Posts

Showing posts from June, 2019

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Search And RescueLuke 19:1-10
The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10) Almost every week we see news about a search-and-rescue mission. It may involve a child who wandered away from a family picnic and is lost, or a hiker stranded on a mountain, or people trapped in the rubble following an earthquake. In every case, the people at risk are unable to help themselves. Those who are found and saved usually have lasting gratitude for those who joined in the search and rescued them. The account of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10 is a story of search and rescue. At first glance it may seem like a series of chance events—Jesus was passing through Jericho and a rich tax collector climbed a tree to catch a glimpse of the miracle-working teacher. But this encounter with Jesus was not a coincidence. At the end of the narrative, Luke deliberately included Jesus’ words to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house . . . ; for the Son of Man has come to seek and t…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

MacauleyIsaiah 6:1-8
I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”(Isaiah 6:8) Macauley Rivera, one of my dearest friends in Bible college, had a passion for the Savior. His heart’s desire was to graduate, marry his fiancĂ©e Sharon, return to the inner city of Washington, DC, and plant a church to reach his friends and family for Christ. That dream ended, however, when Mac and Sharon were tragically killed in an accident, leaving the student body stunned at the loss. At Mac’s memorial service, the challenge was issued: “Mac is gone. Who will serve in his place?” As evidence of the impact of Mac’s example, more than 200 students stood to take up the mantle of Christ’s fallen servant. The response of those students echoes the commitment of Isaiah. In a time of fear and insecurity, the prophet was summoned into the throne room of God, where he heard Him say, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Isaiah responded, …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Are You Ready?Acts 13:1-5 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work.” (Acts 13:2) Three months before a planned missions trip, a friend and I were talking about the upcoming event. He said to me, “If anyone can’t go, I’d be willing to step in and join you.” This was not going to be an easy 8 days, for we would be painting, repairing, and fixing stuff in the July heat of Jamaica. Yet my friend seemed eager to go. About 6 weeks before we were scheduled to leave, there was an opening. I e-mailed my friend—whom I hadn’t seen in the interim—and asked if he was still interested. He immediately responded, “Sure! And I got a passport just in case you asked.” He had made sure he was ready—just in case he got the call to go. My friend’s preparation reminds me of what happened back in the first century at Antioch. Paul and Barnabas were among a number of people getting themselves ready spiritually for whatever God might ask th…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Advice For The GroomProverbs 1:1-9 My son, hear the instruction of your father.(Pro 1:8) The custom of a bachelor party before a wedding is often characterized by drunkenness and carousing. The party-hearty attitude seems driven by the belief that the groom will soon be married and have to settle down to a life of domestic boredom. Not long ago, one of my nephews got married. The best man planned a get-together for Joel, but with a refreshing difference. Those invited were asked to bring some thoughts to share that would help him in this new chapter of life. When I arrived at the informal breakfast, I found a cheerful spirit of camaraderie. Fathers, uncles, brothers, and friends were animated in lively discussion. The father of the bride and the father of the groom were asked to share their advice on what they had learned in their own Christian marriage. Their thoughts were personal, realistic, and biblical. The book of Proverbs mirrors this kind of mentoring in facing life’s challenges an…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

The Song Of The SaintsRevelation 15
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. . . . Your judgments have been manifested. (Rev 15:4) We’ve all heard the expression, “I don’t get mad; I just get even.” Reading about the judgments described in Revelation, one might assume that God will get “even” with sinners for their phenomenal offenses throughout the history of mankind. The truth is that God’s final judgment is a necessary expression of His holy justice. He can’t turn a blind eye to sin. In fact, if He doesn’t finally carry out justice as described in Revelation, it would be a denial of His holy character. That’s why in the midst of His judgments, the saints will sing His praise: “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. . . . Your judgments have been manifested” (15:4). Those who know God best do not judge Him for His judgments; rather, they worship and affirm His actions. What should surprise us is not the massiv…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Chimp EdenNumbers 14:1-10
If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us.(Num 14:8) Eugene Cussons rescues chimpanzees. Orphaned by those in the business of bush-meat trade and taken from the jungle as infants, many have lived their entire lives confined in a space smaller than a prison cell. When Cussons arrives to take them to the game reserve he calls “Chimp Eden,” he often finds them hostile and untrusting. “These chimps don’t realize that I am one of the good guys,” Cussons says. When he tries to put them into a smaller crate for the trip to their new home, they put up quite a fight. “They don’t know that I’m going to take them back to Chimp Eden and give them a life so much better.” On a much grander scale, God’s offer to liberate us from the slavery of sin is often met with resistance. When He rescued the children of Israel from Egypt, God took them through difficult places that caused them to doubt His good intentions. “Would it not be better fo…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Postponement ProblemsRomans 12:4-13
We have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function.(Rom 12:4) Many of us struggle with them—postponement problems. A professor at the University of Calgary in Alberta studied the problem of procrastination for 5 years and reported that 95 percent of us put off doing one thing or another. One estimate showed that Americans lose approximately $400 million a year by putting off filing taxes! Because of fear of failure or other insecurities, we wait and wait before starting a project or making a decision. Procrastination is a problem in the church too. Many of us postpone serving God. We know we should reach out to others, but we feel insecure or worried about what to do. Because we’re unsure of our gifts or interests, we put off our involvement in the church. We worry, What if I do a poor job? What if I find out I can’t even do it? Romans 12 gives us some encouragement. Serving starts with presenting ourselves to God as “a …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

A Powerful Message1 Corinthians 1:18-25
The gospel of Christ . . . is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.(Rom 1:16) Bible teacher Lehman Strauss was brought to Christ through the power of the Word when he was young. At his friend’s suggestion, he read Romans 3:23, 5:8, and 10:13. As he did, he was convicted of his sin. He wept and believed. When his son Richard was 7 years old, he asked his father how to be saved. Lehman used the same verses that his friend had used years earlier. His son believed too, and eventually became a pastor. God’s Word has tremendous power! The first recorded time God spoke, He created light (Gen. 1:3). He spoke a promise to Abraham (17:15-19) and enabled his 90-year-old wife Sarah to bear a child (21:1-2). God still speaks with power today, and all who hear and believe the gospel are saved (Rom. 1:16). Yes, the message of Christ and His saving work on the cross can change the direction of a person’s life. It has the power to reach the heart o…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Open InvitationEphesians 2:14-22
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16) Versailles was made the capital of France by King Louis XIV in 1682 and remained the capital (except for a short time) until 1789 when it was moved back to Paris. The beautiful palace of Versailles included an opulent 241-foot-long Hall of Mirrors. When a visitor approached the king, he had to curtsy every five steps as he walked the entire distance to meet the king sitting on his dazzling silver throne! Foreign emissaries to France submitted to that humiliating ritual to court the French monarch’s favor toward their country. By contrast, our God, the King of kings, invites His people to come to His throne freely. We can come to Him anytime—no advance appointments and no bowing required! How grateful we should be that our heavenly Father is so much more inviting! “Through [Christ] we . . . have access by one Spirit to the Father”…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Our LegacyPsalm 127:1-5 Children are a heritage from the Lord. (Psalms 127:3) A friend of mine wrote recently, “If we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days. But the family left behind would feel the loss for the rest of their lives. Why then do we invest so much in our work and so little in our children’s lives?” Why do we sometimes exhaust ourselves rising up early and going late to rest, “eating the bread of anxious toil” (Ps. 127:1-2 esv), busying ourselves to make our mark on this world, and overlooking the one investment that matters beyond everything else—our children? Solomon declared, “Children are a heritage from the Lord”—an invaluable legacy He has bequeathed us. “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth” (v.4) is his striking simile. Nothing is more worthy of our energy and time. There is no need for “anxious toil,” working night and day, the wise man Solomon proclaimed, for the Lord does t…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

A Happy ReunionRevelation 21:1-5
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. (Rev 21:3) In 2002, Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her home in Utah. She lived a vagabond life in the constant presence of the couple accused of abducting her. However, 9 months after she was abducted she was found and returned home. It was the happy reunion her family had been longing for. In the book of Revelation, John describes a vision of a new heaven and a new earth and our future reunion with the Lord (21:1-5). The context is not just geographic, but a context of life for God’s people—a glorious reality of God and His people dwelling together for eternity. John describes the benefits that come to God’s people when He takes up His abode in their midst. Abolished forever are the debilitating consequences of sin. In John’s vision, sorrow, death, pain, and separation are all part of the first things that are now gone. The old order gives way to the …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

The Tempted BrothersGenesis 39:1-12
How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (Gen 39:9) Two brothers—both far from home —faced similar temptations. One, working away from the family, fell to the schemes of a younger woman. His sin led to embarrassment and family turmoil. The other, separated from loved ones because of family turmoil, resisted the advances of an older woman. His faithfulness led to rescue and renewal for the family. Who are these brothers? Judah, who fell to the desperate scheme of his neglected daughter-in-law Tamar (Gen. 38). And Joseph, who ran from the arms of Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39). One chapter, an ugly story of irresponsibility and deception; the other, a beautiful chapter of faithfulness. The stories of Judah and Joseph, presented back-to-back in the midst of “the history of Jacob” (37:2), show us that temptation itself is not the problem. Everybody faces temptation, even Jesus did (Matt. 4:1-11). But how do we face temptation? Do we demonstr…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Passionate Boldness
Acts 4:5-13
When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, . . . they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.(Acts 4:13)A young man was preaching to the passersby in Hounslow, on the outskirts of London, England. Most ignored him, a few ridiculed, and several stopped to listen. But regardless of the reaction of the people, he was undeterred. With a strong voice and clear resolve, he poured out his heart—not with the words of an angry prophet, but with deep concern for the men and women on that street. His eyes, facial expressions, and tone of voice revealed an attitude of compassion, not condemnation. In it all, he boldly shared the love and grace of Jesus Christ. In Acts 4, when the church was still new, Peter and John also boldly addressed the people of their generation. The response of the leaders of their day? “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they real…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Common CentsMark 12:41-44
[Jesus said,] “This poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury.” (Mark 12:43) In 1987, Mike Hayes, a freshman at the University of Illinois, found a unique way to finance his education. He convinced a popular columnist at the Chicago Tribune to ask his readers to “send in a penny for Mike.” “Just one penny,” Hayes said. “A penny doesn’t mean anything to anyone. If everyone . . . looks around the room right now, there will be a penny under the couch cushion . . . or on the floor. That’s all I’m asking. A penny from each of your readers.” In less than a month the fund was up to 2.3 million cents. Donations came in from all over the US, as well as Mexico, Canada, and the Bahamas. Mike eventually ended up with $28,000! The common cent just isn’t worth much—unless it’s added to a whole bunch of other pennies. The woman we read about in Mark 12 gave the equivalent of a fraction of a penny, which was “all that she had” (v.44). But Jesus hono…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Ongoing EncouragementColossians 3:14-25
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Col 3:21) Father’s Day is celebrated in many countries worldwide. Although the origins, activities, and actual day of observance differ widely, they all share the common thread of honoring fathers for their role as parents. This year for Father’s Day, I’ve decided to do something different. Instead of waiting to receive a card or phone call from my children, I’m sending words of appreciation to them and to my wife. After all, without them, I wouldn’t be a dad. Paul instructed fathers to be a positive part of their children’s development rather than a source of anger and discouragement. He wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col. 3:21). Both of these verses are embedded in passages about loving and honoring each other i…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

My Two CentsActs 2:40-47
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. (Pro 3:27) Recently, our family had to change Internet cable services. Our former provider promised to send us a postage-paid box to mail their equipment back to them. We waited. No box came. I phoned. The promised box still did not arrive, but we did get a bill for the equipment! Wanting to get this resolved, I decided to return it at my own expense. I sent several faxes asking if they received it—but no reply. Then I got a refund check of $.02 for the returned equipment! An experience like that can be frustrating. A simple transaction was complicated by poor communication. Sadly, some people in our churches may encounter an impersonal response to their needs. Whether seeking marital counseling, childcare, guidance for a troubled teen, or a loving community, they come away feeling uncared for. The first-century church was not perfect, but it faithfully helped others. …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Image
Meditate On These ThingsPsalms 119:89-105
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.(Ps 145:5) Some Christians get a little skeptical when you start talking about meditation—not seeing the huge distinction between biblical meditation and some types of mystical meditation. In mystical meditation, according to one explanation, “the rational mind is shifted into neutral . . . so that the psyche can take over.” The focus is inward, and the aim is to “become one with God.” In contrast, biblical meditation focuses on the things of the Lord, and its purpose is to renew our minds (Rom. 12:2) so that we think and act more like Christ. Its objective is to reflect on what God has said and done (Ps. 77:12; 119:15-16,97) and on what He is like (48:9-14). In Psalm 19:14, David wrote, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord.” Other psalms reflect on God’s love (48:9), His deeds (77:12), His law (119:97), and…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Getting “In The Way”John 14:1-6
Jesus said . . . , “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) The ancient Romans were known for their roads, which crisscrossed their empire with wide, heavily traveled highways. It’s what Jesus’ audience would have pictured when He claimed, “I am the way” in John 14:6. While this verse indicates that He is the way to heaven, there’s really more to His statement. Cutting through the underbrush of the dense jungle of our world, Jesus is our trail-guide who makes a new way for us to live. While many follow the way of the world by loving their friends and hating their enemies, Jesus carves out a new way: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you” (Matt. 5:44). It’s easy to judge and criticize others, but Jesus the Way-maker says to take the plank out of our own eye first (7:3-4). And He cuts a path for us to live with generosity instead of greed (Luke 12:13-34). When Jesus said “I am the way,” He was …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

A Fair TradePsalms 119:161-168
I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great treasure. (Ps 119:162) Scott and Mary Crickmore poured 15 years of their lives into helping to translate the New Testament in the Maasina dialect. It was for the Fulani tribe in the West African nation of Mali. After the initial draft, Mary visited nearby villages and read it to people. She sat in huts with a group of men or women listening to them discuss what they understood. That helped her to make sure the words they were using in the translation were accurate and clear. Some people would think that the Crickmores’ sacrifice was too great—giving up their comfortable lifestyle, changing their diet to mush and rice, and living in less-than-ideal circumstances for those 15 years. But the Crickmores say it was “a fair trade,” because now the Fulani people have the Word of God in a language they can read. The psalmist delighted in God’s Word. He stood in awe of it, rejoiced over it, loved it, and obeyed it (Ps. 119…