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  #941  
Old 03-10-2011, 04:45 AM
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Default Mar. 10

Five-Minute Rule

March 10, 2011

Read: Psalm 102:1-17

He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer. —Psalm 102:17

I read about a 5-minute rule that a mother had for her children. They had to be ready for school and gather together 5 minutes before it was time to leave each day.

They would gather around Mom, and she would pray for each one by name, asking for the Lord’s blessing on their day. Then she’d give them a kiss and off they’d run. Even neighborhood kids would be included in the prayer circle if they happened to stop by. One of the children said many years later that she learned from this experience how crucial prayer is to her day.

The writer of Psalm 102 knew the importance of prayer. This psalm is labeled, “A prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord.” He cried out, “Hear my prayer, O Lord . . . ; in the day that I call, answer me speedily” (vv.1-2). God looks down “from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven [He views] the earth” (v.19).

God cares for you and wants to hear from you. Whether you follow the 5-minute rule asking for blessings on the day, or need to spend more time crying out to Him in deep distress, talk to the Lord each day. Your example may have a big impact on your family or someone close to you.

The issue isn’t how much time
We spend with God in prayer,
But seeking Him throughout each day
And knowing that He’s there. —Sper

Prayer is an acknowledgment of our need for God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #942  
Old 03-11-2011, 01:37 AM
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Default Mar. 11

The Overflow

March 11, 2011

Read: Psalm 103:1-10

Forget not all His benefits. —Psalm 103:2

Joyful shouts filtered into our house from outside and I wanted to know what was so wonderful out there. I peeked through the curtains and watched two young boys splashing in a thick stream of water that gushed from a fire hydrant.

The overflow reminded me of how God pours out blessings on His children, and how important it is to recognize that “the Lord . . . daily loads us with benefits” (Ps. 68:19).

Although I know He has furnished countless good things for me, when the car blows a gasket, when the flu infects my family, and when relationships threaten to unravel, dissatisfaction threatens my view of God’s blessings—they seem more like infrequent drips from a faucet rather than a flood of water from a hydrant!

Maybe that’s why in Psalm 103 David reminds us to “forget not all His benefits” (v.2). And then, to help us, he lists a torrent of blessings for believers. He reminds us that God forgives all our iniquities, heals all our diseases, redeems our lives from destruction, crowns us with lovingkindness, and satisfies our mouths with good things (vv.3-5).

Today, let’s take time to acknowledge God’s abundance instead of overlooking the overflow of His blessings.

We’re loaded with benefits daily,
Sent down from the Father above;
His mercies and blessings abounding
Are gifts of His marvelous love. —Anon.

Adding up your blessings will multiply your joy.
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  #943  
Old 03-12-2011, 04:38 AM
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Default Mar. 12

March 12, 2011 — by David C. McCasland

Read: Matthew 5:1-12

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. —Matthew 5:8

The Gran Telescopio Canarias, one of the world’s most powerful telescopes, sits atop an extinct volcano on La Palma, Canary Islands. Inaugurated in July 2009 by King Carlos of Spain, it offers astronomers an unusually clear view of the heavens. Located at 7,870 feet, the telescope is above the cloud cover, where the prevailing winds are dry and turbulence-free. Here, near the equator, scientists can study all of the Northern Celestial Hemisphere and part of the Southern.
Jesus chose a mountainside to teach His followers about the characteristics of a life yielded to God. There He taught them that attitude, not altitude, was the key to having a clear view of the Father.
Tucked into the passage known as the Beatitudes, Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). This is not just for the few who try to achieve it, but for all who will humbly receive it. To have a heart that is clean in God’s eyes, we need to accept the Father’s pardon through Christ His Son. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse [purify] us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
A mountaintop is a great place to see the stars, but to clearly see God requires a change of heart.

Since by faith I have clear vision,
Your blest Word is rich and new;
Men with eyes by sin distorted
Cannot all its treasures view. —Bosch
To get a clear view of God, focus on Jesus Christ.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #944  
Old 03-13-2011, 04:39 AM
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Default Mar. 13

Chocolate-Fueled Car

March 13, 2011

Read: 1 Kings 19:1-8

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. —Psalm 19:7

Many people like both the sweetness and the energy they get from chocolate. Yet British auto technicians have found a surprising use for this sweet food. Scientists at the University of Warwick have built a racecar that runs on vegetable oils and chocolate. The fuel provides energy so that the car can reach top speeds of 135 mph.

The Bible also records a surprising source of energy from a food. When Elijah had been used by God on Mt. Carmel to call fire down from heaven, this spiritual high was followed by persecution and melancholy. In response to Elijah’s depression, God sent an angel to provide food, drink, and rest for the weary prophet. The sustaining power of that food from heaven was remarkable: “So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God” (1 Kings 19:8).

Just as we need food to sustain our physical lives, we also need nourishing food for our spiritual lives. God’s Word is “sweeter . . . than honey and the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10) and feeds our souls. It makes “wise the simple” (v.7) and provides both nourishment and energy for life’s long journey. Take time to feed on it.

God’s Word provides the nourishment
That every Christian needs to grow,
Supplying strength from day to day
By teaching what we need to know. —Sper

God feeds us through His Word.
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  #945  
Old 03-14-2011, 03:45 AM
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Default Mar. 14

A Dream Of Answers Forgotten

March 14, 2011

Read: Job 42:1-6

I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. —Job 42:5

A friend quit two jobs to become a full-time caregiver when his adult son was seriously hurt in a car accident. That same year his wife of over 30 years contracted a terminal illness and died.
Since then, he says he has no answers when his son asks “why” this happened to them. But he told me of a reassuring dream he had along the way. He dreamed that he was in a place that was awash with sunlight. There were crowds of people around him, and a man was answering all of his “why” questions. Each answer made so much sense that he clearly understood why he was not to know the answers now. Then he was with his son in the dream. But when he tried to help him with his questions, he couldn’t remember the answers. But even that seemed okay. And then he woke up.
My friend’s experience reminds me of another friend of God who suffered with unanswered questions (Job 7:20-21). Only when God finally broke His silence and gave Job a vision of Himself in the wonder of creation did Job find something that was better than answers (42:1-6). Only then did Job find peace in knowing that our God has good and even wonderful reasons to trust Him.

What God is doing you may not know now,
But someday you’ll understand why;
Questions that taunt you and trouble your mind
Will one day have heaven’s reply. —Hess
What’s better than answers to our why questions?
Trusting a good God who has His reasons.
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  #946  
Old 03-15-2011, 03:17 AM
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Default Mar. 15

A Matter Of Perspective

March 15, 2011

Read: Revelation 3:14-22

[You] do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. —Revelation 3:17

One of my favorite stories is about the Texas rancher who was doing agricultural consulting for a farmer in Germany. He asked the German farmer about the size of his property, to which he replied, “About a mile square.” When the German asked the Texan about the size of his ranch, the rancher explained that if he got in his pick-up truck at dawn and drove until sunset he would still be on his ranch. Not to be outdone, the farmer replied, “I used to have an old truck like that!”

All joking aside, it’s important to have the right perspective. Unfortunately, the Christians in Laodicea had the wrong perspective about wealth (Rev. 3:14-22). By all appearances, they were rich. They had plenty of earthly goods and thought they needed nothing—not even Jesus. But Jesus had a different perspective. In spite of their material prosperity, He saw that they were “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (v.17). So He invited them to become truly rich by seeking what only He could provide: purity, character, righteousness, and wisdom.

Let’s not make the Laodicean mistake. Instead, let’s keep our perspective right about what it means to be rich. True wealth is not measured by what you have but by who you are in Christ.

In Christ we’re rich beyond belief
With wealth the world cannot see;
We have new strength and character,
New righteousness and purity. —Sper

The poorest person is he whose only wealth is money.
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  #947  
Old 03-16-2011, 03:16 AM
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Default Mar. 16

God’s Answers

March 16, 2011

Read: Daniel 9:20-27

While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel . . . reached me. —Daniel 9:21

Daniel poured out his heart to God (Dan. 9:2). He had read Jeremiah and rediscovered God’s promise that Israel’s captivity in Babylon would last 70 years. So, in an effort to represent his people before God, Daniel fasted and prayed. He pleaded with God not to delay in rescuing His people (v.19).

When we pray, there are things we can know and other things we cannot. For instance, we have the assurance that God will hear our prayer if we know Him as our heavenly Father through faith in Jesus, and we know that His answer will come according to His will. But we don’t know when the answer will come or what it will be.

For Daniel, the answer to his prayer came in miraculous fashion, and it came immediately. While he was praying, the angel Gabriel arrived to provide the answer. But the nature of the answer was as surprising as the quick reply. While Daniel asked God about “70 years,” the answer was about a prophetic “70 weeks of years.” Daniel asked God for an answer about the here and now, but God’s answer had to do with events thousands of years into the future.

Focused as we are with our immediate situation, we may be shocked by God’s answer. Yet we can know that the answer will be for His glory.

I know not by what methods rare,
But this I know—God answers prayer;
I leave my prayers with Him alone,
Whose will is wiser than my own. —Hickok

God’s answers to our prayers may exceed our expectations.
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  #948  
Old 03-17-2011, 03:28 AM
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Default Mar. 17

Becoming A Go-To Person

March 17, 2011

Read: Luke 7:1-10

When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. —Luke 7:3

“Would you pray for my sister?” the burly worker asked awkwardly. I eyed him suspiciously.

Months earlier, muggy August heat intensified emotions in the pre-strike atmosphere of the assembly plant where I was working that summer. Managers drove production at a frenzied pace and union members resisted. During breaks, we were coached by union officials on slowing down our output. My faith and idealism got me in the doghouse because I didn’t think God would accept anything but my best effort. I naively tried to explain.

My co-workers’ response was harassment, and this burly worker asking for prayer had been the ringleader. An undesirable task? I got the assignment. Off-color jokes had me as the star.

So now I greeted this prayer request with suspicion. “Why me?” His answer jarred me: “Because she’s got cancer,” he said gruffly, “and I need someone God will hear.” The bitter rancor between us eased as I prayed for his sister.

Like the centurion in Luke 7, people in the storms of life don’t waste time or mince words. They go directly to the people whose faith they’ve tagged as real. We need to be those people. Do our lives mark us as a go-to person in touch with God?

We give to others what they need
No greater help and care
Than when we intercede for them
And bear them up in prayer. —D. De Haan

Even the hardest of souls might ask for help
when someone they love is at risk.
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  #949  
Old 03-18-2011, 03:42 AM
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Default Mar. 18

Keep Me From Wrath

March 18, 2011

Read: Psalm 37:8-11

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. —Psalm 37:8

I have a friend whose note cards are imprinted with a picture of Rodin’s The Thinker, the famous sculpture depicting a man in sober reflection. Below the picture is this inscription: “Life is not fair.”

Indeed, it is not. And any theory that insists that this life is fair is illusory and deceptive.

Despite the overwhelming unfairness of life, however, David in Psalm 37 prays that he will not retaliate but will instead rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him to bring justice to the earth in due time (v.7). “For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth” (v.9).

Our wrath tends to be vindictive and punitive. God’s wrath is untainted by self-interest and tempered by mercy. His wrath can even be His relentless love that brings our antagonists to repentance and faith. We must not then avenge ourselves, “for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord . . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:19,21).

This must begin in the heart, the wellspring from which the issues of our lives flow. May we cease from anger, forsake wrath, and wait patiently for the Lord.

Lord, help me not retaliate
When someone wants to pick a fight;
Instead, give me the strength and faith
To show Your love and do what’s right. —Sper

Revenge restrained is a victory gained.
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  #950  
Old 03-19-2011, 04:47 AM
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Default Mar. 19

Suit Up

March 19, 2011 — by Bill Crowder

Read: Ephesians 6:13-21

Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. —Ephesians 6:13

When I played American football as a kid, one thing that took some getting used to was all the equipment we had to wear. Running effectively in a helmet, shoulder pads, and a variety of other protective items can feel awkward and clumsy at first. But over time the protective gear becomes like a familiar friend that provides welcome protection against serious injury. When a football player suits up, he knows that his equipment is designed to protect him in battle against a dangerous opponent.
As followers of Christ, we also face a dangerous foe—a spiritual enemy who seeks our downfall and destruction. Fortunately, our Lord has provided us with protection, and He challenges us to suit up for spiritual battle.
In Ephesians 6:13, we read, “Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Paul then describes our armor—helmet, breastplate, shield, sword, belt, and shoes. These pieces of spiritual equipment are effective only if we put them on and use them—even if they might feel uncomfortable at first. Faithfulness in the Word (v.17), in prayer (v.18), and in witness (vv.19-20) are critical to making our armor feel like a part of us. So suit up! The battle is on!

Be not weary, Christian warrior,
Buckle on thine armor tight;
Be ye strong and face the battle
In the power of His might. —Iler
God’s armor is tailor-made for you, but you must put it on.
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