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Showing posts from December, 2019

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Standing on the edge Joshua 3:9-17 Vs 14 -[The Israelites] set out . . . to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before [them]  My little girl stood apprehensively at the pool’s edge. As a nonswimmer, she was just learning to become comfortable in the water. Her instructor waited in the pool with outstretched arms. As my daughter hesitated, I saw the questions in her eyes: Will you catch me? What will happen if my head goes under? The Israelites may have wondered what would happen when they crossed the Jordan River. Could they trust God to make dry ground appear in the riverbed? Was God guiding their new leader, Joshua, as He had led Moses? Would God help His people defeat the threatening Canaanites who lived just across the river? To learn the answers to these questions, the Israelites had to engage in a test of faith—they had to act. So they “set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before [them]…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

He leads me Psalms 23 Vs 2 -  "He leads me beside still waters"  In Istanbul, Turkey, in 2005, one sheep jumped off a cliff and then nearly 1,500 others followed! In the end, about one-third of them died. Not knowing which way to go, sheep mindlessly follow other members of the flock. No better word picture than sheep can be found to illustrate our need for a trustworthy leader. We are all, Isaiah wrote, like sheep (Isa. 53:6). We tend to go our own way, yet we desperately need the sure direction of a shepherd. Psalm 23 describes the trustworthiness of our Good Shepherd. He cares for us (v.1); He provides for our physical needs (v.2); He shows us how to live holy lives (v.3); He restores us, comforts us, heals us, and bountifully blesses us (vv.3-5); and He will not abandon us (v.6). What a comfort to know that God gently but firmly leads us! He does so through the urging of the Holy Spirit, the reading of His Word, and through prayer. God is the reliable leader we need. In acknowl…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Delay may not mean denial John 11:21-35 Vs 6- When [Jesus] heard that [Lazarus] was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. My sons’ birthdays are in December. When they were small, Angus quickly learned that if he didn’t receive a longed-for toy for his birthday at the beginning of the month, it might be in his Christmas stocking. And if David didn’t receive his gift for Christmas, it might appear for his birthday 4 days later. Delay didn’t necessarily mean denial. It was natural for Martha and Mary to send for Jesus when Lazarus became seriously ill (John 11:1-3). Perhaps they looked anxiously along the road for signs of His arrival, but Jesus didn’t come. The funeral service had been over for 4 days when Jesus finally walked into town (v.17). Martha was blunt. “If You had been here,” she said, “my brother would not have died” (v.21). Then her faith flickered into certainty, “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (v.22). I wonder what she expec…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Is Jesus still there? Romans 8:31-39 Vs 38, 39 -[Nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  
Ted Robertson’s home in Colorado was one of more than 500 destroyed by the Black Forest Fire in June 2013. When he was allowed to return and sift through the ash and rubble, he was hoping to find a precious family heirloom made by his wife—a tiny ceramic figurine of baby Jesus about the size of a postage stamp. As he searched the charred remains of their home, he kept wondering, “Is the baby Jesus still here?” When our lives are rocked by disappointment and loss, we may wonder if Jesus is still here with us. The Bible’s answer is a resounding Yes! “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). In a corner of what used to be his garage, Ted Robertson discovered the burned remnants of a …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Out of Egypt Matthew 2:13-20 Vs 13 - "Take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt"  One year when our family was traveling through Ohio on the way to Grandma’s house, we arrived in Columbus just as a tornado warning was issued. Suddenly everything changed as we feared that our children might be in danger. I mention that story to help us imagine what it was like for Joseph’s family as he, Mary, and their young child traveled to Egypt. Herod, not a tornado, threatened them as he sought to kill their little boy. Imagine how frightening it was for them, knowing that “Herod [sought] the young Child to destroy Him” (Matt. 2:13). We usually take a more idyllic view of Christmastime—lowing cattle and kneeling shepherds in a peaceful scene. But there was no peace for Jesus’ family as they sought to escape Herod’s horror. Only when an angel told them it was safe did the family go out of Egypt and back home to Nazareth (vv.20-23). Consider the awe we should feel for the incarnation. J…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

In the Neighborhood John 1:1-14
v14 - "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" 
It was the buzz of our neighborhood. A famous professional football player had moved in just two houses down from where we lived. We had seen him on television and read about his great skills on the field, but we never thought he would choose to reside in our neighborhood. Initially, our expectations were that we would welcome him into the neighborhood and we would all become great friends. But his life was obviously far too busy for any of us to get to know him personally. Imagine this: Jesus—the Lord of the universe and Creator of all things—chose to dwell among us! He left heaven and came to this earth. As John says, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). Jesus chose to become intimately involved with all who will come to Him. And, even more significant, for those of us who have received His redeeming love, the Holy Spirit has now set up residence in …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

The Smells Of The StableLuke 2:15-20
They shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23) A stable? What a place to give birth to the Messiah! The smells and sounds of a barnyard were our Savior’s first human experience. Like other babies, He may even have cried at the sounds of the animals and the strangers parading around His temporary crib. If so, they would have been the first of many tears. Jesus would come to know human loss and sorrow, the doubts his brothers and family had about Him, and the pain His mother experienced as she saw Him tortured and killed. All these hardships—and so much more—awaited the baby trying to sleep that first night. Yet from His very first moments, Jesus was “God with us” (Matt. 1:23), and He knew what it meant to be human. This would continue for over three decades, ending at His death on the cross. Because of His love for you and me, Jesus became fully human. And being human allows Him to identify with us. Never again can …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Lasting Peace Ephesians 2:13-19 Vs 14 - He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation. On Christmas Eve 1914, during the First World War, the guns fell silent along a 30-mile stretch of the Western Front. Soldiers peered cautiously over the tops of trenches while a few emerged to repair their positions and bury the dead. As darkness fell, some German troops set out lanterns and sang Christmas carols. Men on the British side applauded and shouted greetings. The next day, German, French, and British troops met in no man’s land to shake hands, share food, and exchange gifts. It was a brief respite from war that soon ended when the artillery and machine guns roared to life again. But no one who experienced “The Christmas Truce,” as it became known, would ever forget how it felt and how it fueled their longing for lasting peace. In Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah we read, “His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everl…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

What Really Matters2 Corinthians 9:10-15
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor 9:15) When our children were living at home, one of our most meaningful Christmas morning traditions was very simple. We would gather our family around the Christmas tree where, in sight of the gifts we were receiving from one another, we would read the Christmas story together. It was a gentle reminder that the reason we give gifts is not because the Magi brought gifts to the Christ-child. Rather, our gifts of love for one another were a reflection of God’s infinitely greater Gift of love to us. As we rehearsed the familiar story of angels, shepherds, and the manger scene, it was our hope that the magnitude of what God had done that first Christmas would overshadow our best attempts at displaying our love for each other. Nothing could ever match the gift God has given us in His Son, a reality which echoes in Paul’s words to the church at Corinth, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Just The Right TimeHebrews 9:11-22 Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come. (Hebrews 9:11)
The conductor stood on the podium, his eyes scanning the choir and orchestra. The singers arranged the music in their folders, found a comfortable position for standing, and held the folder where they could see the conductor just over the top. Orchestra members positioned their music on the stand, found a comfortable position in their seats, and then sat still. The conductor waited and watched until everyone was ready. Then, with a downbeat of his baton, the sounds of Handel’s “Overture to Messiah” filled the cathedral. With the sound swirling around me, I felt I was immersed in Christmas—when God, at just the right moment, signaled the downbeat and set in motion an overture that started with the birth of the Messiah, the “High Priest of the good things to come” (Heb. 9:11). Every Christmas, as we celebrate Christ’s first coming with glorious music, I’m reminded that God’s people, like…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

In Jesus’ NameJohn 14:12-21 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:24) One of my favorite collections of photos is of a family dinner. Preserved in an album are images of Dad, his sons and their wives, and his grandchildren in a time of thanks-giving and intercession. Dad had suffered a series of strokes and was not as verbal as usual. But during that time of prayer, I heard him say with heartfelt conviction: “We pray in Jesus’ name!” About a year later, Dad passed from this world into the presence of the One in whose name he placed such trust. Jesus taught us to pray in His name. The night before He was crucified, He gave a promise to His disciples: “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). But the promise of asking in Jesus’ name is not a blank check that we might get anything to fulfill our personal whims. Earlier that evening, Jesus taught that He…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

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The Heart of Christmas 1 Timothy 1:12-17 Vs 14 - The grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol was released on December 19, 1843, and has never been out of print. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy, sour, stingy man who says, “Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas,’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding!” Yet, one Christmas Eve, Scrooge is radically changed into a generous and happy man. With great humor and insight, Dickens’ book captures the universal longing for inner peace. As a young man, the apostle Paul opposed Jesus and His followers with a vengeful spirit. He “made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:3). But one day he encountered the risen Christ, and his life became a different story (9:1-16). In a letter to Timothy, his son in the faith, Paul described that life-changing event b…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

My friends and I 1 Samuel 18:1-4; 23:15-18 18:3 -Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. John Chrysostom (347–407), archbishop of Constantinople, said this about friendship: “Such is friendship, that through it we love places and seasons; for as . . . flowers drop their sweet leaves on the ground around them, so friends impart favor even to the places where they dwell.” Jonathan and David illustrate the sweetness of a true friendship. The Bible records an intimate and immediate bond between them (1 Sam. 18:1). They kept their friendship alive by demonstrating their loyalty to each other (18:3; 20:16, 42; 23:18), as well as nurturing it by expressions of concern. Jonathan gave gifts to David (18:4) and watched out for him through many difficulties (19:1-2; 20:12-13). In 1 Samuel 23:16, we see the highest moment of their friendship. When David was a fugitive on the run from Jonathan’s father, “Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods a…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

A Work In ProgressJohn 15:9-17
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 3:18) Pablo Casals was considered to be the preeminent cellist of the first half of the 20th century. When he was still playing his cello in the middle of his tenth decade of life, a young reporter asked, “Mr. Casals, you are 95 years old and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice 6 hours a day?” Mr. Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.” What a great attitude! As believers in Christ, we should never be satisfied to think we have reached some self-proclaimed pinnacle of spiritual success, but rather continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Jesus reminds us in John 15:16 that He chose us to “go and bear fruit.” The result of healthy growth is continuing to bear spiritual fruit throughout our lives. Our Lord promises: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

A Ukrainian ChristmasLuke 2:6-14
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (Luke 2:14) The people of Ukraine include many wonderful elements in their observance of Christmas. Sometimes wisps of hay are placed on the dinner table as a reminder of the Bethlehem manger. Another portion of their celebration echoes the events of the night when the Savior entered the world. A Christmas prayer is offered and then the father in the household offers the greeting, “Christ is born!” The family then responds, “Let us glorify Him!” These words draw my mind to the appearance of the angels in the sky over Bethlehem on the night Christ was born. The angel of the Lord declared, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). The heavenly host responded, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (v.14). Those twin messages g…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Story StewardsDeuteronomy 4:1-9
Take heed . . . lest you forget the things your eyes have seen . . . . And teach them to your children and your grandchildren. (Deut 4:9) Many people take great care to make sure their resources are used well after they die. They set up trusts, write wills, and establish foundations to guarantee that their assets will continue to be used for a good purpose after their life on earth is done. We call this good stewardship. Equally important, however, is being good stewards of our life story. God commanded the Israelites not only to teach their children His laws but also to make sure they knew their family history. It was the responsibility of parents and grandparents to make sure their children knew the stories of how God had worked in their behalf (Deut. 4:1-14). God has given each of us a unique story. His plan for our lives is individualized. Do others know what you believe and why? Do they know the story of how you came to faith and how God has worked in …