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  #561  
Old 03-11-2010, 04:19 AM
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Default Mar. 11

March 11, 2010

God’s Mercies

READ: Genesis 32:3-13

I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies. —Genesis 32:10

Less than the least of all God’s mercies.” This was the motto 17th-century English poet and clergyman George Herbert engraved on his signet ring, and it was the phrase with which he signed his letters and books. Jacob had spoken these words when he pondered God’s goodness despite his own sin and shame: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant” (Gen. 32:10).

The word “mercies” is from the Hebrew word chesed, meaning “God’s enduring love.” I think it is significant that it rose from the heart of one who saw himself as utterly unworthy.

Relying solely on God’s faithful love, Jacob cries out: “Deliver me!” What an odd combination of thoughts: “I am not worthy . . . . Deliver me” (vv.10-11). Unlike some who seem to have it all together, Jacob knew that everything he brought to God had been ruined by sin. He thought of himself as a man undeserving of God’s grace. But his hope lay not in his worth but in the promise of God to look with favor on those who throw themselves on His mercy. Humility and contrition are the keys that open the heart of God.

As He did with Jacob, God hears us when we humbly cry out to Him for mercy. — David H. Roper

For mercies so great, what return can I make?
For mercies so constant and sure?
I’ll love Him, I’ll serve Him with all that I have
As long as my life shall endure. —Chisholm

Mercy is an unearned blessing bestowed by God on an unworthy recipient.
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  #562  
Old 03-12-2010, 04:23 AM
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Default Mar. 12

March 12, 2010

United Goal

READ: 1 Cor. 1:10-17

I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you. —1 Corinthians 1:10

The spotted owl has been disappearing in the US. Originally it was believed that old growth logging was its greatest threat. But research shows that one of the owl’s relatives may be the problem. For the past 15 years, the barred owl has been rapidly migrating westward. Barred owls, which used to live exclusively east of the Mississippi, compete for the same food as spotted owls but are more aggressive and adaptable.

In a similar way, our greatest spiritual conflict often comes not from outside the church, but from other Christians. This was happening in the church of Corinth, and Paul took some time to address the divisive spirit that had grown in this congregation. This spirit threatened the unity of the church. Paul, with a pastoral nudge, encouraged the Corinthians to agree on the essentials and not be divided over the nonessentials. People were quarreling because they were aligning themselves with different Christian leaders—Paul, Apollos, Peter, and even Christ. In creating these divisions, they were valuing their favorite leader above unity in Christ.

Paul said the one essential that should unify the church is preaching the good news. That should be our united goal as well. — Marvin Williams

Lord, bless our congregation,
We humbly ask of Thee,
That we may walk together
In perfect unity. —Fennema

A united church is a strong church.
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  #563  
Old 03-13-2010, 05:35 AM
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Default Mar. 13

March 13, 2010

A Safe Pair Of Hands

READ: Psalm 138

Your right hand will save me. —Psalm 138:7

Edwin van der Sar, goalkeeper for the Manchester United soccer team, had a “safe” pair of hands. He kept the ball from entering his team’s goal for 1,302 minutes, a world record in one season! That means that for almost 15 games of 90 minutes each, no one was able to score even one goal against his team while he was guarding the goalposts. But one goal by an opposing team in March 2009 ended his record.

The psalmist David found comfort in the safest pair of hands—God’s hands. He wrote of God’s protection in Psalm 138, “You will stretch out Your hand . . . and Your right hand will save me” (v.7). Like David, we can look to God’s safe hands to keep us from spiritual danger and defeat.

Another assurance from God’s Word for followers of Christ is Jude 1:24-25: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” That doesn’t mean we’ll never stumble. But it does mean we won’t stumble so badly that God cannot pick us up.

God’s safe pair of hands can never fail—ever! — C. P. Hia

From Him, who loves me now so well,
What power my soul can sever?
Shall life or death, or earth or hell?
No—I am His forever. —Small

No place is more secure than to be in God’s hands.
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  #564  
Old 03-14-2010, 04:43 AM
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March 14, 2010

Unique Privileges

READ: Romans 8:12-17

Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself. —Ephesians 1:5

In Forever Young: My Friendship with John F. Kennedy, Jr., Billy Noonan recalls the life experiences he shared with the son of President John Kennedy.

In 1980, as one of the stories goes, John Jr. and Billy were invited aboard the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier. On a guided tour of the ship, the two young men and their guide inadvertently entered a restricted area. When an officer stopped them, the guide pointed to John and said, “This is his father’s ship.” Snapping to attention, the officer saluted John. He explained his understanding that when a US Navy ship is named for someone, it is considered that person’s ship. Thus, as the son of the man for whom the ship was named, John Jr. had unique privileges.

This illustrates a vital spiritual principle. As adopted children in God’s family, we who have been saved possess the position of sonship. Paul wrote that as believers we are “predestined . . . to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself” (Eph. 1:5). By virtue of this sonship, we have the unique privileges that belong to the children of the King of kings.

In life’s challenging voyage, we can take courage that our “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15) owns the ship and shares all with us. Praise God, we are joint-heirs with Christ! — Dennis Fisher

The wealth of God is ours to share
Through Jesus Christ the Lord,
Joint-heirs with Him we claim it, then,
According to His Word. —Sherbert

A Christian’s inheritance is guaranteed forever!
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  #565  
Old 03-15-2010, 02:19 AM
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Default Mar. 15

March 15, 2010

Last Line Of Defense

READ: Romans 8:31-39

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. —Romans 8:37

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was the site of a battle that turned the tide of America’s Civil War. One of the focal points of the conflict was a rocky knoll called Little Round Top where Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the men of the 20th Maine Infantry stood their ground. Had the Confederate troops gotten past Chamberlain’s men, some historians believe the Union army would have been surrounded—possibly leading to the loss of the war. The “20th Maine” was the last line of defense.

Followers of Christ are also engaged in a vital war. As we battle “the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11), we are called to wear the armor of God and to stand firm in the conflict (vv.10-18).

And like the Gettysburg soldiers, we have a “last line of defense.” For us, though, this defense is greater than any human force. In Romans 8:31-39, Paul says that our ultimate confidence is in the undying love of Christ. So complete is our protection that nothing can “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v.39).

When the enemy seems overwhelming and all seems lost, remember, we have an unbeatable last line of defense: “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (v.37). — Bill Crowder

We are more than conquerors
Through Him who loved us so;
The Christ who dwells within us
Is the greatest power we know. —Carmichael

God’s plan always leads to victory.
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  #566  
Old 03-16-2010, 03:50 AM
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March 16, 2010

The Real Hero

READ: John 3:22-30

He must increase, but I must decrease. —John 3:30

Louis B. Neumiller was known for his humility, integrity, and commitment to quality. As president of the Caterpillar Tractor Company from 1941–54, he led the manufacturer of earth-moving equipment through the challenges of World War II into global expansion. In the book In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the Twentieth Century, authors Mayo and Nohria describe Neumiller’s leadership as “success without fanfare.” His mark of greatness, they note, was that he took his identity out of the business and “let his company become a hero instead of himself.”

We see the same quality of selflessness in John the Baptist, the dynamic preacher who repeatedly affirmed his mission of paving the way for the Messiah. When John’s followers became concerned that Jesus was baptizing people and crowds were following Him, John replied: “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ . . . He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:28,30).

As followers of Christ, are we lifting Him up instead of seeking honor for ourselves? Rather than being disappointed when our contribution is unnoticed, we should be glad because our highest privilege is to magnify the Lord. He’s the hero!

Honoring Him is the mark of greatness. — David C. McCasland

A Prayer: Lord, teach us to be humble. May our desire be that You be known, honored, loved, and exalted in every thought and action—above ourselves. Amen.

The great Christian is one who is small enough to let God be great in his life.
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  #567  
Old 03-16-2010, 06:29 PM
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Great devotional, humility is a must.
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James 1:16-17 ESV
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights
With God's help...Mens sana in corpore sano
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  #568  
Old 03-17-2010, 01:47 AM
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Default Mar. 17

March 17, 2010

A Good God

READ: Psalm 46

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. —Psalm 9:9

When my brother-in-law was a missionary in Mali, West Africa, he was involved in a traffic accident. A man had wandered into the road in front of Chuck’s motorcycle. The cycle struck the man and sent Chuck and the bike sliding along the ground for more than 200 feet. Shortly after Chuck regained consciousness in the hospital, his doctor told him he had been “really lucky.” Chuck smiled and replied, “God is good.”

Later he thought about the day’s events. The man who was struck hadn’t received any permanent injuries, and Chuck would also recover from his injuries. But what if one of them had been killed? He thought, God would be no less good.

When we experience tragedy, we may wonder about God’s goodness. Is God always good? Yes, He is. He doesn’t promise that bad things will never happen to us, but He does promise to be “our refuge and strength” (Ps. 46:1). He doesn’t promise that we will never walk through heart-wrenching circumstances, but He promises that we won’t be alone (23:4).

God is good—no matter what suffering we are experiencing. Even when we don’t understand, we can say with Habakkuk, “Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (3:18). — Cindy Hess Kasper

O taste and see that God is good
To all who seek His face;
Yea, blest the one who trusts in Him,
Confiding in His grace. —Psalter

God tests our faith so that we may trust His faithfulness.
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  #569  
Old 03-18-2010, 03:17 AM
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Default Mar. 18

March 18, 2010

Who Are You?

READ: Matthew 4:18-25

Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. —Matthew 4:19

If someone were to ask, “Who are you?” my guess is that you would tell a little about yourself and what you do—“I’m an electrician” or “I’m a nurse.” But that’s not really who you are—it’s what you do. Which leads to the question, If what you do is who you are, who will you be when you stop doing what you’re doing?!

Who you are is found in your relationship to Jesus. And this sense of identity will drive your behavior. Take Matthew, for example. As a tax collector during the reign of the Roman Empire, his life was driven by greed. But everything changed the day Jesus showed up and invited Matthew to follow Him (Matt. 9:9). Suddenly Matthew had a whole new identity as a follower of Christ! And he wasn’t the only one. We also read about four fishermen in Matthew 4:18-25, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, who left their nets to follow Him.

Jesus is a compelling Person, and He is still looking for followers. He wants to make something of your life by giving you the identity of a follower of Jesus. It doesn’t mean giving up your career, but it does mean that you will do your work—and all of life—according to His will and ways.

So next time someone asks, “Who are you?” I hope you’ll answer, “I’m a follower of Jesus”! — Joe Stowell

For Further Study Read about 10 perspectives that should form our attitudes and actions as followers of Jesus in Kingdom Living at www.discoveryseries.org/hp092

If you are a follower of Jesus, that’s all the identity you need.
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  #570  
Old 03-19-2010, 03:36 AM
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March 19, 2010

Authentic Beauty

READ: Proverbs 31:21-31

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. —Proverbs 31:30

I often take a moment as I wait at our grocery store checkout stand to scan the covers of the magazines displayed there. It seems that if they aren’t about sex and money, they’re about diet, fitness, health, and outward beauty. There’s nothing there for the soul.

The problem is that people read the wrong magazines—those that are full of lies that fixate on beauty of face and form as though that’s all there is. This can lead to comparison and terrible despair.

Some years ago, a friend of mine told of a conversation he had with a lovely, self-assured teenager. “You’re very self-confident,” he observed. “Can you tell me why?” “Yes,” the young woman answered. “It’s because I’m so pretty.” “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said with extraordinary wisdom. “Why?” she asked in surprise. “Because,” he replied, “you may not always be pretty.”

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing” is the wisdom we read in Proverbs 31. Physical beauty all too quickly fades away; all one’s efforts to keep it are doomed to fail. But there is an inner beauty—authentic beauty that will endure forever—in the one “who fears the Lord” (v.30). — David H. Roper

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me—
All His wonderful passion and purity!
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine,
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. —Orsborn

Righteousness in the heart produces beauty in the character.
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