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Showing posts from April, 2019

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HonestlyProverbs 12:17-22
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight. (Proverbs 12:22) Today is National Honesty Day in the United States. It is a little-known designation for April 30, but an important one nonetheless. Author M. Hirsh Goldberg established National Honesty Day in the early 1990s as a way to honor the honorable and encourage honesty. He said that April 30 was selected because “April begins with a day dedicated to lying [April Fool’s Day] and should end on a higher moral note.” Honesty Day would be a good time to review the value of this trait according to God’s Word. Honesty is not as easy as it seems—but we please God by striving for it. An understanding of honesty begins with recognizing that God—our ultimate example—is truth (Deut. 32:4) and that He cannot lie (Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18). Also, He hates falsehood (Prov. 6:16-19). Beyond that, all lies have as their originator Satan himself (John 8:44). For our part, we can use the…

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Drifting AwayJob 1:13-22
Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? (Job 2:10) Imagine relaxing on a rubber raft along the shore, eyes closed, soaking up the sun and listening to the gentle crash of waves. You don’t have a care in the world—until you open your eyes! Suddenly the shore is alarmingly distant. We tend to drift like that spiritually. It’s subtle yet shocking when we suddenly realize how far we’ve drifted from God. The point of departure begins when Satan steals our affection for our loving Creator by putting a deceitful twist on our experiences and causing us to suspect God instead of trust Him. Consider Job and his wife. Both had plenty of reasons to be mad at God. Their children were dead, their fortune lost, and Job’s health destroyed. His wife told him, “Curse God and die!” But Job replied, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and . . . not accept adversity?” (Job 2:9-10). There are many attitudes that can set us adrift: believing that we ne…

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Slapton Sands1 Peter 5:1-11
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.(1 Peter 5:8) On the southern shores of England is Slapton Sands. This beautiful beach area carries a tragic memory from its past. On April 28, 1944, during World War II, Allied soldiers were engaged in Operation Tiger, a training exercise in amphibious beach landings in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Suddenly, enemy gunboats appeared and killed over 700 American servicemen in a surprise attack. Today, a monument stands on Slapton Sands to commemorate the sacrifice of those young men who died while training for battle but were never able to enter the conflict. This tragedy is a metaphor that warns the believer in Christ. We too are involved in combat with an enemy who is powerful and deceptive. That is why the apostle Peter warned: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking wh…

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First Things FirstMatthew 6:25-34
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.(Matthew 6:33) A seminar leader wanted to make an important point, so he took a wide-mouth jar and filled it with rocks. “Is the jar full?” he asked. “Yes,” came a reply. “Oh, really?” he said. Then he poured smaller pebbles into the jar to fill the spaces between the rocks. “Is it full now?” “Yes,” said someone else. “Oh, really?” He then filled the remaining spaces between the rocks and stones with sand. “Is it full now?” he asked. “Probably not,” said another, to the amusement of the audience. Then he took a pitcher of water and poured it into the jar. “What’s the lesson we learn from this?” he asked. An eager participant spoke up, “No matter how full the jar is, there’s always room for more.” “Not quite,” said the leader. “The lesson is: to get everything in the jar, you must always put the big things in first.” Jesus proclaimed a similar principle in the Sermon on the Mount. He knew that we waste ou…

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Lip ServiceMark 7:5-15
This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. (Mark 7:6) Smile,” said Jay as we drove to church. “You look so unhappy.” I wasn’t; I was just thinking, and I can’t do two things at once. But to make him happy, I smiled. “Not like that,” he said. “I mean a real smile.” His comment got me thinking even more intently. Is it reasonable to expect a real smile from someone who’s being issued a command? A real smile comes from inside; it’s an expression of the heart, not of the face. We settle for phony smiles in photographs. We’re happy when everyone cooperates at the photographer’s studio and we get at least one picture with everyone smiling. After all, we’re creating an icon of happiness, so it doesn’t have to be genuine. But phoniness before God is unacceptable. Whether we’re happy or sad or mad, honesty is essential. God doesn’t want false expressions of worship any more than He wants false statements about people or circumstances (Mark 7:6). Cha…

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Against The Wall
Romans 8:31-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?(Romans 8:35)On April 25, 1915, soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli peninsula expecting a quick victory. But fierce resistance by the Turkish defenders resulted in an 8-month stalemate during which thousands on both sides were wounded or killed. Many of the ANZAC troops who were evacuated to Egypt visited the YMCA camp outside Cairo where chaplain Oswald Chambers offered hospitality and hope to these men so broken and disillusioned by war. With great insight and compassion, Chambers told them, “No man is the same after an agony; he is either better or worse, and the agony of a man’s experience is nearly always the first thing that opens his mind to understand the need of redemption worked out by Jesus Christ. At the back of the wall of the world stands God with His arms outstretched, and every man driven there is driven into the arms of God. The cross of Jesus is the su…

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The Father’s FaithfulnessPsalms 107:1-16
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. . . . Great is Your faithfulness.(Lam 3:22-23) Hudson Taylor, the humble servant of God to China, demonstrated extraordinary trust in God’s faithfulness. In his journal he wrote: “Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning. . . . He sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. We do not expect He will send 3 million missionaries to China; but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all. . . . Depend on it, God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” We may be faint and weary, but our heavenly Father is all-powerful. Our feelings may fluctuate, but He is unchangeable. Even creation itself is a record of His steadfastness. That’s why we can sing these words from a hymn by Thomas Chisholm: “Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, sun, …

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Acts Of KindnessActs 4:1-13
By the name of Jesus... whom you crucified,whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.             (Acts 4 :10) I was traveling with some men when we spotted a family stranded alongside the road. My friends immediately pulled over to help. They got the car running, talked with the father and mother of the family, and gave them some money for gasoline. When the mother thanked them over and over, they replied, “We’re glad to help out, and we do it in Jesus’ name.” As we drove away, I thought how natural it was for these friends to help people in need and acknowledge the Lord as the source of their generosity. Peter and John exhibited that same joyful generosity when they healed a lame man who was begging outside the temple in Jerusalem (Acts 3:1-10). This led to their arrest and appearance before the authorities who asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” Peter replied, “If we this day are judged for a good dee…

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Victory Over Death!John 5:24-30
The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth.(John 5:28-29) An ancient painting I saw recently made a deep impression on me. Its title, Anastasis, means “resurrection,” and it depicts the triumph of Christ’s victory over death in a stunning way. The Lord Jesus, newly emerged from the tomb, is pulling Adam and Eve out of their coffins to eternal life. What is so amazing about this artwork is the way it shows how spiritual and physical death, the result of the fall, were dramatically reversed by the risen Christ. Prior to His death on the cross, the Lord Jesus predicted a future day when He will call believers into a new and glorified existence: “The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28-29). Because of Christ’s victory over death, the grave is not final. We naturally will feel sorrow and grief when those we love die and we are separated from them in this li…

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Easter Every DayHebrews 10:11-18
He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.(Matthew 28:6) A friend of mine, who is a preschool teacher, overheard an animated conversation among her students. Little Maria threw out the question: “Who loves God?” All of them responded, “I do! I do! I do!” Billy said, “I love Jesus.” Kelly protested, “But He died.” Billy said, “Yeah, but every Easter He rises from the dead!” Obviously, young Billy’s understanding of the meaning of Easter is still developing. We know that Jesus died once for all (Rom. 6:10; Heb. 10:12) and, of course, rose from the dead once. Three days after paying the penalty of our sins on the cross, the sinless Jesus conquered death by rising from the grave and breaking the power of sin. It was this final sacrifice of blood that opened the only way for us to have a relationship with God now and a home with Him forevermore. “Christ died for our sins, . . . He was buried, and . . . He rose again the third day” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). He has prom…

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The SpotlightRomans 5:1-11 We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:11) I’ll never forget the Easter Sunday in 1993 when Bernhard Langer won the Masters golf tournament. As he stepped off the 18th green to receive the green jacket—one of golf’s most coveted prizes—a reporter said, “This must be the greatest day of your life!” Without missing a beat, Langer replied: “It’s wonderful to win the greatest tournament in the world, but it means more to win on Easter Sunday—to celebrate the resurrection of my Lord and Savior.” Langer had an opportunity to boast about himself, but instead he turned the spotlight on Jesus Christ. It’s exactly what Paul was talking about when he said, “We also rejoice [boast] in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:11). It’s easy to look for ways to draw attention to our own accomplishments, making mental lists of things that are “cool” about ourselves. Even Paul admitted that he had …

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I’m AliveEphesians 2:1-10
You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.(Eph 2:1) Laura Brooks, a 52-year-old mother of two, didn’t know it but she was one of 14,000 people in 2011 whose name was incorrectly entered into the government database as dead. She wondered what was wrong when she stopped receiving disability checks, and her loan payments and her rent checks bounced. She went to the bank to clear up the issue, but the representative told her that her accounts had been closed because she was dead! Obviously, they were mistaken. The apostle Paul was not mistaken when he said that the Ephesian believers were at one point dead—spiritually dead. They were dead in the sense that they were separated from God, enslaved to sin (Eph. 2:5), and condemned under the wrath of God. What a state of hopelessness! Yet God in His goodness took action to reverse this condition for them and for us. The living God “who gives life to the dead” (Rom. 4:17) poured out His rich mercy and great l…

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All Kinds Of HelpGenesis 41:46-57
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you.” (Gen 41:39) In the wake of the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, many people have felt strongly compelled to help. Some donated blood for the injured, some provided free lunches and coffee at their restaurants for workers. Others wrote letters of comfort or just gave hugs. Some sent gifts of money and teddy bears for the children; others offered counseling. People found ways to serve according to their personalities, abilities, and resources. A story in the Bible about Joseph tells how he used his skills to play an important role in helping people survive a 7-year famine (Gen. 41:53-54). In his case, he could prepare beforehand because he knew a difficult time was coming. After Joseph warned Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, that the lean years were coming, Pharaoh put him in charge of the 7-year preparation time. Joseph used…

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Joining The FamilyGalatians 3:26–4:7
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.(Gal 3:26) Maurice Griffin was adopted when he was 32 years old. He had lived with Lisa and Charles Godbold 20 years earlier as a foster child. Although Maurice was now a man living on his own, adoption had been what the family and he had always longed for. Once they were reunited and the adoption was official, Maurice commented, “This is probably the happiest moment in my life. . . . I’m happy to be home.” Those of us who have joined the family of God may refer to that time as the happiest moment in our lives. When we trust Christ for salvation, we become God’s children, and He becomes our heavenly Father. The Bible assures us, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26). As God’s adopted children, we acquire spiritual siblings—our brothers and sisters in Christ—and we all share an eternal inheritance (Col. 1:12). In addition, Jesus’ Spirit indwells our hearts and enables us…

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Spoonful Of SugarPsalms 19:7-14
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. . . . Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (Psalms 19:9-10) Where is Mary Poppins when you need her? I know this sounds as if I’m longing for the good old days when cheerfully unrealistic movies featured characters like this fictional nanny, but what I’m really longing for are people with a vision for the future that is realistically optimistic. I yearn for joyful, creative people who can show us the positive side of what we consider negative, who can remind us that “just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” David wrote a song that expressed a similar truth. In his words, “the judgments of the Lord” are “sweeter also than . . . honey” (Ps. 19:9-10). Seldom do we hear that truth is sweet. More often we hear that it is bitter or hard to swallow. But truth is so much more than medicine to treat what’s wrong. It’s the diet that will prevent disease. It’s not an inoculation or an inj…

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What’s Next?
Philippians 3:7-16
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.(Phil 3:14) In the television series The West Wing, fictional president Josiah Bartlet regularly ended staff meetings with two words—“What’s next?” It was his way of signaling that he was finished with the issue at hand and ready to move on to other concerns. The pressures and responsibilities of life in the White House demanded that he not focus on what was in the rear-view mirror—he needed to keep his eyes ahead, moving forward to what was next. In a sense, the apostle Paul had a similar perspective on life. He knew that he had not “arrived” spiritually, and that he had a long way to go in becoming like Christ. What could he do? He could either fixate on the past, with its failures, disappointments, struggles, and disputes, or he could learn from those things and move on to “what’s next.” In Philippians 3, Paul tells us how he chose to live his life: “Forgetting those things wh…

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Who Is This?
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 w…

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It’s Bubbling In My Soul
John 7:33-39
If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink...Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:37-38)Decades ago, A friend of mine visited a ministry center in West Africa and saw a little girl climb onto a truck that had a public address system. Smiling, she began to sing over the microphone: It’s bubbling, it’s bubbling,
it’s bubbling in my soul;
I’m singing and laughing
since Jesus made me whole.
Since Jesus came within,
and cleansed my heart from sin,
It’s bubbling, bubbling, bubbling,
bubbling, bubbling in my soul!
He heard her sing that song only once. But the joy in her voice was so evident and powerful that he remembers the lyrics and tune to this day. The parallel in the song between water and spiritual refreshment is a biblical one. During the Feast of Tabernacles, a Levite priest would pour out water as a symbol of God providing water for Israel in the wilderness. During that feast, “Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thir…