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Showing posts from July, 2019

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Behind The Building1 Peter 4:8-11
Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.(1 Cor 15:58) Where we were working was hot, dirty, and it smelled bad. We had traveled thousands of miles to do some work projects, and on this day we were painting the back of a classroom building at a school for the deaf. The only people who would ever see this part of the building would be the guy who cut the grass and any unfortunate person who would have to work on the septic pit. Yet, as the young adults diligently painted away, one of the girls, Melissa, put it in perspective by saying, “Nobody will ever come back here to see this, but God will see it. So let’s make it look nice.” And so we did. Sometimes we sit at our desk and think no one sees our work. Or we stand at a line assembling item after endless item. Perhaps we take care of crying babies in the church nursery. Or we live the best Christian life we can—without anyone not…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

One PassionLuke 14:25-35
If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.(Luke 14:26) Nechayev, a 19th-century disciple of Karl Marx who had a role in the assassination of Czar Alexander II, wrote: “The revolutionary man . . . has no personal interests, no business affairs, no emotions, no attachments, no property, and no name. Everything in him is wholly absorbed in the single thought and the single passion for revolution.” Although his motives and goals were wrong, Nechayev’s statement shows the singlemindedness of commitment. Jesus wanted true commitment from His disciples. In Luke 14, we read that large crowds joined Him as He traveled toward Jerusalem (v.25). Perhaps these casual followers considered themselves to be His true disciples, but Jesus taught that following Him was more than just knowing facts about Him. He explained what it really meant to be His disciple when He …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

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CHRISTIAN EDUCATION FORUM
Word for the Day
"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path". 
Psalm 119:105
Love Is For Losers?1 Corinthians 13
Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13) You can learn a lot about a person by what his or her T-shirt says. Recently, one of these messages caught my attention as I walked through a local shopping mall. A young woman wore a bright red T-shirt that said, “Love Is for Losers.” Maybe she thought it was clever or provocative, even funny. Or perhaps she had been hurt by a relationship and had pulled away from others rather than risk being hurt again. Either way, the T-shirt got me thinking. Is love for losers? The fact is, when we love, we take risks. People could very well hurt us, disappoint us, or even leave us. Love can lead to loss. The Bible, though, challenges us to higher ground in loving others. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes what it means to live out God’s kind of love. T…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Not Saying GoodbyePhilippians 4:1-9
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Phil 4:9) Francis Allen led me to Jesus, and now it was nearly time for Francis to meet Jesus face to face. I was at his home as it grew time for him to say goodbye. I wanted to say something memorable and meaningful. For nearly an hour I stood by his bed. He laughed hard at the stories I told on myself. Then he got tired, we got serious, and he spent his energy rounding off some rough edges he still saw in my life. I listened, even as I tried to sort out how to say goodbye. He stopped me before I got the chance. “You remember, Randy, what I’ve always told you. We have nothing to fear from the story of life because we know how it ends. I’m not afraid. You go do what I’ve taught you.” Those challenging words reminded me of what the apostle Paul said to the believers in Philippi: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

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He Watches Me
Matthew 10:16-31
Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.(Matthew 10:31)One Sunday morning at church, we sang “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” as a congregational hymn. It was a rare opportunity to give voice to a song usually performed by a soloist. During the first chorus, I noticed a friend who was weeping so hard that he couldn’t sing. Knowing a bit of what he had been through recently, I recognized his tears as ones of joy at realizing that, no matter what our situation, God sees, knows, and cares for us. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29-31). The Lord spoke these words to His 12 disciples as He sent them out to teach, heal, and bear witness of Him to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v.6). He told them that even though they …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Pioneer Of The Pioneers2 Corinthians 5:12-21
I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation. (Romans 15:20) In the early 19th century, US President Thomas Jefferson completed the Louisiana Purchase, stretching the borders of the fledgling republic “from sea to shining sea.” The problem, however, was that no one really knew what was in that vast expanse of land. Maps would be needed, with clear instructions for the pioneers who would travel to the Pacific. Explorers Lewis and Clark became, in effect, the pioneers of the pioneers—preparing the way for the most massive land migration in US history. They cut a new trail that others would follow. The apostle Paul’s commitment to ministry was framed by a similar priority. In Romans 15:20, he wrote, “I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation.” He wanted his efforts in ministry to cut a new trail—a…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

God’s MasterpiecesEphesians 2:1-10
We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.(Eph 2:10) The Grand Rapids Art Museum has over 5,000 works of art, including 3,500 prints, drawings, and photographs; 1,000 works of design; and 700 paintings and sculptures. As I read about the new museum and anticipated visiting, I couldn’t help but think about God’s “museum.” God is an artist, and His creation is unspeakably magnificent. But it is not His greatest work! God’s greatest work is His redemption of us. When we were still dead in our sins, He made us alive in His Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:1,5). Paul reminded the Ephesians that they were God’s “workmanship,” or poiema (v.10), a Greek term that means “poem” or “work of art.” God’s art museum is the church, filled with millions of marvelous works—His people. Being God’s work of art, Paul said, should result in something from us. We are not supposed to sit silently in the m…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Life, Love, Chocolate1 John 3:16-23
Be imitators of God . . . . And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us.(Eph 5:1-2) An entry I read on a favorite blog caught my eye. It was the morning of his ninth wedding anniversary. Not having a lot of money, the writer ran out to get his wife, Heidi, their favorite French pastry—pain au chocolat. After sprinting several miles, he arrived home, exhausted, to find her in the kitchen just pulling a chocolate-filled croissant out of the oven. It was pain au chocolat. That husband, Jeff, compared his life with Heidi to the lives of the people in O. Henry’s short story “Gift of the Magi.” It tells of a man who sold his lone possession of value—a pocket watch—to buy hair combs for his wife, who had sold her long, beautiful hair to buy a gold chain for his watch. Having no money concerns would be great—but realizing the immeasurable value of the people we care about is more important. We sometimes need a reminder that acquiring …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Heaven’s Greatest DelightsRevelation 22:1-5
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard . . . the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.(1 Cor 2:9) What will be one of heaven’s supreme joys? Joni Eareckson Tada, disabled as a teenager in a diving accident, has been a paraplegic for over 40 years. One would imagine that her greatest longing would be the ability to walk, even run, free from the confinement of her wheelchair. But Joni tells us that her greatest desire is to offer a “praise that is pure.” She explains: “I won’t be crippled by distractions, or disabled by insincerity. I won’t be handicapped by a ho-hum half-heartedness. My heart will join with yours and bubble over with effervescent adoration. We will finally be able to fellowship fully with the Father and the Son. For me, this will be the best part of heaven.” How that speaks to my divided heart and grips my unfocused spirit! What a blessing to offer “a praise that is pure,” with no wandering thoughts, no self-centered requ…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Doing The Work Of GodJohn 6:25-33
Our sufficiency is from God.(2 Cor 3:5) When I was a pastor I used to have a recurring nightmare. I would rise to preach on Sunday morning, look out at my congregation—and see no one in the pews! It doesn’t take a Daniel (Dan. 2:1,19) or a dream therapist to interpret the vision. It grew out of my belief that everything depended on me. I mistakenly believed that if I did not preach with power and persuasion, the congregation would fade away and the church would fold. I thought I was responsible for the results of God’s work. In the Gospels, we read that some people asked Jesus, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (John 6:28). What audacity! Only God can do the works of God! Jesus’ answer instructs us all: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (v.29). Whatever we have to do, then, whether teaching a Sunday school class, leading a small group, telling the gospel story to our neighbor, or preaching to thousands, it…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Bubbles On The Border2 Corinthians 4:8-18
We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. (2 Cor 4:18) Stuck in a long line at the US-Canada border, Joel Schoon Tanis had to do something to lighten the mood! He reached for his bottles of bubble-making solution, bounded out of the car, and began blowing bubbles. He handed bottles to other drivers too, and he says that “soon there were bubbles everywhere. . . . It’s amazing what bubbles do for people.” The line didn’t move any faster, but “suddenly everyone was happy,” Joel says. “What we see depends mainly on what we look for,” said British statesman John Lubbock (1834–1913). A good attitude and the right focus help us to handle life joyfully, even though it doesn’t change our circumstances. Paul encouraged the Corinthians in their trials: “Do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eter…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Hopeful PraisePsalm 103:1-14
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.(Psalms 103:2) One of my friends was in tears on a beautiful summer day, unable to deal with life’s difficulties. Another could not look beyond the life-altering sadnesses of her past. Still another struggled with the closing of the small church he had pastored faithfully. A fourth friend had lost his job at a local ministry. What can our struggling friends—or any of us—do to find hope? Where do we turn when tomorrow offers no happy promises? We can praise or “bless” the Lord, as David said in Psalm 103. In the middle of trouble, acknowledging God’s role in our lives can redirect our thinking from the hurts of our hearts and force us to dwell instead on the greatness of our God. David knew trouble. He faced the threat of enemies, the consequences of his own sin, and the challenges of sorrow. Yet he also recognized the healing power of praise. That’s why in Psalm 103 he can list reasons to turn our atten…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Dangerous FreedomGalatians 5:1-6,16-21
Do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.(Gal 5:13) Freedom is dangerous in the hands of those who don’t know how to use it. That’s why criminals are confined in prisons with barbed wire, steel bars, and concrete barriers. Or consider a campfire that is allowed to spread in a dry forest. It quickly becomes a blazing inferno. Unchecked freedom can create chaos. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Christian life. Believers are free from the law’s curse, its penalty, and its guilt-producing power. Fear, anxiety, and guilt are replaced by peace, forgiveness, and liberty. Who could be more free than one who is free in the depths of his soul? But here is where we often fail. We use freedom’s luxury to live selfishly, or we claim ownership of what God has merely entrusted to us. We slip into patterns of self-indulgent living, especially in affluent societies. The proper use of freedom is “faith working thro…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Job’s Principle 
Philippians 4:10-13
Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? (Job 2:10)When my friend's wife accepted a position as Director of Special Education in a school district many miles from thier home, it resulted in a very long commute each day. It was tolerable in the short term, but neither of them could see her doing this indefinitely. So they decided to relocate to another city halfway between their two jobs. The real estate agent was not optimistic about their home selling quickly. Market trends showed many homes for sale with few buyers. After much prayer and strenuous cleaning, they finally put their home up for sale. To their surprise, their house sold in less than 3 weeks! Sometimes I feel guilty about receiving material blessings. With so many needs around the world, why should I expect divine intervention in selling a home of my friend? Then I remember Job’s reply to his wife: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

The ChoiceGenesis 2:16-17; 3:1-8
Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat. (Gen 2:16-17) I watched as a young mother tried to get her 2-year-old child to make a choice. “You can have fish or chicken,” she told him. She limited his choice to just two because he was too young to understand beyond that. Choice often allows a wider variety of options, and it also must allow the person to reject the choices. Adam and Eve were in the best possible environment. God had given them freedom to eat of all the trees in Eden. He drew the boundary lines around only one tree! They had a choice, and it should have been a no-brainer to choose wisely. But their choice was tragic. Some blame God for what they see as His restrictions. They may even accuse Him of trying to control their lives. But God gives us a choice, just as He did Adam and Eve. Yes, God draws boundary lines, but they are for our protection. David understood this. He…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

The RevealLuke 2:25-35
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.(Isaiah 40:5) The room was a wreck. Mismatched furniture. Faded paint. Ugly light fixtures. Knick-knacks crammed into crowded spaces. The homeowners tried to make some improvements, but the room kept getting worse. Thus begins a home-improvement TV program. After interviewing the owners, the designer draws a plan to maximize the room’s potential. Program producers create suspense by building up to a moment referred to as “the reveal.” Viewers watch the progress and ooh and aah with the homeowners when they see the new room. Over time, the world has become like a neglected room. People bring in things that don’t belong. They arrange priorities in ways that hinder potential. Lives become dull, overcrowded, and ineffective. Self-improvement projects offer little help. The Bible is God’s plan that shows the best way to live. God builds suspense throughout the Old Testament. Then, at the appointe…