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  #681  
Old 07-04-2010, 05:10 AM
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Default Jul. 4

True Freedom

July 4, 2010

Read: Galatians 4:21–5:1

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free. —Galatians 5:1

In 1776, the 13 British colonies in North America protested the limitations placed on them by the king of England and engaged in a struggle that gave birth to a brand-new republic. The infant nation soon adopted that now-famous document known as the Declaration of Independence.

Almost 2,000 years ago, the Lord Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished,” proclaiming the believer’s “declaration of independence.” All of humanity was under the tyranny of sin and death. But Christ, the sinless One, took our place on Calvary and died for our sins. Having satisfied God’s righteous demands, He now sets free for eternity all who trust in Him.

Paul wrote, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). Romans 8 assures us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus . . . . For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (vv.1-2). Galatians 5:1 urges all who have been redeemed to “stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.”

We are thankful to God for any freedom we enjoy in a nation. But above all, believers everywhere can praise Him for the freedom that is found in Christ!



Now are we free—there’s no condemnation!
Jesus provides a perfect salvation;
“Come unto Me,” O hear His sweet call!
Come—and He saves us once for all. —Bliss

Our greatest freedom is freedom from sin.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #682  
Old 07-05-2010, 05:05 AM
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Default Jul. 5

Retreating Forward

July 5, 2010

Read: Matthew 14:13-23

When He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. —Matthew 14:23

A friend told me about his church’s leadership retreat. For 2 days, church leaders pulled away for a time of prayer, planning, and worship. My friend was not only refreshed but also energized. He told me, “This retreat is really going to help us move forward as a church ministry.”

It sounded funny to me—this notion of retreating in order to move forward. But it is true. Sometimes you have to pull back and regroup before you can make meaningful forward progress. This is particularly true in our relationship with God.

Jesus Himself practiced “retreating forward.” After a busy day of ministry in the region of the Sea of Galilee, He retreated. Matthew 14:23 tells us that “when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.” Alone in the presence of the Father.

In this fast-paced, get-ahead world, it’s easy to wear ourselves down—pressing ahead and moving forward at all costs. But even in our desire to be effective Christians, we must consistently be willing to retreat into God’s presence. Only in the refreshing of His strength can we find the resources to move forward in our service for Him. Retreat in Jesus before moving forward.



To face life’s many challenges
And overcome each test,
The Lord tells us to take the time
To stop. To pray. To rest. —Sper

Alone with the Father is the only place to find the strength to press on.
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  #683  
Old 07-06-2010, 06:09 AM
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Default Jul. 6

Something Better

July 6, 2010

Read: Heb. 11:4-7,32-40

All these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise. —Hebrews 11:39

Abel doesn’t seem to fit in the first half of Hebrews 11. He’s the first “ancient” listed, but his story isn’t like the others mentioned there. Enoch went to heaven without dying. Noah saved mankind. Abraham started a people group. Isaac was a noted patriarch. Joseph rose to the top in Egypt. Moses led the greatest exodus ever.

Clearly, their faith was rewarded. By faith, they did what God asked, and He poured out blessings on them. They saw God’s promises fulfilled before their eyes.

But Abel? The second son of Adam and Eve had faith, and what did he get for it? Murdered. That sounds more like the folks in verses 35-38, who found that trusting God doesn’t always lead to immediate blessing. They faced “mockings,” “imprisonment,” and being “sawn in two.” “Thanks, but no thanks,” we might say. We would all prefer to be heroic Abraham instead of someone “destitute, afflicted, tormented” (v.37). Yet in God’s plan, there are no guarantees of ease and fame even for the devout.

While we might experience some blessings in this life, we may also have to wait until “something better” (v.40) comes along—the completion of God’s promises in Glory. Until then, let’s keep living “by faith.”



Press on in your service for Jesus,
Spurred on by your love for the Lord;
He promised that if you are faithful,
One day you’ll receive your reward. —Fasick

What is done for Christ right now will be rewarded in eternity.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #684  
Old 07-07-2010, 04:46 AM
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Default Jul. 7

Beware Of What You Want

July 7, 2010 — by Julie Ackerman Link

Read: Exodus 20:1-17

You shall not covet. —Exodus 20:17

Sometimes I wonder why God didn’t list the Ten Commandments in reverse order, since the 10th commandment correlates to the first sin—desire. Eve’s sin wasn’t simply her desire for a piece of fruit; it was the desire for knowledge that Satan told her would make her like God (Gen. 3:5). Eve’s covetousness caused her to violate both the first and tenth commands that God later gave to Moses.

When we don’t covet, we pretty much eliminate our reasons to disobey the other commands. Wanting what isn’t ours causes us to lie, steal, commit adultery, murder, and refuse to honor our parents. We refuse to rest because we can’t get what we want in 6 days of work. We misuse God’s name when we use it to justify something that we want to do. We make gods out of wealth and relationships because we don’t want to have to put all our trust in God.

I have a hard time coming up with sins that don’t involve some form of covetousness. Yet because it’s the last in the list, we tend to think of it as being the least important. But it’s not. When we stop sin while it is still in our hearts and heads, we avoid making others the victim of our sin, and we avoid many of the serious consequences of sin.



When you covet someone else’s things,
Thinking that they’re better than your own,
Just remember that God’s gifts to you
Were designed for you and you alone. —Hess

Contentment is realizing that God has already given me all I need.
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  #685  
Old 07-08-2010, 04:19 AM
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Default Jul. 8

False Predictions

July 8, 2010

Read: Matthew 24:36-44

Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? —Matthew 24:3

News that a solar eclipse would take place on July 22, 2009, brought an alarming prediction. It was predicted that the eclipse would sufficiently affect gravitational pull, causing tectonic plates to “pop a seam,” resulting in a sizable earthquake and a subsequent devastating tsunami in Japan. The US Geological Survey responded that no scientists “have ever predicted a major earthquake. They do not know how, and they do not expect to know how, anytime in the foreseeable future.”

There have also been many false predictions about the date of Christ’s second coming—despite our Lord’s emphatic words: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36). Christ told His followers that instead of trying to predict the date of His return, they should “watch” (v.42) and “be ready” (v.44).

Peter warned, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief.” Then he added: “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives” (2 Peter 3:10-11 NIV).

Striving to live for God—that’s what Jesus wants us to focus our energy on while we wait for that “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).



When someone says, “I can discern
Exactly when Christ will return,”
Don’t be deceived or led astray—
The Lord said we can’t know the day. —Sper

Look for Christ’s return, and you’ll live for Christ’s glory.
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  #686  
Old 07-09-2010, 05:47 AM
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Default Jul. 9

Show Up Before You Speak Up

July 9, 2010

Read: Matthew 5:11-16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father. —Matthew 5:16

There was a time when a certain West Coast city may have been one of the most hostile places to the gospel in America. Posters in coffee shops advertised witchcraft meetings where you could learn to cast a spell on your enemies.

It was such a challenging environment for churches that they struggled to get building permits from the city council. And there was a lot of “woe is me” talk among church leaders. Until a group of pastors began to meet to pray regularly and then decided to take the love of Jesus into their city. They started a ministry to the homeless, to those suffering with AIDS, to teens at risk. Faithfully and intentionally they brought the love of Jesus to the needs of hurting people. Before long, the city agencies started calling on them for help. Better yet, the churches started growing as people responded to the gospel in action.

Which proves the point: Sometimes you’ve got to “show up” before you speak up. No one really wants to hear what we have to say about the love of Jesus until they’ve seen it in our lives (Matt. 5:16). Then even the most ardent opponents to the gospel may just be glad you’re in their town, their office, or their neighborhood. And then you just might be able to tell them about Jesus.



Let us go forth, as called of God,
Redeemed by Jesus’ precious blood;
His love to show, His life to live,
His message speak, His mercy give. —Whittle

When you share the gospel, make sure you live the gospel.
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  #687  
Old 07-09-2010, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HardCory View Post
Show Up Before You Speak Up

July 9, 2010

Read: Matthew 5:11-16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father. —Matthew 5:16

There was a time when a certain West Coast city may have been one of the most hostile places to the gospel in America. Posters in coffee shops advertised witchcraft meetings where you could learn to cast a spell on your enemies.

It was such a challenging environment for churches that they struggled to get building permits from the city council. And there was a lot of “woe is me” talk among church leaders. Until a group of pastors began to meet to pray regularly and then decided to take the love of Jesus into their city. They started a ministry to the homeless, to those suffering with AIDS, to teens at risk. Faithfully and intentionally they brought the love of Jesus to the needs of hurting people. Before long, the city agencies started calling on them for help. Better yet, the churches started growing as people responded to the gospel in action.

Which proves the point: Sometimes you’ve got to “show up” before you speak up. No one really wants to hear what we have to say about the love of Jesus until they’ve seen it in our lives (Matt. 5:16). Then even the most ardent opponents to the gospel may just be glad you’re in their town, their office, or their neighborhood. And then you just might be able to tell them about Jesus.



Let us go forth, as called of God,
Redeemed by Jesus’ precious blood;
His love to show, His life to live,
His message speak, His mercy give. —Whittle

When you share the gospel, make sure you live the gospel.
That was a great devotional (well, they are all good), an excellent reminder that our actions are way louder than our words.
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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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  #688  
Old 07-09-2010, 05:28 PM
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Default Jul. 10

The Price Of Involvement

July 10, 2010

Read: 2 Cor. 11:22-33

. . . besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. —2 Corinthians 11:28

While making his landmark documentary about World War II, filmmaker Ken Burns and his colleagues watched thousands of hours of military footage. Scenes of the devastating Battle of Peleliu often invaded their dreams at night. Burns told Sacramento Bee reporter Rick Kushman, “You’re listening to the ghosts and echoes from an almost inexpressible past. If you do that, you put yourself into the emotional maelstrom.”

There’s a price to becoming involved in the struggles of others, whether artistically or spiritually. Paul experienced this in his work of sharing the gospel: “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?” (2 Cor. 11:28-29 NASB).

Oswald Chambers said we enter this spiritual struggle as we “deliberately identify ourselves with God’s interests in other people” and “find to our amazement that we have power to keep wonderfully poised in the center of it all.”

Paul realized that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). Jesus paid the greatest price to be involved in our world, and He strengthens us as we share His love with others.



Though weak, you still can serve today
And follow Christ’s command;
Behind the lines or in the fray
In Jesus’ strength you stand. —Hess

If we obey God’s calling, He will provide the needed strength.
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  #689  
Old 07-09-2010, 05:29 PM
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Default Jul. 11

The Doers Of The World

July 11, 2010

Read: James 1:19-27

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

Just after we moved to a house in a new neighborhood, we invited my sister-in-law and her husband over for Sunday dinner. As we were greeting Sue and Ted at the door, an odd noise directed their eyes toward the kitchen. As I followed their gaze, I froze in horror. An errant hose of our old portable dishwasher was whipping about like the trunk of an angry elephant, spewing water everywhere!

Sue went into action mode. Dropping her purse, she was in the kitchen before me, shutting off the water and calling for towels and a mop. We spent the first 15 minutes of their visit on our knees mopping the floor.

Sue is a doer—and the world is a better place because of the doers of the world. These are the people who are always ready to pitch in, to be involved, and even to lead if necessary.

Many of the doers of the world are also doers of the Word. These are the followers of Jesus who have taken the challenge of James to heart: “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only” (1:22).

Are you doing all that you know God wants you to do? As you read God’s Word, put what you’ve learned into practice. First hear—then do. God’s blessing comes as a result of our obedience (v.25).



We need to hear the Word of God
To know what we should do,
But listening is not enough
Without our follow-through. —Sper

The value of the Bible does not consist merely in knowing it, but in obeying it.
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  #690  
Old 07-09-2010, 05:30 PM
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I'll be out of town wrestling the next two days so I posted the next two devotionals in advance.
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