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  #901  
Old 02-01-2011, 05:38 AM
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Default Feb. 1

Counterfeits Of The Heart

February 1, 2011

Read: Jeremiah 17:5-11

The heart is deceitful above all things. —Jeremiah 17:9

True stories about deceit and deception can sound stranger than fiction. According to an AP news item, a Georgia woman was arrested after trying to pay for more than $1,500 in purchases with a million-dollar counterfeit bill. When questioned, the embarrassed patron claimed to have been misled, saying that the fake money had been given to her by her ex-husband, who was a coin collector.

The size of the bill makes us question whether anyone could really have been misled into thinking it was real. But maybe that makes it a good illustration of the almost unbelievable problem of self-deception that the prophet warns us about. When Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (17:9 ESV), he expresses a sense of amazement that is beyond our ability to grasp. Here the prophet is not saying that some of us have a problem being honest with ourselves; he is claiming that everyone does.

Thankfully, God searches our hearts and understands what we cannot see (v.10). He gives us every reason to say, “Lord, we need Your help. Please show us whether we are being honest with ourselves and You. If we aren’t, help us to change and rely on You rather than on ourselves.”

Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin and set me free. —Orr

The only way to survive in a world of deception is by trusting the One who will never deceive us.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #902  
Old 02-02-2011, 02:54 AM
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Default Feb. 2

Defragment

February 2, 2011

Read: Psalm 55:1-8

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you. —Psalm 55:22

Every so often, my computer becomes sluggish. Frequent use of certain programs and documents causes pieces of information to become scattered, requiring my computer to search for the pieces before I can use them. To fix it, I need to run a program that retrieves the pieces and groups them together where they are easily accessible. This process is called “defragmentation.”

Like my computer, my life gets fragmented. One situation tugs on my emotions while I’m trying to concentrate on something else. Demands from every direction bombard me. I want to accomplish everything that needs to be done, but my mind won’t stop and my body won’t start. Soon I begin to feel weary and useless.

Recently I attended a retreat where one of the handouts included a prayer with words that expressed how I felt: “Lord, I am scattered, restless, and only half here.”

King David also went through such times (Ps. 55:2). In prayer, David presented his needs to God morning, noon, and evening, confident that he would be heard (v.17).

Prayer can help to defragment our lives. When we cast our cares on the Lord, He will show us what we need to do and what only He can do.

O Lord, we bring our restless hearts
To You in fervent prayer;
Now help us wait expectantly
While resting in Your care. —Sper

We need prayer the most when we have the least time to pray.
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  #903  
Old 02-03-2011, 04:04 AM
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Default Feb. 3

Good Wishes

February 3, 2011

Read: Philippians 1:9-18

This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment. —Philippians 1:9

In Singapore, the Chinese New Year season’s social and business dinners often begin with a dish consisting of salads, dressings, pickles, and raw fish. The name of the dish, Yu Sheng, is a pun that sounds like “year of prosperity.” It is traditional for those present to toss the salad together. As they do, certain phrases are repeated to bring about good fortune.

Our words may express our hopes for others for the year ahead, but they can’t bring about good fortune. The important issue is—what does God want to see in us in the coming year?

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul expressed his desire and prayer that their love “may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment” (1:9). The church had been a great tower of support for him (v.7), yet he urged them to continue to grow to love others. Paul wasn’t talking about intellectual knowledge but knowledge of God. Love for others starts with a closer relationship with Him. With a fuller knowledge of God, we can then discern between right and wrong.

Giving our best wishes to others for the coming year is fine. But our heartfelt prayer should be that we abound in love, so that we may be “filled with the fruits of righteousness . . . , to the glory and praise of God” (v.11).

Teach me Thy patience! still with Thee
In closer, dearer company,
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In trust that triumphs over wrong. —Gladden

People with a heart for God have a heart for people.
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  #904  
Old 02-04-2011, 02:40 AM
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Default Feb. 4

When Royalty Comes To Town

February 4, 2011

Read: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you . . . and you are not your own. —1 Corinthians 6:19

My friend Tim Davis tells the story of being in Trinidad as a little boy when Queen Elizabeth came to visit their town. He recalls going with his missionary parents to join hundreds of others who gathered to greet the queen. Waving his little flag, he watched as the entourage came down the street—first the soldiers, then the mounted guard, and then the limousine from which she waved to the cheering crowd. He looked on as the queen drove out of town, leaving everyone to return to life as usual. In Tim’s words, “Royalty came to town and nothing changed!”

For those of us who have accepted Jesus as Savior, there was a day when royalty arrived—in our heart. As Paul put it, our body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19)—a reality that has huge ramifications. His residence in our life is intended to transform us to live in a way that brings glory to Him. Our relationships, the way we serve our employer, how we use our money, how we treat our enemies, and everything else in our lives should reflect the wonderful reality that royalty lives within.

Has anything changed since King Jesus came into your heart? Does your world notice or do they think He was just passing through?

By this shall every person know
That we serve God above:
His Spirit dwells within our hearts
And fills us with His love. —D. De Haan

If Jesus has taken up residence in us,
the world should notice a lasting change.
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  #905  
Old 02-05-2011, 03:37 AM
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Default Feb. 5

Fault Line

February 5, 2011


Read: Matthew 7:24-27

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

In 1931, the city of Hayward, California, built its first permanent city hall building. Costing $100,000 at the time, the structure with its square Corinthian columns and Roman arch entry was considered a marvel. There was only one problem—it was built on the Hayward Fault and is gradually splitting in two. In 1989, an earthquake forced its closure, and it is now off limits to occupants.

Building on an unstable foundation is not wise. This is also true of our spiritual lives. Jesus taught His disciples this truth with an illustration: “Everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matt. 7:26-27).

The shifting morals of our present world can be confusing. We may be tempted to let culture or the opinions of society be the foundation for the decisions we make. But obeying the unwavering truth of God’s Word brings stability unavailable anywhere else. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (v.24).

The Bible stands though the hills may tumble,
It will firmly stand when the earth shall crumble;
I will plant my feet on its firm foundation,
For the Bible stands. —Lillenas

Build your life on the solid foundation—Jesus Christ.
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-Colossians 3:23

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Last edited by HardCory; 02-05-2011 at 04:14 PM.
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  #906  
Old 02-05-2011, 01:44 PM
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HardCory,

You accidently repeated Feb. 4th's on Feb 5th.

Thanks so much for providing this service to ABC.

FYI, Troy
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  #907  
Old 02-06-2011, 06:35 AM
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Default Feb. 6

Overcoming Bias

February 6, 2011

Read: Colossians 3:8-17

There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, . . . slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. —Colossians 3:11

A Washington Post article reported that recent studies into the nature of prejudice found that almost everyone harbors biases, and these attitudes affect even those who actively resist them. A University of Kentucky psychologist says that much of our self-esteem comes from feeling better about ourselves than about others because of the group we belong to. Prejudice is not easy to overcome, even within the family of God.

Paul’s words to the believers at Colosse instruct us today, saying that our speech and behavior toward fellow Christians should reflect our oneness in Christ. “[You] have put on the new man,” Paul said, “where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:10-11). Instead of superiority and favoritism, we should demonstrate compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience toward each other (v.12). And above all, we are to “put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (v.14).

In the body of Christ, no race, nationality, or class is better than another. Through the cross, Christ has made us one, and we are to treat each other with honesty, dignity, and love.

It matters not what race or gender,
Rich or poor, or great or small,
The God who made us is not partial—
He sent Christ to die for all. —D. De Haan

Prejudice distorts what it sees, deceives when it talks,
and destroys when it acts.
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  #908  
Old 02-07-2011, 01:30 AM
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Default Feb. 7

The Armies Of God

February 7, 2011

Read: 2 Kings 6:8-17

He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. —Psalm 91:11

When our granddaughter Julia was very small, we took her on a driving trip over an Idaho mountain road. Afterward, she and her Nana were having a conversation about the “adventure.” “I don’t worry because I think Papa has a guardian angel,” Nana said. “I think he must have a team of guardian angels!” Julia replied.

The mission of angels is to protect and serve the children of God (Heb. 1:13-14). The psalmist said, “The chariots of God are . . . thousands of thousands; the Lord is among them” (Ps. 68:17). God is the “Lord of hosts,” which means “armies.” The angels are the Lord’s army.

In 2 Kings we read about Elisha and his servant who were surrounded by the Syrian army. Elisha’s servant cried out, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” Elisha replied, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw that “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around” (6:15-17). The Lord’s army was at hand!

Even though we cannot see them with our natural eyes, we can rest in the confidence that the Lord of Hosts is constantly watching over us and He has an invisible army at His bidding to send where He pleases.

What ready help the Father gives
To struggling saints below!
He sends His heavenly ministers
To thwart our ancient foe. —D. De Haan

The angels of God protect the people of God
as they do the work of God.
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  #909  
Old 02-08-2011, 03:34 AM
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Default Feb. 8

Space Scouts

February 8, 2011

Read: Ephesians 6:1-4

You, fathers, . . . bring [your children] up in the training and admonition of the Lord. —Ephesians 6:4

Many of the first astronauts were once Boy Scouts. The scouts were good at capturing the imagination of young boys and instilling discipline to reach their goals—even if it meant reaching for the stars.

On July 20, 1969, the Boy Scouts were busy celebrating at a conference. During the gathering, the scouts were delighted to hear from former Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong, who sent them greetings from space. One of their own had grown up to realize a wonderful dream!

In some ways, the Christian home can be like a loving, spiritual scout camp. The Bible encourages parents to provide a positive growth environment for children in the home. Parents are exhorted to “bring [children] up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). “To bring up” refers to nourishing children by providing resources for their physical, mental, and spiritual needs. “Training” includes concern about all aspects of a child’s development. And “admonition” speaks of providing direction by well-chosen words uniquely suited to each child.

Let’s strive to make our home a place where loving discipline enables the children in our charge to reach their potential for God’s glory.

They are buds of hope and promise,
Possessed by Him whose name is Love;
Lent us here to train and nourish
For a better life above. —Crosby

What you put into your children’s hearts today influences their character for tomorrow.
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  #910  
Old 02-09-2011, 03:14 AM
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Default Feb. 9

Of Weeping And Rejoicing

February 9, 2011

Read: Romans 12:9-16

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. —Romans 12:15

Golda Meir knew both struggle and success during her life. As prime minister of Israel, she experienced many episodes of conflict and loss, as well as the periodic joy of successes and victory in the life of the fledgling State of Israel. She said of joy and sorrow, “Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart, don’t know how to laugh either.”

The apostle Paul called us to a life of both weeping and rejoicing—but with a twist. In Romans 12:15, the apostle challenged us to look outside our own experiences to the needs of others. He said, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

If we rejoice only in our own victories, we miss the wonder of celebrating the power of the Lord, who desires to accomplish His purposes in and through others as well. If we mourn only our own losses, we lose the opportunity to “be there” for those who are hurting by showing them compassion.

Life is filled with the extremes of joy and sorrow, victory and defeat. But we have been given the privilege of entering into those moments in people’s lives to see the grace of God at work. Don’t miss it!

Lord, give me sensitivity
To people in their grief and pain,
To weep with them and show Your love
In ways mere words cannot attain. —Sper

Looking to the needs of others honors Christ.
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-Colossians 3:23

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