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  #461  
Old 12-11-2009, 12:23 AM
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Default Dec. 11

December 11, 2009

Tears Of Repentance

READ: Luke 22:54-62

Peter went out and wept bitterly. —Luke 22:62

My husband, a self-proclaimed computer illiterate, purchased a computer to help him with his business. After giving him a few pointers, I left him alone to do some experimenting. It wasn’t long, however, before I heard a slightly panicked voice from the office: “Hey, where’s that ‘uh-oh’ button?”

What he had been looking for, of course, was the “undo” key that lets you backtrack when you’ve made a mistake. Have you ever wished for one of those in life? A provision to reverse, repair, or restore what’s been broken or damaged by sin?

After Jesus’ arrest, Peter, one of His beloved disciples, denied three times that he knew Him. Then, we read, “the Lord turned” and simply “looked at” him. Peter “went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62). His tears were most likely tears of shame and repentance. No doubt he wished he could undo his actions. But Peter wasn’t left in his misery. After Jesus’ resurrection, He restored Peter, giving him opportunity to reaffirm his love (John 21:15-17).

When you sorrow over sin in your life, remember that God has provided a method of restoration. “If we confess our sins,” He will “forgive us” and “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). — Cindy Hess Kasper

We’re thankful, Lord, that when we fall
We can begin anew
If humbly we confess our sin,
Then turn and follow You. —Sper

The way back to God begins with a broken heart.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #462  
Old 12-12-2009, 03:36 AM
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Default Dec. 12

December 12, 2009

Sowing Seed With Tears

READ: Ephesians 4:17-24

I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. —Romans 9:2

In our Bible-study class, we were reading Ephesians 4:17-24 out loud when Alyssa began to cry. Most of us were wondering why, when she quietly said, “I’m crying because hearing this passage read out loud makes me see the condition that lost people are in. They’re separated from God and are blind to it! That breaks my heart.”

One person in the class admitted later that he was embarrassed he had never felt that sad about nonbelievers and had in the past even talked excitedly about the judgment they would receive one day from God.

The apostle Paul laid out the condition of the lost with these words: “[They have] their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God . . . because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18). He testified that he had “great sorrow and continual grief in [his] heart” because his fellow countrymen had not yet come to know the love of Christ (Rom. 9:1-3).

As we think about the condition of nonbelievers, we can remember God’s heart toward them: “The Lord is . . . longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). When we share the Word of God and pray earnestly for others, eyes will be opened to His love. — Anne Cetas

Oh, give me, Lord, Thy love for souls,
For lost and wandering sheep,
That I may see the multitudes
And weep as Thou didst weep. —Harrison

Open your heart to the Lord, and He will open your eyes to the lost.
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  #463  
Old 12-13-2009, 03:41 AM
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Default Dec. 13

December 13, 2009

A Time For Readjustment

READ: Leviticus 25:1-7

In the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land. —Leviticus 25:4

The earth’s solar orbit takes 365 and a quarter days. Because of this, every 4 years an extra day is added to the calendar so we don’t fall behind in the natural cycle of things. Each leap year we add that day onto the end of February. In this way, the calendar is readjusted to the astronomical timetable.

In the calendar of ancient Israel, God set up a remarkable means of readjusting things. Just as mankind was commanded to rest every seventh day (Ex. 20:8-10), so the land was to be allowed to rest during the seventh year (Lev. 25:4). This sabbatical year allowed the farmland to replenish for greater fertility. In addition, debts were canceled (Deut. 15:1-11) and Hebrew slaves were set free (vv.12-18).

With our busy schedules and our hectic pace of life, we too need readjustment. Demands of work, family, and church can require reevaluation. One way we do that is by observing the sabbath principle—making sure to set aside time to rest and prayerfully refocus our priorities. Jesus, for example, went “to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35).

When can you pull aside from your activities and prayerfully ask God to reset your spiritual calendar to His Word and His will? Is it time for a readjustment? — Dennis Fisher

To face life’s many challenges
And overcome each test,
The Lord tells us to take the time
To stop, to pray, to rest. —Sper

To make the most of your time, take time to pray.
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  #464  
Old 12-14-2009, 04:11 AM
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December 14, 2009

Warning Lights

READ: Joel 2:12-17

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” —Joel 2:12

I didn’t think that the hesitation in my car engine and that little yellow “check engine” light on my dashboard really needed my immediate attention. I sang it away, saying that I would get to it tomorrow. However, the next morning when I turned the key to start my car, it wouldn’t start. My first reaction was frustration, knowing that this would mean money, time, and inconvenience. My second thought was more of a resolution: I need to pay attention to warning lights that are trying to get my attention—they can mean something is wrong.

In Joel 2:12-17, we read that God used the prophet Joel to encourage His people to pay attention to the warning light on their spiritual dashboard. Prosperity had caused them to become complacent and negligent in their commitment to the Lord. Their faith had degenerated into empty formalism and their lives into moral bankruptcy. So God sent a locust plague to ruin crops in order to get His people’s attention, causing them to change their behavior and turn to Him with their whole heart.

What warning lights are flashing in your life? What needs to be tuned up or repaired through confession and repentance? — Marvin Williams

God’s love is not some fuzzy thing
That lets us do what we think best;
It guides and warns, and shows the way,
And always puts us to the test. —D. De Haan

Conviction is God’s warning light.
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  #465  
Old 12-15-2009, 04:23 AM
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Default Dec. 15

December 15, 2009

God’s Remarkable Word

READ: Psalm 119:89-96

Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven. —Psalm 119:89

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 has been called the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century. The ancient manuscripts hidden in the caves near Qumran are the oldest known copies of key Old Testament books. In 2007, the San Diego Natural History Museum hosted an exhibition featuring 24 of these scrolls. One often-repeated theme in the exhibit was that during the past 2,000 years the text of the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) has remained virtually unchanged.

Followers of Christ who believe that the Bible is the eternal, unchanging Word of God find more than coincidence in this remarkable preservation. The psalmist wrote: “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations” (119:89-90). Jesus said: “My words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35).

The Bible is more than a historical relic. It is the living, powerful Word of God (Heb. 4:12), in which we encounter the Lord and discover how to live for Him and honor Him. “I will never forget Your precepts,” the psalmist concluded, “for by them You have given me life” (119:93).

What a privilege we have each day to seek God in His remarkable Word! — David C. McCasland

I have a companion, a wonderful guide,
A solace and comfort whatever betide;
A friend never-failing when others pass by,
Oh, blessed communion, my Bible and I. —Knobloch

To know Christ, the Living Word, is to love the Bible, the written Word.
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  #466  
Old 12-16-2009, 12:49 AM
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December 16, 2009

Becoming Whole

READ: Romans 7:13-25

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. —Philippians 2:12-13

When a friend fell off her bike and suffered a severe brain injury, doctors weren’t sure she would survive. For several days she remained suspended between life and death.

The first good news came when she opened her eyes. Then she responded to simple voice commands. But with every small improvement, anxiety remained. How far would she progress?

After one difficult day of therapy, her husband was discouraged. But the very next morning he shared these welcome words: “Sandy’s back!” Physically, emotionally, psychologically, and mentally, Sandy was becoming the “self” who we knew and loved.

Sandy’s fall reminds me of what theologians refer to as “the fall” of mankind (Gen. 3). And her struggle to recover parallels our struggle to overcome the brokenness of sin (Rom. 7:18). If only her body healed, recovery would be incomplete. The same would be true if her brain worked but her body didn’t. Wholeness means that all parts work together for one purpose.

God is the one healing Sandy, but she has to work hard in therapy to improve. The same is true of us spiritually. After God saves us through Christ, we must “work out” our salvation (Phil. 2:12)—not to earn it but to bring our thoughts and actions into agreement with His purpose. — Julie Ackerman Link

More like the Master I would ever be,
More of His meekness, more humility;
More zeal to labor, more courage to be true,
More consecration for work He bids me do. —Gabriel

To become whole, keep yielding to the Holy Spirit.
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  #467  
Old 12-17-2009, 04:35 AM
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December 17, 2009

The King Of Fruits

READ: Luke 19:12-26

Present your bodies a living sacrifice, . . . which is your reasonable service. —Romans 12:1

The durian, a tropical fruit, is often called The King of Fruits. Either you love it or you hate it. Those who love it will do almost anything to get it. Those who hate it won’t get near it because of its pungent smell. My wife loves it. Recently, a friend, who was grateful for what my wife had done for her, sent her a box of the finest quality durians. She took great pains to ensure that they were the best.

I asked myself, “If we can give the best to a friend, how can we do less for our Lord who gave His very life for us?”

The nobleman in Jesus’ parable in Luke 19 wanted the best from 10 servants to whom he gave money, saying, “Do business till I come” (v.13). When he returned and asked for an account, he gave the same commendation “Well done!” to all those who had done what they could with the money entrusted to them. But he called “wicked” (v.22) the one who did nothing with his money.

The primary meaning of this story is stewardship of what we’ve been given. To be faithful with what God has given to us is to give Him our best in return. As the master gave money to the servants in the parable, so God has given us gifts to serve Him. It is we who will lose out if we fail to give Him our best. — C. P. Hia

Give of your best to the Master,
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service,
Consecrate every part. —Grose

We are at our best when we serve God by serving others.
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  #468  
Old 12-18-2009, 02:01 AM
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December 18, 2009

Jehovah-Jireh

READ: Matthew 6:5-15

Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. —Matthew 6:8

In my early years as a pastor, I served in small churches where finances were often tight. Sometimes our family finances felt the weight of that pressure. On one occasion, we were down to the last of our food and payday was still several days away. While my wife and I fretted about how we would feed our kids in the next few days, our doorbell rang. When we opened the door, we discovered two bags of groceries. We had not told anyone of our plight, yet our provider God had led someone to meet that need.

This reminds me of the Old Testament account of Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. At just the right moment, God provided a ram instead. Abraham called this place Jehovah-Jireh, “The-Lord-Will-Provide” (Gen. 22:14). He is the One who still cares deeply for His children.

Jesus said, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). He is constantly caring for and seeking the best for us—a reminder that in times of hardship, need, and fear, we have Someone who cares. Peter wrote that we can cast all our cares upon Jesus, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We can turn to Him in our time of need. — Bill Crowder

I know not by what methods rare
The Lord provides for me;
I only know that all my needs
He meets so graciously. —Adams

What God promises, God will provide.
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  #469  
Old 12-19-2009, 03:48 AM
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December 19, 2009

No Cause For Alarm

READ: Ephesians 4:25-32

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath. —Ephesians 4:26

The sound of the alarm blaring from inside the church struck panic in my heart. I had arrived at church early one Sunday morning, planning to spend a little time in peace and quiet before the congregation arrived. But I forgot to disarm the burglar alarm. As I turned the key, the disruptive and annoying blasting of the alarm filled the building—and no doubt the bedrooms of sleeping neighbors.

Anger is a lot like that. In the midst of our peaceful lives, something turns a key in our spirit and triggers the alarm. And our internal peace—not to mention the tranquillity of those around us—is interrupted by the disruptive force of our exploding emotions.

Sometimes anger appropriately calls our attention to an injustice that needs to be addressed, and we are spurred to righteous action. Most of the time, however, our anger is selfishly ignited by the violation of our expectations, rights, and privileges. In any case, it’s important to know why the alarm is sounding and to respond in a godly way. But one thing is sure, anger was never intended to continue unchecked.

It’s no wonder that Paul reminds us of the psalmist’s warning: “‘Be angry, and do not sin’; do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph. 4:26; Ps. 4:4). — Joe Stowell

Spirit of God, please change my heart
And give me a new desire;
Help me to be a man of peace
Who’s not controlled by anger’s fire. —K. De Haan

Anger left unchecked is cause for alarm.
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  #470  
Old 12-20-2009, 04:39 AM
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Default Dec. 20

December 20, 2009

Make A Joyful Shout

READ: Psalm 100

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! —Psalm 100:1

Duke University’s basketball fans are known as “Cameron Crazies.” When Duke plays archrival North Carolina, the Crazies are given these instructions: “This is the game you’ve been waiting for. No excuses. Give everything you’ve got. Cameron [Stadium] should never be less than painfully loud tonight.” Clearly, Duke fans take allegiance seriously.

The songwriter of Psalm 100 took his allegiance to the Lord seriously and wanted others to do the same. “Make a joyful shout to the Lord!” he exclaimed (v.1). His people were to freely express their praise to Him because He was the covenant God of Israel, the God over all other so-called gods. They were called to focus all their energies on Him and His goodness.

God’s goodness and grace should motivate us to freely express our love and allegiance to Him with shouts of joy. This may mean that those who are more reserved must push back the boundaries of restraint and learn what it means to be expressive in their praise to God. Those who are so expressive that they miss the beauty of silence may need to learn from those whose style is more reflective.

Worship is a time to focus on our Creator, Redeemer, and Shepherd, and celebrate what He has done. — Marvin Williams

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King;
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name. —Zschech

Our thoughts about God should lead us to joyful praise.
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