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  #691  
Old 07-12-2010, 03:37 AM
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Default Jul. 12

A Spiritual Journey

July 12, 2010

Read: Acts 17:22-31

You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. —1 Thessalonians 1:9

The miracles that God worked through Moses challenged the many gods of Pharaoh. Yet, in another time, there was a Pharaoh who promoted the belief in one deity. Pharaoh Akhenaten pointed to the rising and setting sun as the great deity who gave life to the earth. His religious symbol for Aton, the sun god, was represented by a single disc of light with emanating rays. Though this Pharaoh’s idea came closer to the one God of the Bible, it was still idolatry.

When Paul addressed the people in Athens, he was grieved by the idolatry in that city. Yet he used the people’s imperfect understanding of God to point them to the God of Scripture. Of their efforts in trying to find God, Paul said: “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24).

In our increasingly pluralistic world, the people around us may worship a multiplicity of deities. Yet their spiritual journey need not end there. We never know when someone might be moving toward the kingdom of God. Following the example of Paul, we should respect a person’s religious background, watch for spiritual receptivity, and then point him or her to the one true God of Scripture.



A Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to lead the lost away from all that is false. And to lead them to You—the one and only God— who alone offers true life. Amen.

God alone is worthy of our worship.
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  #692  
Old 07-13-2010, 03:59 AM
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Default Jul. 13

The Poor Among Us

July 13, 2010

Read: Deuteronomy 15:7-11

If there is among you a poor man of your brethren . . . you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand. —Deuteronomy 15:7

Francis Chan, in his book Crazy Love, tells of a family with an interesting Christmas tradition. On Christmas morning, the Robynson family doesn’t focus on opening presents under the Christmas tree. Instead, they make pancakes and coffee, and serve the breakfast to the homeless. This is a small but creative way to show God’s love and generosity to the poor.

God expected this kind of generosity from His people. In Deuteronomy 15, Moses emphasized the reality of poverty and how the more affluent must deal with it. They were warned of four dangers:

A hard heart, ignoring the needs of the poor (v.7).

A closed hand, withholding what the poor lacked (v.7).

An evil thought, hesitating or refusing to loan money to the poor because the year of canceling debts was nearing (v.9).

A grudging spirit, a reluctance to satisfy the needs of the poor among them (v.10). Not only were they warned about selfishness, but more important, they were encouraged to be spontaneously generous (vv.8,10,11).

Among God’s people, there must always be a spirit of generosity toward the poor. Let’s open our hearts and our hands.



One grace each child of God can show
Is giving from a willing heart;
Yet, if we wait till riches grow,
It well may be we’ll never start. —D. De Haan

Generosity stems from the heart that has experienced God’s grace.
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  #693  
Old 07-14-2010, 04:38 AM
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Default Jul. 14

Deal, Or No Deal

July 14, 2010

Read: Luke 15:11-24

I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants. —Luke 15:19

If you’re like me, you love a good deal. Not just bargain shopping, but when you manage to cut a great deal for yourself without giving anything up in return. So if you can identify with these kinds of deals, you’ll understand the prodigal son’s scheme when he decided to return home.

There were three kinds of servants in those days: day workers who were paid on a day-to-day basis; hired servants who worked long hours on the estate but lived in town with their independence intact; or bond servants who lived on the estate and gave all of themselves to serving the family.

When the prodigal son hit rock bottom, it’s interesting that his planned apology involved asking if he could be like a hired servant. Why not a grateful bond servant? Some commentators suggest that perhaps he was trying to negotiate a deal—a way to get a paycheck and keep his independence as well.

Often we approach God like, “I’ll serve You but You can’t take away my freedom.” It may seem like a good deal at the time, but God’s deal is so much better. Just like the boy’s father, His arms are ready and willing to receive repentant sinners as part of His family. There could be no better deal and no better way to serve Him!



Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine.
Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride;
I now surrender, Lord—in me abide. —Orr

True freedom is found in surrender to Christ.
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  #694  
Old 07-15-2010, 04:26 AM
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Default Jul. 15

A Man My Age

July 15, 2010

Read: Psalm 71

When I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation. —Psalm 71:18

On a recent flight, I got ready to do some work. Spread out on my tray were my laptop computer, backup hard drive, iPod, and other gadgets that are part of being a 21st-century “road warrior.” As I worked, a young man seated beside me asked if he could make a comment. He told me how inspirational it was for him, a young man, to see someone my age so enthusiastically embracing modern technology. In spite of his intention to compliment me, I suddenly felt about 120 years old. What did he mean by “someone my age”? I wondered. After all, I was “only” 57.

Then I remembered Psalm 71, the psalm for folks “my age” and beyond. It reminds us of the value of a life well lived and of the worth of lessons learned: Lessons are not just for our benefit but also for us to pass along to the next generations. The psalmist wrote, “When I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come” (v.18).

So, maybe being “someone my age” isn’t such a bad gig. It is the privilege of “veteran” Christ-followers to declare the strength and power of God to the younger generations. That’s how we can truly be inspirational to them.



The older saints who trust God’s Word
Have trod where younger ones now walk;
They’ve fought the battles they will fight—
Their wisdom teaches truth and right. —Branon

The best gift for the younger generation is a good example from the older generation.
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  #695  
Old 07-16-2010, 03:40 AM
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Default Jul. 16

Judge Not!

July 16, 2010

Read: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Judge not, that you be not judged. —Matthew 7:1

When Jesus commanded, “Judge not,” He was not implying that we should be naďve or imprudent. Of course we need to think critically and analytically in this world where we are often confronted with error and wrongdoing. Instead, He meant that we should not be condemning or accusing, a point Paul made eloquently: “Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts” (1 Cor. 4:5).

Poet Robert Burns made a similar point, writing of those whose actions are in doubt: “One point must still be greatly dark—the [motive]. Why they do it.” No one knows another’s motives. God alone can bring to light what is hidden in darkness; He alone can expose the intentions of the heart.

Jesus knows the latent forces that motivate others: the cruel beginnings, the fear, the disappointment, the broken heart, the sin that is resisted. Moreover, He is working in every submissive heart to bring it to maturity. Thus in the end—quite often contrary to our expectations—He will bring praise to those He has brought to completion.

The Lord alone can try the heart. Until He returns, let’s ask Him to help us examine our own.



“Condemn not, judge not”—not to man
Is given his brother’s faults to scan;
One task is yours, and one alone—
To search out and subdue your own. —Elliott

Be slow to judge others, but quick to judge yourself.
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Last edited by HardCory; 07-17-2010 at 05:05 AM.
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  #696  
Old 07-16-2010, 11:54 AM
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Are you tired Cory?

You entered the same journal entry for July 15 and 16.
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  #697  
Old 07-17-2010, 05:04 AM
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Commander View Post
Are you tired Cory?

You entered the same journal entry for July 15 and 16.
I must be, first week back from vacation.
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  #698  
Old 07-17-2010, 05:07 AM
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Default Jul. 17

Allergic To . . .

July 17, 2010

Read: Titus 3:3-11

Abstain from every form of evil. —1 Thessalonians 5:22

One of our grandchildren is allergic to several kinds of foods. Milk, cheese, eggs, and ice cream are among the items she has to avoid. Even a small amount of these things is detrimental to her health.

She’s not alone in being required to avoid certain things in life. While her allergies are related to her physical well-being, each of us as believers in Jesus has dangers we need to stay away from to maintain spiritual health. Scripture gives us a clear indication of what we are “allergic to” spiritually.

Every kind of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). This should cause us to think about the choices we make, because taking part in what is clearly evil is not good for our spiritual vitality.

Foolish disputes and arguments (2 Tim. 2:23; Titus 3:9). This takes discernment, for some arguments have merit in defending the faith. But those for which there is no answer or which have no bearing on truth only cause dissension.

Sexual immorality (1 Thess. 4:3). The Bible says that any sexual activity outside the boundaries of a marriage between a man and a woman is immoral (Gen. 2:24; Ex. 20:14; 1 Cor. 7:2; Heb. 13:4).

Are we willing to make the effort to steer clear of things we are spiritually “allergic to”?



Today avoid sin’s tempting lures
And evil thoughts subdue,
Or sinful things may take control
And someday master you! —Bosch

To avoid sin, nip it in the bud of temptation.
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  #699  
Old 07-18-2010, 03:00 AM
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Default Jul. 18

A Last Farewell

July 18, 2010

Read: 2 Timothy 4:6-22

I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. —2 Timothy 4:6

After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, 47-year-old Randy Pausch returned to Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a final lecture to colleagues, students, and friends. The professor of computer science thought that perhaps 150 people might show up. Instead the 400-seat auditorium was packed. For an hour, Randy opened his heart to them in a humorous, insightful, and moving farewell that was focused more on living than dying. Within weeks, the videotaped lecture had been seen by millions on the Internet and later became the seed of a bestselling book. Those facing death often have an unusually clear perspective on what is truly important in life.

The apostle Paul’s last farewell has inspired countless followers of Christ through the centuries. “The time of my departure is at hand,” wrote Paul. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:6-7). Paul’s instruction to Timothy spans the ages to challenge us as well. The letter begins and ends with God’s grace (1:2; 4:22) and in between is a celebration of the unceasing faithfulness of God.

A message from the dying can give purpose to the living. Paul’s triumphant finale, “To Him be glory forever and ever” (4:18), is a message we can all live by.



Do we live our lives for what will last
Or for what will fade away?
Are we striving for the world’s praise
Or for Christ’s “well done” one day? —Sper

If we are ready to die, we are ready to live.
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  #700  
Old 07-19-2010, 10:37 PM
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Default Jul. 19

Hope

July 19, 2010

Read: Psalm 23

You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth. —Psalm 71:5

The ancient road from Jerusalem to Jericho is a narrow, treacherous path along a deep gorge in the Judean wilderness. Its name is Wadi Kelt, but it’s known as the valley of the shadow, for this is the location that inspired David’s 23rd Psalm. The place itself offers little reason to compose such a hopeful poem. The landscape is bleak, barren, and perilously steep. It’s a good place for thieves, but not for anyone else.

When David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (v.4), he was in a place where evil was an ever-present reality. Yet he refused to give in to fear. He wasn’t expressing hope that God would abolish evil so that he could pass through safely; he was saying that the presence of God gave him the confidence to pass through difficult places without fear of being deserted by Him. In another psalm, David said that the Lord was his hope (71:5).

Many claim to have hope, but only those whose hope is Christ can claim it with certainty. Hope comes not from strength, intelligence, or favorable circumstances, but from the Lord. As Maker of heaven and earth, He alone has the right to promise hope and the power to keep the promise.



Our strength and hope is in the Lord—
We rest secure in His sure Word;
And though we’re tempted to despair
We know we’re kept within His care. —D. De Haan

Hope for the Christian is a certainty—because its basis is Christ.
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