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Showing posts from October, 2019

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Clean The ClosetPsalms 139:13-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart.(Psalms 139:23) To this day I can still hear my mother telling me to go and clean up my room. Dutifully, I would go to my room to start the process, only to get distracted by reading the comic book that I was supposed to put neatly in the stack. But soon the distraction was interrupted by my mother warning that she would be up in 5 minutes to inspect the room. Unable to effectively clean the room in that time, I would proceed to hide everything I didn’t know what to do with in the closet, make the bed, and then wait for her to come in—hoping that she wouldn’t look in the closet. This reminds me of what many of us do with our lives. We clean up the outside of our lives hoping that no one will look into the “closet” where we have hidden our sins by rationalization and excuses and by blaming others for our own faults. The problem is that while looking good on the outside, we remain well aware of the mess on the inside. The …

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One Who UnderstandsPsalms 139:7-12
The Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. (1 Chr 28:9) My friend’s husband was in the last stages of dementia. In his first introduction to the nurse who was assigned to care for him, he reached out for her arm and stopped her. He said he wanted to introduce her to his best friend—one who loved him deeply. Since no one else was in the hall, the nurse thought he was delusional. But as it turned out he was speaking of Jesus. She was deeply touched but had to hurry on to care for another patient. When she returned, the darkness had closed in again and the man was no longer lucid. Even though this man had descended into the darkness of dementia, he knew that the Lord was his best Friend. God dwells in the fathomless depth that is our soul. He can pierce the darkest mind and assure us of His tender, loving care. Indeed, the darkness shall not hide us from Him (Ps. 139:12). We do not know what the future holds for us or those …

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Undeserved PraiseLuke 5:27-32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.(Luke 5:32) Even before I could afford a self-cleaning oven, I managed to keep my oven clean. Guests even commented on it when we had them over for a meal. “Wow, your oven is so clean. It looks like new.” I accepted the praise even though I knew I didn’t deserve it. The reason my oven was clean had nothing to do with my meticulous scrubbing; it was clean because I so seldom used it. How often, I wonder, am I guilty of accepting undeserved admiration for my “clean” life? It’s easy to give the impression of being virtuous; simply do nothing difficult, controversial, or upsetting to people. But Jesus said we are to love people who don’t agree with us, who don’t share our values, who don’t even like us. Love requires that we get involved in the messy situations of people’s lives. Jesus was frequently in trouble with religious leaders who were more concerned about keeping their own reputations clea…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

A War Of WordsProverbs 15:1-23 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1) On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia in response to the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie. Within 90 days, other European countries had taken sides to honor their military alliances and pursue their own ambitions. A single event escalated into World War I, one of the most destructive military conflicts of modern time. The tragedy of war is staggering, yet our relationships and families can begin to fracture with only a few hateful words. James wrote, “See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (James 3:5). A key to avoiding verbal conflict is found in Proverbs: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1). A small comment can start a large fight. When we, by God’s grace, choose not to retaliate with our words, we honor Jesus our Savior. When He was abused and insulted, He fulfilled the prophetic w…

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The Right FoundationMatthew 7:24–29 Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:24) “I’ve got bad news for you,” said the builder, who was renovating an old house I had inherited. “When we started to convert the back half of the garage for your office, we found that the walls had almost no foundation. We will have to demolish them, dig proper foundations, and start again.” “Do you have to do that?” I pleaded, silently calculating the extra cost. “Can’t you just patch it up?” But the builder was adamant. “Unless we go down to the proper depth, the building inspector won’t approve it. The right foundation is vital.” The right foundation makes the difference between something that lasts and something temporary. Jesus knew that though foundations are invisible, they are vitally important to the strength and stability of the house (Matt. 7:24-25), especially when it is battered by the elements. He also knew the …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

A Genuine Friend1 Samuel 20:32-42
Two are better than one. (Ecclesiastes 4:9) In the novel Shane, a friendship forms between Joe Starrett, a farmer on the American frontier, and Shane, a mysterious man who stops to rest at the Starrett home. The men first bond as they work together to remove a giant tree stump from Joe’s land. The relationship deepens as Joe rescues Shane from a fight and Shane helps Joe improve and guard his farmland. The men share a sense of mutual respect and loyalty that reflects what Scripture says: “Two are better than one . . . . If they fall, one will lift up his companion” (Eccl. 4:9-10). Jonathan and David modeled this principle as well. Circumstances tested their friendship when David suspected that King Saul wanted him dead. Jonathan doubted this, but David believed it to be true (1 Sam. 20:2-3). Eventually, they decided David would hide in a field while Jonathan questioned his father about the matter. When Saul’s deadly intent became clear, the friends wept …

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From Peeker To SeekerJonah 1:1–2:2
I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me.(Jonah 2:2) When our daughter was too young to walk or crawl, she created a way to hide from people when she wanted to be left alone or wanted her own way. She simply closed her eyes. Kathryn reasoned that anyone she couldn’t see also couldn’t see her. She used this tactic in her car seat when someone new tried to say hello; she used it in her highchair when she didn’t like the food; she even used it when we announced it was bedtime. Jonah had a more grown-up strategy of hiding, but it wasn’t any more effective than our daughter’s. When God asked him to do something he didn’t want to do, he ran in the opposite direction. But he found out pretty quickly there is no place God couldn’t find him. In fact, Scripture is full of stories of God finding people when they didn’t necessarily want to be found (Ex. 2:11–3:6; 1 Kings 19:1-7; Acts 9:1-19). Maybe you have tried to hide from God, or mayb…

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Mysterious DetoursGenesis 12:1-10; 13:1
Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them.(Psalms 22:4) Before my wife and I embarked on a 400-mile road trip, I set up the GPS with our daughter’s home in Missouri as the destination. As we traveled through Illinois, the GPS instructed us to get off the Interstate, resulting in a detour through the city of Harvey. After the GPS directed us back to
I-80, I was baffled by this mysterious detour. Why were we directed off a perfectly good highway? I’ll never know the answer. We continued on our way, and we trusted the GPS to get us there and home again. That got me to thinking about detours in life. We may seem to be traveling on a smooth pathway. Then for some reason, God redirects us into an unfamiliar area. Perhaps it is an illness, or a crisis at work or school, or an unexpected tragedy occurs. We don’t understand what God is doing. Abraham faced a mysterious detour when God told him, “Get out of your country, from your family …

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Seeing Upside DownMatthew 8:1-4; 9:9-12
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.(Matthew 9:12) In India I worshiped among leprosy patients. Most of the medical advances in the treatment of leprosy came about as a result of missionary doctors, who were willing to live among patients and risk exposure to the dreaded disease. As a result, churches thrive in most major leprosy centers. In Myanmar I visited homes for AIDS orphans, where Christian volunteers try to replace parental affection the disease has stolen away. The most rousing church services I have attended took place in Chile and Peru, in the bowels of a federal prison. Among the lowly, the wretched, the downtrodden—the rejected of this world—God’s kingdom takes root. Taking God’s assignment seriously means that we must learn to look at the world upside down, as Jesus did. Instead of seeking out people with resources who can do us favors, we look for people with few resources. Instead of the strong, w…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

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Lessons From A FenceMatthew 7:21-29 7:24Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. —
When a section of fence around our house blew down in a howling March wind, my first reaction was to blame the man who built it for me only a few months before. On further reflection, I knew the fault was mine. As the fence was nearing completion, I told him there was no need to replace four existing posts from the previous fence with new ones set in concrete. “Just attach the new fence to the old posts,” I said. “It will be fine.” It was—until the winds came. Jesus told a powerful story to emphasize the importance of building our lives on the solid foundation of obeying His Word. “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. …

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Timely WordsProverbs 25:11-15
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.(Pro 25:11) You may have heard the adage, “Timing is everything.” According to the Bible, good timing applies to our words and speech too. Think of a time when God used you to bring a timely word to refresh someone, or when you wanted to speak, but it was wiser for you to remain silent. The Bible says that there is an appropriate time to speak (Eccl. 3:7). Solomon compared properly timed and well-spoken words with golden apples in a silver setting—beautiful, valuable, and carefully crafted (Prov. 25:11-12). Knowing the right time to speak is beneficial for both the speaker and hearer, whether they are words of love, encouragement, or rebuke. Keeping silent also has its place and time. When tempted to deride, belittle, or slander a neighbor, Solomon said that it is wise to hold our tongue, recognizing the appropriate time for silence (11:12-13). When talkativeness or anger tempts us to sin again…

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A SanctuaryMatthew 11:25-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) Entering a church in Klang, Malaysia, I was intrigued by the sign welcoming us into the building. It declared the place to be “A Sanctuary for the Heavy Laden.” Few things better reflect the heart of Christ than for His church to be a place where burdens are lifted and the weary find rest. This was vital in Jesus’ ministry, for He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Jesus promised to take our burdens and exchange them for His light load. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (vv.29-30). This promise is backed by His great strength. Whatever burdens we may carry, in Christ we find the strong shoulders of the Son of God, who promises to take our heavy burdens and exchange them for His light…

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The Power To Change
Romans 12:1-8
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.(Romans 12:2) Educator and best-selling author Tony Wagner is a firm believer in “disruptive innovation” that changes the way the world thinks and works. In his book Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, he says, “Innovation occurs in every aspect of human endeavor,” and “most people can become more creative and innovative—given the right environment and opportunities.” Paul was a first-century innovator who traveled throughout Asia Minor telling people how they could be transformed by faith in Jesus Christ. To the Christians in Rome Paul wrote, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Rom. 12:2 nlt). He urged them to give themselves fully to God (v.1). In a self-centered, greedy, and grasping world, Paul nurtured and mentored them in how to live a Chr…

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The Lesson Of The Hula HoopMark 6:34-44
Let us not grow weary while doing good. (Gal 6:9) One of my favorite childhood toys is making a comeback—the hula hoop. My friend Suzi and I spent hours on the front lawn perfecting our technique and competing to see which of us could keep a hoop circling our waist longer. This year I relived that part of my childhood. While sitting in a park, I watched as children of all ages and sizes tried their hardest to keep hula hoops from falling to the ground. They twisted and turned with all their strength, but despite their exertion the hoops landed on the ground. Then a young woman picked up a hoop. With hardly any motion, she moved it smoothly and rhythmically up and down from her waist to her shoulders and back to her waist. Her success depended on strategic movement, not vigorous motion. In our spiritual lives, we can expend all kinds of energy trying to keep up with others in service to God. But working to exhaustion is not a virtue (Gal. 6:9). Befo…

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What do you expect John 16:25-33 Vs 33 "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
In C. S. Lewis’ book God in the Dock, he wrote: “Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable.” Lewis cleverly used this contrast between a hotel and a prison to illustrate how we view life based on our expectations. He says, “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable; think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.” Sometimes we expect that life should be happy and pain-free. But that is not what the Bible teaches. For the believer, this world is a place of spiritual development through both good times and bad. Jesus was realist…

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Learn To Wait On GodPsalms 62:1-8 Vs 5 My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. Cha Sa-soon, a 69-year-old Korean woman, finally received her driving license after 3 years of trying to pass the written test. She wanted the license so she could take her grandchildren to the zoo. She was persistent in what is normally an instant world. When we want something and cannot get it, we often complain and demand. At other times, we give up and move on if what we want cannot be quickly gratified. “Wait” is a word we hate to hear! Yet, many times the Bible tells us that God wants us to wait on Him for the right timing. Waiting on God means patiently looking to Him for what we need. David recognized why he had to wait on the Lord. First, his salvation came from Him (Ps. 62:1). He learned that no one else could deliver him. His only hope was in God (v.5), for God alone hears our prayers (v.8). Our prayers often revolve around asking God to hurry up and bless what we want to…

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Fly the flag Ephesians 5:1-13 Vs 1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for more than 60 years. Her monarchy has been characterized by grace and class. She has diligently given her life to serve her people well, and as a result she is deeply loved and highly revered. So, you can understand the importance of the flag flying above Buckingham Palace. When the flag is flying, it means that she is in residence in the heart of London. The flag is a public statement that the queen is present with her people. As I was thinking about that, it occurred to me that our King Jesus is in residence in our hearts as our “never leave you nor forsake you” Monarch (Heb. 13:5). As wonderful as that is to us personally, I wonder if those around us would recognize that He is in residence based on the way we live? If He is within us, that will show on the outside. As Paul says, we are to be “imitators of God” and to “walk in love, as Christ also has loved us” (Eph. 5:1-2…

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A Faithful Helper Jeremiah 20:7-13 Vs 11 The Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One. As a young boy, my father had to deliver slop to hungry pigs on the farm where he grew up. He hated this job because the hogs would knock him over when he entered their pen. This task might have been impossible except for a faithful helper who accompanied my dad—a German shepherd named Sugarbear. She would maneuver herself between my father and the pigs and hold them back until my dad finished his chore. The prophet Jeremiah had the difficult job of proclaiming God’s messages to the Israelites. This required him to endure physical abuse, verbal attacks, imprisonment, and isolation. Although Jeremiah struggled with deep discouragement, he had a Helper through all of his trouble. God promised him, “I am with you . . . to deliver you” (Jer. 1:19). God did not desert Jeremiah, and He will not desert us. We have His continual aid through the power of the Spirit who lives inside every believer (John 14:16-17).…

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Pink Sheep John 10:7-18 John 13:35 - By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.  While traveling on a road from Glasgow to Edinburgh, Scotland, I was enjoying the beautiful, pastoral countryside when a rather humorous sight captured my attention. There, on a small hilltop, was a rather large flock of pink sheep. I know that sheep owners mark their animals with dots of spray paint to identify them—but these sheep really stood out. The owner had fully covered every animal with pink coloring. Everyone knew who those sheep belonged to. Scripture calls followers of Christ sheep, and they too have a unique identifying mark. What is the “pink coloring” in a Christ-follower’s life? How can someone be identified as Jesus’ own? In the gospel of John, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, told us what that identifier is: love. “Love one another; as I have loved you . . . . By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). In …