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.:Daily Devotional..2:.
Author Message

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 6th, 2011 11:54 AM   IP              
Measuring Growth

Till we all come to the unity of the faith and . . . to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. —Ephesians 4:13

When a high school student tried using a thermometer to measure a table, his teacher was dumbfounded. In 15 years of teaching, Dave had seen many sad and shocking situations. But even he was amazed that a student could make it to high school without knowing the difference between a ruler and a thermometer.

When a friend told me this story, my heart broke for that student and others like him who have fallen so far behind in their education. They can’t move forward because they haven’t yet learned basic lessons of everyday life.

But then a sobering thought came to me: Don’t we sometimes do the same thing when we use wrong spiritual measuring devices? For example, do we assume that churches with the most resources are the most blessed by God? And do we ever think that popular preachers are more godly than those with few followers?

The proper measure of our spiritual condition is the quality of our lives, which is measured by such attributes as lowliness, gentleness, and longsuffering (Eph. 4:2). “Bearing with one another in love” (v.2) is a good indication that we are moving toward God’s goal for us: “the measure of . . . the fullness of Christ” (v.13).

Our spiritual maturity
Is measured by the quality
Of attributes that others see
Produced in us by Christ. —Sper

Our love for God can be measured by our love for others.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 7th, 2011 01:52 PM   IP              
A Focus On Fairness

Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate. —Amos 5:15

During the past 135 years of Major League Baseball, only 20 pitchers have thrown a perfect game. On June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers would have been number 21 but an umpire’s mistake denied him what every pitcher dreams of. The video replay showed the truth. Even though the umpire later acknowledged his error and apologized to Galarraga, the call made on the field could not be changed.

Through it all, Galarraga remained calm, expressed sympathy for the umpire, and never criticized him. Armando’s refusal to retaliate amazed fans, players, and sportswriters alike.

If we insist on fair treatment for ourselves, we can become angry and frustrated. But when we embrace the Bible’s wisdom, we will seek the welfare of others. Proverbs calls us “to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity” (1:2-3). Oswald Chambers said of our personal dealings with others, “Never look for justice, but never cease to give it; and never allow anything you meet with to sour your relationship to men through Jesus Christ.”

When we experience unfairness, it is our privilege and responsibility as followers of Christ to respond with honesty and integrity, doing what is right, just, and fair.

How others handle justice
May not be up to me;
But when I react to others,
I must show integrity. —Branon

Life is not fair, but God is always faithful.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 8th, 2011 12:50 PM   IP              
Grandfather’s Clock

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. —Psalm 90:12

In 1876, Henry Clay Work wrote the song “My Grandfather’s Clock.” The song describes a grandfather’s clock that faithfully ticks its way through its owner’s life. Childhood, adulthood, and old age are all viewed in relationship to his beloved timepiece. The refrain says:

Ninety years without slumbering,

Tick, tock, tick, tock,

His life’s seconds numbering,

Tick, tock, tick, tock,

But it stopped, short,

Never to go again,

When the old man died.

The relentless ticking of the clock reminds us that our time on earth is limited. Despite the joys and pains of life, time always marches on. For the believer, our time on earth is an opportunity for gaining wisdom. The psalmist writes, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).

One way of numbering our days is to ask ourselves these kinds of questions: How can I become more like Christ? Am I reading the Word regularly? Am I devoting time to prayer? Am I meeting together with other believers? The way we answer these questions is an indicator of the progress we’re making in gaining wisdom and becoming more like Christ.

No matter the phase of life—childhood, youth, middle age, or our senior years—life always affords us opportunities to grow in faith and wisdom. Numbering our days is the wise response to life’s inevitable progress.

How are you progressing on your journey?

Don’t spend your time—invest it.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 9th, 2011 01:03 PM   IP              
You Never Know

For the earth yields crops by itself. —Mark 4:28

During my seminary years, I directed a summer day camp for boys and girls at the YMCA. Each morning, I began the day with a brief story in which I tried to incorporate an element of the gospel.

To help illustrate that becoming a Christian means to become a new creation in Christ, I told a story about a moose that wanted to be a horse. The moose had seen a herd of wild horses, thought them elegant creatures, and wanted to be like them. So he taught himself to act like a horse. However, he was never accepted as a horse because he was . . . well, a moose. How can a moose become a horse? Only by being born a horse, of course. And then I would explain how we can all be born again by believing in Jesus.

One summer I had a staff counselor named Henry who was very hostile to the faith. I could do nothing but love him and pray for him, but he left at the end of the summer hardened in unbelief. That was more than 50 years ago. A few years ago I received a letter from Henry. The first sentence said: “I write to tell that I have been born again and now, at last, I am a ‘horse.’ ” This confirmed to me that we need to keep praying and planting the seed of the Word (Mark 4:26) so that it may bear fruit one day.

You think your word or deed is very small,
That what you say will hardly count at all;
But God can take the seed that you have sown
And nourish it until it’s fully grown. —Hess

We sow the seed—God produces the harvest.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 10th, 2011 01:26 PM   IP              
Good Neighbors

Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. —Luke 6:36

When US airspace was closed after the September 11, 2001, attacks, planes had to land at the closest airport available. Nearly 40 planes landed in Gander, Newfoundland. Suddenly this small Canadian community almost doubled in size when thousands of frightened passengers arrived. People opened their homes, and officials converted high schools, lodges, churches, and meeting halls into places to stay. Stranded passengers were overwhelmed with neighborly generosity and kindness.

The people of Gander showed the kind of love described in Hebrews 13: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (v.2). This is probably referring to Abraham when he entertained three men who came to tell him that he would soon have a son (Gen. 18:1-16). Two of the “men” were angels, and one was the Angel of the Lord. Bible commentator F. F. Bruce says about Abraham, “Among the Jews, Abraham was regarded as outstanding for his hospitality as [he was] for his other virtues; a true son of Abraham must be hospitable too.”

God calls believers to show their love and gratefulness for Him in their good works of hospitality and compassion.

How will you answer His call today?

How many lives shall I touch today?
How many neighbors will pass my way?
I can bless so many and help so much,
If I meet each one with a Christlike touch. —Jones

Christlike love is seen in good works.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 13th, 2011 12:22 PM   IP              
Character Amnesia

There was a man . . . whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. —Job 1:1

It seems that young people in China are beginning to forget how to write the characters that comprise the beautiful calligraphy of their traditional language. Some are calling the phenomenon “character amnesia.” Heavy usage of computers and smart phones often means that writing is neglected and some can no longer remember the characters they learned in childhood. One young man said, “People don’t write anything by hand anymore except for [their] name and address.”

Some people appear to have “character amnesia” of a different sort. When faced with a dilemma, they seem to “forget” the right thing to do and instead choose the easy way out.

God called Job “a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). God allowed Satan to take everything Job had—his children, his wealth, and his health. But despite his heart-wrenching circumstances, Job refused to curse God. “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (v.22). Satan had challenged God’s assertion of Job’s blameless character, but he was proven wrong.

Character amnesia? No. Character is who we are; it’s not something we “forget.” Those who have a loss of character make a choice.

It isn’t the tranquil and placid seas
That bring out the sailor’s skill;
It’s the wind and waves that pound his ship
And toss it about at will. —Ritter

When wealth is gone, little is lost; when health is gone, something is lost; but when character is gone, all is lost!

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 14th, 2011 01:23 PM   IP              
Rising To The Top

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit. —Philippians 2:3

Read: 1 Samuel 15:17-30
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit. —Philippians 2:3
Bible in a year:
Proverbs 19-21; 2 Corinthians 7“Lacks ambition.” That is not a phrase you want to see on your performance review. When it comes to work, employees who lack ambition seldom rise to the top of an organization. Without a strong desire to achieve something, nothing is accomplished. Ambition, however, has a dark side. It often has more to do with elevating self than with accomplishing something noble for others.

This was the case with many of the kings of Israel, including the first one. Saul started out with humility, but he gradually came to consider his position as something that belonged to him. He forgot that he had a special assignment from God to lead His chosen people in a way that would show other nations the way to God. When God relieved him of duty, Saul’s only concern was for himself (1 Sam. 15:30).

In a world where ambition often compels people to do whatever it takes to rise to positions of power over others, God calls His people to a new way of living. We are to do nothing out of selfish ambition (Phil. 2:3) and to lay aside the weight of sin that ensnares us (Heb. 12:1).

If you want to be someone who truly “rises up,” make it your ambition to humbly love and serve God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).

Rise up, O men of God!

Have done with lesser things:

Give heart and mind and soul and strength

To serve the King of kings. —Merrill

Ambition is short-sighted if our focus is not on God.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 15th, 2011 02:50 PM   IP              
Heavy Lifting

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden. —Matthew 11:28

One day I found my son straining to lift a pair of four-pound barbells over his head—an ambitious feat for a toddler. He had raised them only a few inches off the ground, but his eyes were determined and his face was pink with effort. I offered to help, and together we heaved the weight up toward the ceiling. The heavy lifting that was so hard for him was easy for me.

Jesus has this perspective on the stuff that’s hard for us to manage. When life seems like a carousel of catastrophes, Jesus isn’t fazed by a fender-bender, troubled by a toothache, or harassed by a heated argument—even if it all happens in one day! He can handle anything, and that is why He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden” (Matt. 11:28).

Are you worn out from ongoing problems? Are you weighed down with stress and worry? Jesus is the only real solution. Approaching the Lord in prayer allows us to cast our burdens on Him so that He can sustain us (Ps. 55:22). Today, ask Him to assist you with everything. By helping you with your burdens, He can supply rest for your soul, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:29-30).

O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer. —Scriven

Prayer is the place where burdens change shoulders.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 17th, 2011 02:19 PM   IP              
Listen Up!

And He said to them, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
— Mark 4:9

It is possible to hear God's Word with our ears, but not with our hearts. Jesus knew that oftentimes we can hear without understanding; this is why He would so often say, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" If we were to paraphrase that in our modern language, Jesus would be saying, "Pay attention to what I'm saying. Listen carefully to what I am telling you right now." He who has ears to hear, let him hear. . .It is attention with intention.

I do quite a bit of traveling and when I get on a plane and take my seat, I really do not listen carefully to the safety messages that the flight attendants give before every single flight. They have a long list of information they give to you, pointing out the exits, the location of the oxygen masks, and life vests. But often I do not pay attention. Instead I may look at a magazine. Because I have heard it so many times, I think I don't need to listen.

What if a few minutes after takeoff the pilot came on the intercom again and said something like this? "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties, and the flight attendant is going to go through that safety message for you one more time." I can guarantee you that I would be listening. Why? Because my life would depend on it. I would really want to know where those exits are, how to use my seat as a flotation device, and what steps I might need to take to survive an emergency.

When you think about it, this is how we need to be reading the Word of God. Not just as a tedious part of our morning routine, where we skim a passage without really thinking about it. No, we need to listen carefully to what God has to say to us. It is attention with intention, listening with the desire to apply what we have read to our own daily situations. So much depends on that infusion of wisdom and life—probably more than we will ever know.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 18th, 2011 01:41 PM   IP              
His Temptation and Ours

We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin —Hebrews 4:15

Until we are born again, the only kind of temptation we understand is the kind mentioned in James 1:14, “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” But through regeneration we are lifted into another realm where there are other temptations to face, namely, the kind of temptations our Lord faced. The temptations of Jesus had no appeal to us as unbelievers because they were not at home in our human nature. Our Lord’s temptations and ours are in different realms until we are born again and become His brothers. The temptations of Jesus are not those of a mere man, but the temptations of God as Man. Through regeneration, the Son of God is formed in us (see Galatians 4:19), and in our physical life He has the same setting that He had on earth. Satan does not tempt us just to make us do wrong things— he tempts us to make us lose what God has put into us through regeneration, namely, the possibility of being of value to God. He does not come to us on the premise of tempting us to sin, but on the premise of shifting our point of view, and only the Spirit of God can detect this as a temptation of the devil.

Temptation means a test of the possessions held within the inner, spiritual part of our being by a power outside us and foreign to us. This makes the temptation of our Lord explainable. After Jesus’ baptism, having accepted His mission of being the One “who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) He “was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matthew 4:1) and into the testing devices of the devil. Yet He did not become weary or exhausted. He went through the temptation “without sin,” and He retained all the possessions of His spiritual nature completely intact.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 20th, 2011 02:28 PM   IP              
Are You Ready?

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. —2 Peter 3:9

Many will remember the fall season of 2008 as the beginning of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. In the months to follow, many lost their jobs, homes, and investments. In a BBC interview a year later, Alan Greenspan, former head of the US Federal Reserve, indicated that the average person doesn’t believe it will happen again. He said, “That is the unquenchable capability of human beings when confronted with long periods of prosperity to presume that it will continue.”

Assuming that things will continue as they always have is not just 21st-century-type thinking. In the first century, Peter wrote of people who thought that life would continue as it was and that Jesus would not return. He said, “Since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). Jesus said He would come back, but the people continued to live in disobedience as though He would never return. But His delay is only because of God’s patience with us, for He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (v.9).

Paul tells us that Christians ought to live “soberly, right­eously, and godly” in the light of Christ’s certain return. (Titus 2:12). Are you ready to meet Him?

Faithful and true would He find us here
If He should come today?
Watching in gladness and not in fear,
If He should come today? —Morris

Jesus may come any time, so we should be ready all the time.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 21st, 2011 11:55 AM   IP              
A Lesson In Crying

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. —Matthew 5:4

Has your heart ever been broken? What broke it? Cruelty? Failure? Unfaithfulness? Loss? Perhaps you’ve crept into the darkness to cry.

It’s good to cry. “Tears are the only cure for weeping,” said Scottish preacher George MacDonald. A little crying does one good.

Jesus wept at His friend Lazarus’ grave (John 11:35), and He weeps with us (v.33). His heart was broken as well. Our tears attract our Lord’s lovingkindness and tender care. He knows our troubled, sleepless nights. His heart aches for us when we mourn. He is the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). And He uses His people to comfort one another.

But tears and our need for comfort come back all too frequently in this life. Present comfort is not the final answer. There is a future day when there will be no death, no sorrow, no crying, for all these things will “have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). There in heaven God will wipe away every tear. We are so dear to our Father that He will be the one who wipes the tears away from our eyes; He loves us so deeply and personally.

Remember, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).

Think of a land of no sorrow,
Think of a land of no fears,
Think of no death and no sickness,
Think of a land of no tears. —Anon.

God cares and shares in our sorrow.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 23rd, 2011 12:23 PM   IP              
Serious Business

The Lord reigns; the world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously. —Psalm 96:10

Recently I was called for jury duty. It meant extraordinary inconvenience and lots of lost time, but it was also serious business. During the first day’s orientation, the judge lectured us on the responsibility at hand and the important nature of the task. We were going to sit in judgment of people who either had disputes (civil court) or were charged with crimes (criminal court). I felt a great sense of inadequacy for the task at hand. Passing judgment on another person, with serious life consequences riding on the decision, is not a simple thing. Because we’re flawed human beings, we may not always make the right judgments.

While the justice systems of our world might struggle and falter because of the inherent failings of the humans that manage them, we can always trust our God to excel in wisdom and fairness. The psalmist sang, “The Lord reigns; the world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously” (Ps. 96:10). God judges according to righteousness—defined by His own perfect justice and flawless character.

We can trust God now when life seems unfair, knowing that He will one day make all things right in His final court (2 Cor. 5:10).

The best of judges on this earth
Aren’t always right or fair;
But God, the righteous Judge of all,
Wrongs no one in His care. —Egner

One day God will right every wrong.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 25th, 2011 02:13 PM   IP              
Ash-Heap Christians

Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it . . . the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. —1 Corinthians 3:13

Someone once asked me why she should be like Jesus now since she would become like Him when she got to heaven (1 John 3:1-3). Great question! Especially when it’s easier to just be yourself.

Actually, there are several reasons why becoming like Him now is important, but one is near the top. When we see and stand before Him, we will give an account as to whether or not we lived in ways that were consistent with His will. Or, as Paul put it, whether or not we have built on Him as our foundation with “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, [or] straw” (1 Cor. 3:12-13).

All that we do to advance His kingdom—things like contribute to the strength of His church, serve the poor and needy, and promote righteousness and justice as He did—is like building with essential materials that will survive the fire of His judgment. On the contrary, building with things that reflect our fallen ways, and living to advance ourselves and our earthly desires are commodities that will turn into a pile of ashes before the consuming fire of His glory.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather love Jesus enough to live like Him now, for the thought of standing before Him in a heap of ashes is an unthinkable alternative.

Father, thank You for the Spirit,
Fill us with His love and power;
Change us into Christ’s own image
Day by day and hour by hour. —Anon.

Build your life with commodities
that will stand the test of God’s judgment.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 28th, 2011 02:19 PM   IP              
Not At This Time

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. —Romans 12:2

It can be quite discouraging for wanna-be writers to get their work rejected time after time. When they send in a manuscript to a publisher, they’ll often hear back in a letter with these words: “Thank you. But your submission does not meet our needs at this time.” Sometimes this really means “not at this time—or ever.” So they try the next publisher and the next.

I’ve found that the phrase This does not meet our needs at this time—or ever can be a helpful saying in my Christian walk to renew my mind and refocus my thoughts on the Lord.

Here’s what I mean. When starting to worry, we can remind ourselves: “Worry does not meet my needs at this time—or ever. My heart’s need is to trust God. I will ‘be anxious for nothing’ ” (Phil. 4:6).

When we envy what another person has or does, we can reinforce the truth: “Envy does not meet my needs at this time—or ever. My need is to give thanks to God. His Word says, ‘Envy is rottenness to the bones’ (Prov. 14:30), and ‘In everything give thanks’ ” (1 Thess. 5:18).

We can’t renew our minds by ourselves (Rom. 12:2); it’s the transforming work of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Yet speaking the truth in our thoughts can help us to submit to the Spirit’s work within.

For Further Thought
What are some areas you struggle with in your heart?
Ask God to renew your mind that it might think like His.
Then keep reminding yourself of the truth.

The Spirit of God renews our minds
when we review the Word of God.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted September 30th, 2011 12:16 PM   IP              
1,000th Birthday

Prepare to meet your God! —Amos 4:12

In his book Long for This World, Jonathan Weiner writes about science’s promise to radically extend how long we live. At the center of the book is English scientist Aubrey de Grey, who predicts that science will one day offer us 1,000-year lifespans. Aubrey claims that molecular biology has finally placed a cure for aging within our reach.

But what difference does it make if, after living 1,000 years, we will eventually die anyway? De Grey’s prediction only postpones facing the ultimate question of what happens when we die. It does not answer it.

The Scriptures tell us that death is not the end of our existence. Instead, we are assured that everyone will stand before Christ—believers for their works and nonbelievers for their rejection of Him (John 5:25-29; Rev. 20:11-15). All of us are sinners and in need of forgiveness. And only Christ’s death on the cross has provided forgiveness for all who believe (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

Our appointed face-to-face encounter with God puts everything in perspective. So whether we live 70 years or 1,000, the issue of eternity is the same: “Prepare to meet your God!” (Amos 4:12).

What matters more than length of life
Is where you’ll spend eternity;
If you have placed your faith in Christ,
Then heaven’s glory you will see. —Sper

Only those who have placed their faith in Christ are prepared to meet their Maker.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 1st, 2011 01:00 PM   IP              
Tone Check

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. —Colossians 4:6

Driving home from work, I heard a radio advertisement that got my attention. It was for a computer program that checks e-mails as they are written. I was familiar with “spell check” and “grammar check” programs, but this was different. This was “tone check.” The software monitors the tone and wording of e-mails to make certain they are not overly aggressive, unkind, or mean-spirited.

As I listened to the announcer describe the features of this software, I wondered what it would be like to have something like that for my mouth. How many times have I reacted harshly instead of listening first—and later regretted the words I had spoken? Certainly a tone check would have protected me from responding so foolishly.

Paul saw the need for us as believers to check our speech—especially when talking to those who are not Christians. He said, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6). His concern was that our speech be graceful, reflecting the beauty of our Savior. And it must be inviting to others. Talking with the right tone to unbelievers is vital to our ability to witness to them. Colossians 4:6 can be our tone check.

Tone of voice can be effective
If our spirit’s calm and meek;
Let us watch our words and actions,
Always careful how we speak. —Hess

Every time we speak, our heart is on parade.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 2nd, 2011 02:10 PM   IP              
In Search Of Silence

I have calmed and quieted my soul. —Psalm 131:2

My next record should be 45 minutes of silence,” said singer Meg Hutchinson, “because that’s what we’re missing most in society.”

Silence is indeed hard to find. Cities are notoriously noisy due to the high concentration of traffic and people. There seems to be no escape from loud music, loud machines, and loud voices. But the kind of noise that endangers our spiritual well-being is not the noise we can’t escape but the noise we invite into our lives. Some of us use noise as a way of shutting out loneliness: voices of TV and radio personalities give us the illusion of companionship. Some of us use it as a way of shutting out our own thoughts: other voices and opinions keep us from having to think for ourselves. Some of us use noise as a way of shutting out the voice of God: constant chatter, even when we’re talking about God, keeps us from hearing what God has to say.

But Jesus, even during His busiest times, made a point of seeking out places of solitude where He could carry on a conversation with God (Mark 1:35). Even if we can’t find a place that is perfectly quiet, we need to find a place to quiet our souls (Ps. 131:2), a place where God has our full attention.

Don’t let the noise of the world
keep you from hearing the voice of the Lord.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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 Posted October 3rd, 2011 03:19 PM   IP              
Healing From Heaven

Blessed be . . . the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. —2 Corinthians 1:3

Thomas Moore (1779–1852) was an Irish songwriter, singer, and poet. His talents brought joy to many who saw him perform or who sang his music. Yet, tragically, his personal life was troubled by repeated heartaches, including the death of all five of his children during his lifetime. Moore’s personal wounds make these words of his all the more meaningful: “Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish; earth hath no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” This moving statement reminds us that meeting with God in prayer can bring healing to the troubled soul.

The apostle Paul also saw how our heavenly Father can provide solace to the hurting heart. To the believers at Corinth he wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Sometimes, though, we can be so preoccupied with an inner sorrow that we isolate ourselves from the One who can offer consolation. We need to be reminded that God’s comfort and healing come through prayer.

As we confide in our Father, we can experience peace and the beginning of healing for our wounded hearts. For truly “earth hath no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed. —Cushing

Prayer is the soil in which hope and healing grow best.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 5th, 2011 01:44 PM   IP              
Location, Location, Location

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son. —Colossians 1:13

Buying and selling real estate in the US is tricky business these days. Housing prices have dropped significantly, and if you’re trying to unload commercial property it’s even more difficult. So, in the game of real estate, it remains important to keep this old adage in mind: “The three most important things to know about buying and selling property are location, location, location!”

The same is true of living for Jesus. Knowing our location spiritually is critical if we are to succeed in navigating through the greatly devalued territory of our world. Paul reminds us that we have a new location in Christ, having been delivered “from the power of darkness and conveyed . . . into the kingdom of the Son” (Col. 1:13). Knowing that we have been relocated by His amazing grace into the kingdom of Jesus makes a difference. Jesus now reigns as King in our hearts and minds, and we are His grateful subjects. His will is our will and His ways become patterns for all of life and behavior. And when we are forced to make a choice, our allegiance is to Him.

So, when the temptations and the seductions of the darkness from which you have been removed threaten His reign in your heart, remember your new postal code: Colossians 1:13!

Where Jesus reigns there is no fear,
No restless doubt, no hopeless tear,
No raging sea nor tempest dread,
But quietness and calm instead. —Anon.

The subjects of the kingdom
should display the manners of the court.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 6th, 2011 01:10 PM   IP              
Shine On!

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:16

I was frustrated that despite my repeated calls, the streetlight in front of my house was still out. Because we don’t have sidewalks and there is such a large distance between the streetlights, it’s important that each light is functional to illuminate the darkness. I worried that I might hit one of the school kids as I pulled out of my driveway in the early morning hours.

The idea of light is used frequently in the Bible. Jesus said that He is the Light of the world (John 9:5). We are told to “put on the armor of light” by clothing ourselves with the Lord (Rom. 13:12-14). And Matthew 5:16 instructs that we should “let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works and glorify [our] Father in heaven.”

A light that doesn’t shine has lost its usefulness. Jesus said that no one hides a light under a basket but puts it on a lampstand to illuminate everything around it (Matt. 5:15). Our light (our actions) should point people to the One who is the Light. We don’t have any light in ourselves, but we shine with the reflection of Christ (Eph. 5:8).

God has placed each of us in a specific environment that will best allow us to shine with His light. Don’t be like a burned-out streetlight. Shine on!

Lord, help us always put You first
In everything we say and do
So that Your light will shine through us
And show the world their need of You. —Sper

Whether you’re a candle in a corner
or a beacon on a hill, let your light shine.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 7th, 2011 01:31 PM   IP              
A No-Smiling Policy

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. —John 13:35

Usually we’re told to smile before someone takes our picture. But in some parts of the US, a no-smiling policy is enforced when getting your photo taken for a driver’s license. Because of identity theft, these motor vehicle departments carefully check new photos that are taken to be sure they don’t match photos already in the system. If someone gets a picture taken under a false name, an alarm is sent to the operator. From 1999 to 2009, one state stopped 6,000 people from getting fraudulent licenses. But why no smiling? The technology recognizes a face more easily if the person has a neutral facial expression.

Jesus prescribed a good way to recognize a Christian. He told His disciples, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). The ways to show love to fellow believers are as endless as there are people with needs: a note of encouragement, a visit, a meal, a gentle rebuke, a prayer, a Bible verse, a listening ear, even just a friendly smile.

The apostle John wrote, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). Can others recognize, by our care for fellow Christians, that we know and love the Lord?

For Christians to be recognized
As people who follow the Lord,
Their love for one another is
A virtue that can’t be ignored. —Sper

One measure of our love for God
is how much we show love to His children.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 8th, 2011 02:12 PM   IP              
Free To Choose

He knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. —Daniel 6:10

When it was learned that the biggest football game of the 2011 season was scheduled to be played on Yom Kippur, the student government at the University of Texas petitioned school officials to change the date. They said it was unfair to make Jewish students choose between the classic football rivalry with Oklahoma and observing their most important and sacred holy day of the year. But the date was not changed. Even in societies where people have religious freedom, difficult choices are still required of every person of faith.

Daniel demonstrated the courage to obey God no matter what the consequences. When his political rivals set a trap to eliminate him from their path to power (Dan. 6:1-9), he didn’t challenge the law or complain that he had been wronged. “When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (v.10).

Daniel didn’t know if God would save him from the lions’ den, but it didn’t matter. He chose to honor God in his life whatever the outcome. Like Daniel, we are free to choose to follow the Lord.

What freedom lies with all who choose
To live for God each day!
But chains of bondage shackle those
Who choose some other way. —D. De Haan

You can never go wrong when you choose to follow Christ.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 9th, 2011 01:55 PM   IP              
The Cost Of Fighting

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? —James 4:1

During a documentary on World War I, the narrator said that if Britain’s casualties in “the war to end all wars” were marched four abreast past London’s war monument, the processional would take 7 days to complete. This staggering word picture set my mind spinning at the awful cost of war. While those costs include monetary expense, destruction of property, and economic interruption, none of these compare to the human cost. Both soldiers and civilians pay the ultimate price, multiplied exponentially by the grief of the survivors. War is costly.

When believers go to war with one another, the cost is also high. James wrote, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (James 4:1). In our own selfish pursuits, we sometimes battle without considering the price exacted on our witness to the world or our relationships with one another. Perhaps that is why James preceded these words with the challenge, “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (3:18).

If we are to represent the Prince of Peace in our world, believers need to stop fighting with one another and practice peace.

The wars and fights within the church
Disrupt our unity and peace;
How can we show the peace of Christ
Unless our conflicts cease? —Sper

When Christians are at peace with one another, the world can more clearly see the Prince of Peace.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 10th, 2011 02:27 PM   IP              
The Joy Of Remembering

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. —Psalm 103:2

A long-time friend described the days surrounding his 90th birthday as “a time . . . to do a little reflecting, looking in the rearview mirror of my life, and spending many hours in what I call ‘The Grace of Remembrance.’ It’s so easy to forget all the ways that the Lord has led! ‘Forget not all His benefits’” (Ps. 103:2).

This was typical of the person I’ve known and admired for more than 50 years. Rather than reviewing disappointments, his letter was filled with thankfulness and praise to God.

First, he recalled the Lord’s temporal mercies—his good health, the enjoyment of his wife and children, the joy and success of work, his enriching friendships, and the opportunities he’d had to serve God. He considered them all gifts—none deserved, but all gratefully received.

Next, he reviewed God’s spiritual mercies—the influence of Christian parents and the experience of God’s forgiveness when he accepted Christ as a teenager. He concluded with the encouragement he’d received from churches, schools, and Christian men who cared and prayed for each other.

It’s a model we should follow on a regular basis—the joy of remembering. “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (v.1).

He knoweth best! His will for me
Is better than my plans.
Do not all good and perfect gifts
Come from my Father’s hand? —Doonan

Give loving thanks for the Lord’s lavish gifts.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 11th, 2011 12:52 PM   IP              
The Forgotten God

No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. —1 Corinthians 2:11

When we quote The Apostles’ Creed, we say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” Author J. B. Phillips said, “Every time we say [this] we mean that we believe that [the Spirit] is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it.”

Sometimes we forget that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force. The Bible describes Him as God. He possesses the attributes of God: He is present everywhere (Ps. 139:7-8), He knows all things (1 Cor. 2:10-11), and He has infinite power (Luke 1:35). He also does things that only God can do: create (Gen. 1:2) and give life (Rom. 8:2). He is equal in every way with the other Persons of the Trinity—the Father and the Son.

The Holy Spirit is a Person who engages in personal ways with us. He grieves when we sin (Eph. 4:30). He teaches us (1 Cor. 2:13), prays for us (Rom. 8:26), guides us (John 16:13), gives us spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:11), and assures us of salvation (Rom. 8:16).

The Holy Spirit indwells us if we have received forgiveness of sin through Jesus. He desires to transform us so that we become more and more like Jesus. Let’s cooperate with the Spirit by reading God’s Word and relying on His power to obey what we learn.

God’s guidance and help that we need day to day
Is given to all who believe;
The Spirit has sealed us—He’s God’s guarantee
Of power that we can receive. —Branon

The Christian who neglects the Holy Spirit
is like a lamp that’s not plugged in.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 15th, 2011 01:09 PM   IP              
A Debt Of Gratitude

[They] risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. —Romans 16:4

Dave Randlett was someone of whom I can say, “Because of him, my life will never be the same.” Dave, who went to heaven in October 2010, became a mentor to me when I was a new follower of Jesus in my college years. He not only invested time in me, but he took risks by giving me opportunities to learn and grow in ministry. Dave was God’s instrument to give me the opportunity to be a student preacher and travel with a college music team. As a result, he helped shape and prepare me for a life of teaching God’s Word. I’m glad I was able to express thanks to him on a number of occasions.

Just as I am thankful for Dave’s influence in my life, the apostle Paul was grateful for Aquila and Priscilla, who served the Lord with him. He said they “risked their own necks for my life.” In gratitude, he thanked them, as did “all the churches of the Gentiles” (Rom. 16:4).

You too may have people in your life who have taken risks by giving you opportunities to serve or who have greatly influenced you spiritually. Perhaps pastors, ministry leaders, friends, or family members have given of themselves to move you further along for Christ. The question is, have you thanked them?

Consider what the Lord has done
Through those who’ve shown you love;
And thank Him for each faithful one—
A blessing from above. —Sper

For those who have helped you, take time to give them thanks.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 16th, 2011 02:09 PM   IP              
The Wooden Rule

The body is not one member but many. —1 Corinthians 12:14

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden had an interesting rule for his teams. Whenever a player scored, he was to acknowledge the person on the team who had assisted. When he was coaching high school, one of his players asked, “Coach, won’t that take up too much time?” Wooden replied, “I’m not asking you to run over there and give him a big hug. A nod will do.”

To achieve victory on the basketball court, Wooden saw the importance of teaching his players that they were a team—not “just a bunch of independent operators.” Each person contributed to the success of everyone else.

That reminds me of the way the body of Christ should work. According to 1 Corinthians 12:19-20, each of us is a separate part of one body. “If they were all one member, where would the body be? But . . . there are many members, yet one body.” Is the success of a pastor, a Bible study, or a church program based solely on one person’s accomplishments? How many people contribute to the smooth operation of a church, a Christian organization, a family?

Coach Wooden’s rule and 1 Corinthians 12 are both rooted in the principle of seeing our need for one another. Let’s use our gifts within the body of Christ to build up, strengthen, and help to carry out God’s purposes (vv.1-11).

All Christians have been gifted
By grace from God above,
Equipped to build and strengthen
The church in faith and love. —Fitzhugh

There are no unimportant people in the body of Christ.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 17th, 2011 01:51 PM   IP              
Character At Play

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. —2 Peter 1:3

A college football coach in the Bronx (New York) built his team around good character qualities. Instead of displaying their names on the back of their jerseys, the Maritime College players displayed words like family, respect, accountability, and character. Before each game, coach Clayton Kendrick-Holmes reminded his team to play by those principles on the field.

The apostle Peter had his own list of Christian qualities (2 Peter 1:5-7) that he encouraged believers to add to their life of faith:

Virtue. Fulfilling God’s design for a life with moral excellence.

Knowledge. Studying God’s Word to gain wisdom to combat falsehood.

Self-control. Revering God so much that we choose godly behavior.

Perseverance. Having a hopeful attitude even in difficulties because we’re confident in God’s character.

Godliness. Honoring the Lord in every relationship in life.

Brotherly kindness. Displaying a warmhearted affection for fellow believers.

Love. Sacrificing for the good of others.

Let’s develop these qualities in increasing measure and integrate them into every part of our life.

Just as the body grows in strength
With exercise each day,
Our spirit grows in godliness
By living life God’s way. —D. De Haan

Godly exercise is the key to godly character.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

Posts: 17323
Registered: Mar 2009
 Posted October 18th, 2011 11:57 AM   IP              
Papa Didn’t Say “Oh!”

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. —Psalm 145:8

I have a friend who was working in his home office one evening, trying to get some necessary paperwork done. His little girl, who was about 4 years old at the time, was playing around his desk, puttering about, moving objects here and there, pulling out drawers, and making a good deal of noise.

My friend endured the distraction with stoic patience until the child slammed a drawer on one of her fingers and screamed in pain. Reacting in exasperation he shouted, “That’s it!” as he escorted her out of the room and shut the door.

Later, her mother found her weeping in her bedroom and tried to comfort her. “Does your finger still hurt?” she asked. “No,” the little girl sniffled. “Then why are you crying?” her mother asked. “’Cause,” she whimpered, “when I pinched my finger, Papa didn’t say, ‘Oh!’”

Sometimes that’s all we need, isn’t it? Someone who cares and who will respond with kindness and compassion, someone who will say, “Oh!” We have One named Jesus who does that for us.

Jesus loves us, understands our sorrows, and gave Himself for us (Eph. 5:2). Now we are to “walk in love” and imitate Him.

Knowing God—what comfort there,
Drawn by His eternal care;
Love from God—what joy we share,
Drawn into His mercies rare. —Branon

God’s whisper of comfort quiets the noise of our trials.

God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger

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