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  #971  
Old 04-07-2011, 03:28 AM
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Default Apr. 7

School Of Hard Knocks

April 7, 2011

Read: Hebrews 12:3-11

No chastening seems to be joyful for the present . . . ; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness. —Hebrews 12:11

Of all my childhood memories, one stands out above the others. While I have no idea what my teacher said, I clearly remember telling her to “shut up.” She sent me home, so I got up and left my kindergarten class to walk the half-block home. Walking down the sidewalk, I saw my mother weeding in the garden behind our house. I was now faced with a strategic decision—continue on my way and tell my mother why I was home early from school, or turn around and go back to face my teacher.

When I returned to the classroom, I was immediately escorted to the restroom where my teacher washed my mouth out with soap. That kind of discipline probably wouldn’t happen today, but take it from me, it was effective! To this day I am acutely sensitive about the impact of my words.

God is passionately interested in our positive growth as His children. At times He needs to confront us with unpleasant circumstances to catch our attention and reorient our lives to more consistently produce the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11).

Don’t resist God’s corrective hand. Respond to His reproofs with thankfulness that He loves you enough to care about what kind of a person you are becoming.



Because our Father’s heart is grieved
Each time we go astray,
He lifts His chastening hand in love
To help us to His way. —D. De Haan





God’s correction is our hope for a better life.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #972  
Old 04-08-2011, 03:07 AM
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Default Apr. 8

Getting it

April 8, 2011

Read: 1 Corinthians 9:11-23

Though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more. —1 Corinthians 9:19


A Christian sports reporter was visiting a major league baseball clubhouse. While he was chatting with a Christian player, a team official came by and noticed that they were talking about “Christian stuff” after a tough loss. He scolded the reporter for not talking about the game and then he left. The All-Star pitcher said to the reporter, “Sorry. He just doesn’t get it.”
We live in a world of people who “don’t get it.” They don’t understand that while we strive to be the best at what we do, the most important thing in life is to please God. For the believer, it is for God’s glory and the gospel of Jesus that we play ball, sell insurance, run a printing press, or teach school.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul explained that the disciple of Christ should “endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ” (v.12). The goal of the believer is getting the word out about Jesus. “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” he said (v.16). One way to do that is to live out a godly lifestyle that prompts others to ask about the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15).
Around us are people who think the things of this world are most important. But instead of becoming frustrated at the resistance we meet, our goal should be to advance the gospel by helping others to “get it.”

*
Dim not, little candle,
Show Jesus through me!
Glow brightly till others
The Light clearly see! —Adams
*
*
May God make your life a lighted window of Christian example.
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  #973  
Old 04-09-2011, 03:15 AM
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Default Apr. 9

Bel Bows Down

April 9, 2011

Read: Isaiah 46:1-9

I will carry you! —Isaiah 46:4

The prophet Isaiah draws a picture for us in Isaiah 46 of the siege of Babylon and the evacuation of its idols. The carts and carriages that carry them creak, and the weary animals groan under the load (v.1).
In contrast, Isaiah says that God carries His children from birth (v.3). “Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you!” God declares (v.4). The contrast is precise and vivid in the Hebrew text: The carts and carriages are “loaded” with the weight of the idols (v.1), but we are loaded upon God (v.3). Idols are a “burden,” a thing carried (v.1), but God has gladly “carried” us from the womb (v.3).
The Lord has made us (v.4). Nothing could be more comforting, for our Father loves and cares for His children. He promises, “I will carry you!” and that includes every care and worry that comes our way throughout our lifetime.
So we may let Him carry us and our every burden. This song by Annie Johnson Flint challenges us to experience God’s care: “Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, / Our God ever yearns His resources to share; / Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; / Thy Father both thee and thy load will upbear.”

*
Heavenly Father, I want to unload my
burdens on You today. Help me to leave them with You.
I trust You with my past, present, and future.
Thank You for Your goodness to me. Amen.
*
*
Our work is to cast care; God’s work is to take care!
*
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  #974  
Old 04-10-2011, 04:03 AM
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Default Apr. 10

A Forever Service

April 10, 2011

Read: Revelation 22:1-7

Behold, I make all things new. —Revelation 21:5

Two young brothers sat on the front row in church every Sunday, observing their dad as he led the worship service. One night after sending the boys to bed, the dad overheard one of his boys crying. He asked him what was wrong, but the boy was hesitant to answer. Finally, he confessed, “Daddy, the Bible says we’re going to worship God in heaven forever. That’s an awfully long time!” Because he pictured heaven as one long worship time with his dad up front leading, heaven sounded pretty boring to him!
While I sometimes wish we had more information about what heaven will be like, we know this for sure: boring can’t possibly be the right word to describe it. We will see beauty like we’ve never seen before, including “a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal” (Rev. 22:1). We will experience “the glory of God,” which will illuminate heaven (21:23; 22:5). And we will enjoy a life without pain or sorrow (21:4).
Yes, we will definitely worship in heaven. People “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (5:9) will rejoice in praising Jesus, the worthy Lamb who died for us and rose again (5:12).
We will bask in the glory of the Lord’s presence—forever. But not for one second will we be bored!

*
In heaven we’ll see our Savior
And like Him we will be;
We’ll praise Him and we’ll serve Him
For all eternity! —Fitzhugh
*
*
The pleasures of earth cannot be compared to the joys of heaven.
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  #975  
Old 04-11-2011, 03:24 AM
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Default Apr. 11

The Penny Syndrome

April 11, 2011

Read: 1 Samuel 17:32-37

The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion . . . , He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. —1 Samuel 17:37

The penny has been called the most despised unit of US currency. Many people will not bother to pick up a one-cent coin if they see it lying on the ground. But some charities are finding that pennies add up to significant sums, and that children are generous givers. As one participant said, “Small contributions can make a huge difference.”

The Bible account of David and Goliath describes a seemingly insignificant person whose confidence in God was greater than any of the powerful people around him. When David volunteered to face the giant Goliath, King Saul said, “You are not able to go against this Philistine” (1 Sam. 17:33). But David had faith in the Lord who had delivered him in the past (v.37).

David did not suffer from “the penny syndrome”—a sense of inferiority and helplessness in the face of an overwhelming problem. If he had listened to the pessimism of Saul or the threats of Goliath, he would have done nothing. Instead, he acted with courage because he trusted God.

It’s easy to feel like a penny in a trillion-dollar deficit. But when we obey the Lord in every circumstance, it all adds up. Collectively, our acts of faith, large or small, make a big difference. And every penny counts.



It matters not how large or small
Your faith may seem to be;
What really counts is whom you trust
In life’s uncertainty. —Fitzhugh





Courage will follow when faith takes the lead.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #976  
Old 04-12-2011, 03:17 AM
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Default Apr. 12

Pay Attention To Signs

April 12, 2011

Read: Luke 11:29-45

As Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. —Luke 11:30

The road was smooth and we were making good progress as we headed for Jay’s dad’s house in South Carolina. As we drove through the mountains in Tennessee, I began seeing detour signs. But Jay kept going, so I assumed that they didn’t apply to us. Shortly before we reached the North Carolina border, we came to a sign that said the highway ahead was closed due to a rock slide. We would have to turn around. Jay was surprised. “Why wasn’t there any warning?” he wanted to know. “There were lots of warnings,” I said. “Didn’t you see the signs?” “No,” he said, “why didn’t you mention them?” “I assumed that you saw them,” I answered. We now tell this story to entertain our friends.

Throughout history, God provided plenty of “signs” to show people the way to live, but they kept going their own way. When God finally sent His Son as a sign (Luke 11:30), the religious leaders paid little attention to His warnings. Life for them was good. They were recognized and respected (v.43). They resented being told that they were wrong (v.45).

We can be the same way. When life is going well, we tend to ignore warnings that we need to turn around and change our sinful ways. It’s important to remember that we may be wrong even though life is good.



God gives us warnings to prevent
What comes from falling into sin;
But if we do ignore—and fall—
Confession cleanses us within. —Sper





God sends warnings to protect us, not to punish us.
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  #977  
Old 04-13-2011, 03:37 AM
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Default Apr. 13

Sourdough Bread

April 13, 2011

Read: Luke 12:1-7

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. —Luke 12:1

Sourdough bread became popular during the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800s. In the 1890s, it was a favorite during the great Gold Rush in Alaska. Prospectors would carry with them a small portion of sourdough mix that contained a natural yeast. It could then be used as a starter to make more of their favorite sourdough bread.

In the Bible, though, yeast or leaven can have a negative connotation. For example, in the New Testament, “leaven” is often referred to as a corrupting influence. This is why Jesus said: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1).

Hypocrites put on a show of righteousness while hiding sinful thoughts and behavior. Christ warned His disciples and us that secret sins will someday be exposed to full disclosure. He said, “There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known” (v.2). Because of this, we are to reverentially fear God, to ask for His grace to forsake any sin, and to grow as authentic believers.

Yeast may be a blessing in the bakery, but it can also remind us to guard against the permeating influence of sin in our hearts.



The holiness of God demands
A heart that’s pure within,
Yet grace unites with holiness
To purge the heart from sin. —D. De Haan





Be sure your sin will find you out. —Numbers 32:23
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  #978  
Old 04-14-2011, 03:34 AM
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Default Apr. 14

Breath Of Life

April 14, 2011

Read: Psalm 139:13-18

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. —Job 33:4

In his book Life After Heart Surgery, David Burke recalls his close brush with death. Lying in his hospital bed after a second open-heart surgery, he found himself in incredible pain, unable to draw a full breath. Feeling that he was slipping toward eternity, he prayed one last time, trusting God and thanking Him for forgiveness of his sin.

David was thinking about seeing his dad, who had died several years earlier, when his nurse asked how he was feeling. He replied, “I’m okay now,” explaining he was ready to go to heaven and meet God. “Not on my shift, buddy!” she said. Soon the doctors were opening his chest again and removing two liters of fluid. That done, David began to recover.

It’s not unusual for any of us to ponder what it will be like when we face our final moments on earth. But those who “die in the Lord” have the certainty that they are “blessed” (Rev. 14:13) and that their death is “precious in the sight of the Lord” (Ps. 116:15).

God fashioned our days even before we existed (Ps. 139:16), and we exist now only because “the breath of the Almighty gives [us] life” (Job 33:4). Though we don’t know how many breaths we have left—we can rest in the knowledge that He does.



God holds our future in His hands
And gives us every breath;
Just knowing that He’s by our side
Allays our fear of death. —Sper





From our first breath to our last, we are in God’s care.
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  #979  
Old 04-15-2011, 03:00 AM
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Default Apr. 15

Dealing With Delay

April 15, 2011

Read: Isaiah 26:1-9

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You. —Isaiah 26:3

In April 2010, clouds of ash spewed by a volcano in Iceland closed airports across the UK and Europe for 5 days. Nearly 100,000 flights were canceled and millions of passengers around the world found themselves in an enormous holding pattern on the ground. People missed important events, businesses lost money, and no one knew when it would end.
When our plans fall apart and there is no remedy, how do we deal with frustration and delay? Isaiah 26:3-4 is an anchor for our souls in every storm of life: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in [Jehovah], the Lord, is everlasting strength.” Whether we’re facing annoying inconvenience or heartbreaking loss, this rock-solid promise is worth memorizing and repeating every night when we close our eyes to sleep.
Today, when plans are shattered, do our minds dwell on the circumstances or on the Lord? During frustrating delay, can we still trust the loving heart of God? In the hymn “Like a River Glorious,” Frances Havergal so beautifully expressed what we long for.

*
Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest,
Finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest. —Havergal
*
*
When we put our problems in God’s hands,
He puts His peace in our hearts.
*
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  #980  
Old 04-16-2011, 03:38 PM
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Default Apr. 16

Of Pain And Gain

April 16, 2011

Read: Psalm 32

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. —Psalm 32:10

During summer training camp, the coaches on one football team wore T-shirts intended to urge their players to exert maximum effort. The shirts bore the motto, “Each day you must choose: The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” Discipline is tough—and something we may try to avoid. But in sports and in life, short-term pain is often the only path to long-term gain. In the heat of battle it is too late to prepare. Either you are ready for the challenges of life or you will be haunted by the “what ifs,” “if onlys,” and “I should’ves” that accompany the failure to be prepared. That’s the pain of regret.
One source defines regret as “an intelligent and emotional dislike for personal past acts and behaviors.” It’s painful to look back at our choices through the lens of regret and feel the weight of our failures. This was the case for the psalmist. After a personal episode of sin and failure, he wrote, “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him” (Ps. 32:10). In the clarity of hindsight, he saw the wisdom of a life that strives to honor the Lord—a life that does not need to be marked by regret.
May our choices today not result in regret, but rather be wise and God-honoring.

*
In You, O Lord, we take delight,
Our every need You can supply;
We long to do what’s true and right,
So, Lord, on You we will rely. —D. De Haan
*
*
Present choices determine future rewards.
*
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