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  #511  
Old 01-25-2010, 02:40 AM
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Default Jan. 25

January 25, 2010

Deadly Sins

READ: John 16:17-24

You now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. —John 16:22

You may be familiar with the list of seven deadly sins that was formulated during the sixth century: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, vengeance, envy, and pride. But you may not know that the original list compiled during the fourth century also included the sin of sadness. Over the years, that emotion was omitted from the inventory.

Some people are blessed with a cheerful disposition. They always seem to be happy. They wear a perpetual smile almost as if they were advertising toothpaste. But then there are others who seem to be chronically sad. They continually complain about life and its burdens. And who can deny that afflictions are discouraging?

While we acknowledge that not everybody is blessed with a bright outlook on life, we need to remember that joy is one of the gifts Jesus promised to His followers. And we need to resist any tendency to let sadness dominate our emotional lives.

Jesus promised His disciples on the night Judas betrayed Him, “Your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:22). Remember that joy is the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Let’s ask the Lord to help us look beyond our sorrowful circumstances and encourage our hearts by the vision of joy that awaits us (Heb. 12:2). — Vernon C. Grounds

You alone, Lord Jesus, can true joy impart,
For You know the sorrow of the human heart;
You came here from glory many hearts to win
And in love for sinners suffered once for sin. —Anon.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit that’s always in season.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #512  
Old 01-26-2010, 03:09 AM
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Default Jan. 26

January 26, 2010

Delayed Consequences

READ: Ezekiel 12:21-28

Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. —Joel 2:13

As a child, I learned to behave properly when adults rewarded my good behavior and punished my bad behavior. This worked pretty well because the reward or punishment generally came quickly after the behavior, making the relationship between the cause and effect unmistakable. When I became an adult, however, life got more complex, and the consequences of my actions were not always immediate. When I behaved badly without getting in trouble for it, I began to think that it didn’t matter to God what I did.

Something similar happened to the children of Israel. When they disobeyed God and didn’t suffer any bad consequences right away, they said, “The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!” (Ezek. 9:9), indicating their belief that God had lost interest in them and didn’t care about their bad behavior. But they were wrong. Weary of their waywardness, God finally said, “None of My words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled” (12:28 niv).

When God delays discipline, it’s not due to indifference; it’s due to His very nature—He is gracious and slow to anger. Some see that as permission to sin, but God intends it to be an invitation to repent (Rom. 2:4). — Julie Ackerman Link

A Prayer: Lord, thank You for being slow to anger and filled with compassion. May I not presume upon Your mercy by assuming that there will be no consequences to my sin. Help me instead to confess it. Amen.

The only way to make things right is to admit you’ve been wrong.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #513  
Old 01-27-2010, 03:10 AM
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Default Jan. 27

January 27, 2010

The First English Samurai

READ: Neh. 1:11–2:5

For I was the king’s cupbearer. —Nehemiah 1:11

William Adams (1564–1620) is believed to be the first Englishman to reach Japan. Taking a liking to Adams, the ruling Japanese shogun made him his interpreter and personal advisor concerning the Western powers. Eventually, Adams was presented with two swords with rank of a Samurai. This showed just how much the Japanese revered Adams. Because William Adams served his foreign king well, he was also rewarded with greater opportunity for influence.

Centuries earlier, another man in a foreign country also had great influence over his king. Nehemiah was a cupbearer to Persian King Artaxerxes (Neh. 1:11). In the royal court, the cupbearer would test the wine before it was given to the king to protect him from poisoning. But this position also meant he had the king’s ear as a trusted advisor. Nehemiah’s integrity, administrative gifts, and wisdom made him a confidant to his ruler, which paved the way for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

Like Nehemiah, each of us has been given a unique sphere of influence. Raising children, church or community work, and employment all provide a platform where we can have a beneficial effect on others. Has the Lord placed someone in your life upon whom you can have an influence? — Dennis Fisher

When we live with integrity,
We please our God above
And influence society
With truthfulness and love. —Sper

Even a little example can be a big influence for Christ.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #514  
Old 01-28-2010, 03:59 AM
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Default Jan. 28

January 28, 2010

Quiet Time With God

READ: Psalm 23

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. —Psalm 23:2

The word connected captures our contemporary experience of life. Many people rarely go anywhere without a cell phone, iPod, laptop, or pager. We have become accessible 24 hours a day. Some psychologists see this craving to stay connected as an addiction. Yet a growing number of people are deliberately limiting their use of technology. Being a “tech-no” is their way of preserving times of quiet, while limiting the flow of information into their lives.

Many followers of Christ find that a daily time of Bible reading and prayer is essential in their walk of faith. This “quiet time” is a disconnection from external distractions in order to connect with God. The “green pastures” and “still waters” of Psalm 23:2 are more than an idyllic country scene. They speak of our communion with God whereby He restores our souls and leads us in His paths (v.3).

All of us can make time to meet with God, but do we? In Robert Foster’s booklet “7 Minutes With God,” he suggests a way to begin: Start with a brief prayer for guidance, then read the Bible for a few minutes, and close with a short time of prayer that includes adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication for others. It’s vital to take time today to connect with the Lord, who is our life. — David C. McCasland

We need to set aside the time
To read God’s Word and pray,
And listen for the Spirit’s voice
To guide us in His way. —Sper

Time spent with God is time well spent.
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  #515  
Old 01-29-2010, 04:28 AM
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Default Jan. 29

January 29, 2010

Running The Race

READ: 1 Cor. 9:19-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. —1 Corinthians 9:24

Spiridon Louis isn’t well known around the world, but he is in Greece. That’s because of what happened in 1896 when the Olympic Games were revived in Athens.

During the competition that year, the Greeks did quite well—winning the most medals of any nation. But the event that became a source of true Greek pride was the first-ever marathon. Seventeen athletes competed in this race of 40 kilometers (24.8 miles), but it was won by Louis—a common laborer. For his efforts, Louis was honored by king and country, and he became a national hero.

The apostle Paul used running a race as a picture of the Christian life. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, he challenged us not just to run but to run to win, saying, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” Not only did Paul teach this but he lived it out. In his final epistle, he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). Having finished his race, Paul joyfully anticipated receiving the victory crown from the King of heaven.

Like Paul, run your earthly race to win—and to please your King. — Bill Crowder

As we run in this race—
As our best effort we bring—
We are spurred on by the fact
That we must win for the King. —Branon

The Christian’s race is not a sprint—it’s a marathon.
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  #516  
Old 01-30-2010, 05:05 AM
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Default Jan. 30

January 30, 2010

Behind The Parted Curtain

READ: Luke 23:39-43

Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” —Luke 23:43

Pastor and author Erwin Lutzer wrote: “One minute after you slip behind the parted curtain, you will either be enjoying a personal welcome from Christ or catching your first glimpse of gloom as you have never known it. Either way, your future will be irrevocably fixed and eternally unchangeable.”

Luke recorded a short yet powerful narrative that pictures two men about to go behind that curtain of death. When Jesus was being crucified, two thieves hung alongside Him. According to Mark, both men hurled insults at Jesus (15:32).

One of the thieves, however, had a change of heart as he realized Jesus’ innocence, his own sin, and his destiny. He rebuked the other thief and asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. These words were a sign of repentance and simple faith. Jesus responded, “I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Salvation for the man was immediate. He knew that day where he would spend eternity.

Realizing that we are sinners and placing our trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection assures us that we can immediately know where we will spend our eternal tomorrows when we slip behind the parted curtain. — Marvin Williams

Oh, why not turn while yet you may;
Too late, it soon will be—
A glorious life you may possess
Throughout eternity. —Anon.

To prepare for tomorrow, trust Jesus today.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #517  
Old 01-31-2010, 02:52 AM
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Default Jan. 31

January 31, 2010

Be The Light!

READ: Ephesians 5:8-14

You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. —Ephesians 5:8

A friend of mine has the opportunity each winter to attend the Super Bowl as a journalist. His job is to garner interviews with Christian athletes and National Football League personnel for a faith-based radio program.

When he first started covering the big game a few years ago, he grew disillusioned with the self-serving, pleasure-seeking atmosphere during Super Bowl week. “I found it to be a very dark place,” he says.

One day he told a former NFL player, a Christian, how he was feeling. The athlete looked at my friend and said, “Brother, you are being light in this dark place.” That comment reminded my friend why he was there, and it helped renew his excitement for serving God in a place where the light of the gospel is needed. It spurred him to shine his light.

Perhaps you work in a setting where God is not acknowledged, faith is mocked, and godless living is applauded. Maybe you feel that you are going into “a very dark place.”

Why not be a light (Eph. 5:8)—through your smiles, kind words and deeds, and diligent work. Ask God to bring opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ. You may be the only light a co-worker sees today. — Dave Branon

God put us in this darkened world
To shine as sons of light;
So, help us, Lord, to spread Your Word
And keep our witness bright. —D. De Haan

Our witness for Christ is a light in a dark world.
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  #518  
Old 02-01-2010, 01:57 AM
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February 1, 2010

The Written Word

READ: Romans 15:4-13

Whatever things were written before were written . . . that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Last January, ESPN television ran a compelling feature about Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who had just been named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. But the feature was not about football. Instead, it explained that for several years, when certain competitors Manning admired were retiring from the NFL, he took time to handwrite a note to them, congratulating them on their careers and their character.

Each recipient who was interviewed expressed deep appreciation that one of the greatest players of all time would do that. It was a great reminder of the power of the written word.

While a written note from a respected athlete such as Peyton Manning has much value, no human’s words can compare with the written Word we have from God in Scripture. Paul wrote, “Whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). In the life-changing wisdom of the Bible, we have a personal message that tells us what God desires for us to be and what He desires to be for us. He has given us His written Word so we “might have hope” as we face the issues of life. Out of gratitude, let’s read God’s written message—and watch it change our lives. — Bill Crowder

Cling to the Bible; this jewel and treasure
Brings life eternal and saves fallen man;
Surely its value no mortal can measure;
Seek for its blessing, O soul, while you can. —Anon.

God speaks through His Word to those who listen with their heart.
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  #519  
Old 02-02-2010, 01:38 AM
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February 2, 2010

Time For A Change

READ: Luke 7:37-49

This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner. —Luke 7:39

A friend once told me, “In my lifetime I’ve seen a lot of things change, and I’ve been against them all!” Perhaps he overstated the point, but many of us would agree that we don’t like change—especially if it involves altering our habits and attitudes.

That’s one reason Jesus was so unpopular among the Pharisees. He challenged their long-established system of good works and self-righteous living. Consider the incident when the town “sinner” entered the home of the town “saint” in Luke 7. Simon the Pharisee wasn’t impressed with the woman’s lavish display of affection for Jesus. Reading Simon’s self-righteous thoughts, Jesus immediately challenged his flawed perception of his own goodness by telling the story of two debtors—one who owed much to his master and one who owed less. “Which of them will love him more?” Jesus asked (v.42). Obviously, the one who had been forgiven more. Speaking to Simon’s I-feel-pretty-good-about-myself attitude, Jesus said, “to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” (v.47).

The challenge is clear. Lulled into thinking how good we are, our love for Jesus wanes because we have forgotten that we too are among the ones “forgiven much.” And when that happens, ready or not, it’s time for a change! — Joe Stowell

Forgive us, Lord, for failures past,
Then help us start anew
With strength and courage to obey
And closely follow You. —Sper

When God starts changing things, He usually begins with changing us.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #520  
Old 02-03-2010, 02:58 AM
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February 3, 2010

What Will I Do?

READ: James 1:21-25

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. —James 1:22

A man who has been my mentor and friend for many years often says that his goal in studying the Bible is always personal application. I appreciate his emphasis on putting learning into practice, because it’s too easy for those of us who study, discuss, teach, and write about the Bible to take a merely intellectual approach to the Word.

Oswald Chambers said: “There is a danger with the children of God of getting too familiar with sublime things. We talk so much about these wonderful realities, and forget that we have to exhibit them in our lives. It is perilously possible to mistake the exposition of the truth for the truth; to run away with the idea that because we are able to expound these things, we are living them too.”

James reminds us that the person “who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (1:25). The key issue is not what is preached or written, but what is done.

When I study God’s Word, my first question should not be, “What am I going to say about this?” but “What am I going to do about this?” — David C. McCasland

We take delight to teach God’s Word,
We say, “Amen, it’s true!”
But it’s of little use to us
Unless His will we do. —D. De Haan

One step forward in obedience is worth years of study about it. —Chambers
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