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  #601  
Old 04-17-2010, 04:25 AM
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Default Apr. 17

April 17, 2010

Helping Love Grow

READ: 1 Corinthians 13

[Love] does not seek its own. —1 Corinthians 13

A young man told his father, “Dad, I’m going to get married.”

“How do you know you’re ready to get married, Ron?” asked the father. “Are you in love?”

“I sure am!” he replied.

The father then asked, “Ron, how do you know you’re in love?”

“Last night as I was kissing my girlfriend goodnight, her dog bit me and I didn’t feel the pain until I got home!”

Ron has got that loving feeling, but he has a lot of growing to do. Vernon Grounds, a former writer for Our Daily Bread, who has been married for more than 70 years, shares these points about how to grow in love:

Ponder God’s love in Christ. Take time to reflect on how He gave His life for you. Read about Him in the Gospels, and thank Him.

Pray for the love of God. Ask Him to give you an understanding of His love and to teach you how to live that out in your relationships with your spouse and others (1 Cor. 13).

Practice the love of God. Give of yourself. A newlywed told me he thinks love is practical. He said, “My responsibility is to make life easier for my spouse.” The other, tougher side of love is to challenge each other to act in godly ways.

Love will grow when we ponder love, pray for love, and practice love. — Anne Cetas

This is my prayer, kind Father,
So direct me from above
That I may live a life for You
And reflect my Savior’s love. —Messenger

As Christ’s love grows in us, His love flows from us.
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"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"
-Colossians 3:23

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  #602  
Old 04-18-2010, 04:34 AM
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Default Apr. 18

April 18, 2010

A Wrong Reading

READ: 1 Timothy 1:18-20

Wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, . . . have suffered shipwreck. —1 Tim. 1:18-19

William Scoresby was a British seafaring explorer in the 19th century who responded to God’s call to the ministry. An interest in the workings of navigational compasses stayed with him during his work as a clergyman. His research led to the discovery that all newly built iron ships had their own magnetic influence on compasses. This influence would change at sea for various reasons—leading crews to read the compass incorrectly. Often this led to disaster.

There is a striking parallel between the misread compass and false biblical teaching. In 1 Timothy 1, Paul warned against “fables and endless genealogies” (v.4)—-man-made changes in the doctrines of God’s Word. People who teach false doctrines “have suffered shipwreck,” Paul concludes (v.19). Two people who opposed the Word of God by placing false teaching in its place, and who thus faced spiritual shipwreck, were Alexander and Hymenaeus (v.20).

Biblical truth is being questioned and in some cases even replaced in the church today. Our opinions must never replace the truth of God’s Word. The Bible, not man’s erroneous opinions about it, is the ultimate guide for our conscience in navigating life’s changing seas. Beware of wrong readings. — Dennis Fisher

God’s words of pure, eternal truth
Shall yet unshaken stay,
When all that man has thought or planned,
Like chaff has passed away. —Anon.

The first point of wisdom is to know the truth; the second, to discern what is false.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #603  
Old 04-18-2010, 03:29 PM
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Default Apr. 19

April 19, 2010

The Secret Chamber

READ: Isaiah 50:4-5

Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light. —Matthew 10:27

People have some needs that are excruciatingly deep. Poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote, “Never morning wore to evening, but some heart did break.”

We find ourselves in conversation at times with heartbroken friends and may feel at an utter loss to know what to say. How can we “speak a word in season to him who is weary,” as it says in Isaiah 50:4?

Telling people what human teachers have taught us may have some impact on them. But the most helpful or persuasive words are spoken by those who are taught by the Lord Himself.

That’s why it’s essential for us to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him. The more we receive from Him, the more we have to give to others. George MacDonald pictures this time with the Lord as having “a chamber in God Himself.” He continues: “Out of [that] chamber . . . man has to bring revelation and strength for his brethren. This is that for which he was made.”

It’s through our thoughtful and prayerful Bible study, reading, and quiet meditation that God speaks to our hearts. He gives us “the tongue of the learned” (Isa. 50:4) so that we have something to share with those who are in the depths of despair. — David H. Roper

The comfort God has given us
He wants us all to share
With others who, with broken hearts,
Are caught in deep despair. —Sper

Listen to God’s heart, then speak from your heart to others.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #604  
Old 04-20-2010, 01:07 AM
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Default Apr. 20

April 20, 2010

Poor Examples

READ: Matthew 23:1-13

Whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. —Matthew 23:3

A woman in Oregon was caught driving 103 miles per hour with her 10-year-old grandson in the car. When she was stopped by the police, she told them that she was only trying to teach him never to drive that fast. I suppose she wanted him to do as she said, not as she did.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law seemed to have a similar problem. Jesus had a scathing assessment of them: They were spiritually bankrupt. He held these two groups directly responsible for this sad spiritual condition. As the successors of the lawgiver Moses, they were responsible for expounding the law so that people would walk in God’s ways and have a genuine and vibrant relationship with the Lord (Deut. 10:12-13). But their personal interpretation and application of the law became more important than God’s law. They did not practice what they preached. What they did observe was done not to bring glory to God but to honor themselves. Jesus exposed who they were—image managers, posers, and hypocrites.

The test of the effectiveness of following Jesus is not just in what we say but in how we live. Are we telling others God’s Word and doing what it says? Let’s model by words and actions what it means to follow Him. — Marvin Williams

Christians, remember you bear His dear name,
Your lives are for others to view;
You are living examples—men praise you or blame,
And measure your Savior by you. —Anon.

A good example preaches a powerful sermon.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #605  
Old 04-21-2010, 02:22 AM
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Default Apr. 21

April 21, 2010

False Hope

READ: Ephesians 2:1-10

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works. —Ephesians 2:8-9

The name of a pretty Bavarian town in Germany shares the name of a place of horror—Dachau. A museum on the grounds of this infamous Nazi concentration camp attracts many World War II history buffs.

As you look around, it would be hard to miss the misleading words welded to an iron gate: Arbeit Macht Frei. This phrase—Work Makes You Free—was just a cruel lie to give false hope to those who entered this place of death.

Many people today have false hope that they can earn a place in heaven by working at being good or by doing good things. God’s standard of perfection, however, requires a totally sinless life. There’s no way any of us can ever be “good enough.” It is only through the sacrifice of the sinless Savior that we are made righteous. God made Jesus “who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Eternal life is given because of God’s gift of grace—not because of our good works (Eph. 2:8-9).

Don’t let Satan trick you by giving you false hope that your good works will save you. It is only through Jesus’ work on the cross that you can have real freedom. — Cindy Hess Kasper

Accept the teaching of the world
And hopeless you will be,
But trust in God’s eternal plan
If you want life that’s free. —Branon

We are not saved by good works, but by God’s work.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #606  
Old 04-22-2010, 02:13 AM
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Default Apr. 22

April 22, 2010

The Rescue Business

READ: Romans 3:10-22

There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. —Luke 15:10

Living in Colorado, I climb mountains. On summer weekends, I see casual hikers who have no idea what they are doing. In sandals, shorts, and T-shirts, carrying a single container of water, they start up a trail at mid-morning. They have no map, no compass, and no rain gear.

My neighbor, who volunteers for Alpine Rescue, has told me stories of tourists rescued from certain death after wandering off a trail. Regardless of the circumstances, Alpine Rescue always responds to a call for help. Not once have they lectured a hapless tourist, “Well, since you ignored the rules of the wilderness, you’ll just have to bear the consequences.” Their mission is rescue. They pursue every needy hiker, no matter how undeserving.

The central message of the Bible is one of rescue. Paul points out that none of us “deserve” God’s mercy and none of us can save ourselves. Like a stranded hiker, all we can do is call for help. Quoting the psalmist, he says, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God” (Rom. 3:10-11; Ps. 14:1-3).

The good news of the gospel is that in spite of our state, God seeks after us and responds to every plea for help. You might say that God is in the rescue business. — Philip Yancey

Thinking It Over
What keeps you from calling out to God for spiritual rescue? Your pride? Do you fear that you are too bad for God’s grace? What does Romans 3:23-26 say?

The heart of repentance is turning from sin and toward God.
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  #607  
Old 04-23-2010, 12:20 AM
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Default Apr. 23

April 23, 2010

Longing For Spring

READ: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

Nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives. —Ecclesiastes 3:12

It’s been a long, cold winter, and I am eager for warm weather. I’m tired of seeing bare trees and lifeless brown leaves covering the ground. I long to see wildflowers poke through the dead leaves and to watch the woods turn green once more.

Yet even as I anticipate my favorite season, I hear my mother’s voice saying, “Don’t wish your life away.”

If you’re like me, you sometimes hear yourself saying, “When such and such happens, then I will . . . or, If only so and so would do this, then I would do that . . . or, I would be happy if . . . or, I will be satisfied when . . .”

In longing for some future good, we forget that every day—regardless of the weather or our circumstances—is a gift from God to be used for His glory.

According to author Ron Ash, “We are where we need to be and learning what we need to learn. Stay the course because the things we experience today will lead us to where He needs us to be tomorrow.”

In every season, there is a reason to rejoice and an opportunity to do good (Eccl. 3:12). The challenge for each of us every day is to find something to rejoice about and some good to do—and then to do both. — Julie Ackerman Link

Just as the winter turns to spring,
Our lives have changing seasons too;
So when a gloomy forecast comes,
Remember—God has plans for you. —Sper

Every season brings a reason to rejoice.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #608  
Old 04-24-2010, 04:17 AM
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Default Apr. 24

April 24, 2010

A “Banana Slug” Lesson

READ: Micah 6:1-8

What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? —Micah 6:8

Sports team names have a variety of origins. They come from history (Spartans, Mountaineers), nature (Cardinals, Terrapins), and even colors (Orange, Reds). One even comes from the mollusk family.

In the 1980s, the University of California at Santa Cruz was just starting to get involved in competitive sports. UCSC had a bit of disdain for the overemphasis some big-time schools place on athletics, so the student body sought a team name that would reflect a somewhat different approach. They decided on the Banana Slug, a yellow, slimy, slow, shell-less mollusk. It was a clever way for UCSC to give a balanced perspective on the relative worth of sports.

I have always loved sports, but I know that they can easily become more important than they should be. What matters most in life is what Jesus said is most vital—loving God with all of our hearts and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-39). Micah listed God’s requirements this way: “do justly,” “love mercy,” and “walk humbly with your God” (6:8). For believers in Jesus, it is vital that nothing else takes top priority over God’s expectations for us.

What matters most to you? The Spartans? The Red Sox? Or loving God in thought, word, and action? — Bill Crowder

Lord, what matters most to You today?
What can direct us in each thing we do?
Could it be to let nothing at all
Interfere with our deep love for You? —Branon

Beware of spending too much time on matters of too little importance.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #609  
Old 04-25-2010, 04:52 AM
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Default Apr. 25

April 25, 2010

Our Co-Pilot?

READ: Galatians 2:11-21

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. —Galatians 2:20

The bumper sticker “Jesus is my co-pilot” may be a well-intentioned sentiment, but it has always troubled me. Whenever I’m in the driver’s seat of my life, the destination is nowhere good. Jesus is not meant to be just a spiritual “co-pilot” giving directions every now and then. He is always meant to be in the driver’s seat. Period!

We often say that Jesus died for us, which of course is true. But there’s more to it than that. Because Jesus died on the cross, something inside of us died—the power of sin. It’s what Paul meant when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). We were essentially co-crucified with Him. With Jesus in the driver’s seat, the old destinations are off-limits. No more turning down the streets of self-centeredness, greed, or lust. No more off-road ventures into the swamp of pride or the ditch of bitterness. We were crucified with Him and He is at the wheel now! He died so that He alone can drive and define us.

So, if you’ve died and Christ lives in you, He’s not your co-pilot. Your joy is to let Him drive and define your life. There may be a few bumps in the road, but you can count on it—He’ll take you somewhere good. — Joe Stowell

Lord, I thank You for salvation,
For Your mercy, full and free;
Take my all in consecration,
Glorify Yourself in me. —Codner

Still at the wheel of your life? It’s time to let Jesus drive.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #610  
Old 04-26-2010, 02:10 AM
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Default Apr. 26

April 26, 2010

A Universe Of Humanity

READ: Acts 28:16-31

Paul . . . received all who came to him. —Acts 28:30

During the 1920s and 30s, photographer August Sander set out to portray a cross-section of German society. Through his lens he saw factory workers and financiers, actresses and housewives, Nazis and Jews. Even though his published collection contains only people in and around his hometown of Cologne, he captured what David Propson, writing in The Wall Street Journal, called “a universe of humanity in his restricted sphere.”

That phrase strikes me as an apt description of our lives and the people we meet day by day. Wherever we live, we cross paths with people from many backgrounds and beliefs.

For years, the apostle Paul traveled and preached before being imprisoned in Rome. There he continued to touch people with the gospel because he cared about them and wanted them to know Jesus Christ. The book of Acts concludes with Paul confined in Rome, living under guard in a rented house, where he “received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:30-31).

Instead of focusing on his restrictions, Paul saw opportunities. That’s the key for us as well. There is a universe of humanity within our reach today. — David C. McCasland

You are called with a holy calling
The light of the world to be,
To lift up the lamp of the gospel
That others the light may see. —Anon.

The gospel is a priceless gift that’s offered free to everyone.
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