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  #391  
Old 10-05-2009, 01:46 AM
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Default Oct. 5

October 5, 2009

Worth Dying For

READ: Philippians 1:19-26

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. —Philippians 1:21

Sophie Scholl was a young German woman during the 1940s. She saw the deterioration of her country under the iron rule of the Nazi regime, and she determined to make a difference. She and her brother, with a small group of friends, began to peacefully protest not only the actions but the values that the Nazis had forced upon the nation.

Sophie and others were arrested and executed for speaking out against the evil in their land. Although she wasn’t anxious to die, she saw that the conditions in her country had to be addressed—even if it meant her death.

Sophie’s story raises a critical question for us as well. What would we be willing to die for? Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Pete Fleming, Roger Youderian, and Ed McCully gave their lives in the jungles of South America because they were committed to spreading the gospel. Elliot revealed the heart that drove such sacrifice when he wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” The apostle Paul put it this way: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

Some things really are worth dying for—and in them we gain the reward of the One who declares, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21,23) — Bill Crowder

Forbid it, Lord, that I should be
Afraid of persecution’s frown;
For You have promised faithful ones
That they shall wear the victor’s crown. —Bosch

Those who faithfully bear the cross in this life will wear the crown in the life to come.
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  #392  
Old 10-05-2009, 11:19 PM
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Default Oct. 6

October 6, 2009

Are You Distracted?

READ: Luke 10:38-42

Martha was distracted with much serving. —Luke 10:40

In data collected from over 20,000 Christians in 139 countries, The Obstacles to Growth Survey found that, on average, more than 40 percent of Christians around the world say they “often” or “always” rush from task to task. About 60 percent of Christians say that it’s “often” or “always” true that the busyness of life gets in the way of developing their relationship with God. It’s clear that busyness does distract us from our fellowship with Him.

It seems that Martha too allowed busyness to distract her from spending time with Jesus. When she welcomed Him and His disciples into her home, she was occupied with preparing the food, washing their feet, and making sure they were comfortable. All of these things had to be done, but Luke seems to intimate that Martha’s busyness in preparation degenerated into busywork that distracted her from reflecting on Jesus’ words and enjoying time with Him (Luke 10:38-42).

What about us? Are we rushing from task to task, allowing the busyness of life and even work for Jesus to distract us from enjoying sweet fellowship with Him? Let’s ask God to help us diminish our distractions by making Jesus our focus. — Marvin Williams

Lord, I don’t want to miss out on moments of intimacy with You. Help me not to be so busy
that I fail to devote time each day to prayer
and reading Your Word. Amen.

If you are too busy for God, you are too busy.
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  #393  
Old 10-07-2009, 02:53 AM
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Default Oct. 7

October 7, 2009

Understand One Another

READ: Proverbs 16:16-22

Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. —Proverbs 20:5

One of the best ways for a man to love his wife is to understand her. Peter explains that it is imperative for a husband to “dwell with [his wife] with understanding” (1 Peter 3:7).

This principle works both ways. Husbands want to be understood as well. Actually, we all do. Everyone, married or not, longs to be understood by others at the deepest possible level. We’re born with that need, and we never seem to outgrow it.

It’s feeble avoidance to say we can’t understand one another. We can and we must. It takes time—time spent in one another’s presence asking questions, listening intently, then asking again. It’s as simple and as difficult as that. No one, of course, can fully plumb the mystery of another person’s heart, but we can learn something new every day. The wise man of Proverbs called understanding “a wellspring of life” (16:22), a deep source of wisdom to all who seek it.

Again, I say, understanding takes time—one of the most precious gifts we can give to others. How we choose to spend our time is the surest indicator of how much we care for those we love.

Ask the Lord today to give you the grace to take the time to understand the important people in your life. — David H. Roper

To those whose lives we touch in life,
To whom our love we would impart,
The greatest gift that we can give
May be an understanding heart. —Branon

Listening is an open door to understanding.
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  #394  
Old 10-08-2009, 12:26 AM
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Default Oct. 8

October 8, 2009

Déjà Vu All Over Again

READ: John 21:1-14

After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. —John 21:1

Baseball legend Yogi Berra is known for his oft-repeated quips like, “It ain’t over till it’s over” and “It’s like déjà vu all over again!”

I wonder if the disciples felt déjà vu when they saw Jesus standing by the shore (John 21). Discouraged and distracted by their own needs in the shadow of Peter’s denial and their desertion of Jesus, they had abandoned their calling to follow Jesus and returned to their previous occupation—fishing.

Then, after a fruitless night of fishing, a voice from the shore called out, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some” (John 21:6). When they did, the nets were so full that they couldn’t be dragged in. No doubt their minds raced back to their first encounter with Jesus—when He showed up on the shore of their careers and, after another miraculous catch of fish, called them to leave their nets and follow Him (Luke 5:1-11).

Like the disciples, we may want to return to our own agendas when we get discouraged in our walk with Jesus. But then Jesus shows up again on the shore of our lives to extend forgiveness and to draw us back to those moments when He first called us.

It’s like déjà vu all over again! — Joe Stowell

Son of the living God! Oh, call us
Once and again to follow Thee;
And give us strength, whate’er befall us,
Thy true disciples still to be. —Martin

Jesus calls us to follow Him— and repeats His call when necessary.
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  #395  
Old 10-09-2009, 03:41 AM
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Default Oct. 9

October 9, 2009

Sorry About The Tears

READ: John 11:32-44

[Jesus] groaned in the spirit and was troubled. —John 11:33

My friend was making a major change in her life—she was leaving her employer of 50 years for a new venture. She cried when she said her goodbyes. And as she did, she frequently said, “Sorry about the tears.”

Why do we sometimes feel the need to apologize for crying? Perhaps we look at tears as showing a weakness in our character or a vulnerability we don’t like. Maybe we’re uncomfortable or think our tears are making others uncomfortable.

Our emotions, however, are God-given. They’re a characteristic of our having been made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). He grieves. In Genesis 6:6-7, He was sorrowful and angry about His people’s sin and the separation it caused between Him and them. Jesus, God in the flesh, joined His friends Mary and Martha in grieving over the loss of their brother Lazarus (John 11:28-44). “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (v.33). He “wept” (v.35). “Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb” (v.38). I doubt that He apologized.

Someday when we get to heaven, there will be no more sorrow or separation or pain, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4). In the meantime, the tears may flow. No apologies needed. — Anne Cetas

He knows our burdens and our crosses,
Those things that hurt, our trials and losses,
He cares for every soul that cries,
God wipes the tears from weeping eyes. —Brandt

If you doubt that Jesus cares, remember His tears.
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  #396  
Old 10-09-2009, 09:42 PM
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Default Oct. 10

October 10, 2009

Speaking The Truth

READ: 2 Chron. 24:15-22

He sent prophets to them, . . . but they would not listen. —2 Chronicles 24:19

In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch is a respected small-town lawyer in the segregated South during the 1930s. When he takes on a case that pits an innocent black man against two dishonest white people, Atticus knows he will face terrible prejudice from the jury. But his conscience compels him to speak the truth boldly in the face of opposition.

The Old Testament prophets were often sent to preach the truth to a stubborn people. “[God] sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen” (2 Chron. 24:19). Their message often resulted in persecution and sometimes even death (Heb. 11:32-38).

During Christ’s ministry on earth, His message also resulted in angry opposition (Luke 4:21-30). Yet, in the sovereignty of God, the terrible miscarriage of justice that sentenced Jesus to death on the cross purchased our redemption. Now, as representatives of the risen Christ in this world, we are to promote reconciliation, justice, and integrity (Mic. 6:8; 2 Cor. 5:18-21). And in so doing, this may mean speaking the truth in the face of opposition. This is the charge to every believer until that day when Christ sets all things right (Rev. 20:11-15). — Dennis Fisher

The life that counts must toil and fight,
Must hate the wrong and love the right;
Must stand for truth, by day, by night—
This is the life that counts. —Anon.

It’s better to declare the truth and be rejected than to withhold the truth just to be accepted.
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  #397  
Old 10-11-2009, 03:15 AM
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October 11, 2009

Go Beyond Reading

READ: Colossians 3:12-17

As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness . . . longsuffering. —Colossians 3:12

Pastor, where are the Our Daily Bread devotionals?” The words came harshly—almost in anger. The latest edition had not yet been placed in the rack outside the church auditorium. This led at least one reader to confront the pastor about their absence. Although it was not his responsibility to distribute the booklets, he felt terrible about the way this parishioner had reprimanded him for not making sure the devotional guides were there on time.

When I heard this, I was struck by the irony of this situation. Devotional booklets are meant to encourage Christian growth and godly grace. And as followers of Christ who read devotional materials, we hope we are moving toward spiritual maturity that leads to “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering”—qualities Paul says we should “put on” (Col. 3:12).

Our spiritual disciplines—reading God’s Word along with accompanying study or devotional materials, prayer, and worshiping together—should not be ends in themselves. Instead, those actions are means to becoming more Christlike, more godly, more Spirit-led. Our spiritual practice should lead to having the “Word of Christ dwell in [us] richly” (3:16). That will show in everything we do and say. — Dave Branon

I want my heart to be in tune with God,
In every stage of life may it ring true;
I want my thoughts and words to honor Him,
Exalting Him in everything I do. —Hess

Bible study is not merely to inform us— it’s meant to transform us.
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  #398  
Old 10-12-2009, 02:47 AM
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October 12, 2009

Details, Details

READ: Philemon 1:4-16

In everything give thanks. —1 Thessalonians 5:18

Details make a difference. Ask the man from Germany who planned to visit his fiancée for Christmas but ended up in snowy Sidney, Montana, instead of sunny Sydney, Australia.

Prepositions in our language seem like insignificant details, but they can make a big difference. The words “in” and “for” are an example.

The apostle Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:18). That doesn’t mean we have to be thankful for everything. We need not be thankful for the bad choices someone makes, but we can be thankful in the circumstances because the Lord can use the resulting difficulties for good.

The letter to Philemon illustrates this idea. Paul was imprisoned with Onesimus, a runaway slave. He certainly didn’t have to give thanks for his bad situation. Yet his letter is full of gratitude because he knew that God was using it for good. Onesimus had become something more than a slave; he was now a beloved brother in the Lord (v.16).

Knowing that God can use all things for good is more than enough reason to give thanks in everything. Giving thanks in difficult circumstances is a small detail that makes a big difference. — Julie Ackerman Link

Father, thank You that in every trial, challenge, and difficulty, You are behind the scenes working things out for our good. Help us to see Your hand in everything. Amen.

God has not promised to keep us from life’s storms, but He will keep us through them.
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  #399  
Old 10-12-2009, 11:04 PM
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October 13, 2009

Olympic Extravaganza

READ: 1 Kings 10:4-10

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:16

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympics on August 8, 2008, impressed the world. I saw it on TV as more than 90,000 people watched it live in the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing. It was inspiring to hear about China’s 5,000 years of history and the inventions she had contributed to the world: paper-making, movable-type printing, the compass, and fireworks.

The Queen of Sheba was greatly impressed by what she saw during her visit with Solomon (1 Kings 10:4-5). The sights of Jerusalem so overwhelmed her that she exclaimed, “The half was not told me” (v.7). Above all, she was impressed with Solomon’s wisdom (vv.6-7). She was convinced that the subjects of Solomon were happy because they continually stood before him and heard his wisdom (v.8). She concluded by praising Solomon’s Lord for making him king so he would “do justice and righteousness” (v.9).

Solomon’s impact on his people made me wonder about our contribution to the world. We’re not concerned about impressing others with our possessions or abilities, but we all should want to make a difference in the lives of people. What if there was one thing each of us did today that caused people to praise the Lord? — C. P. Hia

This is the wish I always wish,
The prayer I always pray:
Lord, may my life help others
It touches on the way. —Anon.

Christians are windows through which Jesus can shine.
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  #400  
Old 10-14-2009, 03:30 AM
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October 14, 2009

Be Still

READ: Psalm 46

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! —Psalm 46:10

As I sat in the dentist’s chair, I braced myself for the drilling that would begin my root canal. I was ready for the worst, and my body language and facial expression exposed my sense of dread. The dentist looked at me and smiled, saying, “It’s okay, Bill. Try to relax.”

That isn’t easy to do. It is actually very difficult to try (requiring effort and exertion) to relax (requiring an absence of effort and exertion). Try and relax just don’t seem to fit together—not only in the dentist’s chair, but in the spiritual realm as well.

Far too often I don’t limit my efforts of resistance to visits at the dentist’s office. In my relationship with Christ, I find myself not pressing for God’s purposes but for my own interests. In those moments, the hardest thing for me to do is “try to relax” and genuinely trust God for the outcome of life’s trials.

In Psalm 46:10, we read, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” In the moments when my heart is anxious, this verse reminds me to “be still, and know.” Now, if I can only put that into practice and rest confidently in His care, I’ll be at peace. — Bill Crowder

Lord, we know that true rest can be found only in You. Help us to end our striving and to trust that You will provide. In Your loving arms we find rest. Amen.

God knows the future, so we are safe in His hands.
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