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  #711  
Old 07-30-2010, 03:50 AM
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Default Jul. 30

Garbage Island

July 30, 2010

Read: Genesis 1:20-28; 2:15

The waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. —Genesis 1:10

The other day I ran across a troubling report about people who think it is acceptable to use the ocean as a giant garbage dump. Here is an excerpt: “If you should see this amazing floating pile of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, it’s called ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.’ It features three million tons of plastic debris floating in an area larger than Texas. An eye-popping 46,000 pieces of plastic float on every square mile of ocean!” Other sources estimate the amount of garbage is even bigger. Plastic is especially bad because it does not dissolve.

During our sojourn on earth, we have been charged, like Adam, with taking care of the earth and its creatures that God has given us. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” God delights in what He has made and this extends to the sea and all that live in it (1:10,20-21).

This world should remind us of the greatness of our Creator and serve as a springboard of praise to Him. Indifferently using it as a garbage dump mars its beauty and threatens the creatures that live here. Showing respect and caring for the land, the ocean, and the air is our duty as believers in Christ.



For Further Study
To learn about our responsibility to care for the world God has created, read Celebrating The Wonders Of Creation online at www.discoveryseries.org/q1108

Caring for God’s creation is the believer’s duty.
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  #712  
Old 07-31-2010, 03:15 AM
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Default Jul. 31

My Lord

July 31, 2010

Read: John 20:19-29

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” —John 20:28

On the day of His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and showed them His hands and feet. We are told that at first they could not believe for joy—it appeared too wonderful to be true (Luke 24:40-41). Thomas was not with the disciples, but he also had trouble believing until he saw for himself. When Jesus appeared to Thomas and told him to put his fingers in the nail holes and his hand in His side, Thomas cried, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

Later, as Paul told the Philippians of his own suffering, he also declared Jesus as Lord. He testified that he had come to the place where he considered all his experiences as loss “for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).

You and I have never seen Jesus calm a storm or raise someone from the dead. We haven’t sat at His feet on a Galilean hillside and heard Him teach. But through eyes of faith we have been spiritually healed by His death on our behalf. Thus we can join Thomas and Paul and countless others in acknowledging Jesus as our Lord.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). When we believe, we too can call Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”



See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown? —Watts

Though we cannot see Him with our eyes, we can believe with our heart—He is Lord!
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  #713  
Old 08-01-2010, 03:06 PM
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Default Aug. 1

The Unknown Giver

August 1, 2010

Read: Matthew 6:1-4

When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. —Matthew 6:3

I don’t know about you, but I tend to enjoy getting credit when I do stuff for others. And I don’t think I’m alone in appreciating thank you cards and words of gratitude.

I also know, however, that there’s something to be said for anonymity. This must be a good way to give, because Jesus endorsed it.

That’s why I was impressed with a gift that arrived anonymously on our front porch one day. We had been out of town; and when we returned, there stood several flower pots—each holding a blooming sunflower. We knew the reason—they were left on our doorstep on the birthday of our late daughter, Melissa, who loved sunflowers. Someone was telling us, “We remember Mell.” By giving anonymously, they focused completely on our family rather than on themselves.

Imagine a world in which we all gave generously and selflessly. Jesus mentioned secret giving in Matthew 6. He said, “When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret” (vv.3-4).

Realistically, we can’t always give anonymously. But our giving should always be marked with the same spirit of selfless humility and God-directed charity.



Give as ’twas given to you in your need,
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed
Unto your mission be true. —Wilson

Self-sacrifice is the true measure of our giving.
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  #714  
Old 08-02-2010, 02:25 AM
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Default Aug. 2

He Already Knows

August 2, 2010

Read: Matthew 6:5-8

Do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. —Matthew 6:8

A friend who is a commercial pilot told me about a flight in which he encountered a serious mechanical issue—a problem with dangerous implications. When the situation occurred, the warning lights in the ****pit informed him of the problem and he monitored it all the way to the destination, ultimately landing safely.

Once on the ground, the pilot immediately went to the maintenance staff and reported it. To his surprise, the mechanics responded, “We already know about the problem and are ready to fix it. When you got the ****pit warning, we automatically got an electronic warning as well.”

As he shared that incident, I couldn’t help but compare it to Jesus’ words about our heavenly Father: “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). He said this in contrast to people who believe that they must “use vain repetitions . . . . For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (v.7). Jesus presupposes God’s knowledge of and concern for His children.

Even though God knows our needs, He still wants us to share our hearts with Him. He stands ready to hear our prayer and to repair our brokenness by His grace.



Although God knows our every need,
His work He wants to share;
He takes us into partnership
By calling us to prayer. —D. De Haan

Prayer is the voice of faith, trusting that God knows and cares.
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  #715  
Old 08-03-2010, 02:10 AM
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Default Aug. 3

The Sin Virus

August 3, 2010

Read: Romans 6:14-23

Having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. —Romans 6:18

The H1N1 pandemic focused the world’s attention on viruses. Viruses are living organisms that need a host to survive and wreak their havoc. In some cases, a virus can be present for many years before the host is even aware of it. During that time, the virus can inflict widespread and untold damage. Take it away from the host, and it remains dormant or dies.

In a similar way, sin needs a host to stay alive. By themselves, sins such as pride, greed, anger, and selfishness are mere words. But when sin overpowers a human host, it works to destroy it for as long as the host is alive.

Thankfully, because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, Christians have been positionally “set free from sin” (Rom. 6:18). Even though we still sin, the Holy Spirit who lives in us helps us to resist that “sin virus,” the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). The apostle John tells us: “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them” (1 John 3:9 NLT). Now we walk in dependence upon the Spirit, and one day we will stand “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).

Isn’t that a great comfort for you as you step out today into a world infected by the “virus” of sin?



The Great Physician holds the cure
That kills the virus of our sin;
It’s by His own atoning blood
That we’re made whole and pure within. —D. De Haan

Sin is the disease, Christ is the cure.
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  #716  
Old 08-04-2010, 03:55 AM
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Default Aug. 4

Out Of Orbit

August 4, 2010

Read: Psalm 63

O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. —Psalm 63:1

I still find it amazing that we can launch probes into deep space. But think of how wasteful it would be if on the way to Mars our probe got caught in the gravitational pull of a lesser, insignificant object. Beware! That might be happening in our lives.

When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, He meant for them to begin a journey to passionately pursue Him. Followers of Christ have been launched into a trajectory that is defined by drawing closer and closer to Him. But in the process, we are often distracted and succumb to the gravitational pull of lesser, alluring things. When that happens, we cease our pursuit of Him and go into orbit around stuff that in the end is empty and unsatisfying.

Psalm 63 is the cure for lives stuck in orbit. David pursued God, knowing that He alone could satisfy his inner longings because His “lovingkindness is better than life” (v.3). The joy of God’s presence consumed every moment: “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches” (v.6). David understood that true joy and purpose come not in admiring God from a safe distance, but from chasing hard after Him.

Let’s get back on track and pursue an increasingly closer walk with God!



To walk in fellowship with Christ
And sense His love so deep and true
Brings to the soul its highest joy
As nothing in this world can do. —D. De Haan

The closer you walk with God, the less room for anything to come between.
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  #717  
Old 08-05-2010, 03:54 AM
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Default Aug. 5

The Devil Made Me Do It

August 5, 2010

Read: James 1:12-18

Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. —James 1:14

In March 2009, a 62-year-old woman was charged with stealing more than $73,000 from her church in the state of Washington. When the detectives interrogated her, she told them: “Satan had a big part in the theft.” It sounds like she was saying that the devil made her do it.

Satan may have played a role in her choices, but she has some faulty thinking about temptation and sin. The devil tempts believers, but he doesn’t make us sin. James tells us that God isn’t to blame either: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13). He is good and holy.

So who is to blame for our sin? James says, “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (v.14). Just as a fisherman uses bait to lure his prey, so our own evil, unchecked desires lead to giving in to temptation and sin.

When we disobey God by sinning, let’s not shift the blame or justify our actions with the faulty “the devil made me do it” theology. Instead, let’s take full responsibility for our actions, confess our sins to a gracious and forgiving Father, and pursue right living again.



It’s wise to flee when tempted—
A fool is one who’d stay;
For those who toy with evil
Soon learn it doesn’t pay. —D. De Haan

When we sin, the blame lies within.
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  #718  
Old 08-06-2010, 03:48 AM
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Default Aug. 6

The Best Room

August 6, 2010

Read: 1 Peter 4:7-14

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. —1 Peter 4:9

During a January research trip to Germany, I was dismayed to learn that we would be staying at a monastery. I pictured an austere place with no heat, cold stone floors, and hard beds. Instead, I found a warm, welcoming, comfortable room. My colleague said, “The monks believe in treating their guests as they would treat Christ.” Though they don’t live in such comfort themselves, they are content.

Robert Herrick, a 17th-century English poet, wrote:
Christ, He requires still, wheresoe’er He comes,
To feed, or lodge, to have the best of rooms:
Give Him the choice; grant Him the nobler part
Of all the house: the best of all’s the heart.

It may seem easier to welcome Christ into our heart than to open our life to others. Whether it’s a room in our home or time in our schedule, too often we treat people as intruders rather than guests.

The apostle Peter wrote: “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:8-9).

We honor Christ by giving Him the best room, our hearts, and by offering willing hospitality to others.



I am Yours, Lord, yet teach me all it means,
All it involves of love and loyalty,
Holy service, full and glad surrender,
And unreserved obedience unto Thee! —Bennett

To know love, open your heart to Jesus. To show love, open your heart to others.
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  #719  
Old 08-07-2010, 04:11 AM
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Default Aug. 7

What’s It All About?

August 7, 2010

Read: Romans 9:1-5

I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh. —Romans 9:3

Recently I was in a crowded shop- ping area when I saw a woman plowing her way through the crowd. What intrigued me was the message on her T-shirt, which read in bold capital letters, IT’S ALL ABOUT ME. Her actions reinforced the words on her shirt.

I’m afraid she’s not alone. That message is declared by so many men and women today that it could be the motto of our modern world. For followers of Christ, however, that statement simply is not true. It is not all about us—it’s all about Jesus Christ and others.

The apostle Paul certainly felt the weight of this reality. He was so concerned that his fellow Israelites would know Christ that he said, “I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3). That is a remarkable statement! Far from thinking it was all about himself, Paul affirmed that he would willingly exchange his eternity for theirs.

Paul’s teaching is a refreshing reminder of self-sacrifice in a challenging world that is destructively self-centered. The question we must ask is: Is it all about me? Or is our life about Jesus Christ and the people He came to reach?

Think about it. What’s it all about?



Others, Lord, yes others,
May this my motto be.
Help me to live for others
That I may live for Thee. —Meigs

Our lives should be marked by love for Christ and others—not obsession with self.
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  #720  
Old 08-08-2010, 05:16 AM
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Default August. 8

A Gnat Lesson

August 8, 2010

Read: Exodus 8:16-19

Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion. —Hebrews 3:8

During one of my daily walks, I inadvertently walked through a small tornado of little insects. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but later on I found all kinds of bites on my ankles and arms. It seems I had walked through a swarm of gnats, whose bites led to uncomfortable itching and sores.

This experience gave me a new perspective on the plague of gnats that God visited upon Egypt when Phar-aoh would not free the Israelites. The Hebrew word translated “lice” in Exodus 8:16-18 can also mean “gnats” or “mosquitoes.” Because the insects are compared to the sand of the desert, a swarm of gnats seems the most likely. The pagan priests of Pharaoh who prided themselves in their frequent washings and shavings were now covered with numerous insect bites. God had designed this plague to get Pharaoh to repent and let Israel go, but instead he hardened his heart.

Is God trying to get your attention through some circumstances in your life? Is He trying to persuade you to get back in step with Him? (Gal. 5:25). We should resist the urge to harden our hearts. But let’s instead submit to God (James 4:6-8) and ask Him what spiritual lessons He wants us to learn.



The sun that hardens clay to brick
Can soften wax to shape and mold;
So too life’s trials will harden some,
While others purify as gold. —Sper

God makes us miserable through conviction to make us joyful through confession.
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