied me as I ran errands. Unexpectedly he asked, “So, Grandpa, how did you receive Christ as your Savior?” Touched, I told him about my childhood conversion. Alex was still interested, so I described how his great-grandfather had come to faith. This included a brief overview of how he survived World War II, his initial resistance to the gospel, and how his life changed after becoming a Christian.

Later I was reminded of our conversation when I read a Bible passage that spoke of faith being passed down through the generations. In Deuteronomy, Moses instructed the Israelites to take to heart God’s truths and share them with the next generation as a way of life: “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (6:6-7).

Biblical parenting is not a guarantee of having godly offspring. But when we see spiritual interest in the next generation, we can cultivate vital conversations about God’s Word. This can be one of a parent’s, or grandparent’s, greatest legacies. — Dennis Fisher

God gives us children for a time,
To train them in His way,
To love them and to teach them how
To follow and obey. —Sper

The richest legacy a parent can leave a child is a godly example.
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  #370  
Old 09-15-2009, 02:47 AM
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September 15, 2009

Letting Go

READ: Philippians 3:3-11

What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. —Philippians 3:7

It has been said that “one person’s junk is another’s treasure.” When David Dudley tried to help his parents clear their house of “unnecessary items” before moving to a smaller home, he found it very difficult. He was often angered by his parents’ refusal to part with things they had not used for decades. Finally, David’s father helped him understand that even the worn-out, useless items were tied to close friends and important events. Clearing the clutter felt like throwing away their very lives.

A spiritual parallel to our reluctance to let go of the clutter in our homes may be our inability to clear our hearts of the attitudes that weigh us down.

For many years, Saul of Tarsus clung to the “righteousness” he had earned by obeying God’s law. His pedigree and performance were prized possessions until he encountered Jesus in a blinding moment on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-8). Face to face with the risen Savior, he let go of his cherished self-effort and later wrote, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7).

When the Holy Spirit urges us to release our grip on any attitude that keeps us from following Christ, we find true freedom in letting go. — David C. McCasland

Speak to us, Lord, till shamed by Thy great giving
Our hands unclasp to set our treasures free;
Our wills, our love, our dear ones, our possessions,
All gladly yielded, gracious Lord, to Thee. —Anon.

Through Christ we have the freedom to let go.
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