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  #851  
Old 12-15-2010, 03:08 AM
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Default Dec. 15

A Submission Problem

December 15, 2010

Read: James 4:1-10

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. —James 4:10

During a talk-show interview, a celebrity confessed that she spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours each year on her hair and its styling. She recognized that it had become an addiction and admitted that her problem was “submission to the hair.”

The word submission means “an act of yielding to the authority or control of another.” Because of her desire to look and feel beautiful, this celebrity was allowing her hair to be in control of her life.

This woman’s story could lead us to wonder about our own hearts’ desires and what we’re submitting to. Do we at times want something so badly that we submit to doing anything to get it? Are we submitting to admiration? Possessions? Self? Food? Money? Pleasure?

In his epistle to the Romans, Paul said, “to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves” (6:16). When our desires “war” within us (James 4:1), we are to submit ourselves to God as “slaves of God” (Rom. 6:22).

Humbling ourselves before the Lord (James 4:10) and asking Him to show us our heart will help us to recognize our own submission problems.

Lord, help us to submit to You,
To follow and obey;
And give us strength to fight the urge
To do things our own way. —Sper

True freedom is not in choosing our own way,
but in submitting to God’s way.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #852  
Old 12-16-2010, 02:24 AM
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Default Dec. 16

The Great Miracle

December 16, 2010

Read: Isaiah 6:1-8

He touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” —Isaiah 6:7

Leonard Ravenhill (1907–1994), a British evangelist, once said, “The greatest miracle God can do today is take an unholy man out of an unholy world, make that man holy, then put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” This seems to be what God did to Isaiah when He called him to speak to His people.

Around the time of the death of Uzziah, one of Judah’s more successful kings, Isaiah had a vision of God. The prophet saw Him as the true King of the universe, sitting on a lofty throne. In the vision, Isaiah saw seraphim worshiping God with a hymn that praised His holiness, majesty, and glory.

Isaiah’s vision of God led to a true vision of himself as unholy and broken before God. “Woe is me, for I am undone!” Isaiah said (6:5). This recognition of sin led him to a need for and the reception of God’s cleansing grace (v.7). Newly cleansed, Isaiah was commissioned to spread God’s message (v.9). The Lord sent Isaiah into an unholy world, not only to live a holy life but also to tell an unholy people about a holy God.

The Lord wants to show Himself to us, thus giving us a truer vision of ourselves, a deeper need for His grace, and a greater commitment to live and speak for Him. What a miracle!

Upon my life shed forth Thy grace,
Till others seek Thy loving face;
Oh, may no thing be seen in me
To cause a soul to stray from Thee! —Roberts

Amid the darkness of sin, the light of God’s grace shines brightest.
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  #853  
Old 12-17-2010, 02:41 AM
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Default Dec. 17

God’s Love Through Me

December 17, 2010

Read: 1 Corinthians 13

Love never fails. —1 Corinthians 13:8

During a devotional session at a conference, our leader asked us to read aloud 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and substitute the word “Jesus” for “love.” It seemed so natural to say, “Jesus suffers long and is kind; Jesus does not envy; Jesus does not parade Himself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek His own . . . . Jesus never fails.”

Then our leader said, “Read the passage aloud and say your name instead of Jesus.” We laughed nervously at the suggestion. “I want you to begin now,” the leader said. Quietly, haltingly I said the words that felt so untrue: “David does not seek his own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. David never fails.”

The exercise caused me to ask, “How am I hindering God from expressing His love through me?” Do I think that other expressions of faith are more important? Paul declared that from God’s perspective, eloquent speech, deep spiritual understanding, lavish generosity, and self-sacrifice are worthless when not accompanied by love (vv.1-3).

God longs to express His great heart of love for others through us. Will we allow Him to do it?

To love our neighbors as ourselves
Is not an easy thing to do;
So Lord, please show us how to love
As we attempt to follow You. —Sper

Living like Christ is loving like God.
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  #854  
Old 12-18-2010, 02:49 AM
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Default Dec. 18

Jesus At The Center

December 18, 2010

Read: Zechariah 12:10-14

Then they will look on Me whom they pierced. —Zechariah 12:10

Have you heard of the “Christocentric Principle” of biblical understanding? Simply put, it means that everything we know about God, angels, Satan, human hopes, and the whole universe is best understood when viewed in relationship to Jesus Christ. He is at the center.

Recently, I discovered that one of the less familiar Old Testament books, Zechariah, is one of the most Christocentric. This book is a good example because it speaks of Christ’s humanity (6:12), His humility (9:9), His betrayal (11:12), His deity (12:8), His crucifixion (12:10), His return (14:4), and His future reign (14:8-21).

One especially meaningful passage is Zechariah 12:10, which says, “Then they will look on Me whom they pierced.” The piercing refers to Israel’s historic rejection of Jesus as Messiah— resulting in His crucifixion. But this verse also predicts a future generation of Jews who will accept Him as their Messiah. At the second coming of Jesus, a remnant of Israel will recognize the crucified One and turn to Him in faith.

This marvelous book should encourage us to look for more Christ-centered truths—both in other parts of the Bible and in all of life. Keep Jesus in the middle of everything. Live a Christocentric life.

Some have read God’s holy Book
But failed to see its glory;
That’s because they didn’t know
It’s really Jesus’ story. —Branon

Jesus Christ is the Key that unlocks the Word of God.
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  #855  
Old 12-19-2010, 03:13 AM
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Default Dec. 19

Newgrange

December 19, 2010

Read: Romans 5:12-21

If by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive . . . the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. —Romans 5:17

Newgrange is a 5,000-year-old burial passage tomb in Ireland. Built by the members of a farming community in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, this magnificent structure covers more than an acre of land. It was a place where people went to struggle with the issue of death. It is best known for the beam of sunlight that moves through the chamber for 17 minutes each day from December 19 to 23 during the winter solstice, the shortest days of the year. Some say it serves as a powerful symbol of the victory of life over death.

Ever since death entered the human experience in Genesis 3, it has been life’s one great inevitability, and many people’s chief fear. It need not be so, however. The apostle Paul wrote, “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).

From that moment in the Garden of Eden with the sin of our first parents, sin and death reigned. Yet we need not fear death or its consequences. Because of Christ, we can have confident hope—His victory of life over death has given us eternal life.

Have you received Him?

Thanks be to God for victory,
The grave no terror knows;
Since Christ from death has risen,
He’s conquered all our foes. —Spittal

Christ’s empty tomb guarantees our victory over death.
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  #856  
Old 12-20-2010, 01:21 AM
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Default Dec. 20

Significant Surrender

December 20, 2010

Read: Luke 1:26-38

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. —1 Peter 5:6

Throughout history, Mary the mother of Jesus has been held in high esteem. And rightly so! She was singled out by God to deliver the long-awaited Messiah.

But before we get lost in the significance of her life, let’s take a look at what it meant for her to surrender to the assignment. Living in a small backwater Galilean village where everyone knew everyone else’s business, she would have to live with the perceived shame of her premarital pregnancy. Explaining to her mother the visits of the angel and the Holy Spirit probably didn’t calm things down. To say nothing of the devastating interruption that her pregnancy would bring to her plans to marry Joseph. And while we are thinking about Joseph, what would she tell him? Would he believe her?

In light of these personal ramifications, her response to the angel who told her the news about her role as Jesus’ mother is amazing: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 ESV). Her words remind us that a life of significance is most often preceded by a heart eager to surrender to God’s will regardless of the cost.

What significant experience does God have in store for you? It starts with surrender to Him.

What shall I give You, Master?
You have redeemed my soul;
My gift is small but it is my all—
Surrendered to Your control. —Grimes

Surrender to God precedes His significant work in your life.
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  #857  
Old 12-21-2010, 02:09 AM
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Default Dec. 21

Parallel Universes

December 21, 2010

Read: Luke 2:1-7

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men! —Luke 2:14

Every so often I catch myself wondering about the whole grand scheme of faith. I stand in an airport, for example, watching important-looking people in business suits, briefcases clutched to their sides, as they pause at an espresso bar before scurrying off to another concourse. Do any of them ever think about God? I wonder.

Christians share an odd belief in parallel universes. One universe consists of glass and steel and wool clothes and leather briefcases and the smell of freshly ground coffee. The other consists of angels and spiritual forces and somewhere-out-there places called heaven and hell. We palpably inhabit the material world; it takes faith to consider oneself a citizen of the other, invisible world.

Christmas turns the tables and hints at the struggle involved when the Lord of both worlds descends to live by the rules of the one. In Bethlehem, the two worlds came together, realigned. What Jesus went on to accomplish on planet Earth made it possible for God someday to resolve all disharmonies in both worlds. No wonder a choir of angels broke out in spontaneous song, disturbing not only a few shepherds but the entire universe (Luke 2:13-14).

Once from the realms of infinite glory,
Down to the depths of our ruin and loss,
Jesus came, seeking—O Love’s sweet story—
Came to the manger, the shame, and the cross. —Strickland

The key word of Christmas is “Immanuel”— God with us!
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  #858  
Old 12-22-2010, 02:44 AM
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Default Dec. 22

Eye Level To A Bulldog

December 22, 2010

Read: Isaiah 42:1-7

I, the Lord, have called You . . . to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house. —Isaiah 42:6-7

My son and his wife have a 120- pound American bulldog with a powerful body and fearsome face. Yet until we became friends, “Buddy” wasn’t sure he could trust me. As long as I was on my feet, he’d keep his distance and wouldn’t look me in the eye. Then one day I learned that if I’d get down on the ground, the mood of Buddy’s big-jowled face would change. Sensing I was no longer a threat, he’d playfully come running like a freight train, pounce on me with his big feet, and want me to scratch his muscular neck.

Maybe what Buddy needed from me is a glimmer of what our God gave us by coming down to our level and living among us in the person of Christ. From the day that our first parents sinned and hid from the presence of the Lord, our tendency has been to be afraid of coming to a high and holy God on His terms (John 3:20).

So, as Isaiah predicted, God showed how low He was willing to go to bring us to Himself. By adopting the form of a lowly servant, our Creator lived and died to disarm our wrongs. Even now He is coaxing us from the cover of our spiritual darkness (Isa. 42:7) to call us friends (John 15:15). How can we still be afraid to trust Him?

Lord, thank You that You stepped out of heaven
and came down to this earth, that You clothed Yourself
in human flesh. We’re grateful that we can now draw
near to You, even though we’re sinful. Amen.

The high and holy One became the meek and lowly One.
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  #859  
Old 12-23-2010, 03:23 AM
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Default Dec. 23

Christmas—God’s Cure

December 23, 2010

Read: John 1:10-18

Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. —John 1:17

If your physician called you and in a serious voice said, “Please come in as soon as you can. I have something to discuss with you,” you would know he has bad news! Your first response might be, “No, I don’t want to know.” But you go because it is only when you know the diagnosis that you can learn the cure.

God, our Great Physician, also has some bad news—about man’s spiritual condition. When against His expressed warning Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God told Adam that all mankind would die spiritually and physically. That’s the bad news.

But He also gave the solution. He promised a Savior (Gen. 3:15). The apostle John tells us, “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). But how does that help? Jesus came that first Christmas to bring God’s grace, something that none of us deserve because like Adam we have all sinned. But Jesus also came to reverse what sin brought. He came to be the truth (John 14:6) that would bring us back to God. He came to “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Listen to what the Great Physician has to say in the Bible about your spiritual condition. Then accept the cure He has provided—the gift of salvation through Christ.

Life is uncertain,
Death is sure;
Sin the cause,
Christ the cure. —Anon.

Spiritual blindness can be cured only by the Great Physician.
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  #860  
Old 12-24-2010, 04:38 AM
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Default Dec. 24

Peace On Earth?

December 24, 2010

Read: Luke 2:8-14

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. —John 14:27

I wouldn’t want to pick a fight with a sky full of angels, but I must admit that I’ve always wondered about the promise of peace the angelic host made to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem. For the last 2,000 years, peace on our planet has been at best a rare commodity. Wars continue to ravage innocent lives, domestic violence is a growing calamity, divorce rates soar, churches split, and peace in our restless and wayward hearts seems to be an elusive dream.

Where is the promised peace? Actually, on reflection, we can see that Jesus brought all that is needed for peace in our world. He taught the principles of peace, calling for people to love their neighbors as they love themselves. And as He was leaving this planet, He promised, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). He told us to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, forgive offenses, reject greed, tolerate each other’s weaknesses, live to serve and love one another as He has loved us.

It seems that in large part, peace is up to us. Paul verifies that in Romans 12:18, “As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” This Christmas, let’s make peace our gift to the world in which we live as we reflect the Prince of Peace.

We know at times there will be strife;
On this we must agree—
When conflict drops into our lives,
We’ll solve it peacefully. —Fasick

When we experience peace with God,
we can share His peace with others.
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