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  #811  
Old 11-04-2010, 09:57 PM
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Default Nov. 5

A Lasting Imprint

November 5, 2010

Read: Matthew 5:13-20

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


Caerleon is a Welsh village with deep historical roots. It was one of three sites in the United Kingdom where Roman legions were posted during Rome’s occupation of Britain. While the military presence ended some 1,500 years ago, the imprint of that occupation can still be seen today. People come from all over the world to visit the military fort, the barracks, and the amphitheatre that are reminders of the days when Rome ruled the world and occupied Wales.

It amazes me that 15 centuries later, the evidence of Rome’s presence can still so clearly be seen in that small community.

I wonder, though, about another kind of imprint—the imprint of Christ on our lives. Do we allow His presence to be clearly seen by others? Is it possible for people who interact with us to know that Jesus occupies our lives?

Jesus calls us to make known His presence in our lives to the glory of God the Father. He says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Through the light of our testimony and the impact of our deeds of service, people should be able to see evidence of the presence of God in our lives. Is it true? Can they see His imprint?

The Christ of God to glorify,
His grace in us to magnify;
His Word of life to all make known—
Be this our work, and this alone. —Whittle

Let your testimony be written in large enough letters so the world can always read it.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #812  
Old 11-06-2010, 01:34 AM
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Default Nov. 6

Do It Now!

November 6, 2010

Read: Hebrews 3:7-15

Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. —Hebrews 3:13

Several years ago a friend took me to a motivational seminar that I thoroughly enjoyed. Instead of focusing on money and success, the leaders guided us toward understanding our unique identity and purpose in life. Then they passed along some helpful methods for effective living. One motto has stayed with me: “Do it now!” The principle they taught us was that it takes as much energy to avoid a task as it does to do it. Procrastination saps power; completion gives relief.

A spiritual application can be seen in Hebrews 3, a passage filled with an air of immediacy as it calls us to obey the Lord. “‘Today,’ if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, . . . but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (vv.7-8,13). We don’t know how long it would have taken the children of Israel to reach the Promised Land if they had obeyed God, but their 40-year journey resulted from their unwilling hearts. An entire generation missed the adventure of a lifetime (vv.8-11).

When we know how the Lord wants us to live, why don’t we just say “Yes!” No debate, no delay. Do it now!

It’s easy to procrastinate
And leave good deeds undone,
But such a course will bring regrets
When life’s short race is run. —Anon.

Do it now! Today will be yesterday tomorrow.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #813  
Old 11-07-2010, 02:20 AM
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Default Nov. 7

God’s Presence At Church

November 7, 2010

Read: Colossians 1:9-14

Walk worthy of the Lord. —Colossians 1:10


I love reading church slogans. You know, the ones you see on the marquee in front of churches. Recently I noticed a slogan that said, “Come in and experience the presence of God.” That one caught my attention, primarily because it’s an important promise to make and sometimes a hard promise to keep. Hard, because if we’re not careful our churches might reflect the presence of its people more than the presence of our God.

So what would a church have to do to display the presence of God? Its people would have to live like Him! Dynamics like hospitality, the loving acceptance of all kinds of people, a quickness to serve, a tangible love for one another that makes people feel safe and included regardless of color or class, and a patient tolerance of one another’s weaknesses would all be a great way to start. Paul said we should walk in a manner “worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:10). And he also said that being worthy means that we will be humble, gentle, bearing with one another in love, eagerly maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:2-3).

Let’s live in such a way that others will experience the presence of the God who lives in us—wherever we are, but especially at church.

The world gets a glimpse of God
When those who claim to be
The followers of Jesus Christ
Are living righteously. —Sper

Those who walk with Christ
bring the presence of God to everyone around them.
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  #814  
Old 11-08-2010, 12:56 AM
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Default Nov. 8

Aim High

November 8, 2010

Read: Hebrews 5:12–6:3

Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. —2 Corinthians 13:11

When my daughter and her family were in town for a visit, I had a chance to take my son and two sons-in-law out for a “guy” outing.

We decided that while the ladies were shopping, we would go to a firing range and practice shooting. We rented two pistols and took aim at our targets. While shooting, all four of us discovered that on one of the firearms the sight was set too low. If we aimed using that sight, we hit the bottom of the target. We had to aim high in order to hit anywhere near the bull’s-eye.

Isn’t life a lot like that? If we set our sights too low, we really don’t accomplish all that we can. Sometimes we have to aim high in order to reach a desired goal.

What should be our aim in life? How high should we point our ambitions? Well, since Scripture is our true guide, we will shoot for nothing but spiritual maturity. In fact, in Paul’s farewell to the people of Corinth, he said, “Aim for perfection” (2 Cor. 13:11 NIV). And we also have the high aim of these words from the lips of Jesus, “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

Perfection is a lofty target, and we won’t attain it in this life. But if we want to honor God and get close to that high goal, we need to aim high.

O to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. —Chisholm

Conversion is the miracle of a moment; maturing takes a lifetime.
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  #815  
Old 11-09-2010, 01:05 AM
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Default Non. 9

A Special Virtue

November 9, 2010

Read: 1 Cor. 9:24-27

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. —Galatians 5:22-23

In her book Food in Medieval Times, author Melitta Adamson writes of European culinary delights in the Middle Ages. Wild game, pastries, puddings, and other exotic foods illustrate the creative joy taken in food preparation. But with all these wonderful entrées there was a problem—overeating. This tendency was compounded by the Christian calendar, which abounded with fasts and feasts. Abstaining from meals was often followed by gluttony.

To address this problem, theologian Thomas Aquinas uplifted the Christian character quality of temperance, calling it “a special virtue.” He saw how self-restraint should extend to all areas of life.

For the believer, temperance, or moderation, does not derive from sheer human willpower. Instead, it comes from the Holy Spirit who gives us self-control: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Self-control is the Spirit-produced quality that enables us to be “temperate in all things” (1 Cor. 9:25).

Overindulgence in food, rest, work, recreation, ministry, and a variety of “good things” can be corrected only through the balance of self-control. Take a few minutes to ask God to produce that special virtue in you.

If gaining the fruit of self-control
Is something you’re trying to do;
Submit your will in everything
To the Spirit living in you. —Kieda

To gain self-control, give the Spirit control.
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  #816  
Old 11-09-2010, 10:59 PM
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Default Nov. 10

Where Do I Start?

November 10, 2010

Read: Luke 11:1-10

In my distress I cried to the Lord, and He heard me. —Psalm 120:1

Several years ago, I was driving down the freeway when my car died. I pulled over to the side of the road, got out of the car, and opened the hood. As I looked at the engine I thought, A lot of good this does me. I know nothing about cars. I don’t even know where to start!

That’s how we might sometimes feel about prayer: Where do I start? That’s what the disciples wanted to know when they asked Jesus, “Teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). The best place to look for instruction is in the example and teaching of Jesus. Two questions you may have are:

Where should we pray? Jesus prayed in the temple, in the wilderness (Luke 4), in quiet places (Matt. 14:22-23), in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22), and on the cross (Luke 23:34,46). He prayed alone and with others. Look at His life, follow His example, and pray wherever you are.

What should we pray? In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to ask that God’s name be honored and that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Ask Him for your daily provisions, for forgiveness of sin, and for deliverance from temptation and evil (Luke 11:2-4).

So if you’re looking for a good place to start, follow the example of the Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord has shown us we can pray
Wherever we may be;
And when we say, “Your will be done,”
His work on earth we’ll see. —Sper

If Jesus needed to pray, how can we do less?
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  #817  
Old 11-10-2010, 11:39 PM
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Default Nov. 11

Selfless Love

November 11, 2010

Read: Philippians 2:20-30

For the work of Christ [Epaphroditus] came close to death, not regarding his life. —Philippians 2:30

On December 4, 2007, a 19-year- old soldier serving in Iraq saw a grenade being thrown from a rooftop. Manning the machine gun in the turret of his Humvee, he tried to deflect the explosive—but it fell inside his vehicle. He had time to jump to safety. Instead, he threw his body over the grenade in a stunningly selfless act that saved the lives of four fellow soldiers.

This almost unexplainable act of self-sacrifice may help us understand why the Bible tells us that there is a kind of love that is more honorable than having great knowledge or faith (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

This kind of love can be hard to find—leading the apostle Paul to lament that more people care for themselves than for the interests of Christ (Phil. 2:20-21). That’s why he was so grateful for Epaphroditus, a co-worker who “came close to death, not regarding his life” in order to serve others (v.30).

If we think we could never put our own life on the line for others, Epaphroditus shows us the first step with his selfless example. Such love is neither normal nor common, and it doesn’t come from us. It comes from the Spirit of God, who can give us the desire and ability to feel for others some of the inexpressible affection God has for us.

To give up yourself for others
Seems like such a tough thing to do;
But that’s how you can know for sure
That God’s love is working through you. —Branon

You can measure your love for God
by showing your love for others.
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  #818  
Old 11-12-2010, 02:13 AM
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Default Nov. 12

More Than Loaves

November 12, 2010

Read: John 6:25-36

You seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. —John 6:26

Seventeenth-century Quaker leader Isaac Pennington said, “The Lord has been teaching me to live upon Himself—not from anything received from Him, but upon the life itself.” The people in John 6 wanted to live off Jesus, but not for the same reason. It was not because their hearts were loyal to Him, but because their hearts were loyal to what they thought He could provide for them—namely, food and deliverance from Roman oppression.

Jesus’ provision of the loaves and fish was a confirmation in their minds of what He could do for them. Jesus knew that behind their interest in Him was their hope that He would become a different kind of king, so He withdrew from them (John 6:14-15). The next day they looked for Him and found Him, making their quest successful (vv.22,25-26). So they continued to follow Him because of what they thought He could provide. But Jesus turned the tables and identified Himself as the Bread of Life (vv.32-33). They wanted a better life from Him, but He told them He came to offer them eternal life (v.40). Only those who believe in Jesus can find true fulfillment—now and forever.

Follow Jesus, not just because He can provide “the loaves,” but because He can satisfy your deepest hunger—the quest for eternal fellowship with Him.

I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him. —Bonar

You can experience complete fulfillment
if your life is filled with Christ.
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  #819  
Old 11-13-2010, 03:02 AM
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Default Nov. 13

Significant

November 13, 2010

Read: Psalm 139:1-16

My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret. —Psalm 139:15


An old TV sitcom featured an estab- lishment that the patrons seemed to frequent on a daily basis. The concept was that it was a welcoming place where “everybody knows your name.”

We all want to be accepted, to fit in somewhere. But some people live on the margins of life where it can be difficult to feel they have any value or significance, or that they matter to anyone. Children sometimes experience this: Too tall—when other kids haven’t had a growth spurt yet. Too fat—when the other kids are thinner. Too smart—when their classmates are struggling. Or “not smart enough” in comparison with others. Being different as a child can result in being mocked or bullied. But an adult who doesn’t fit into the mold may just be ignored—so insignificant that he or she feels invisible.

But what a great significance we have in God’s eyes! We were so valued that He sent His Son to pay the price for our sins and to allow us to have a relationship with Him. We were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), and He has designed us and been involved in every detail of our life since before we were born (Ps. 139:1-16). Whether or not we always feel significant, we are deeply loved by our Father.

Of all creation’s treasures rare,
Not one compares in worth with man,
In God’s own image we were made
To fill a place in His great plan. —D. De Haan

The God who created the universe is the God who loves you.
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  #820  
Old 11-14-2010, 02:00 AM
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Default Nov. 14

No Laughing Matter

November 14, 2010

Read: Philippians 1:12-20

All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. —2 Timothy 3:12

As my wife and I were walking through a shopping mall, we came to a T-shirt stand. While browsing the shirts and their often humorous sayings, I noticed one with a disturbing message. It read, “So Many Christians, So Few Lions.” That shirt, with its reference to the first-century practice of throwing Christians to the lions in the Coliseum in Rome, wasn’t at all funny.

Persecution is no laughing matter. Not long before those brave Christians faced death in Rome’s cruel sport, Paul wrote, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). Persecution is inevitable, and it should be a matter of serious concern for all believers. In fact, at this very moment fellow brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are suffering in Jesus’ name.

What can we do about it? First, we can pray that God will comfort them in their suffering. Second, we can aid families left without support when loved ones are imprisoned. Third, we can pray now for courage should we face persecution. When the apostle Paul was put in jail for his faith, his courage led others to be bolder in their witness (Phil. 1:14).

Want to encourage the persecuted church? Pray. Then proclaim the message for which believers suffer.

The church of Christ can’t be destroyed,
Though many enemies have tried;
Whenever persecution comes,
The church is spread and multiplied. —Sper

We find courage to stand when we kneel before the Lord.
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