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  #531  
Old 02-09-2010, 02:40 AM
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Default Feb. 9

February 9, 2010

God Incidents

READ: Hebrews 11:1-10

In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. —Philippians 4:6

In the normal course of providence, God works in and through creation, not despite it. For this reason, some answers to prayer are difficult to prove with certainty.

“Only faith vouches for the connection,” C. S. Lewis writes. “No empirical proof could establish it.” We believe a prayer has been answered not because of any scientific criteria proving it, but because we have faith.

Most of the ways we encounter God—nature, the Bible, the Lord’s Supper, the church, other people—include things we can touch. God’s own state, though, is the realm of spirit. Prayer reflects that difference between us.

Although we may ask God to intervene directly, it should not surprise us if He responds in a more hidden way in cooperation with our own choices. An alcoholic prays, “Lord, keep me from drink today.” The answer to that prayer will likely come from the inside—from a stiffening resolve or a cry for help to a loyal friend—rather than from some marvel like the magical disappearance of liquor bottles from a cabinet.

Whether God supernaturally intervenes or is giving us the power to obey Him, we trust His character. We see a true partnership, intimate and intertwined. — Philip Yancey

Help me to walk aright,
More by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with heavenly light—
Teach me Thy way. —Ramsey

An important part of praying is a willingness to be part of the answer.
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Old 02-10-2010, 04:36 AM
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Default Feb. 10

February 10, 2010

Rich Toward God

READ: Luke 12:13-21

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. —Luke 12:34

I watch the fluctuations of the stock market and reflect on the effects of fear and greed. A character in a 1980s movie had this philosophy: “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right! Greed works! . . . Greed [will] save . . . the USA!” What foolish thinking!

I think of that occasion when a man asked Jesus to serve as an arbiter and make his brother share their inheritance. Jesus refused the request but went on to do the man a greater kindness. He pointed out the motive behind the man’s request and its consequences: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).

Then Jesus told a parable about a man who harvested a bumper crop and began to make plans to increase and enjoy his riches. He concluded: “God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (vv.20-21).

The trouble with greed is that ultimately our goods go. But worse—we go. Better to store up treasure in heaven, invest in spiritual riches, and become “rich toward God.” — David H. Roper

The treasures of earth do not last,
But God has prepared us a place
Where someday with Him we will dwell,
Enjoying the riches of grace. —Branon

Our real wealth is what we invest for eternity.
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Old 02-11-2010, 12:45 AM
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February 11, 2010

The Other Side

READ: James 4:13-17

What is your life? It is even a vapor. —James 4:14

When someone said to my friend, “See you in a year,” it sounded odd when he replied, “Yes, see you on the other side.” He meant that he’d see him on the other side of a one-year deployment for the US Navy. But because the phrase is often used of heaven, it made me think about the uncertainty of life. I wondered, Who will be here in another year? Who might by then be on the other side—in heaven?

We certainly don’t know what the next year—or hour—will bring. In his epistle, James wrote about this uncertainty. He rebuked the greedy merchants for boasting about what they would do that day, the next day, or even the next year (4:13). Their sin wasn’t that they were making plans; it was forgetting God and arrogantly boasting about those business plans.

James reminded them: “What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (v.14). Commentator Peter Davids says that James was pointing out their foolishness and saying, in essence, “Come now, you who make plans—you don’t even understand how little control you have over life itself.”

No part of life is outside the control of God. So when we make plans, we need to remember, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (v.15). — Anne Cetas

Tomorrow’s plans I do not know,
I only know this minute;
But He will say, “This is the way,
By faith now walk ye in it.” —Ryberg

Write your plans in pencil and let God have the eraser.
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  #534  
Old 02-12-2010, 04:10 AM
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February 12, 2010

Send The Light

READ: Philippians 2:12-18

Become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. —Philippians 2:15

American businessman Mark Bent has spent $250,000 to develop and manufacture an affordable solar-powered flashlight. Thousands have been distributed free or at low cost to people living in African refugee camps. One daily solar charge provides 7 hours of life-giving illumination for people in homes, schools, and medical clinics where darkness had encouraged crime and violence.

The contrast between darkness and light is a prominent image in the Bible’s presentation of Jesus the Messiah. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” (Isa. 9:2). “In [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5).

It’s our privilege as followers of Jesus to be His light-bearers today. Paul urged the Christians in Philippi to become “blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

Instead of being afraid or oppressed by the spiritual darkness around us, we can rely on the grace that God gives His children to shine for Him. — David C. McCasland

Lord, may I be a shining light
For all the world to see
Your goodness and Your love displayed
As You reach out through me. —Sper

Jesus came to give light to a dark world.
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  #535  
Old 02-13-2010, 04:06 AM
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Default Feb. 13

February 13, 2010

Reunion Dinner

READ: Revelation 19:1-9

Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! —Revelation 19:9

Many Chinese go to great lengths to attend a traditional annual reunion dinner with their families. Held on the eve of the Lunar New Year, the reunion dinner usually takes place at the home of their parents or eldest sibling.

Chinese working overseas have to arrange their travel bookings early to ensure they have tickets for the heavily booked airline flights and bus journeys. To fail to book early is to risk missing out on the family reunion.

The Bible tells of an even more important reunion dinner in heaven. Revelation 19:9 calls it “the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Unlike the Lunar New Year reunion dinner, however, no one knows the date for this event except God (Matt. 24:36). Nor do we have to worry about making travel arrangements.

Who is invited to this heavenly reunion dinner? All those who belong to God’s family will be there, “those who believe in [Jesus’] name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

Will you be at the reunion dinner in heaven? You can secure your place at the heavenly banquet by trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior today. — C. P. Hia

How Can You Have The Assurance Of Heaven?
Recognize your sinfulness (Rom. 3:23); believe Jesus died for you (Acts 16:31); receive Him as Savior (John 1:12); trust His promise (John 20:31).

Christ believed is salvation received and heaven assured.
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Old 02-14-2010, 03:31 AM
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February 14, 2010

Showing Real Love

READ: John 13:1-5,33-35

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. —John 13:35

Chinese New Year happens to fall on the same day as Valentine’s Day in 2010. While these two festivals have very different origins, there are some similarities in how they are celebrated. In both cases, loved ones give gifts to express love for one another. Whether it is giving roses to your beloved on Valentine’s Day or hong bao (red packets with money) to family and friends on Chinese New Year, they represent tokens of love.

Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to “love one another,” because “by this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

The love that our Lord wants His disciples to have for one another is different from the romantic kind displayed between loving couples and the brotherly kind shown between friends or family. It’s an unselfish love. The Greek word John used in Jesus’ command is agape—God’s kind of love that expects nothing in return. That was what Jesus showed to His disciples when He “poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet” (v.5). That is the kind of love He displayed when He went to the cross for us.

Today, look for someone to whom you can show such unselfish love. — C. P. Hia

Lord, teach us the secret of loving,
The love You are asking today;
Then help us to love one another;
For this we most earnestly pray. —Anon.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. —Galatians 6:2
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:45 AM
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February 15, 2010

Defining Failure

READ: Hebrews 11:24-34

Who through faith . . . out of weakness were made strong. —Hebrews 11:33-34

During the Great Depression, many people in the US lived in shantytowns made up of plywood, tarps, and blankets. These decrepit dwellings, known as “Hoovervilles,” housed those who had been evicted from their homes. Many blamed President Herbert Hoover for the economic woes.

Ironically, Hoover’s apparent ineffectiveness as a leader was in sharp contrast to his previous record. Earlier, Hoover’s expertise in geological engineering led to successful mining projects in Australia and China. He also effectively spearheaded humanitarian efforts. But when the stock market crashed in October 1929, President Hoover was in circumstances beyond his control. He would be forever tied with the economic depression of the 1930s.

One major fiasco, however, does not mean one’s whole life is a failure. What if we remembered Abraham only as a deceiver (Gen. 12:10-20), Moses as disobedient to God (Num. 20:1-13), or David as a murderer? (2 Sam. 11). Despite their sins, these men are remembered for their persevering faith: “who through faith . . . out of weakness were made strong” (Heb. 11:33-34).

Our life is not a failure if we’ve repented of our sins. God can still use us to serve Him. — Dennis Fisher

The lessons we learn from our failures
Are lessons that help us succeed,
And if we are wise and we heed them,
Then failure is just what we need. —D. De Haan

Success often rises out of the ashes of failure.
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Old 02-16-2010, 01:11 AM
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February 16, 2010

Detecting Toxins

READ: Galatians 1:3-10

There are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. —Galatians 1:7

San Francisco and New York City are using bluegill fish to check for the presence of toxins in their water supply, which could be a possible target for a terrorist attack. A small number of bluegills are kept in a tank at the bottom of some water treatment plants because the fish are sensitive to chemical imbalances in their environment. When a disturb-ance is present in the water, the bluegills react against it.

Like these bluegills, Paul wanted the Galatians to beware of and react against any toxic disturbance in the “true gospel” that was being preached. The toxin was defined as the false principle that God grants acceptance to people and considers them righteous on the basis of their obedience to a set of rules (especially circumcision and dietary laws). In short, obedience to the law was needed, apart from faith in Jesus. This false teaching was a toxic disturbance of the truth and the Galatians were told to react strongly against it. Paul said that anyone preaching a gospel that is not based on grace through faith in Christ alone should be accursed (Gal. 1:8-9).

Let’s faithfully study the Scriptures so we can detect the toxins of false teaching and proclaim the truth of God’s wonderful salvation through faith in Jesus. — Marvin Williams

Lord, teach us from Your holy Word
All error to discern,
And by Your Spirit’s light help us
From Satan’s snares to turn. —Bosch

If you know the truth, you can discern what’s false.
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Old 02-17-2010, 02:36 AM
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February 17, 2010

In The Car Wash

READ: Isaiah 43:1-13

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. —Isaiah 43:2

I’ll never forget my first experience using an automatic car wash. Approaching it with the dread of going to the dentist, I pushed the money into the slot, nervously checked and rechecked my windows, eased the car up to the line, and waited. Powers beyond my control began moving my car forward as if on a conveyor belt. There I was, cocooned inside, when a thunderous rush of water, soap, and brushes hit my car from all directions. What if I get stuck in here or water crashes in? I thought irrationally. Suddenly the waters ceased. After a blow-dry, my car was propelled into the outside world again, clean and polished.

In the midst of all this, I remembered stormy times in my life when it seemed I was on a conveyor belt, a victim of forces beyond my control. “Car-wash experiences,” I now call them. I remembered that whenever I passed through deep waters my Redeemer had been with me, sheltering me against the rising tide (Isa. 43:2). When I came out on the other side, which I always did, I was able to say with joy and confidence, “He is a faithful God!”

Are you in the middle of a car-wash experience? Trust God to bring you through to the other side. You’ll then be a shining testimony of His keeping power. — Joanie Yoder

How wonderful to know that He
Who watches from above
Will always keep us sheltered in
His ever-present love! —King

A tunnel of testing can produce a shining testimony.
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:40 AM
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February 18, 2010

Tell It All

READ: Psalm 62

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. —Psalm 62:8

A clerk who helped me purchase a small digital voice recorder told me that he kept one just like it in his car when he worked in California. “When I began driving home after work I switched it on,” he said, “and I talked about everything that happened that day on the job, good and bad. When I pulled into my driveway, I hit the erase button.” Then he smiled. After telling everything to his voice recorder, he apparently had no need to go over the day’s problems with his wife or family.

It reminded me of how often I needlessly rehearse my disappointments and problems to others instead of telling them to God. The psalmist wrote: “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Ps. 62:8). Twice he spoke of waiting silently for God, his rock and salvation (vv.1-2,5-7).

While there is great comfort in sharing our difficulties with a friend, we miss the greatest help if we fail to bring them to the Lord. Joseph Scriven said it so well:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer! — David C. McCasland

No matter where we are, Jesus is only a prayer away.
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