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  #741  
Old 08-29-2010, 05:20 AM
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Default Aug. 29

How Can We Keep From Singing?

August 29, 2010

Read: Psalm 146

While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. —Psalm 146:2

Robert Lowry felt that preaching would be his greatest contribution in life. However, this 19th-century pastor is best remembered for his gospel music and hymns. Lowry composed words or music for more than 500 songs, including “Christ Arose,” “I Need Thee Every Hour,” and “Shall We Gather at the River?”

In 1860, as the United States teetered on the brink of civil war, Lowry wrote these enduring words that focus not on threatening circumstances but on the unchanging Christ:
What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

Lowry’s confidence in God during difficult times echoes the psalmist’s words: “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. . . . Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Ps. 146:3-5).

Whether we react to life with faith or fear depends on our focus. Knowing that “the Lord shall reign forever” (v.10), how can we keep from singing?



If you keep in tune with Christ, you can sing even in the dark.
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  #742  
Old 08-30-2010, 02:01 AM
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Default Aug. 30

Common Language

August 30, 2010

Read: Acts 17:22-32

As I was . . . considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: To The Unknown God. —Acts 17:23

During the high schoolers’ spring ministry trip to Jamaica, they visited a home for troubled teens who had run afoul of the law or whose families could not handle them.

This was not a comfortable situation for the kids from either culture. What would they say? How would they connect?

It didn’t take long to find out. Minutes after they arrived, a soccer match began as a number of the US students engaged some of the Jamaican teens in spirited competition.

The soccer match was a great icebreaker as the kids kicked the ball around and got to know each other. After the game, conversation was easier and friendships were established more quickly because of a common interest.

In Acts 17, the apostle Paul demonstrated how to break through barriers and establish dialogue. He talked with the Athenians about something of common interest—worship. In a similar way, we can use sports talk with a co-worker or lawn conversation with a neighbor. The possibilities are endless.

To reach out to people who need to hear about God’s love, look for common language—and watch the barriers fall.



The Spirit of God can reach my neighbor,
Providing the gift of salvation,
If I am ready to open the way
By starting a good conversation. —Hess

God’s love can break down barriers.
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  #743  
Old 08-31-2010, 01:26 AM
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Default Aug. 31

Rescued

August 31, 2010

Read: Ephesians 2:1-10

God, who is rich in mercy, . . . made us alive together with Christ. —Ephesians 2:4-5

Lauren nervously yet excitedly hopped into a one-person kayak for a white-water rafting experience. After strapping herself in, she headed down the river with a group of kayakers and guides.

Lauren became even more nervous when she laid eyes on the falls ahead. Suddenly, as the kayak tossed and turned in the white water, it flipped over. She had been instructed on how to get out quickly if this were to happen. But she became disoriented as she hung upside-down in the water and couldn’t find the release bar to get out. She knew she couldn’t hold her breath much longer and thought she would soon be in the Lord’s presence. Then help came just in time and she was saved. Lauren was very grateful for her rescue from physical death.

An even greater rescue has been provided for us—rescue from spiritual death has come in the Person of Jesus Christ. While we were drowning in sin, God sent His Son Jesus to bring life through His own death and resurrection (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:5). He did so because He is “rich in mercy” and because of “His great love” (Eph. 2:4).

Out of gratefulness, we can help others by telling them of the Rescuer they so desperately need.



Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save. —Crosby

Those who’ve been rescued should be ready and willing to help in the rescue of others.
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  #744  
Old 09-01-2010, 04:10 AM
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Default Sep. 1

The Person Of The Bible

September 1, 2010


Read: John 5:31-40
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. —John 5:39

During a church leaders’ conference at Seattle Pacific University, noted pastor Earl Palmer recalled an experience that shaped his teaching and preaching for half a century.

As a seminary student, he led a Bible study where he encouraged the participants to consider the words of Scripture. “I became convinced,” Palmer said, “that if I could get someone to look at the text, sooner or later the text would win their respect, and it would always point them to its living center: Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ has your respect, that’s not very many inches away from faith.”

Jesus told a group of religious leaders, who were well acquainted with the Old Testament but violently opposed to Him, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

It requires an open heart as well as an inquiring mind to study the Bible. When we discover Jesus as the Person to whom the entire Bible points, we must then decide how to respond to Him.

There is great joy for all who will open their hearts to Christ and find life in Him.



God’s Word is like refreshing rain
That waters crops and seed;
It brings new life to open hearts,
And meets us in our need. —Sper

The written Word leads us to Christ the living Word.
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  #745  
Old 09-02-2010, 03:16 AM
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Default Sep. 2

Silence, Please!

September 2, 2010

Read: Psalm 46

Be still, and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10

Our world has become increasingly noisy. But according to a news report, science has found a way to achieve absolute silence: “Scientists have shown off the blueprint for an ‘acoustic cloak,’ which could make objects impervious to sound waves. The technology, outlined in the New Journal of Physics, could be used to build sound-proof homes, advanced concert halls, or stealth warships.”

When we seek out a quiet place for devotional time with God, we may wish we had an “acoustic cloak.” But even if we could silence all external sound, the internal noises of worry would still reverberate in our minds. We are told: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). But how do we calm our hearts in practical terms?

God understands our dilemma and has provided His own “acoustic cloak” to quiet our hearts. It involves exchanging our cares for His peace. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

As we place our concerns in God’s capable hands, we find a quietness that only He can provide.



Be still and know that He is God
For pathways steep and rough;
Not what He brings but what
He is Will always be enough. —Anon.

God gives peace to those who are quiet before Him.
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  #746  
Old 09-03-2010, 03:22 AM
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Default Sep. 3

Loopholes

September 3, 2010

Read: Mark 7:1-13

Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. —Psalm 119:11

Five-year-old Jenna was not having a good start to her day. Every attempt to arrange the world according to her liking was having the opposite result. Arguing didn’t work. Pouting didn’t work. Crying didn’t work. Finally her mother reminded her of the Bible verse she had been learning: “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11).

Apparently Jenna had been thinking about this verse, because she was quick to answer: “But Mom, it doesn’t say that I won’t sin; it says that I might not sin.”

Her words are all too familiar. I often hear similar arguments in my own mind. There’s something very appealing about loopholes, and we look for them wherever there’s a command we don’t want to obey.

Jesus addressed this problem with religious leaders who thought they had found a loophole in their religious laws (Mark 7:1-13). Instead of honoring their parents with financial or material support, they dedicated all their possessions to God, thereby limiting their use. Although their disobedience was not blatant, Jesus said their behavior was unacceptable.

Whenever we start looking for loopholes, we stop being obedient.



Lord, help us to submit to You,
To follow and obey,
Instead of finding loopholes to
Defend our sinful way. —Sper

Even though we make excuses for not obeying God,
He still calls it disobedience.
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  #747  
Old 09-04-2010, 03:17 AM
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Default Sep. 4

Botox For The Soul

September 4, 2010

Read: Ephesians 4:17-24

Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. —Ephesians 4:24

Got Botox? A lot of people do. Some take Botox treatments for health matters, but many take them because they want to look young again.

Appearance is so important to some Botox users that they allow themselves to be injected with botulinum toxin type A so that their wrinkles will disappear for a while. Later, the treatment must be administered again.

Botox is expensive, and it comes with possible negative side effects. But that doesn’t stop people from giving it a try so they can look better.

Of course, looking good is not a bad thing, but a more important consideration is how we look on the inside. How much are we willing to sacrifice to have beautiful character?

Are we willing to take some “Botox for the soul”—to inject ourselves with the kind of loving gentleness, merciful patience, caring interest in others, unselfish kindness, and unity of spirit that can beautify our lives? (Eph. 4:2-3). Are we willing to keep coming back to God for help in getting the spiritual character enhancement we need?

Looking for ways to look good? Search the Bible for character-building verses. Then through prayer and the Spirit’s empowering, inject the godly traits of those verses into your life. The side effects are all good.



Think not alone of outward form; Its beauty will depart; But cultivate the Spirit’s fruits That grow within the heart. —D. De Haan

Godly character is the best beauty treatment in the world.
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  #748  
Old 09-05-2010, 01:21 AM
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Default Sep. 5

Always There

September 5, 2010

Read: Psalm 55:16-23

Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. —Psalm 55:17

The radio engineers who work at RBC Ministries were getting ready to broadcast a program via satellite. They had prepared everything, including the satellite link. But just as they were to begin uploading, the signal to the satellite was lost. Confused, the engineers labored to reconnect the link, but nothing worked. Then they got the word—the satellite was gone. Literally. The satellite had suddenly and surprisingly fallen from the sky. It was no longer there.

I suspect that sometimes when we pray, we think something similar has happened to God—that for some reason He isn’t there. But the Bible offers us comfort with the assurance that God hasn’t “fallen from the sky.” He is always available to us. He hears and He cares.

In a time of desperation, David wrote, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice” (Ps. 55:17). No matter when we call on God, He hears the cries of His children. That should encourage our hearts. What was David’s response to having a God who hears prayer? “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you” (v.22). Although God may not answer as we would like or when we would like, we know that at “evening and morning and at noon” He is always there.



God hears us when we call to Him—
His ears take in each voice;
The knowledge that He’s always there
Should cause us to rejoice. —Sper

God is always available to hear the prayer of His child.
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  #749  
Old 09-06-2010, 03:09 AM
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Default Sep. 6

Seeing God’s Hand

September 6, 2010

Read: Ezra 7:1-10,27-28

He came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. —Ezra 7:9

On Jack Borden’s 101st birthday, he awoke at 5 a.m., ate a hearty breakfast, and was at his law office by 6:30 ready to begin his day. When asked the secret of his long life, the practicing attorney smiled and quipped, “Not dying.”

But there’s more to it than that. Mr. Borden, who was baptized at age 11 in the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, told Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram reporter David Casstevens, “I’m a firm believer that God has His hand in everything that happens. He is letting me live for some reason. I try to do the things that I believe He wants me to.”

Ezra the priest experienced the “good hand of his God upon him” when he led a delegation to Jerusalem to provide spiritual leadership for the former captives who were rebuilding the temple and the city (Ezra 7:9-10). Ezra found strength and courage in knowing that the Lord was with them each step of the way. “So I was encouraged, as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me” (v.28).

When we see the Lord’s hand in our lives, it brings forth a deep “Thank You” and a growing desire to do what He wants us to do.



If we would view through eyes of faith
The course of each new day,
We’d quickly see God’s gracious hand
In all that comes our way. —D. De Haan

If you know that God’s hand is in everything,
you can leave everything in God’s hands.
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  #750  
Old 09-07-2010, 03:17 AM
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Default Sep. 7

Follow The Instructions

September 7, 2010

Read: Matthew 7:24-29

Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. —Matthew 7:24

One of my boyhood hobbies was building model planes. Every time I opened a new box, the first thing I saw was the instructions, but I didn’t think I needed to follow them. In my mind I knew exactly how to put the model together. Not until I had glued a few pieces together did I realize I had skipped an important step, like putting the pilot in the ****pit.

It’s easy to think that we have no need for instructions for our lives, only to later realize that we’ve messed things up. Which is exactly why Jesus advised that following His instructions is the way for wise people to build a safe, solid, and significant life (Matt. 7:24-29). He had just told the listening crowd to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to forgive enemies, and to sell treasures so that they could give to the poor (5:39-44). But just getting the instructions isn’t enough. The key is to follow them. “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (7:24).

Those who don’t follow the instructions are, as Jesus put it, “foolish” (v.26). To the world, forgiving your enemies and giving to the poor may seem like a silly way to build a life, but, take it from Jesus, it’s the wise way.



Lord, help me heed Your every word,
Commands that I have read or heard;
As You reveal Your will each day,
Help me to follow and obey. —Fitzhugh

To build a rock-solid life, follow Jesus’ instructions.
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