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  #911  
Old 02-10-2011, 02:22 AM
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Default Feb. 10

Standing Ovation

February 10, 2011

Read: Acts 6:8-15; 7:54-60

Look! I see . . . the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God! —Acts 7:56

Susan Boyle spent most of her adult life living with her cat Pebbles, caring for her aging mother, and singing in church. She certainly didn’t look like a musical superstar. That’s probably why the audience laughed at this unassuming middle-aged woman before she performed in a talent show. Undeterred, Susan faced the unfriendly crowd, sang beautifully, and went on to receive a standing ovation.

Stephen was confronted by a hostile crowd in the days of the early church (Acts 6–7). A panel of religious authorities listened to lying witnesses accuse him of blasphemy (Acts 6:13). Stephen responded by speaking the truth of God’s Word, which reinforced his faith in Christ. At the end of his speech, he said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (7:56). Then the crowd stoned him (v.58). Jesus, who was watching from heaven, welcomed Stephen home.

Most Christians aren’t confronted with this much hostility. Yet we all need to “stand fast in the Lord” when the pressure is on (Phil. 4:1). We can’t let others silence our voice for Christ. Speaking up for Jesus does not always win the crowd’s favor here on earth, but it does ensure His approval in heaven, where it matters the most.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle—the next the victor’s song.
To him that overcometh a crown of life shall be:
He with the King of glory shall reign eternally. —Duffield

If you meet opposition, maybe it shows that you are doing something that counts.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #912  
Old 02-11-2011, 02:59 AM
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Default Feb. 11

Will I Have To Tell?

February 11, 2011

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:12-21

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. —2 Corinthians 5:17

Jim was sharing the gospel with Kerri. He told her she was separated from a holy God because of her sin, and that Jesus had died and risen for her salvation. She kept coming up with one reason not to believe: “But if I do receive Him, I won’t have to tell other people about it, will I? I don’t want to do that.” She said that didn’t fit her personality; she didn’t want to have to tell others about Jesus.

Jim explained that promising to witness about Jesus wasn’t a requirement before receiving Him. But he also said that once she came to know the Lord, Kerri would become His ambassador to the world (2 Cor. 5:20).

After talking a little longer, Kerri acknowledged her need for salvation through Christ. She went home excited and at peace. Funny thing happened—within 24 hours she told three people about what God had done in her life.

Because we have been reconciled to God through Jesus, we now have “the ministry of reconciliation,” according to the apostle Paul (v.18). We are His ambassadors, and therefore we implore people “on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (v.20).

When we’re thankful, we want to share what God has done.

I love to tell the story,
For some have never heard
The message of salvation
From God’s own holy Word. —Hankey

There’s no better news than the gospel— spread the word!
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  #913  
Old 02-12-2011, 01:12 AM
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Default Feb. 12

Volcanic Activity

February 12, 2011

Read: Ephesians 4:29-32

An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression. —Proverbs 29:22

It erupts. It melts everything in its path. Its blast is as powerful as a nuclear explosion!

Well, maybe not—but a temper can feel as intense as a volcano when it is aimed directly at another person in a family. The moment may be quickly over, but it can leave emotional devastation and bitter feelings behind.

It’s sad that the people we love the most are often the target of our hurtful words. But even when we feel we’ve been provoked, we have a choice. Will we respond in anger or in kindness?

The Bible tells us to rid ourselves of bitterness and anger, and to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

If you are struggling with chronic anger that is hurting your relationships, surrender this vulnerable part of your emotions to Christ’s strength (Phil. 4:13). Ask God to forgive you for an uncontrolled temper and to show you how to moderate your emotions and to teach you how to honor others above yourself (Rom. 12:10). Seek out help from others to learn how to deal with your strong emotions in appropriate ways.

As we earnestly seek to love others and to please God, we can win the victory over a volcanic temper.

Spirit of God, please change my heart,
And give me a new desire;
I want to be a man of peace,
Not controlled by anger’s fire. —K. De Haan

Losing your temper is no way to get rid of it.
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  #914  
Old 02-13-2011, 04:06 AM
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Default Feb. 13

Exalt Him

February 13, 2011

Read: Psalm 46

. . . I am God; I will be exalted. —Psalm 46:10

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations” (Ps. 46:10). These words from a song sung long ago at the temple in Jerusalem remind us of one of our main tasks—worshiping our awesome God.

One way to do that is to meditate on His many attributes. Exalt God, for He is faithful, eternal, all-knowing, just, unchangeable, gracious, holy, merciful, longsuffering, impartial, and infinite. Our God is perfect.

Exalt God also by realizing that He is all-powerful, almighty, personal, righteous, unsearchable, wise, triune, accessible, self-existent, glorious, and compassionate.

Another way to worship God is to contemplate His names. Exalt God, for He is Creator. He is Love. He is Redeemer. He is Shepherd. He is Savior, Lord, and Father. He is Judge. He is Comforter. He is Teacher. He is I AM. Our God is the Mighty One.

Dwell on His identity. God is our shield. Our stronghold. Our light. Our strength. Our sustainer. Our rescuer. Our fortress.

Meditate on God’s attributes. Contemplate His names. Dwell on His identity. Adore Him. Respect Him. Honor Him. Love Him. Exalt Him. Use the rest of your life getting ready to worship our awesome God forever.

O worship the King,
All glorious above,
And gratefully sing
His power and His love. —Grant

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. —Psalm 150:6
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  #915  
Old 02-14-2011, 03:45 AM
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Default Feb. 14

Friending

February 14, 2011

Read: John 15:9-17

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. —John 15:14

The social networking Web site Facebook.com was launched in 2004 as a way for college students to connect with each other online. It is now open to people of all ages, and currently there are an estimated 500 million users. Each user has an individual page with photos and personal details that can be viewed by “friends.” To “friend” a person means opening the door to communication and information about who you are, where you go, and what you do. Facebook friendships may be casual or committed, but each one is “by invitation only.”

Just before Jesus was crucified, He told His disciples: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:14-15).

Unselfishness, oneness of purpose, and confident trust are the hallmarks of true friendship, especially in our relationship with the Lord. Christ has taken the initiative by giving His life for us and inviting us to know and follow Him.

Have we responded to the Lord Jesus’ invitation of friendship by opening our hearts to Him with nothing held back?

Friendship with Jesus,
Fellowship divine;
O what blessed, sweet communion—
Jesus is a Friend of mine. —Ludgate
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  #916  
Old 02-15-2011, 04:21 AM
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Default Feb. 15

Heat And Holiness

February 15, 2011

Read: Isaiah 43:1-13

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. —Isaiah 43:2

Why is it taking my hair so long to get dry? I wondered. As usual, I was in a hurry, and I didn’t want to go outside into the wintry weather with wet hair. Then I realized the problem. I had changed the setting on the hairdryer to “warm” instead of “hot” to accommodate my niece’s preferences.

I often wish I could control the conditions of life as easily as I can change the setting on my hairdryer. I would choose a comfortable setting—not too hot, not too cold. I certainly wouldn’t choose the heat of adversity or the fire of affliction. But in the spiritual realm, warm doesn’t get the job done. We are called to holiness, and holiness often involves “heat.” To be holy means to be set apart for God—separated from anything unclean or impure. To refine and purify us, God sometimes uses the furnace of affliction. The prophet Isaiah said, “When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned” (Isa. 43:2); he didn’t say if. And the apostle Peter said that we should not be surprised by trials (1 Peter 4:12).

None of us knows when we’ll be called to walk through the fire or how hot the furnace will be. But we do know this: God’s purpose for the flames is to purify us, not to destroy us.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine. —Keen

The only way God hurries holiness is by turning up the heat.
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  #917  
Old 02-16-2011, 03:58 AM
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Default Feb. 16

Buried Treasure

February 16, 2011

Read: Leviticus 19:9-15

Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. —Psalm 119:18

Growing up in rural Missouri where American outlaw Jesse James (1847–1882) had lived, my friends and I were convinced he had buried treasure nearby. We wandered the woods in dreamy hopes of digging up a saddlebag or other treasure. Often we’d run into an elderly man chopping firewood with a giant axe. For years, we watched this mysterious “axe man” trudge the highways in search of soda cans, his own kind of treasure. Redeeming the cans for cash, he’d retire to his run-down, roofless, unpainted shack with a bottle in a brown paper bag. After his death, his family found bundles of money stored in his ramshackle home.

Like the axe man who ignored his treasure, we Christians sometimes ignore parts of Scripture. We forget that all of Scripture is ours to use; that each passage has a reason for its inclusion in the canon. Who knew Leviticus held so much buried treasure? In an efficient seven verses in chapter 19, God teaches us how to provide for the poor and disabled without stripping them of their dignity (vv.9-10,14), how to run our businesses ethically (vv.11,13,15), and how to embed respect for Him into our daily life (v.12).

If a few verses can contain so much treasure, think of all that can be ours if we dig into our Bibles every day.

For Further Study
Mine the treasure in Leviticus 19, and then search
for more treasure in other parts of Leviticus to put into
practice in your Christian walk.

Every word in the Bible was placed with a purpose; any part you’ve not read is your buried treasure.
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  #918  
Old 02-17-2011, 02:26 AM
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Default Feb. 17

Change

February 17, 2011

Read: Matthew 3:1-12

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! . . . Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance. —Matthew 3:2,8

Medical studies have shown that even though people who have had heart-bypass surgery are told that they must change their lifestyle or die, about 90 percent do not change. Typically, 2 years after surgery the patients haven’t altered their lifestyle. It seems that most would rather die than change.

Just as doctors preach a physical message of change to prevent death, John the Baptist came preaching a spiritual message of change. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2). He was preparing the way for the ultimate manifestation of God’s reign—the Messiah, Jesus.

Repentance means to change one’s mind and attitude about God, which ultimately changes a person’s actions and decisions. Those who repent and accept Christ’s provision of forgiveness from their sins through His death on the cross will escape spiritual death (John 3:16). Repentance involves confessing sin with godly sorrow, and then forsaking sin. John the Baptist was calling people to turn from one way of living to ways that honor God.

Today, the Lord is still calling us to repent and then to respond with the “fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:8).

Repentance is to leave the sin
That we had loved before,
And showing we are grieved by it
By doing it no more. —Anon.

Repentance means hating sin enough to turn from it.
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  #919  
Old 02-18-2011, 01:48 AM
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Default Feb. 18

Dreams Or Choices?

February 18, 2011

Read: Philippians 1:1-11

Approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense. —Philippians 1:10

I’ve received a lot of good advice in my life. Near the top of the list is this wise observation from a friend: “Life is not made by the dreams that you dream but by the choices that you make.”

He’s right—your life today is the sum total of all the choices you’ve made up to this point. The apostle Paul gave similar advice in Philippians 1:10, when he said to “approve the things that are excellent” (1:10). In any given situation, we have a whole continuum of choices—ranging from really rotten choices, to the mediocrity of average choices, to choices that are good, and then to those that are excellent. God wants to move us across the continuum, past our natural impulses, all the way to excellent choices.

Often it’s challenging to make the most excellent choice, especially if there aren’t many others joining us. Sometimes it may feel as if our desires and freedoms have been suppressed. But if you follow Paul’s advice, you’ll notice some really positive outcomes—like being pure and blameless and fruitful (v.11).

Make the choice to live a life filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Then revel in the result!

The little choices we must make
Will chart the course of life we take;
We either choose the path of light,
Or wander off in darkest night. —D. De Haan

Make an excellent choice and watch the ripple effect of blessing.
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  #920  
Old 02-19-2011, 05:17 AM
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Default Feb. 19

Emergency Room Fellowship

February 19, 2011

Read: Galatians 6:1-10

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. —Galatians 6:2

Not long ago, my wife, Janet, and I accepted an invitation to dine with a Christian woman who attends our Sunday school class. In her zeal to prepare a meal for us, she cut her index finger deeply. As we drove her to the emergency room, we prayed for her, and then we kept her company in the waiting room. Several hours later, our friend finally saw the doctor.

After we returned to her home, our hostess insisted we stay for the meal she had prepared. What followed was a great time of lively conversation and spiritual fellowship. While we ate, she shared with us some of the heartaches she had suffered, and how through the ups and downs she had found God’s wonderful grace invading her life.

Later, my wife and I reflected on the unexpected trip to the hospital and the shared fellowship that had resulted. This verse came to mind: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). By providing support for our injured hostess, she was blessed. Then afterward, she became a blessing to us through her hospitality and a delicious meal.

In retrospect, painful experiences can be a marvelous gateway to rich fellowship as we “bear one another’s burdens.”

Beautiful lives are those that bear
For other lives their burden of care;
Beautiful souls are those that show
The Spirit of Christ wherever they go. —Abbott

A helping hand can lighten another’s burden.
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