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  #981  
Old 04-17-2011, 03:25 AM
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Default Apr. 17

Who Is This?

April 17, 2011

Read: Luke 19:28-40

Blessed is [He] who comes in the name of the Lord! —Luke 19:38

Imagine standing shoulder to shoulder with onlookers by a dirt road. The woman behind you is on her tiptoes, trying to see who is coming. In the distance, you glimpse a man riding a donkey. As He approaches, people toss their coats onto the road. Suddenly, you hear a tree crack behind you. A man is cutting down palm branches, and people are spreading them out ahead of the donkey.
Jesus’ followers zealously honored Him as He entered Jerusalem a few days before His crucifixion. The multitude rejoiced and praised God for “all the mighty works they had seen” (Luke 19:37). Jesus’ devotees surrounded Him, calling out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” (v.38). Their enthusiastic honor affected the people of Jerusalem. When Jesus finally arrived, “all the city was moved, saying, ‘Who is this?’” (Matt. 21:10).
Today, people are still curious about Jesus. Although we can’t pave His way with palm branches or shout praises to Him in person, we can still honor Him. We can discuss His remarkable works, assist people in need (Gal. 6:2), patiently bear insults (1 Peter 4:14-16), and love each other deeply (v.8). Then we must be ready to answer the onlookers who ask, “Who is Jesus?”

*
So let our lips and lives express
The holy gospel we profess;
So let our works and virtues shine,
To prove the doctrine all divine. —Watts
*
*
We honor God’s name when we call Him our Father
and live like His Son.
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"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"
-Colossians 3:23

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  #982  
Old 04-18-2011, 04:02 AM
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Default Apr. 18

The Purpose Of God’s Goodness

April 18, 2011

Read: Psalm 67

God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us. —Psalm 67:1

When I was growing up, we often sang a song in Sunday school that went like this: “God is good to me! God is good to me! He holds my hand and helps me stand! God is good to me!”

I need to say right away that I believe God is good and He takes delight in doing good things for people. He does indeed hold our hand in times of trouble and helps us stand against the onslaught of life’s difficulties. But I wonder if you’ve ever asked yourself, Why is He good? It certainly is not because we deserve it or because He feels the need to buy our love and allegiance with His benefits.

The psalmist prays for God to bless him so that “[the Lord’s] way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations” (Ps. 67:2). God’s daily blessings are proof positive that He is indeed a good God who cares for His own. But how will our world know this about God if we never praise Him for His goodness to us? (v.3).

So, the next time God blesses you, be sure to look for ways to appropriately give Him the credit. Consuming His blessings without communicating His goodness shortchanges the very purpose of His gifts of grace in our lives.



As endless as God’s blessings are,
So should my praises be
For all His daily goodnesses
That flow unceasingly! —Adams





God is good—make sure the people in your world know what He has done in your life.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #983  
Old 04-19-2011, 02:48 AM
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Default Apr. 19

The Dividing Wall

April 19, 2011

Read: Ephesians 2:11-22; 4:1-3

He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation. —Ephesians 2:14

November 9, 2010, marked the 21st anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. On that day in 1989, an announcement over East German TV informed people that they were free to travel to West Germany. A day later, East German bulldozers began to dismantle the wall that for 28 years had divided East and West Germany.

Jesus Christ “has broken down the middle wall of separation” between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14). But there was an even more impenetrable barrier that separated man from God. Jesus’ death and resurrection made the reconciliation between man and man and between man and God possible (v.16).

All believers are now “members of the household of God” (v.19). Together, we are to grow into “a holy temple in the Lord” (v.21) with God’s Holy Spirit living among and within us (v.22).

But sadly, Christians often re-erect walls between one another. That is why Paul urges us to “walk worthy of the calling . . . , bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:1-3). Rather than building walls, let’s work to dismantle what separates us. Let the world see that we are indeed of the same household.



We’re members of Christ’s body,
A blessed family;
So let’s not fight or quarrel,
But live in harmony. —Fitzhugh





Unity among believers comes from their union with Christ.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #984  
Old 04-20-2011, 02:42 AM
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Default Apr. 20

Knowing God’s Will

April 20, 2011

Read: Ephesians 5:17-21

. . . that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. —Romans 12:2

A young man facing the future and unsure of what the next year would bring, concluded, “Nobody knows what God’s will is.” Is he right? Does a lack of certainty about the future translate into not knowing God’s will?

The concept of knowing God’s will is often limited to discerning what specific situation we will be in at some future time. Although seeking God’s specific leading is part of it, another aspect that is just as vital is to follow the clearly defined elements of God’s will each and every day.

For instance, it is God’s will for us to be good citizens as a challenge to those opposed to Christ (1 Peter 2:15), to give God thanks no matter what (1 Thess. 5:18), to be sanctified sexually, avoiding immorality (1 Thess. 4:3), to live under the Holy Spirit’s control (Eph. 5:18), to sing to Him (v.19), and to submit to other believers (v.21).

As we submit to God in these and other areas, we are more likely to live in what Romans 12:2 calls God’s “good and acceptable and perfect will.” Living with God’s smile of approval leads to His guidance for the future.

As we seek to know God’s will for the future, we must also act on what we already know now.



Knowing God’s will for the future
Comes when we follow today
What He’s revealed in the Scriptures
As His commands to obey. —Sper





Love and obey the Lord every day, and He will unfold your future.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #985  
Old 04-21-2011, 02:36 AM
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Default Apr. 21

Moving Past Sinful Failure

April 21, 2011

Read: 2 Samuel 12:1-23

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. —Isaiah 43:25

How should we handle moments of faith-failure, when we’ve damaged the kingdom of God in the eyes of our friends and family or dishonored God in our actions?

We can learn from King David after his humiliation in the Bathsheba scandal. Though the terrible consequences of that sin could not be avoided, he found his way back to a relationship with God that made it possible for him to continue to serve Him. We too can find our way back.

David’s pattern in 2 Samuel 12 serves us well: We need to declare our error candidly (v.13) and seek God’s forgiveness. Then we can ask God that others be spared the consequences of our actions (v.16). Finally, we need to recognize that sometimes the consequences simply cannot be avoided and must be endured. While we always mourn those consequences, we can’t allow them to so consume us that we cease to be servants of God (vv.20-23).

Satan not only delights in the moment of our failure but also in the spiritual inactivity that sometimes snares us in our remorse. When we’ve blown our witness, we are and should be humbled. But we should not multiply the damage by retreating into silence and obscurity as ambassadors of Christ. We can move past failure.



Action Suggestion
If after you’ve confessed your sin to God, you still suffer
with guilty feelings, memorize Proverbs 24:16 and
1 John 1:9 and ask God to help you believe His Word.





God forgives our sins completely
to restore us to His presence and service.
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"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"
-Colossians 3:23

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  #986  
Old 04-22-2011, 03:40 AM
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Default Apr. 22

Sin Hurts

April 22, 2011

Read: Hebrews 2:10-18

He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many. —Isaiah 53:12

Sooner or later we all feel the painful effects of sin. Sometimes it’s the weight of our own sin and the shame and embarrassment of having failed miserably. At other times, it’s the load of someone else’s sin that weighs us down—someone who betrayed, deceived, abandoned, ridiculed, cheated, or made a fool of us.

Think about a time when the weight of that guilt or pain was so heavy that you couldn’t pull yourself out of bed. Now try to imagine the heaviness of the combined grief that everyone’s sin has caused your family, your church, your neighborhood. Add to that all the suffering sin has caused everyone in your city, state, nation, and the world. Now try to imagine the accumulated grief that sin has caused throughout the centuries since creation.

Is it any wonder that the weight of all this sin began squeezing the life out of Jesus on the night He was called to bear it? (Matt. 26:36-44). The next day, even His beloved Father would forsake Him. No other suffering can compare.

Sin put Jesus to the ultimate test. But His love endured it, His strength bore it, and His power overcame it. Thanks to Jesus’ death and resurrection, we know beyond a doubt that sin will not and cannot win.



Is God aloof from human pain
That ravages our mortal frame?
Oh, no, Christ felt our agony
When sin and death He overcame! —D. De Haan





Christ’s empty tomb guarantees our victory over sin and death.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #987  
Old 04-23-2011, 03:45 AM
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Default Apr. 23

A Family In Trouble

April 23, 2011

Read: Malachi 4:4-6; Matthew 1:1-2

He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. —Luke 1:16

Many of America’s 30 million white-tailed deer find themselves endangered not by guns, but by the cars of our expanding suburbs. I was reminded of their plight when a mature doe dashed through traffic just ahead of me. As I watched, I wondered what had driven her to take such a chance, and why she then stopped on the other side and looked back over her shoulder. As I drove by her, I turned to follow her gaze and saw two small fawns looking helplessly at their mother across the busy street. Instead of following, they turned and walked back into the woods.

This family is not alone. We too can find ourselves in circumstances of separation and danger we did not anticipate. Reading Malachi and Matthew reminds us that we are troubled children of troubled parents who desperately need the help of our Father in heaven. Sometimes we need His help to see and avoid repeating the sins of our fathers (Neh. 9:2-3). Sometimes we need His help to turn back to the example and care of loving parents (Luke 15:18).

Only from our heavenly Father can we find the perfect forgiveness, example, and inner grace we need. He knows we are all fallen children of fallen parents, and even now He offers us the help of His Spirit and the rescue of His Son.



Each day we learn from yesterday
Of God’s great love and care;
And every burden we must face
He’ll surely help us bear. —D. De Haan





It’s never too soon to turn back to God.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #988  
Old 04-24-2011, 03:43 AM
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Default Apr. 24

Too Good To Be True?

April 24, 2011

Read: Luke 24:1-12

Their words seemed to [the disciples] like idle tales, and they did not believe them. —Luke 24:11

In the 1980s, John Knoll and his brother Thomas began experimenting with a computer program to manipulate images. Software companies thought they were crazy, because photographers didn’t use computers at that time. Initially the brothers called their program Display, then Imaginator, and finally they settled on Photoshop®. Today Photoshop® is used by amateurs at home and professionals in business around the world. A San Jose Mercury News article noted its place in popular language. When something looks too good to be true, people say, “It must have been Photoshopped.”

On the first Easter morning, the women who took spices to anoint the body of Jesus found the tomb empty and heard angels say, “He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24:6). When the women told this to the disciples, “Their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them” (v.11). Nonsense! Mind-boggling! Too good to be true!

If someone manipulated the evidence, then millions of people around the world gather today to celebrate a myth. But if Jesus conquered death, then all He said about forgiveness, power to change, and eternal life is real.

Because Christ has risen and lives today, this news is too good not to be true!



Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign. —Lowry





The resurrection is a fact of history
that demands a response of faith.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #989  
Old 04-25-2011, 03:39 AM
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Default Apr. 25

Resurrection And Life

April 25, 2011

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

I am the resurrection and the life. —John 11:25

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life”! It’s one thing to make such a bold assertion; it’s another to back it up—and back it up Jesus did by rising from the dead.

“If you believe that the Son of God died and rose again,” writes George MacDonald, “your whole future is full of the dawn of eternal morning, coming up beyond the hills of life, and full of such hope as the highest imagination for the poet has not a glimmer yet.”

The Son of God died and rose again, and His resurrection is the guarantee that God will bring us up and out of the ground: A thinking, feeling, remembering, recognizable person will live forever.

Living forever means living out the thought of eternity that God has placed in our hearts; meeting again one’s believing loved ones lost through separating death; living in a world without sorrow; seeing our Lord who loves us and gave everything to unite us to Him forever.

But I see another meaning. Since we have this life and the next, we don’t have to “have it all” now. We can live in broken and ruined bodies for a time; we can endure poverty and hardship for a while; we can face loneliness, heartache, and pain for a season. Why? There is a second birth—life in heaven forever.



Yes, Christ the Lord is risen,
Has come forth from the grave;
He breaks the chains of death for you
And now has power to save. —Woodruff





The resurrection is the foundation of our faith.
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-Colossians 3:23

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  #990  
Old 04-26-2011, 02:40 AM
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Default Apr. 26

Hard To Imagine

April 26, 2011

Read: Philippians 1:19-26

I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. —Philippians 1:23

Whenever my wife, Martie, and I get ready to go on vacation, we like to read about our destination, study the maps, and anticipate the joy of finally arriving at the place we’ve dreamed about for so long.

For those of us who know Jesus Christ, we have an incredible destination ahead of us—heaven. But I find it interesting that a lot of us don’t seem to be very excited about getting there. Why is that? Maybe it’s because we don’t understand heaven. We talk about streets of gold and gates of pearl, but what is it really like? What is there to look forward to?

I think the most profound description of heaven is found in Paul’s words to the Philippians. He said that to “depart and be with Christ” is “far better” (Phil. 1:23). It’s what I told my 8-year-old grandson when he asked what heaven is like. I started by asking him, “What is the most exciting thing in your life?” He told me about his computer game and other fun things he likes to do, and then I told him that heaven is far better. He thought for a minute, and then said, “Papa, that’s hard to imagine.”

What is it that you look forward to in life? What really excites you? Whatever it is, although it’s hard to imagine, heaven will be far better!



To be in His presence! A glorious thought
So awesome I cannot conceive;
I’ll bow down and worship the Lord on His throne
And add to the praise He’ll receive. —Sper





The more you look forward to heaven,
the less you’ll desire on earth.
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