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Showing posts from May, 2019

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

I’m Right; You Must Be WrongLuke 6:37-42
Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.(Luke 6:37) My friend Ria admires the great blue heron’s amazing 6-foot spread of wings and marvels at his majestic appearance. She welcomes the sight of him gliding in for a landing on a small island in the middle of the pond near her home. Now, I can appreciate that the heron is a marvelous and unique creature. But I don’t ever want to spot him in my backyard! That’s because I know he won’t be there just to admire the garden. No, this not-so-fine-feathered version of persona non grata(someone not welcome) will be checking out our pond for a take-out fish dinner! So, am I right? Or is Ria? Why can’t we agree? Different personalities, history, or knowledge can color people’s views. It doesn’t mean that one person is right and the other wrong, yet sometimes we can be unkind, rigid, and judgmental if there is not agreement. I’m not talking about sin—but just a differe…

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Restoring Spiritual Sight
John 9:1-11

The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.(Psalms 119:130)Sanduk Ruit is a Nepalese doctor who has used his scalpel, microscope, and simplified cataract surgery technique to give sight to almost 70,000 people over the past 23 years. The poorest patients who visit his nonprofit eye center in Katmandu pay with just their gratitude. Our Lord Jesus Christ healed many of physical blindness during His time on earth. But of greater concern to Him were the spiritually blind. Many of the religious authorities who investigated the healing of the blind man refused to believe that Jesus was not a sinner (John 9:13-34). This caused Jesus to say, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind” (v.39). The apostle Paul wrote of this spiritual blindness when he said, “If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this a…

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InterruptionsMark 5:21-34
The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.(Psalms 33:11) My sister and I were looking forward to our holiday in Taiwan. We had purchased our plane tickets and booked our hotel rooms. But 2 weeks before the trip, my sister learned she had to stay at home in Singapore to handle an emergency. We were disappointed that our plans were interrupted. Jesus’ disciples were accompanying Him on an urgent mission when their trip was interrupted (Mark 5:21-42). The daughter of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, was dying. Time was of the essence, and Jesus was on His way to their home. Then, suddenly, Jesus stopped and said, “Who touched My clothes?” (v.30). The disciples seemed irritated by this and said, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” (v.31). But Jesus saw it as an opportunity to minister to a suffering woman. Her illness had made her ceremonially unclean and unable to participate in community lif…

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A New Bucket ListRomans 12:6-21
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. (Rom 12:10) A friend told me he had recently accomplished one of the things on his “bucket list” (a list of things to do before you die) when he took his sister to Europe. Although he had traveled there many times, she had never been there. What struck me was the unselfish nature of having that goal on his “bucket list.” It caused me to wonder how many of my dreams and goals are focused on others, not on myself. Romans 12:6-21 speaks of God’s gifts to us as members of the body of Christ and how we should use them in everyday life. All of them are outward in focus. Teaching, for example, is not for the teacher’s self-fulfillment but for the benefit of others. So too with the other gifts mentioned in verses 6 through 8. Paul summarized this openhanded approach by urging us to “be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (…

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Wake-Up MusicDeuteronomy 31:16-22
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. (Col 3:16) In a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, a group of international refugees has been singing songs that they hope will wake up their homeland. According to the BBC, the group Waayah Cusub has been enjoying extensive airplay on radio stations and television channels by using bold lyrics to address social issues. One of the musicians says, “We are not happy with what is happening back home; in fact we have recorded a thought-provoking song that we hope will bring our leaders back to their senses.” Long before Waayah Cusub began using songs to call for an end to social pain and violence, God taught Moses to use music in a bold and provocative way. Knowing that His people’s sinful inclinations would distract them when they began to enjoy the prosperity of the Promised Land (Deut. 31:21), God told Moses to teach them the song…

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The Gift Of Self-IndulgenceEzekiel 16:48-57
She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.(Ezekiel 16:49) An upscale London department store launched a new gift card with the slogan, “The Gift of Self-Indulgence.” Throughout the store, signs, slogans, and even nametags called attention to the cards. According to one employee, sales of the gift cards during the first weeks of the promotion had been very strong, far exceeding company expectations. Generosity may prompt a person to give a luxurious gift to someone special, but too often we find it easier to purchase what we want for ourselves. The prophet Ezekiel sheds light on an ancient city whose people suffered God’s judgment, in part, because they embraced a self-indulgent lifestyle. “This was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the po…

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The Secret Is1 Corinthians 2:6-16
We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages. (1 Cor 2:7) If you believe Rhonda Byrne, author of the bestselling book The Secret, “The shortcut to anything you want in your life is to be and feel happy now!” According to Byrne, this has to do with something called the law of attraction. If you think only about things that make you happy, she says, happy things will be attracted to you. Sounds easy enough. However, the Bible says that “the secret” to life is something very different. It has to do with “the law of the Spirit of life” that sets us free from “the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2), not with the “law of attraction.” According to the apostle Paul, the most important thing to know is “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). To those who are concerned with happiness now, this is indeed foolishness (v.14). They do not recognize the power of God in what appears to them as weakness. The Lord created…

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Making The CutMatthew 4:18-22
[Jesus] said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”(Matthew 4:19) Every year, high-school seniors apply to their favorite universities and then watch the mailbox for the letter announcing their acceptance. It was different for teens in New Testament times. Jewish boys would often attend rabbinical schools until age 13. Then only the best and brightest would be chosen to “follow” the local rabbi. This small, select group of disciples would go where he went and eat what he ate—modeling their lives after the rabbi. Those who didn’t make the cut would pick up a trade like carpentry, sheep-herding, or fishing. Guys like Simon, Andrew, James, and John hadn’t made the cut. So instead of following the local rabbi, they were down by the docks, knee-deep in the family business. It’s interesting that Jesus sought out the men the local rabbi had rejected. Instead of targeting the best and brightest, Jesus offered His invitation, “Follow Me,” to ordinar…

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Godly Sorrow2 Corinthians 7:5-10
I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner. (2 Cor 7:9) Thieves stole nearly $5,000 in sound and office equipment from a church in West Virginia, only to break in the following night to return the items they had taken. Apparently, the guilt of stealing from a church weighed so heavily on their conscience that they felt the need to correct their criminal behavior of breaking the commandment: “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15). Their actions make me think about the differences between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. Paul praised the Corinthians for understanding this difference. His first letter to them was biting, as he addressed issues of sin. His words caused sorrow among them, and because of this Paul rejoiced. Why? Their sorrow did not stop at just feeling sad about getting caught or suffering the unpleasant consequences of their sins. Their sorrow was godly sorrow, a genui…

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Magnets And MothersProverbs 31:26-31
Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you.(Deut 5:16) A teacher gave her class of second-graders a lesson about the magnet and what it does. The next day, in a written test, she included this question: “My name has six letters. The first one is m. I pick up things. What am I?” When the test papers were turned in, the teacher was astonished to find that almost 50 percent of the students answered the question with the word mother. Yes, mothers do pick up things. But they are much more than “magnets,” gathering up clothes and picking up toys around the house. As willing as many mothers are to do such chores, they have a higher calling than that. A good mother loves her family and provides an atmosphere where each member can find acceptance, security, and understanding. She is there when the children need a listening ear, a comforting word, a warm hug, or a loving touch on a fevered brow. And for the Christian mother, her gr…

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Tell Your Story1 Timothy 1:12-20
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim Your greatness.(Psalms 145:6) Michael Dinsmore, a former prisoner and relatively new Christian, was asked to give his testimony in a prison. After he spoke, some inmates came to him and said, “This is the most exciting meeting we’ve ever been to!” Michael was amazed that God could use his simple story. In 1 Timothy, after Paul had charged Timothy to stay the course preaching the gospel (1:1-11), he shared his personal testimony to encourage the young man (vs.12-16). He told about God’s mercy in his own life. Paul said that he had mocked the Lord, but He changed him. In His mercy, God not only counted him faithful and gave him a job to do, but He also enabled him to do His work (v.12). Paul considered himself the worst of sinners, but God saved him (v.15). The Lord is able! That is what Paul wanted Timothy to see, and what we need to see too. Through Paul’s testimony, we see God’s mercy. If G…

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Way Out
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape. (1 Cor 10:13)While in London recently, I decided to take the underground train to my destination. So I paid my fare and descended into the depths of London to catch my train. But getting out of the station can be a scary experience for someone who is unfamiliar with the system. If you don’t find the exit, you can quickly get lost in the tunnels. Being alone in a sparsely populated underground tunnel is an unsettling feeling, so believe me, you don’t want to get lost. Needless to say, I was glad when I spotted the sign that says, “WAY OUT” and followed it to safety. Paul reminds us that when we are vulnerable to falling into sin, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out” (1 Cor. 10:13 niv). It’s easy to assume that God is not with us w…

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Childlike FaithMatthew 8:5-10
The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. (Luke 18:27) On the way home from a family camping trip, 6-year-old Tanya and her dad were the only ones still awake in the car. As Tanya looked at the full moon through the car window, she asked, “Daddy, do you think I can touch the moon if I stand on my tiptoes?” “No, I don’t think so,” he smiled. “Can you reach it?” “No, I don’t think I can either.” She was quiet for a moment, then she said confidently, “Daddy, maybe if you hold me up on your shoulders?” Faith? Yes—the childlike faith that daddies can do anything. True faith, though, has the written promise of God for its foundation. In Hebrews 11:1, we read, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Jesus talked a lot about faith, and throughout the Gospels we read of His response to those who had great faith. When a paralyzed man’s friends brought him to Jesus, He “saw their faith,” forgave the man of his sin…

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In Every Bad Experience2 Kings 5:1-15
Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.(2 Kings 5:15) When I rear-ended a truck with my nearly new car, positive thoughts did not immediately come to mind. I was thinking primarily of the cost, the inconvenience, and the injury to my ego. But I did find some hope in this thought, which I often share with other writers: “In every bad experience, there’s a good illustration.” Finding the good can be a challenge, but Scripture confirms that God uses bad circumstances for good purposes. In 2 Kings 5, we find two people who had bad things happen to them. First is a young girl from Israel who was taken captive by the Syrian army. Second is Naaman, the commander of the army, who had leprosy. Even though the girl had good reason to desire bad things for her captors, she offered help instead. Israel’s prophet Elisha, she said, could heal Naaman. Eager to be cured, Naaman went to Israel. However, he was reluctant to follow Elisha’s h…

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The Difference Prayer MakesRevelation 8:1-5
The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God. (Rev 8:4) Does prayer have any real impact on our world? Or is it merely a private conversation with God? When a New Jersey couple learned that a man had been released from prison and had moved into their area, they started praying for him. Then they paid him a visit and opened their home to a weekly breakfast for ex-offenders like him. Now, 22 years later, the area’s most despised men have one place to go where they are welcomed and treated respectfully. What would happen if we followed literally Jesus’ command to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? What if we became known for approaching heaven on behalf of outcasts and disagreeable people? In a scene recorded in the book of Revelation, the apostle John foresees a direct linkage between the visible and invisible worlds. At a climactic moment in history, heaven is quiet. Seven angels stand with seven…

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At Just The Right TimeGalatians 4:1-7
When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son.(Gal 4:4) Why is being on time so challenging for some of us? Even when we start early, something inevitably gets in our way to make us late. But here’s the good news: God is always on time! Speaking of the arrival of Jesus, Paul said, “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Gal. 4:4). The long-awaited, promised Savior came at just the right time. Jesus’ arrival during the Roman Empire’s Pax Romana (the peace of Rome) was perfect timing. The known world was united by one language of commerce. A network of global trade routes provided open access to the whole world. All of this guaranteed that the gospel could move rapidly in one tongue. No visas. No impenetrable borders. Only unhindered access to help spread the news of the Savior whose crucifixion fulfilled the prophecy of the Lamb who would be slain for our sins (Isa. 53). All in God’s perfect timing! All of this…

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Still Small Voice1 Kings 19:11-18
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalms 46:10) When God spoke to Elijah on Mount Horeb, He could have done so in the wind, earthquake, or fire. But He didn’t. He spoke with a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). God asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (v.13), as he hid from Jezebel who had threatened to kill him. Elijah’s reply revealed what God already knew—the depth of his fear and discouragement. He said, in effect, “Lord, I have been most zealous when others have forsaken You. What do I get for being the only one standing up for You?” (see v.14). Was Elijah really the only one serving God? No. God had “seven thousand in Israel . . . whose knees have not bowed to Baal” (v.18). In the depths of our fear or despair, we too may think we’re the only one serving God. That may happen right after the height of a success, as it did for Elijah. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “be still, and k…