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Showing posts from November, 2019

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Our Prayer; God’s Will2 Corinthians 12:7-10
I pleaded with the Lord three times that [a thorn in the flesh] might depart from me.(2 Cor 12:8) The handwritten prayer request was heartbreaking in its seeming impossibility: “Please pray—I have multiple sclerosis, weak muscles, trouble swallowing, increased pain, diminishing sight.” The woman’s body was breaking down, and I could sense despair in her plea for intercession. But then came the hope—the strength that trumps the physical damage and degradation: “I know our blessed Savior is in full control. His will is of utmost importance to me.” This person may have needed my prayers, but I needed something she had: unabated confidence in God. She seemed to present a perfect portrait of the truth God taught Paul when he asked for relief from his difficulty—what he called his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7). His quest for relief turned out to be not just a seeming impossibility; his request was turned down flat by his heavenly Father. Paul’s c…

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For Sale— ”As Is”Revelation 5:1-12
For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood. (Rev 5:9)
A house listed for sale “As Is” usually means the seller is unable or unwilling to spend any money to repair it or make it attractive. Any necessary repairs or desired improvements are the responsibility of the buyer after the purchase is complete. “As Is” on a real estate listing is equivalent to saying, “Buyer beware. Home may require significant further investment.” How remarkable that when Jesus died, He paid the highest price for each of us, regardless of our condition. Revelation 5 describes a scene in heaven where only “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” is found worthy to open and read a sealed scroll (vv.3-5). He appears as a Lamb and becomes the object of praise in a new song, “For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Amani1 Samuel 16:14-23
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.( Tim 1:7) Amani, which means “peace” in Swahili, is the name of a Labrador retriever pup that has some special friends. Amani lives with two young cheetahs at the Dallas Zoo. Zoologists placed the animals together so the cheetahs could learn Amani’s relaxed ways. Since dogs are generally at ease in public settings, the experts predict that Amani will be a “calming influence” in the cheetahs’ lives as they grow up together. David was a soothing influence in King Saul’s life when a “distressing spirit” troubled him (1 Sam. 16:14). When Saul’s servants learned of his problem, they thought music might ease his affliction. One servant summoned David, who was a skilled harpist. Whenever the king became troubled, David would play the harp. “Then Saul would become refreshed and well” (v.23). We crave refreshment and well-being when we are plagued by anger, fear, or sadness. The God of the B…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

A Lesson In PraisePsalms 150 Praise the Lord! (Psalms 150:1) Psalm 150 is not only a beautiful expression of praise, it’s also a lesson in praising the Lord. It tells us where to praise, why we’re to praise, how we’re to praise, and who should offer praise. Where do we praise? In God’s “sanctuary” and “mighty firmament” (v.1). Wherever we are in the world is a proper place to praise the One who created all things. Why do we praise? First, because of what God does. He performs “mighty acts.” Second, because of who God is. The psalmist praised Him for “His excellent greatness” (v.2). The all-powerful Creator is the Sustainer of the universe. How should we praise? Loudly. Softly. Soothingly. Enthusiastically. Rhythmically. Boldly. Unexpectedly. Fearlessly. In other words, we can praise God in many ways and on many occasions (vv.3-5). Who should praise? “Everything that has breath” (v.6). Young and old. Rich and poor. Weak and strong. Every living creature. God’s will is for everyone to whom He…

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God Whispers “Fish”Luke 5:1-10 v 10 - From now on you will catch men. A number of years ago our sons and I enjoyed some days together drifting and fishing the Madison River in Montana with two fishing guides who also served as our boatmen. The guide I drew was a man who had lived on the river all his life and knew where the big trout held. He was a quiet man who spoke scarcely two dozen words in all the time he was with us, but his few words enlivened my days. We were fishing with small flies in choppy water. My eyesight was not what it once was, and I was missing most of the takes. My guide—who was also a soul of patience—began to alert me by murmuring “fish” when he saw a trout rising under the fly. When I heard his cue, I lifted the tip of my rod and . . . voilĂ ! A trout on the end of my line! I’ve often thought of that guide and Jesus’ declaration to His fishermen-disciples, “From now on you will catch men” (Luke 5:10). There are great opportunities that come our way every day—people c…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Surprised By GodEphesians 3:14-21
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. (Eph 3:20) After 10 years of renting in a charming location, we discovered that our landlord suddenly needed to sell the house. I asked God to change the circumstances and make it possible for my wife and me to stay in this place we’d made home, where we’d watched our children grow up. But God said no. When it comes to my needs, I worry that I’m asking for the wrong thing or that I’m not worthy of the request I’m making. But God’s no doesn’t need to shake our faith when we’re grounded—surrounded I like to say—in His love. In Ephesians 3, Paul understood that those who know the love of Christ intimately (vv.16-17) can trust God to have a loving reason for saying no. Shortly after hearing “no” from God about my request, friends from church offered to rent us a home they were vacating. Our new location—with new appliances, new plumbing…

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Outlasting BitternessColossians 3:12-17 If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.(Col 3:13) During the Second World War, Corrie ten Boom’s family owned a watchmaking business in the Netherlands, and they actively worked to protect Jewish families. Eventually, the entire ten Boom family was sent to a concentration camp, where Corrie’s father died 10 days later. Her sister Betsie also died in the camp. While Betsie and Corrie were in the camp together, Betsie’s faith helped to strengthen Corrie’s. That faith led Corrie to forgive even the ruthless men who served as guards during her concentration camp days. While hate and the desire for revenge continued to destroy many lives long after the concentration camps were gone, Corrie knew the truth: Hate hurts the hater more than the hated, no matter how justified it may seem. Like Corrie, we each have the opportunity to love our enemy and choose forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse the offense…

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The Warmth Of The SunPsalms 6 I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears.(Psalms 6:6) On a November day in 1963, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and Mike Love wrote a song quite unlike the band’s typically upbeat tunes. It was a mournful song about love that’s been lost. Mike said later, “As hard as that kind of loss is, the one good that comes from it is having had the experience of being in love in the first place.” They titled it “The Warmth of the Sun.” Sorrow serving as a catalyst for songwriting is nothing new. Some of David’s most moving psalms were penned in times of deep personal loss, including Psalm 6. Though we aren’t told the events that prompted its writing, the lyrics are filled with grief, “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim, I drench my couch with my tears. My eye wastes away because of grief” (vv.6-7). But that’s not where the song ends. David knew pain and loss, but he also knew God’s comfort. And so he…

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Dealing With DistractionsMatthew 13:14-22
The cares of this world . . . choke the word. (Matthew 13:22) A restaurant owner in the village of Abu Ghosh, just outside Jerusalem, offered a 50-percent discount for patrons who turned off their cell phones. Jawdat Ibrahim believes that smartphones have shifted the focus of meals from companionship and conversation to surfing, texting, and business calls. “Technology is very good,” Ibrahim says. “But . . . when you are with your family and your friends, you can just wait for half an hour and enjoy the food and enjoy the company.” How easily we can be distracted by many things, whether in our relationship with others or with the Lord. Jesus told His followers that spiritual distraction begins with hearts that have grown dull, ears that are hard of hearing, and eyes that are closed (Matt. 13:15). Using the illustration of a farmer scattering seed, Jesus compared the seed that fell among thorns to a person who hears God’s Word but whose heart is fo…

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Can You Help?James 2:14-20
Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.(James 2:17) The administrators of the high school in Barrow, Alaska, were tired of seeing students get into trouble and drop out at a rate of 50 percent. To keep students interested, they started a football team, which offered them a chance to develop personal skills, teamwork, and learn life lessons. The problem with football in Barrow, which is farther north than Iceland, is that it’s hard to plant a grass field. So they competed on a gravel and dirt field. Four thousand miles away in Florida, a woman named Cathy Parker heard about the football team and their dangerous field. Feeling that God was prompting her to help, and impressed by the positive changes she saw in the students, she went to work. About a year later, they dedicated their new field, complete with a beautiful artificial-turf playing surface. She had raised thousands of dollars to help some kids she didn’t even know. This is not about football…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Goodbye
Numbers 11:1-10When the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused.(Num 11:1) When Max Lucado participated in a half-Ironman triathlon, he experienced the negative power of complaint. He said, “After the 1.2-mile swim and the 56-mile bike ride, I didn’t have much energy left for the 13.1-mile run. Neither did the fellow jogging next to me. He said, ‘This stinks. This race is the dumbest decision I’ve ever made.’ I said, ‘Goodbye.’ ” Max knew that if he listened too long, he would start agreeing with him. So he said goodbye and kept running. Among the Israelites, too many people listened too long to complaints and began to agree with them. This displeased God, and for good reason. God had delivered the Israelites from slavery, and agreed to live in their midst, but they still complained. Beyond the hardship of the desert, they were dissatisfied with God’s provision of manna. In their complaint, Israel forgot that the manna was a gif…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Rooted LoveHebrews 13:15-25
Do not forget to do good and to share.(Heb 13:16) When I think of all the wonders of God’s magnificent creation, I am especially awed by the giant sequoia tree. These amazing behemoths of the forest can grow to around 300 feet tall with a diameter that exceeds 20 feet. They can live over 3,000 years and are even fire resistant. In fact, forest fires pop the sequoia cones open, distributing their seeds on the forest floor that has been fertilized by the ashes. Perhaps the most amazing fact is that these trees can grow in just 3 feet of soil and withstand high winds. Their strength lies in the fact that their roots intertwine with other sequoias, providing mutual strength and shared resources. God’s plan for us is like that. Our ability to stand tall in spite of the buffeting winds of life is directly related to the love and support we receive from God and one another. And then, as the writer of Hebrews says, we are to “do good and to share” (13:16). Think of ho…

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Defeated AdversaryEphesians 6:10-18
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.(1 Pet 5:8) The roaring lion is the legendary “king of the jungle.” But the only lions many of us see are the lethargic felines that reside in zoos. Their days are filled with lots of rest, and their dinner is served to them without the lions having to lift a single paw. In their natural habitat, however, lions aren’t always living a laid-back life. Their hunger tells them to go hunting, and in doing so they seek the young, weak, sick, or injured. Crouching in tall grasses, they slowly creep forward. Then with a sudden pounce, they clamp their jaws to the body of their victim. Peter used “a roaring lion” as a metaphor for Satan. He is a confident predator, looking for easy prey to devour (1 Peter 5:8). In dealing with this adversary, God’s children must be vigilant at putting “on the whole armor of God” and thus they can “be strong in the …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

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Amazing Guide
Joshua 1:1-9Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken. (Joshua 21:45) When actors and actresses make a movie, it’s the director who sees the “big picture” and the overall direction. Actress Marion Cotillard admits she didn’t understand everything the director was doing in one of her recent films. She said, “I found it very interesting to allow myself to be lost, because I knew that I had this amazing guide. . . . You abandon yourself for a story and a director that will make it all work.” I think Joshua could have said something similar about the director of his life. In today’s Scripture passage, the newly commissioned leader of Israel is standing at the threshold of the Promised Land. More than 2 million Israelites are looking to him to lead them. How would he do it? God didn’t give him a detailed script, but He gave him the assurance that He would go with him. God said, “I will be with you. I will not leave you” (Josh. 1:5). He commanded Joshua to stud…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Windfall
Proverbs 30:1-9
Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11) Upon winning $314 million in a 2002 lottery, a happy business owner expressed noble desires. He wanted to start a charitable foundation, put laid-off workers back on the job, and do nice things for his family. Already wealthy, he told reporters the big win wouldn’t change him. A few years later, a follow-up article described a different outcome. Since winning the biggest of all lotteries, the man had run into legal problems, lost his personal reputation, and gambled away all of his money. A thoughtful man by the name of Agur wrote words that anticipate such heartbreak. Brought low by the awareness of his own natural inclinations (Prov. 30:2-3), Agur saw the dangers of having too much or too little. So he prayed, “Give me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God” (vv.8-9). Agur sa…

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Heartbreak And HopeLamentations 3:1-6, 16-25
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him.(Lam 3:25) When American country singer George Jones died at the age of 81, his fans remembered his remarkable voice and his hard life and personal struggles. While many of his songs reflected his own despair and longing, it was the way he sang them that touched people deeply. Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot said, “His voice was made for conveying heartbreak.” The book of Lamentations records Jeremiah’s anguish over the nation of Judah’s stubborn refusal to follow God. Often called “the weeping prophet,” he witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and saw his people carried into captivity. He wandered the streets of the city, overwhelmed by grief (Lam. 1:1-5). Yet, in Jeremiah’s darkest hour, he said, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (3:21-23). Wh…

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Creeping Christmas?Galatians 4:1-7
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor 9:15) I love Christmas. The celebration of the birth of Christ and the beauty and wonder of the season make it “the most wonderful time of the year” for me. In recent years, however, the season has been accompanied by a growing irritation. Every year “Christmas stuff” comes out earlier and earlier—creeping all the way back to early fall. Christmas used to be limited to December, but now we find radio stations playing Christmas music in early November. Stores start advertising Christmas specials in October, and Christmas candy appears in late September. If we’re not careful, this growing deluge can numb us—even sour us to what should be a season of gratitude and awe. When that irritation begins to rise in my spirit, I try to do one thing: Remember. I remind myself what Christmas means, who Jesus is, and why He came. I remember the love and grace of a forgiving God who sent us rescue in the Person of His …

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The Final Picture Isaiah 40:21-31 v26 Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things. 
What started as an empty 11-acre field in Belfast, Northern Ireland, ended up as the largest land portrait in the British Isles. Wish, by artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, is made from 30,000 wooden pegs, 2,000 tons of soil, 2,000 tons of sand, and miscellaneous items such as grass, stones, and string. At the beginning, only the artist knew what the final artwork was going to look like. He hired workers and recruited volunteers to haul materials and move them into place. As they worked, they saw little indication that something amazing was about to emerge. But it did. From the ground, it doesn’t look like much. But from above, viewers see a huge portrait—the smiling face of a little girl. God is doing something on a grander scale in the world. He’s the artist who sees the final picture. We’re His “fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9) who are helping to make it a reality. Through the prophet Isaiah,…