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  #951  
Old 03-20-2011, 06:00 AM
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Default Mar. 20

The Stones

March 20, 2011

Read: Joshua 4

When your children ask . . . “What are these stones?” then you shall let [them] know, saying, “Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land.” —Joshua 4:21-22

Not long ago, our friends had a gathering at their house and invited a group of people who were all music lovers. Kevin and Ilse, who are both gifted musicians, requested that each person or couple bring a rock for a fire pit that was often the site for their evening musical jams. But they didn’t want just plain ol’ rocks. They asked that each one be marked with a name or date or event that indicated how or when everyone had become friends.
God felt that the Israelites needed a reminder of an amazing event in their lives. Although the Jordan River had been at flood stage, the Israelites had been able to cross over on dry ground because God had stopped the water from flowing (Josh. 3:13-17). Something similar had happened years before in an escape from Egypt (see Ex. 14:21-31). On this occasion, however, God instructed His people to build a memorial of stones so that in the future when children would ask about the stones, parents could remind them of the mighty hand of God (Josh. 4:23-24).
As God continually cared for the Israelites, He continues to provide for us today. What “stones of remembrance” will you use to remind your children, grandchildren—and even yourself—of the evidence of God’s might?

God’s faithfulness we’ve known throughout the years,
His oneness with us in our joys and tears;
So many times the Lord has helped us through,
Has answered prayer and given strength anew. —F. Hess
Remembering God’s goodness is a good cure for doubt.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #952  
Old 03-21-2011, 02:59 AM
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Default Mar. 21

Free Compliments

March 21, 2011

Read: Proverbs 16:20-30

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. —Proverbs 16:24

During a time of economic crisis and depressing news, two students at Purdue University decided to lift the spirits of people on campus with some encouraging words. For two hours every Wednesday afternoon, Cameron Brown and Brett Westcott stood along a busy walkway holding a large “Free Compliments” sign and saying nice things to everyone who passed by. “I like your red coat.” “Cool snow boots.” “Very nice smile.” Some students said they deliberately walked past “the compliment guys” every Wednesday just to hear a kind word.

I was struck by these two young men who looked at people with the goal of commending them, rather than finding fault or being critical. Is that how I, as a follower of Christ, view others each day?

Instead of being like the person who is focused on evil and whose speech is “like a burning fire” (Prov. 16:27), we can take a different approach, knowing that what we say begins deep inside us. “The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (vv.23-24).

Kind words may be free, but they give a priceless lift of spirit. Why not encourage someone today?

The power in words can build up or tear down—
Create a big smile or produce a sad frown;
So in all your contacts with people each day,
Be sure to encourage in all that you say. —Fitzhugh

A gentle word of compliment falls lightly
but it carries great weight.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #953  
Old 03-22-2011, 02:49 AM
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Default Mar. 22

How To Bloom

March 22, 2011

Read: 1 Peter 1:1-9

Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings. —1 Peter 4:13

My family and I live in an apartment, so our “flower garden” consists of what we can grow in indoor pots. For a long time our plants would not flower despite watering and fertilizing. Then we discovered that the soil had to be raked and turned over if the plants were to bloom. Now our potted plants are a pure joy to look at with their healthy leaves and blooming flowers.

Sometimes we need a little raking and turning in our own lives to make us bloom. Writing to the harassed believers in his day, Peter said, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Like the soil in our potted plants, these Christians were having their lives “turned over.” God’s purpose in doing that was to allow their faith to result in praise and glory to Him at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:7).

God wants to loosen the things that can choke our lives and that prevent us from radiating joy. To do this, He sometimes has to allow pain and trouble—trials that help stir up the soil of our lives. If this is what you are experiencing today, rejoice. Surrender to His touch and acquire a joy and fruitfulness you never imagined possible.

Turning the soil and pulling the weeds
Helps garden flowers to grow,
And if we’re to see growth in our lives
Trials and testings we’ll know. —Sper

Those who bless God in their trials
will be blessed by God through their trials.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #954  
Old 03-23-2011, 02:50 AM
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Default Mar. 23

Gracias!

March 23, 2011

Read: 1 Chronicles 16:7-10,23-36

Oh, give thanks to the Lord! —1 Chronicles 16:8

When I visited Mexico, I wished I knew how to speak Spanish. I could say gracias (thank you), muy bien (very good), and hola (hello). But that was about it. I grew tired of just saying gracias to everyone who talked with me or did something for me.

But we should never grow tired of giving words of thanks to God. David knew the importance of saying thanks. After he became king over Israel and had a tent constructed to house the ark of the covenant (where God’s presence dwelt), he appointed some of the Levites “to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the Lord” (1 Chron. 16:4). Many people remained there to offer sacrifices and give thanks to God daily (vv.37-38).

David also committed to Asaph and his associates a song of thanks (1 Chron. 16:8-36). His psalm gave thanks for what the Lord had done: “His deeds among the peoples” (v.8), “His wondrous works” (v.9), “His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth” (v.12), and His “salvation” (v.35). David’s song also gave praise for who the Lord was: good, merciful, and holy (vv.34-35).

Like David, we should never grow tired of saying gracias to God for who He is and for all He’s done for us. Take time today to offer your sacrifice of praise to Him.

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,
To His feet thy tribute bring;
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing. —Lyte

The heart filled with praise brings pleasure to God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #955  
Old 03-24-2011, 02:21 AM
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Default Mar.24

Money Worries

March 24, 2011

Read: Luke 12:22-31

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. —Luke 12:32

Of His words recorded in the Bible, Jesus has more to say on money than any other topic. Luke 12 offers a good summary of His attitude. He does not condemn possessions, but He warns against putting faith in money to secure the future. Money fails to solve life’s biggest problems.
Although Jesus speaks to many aspects about money, He seems to concentrate on the question: What is money doing to you? Money can dominate a person’s life, diverting attention away from God. Jesus challenges us to break free of money’s power—even if it means giving it all away.
Jesus urges His listeners to seek treasure in the kingdom of God, for such treasure can benefit them in this life and the next one too. “Do not worry,” He says (v.22), for God is the one who provides for our needs. And then to emphasize His point, He brings up King Solomon, the richest man in the Old Testament. Jesus said that a common wildflower is clothed more gloriously by God than a royal king. So do not have an anxious mind (vv.27-29), “but seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (v.31).
Better to trust in the God who lavishes care on the whole earth than to spend our lives worrying about money and possessions.

For Further Study
Learn more about this subject by reading
Jesus’ Parables About Money
The real measure of our wealth is what will be ours in eternity.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #956  
Old 03-25-2011, 02:39 AM
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Default Mar. 25

Failures Anonymous

March 25, 2011

Read: John 21:3-17

As soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. —John 21:9

It’s my duty to grill the burgers, brats, steaks, or whatever else my wife has on the menu. And while I’m not the greatest chef when it comes to outdoor cooking, I love the unforgettable aroma of grilling over a charcoal fire. So the mention of a “fire of coals” in John 21:9 catches my attention. And I find myself wondering why John would include this detail in the story about Jesus calling a failing Peter back to serve and follow Him.
In verses 1-3, it’s apparent that Peter had reopened his fishing business. Just a few days before, Peter was warming his hands over a charcoal fire when he denied Jesus to save his own skin (John 18:17-18 ESV). So why not go back to fishing?
While Peter and his cohorts were casting nets, Jesus built a fire on the beach. Coincidence? I doubt it! And as Peter approached Jesus, I wonder if the pungent aroma of the burning charcoal brought back memories of that other fire where he had failed Christ. Yet Jesus in His mercy took the initiative to call Peter back into His service.
Think of it: Jesus is willing to forgive our failures and call us into His service. After all, if only perfect people qualified to serve Him, He wouldn’t have anyone to choose from!

Although we are imperfect,
The Lord can use us still,
If we confess our sins to Him
And seek to do His will. —Sper
Being imperfect doesn’t disqualify us from serving God;
it just emphasizes our dependence on His mercy.
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  #957  
Old 03-26-2011, 02:43 AM
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Default Mar. 26

Columbus’ Eclipse

March 26, 2011

Read: 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

We are not, as so many, peddling the Word of God. —2 Corinthians 2:17

On one of Christopher Columbus’ voyages, he found that his crew’s food supply was almost depleted. Anchored off the island of Jamaica, he was grateful to be given food by the islanders. But as time went on, the gifts of food decreased so that the crew began to starve.
Columbus knew from an astronomy book that a lunar eclipse would soon occur. He called the native chiefs together and told them God was angry about their selfishness and would blot out the moon. At first the islanders scoffed. But when they watched the night’s silver disc slowly become dark, they became terrified and quickly brought food. Columbus said that if he prayed, the moon would be restored. Though we may empathize with his circumstances, Columbus’ “message from God” was dishonest and self-serving.
Aware of religious charlatans who “peddled” God’s Word for their own desires, the apostle Paul wrote, “We are not, as so many, peddling the Word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 2:17).
At all times we must be on guard not to misrepresent God’s message to acquire what we want from others. With a heart yielded to God, we must honestly share spiritual truths that will benefit those who hear.

Don’t compromise the Word of God
Or twist what He has said;
For blessing comes from faithfully
Proclaiming truth instead. —Sper
The purpose of sharing God’s truth is to profit others,
not to prosper ourselves.
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  #958  
Old 03-27-2011, 03:09 AM
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Default Mar. 27

Theology Is For Everyone

March 27, 2011

Read: Jeremiah 23:25-32

I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. —Jeremiah 9:24

Some say that theology is only for “professionals.” But the situation in the days of the prophet Jeremiah illustrates why it’s important for everyone to know what God says about Himself.
The religious experts in Jeremiah’s day were misrepresenting God by prophesying “the delusions of their own minds” (Jer. 23:26 NIV) and leading people astray with their lies (v.32). Due to their dishonesty, the people did not know the true nature of God.
Today there are people who portray God as angry, vengeful, and eager to punish people for every minor offense. God, however, describes Himself as “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6). Others show the world a picture of a loving God who is too kind to punish wrongdoing. But God describes Himself as one who exercises judgment and righteousness (Jer. 9:24). He is both a just Judge and a loving Father. If we emphasize one over the other, we paint a false picture of God.
The most important thing we can know about God and proclaim to the world is that God does not want to punish people; He wants them to repent so that He can forgive (2*Peter 3:9). But to be truly loving, He must also be absolutely just.

Though love for God should always move
My heart to do what’s good and right,
It’s wise to fear His judgments true
And stand in awe of His great might. —D. De Haan
Everyone must face God as Savior or as Judge.
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  #959  
Old 03-28-2011, 03:33 AM
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Default Mar. 28

Gold-Medal Effort

March 28, 2011

Read: Philippians 2:4-11

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. —Philippians 2:4

At the 2009 Kansas high school state track championship, an unusual thing happened. The team that won the girls 3,200-meter relay was disqualified. But what happened next was even more unusual. The team that was awarded the state championship by default turned right around and gave their medals to the team that had been disqualified.
The first school, St. Mary’s Colgan, lost first place because judges ruled that a runner had stepped out of her lane as she handed off the baton. That meant the second team, Maranatha Academy, moved up to first. After receiving their medals, the girls from Maranatha saw the downtrodden looks on the faces of the St. Mary’s girls, so they gave them their individual medals.
Why did they do this? As Maranatha’s coach Bernie Zarda put it: “Our theme for the year was to run not for our glory, but for God’s glory.” As a result of the girls’ action, their story was told throughout Kansas, and God’s name was lifted up.
When we set aside our own interests and accomplishments to recognize that it’s better to care for the interests of others (Phil. 2:4), we see God’s name glorified. Acting with grace and kindness toward others is one of the best ways to point people to God.

Love is not blind but looks
Abroad through others’ eyes,
And asks not, “Must I give?”
But, “May I sacrifice?” —Ziegler
When we love God, we will serve people.
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  #960  
Old 03-29-2011, 02:29 AM
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Default Mar. 29

Talk Low, Talk Slow

March 29, 2011

Read: Judges 7:24–8:3

A soft answer turns away wrath. —Proverbs 15:1

John Wayne, famous American actor and film icon, once said, “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.” His advice is hard for me to follow since I’m a fast talker and I don’t always speak quietly or limit my words. However, this idea of controlling our speech can be a useful tool when dealing with anger. The Bible says we are supposed to be “slow to speak” (James 1:19), and that “a soft answer turns away wrath” (Prov. 15:1).

Gideon gave a soft answer during a verbal scuffle with some fellow Israelites (Judg. 8). Just after his army defeated the Midianites, a group of his countrymen criticized him sharply (v.1). They were miffed because they missed out on the main part of the battle. Gideon did not fling back a rough response. Instead, he reminded them that they had captured and killed the Midianite princes. He also honored the men by asking, “What was I able to do in comparison with you?” Finally, “their anger toward him subsided when he said that” (v.3).

With the Lord’s help, we can defuse heated situations by reining in our words. Responding gently and carefully to angry people can promote unity, for God’s glory.

Lord, set a guard upon my lips,
My tongue control today;
Help me evaluate each thought
And watch each word I say. —Hess

Bite your tongue before your tongue bites others.
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