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Showing posts from March, 2019

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

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The Beauty Of Forgiveness
Luke 15:11-24
When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran . . . and kissed him.(Luke 15:20)What started out as a collection has grown into a ministry opportunity for Larry and Mary Gerbens. For the past 10 years they’ve been collecting artistic works based on the story of the prodigal son from Luke 15. Their collection includes a painting by Rembrandt and a number of items by other artists depicting this story. The Gerbens wanted to share their collection, so they put it on display at a local college. Larry said, “The artists have ministered to us, and we hope their work will minister to others.” As I wandered through the displays, I was touched by the deep need of the prodigal, his honest repentance, and the beautiful forgiveness of the father portrayed in the variety of art pieces—paintings, etchings, engravings, glasswork, sketches, and silk screens. We have all been like the son in this story, who had other plans for his l…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

The Kingdom Of Me?1 Peter 3:8-17
Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.(1 Pet 3:15)
In 1977, 15-year-old Kevin Baugh and a teenage friend decided to create their own country, just for fun. The Republic of Molossia began as they drew a map, created paper money, and made a flag. Today, Mr. Baugh continues his micro-nation the same way it began—just for fun. When Chicago Tribune reporter Colleen Mastony toured his 1.3 acre kingdom in the Nevada desert, Baugh assured her he still pays US taxes, which he calls “foreign aid.” “It’s always tongue-in-cheek,” Baugh admits. “I’m doing this for the pleasure and enjoyment of having my own country.” Not many of us will create our own nation, but we all have a kingdom of the heart where we decide who will rule. The apostle Peter wrote: “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” (1 Peter 3:15). “Sanctify” means to set apart Christ as Lord or Ruler of our life. There is something within each of us that longs to be in control of our lives. It may be only a smal…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

One Beautiful MomentIsaiah 40:6-11
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.(Isaiah 4:6) One snap of the shutter, and there it was . . . one beautiful moment captured in time for eternity. The late summer sun reflected in the breaking wave made the water look like liquid gold splashing onto the shore. If my friend had not been there with his camera, the wave would have gone unnoticed, like so many others that have come and gone, seen only by God. Who can imagine how many waves Lake Michigan has sent rolling onto the shoreline? Yet each one is unique. As seen in every wave, God makes extravagant beauty out of seemingly mundane things. Using water and air, He makes wondrous works of art. We enjoy His gallery in skies above and on earth and sea below. But most of earth’s beauty remains invisible to us; it is seen only by God. God uses another gallery to display His glory—humans. We too are made out of something ordinary—dust (Gen. 2:7). But to us He added an…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Have You Left A Tip?2 Corinthians 8:1-9
Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor. (2 Cor 8:9) The practice of tipping is commonly accepted in many countries. But I wonder: Has this courtesy influenced our attitude toward giving money to the church? Many Christians regard their financial giving as little more than a goodwill gesture to God for the service He has rendered us. They think that as long as they have given their tithe to God, the rest is theirs to handle as they please. But the Christian life is about so much more than money! The Bible tells us that our Creator owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10). “The world is Mine,” God says, “and all its fullness” (v.12). Everything comes from Him, and everything we have belongs to Him. God has not only given us every material thing we have, He has also given us His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who provides our very salvation. Paul used the Macedonian Christians as an illustration of what our giving should look like i…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

I’m Innocent!
James 1:19-25
Be doers of the Word.(James 1:22)All of the students at a school in Florida—2,550 in total—were in trouble. A message system notified every parent that their child (or children) had detention that weekend for bad behavior. Many kids pleaded their innocence, yet some parents meted out punishment anyway. One mother, Amy, admitted that she yelled at her son and made sure he showed up for his detention on Saturday. To the relief of 2,534 kids, and to the embarrassment of some parents, they discovered that the automated message was sent in error to the entire student body when only 16 kids actually deserved detention! Amy felt so bad about not listening to and believing her son that she took him out for breakfast that Saturday morning. We all have stories to tell about circumstances that have shown us our need to listen before we speak. We’re naturally tempted to come to quick judgments and react angrily. The book of James gives us these three practical exhortations…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

In All Kinds Of WeatherActs 18:9-11
Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.(Matthew 28:20) When Jesus sent His disciples out, He gave them this promise: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Literally, the word always means “all the days,” according to Greek scholars Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown. Jesus didn’t simply say, “always,” but “all the days.” That takes into account all our various activities, the good and bad circumstances surrounding us, the varied responsibilities we have through the course of our days, the storm clouds and the sunshine. Our Lord is present with us no matter what each day brings. It may be a day of joy or of sadness, of sickness or of health, of success or of failure. No matter what happens to us today, our Lord is walking beside us, strengthening us, loving us, filling us with faith, hope, and love. As He envelops us with quiet serenity and security, our foes, fears, afflictions, and doubts begin to recede. We can bear…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Ordinary DaysLuke 2:8-20
Behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them.(Luke 2:9) Writer Anita Brechbill observed in God’s Revivalist magazine that “Most often the Word of the Lord comes to a soul in the ordinary duties of life.” She cites the examples of Zachariah performing his duties as a priest, and the shepherds watching their flocks. They were at work as usual with no idea that they were about to receive a message from God. Luke describes the ordinary days when these men received their message from God: “While [Zachariah] was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, . . . an angel of the Lord appeared to him” (1:8,11). While the shepherds were “living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night . . . an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (2:8-9). Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest said: “Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we le…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Crazy Horse1 Samuel 7:3-12
Samuel took a stone . . . and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”(1 Sam 7:12) In 1876, the Sioux leader Crazy Horse joined forces with Sitting Bull to defeat General Custer and his army at Little Bighorn. Not much later, though, starvation caused Crazy Horse to surrender to US troops. He was killed while trying to escape. Despite this sad conclusion to his life, he became a symbol of heroic leadership of a threatened people. Today in the Black Hills of South Dakota, he is commemorated with a monument being carved into a mountain—the Crazy Horse Memorial. When complete, it will be 641 feet long and 563 feet high. It will show Crazy Horse riding a galloping horse, pointing the way to his people. Thousands of years ago, the prophet Samuel used a much smaller memorial stone in a significant way. In the midst of a crucial battle with the Philistines, Samuel called out to God on Israel’s behalf. The Lord answered his prayer (1 Sam. 7:1…

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Casting Shadows
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
No flesh should glory in His presence.(1 Cor 1:29)Legend has it that Michelangelo painted with a brush in one hand and a candle in the other to prevent his shadow from covering his masterpiece in progress. That’s the kind of attitude we should adopt if we are serious about wanting to display the masterpiece of God’s glory on the canvas of our lives. Unfortunately, we tend to live in a way that draws attention to ourselves—our cars, our clothes, our careers, our position, our cleverness, our success. And when life is all about us, it’s hard for people to see Jesus in us. Jesus saved us to be reflections of His glory (Rom. 8:29), but when we live for ourselves, our shadow gets cast on the canvas of His presence in us. When the believers in Corinth were feeling too full of themselves, Paul warned them “that no flesh should glory [boast] in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:29), and reminded them of what Jeremiah said, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (v…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Justice And Mercy CombinedNahum 1:1-9
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble.(Nahum 1:7) When a defendant stands before a judge, he or she is at the mercy of the court. If the defendant is innocent, the court should be a refuge. But if the defendant is guilty, we expect the court to exact punishment. In Nahum, we see God as both a refuge and a judge. It says, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble” (1:7). But it also says, “He will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness” (v.8). Over 100 years earlier, Nineveh had repented after Jonah preached God’s forgiveness, and the land was safe (Jonah 3:10). But during Nahum’s day, Nineveh was plotting “evil against the Lord” (Nah. 1:11). In chapter 3, Nahum details Nineveh’s destruction. Many people know only one side of God’s dealings with the human race but not the other. They think that He is holy and wants only to punish us, or that He is merciful and wants only to show kindness. In trut…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Never Too OldGenesis 18:1-15
Is anything too hard for the Lord?(Gen 18:14) The women of Brown Manor had raised their families and retired from their careers. Now they could no longer live on their own, so they came to Brown Manor as a sort of “last stop before heaven.” They enjoyed each other’s company but often struggled with feelings of uselessness. Sometimes they even questioned why God was so slow in taking them to heaven. One of the women, who had spent years as a pianist, often played hymns on the Manor’s piano. Other women joined her, and together they lifted their voices in praise to God. One day, a government auditor was conducting a routine inspection during one of their spontaneous worship services. When he heard them sing “What Will You Do With Jesus?” the Spirit of God moved his heart. He recalled the song from his childhood and knew that he had chosen to leave Jesus behind. That day, God spoke to him again and gave him another chance to answer the question differently. And h…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

A Heart Of ConcernPhilippians 2:1-11 Let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.(Phil 2:3-4) Jason Ray was a ray of joy on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill. He performed as Rameses (the school mascot) for 3 years, hauling his giant ram’s head costume to sporting events one day and children’s hospitals the next. Then, in March 2007, while with his team for a basketball tournament, Jason was struck by a car. His family watched and waited at the hospital, but the 21-year-old succumbed to his injuries and died. His story doesn’t end there, however. Jason had filed paperwork two years earlier to donate organs and tissue upon his death—and that act of concern saved the lives of four people and helped dozens of others. A young man in the prime of his life, with everything to live for, was concerned for the well-being of others and acted on that concern. Those individuals who were…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Suit UpEphesians 6:13-21
Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.(Eph 6:13) When I played American football as a kid, one thing that took some getting used to was all the equipment we had to wear. Running effectively in a helmet, shoulder pads, and a variety of other protective items can feel awkward and clumsy at first. But over time the protective gear becomes like a familiar friend that provides welcome protection against serious injury. When a football player suits up, he knows that his equipment is designed to protect him in battle against a dangerous opponent. As followers of Christ, we also face a dangerous foe—a spiritual enemy who seeks our downfall and destruction. Fortunately, our Lord has provided us with protection, and He challenges us to suit up for spiritual battle. In Ephesians 6:13, we read, “Take up the whole armor of God…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Take One StepDeuteronomy 30:15-20
Love the Lord your God, . . . obey His voice, and . . . cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.(Deut 30:20) At a shopping mall in Coventry, England, researchers posted colorful signs along the steps of a staircase that said: “Taking the stairs protects your heart.” Over a 6-week period, the number of people who chose to walk up the stairs instead of riding the adjacent escalator more than doubled. The researchers say that every step counts, and that long-term behavior will change only if the signs are seen regularly. The Bible is filled with “signs” urging us to obey the Lord and follow Him wholeheartedly. Just before the Lord’s people entered the Promised Land, He said to them: “I have set before you today life and good, death and evil . . . . Therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and t…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Thomas TimeJohn 20:24-29
Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”(John 20:28) A young adult was struggling with his faith. After growing up in a home where he was loved and nurtured in a godly way, he allowed bad decisions and circumstances to turn him away from the Lord. Although as a child he had claimed to know Jesus, he now struggled with unbelief. One day while talking to him I said, “I know that you walked with the Lord for a long time, but right now you’re not so sure about Jesus and faith. Can I suggest to you that you are in the ‘Thomas Time’ of your life?” He knew that Thomas was one of Jesus’ 12 apostles and that he had trusted Christ openly for several years. I reminded this young man that after Jesus’ death Thomas doubted that He had really risen from the tomb. But after 8 days the Lord appeared to Thomas, showed him His scars, and told him to stop doubting and believe. Finally ready to abandon his doubts, Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-28). I tol…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Reaching Up To Heaven
Romans 8:18-27
The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which
cannot be uttered.(Romans 8:26)
I see children reach up their hands to their mothers, eager to get their attention. It reminds me of my own efforts to reach up to God in prayer. The early church stated that the work of the aged is to love and to pray. Of the two, I find love to be the most difficult, and prayer to be the most confusing. My infirmity lies in not knowing the exact thing for which I ought to pray. Should I pray that others will be delivered from their troubles—or that their troubles will go away? Or should I pray for courage to carry on through the difficulties that belabor them? I’m comforted by Paul’s words: “The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses” (Rom. 8:26). Here the apostle uses a verb that means, “to help by joining in an activity or effort.” God’s Spirit is joined to ours when we pray. He interce…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

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View this email in your browserCHRISTIAN EDUCATION FORUM
Word for the Day
"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path". 
Psalm 119:105
Clearing Out The Clutter1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?(1 Cor 6:19) My garage serves as “storage” for things that don’t have a place in our home, and, frankly, there are times when I am ashamed to open the door. I don’t want anyone to see the clutter. So, periodically, I set aside a workday to clean it up. Our hearts and minds are a lot like that—they accumulate lots of clutter. As we rub shoulders with the world, inevitably, perhaps unknowingly, we pick up ungodly thoughts and attitudes. Thinking that life is all about “me.” Demanding our rights. Reacting bitterly toward those who have hurt us. Before long, our hearts and minds are no longer clean and orderly. And while we think we can hide the mess, eventually it wil…