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Showing posts from September, 2019

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Rooted2 Chronicles 24:15-22
Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest. (2 Chroni 24:2) Joash must have been confused and frightened when he was told about the evil deeds of his grandmother Athaliah. She had murdered his brothers to usurp the power of the throne in Judah. But baby Joash had been safely hidden away by his aunt and uncle for 6 years (2 Chron. 22:10-12). As he grew, he enjoyed the love and instruction of his caregivers. When Joash was only 7 years old, he was secretly crowned king and his grandmother was overthrown (23:12-15). Young King Joash had a wise counselor by his side—his very own Uncle Jehoiada (chs. 22–25). Joash was one of the rare “good kings” of Judah, and while his uncle was alive he obeyed the Lord by doing right (24:2). But once his uncle was no longer there to teach and lead by example, Joash fell away and his life ended badly (24:15-25). It seems that the roots of his faith did not run very deep. He even began to …

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On Being KnownJames 5:16-20
I acknowledged my sin to You . . . . I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalms 32:5) One of the most difficult inner conflicts we have is our desire to be known versus our fear of being known. As beings created in the image of God we are made to be known—known by God and also by others. Yet due to our fallen nature, all of us have sins and weaknesses that we don’t want others to know about. We use the phrase “dark side” to refer to aspects of our lives that we keep hidden. And we use slogans like “put your best foot forward” to encourage others to show their best side. One reason we are unwilling to risk being known is that we fear rejection and ridicule. But when we discover that God knows us, loves us, and is willing to forgive even the worst thing we have done, our fear of being known by God begins to fade away. And when we find a community of believers who understands the dynamic relationship be…

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2 A.M. FriendsColossians 4:2-15
He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.(Colossians 4:12) A friend told me about a group of people who share a strong bond of faith in Christ. One of them, a 93-year-old woman, said, “I feel like I can call any of you at 2 a.m., and I don’t even have to apologize if I feel the need for any type of assistance.” Whether the need is prayer, practical help, or someone to be there during a time of need, these friends are unconditionally committed to each other. The same sense of commitment shines through Paul’s letter to the followers of Jesus in Colossae. Writing from prison in Rome, Paul says he is sending Tychicus and Onesimus to encourage them (Col. 4:7-9). Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus send their greetings (vv.10-11). And Epaphras is “always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (v. 12). These are bold assurances of pr…

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Giving It To GodMark 10:17-22
[He] went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:22) A hero to a generation of people who grew up after World War II, Corrie ten Boom left a legacy of godliness and wisdom. A victim of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, she survived to tell her story of faith and dependence on God during horrendous suffering. “I have held many things in my hands,” Corrie once said, “and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that, I still possess.” Corrie was well acquainted with loss. She lost family, possessions, and years of her life to hateful people. Yet she learned to concentrate on what could be gained spiritually and emotionally by putting everything in the hands of her heavenly Father. What does that mean to us? What should we place in God’s hands for safekeeping? According to the story of the rich young man in Mark 10, everything. He held abundance in his hands, but when Jesus asked him to give it up, he refused. He kept…

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A Heart For PrayerPsalms 27:7-14
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (Psalms 27:8) While traveling on an airplane with her 4- and 2-year-old daughters, a young mom worked at keeping them busy so they wouldn’t disturb others. When the pilot’s voice came over the intercom for an announcement, Catherine, the younger girl, paused from her activities and put her head down. When the pilot finished, she whispered, “Amen.” Perhaps because there had been a recent natural disaster, she thought the pilot was praying. Like that little girl, I want a heart that turns my thoughts toward prayer quickly. I think it would be fair to say that the psalmist David had that kind of heart. We get hints of that in Psalm 27 as he speaks of facing difficult foes (v.2). He said, “Your face, Lord, I will seek” (v.8). Some say that David was remembering the time he was fleeing from Saul (1 Sam. 21:10) or from his son Absalom (2 Sam. 15:13-14) when he wrote this psalm.…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

God’s CompassPsalms 119:105-112
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.(Psalms 119:105)
During World War II, small compasses saved the lives of 27 sailors 300 miles off the coast of North Carolina. Waldemar Semenov, a retired merchant seaman, was serving as a junior engineer aboard the SS Alcoa Guide when a German submarine surfaced and opened fire on the ship. The ship was hit, caught fire, and began to sink. Semenov and his crew lowered compass-equipped lifeboats into the water and used the compasses to guide them toward the shipping lanes closer to shore. After three days, the men were rescued. The psalmist reminded God’s people that His Word was a trustworthy “compass.” He likened it to a lamp. In that day, the flickering light cast by an olive oil lamp was only bright enough to show a traveler his next step. To the psalmist, God’s Word was such a lamp, providing enough light to illuminate the path for those pursuing God (Ps. 119:105). When the psalmist was wandering in …

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Gentle JesusMatthew 18:1-10
Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.(Matthew 18:3) Charles Wesley (1707–1788) was a Methodist evangelist who wrote more than 9,000 hymns and sacred poems. Some, like “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” are great, soaring hymns of praise. But his poem “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild,” first published in 1742, is a child’s quiet prayer that captures the essence of how all of us should seek the Lord in sincere, simple faith. Loving Jesus, gentle Lamb, In Thy gracious hands I am; Make me, Savior, what Thou art, Live Thyself within my heart. When some followers of Jesus were jockeying for position in His kingdom, the Lord “called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matt. 18:2-3). Not many children seek position or power. Instead, they want accepta…

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Think Of Them No MoreIsaiah 43:22-28
I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.(Isaiah 43:25) My early years as a believer in Christ were laden with foreboding. I had the impression that when Jesus comes back, all my sins will be portrayed on a giant screen for everyone to see. I know now that God chooses not to remember against me a single one of my transgressions. Every sin has been buried in the deepest sea, never to be exhumed and examined again. Amy Carmichael wrote, “A day or two ago I was thinking rather sadly of the past—so many sins and failures and lapses of every kind. I was reading Isaiah 43, and in verse 24 I saw myself: ‘You have wearied me with your iniquities.’ And then for the first time I noticed that there is no space between verse 24 and verse 25: ‘I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.’” Indeed, when our Lord comes back He will “bring to light the…

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The Small Giant1 Samuel 17:32-37
The Lord . . . will deliver me.(1 Samuel 17:37) The towering enemy strides into the Valley of Elah. He stands 9 feet tall, and his coat of armor, made of many small bronze plates, glimmers in the sunlight. The shaft of his spear is wrapped with cords so it can spin through the air and be thrown with greater distance and accuracy. Goliath looks invincible. But David knows better. While Goliath may look like a giant and act like a giant, in contrast to the living God he is small. David has a right view of God and therefore a right view of the circumstances. He sees Goliath as one who is defying the armies of the living God (1 Sam. 17:26). He confidently appears before Goliath in his shepherd’s clothes, armed with only his staff, five stones, and a sling. His confidence is not in what he has but in who is with him (v.45). What “Goliath” are you facing right now? It may be an impossible situation at work, a financial difficulty, or a broken relationship. With …

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How Honest Are You?Acts 5:1-11 Those who deal truthfully are [God’s] delight. (Pro 12:22) Woman’s Day magazine surveyed more than 2,000 people to check out their honesty level. When asked, “How honest are you?” 48 percent said very honest, 50 percent said somewhat honest, and the other 2 percent said not very honest. Sixty-eight percent of respondents confessed that they had taken office supplies from their job for personal use. And 40 percent admitted that they would cheat on their taxes if they knew they wouldn’t get caught. Ananias and Sapphira must have thought they could get away with lying (Acts 5:1-11). But they quickly found out differently when Peter confronted them and told them that they had lied to the Holy Spirit. Immediately they were struck dead (vv.5,10). The Lord’s desire was to keep His new church pure so He could use the believers in the lives of others. As Bible teacher G. Campbell Morgan says, “The church pure is the church powerful. . . . The only power [able to make]…

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Untended PlacesPsalm 119:9-16
Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.(Psalms 119:11) Our family had just arrived at the lake cottage we had rented for a week of much-anticipated vacation when my wife discovered the unmistakable evidence of spiders and mice in the house. It wasn’t that we had never encountered such things, but that we had expected the cottage to be cleaned and prepared for our stay there. Instead, the counters, cabinets, and beds were littered with the residue of infestation, requiring much cleaning before we settled in. It wasn’t a bad house; it had just been left untended. We might be guilty of dealing with our hearts the way that cottage was managed. Our “untended places” can become breeding grounds for infestations of wrong thinking, poor attitudes, or sinful behavior—creating problems that require significant attention to correct. The wise path is to recognize our need to tend our hearts by staying in God’s Word and embracing its truths…

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How To Become RichLuke 12:13-21
Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. (Luke 12:15) I find it interesting that Jesus taught more about money than anything else. And He wasn’t trying to ratchet up the treasury. As far as we know, He never even asked for an offering. The reason He taught extensively on the subject is that nothing clogs our spiritual arteries more quickly than money—either working to have a lot of it or wishing that we had. Think of the man who brazenly asked Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13). Amazing! He had an opportunity to “go deep” with Jesus, but instead he wanted deep pockets. Jesus responded with a stunning, counter intuitive statement: “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (v.15). He then went on to tell the parable of a rich man who was wildly successful from a worldly standpoint—h…

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Comforted To Comfort2 Corinthians 1:3-11
[God] comforts us . . . that we may be able to comfort [others] with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.(2 Cor 1:4) While speaking to a group of Christian athletes, I asked them how they normally responded to hardships. Their responses included fear, anger, self-pity, aggression, despair, abusive behavior, apathy, and turning to God. I encouraged them to trust that God would comfort them and then use them to comfort others. Just as I encouraged those athletes, Paul encouraged a group of believers in a town called Corinth. He reminded them that afflictions were inevitable for the follower of Jesus. Many were being persecuted, imprisoned, and oppressed—all because of their relationship with Jesus. Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that in the midst of their trouble God was their source of help. He would come to their side and help them to have godly responses. Then Paul gave one of the reasons God allowed suffering and brough…

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Unanswered PrayersLuke 7:1-10
[Jesus said], “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (Luke 7:9) An explanation we often hear for “unanswered” prayers is that we don’t have enough faith. But Jesus said in Luke 17:6 that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can command a mulberry tree to be uprooted and planted in the sea and it will obey us. In other words, the effectiveness of our prayers depends not on how much faith we have but on whether we even have faith. Luke tells of a Roman centurion with “great faith” (7:9). His faith was expressed first as an appeal to Jesus to heal his dying servant. Then it was expressed as an acknowledgment that Jesus could heal his servant anytime, anywhere. The centurion did not ask Jesus to do things his way. Faith has been described as “trusting God’s heart and trusting God’s power.” Some prayers that seem to go unanswered are simply instances in which God has lovingly overruled our wishes. He knows that what we have asked for i…

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Prelude Of PraisePsalms 150 I will sing praise to Your name forever, that I may daily perform my vows.(Psalms 61:8) We enter a concert hall, find our seats, and listen with anticipation as the members of the orchestra tune their instruments. The sound is discordant, not melodic. But the tuning is simply a prelude to the symphony. C. S. Lewis suggested that’s how it is with our devotional practices and even our worship services. Sometimes they sound discordant, but God hears our prayers and praises with fatherly delight. We are really preparing for participation in the glorious symphony of heaven. Now we are making a minuscule contribution to the harmonies of angelic and redeemed hosts. But our adoration, though feeble, pleases the heart of the Divine Listener more than the finest rendition of earth’s greatest orchestra. Are we eagerly awaiting our participation in heaven’s symphony of praise? Are we joyfully participating in the adoration that delights the heart of God? Or do we regard de…

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Life Is GoodRomans 8:31-39
I am persuaded that [nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 8:38-39) While shopping in a nearby tourist town, I wandered into a small store stuffed with clothing and other items all marked with the slogan “Life is good.” Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that simple truth. When the work of earning a living, raising a family, maintaining health and fitness, and managing relationships starts to overwhelm us, it’s good to think about how small our part in the universe really is. While we obsess over our work, God quietly does His. He keeps the earth rotating, the planets revolving, and the seasons changing. Without any help from us, He makes the sun rise every morning and set every evening. Every night He changes the pattern of lights in the sky. He turns out the light so we can sleep, and turns it on again so we can see to work and play. Without lifting a finger, we get to enjoy sunrises and sun…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Life Is GoodRomans 8:31-39
I am persuaded that [nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 8:38-39) While shopping in a nearby tourist town, I wandered into a small store stuffed with clothing and other items all marked with the slogan “Life is good.” Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that simple truth. When the work of earning a living, raising a family, maintaining health and fitness, and managing relationships starts to overwhelm us, it’s good to think about how small our part in the universe really is. While we obsess over our work, God quietly does His. He keeps the earth rotating, the planets revolving, and the seasons changing. Without any help from us, He makes the sun rise every morning and set every evening. Every night He changes the pattern of lights in the sky. He turns out the light so we can sleep, and turns it on again so we can see to work and play. Without lifting a finger, we get to enjoy sunrises and sun…

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Einstein’s GodPsalms 19:1-6
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.(Psalms 19:1) When the great physicist Albert Einstein was asked if he believed in God, he responded: “We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. . . . That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human beings toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.” Although Einstein marveled at the design he saw in nature, he did not believe in a personal Creator. The psalmist shared Einstein’s sense of awe about nature but took the next step and believed in the Designer behind the design: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). The wonder we feel as we behold our universe should serve as a road sign pointing to the One wh…

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JourneysPhilippians 1:8-18
I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.(Phil 1:12) On a map in the back of my Bible, each of Paul’s missionary journeys is shown by a colored line with arrows indicating his direction of travel. On the first three, the arrows lead away from his place of departure and back to a point of return. On the fourth journey, however, Paul was traveling as a prisoner, bound for trial before Caesar, and the arrows point only one direction, ending in Rome. We might be tempted to call this an unfortunate time in Paul’s life, if it were not for his view that God was leading and using him just as much on this journey as He did on the previous three. He wrote: “I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; …