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  #721  
Old 08-09-2010, 02:28 AM
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Default Aug. 9

The Life That Matters

August 9, 2010

Read: 1 Peter 5:1-7

Remember those . . . who have spoken the Word of God to you, whose faith follow. —Hebrews 13:7

Isaac Hann was a little-known pastor who served a small church in Loughwood, England, in the mid-18th century. At the close of his ministry, the membership of the church numbered 26 women and 7 men. And only 4 of the men attended with any regularity.

In this age of mass media and mega-churches, who would consider this a successful work? In our world today, Isaac Hann would be considered one of those pastors who never quite “made it.” He certainly wouldn’t have been invited to speak at pastors’ conferences, nor would he have written articles on church growth.

Yet, when he died at 88 his parishioners placed a plaque on the wall of their meeting house that remains to this day. It reads in part:

Few ministers so humble were, yet few so much admired: Ripened for heaven by grace divine, like autumn fruit he fell;

Reader think not to live so long, but seek to live as well.

First Peter 5:5-6 comes to mind: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” Reverend Isaac Hann “made it big” in a way that matters—humility before God and a reward in heaven. We can too.



True greatness does not come to those
Who strive for worldly fame,
It lies instead with those who choose
To serve in Jesus’ name. —D. De Haan

Humility is the recipe for success.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #722  
Old 08-10-2010, 04:16 AM
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Default Aug. 10

Now Is Not Forever

August 10, 2010

Read: Revelation 21:1-5

There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. —Revelation 21:4

Think about how good it will feel when it stops hurting,” said my father. I received this advice from Dad often while I was growing up, usually after some minor bump or scrape had resulted in a major dramatic reaction. At the time, the advice didn’t help. I was incapable of focusing on anything other than my pain, and loud wails accompanied by buckets of tears seemed the only appropriate response.

Through the years, however, Dad’s advice has pulled me through some truly miserable situations. Whether it was the pain of a broken heart or the misery of a drawn-out illness, I would remind myself: Now is not forever.

The confidence we have as Christians is that God has something good planned for us. Suffering was not part of His original act of creation, but it serves as a temporary reminder of what happens in a world where God’s order has been broken. It also motivates us to spread the word about God’s plan to redeem the world from the suffering caused by sin.

Although we cannot avoid pain and disappointment (John 16:33), we know that it’s only temporary. Some sorrow will be relieved in this life, but all of it will be relieved when God finally and firmly establishes His new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1). Now is not forever.



We’ll catch the broken thread again,
And finish what we here began;
Heaven will the mysteries explain,
And then, ah, then, we’ll understand. —Cornelius

The gains of heaven will more than compensate for the losses of earth.
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  #723  
Old 08-11-2010, 03:54 AM
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Default Aug. 11

Copy Me

August 11, 2010

Read: 1 Cor. 10:23–11:1

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. —1 Corinthians 11:1

As we sat at the table one day last week, my oldest son began protesting about his little sister “always” copying him. When she imitates his laugh or eats her French fries before her burger like he does, it annoys him. My wife and I tried to get him to realize that he has an opportunity to influence her by setting a good example.

Unlike my son, Paul invited others to copy his example (1 Cor. 11:1). In this verse, he concluded his discussion from chapter 10 about the Corinthians loving others enough to limit their freedom. He said that when they were invited to a nonbeliever’s home for dinner, they were free to eat what was set before them (v.27). But if their freedom to eat the meat offered to idols caused another believer to question whether or not what they were doing was right, they were to limit their freedom for the good of the “weaker” believer (v.28).

Paul encouraged the people to follow his example in this matter, in the same way he followed Christ’s example. Paul did not seek his own good, but the good of others by imitating Jesus’ example of love, unity, acceptance, and sacrifice.

In the same way, we are to follow Jesus’ example so closely that we can say with confidence to our brothers and sisters, “Copy me as I copy Christ.”



Show me the way, Lord, let my light shine
As an example of good to mankind.
Help them to see the patterns of Thee,
Shining in beauty, lived out in me. —Neuer

Live a life worth imitating by imitating Christ.
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  #724  
Old 08-12-2010, 03:16 AM
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Default Aug. 12

Cherished Connections

August 12, 2010

Read: 1 John 4:7–5:1

We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. —Romans 12:5

When I heard that David was in the office for a board meeting, I was excited. He and I had a mutual friend, Sharon, who had died several years earlier. We had a few minutes to reminisce about her and her love for life and God. What a delight to connect with someone who has loved someone you have loved! There’s a special bond because you love to talk about that cherished person.

Those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior have even stronger ties. We are forever connected to Him and to one another. “We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another,” Paul says in Romans 12:5. We’ve been “born of God,” and we love those who are “begotten of Him” (1 John 5:1).

When we get together with fellow believers, we have the opportunity to talk about the one we love—Christ—and of the love, forgiveness, and grace we have experienced in Him because of His death and resurrection (4:9-10). At such times, we can encourage each other to continue to trust Him and spur one another on to be faithful in our walk with Him.

This coming Sunday and throughout the week, let’s remind fellow believers of all that Jesus has done and of how truly wonderful He is.



We Christians have a kinship with
All others who believe,
And from that bond of faith and love
A mutual strength receive. —Hess

The more you love Jesus, the more you’ll talk about Him.
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  #725  
Old 08-13-2010, 03:42 AM
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Default Aug. 13

August 12, 2010

Read: 1 John 4:7–5:1

We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. —Romans 12:5

When I heard that David was in the office for a board meeting, I was excited. He and I had a mutual friend, Sharon, who had died several years earlier. We had a few minutes to reminisce about her and her love for life and God. What a delight to connect with someone who has loved someone you have loved! There’s a special bond because you love to talk about that cherished person.

Those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior have even stronger ties. We are forever connected to Him and to one another. “We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another,” Paul says in Romans 12:5. We’ve been “born of God,” and we love those who are “begotten of Him” (1 John 5:1).

When we get together with fellow believers, we have the opportunity to talk about the one we love—Christ—and of the love, forgiveness, and grace we have experienced in Him because of His death and resurrection (4:9-10). At such times, we can encourage each other to continue to trust Him and spur one another on to be faithful in our walk with Him.

This coming Sunday and throughout the week, let’s remind fellow believers of all that Jesus has done and of how truly wonderful He is.



We Christians have a kinship with
All others who believe,
And from that bond of faith and love
A mutual strength receive. —Hess

The more you love Jesus, the more you’ll talk about Him.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #726  
Old 08-14-2010, 04:25 AM
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Default Aug. 14

August 14, 2010

Read: Isaiah 46:8-11

I am God, and there is none like Me. —Isaiah 46:9


My wife and I don’t always under- stand each other. For instance, it’s a great mystery to her how I can watch an entire baseball game between two teams that have no chance of making the playoffs. And I surely don’t understand her love of shopping.

To love someone intensely doesn’t mean you have to understand him or her completely. That’s good news, because there’s no way we can begin to grasp the deep mysteries of the God we love.

With our finite minds and our self-centered views, we can’t deduce why God does what He does. Yet some people look at tragedies, for instance, and turn their backs on God—assuming that their finite knowledge about the situation is better than His infinite wisdom.

Indeed, if we could figure God out—if He were no more than a glorified human with no greater knowledge than that of the smartest person—where would be the awe and the majesty of the Almighty? One reason we know God to be so great is that we cannot reduce His thinking to ours.

The apostle Paul asked, “Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” (1 Cor. 2:16). Clearly, the answer is no one. Praise God that even when we don’t understand Him, we know we can trust Him.



Your ways, O Lord, are higher and
Your knowledge is immense;
So give us strength to trust You when
Life doesn’t make much sense. —Sper

To fully understand God is impossible; to worship Him is imperative.
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  #727  
Old 08-15-2010, 04:13 AM
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Default Aug. 15

August 15, 2010

Read: Psalm 93

The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. —Psalm 93:1

Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina is a spectacular waterfall system of 275 falls along 2.7 km (1.67 miles) of the Iguazu River. Etched on a wall on the Brazilian side of the Falls are the words of Psalm 93:4, “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” (RSV). Below it are these words, “God is always greater than all of our troubles.”

The writer of Psalm 93, who penned its words during the time that kings reigned, knew that God is the ultimate King over all. “The Lord reigns,” he wrote. “Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting” (vv.1-2). No matter how high the floods or waves, the Lord remains greater than them all.

The roar of a waterfall is truly majestic, but it is quite a different matter to be in the water hurtling toward the falls. That may be the situation you are in today. Physical, financial, or relational problems loom ever larger and you feel like you are about to go over the falls. In such situations, the Christian has Someone to turn to. He is the Lord, “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20) for He is greater than all of our troubles.



If you are helpless in life’s fray,
God’s mighty power will be your stay;
Your failing strength He will renew,
For He’s a God who cares for you. —D. De Haan

Never measure God’s unlimited power by your limited expectations.
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  #728  
Old 08-16-2010, 03:26 AM
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Default Aug. 16

August 16, 2010

Read: John 13:33-35

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. —John 13:35

You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I’ve ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They’re slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love. . . . No, wait—I’m thinking of golden retrievers!

I laughed when I read this in an e-mail. But having had experience with goldens—and fellow Christians—I think it’s true that sometimes believers are just too easily offended! “The choir director always gives her the solos.” “The pastor didn’t even look at me when he shook my hand.” “I do a lot around here—people ought to appreciate me a little more.”

Anger. Resentment. Pride. Sure, issues between believers do sometimes need to be addressed. But what if we always tried to treat others the way we want to be treated (Matt. 7:12), weren’t quick to judge others but forgave them (Luke 6:37), and demonstrated a little humility? (Phil. 2:3).

And what if the world could actually recognize that we are followers of Jesus by the love we have “for one another”? (John 13:35). Is this true of us?



Lord, let me be a shining light
In all I say and do,
That Your great love displayed in me
May lead someone to You. —Sper

Sometimes the best witness is love.
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  #729  
Old 08-17-2010, 03:52 AM
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Default Aug. 17

True Prosperity

August 17, 2010

Read: Mark 10:17-23

How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! —Mark 10:23

A few years ago, the banking empire Citicorp ran a series of billboards about money: “Money changes hands—just be sure it doesn’t change the rest of you!” and “If people say you’re made of money, you should work on your personality!” These ads gave a refreshingly new perspective on riches.

God also has a surprising spin on wealth. From His perspective, you can be “well off” when it comes to worldly treasures and yet be in dire poverty in your soul. Or you can be poor in terms of earthside stuff and be lavishly rich by God’s standards.

The distorting power of wealth reminds me of the story of the rich young ruler. After a discussion about eternal life, Jesus asked him to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Him. Unfortunately, the man “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:22). This prompted Jesus’ lesson to the disciples: “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (v.23).

It’s not that Jesus is against wealth. It’s just that He is grieved by anything that we value more than Him. We can work hard and make money, but when those things are the main pursuit of life, then Jesus isn’t. Placing Him first and foremost in our lives is the key to true prosperity.



He possessed all the world had to give him,
He had reached every coveted goal;
But, alas, his life was a failure,
For he had forgotten his soul. —Denison

Don’t let riches—or the pursuit of riches— derail your pursuit of Jesus.
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  #730  
Old 08-18-2010, 04:16 AM
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Default Aug. 18

Ruts And Routines

August 18, 2010

Read: Daniel 6:1-10

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust. —Psalm 143:8

Summer is my favorite season. I love the leisurely days when I can set aside some of my routines without feeling guilty. Doing new things, seeing new places, and allowing myself the time to take “the scenic route” revive my spirit and renew my enthusiasm for life and work.

But summer can also be a dangerous time of breaking good habits. Certain routines are good. They increase our efficiency and ensure that important things get done. After all, we need to have fixed times and places for certain things or the world would be chaotic. Creation is designed to operate on schedule, and, as part of it, so are we. We need food and sleep at regular intervals.

We sometimes hear legitimate warnings about allowing routines to turn into ruts. But the Bible indicates that having set times for certain things is good. David indicated that morning was the right time for him to praise God and ask for His direction (Ps. 5:3; 143:8). And Daniel prayed three times a day, and not even the threat of death made him change his routine (Dan. 6:10).

While enjoying carefree days, we must not become careless about spending time with God. Savoring spiritual sustenance is a routine for all seasons.



You’ll go forth a little stronger
With a fresh supply of grace,
If each day you meet the Savior
In a secret, quiet place. —Adams

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31
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