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  #621  
Old 05-07-2010, 03:37 AM
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Default May. 7

May 7, 2010

Becoming Inclined To God

READ: Colossians 3:12-17

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. —Colossians 3:17

I have learned much about the conscious remembrance of God from Brother Lawrence, a cook in a 17th-century monastery. In his book The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence mentioned practical ways to “offer God your heart from time to time in the course of the day,” even in the midst of chores such as cooking or repairing shoes. One’s depth of spirituality, said Lawrence, does not depend on changing things you do but rather changing your motive—doing for God what you ordinarily do for yourself.

One of his eulogies said, “The good Brother found God everywhere, as much while he was repairing shoes as while he was praying . . . . It was God, not the task, he had in view. He knew that the more the task was against his natural inclinations, the greater was his love in offering it to God.”

That last comment affected my wife deeply. While working with senior citizens in downtown Chicago, she at times was called to do tasks that went beyond her natural inclinations. As she tackled some of the least desirable duties, she reminded herself to keep God and His glory in view. With effort, even the most difficult tasks can be performed and presented as an offering to God (Col. 3:17). — Philip Yancey

Follow with reverent steps the great example
Of Him whose holy work was doing good;
So shall the wide earth seem our Father’s temple,
Each loving life a psalm of gratitude. —Whittier

Duty alone is drudgery; duty with love is delight.
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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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  #622  
Old 05-08-2010, 04:23 AM
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Default May. 8

May 8, 2010

Safety Zone

READ: Ruth 2:1-12

A full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge. —Ruth 2:12

When the horrors of war visited the civilians of Nanjing, China, women were not spared in the mounting violence and many were assaulted and killed. In this threatening environment, Minnie Vautrin took heroic measures to protect Chinese women from harm. Serving as a missionary teacher at Ginling College in Nanjing, Minnie cooperated with Chinese nationals, missionaries, surgeons, and business people and turned the college into a “safety zone,” a place of refuge for thousands of women and girls.

In the Bible, we learn that Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, were in need of some protection too. To survive as widows, they had to glean what they could from the harvested fields. As was the custom, Ruth sought a “kinsman redeemer.” This was a next of kin or close relative to her deceased husband who would marry her to continue the family line. Boaz was just such a man. He was touched by Ruth’s sacrificial care for Naomi and her desire to look for refuge in the Lord (Ruth 2:12). Boaz worked honorably to “redeem” Ruth and to make her his wife. He then provided for her and Naomi.

Our ultimate refuge is in the Lord Himself (Ps. 46:1). Yet He wants to use us as instruments to provide a “safety zone” for others. — Dennis Fisher

Thinking It Over
In what ways can you meet the needs of others? Check with community ministries or a local church to see how they’re reaching out, and join in.

They truly love who show their love. —Shakespeare
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  #623  
Old 05-09-2010, 04:40 AM
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Default May. 9

May 9, 2010

Tangible Love

READ: John 19:25-30

When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” —John 19:26

The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland, houses a wonderful collection of ancient Bible fragments. One very small fragment is a portion of John 19. This piece of John’s gospel describes the moment, as Jesus was being crucified, when He spoke to His mother in a display of love and concern for her. The words are from verse 26, where we read, “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ ”

As I stared at that ancient fragment, it struck me afresh how tangible Jesus’ love was for His mother and friend. With clear words He let the world know of His love and affection by showing His concern that Mary be cared for by His friend John when He was gone. Hanging on the cross, Jesus said to John, “‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (v.27).

I think that today, on this Mother’s Day, would be a wonderful time to declare publicly your love for your mom if you still have her—or to give thanks to the Lord for her if she is no longer with you. Then show in some tangible ways how much you love her and how much she has meant to you. — Bill Crowder

Since this priceless gift God gave us
Must from us one day depart,
Lavish her with love and kindness,
Real true love, with all your heart. —Stairs

God bless my mother; all I am or hope to be I owe to her. —Abraham Lincoln
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  #624  
Old 05-10-2010, 03:53 AM
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Default May. 10

May 10, 2010

A Little Piece Of Heaven

READ: Exodus 25:1-9

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? —1 Corinthians 3:16

A couple of weeks ago my wife met a woman who needed a ride. She sensed that this could be from God, so she agreed to take her to her destination. During the ride, the woman revealed to my wife that she was a believer but she struggled with drug addiction. My wife listened to and talked with this hurting woman. As she gave her hope for a better tomorrow, I believe that the woman experienced in some small way a little piece of heaven on earth.

When God instructed Moses to build the tabernacle according to His specifications, it was so that God’s people would sense His presence. I like to think of it as a little piece of heaven on earth. The temple was a physical example of God’s presence on earth also (1 Kings 5–8). The purpose of these holy places was for God to dwell among His people. This was God’s plan when Jesus, the perfect temple, “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14).

When Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell His followers (John 14:16-17), so that we would be God’s tabernacles and temples in the world (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). As God’s representatives of His presence, let’s find ways to bring the peace and hope of heaven to others on earth. — Marvin Williams

For Further Thought
Ask God to use you in the lives of others and to show you some ways to apply this devotional at work, in your home, and in your neighborhood.

A Christian who is willing to do little things for others can do great things for the Lord.
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  #625  
Old 05-11-2010, 02:51 AM
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May 11, 2010

Dilbert

READ: Ephesians 6:1-6

. . . not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. —Ephesians 6:6

Cartoonist Scott Adams has become famous for his humorous cartoon strip “Dilbert.” He also wrote a book in the 1990s called The Dilbert Principle. In it he mocks technology, leadership fads, and incompetent managers. Many laugh out loud at the connections the book makes with their own work-a-day world.

Regarding employee laziness and deceit, the author writes: “When it comes to avoiding work, it is fair to say I studied with the masters. After nine years . . . I learned just about everything there is to know about looking busy without actually being busy.”

Believers, however, have a much higher calling when it comes to dealing with employers. In the Scriptures, we are encouraged to exhibit a respectful attitude toward those who supervise us: “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:5-6).

The right work ethic begins with a heart of sincerity in which we consider Jesus Christ our employer. We please Him when we diligently serve our boss and others in the workplace. — Dennis Fisher

Whatever task you find to do,
Regardless if it’s big or small,
Perform it well, with all your heart,
Because there’s One who sees it all. —Sper

No matter who your boss is, you are really working for God.
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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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  #626  
Old 05-12-2010, 02:27 AM
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Default May. 12

May 12, 2010

The Boat

READ: Acts 6:1-7

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. —1 Peter 4:10

A group of teenagers on a ministry trip in Jamaica were enjoying some downtime with a game of Ultimate Frisbee. But when someone noticed that a boat had overturned off a nearby beach, the game ended and the teens eagerly rushed to the water to help.

There they found a small group of professional boat operators struggling with their craft—trying to turn it upright. That’s where the teens could help. They waded in, put their young strength to work, and together they were able to right the boat.

What happened that day in the Caribbean Sea reminds me of what can happen in the church. The “professionals,” the pastor and others who are trained to lead the church, face a task they can’t do alone. It’s often a struggle to get the work of the church done until laypeople join in and work alongside the leadership.

This was the situation in Acts 6. Some people in the church were being neglected, and the “professionals,” the apostles who were leading the church, realized they couldn’t do everything by themselves. Only when seven laypeople pitched in to help the leaders could the church proceed.

How can you come alongside your pastor and other leaders to help keep your church moving ahead? — Dave Branon

O Lord, help me in every way
To have a faithful heart;
Teach me to love and serve Your church,
And always do my part. —Fitzhugh

Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect.
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  #627  
Old 05-13-2010, 03:29 AM
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Default May. 13

May 13, 2010

Don’t Forget

READ: Deut. 24:17-22

Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. —1 Timothy 6:18

Some mornings as I leave for work, my wife says to me, “Don’t forget to . . .” Later in the day, she’ll phone me and ask, “Did you forget?”

We all have a tendency to forget. I think that may be why God repeats important truths to us. Twice in Deuteronomy 24, the Lord reminded the Israelites that they were slaves in Egypt but they had been rescued and redeemed by Him (vv.18,22). Through Moses, He told them, “You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there” (v.18).

Because they had been redeemed, the Israelites had certain responsibilities that the Lord wanted them to remember. Moses said, “I command you to do this thing” (v.18). What was “this thing”? They were told to care for “the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow” (v.19). If part of the harvest was left in the fields, they were to leave it for these needy people. He reminds them of the people in verses 20 and 21 also.

We are redeemed people through Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection. We too are told numerous times to be willing to share with those in need. Hebrews 13:16 says, “Do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” — Albert Lee

For Further Study
Read the following Scriptures and determine how you might apply them to your life: Romans 12:1-13; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8; Titus 3:14.

Getting gratifies, but sharing satisfies.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #628  
Old 05-14-2010, 03:28 AM
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Default May. 14

May 14, 2010

Silence And Trust

READ: John 11:1-11

When [Jesus] heard that [Lazarus] was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. —John 11:6

In one of Joe Morgenstern’s weekly Wall Street Journal columns about movies, he considered the impact of the great film stars in close-up scenes where they said nothing at all. “Movie stars,” he wrote, “can do as little as they do at crucial moments because, having already earned our respect, they can assume that we’re paying attention.” This quality of powerful silence that we admire in actors and actresses, however, can be frustrating or disappointing in our relationship with God when He is silent.

When Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus, became seriously ill, his sisters Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus. But “when [Jesus] heard that [Lazarus] was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (John 11:6).

Commenting on this passage, Oswald Chambers said: “Has God trusted you with a silence—a silence that is big with meaning? . . . Think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything analogous to those days in your life? . . . His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into a marvellous understanding of Himself. . . . If God has given you a silence, praise Him, He is bringing you into the great run of His purposes.” We can trust our loving Lord, even when He is silent. — David C. McCasland

God is waiting in the silence
For a heart that He can fill;
He must find it cleansed and empty,
With a spirit calm and still. —Smith

True trust in God stays strong even when He is silent.
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  #629  
Old 05-14-2010, 05:12 PM
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Default May. 15

May 15, 2010

Charlie’s List

READ: Psalm 119:9-16

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. —Colossians 3:16

When Charles Hayward died last May at the age of 87, he left a legacy for his children and grandchildren. He and his wife Virginia had faithfully served as missionaries for many years both in India and South Africa. But at age 73, he began to select and memorize portions of Scripture so he would “finish well” with his mind full of God’s truth.

He called his project, “The Whole Bible Memorization Plan.” His children call it, “Charlie’s List.” Charles chose a theme verse (Col. 3:16), at least one verse from each Old Testament book, at least one from each New Testament narrative book, and a verse or verses from each chapter of the New Testament Epistles. He began with Genesis 15:6, “He believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” and ended with Revelation 22:17, “Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”

All in all, Charles committed 239 verses to memory. He reminds me of the psalmist who wrote: “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (119:11). Like Charles, the psalmist meditated and delighted in God’s Word (vv.15-16). What better goal could any of us have than to fill our minds with God’s truth. — Cindy Hess Kasper

If you are faithful in reading God’s Word,
You can be sure that you’re growing thereby;
And if you’re hiding His Word in your heart,
You’ll be rejoicing to meet Him on high. —Hess

Memorizing God’s Word is like planting seeds that bear the fruit of a righteous life.
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  #630  
Old 05-14-2010, 05:13 PM
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Default May. 16

May 16, 2010

The Ascension

READ: Acts 1:1-11

While they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. —Acts 1:9

When the husband of my longtime friend and publishing colleague collapsed and later died, there was no doubt that life had slipped away from him. There were witnesses. The same was true when Jesus died. But three days later, Jesus was raised from the dead! We have no doubt that this is true because there were witnesses who later saw Him alive.

When we gathered for Dave’s memorial service, we read familiar passages of Scripture that affirm our hope that he is now enjoying new life in heaven. But we claimed these promises by faith because none of us witnessed Dave go to heaven. There was, however, a witness who saw Jesus in heaven. Not long after witnesses saw Jesus ascend (Acts 1:9), Stephen saw the heavens open “and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (7:56). One of the reasons we know that Jesus spoke the truth about going to prepare a place for us (John 14:2) is that He has been seen alive in heaven.

When a loved one goes ahead of us to heaven, we feel as if we’re being pulled in the opposite direction—down into an abyss of sadness. Yet, because God kept His promise to raise Christ and take Him to heaven, we can trust Him to do the same for all who love and follow Him. — Julie Ackerman Link

The Lord has promised to prepare
A place in heaven above—
A home where we will always be
With Him and those we love. —Sper

The promise of heaven is our eternal hope.
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