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#110 Jan 25, 2010
January 25, 2010
Deadly Sins

John 16:17-24 (New International Version)

The Disciples' Grief Will Turn to Joy
17Some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by
saying,'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a
little while you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the
Father'?" 18They kept asking, "What does he mean by 'a little while'?
We don't understand what he is saying."
19Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to
them, "Are you asking one another what I meant when I said,'In a
little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while
you will see me'? 20I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn
while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to
joy. 21A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has
come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her
joy that a child is born into the world. 22So with you: Now is your
time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no
one will take away your joy. 23In that day you will no longer ask me
anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you
ask in my name. 24Until now you have not asked for anything in my
name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

You now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will
rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.—John 16:22

You may be familiar with the list of seven deadly sins that was
formulated during the sixth century: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth,
vengeance, envy, and pride. But you may not know that the original
list compiled during the fourth century also included the sin of
sadness. Over the years, that emotion was omitted from the inventory.

Some people are blessed with a cheerful disposition. They always seem
to be happy. They wear a perpetual smile almost as if they were
advertising toothpaste. But then there are others who seem to be
chronically sad. They continually complain about life and its burdens.
And who can deny that afflictions are discouraging?

While we acknowledge that not everybody is blessed with a bright
outlook on life, we need to remember that joy is one of the gifts
Jesus promised to His followers. And we need to resist any tendency to
let sadness dominate our emotional lives.

Jesus promised His disciples on the night Judas betrayed Him,“Your
joy no one will take from you”(John 16:22). Remember that joy is the
fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Let’s ask the Lord to
help us look beyond our sorrowful circumstances and encourage our
hearts by the vision of joy that awaits us (Heb. 12:2).— Vernon C.

You alone, Lord Jesus, can true joy impart,
For You know the sorrow of the human heart;
You came here from glory many hearts to win
And in love for sinners suffered once for sin.—Anon.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit that’s always in season.

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#111 Jan 27, 2010
January 27, 2010
The First English Samurai

Nehemiah 1:11-2:5 (New International Version)
11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your
servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering
your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in
the presence of this man."
I was cupbearer to the king.

Nehemiah 2
Artaxerxes Sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem
1 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,
when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the
king. I had not been sad in his presence before; 2 so the king asked
me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be
nothing but sadness of heart."
I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, "May the king
live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my
fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by
4 The king said to me, "What is it you want?"
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king,
"If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his
sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are
buried so that I can rebuild it."

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

For I was the king’s cupbearer.—Nehemiah 1:11

William Adams (1564–1620) is believed to be the first Englishman to
reach Japan. Taking a liking to Adams, the ruling Japanese shogun made
him his interpreter and personal advisor concerning the Western
powers. Eventually, Adams was presented with two swords with rank of a
Samurai. This showed just how much the Japanese revered Adams. Because
William Adams served his foreign king well, he was also rewarded with
greater opportunity for influence.

Centuries earlier, another man in a foreign country also had great
influence over his king. Nehemiah was a cupbearer to Persian King
Artaxerxes (Neh. 1:11). In the royal court, the cupbearer would test
the wine before it was given to the king to protect him from
poisoning. But this position also meant he had the king’s ear as a
trusted advisor. Nehemiah’s integrity, administrative gifts, and
wisdom made him a confidant to his ruler, which paved the way for the
rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

Like Nehemiah, each of us has been given a unique sphere of influence.
Raising children, church or community work, and employment all provide
a platform where we can have a beneficial effect on others. Has the
Lord placed someone in your life upon whom you can have an influence?
— Dennis Fisher

When we live with integrity,
We please our God above
And influence society
With truthfulness and love.—Sper

Even a little example can be a big influence for Christ.

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#112 Jan 28, 2010
January 28, 2010
Quiet Time With God

Psalm 23 (New International Version)

Psalm 23
A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

a.Psalm 23:4 Or through the darkest valley
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the
still waters.—Psalm 23:2

The word connected captures our contemporary experience of life. Many
people rarely go anywhere without a cell phone, iPod, laptop, or
pager. We have become accessible 24 hours a day. Some psychologists
see this craving to stay connected as an addiction. Yet a growing
number of people are deliberately limiting their use of technology.
Being a “tech-no” is their way of preserving times of quiet, while
limiting the flow of information into their lives.

Many followers of Christ find that a daily time of Bible reading and
prayer is essential in their walk of faith. This “quiet time” is a
disconnection from external distractions in order to connect with God.
The “green pastures” and “still waters” of Psalm 23:2 are more than an
idyllic country scene. They speak of our communion with God whereby He
restores our souls and leads us in His paths (v.3).

All of us can make time to meet with God, but do we? In Robert
Foster’s booklet “7 Minutes With God,” he suggests a way to begin:
Start with a brief prayer for guidance, then read the Bible for a few
minutes, and close with a short time of prayer that includes
adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication for others. It’s
vital to take time today to connect with the Lord, who is our life.—
David C. McCasland

We need to set aside the time
To read God’s Word and pray,
And listen for the Spirit’s voice
To guide us in His way.—Sper

Time spent with God is time well spent.

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#113 Jan 29, 2010
January 29, 2010
Running The Race

1 Corinthians 9:19-27 (New International Version)

19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to
everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a
Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under
the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those
under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not
having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under
Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I
became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so
that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the
sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one
gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They
do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown
that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running
aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my
body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I
myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives
the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.—1 Corinthians

Spiridon Louis isn’t well known around the world, but he is in Greece.
That’s because of what happened in 1896 when the Olympic Games were
revived in Athens.

During the competition that year, the Greeks did quite well—winning
the most medals of any nation. But the event that became a source of
true Greek pride was the first-ever marathon. Seventeen athletes
competed in this race of 40 kilometers (24.8 miles), but it was won by
Louis—a common laborer. For his efforts, Louis was honored by king and
country, and he became a national hero.

The apostle Paul used running a race as a picture of the Christian
life. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, he challenged us not just to run but to
run to win, saying,“Do you not know that those who run in a race all
run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain
it.” Not only did Paul teach this but he lived it out. In his final
epistle, he said,“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the
race, I have kept the faith”(2 Tim. 4:7). Having finished his race,
Paul joyfully anticipated receiving the victory crown from the King of

Like Paul, run your earthly race to win—and to please your King.— Bill Crowder

As we run in this race—
As our best effort we bring—
We are spurred on by the fact
That we must win for the King.—Branon

The Christian’s race is not a sprint—it’s a marathon.

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#114 Jan 30, 2010
January 30, 2010
Behind The Parted Curtain

Luke 23:39-43 (New International Version)

39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't
you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

40But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said,
"since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for
we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing

42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[a]"

43Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with
me in paradise."

a.Luke 23:42 Some manuscripts come with your kingly power
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Jesus said to him,“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me
in Paradise.”—Luke 23:43Pastor and author Erwin Lutzer wrote:“One
minute after you slip behind the parted curtain, you will either be
enjoying a personal welcome from Christ or catching your first glimpse
of gloom as you have never known it. Either way, your future will be
irrevocably fixed and eternally unchangeable.”

Luke recorded a short yet powerful narrative that pictures two men
about to go behind that curtain of death. When Jesus was being
crucified, two thieves hung alongside Him. According to Mark, both men
hurled insults at Jesus (15:32).

One of the thieves, however, had a change of heart as he realized
Jesus’ innocence, his own sin, and his destiny. He rebuked the other
thief and asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom.
These words were a sign of repentance and simple faith. Jesus
responded,“I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise”(Luke
23:43). Salvation for the man was immediate. He knew that day where he
would spend eternity.

Realizing that we are sinners and placing our trust in Jesus’ death
and resurrection assures us that we can immediately know where we will
spend our eternal tomorrows when we slip behind the parted curtain.—
Marvin Williams

Oh, why not turn while yet you may;
Too late, it soon will be—
A glorious life you may possess
Throughout eternity.—Anon.

To prepare for tomorrow, trust Jesus today.

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#115 Feb 1, 2010
February 1, 2010
The Written Word

Romans 15:4-13 (New International Version)
4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us,
so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we
might have hope.

5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit
of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with
one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ.

7Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to
bring praise to God. 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant
of the Jews[a]on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made
to the patriarchs 9so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy,
as it is written:
"Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing hymns to your name."[b] 10Again, it says,
"Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people."[c] 11And again,
"Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and sing praises to him, all you peoples."[d] 12And again, Isaiah says,
"The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
the Gentiles will hope in him."[e]

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in
him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy

a.Romans 15:8 Greek circumcision
b.Romans 15:9 2 Samuel 22:50; Psalm 18:49
c.Romans 15:10 Deut. 32:43
d.Romans 15:11 Psalm 117:1
e.Romans 15:12 Isaiah 11:10
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Whatever things were written before were written ... that we through
the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.—Romans
15:4Last January, ESPN television ran a compelling feature about
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who had just been named
the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. But the feature was not about
football. Instead, it explained that for several years, when certain
competitors Manning admired were retiring from the NFL, he took time
to handwrite a note to them, congratulating them on their careers and
their character.

Each recipient who was interviewed expressed deep appreciation that
one of the greatest players of all time would do that. It was a great
reminder of the power of the written word.

While a written note from a respected athlete such as Peyton Manning
has much value, no human’s words can compare with the written Word we
have from God in Scripture. Paul wrote,“Whatever things were written
before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and
comfort of the Scriptures might have hope”(Rom. 15:4). In the
life-changing wisdom of the Bible, we have a personal message that
tells us what God desires for us to be and what He desires to be for
us. He has given us His written Word so we “might have hope” as we
face the issues of life. Out of gratitude, let’s read God’s written
message—and watch it change our lives.— Bill Crowder

Cling to the Bible; this jewel and treasure
Brings life eternal and saves fallen man;
Surely its value no mortal can measure;
Seek for its blessing, O soul, while you can.—Anon.

God speaks through His Word to those who listen with their heart.

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#116 Feb 2, 2010
February 2, 2010
Time For A Change

Luke 7:37-49 (New International Version)
37When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that
Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar
of perfume, 38and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she
began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her
hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself,
"If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and
what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."

40Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.

41"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five
hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the
money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of
them will love him more?"

43Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this
woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my
feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered,
has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but
she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many
sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been
forgiven little loves little."

48Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

49The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who
even forgives sins?"

a.Luke 7:41 A denarius was a coin worth about a day's wages.
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of
woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.—Luke 7:39A
friend once told me,“In my lifetime I’ve seen a lot of things change,
and I’ve been against them all!” Perhaps he overstated the point, but
many of us would agree that we don’t like change—especially if it
involves altering our habits and attitudes.

That’s one reason Jesus was so unpopular among the Pharisees. He
challenged their long-established system of good works and
self-righteous living. Consider the incident when the town “sinner”
entered the home of the town “saint” in Luke 7. Simon the Pharisee
wasn’t impressed with the woman’s lavish display of affection for
Jesus. Reading Simon’s self-righteous thoughts, Jesus immediately
challenged his flawed perception of his own goodness by telling the
story of two debtors—one who owed much to his master and one who owed
less.“Which of them will love him more?” Jesus asked (v.42).
Obviously, the one who had been forgiven more. Speaking to Simon’s
I-feel-pretty-good-about-mysel f attitude, Jesus said,“to whom little
is forgiven, the same loves little”(v.47).

The challenge is clear. Lulled into thinking how good we are, our love
for Jesus wanes because we have forgotten that we too are among the
ones “forgiven much.” And when that happens, ready or not, it’s time
for a change!— Joe Stowell

Forgive us, Lord, for failures past,
Then help us start anew
With strength and courage to obey
And closely follow You.—Sper

When God starts changing things, He usually begins with changing us.

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#117 Feb 3, 2010
February 3, 2010
What Will I Do?

James 1:21-25 (New International Version)

21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so
prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do
what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it
says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after
looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks
like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives
freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard,
but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
—James 1:22A man who has been my mentor and friend for many years
often says that his goal in studying the Bible is always personal
application. I appreciate his emphasis on putting learning into
practice, because it’s too easy for those of us who study, discuss,
teach, and write about the Bible to take a merely intellectual
approach to the Word.

Oswald Chambers said:“There is a danger with the children of God of
getting too familiar with sublime things. We talk so much about these
wonderful realities, and forget that we have to exhibit them in our
lives. It is perilously possible to mistake the exposition of the
truth for the truth; to run away with the idea that because we are
able to expound these things, we are living them too.”

James reminds us that the person “who looks into the perfect law of
liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer
of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does”(1:25). The key
issue is not what is preached or written, but what is done.

When I study God’s Word, my first question should not be,“What am I
going to say about this?” but “What am I going to do about this?”—
David C. McCasland

We take delight to teach God’s Word,
We say,“Amen, it’s true!”
But it’s of little use to us
Unless His will we do.—D. De Haan

One step forward in obedience is worth years of study about it.—Chambers

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#119 Feb 6, 2010
February 6, 2010
Charlie’s Walk On The Moon ...

Genesis 5:21-32 (New International Version)

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.
22 And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God
300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived
365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God
took him away.

25 When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of
Lamech. 26 And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived
782 years and had other sons and daughters. 27 Altogether, Methuselah
lived 969 years, and then he died.

28 When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. 29 He named him
Noah [a] and said, "He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil
of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed." 30 After Noah
was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters. 31
Altogether, Lamech lived 777 years, and then he died.

32 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

a.Genesis 5:29 Noah sounds like the Hebrew for comfort .

Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.—Genesis 5:24

The documentary In the Shadow of the Moon includes the story of
Charlie Duke, one of the Apollo 16 astronauts launched to the moon in
1972. While the command ship orbited the moon, Duke and another
astronaut landed the lunar module Orion on the moon’s surface. After 3
days of running experiments and collecting lunar rocks, the Apollo 16
crew safely returned to earth.

Later, Charlie had a spiritual transformation. He said it began when
his friend invited him to a Bible study. After the meeting, Charlie
prayed to Christ,“I give You my life, and if You’re real come into my
life.” He then experienced an indescribable peace. It was so profound
that he began to share his story with others. Charlie told them,“My
walk on the moon lasted 3 days and it was a great adventure, but my
walk with God lasts forever.”

The Bible tells us of another man who walked with God.“Enoch walked
with God; and he was not, for God took him”(Gen. 5:24). His spiritual
walk with God was so close that God took him directly into eternity
(see Heb. 11:5).

We can learn a lesson from Charlie and Enoch. For believers, no matter
where our journey leads, our walk with God will last for eternity!—
Dennis Fisher

Let me walk with You, dear Savior,
Side by side and hand in hand;
Keep me clean and pure and faithful
Till I reach the heavenly land.—Hess

Keep eternity’s goal in sight by walking daily in God’s light. ...

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#120 Feb 6, 2010
February 7, 2010
Distracted ...

Luke 10:38-42 (New International Version)

At the Home of Martha and Mary
38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village
where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister
called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.
40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be
made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister
has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
41"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset
about many things, 42but only one thing is needed.[a] Mary has chosen
what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

a.Luke 10:42 Some manuscripts but few things are needed—or only one
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Martha was distracted with much serving.—Luke 10:40

The university where I teach as an adjunct professor provides laptop
computers for its students. While this can be an aid to the students
in many ways, I have discovered one way it hinders learning: The
laptops can become a distraction during class.

Because the students take notes on their laptops, they have them open
on their desks during class. The problem is that they find texting
their friends, visiting Facebook, or checking things on the Internet
more interesting than my lectures.

A laptop loses value in the learning environment if it becomes a
distraction—even if what the students are doing is positive.

Good things can do that. Things that have value can draw our attention
away from what we should be paying attention to. This was true for
Martha. Luke 10:40 says she was “distracted with much serving,” which
took her away from spending time with Jesus. In the same way, a good
hobby can have value in and of itself. But if it distracts you from
your family responsibilities or relationship with God, some changes
are needed.

Are life’s good options distracting you from what your primary
priorities should be? Return, as Jesus told Martha, to what “is
needed.”— Dave Branon

A Prayer: Help me, Lord, to make and to keep right priorities. To put
You and time with You first. Give me discernment and the willingness
to obey You today. Amen.

We were created to glorify God. ...

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#122 Feb 9, 2010
February 9, 2010
God Incidents ...

Hebrews 11:1-10 (New International Version)

Hebrews 11
By Faith
1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we
do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.
3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's
command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith
he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his
offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

5By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not
experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him
away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased
God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone
who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those
who earnestly seek him.

7By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear
built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world
and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later
receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not
know where he was going. 9By faith he made his home in the promised
land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did
Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he
was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and
builder is God.

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your
requests be made known to God.—Philippians 4:6

In the normal course of providence, God works in and through creation,
not despite it. For this reason, some answers to prayer are difficult
to prove with certainty.

“Only faith vouches for the connection,” C. S. Lewis writes.“No
empirical proof could establish it.” We believe a prayer has been
answered not because of any scientific criteria proving it, but
because we have faith.

Most of the ways we encounter God—nature, the Bible, the Lord’s
Supper, the church, other people—include things we can touch. God’s
own state, though, is the realm of spirit. Prayer reflects that
difference between us.

Although we may ask God to intervene directly, it should not surprise
us if He responds in a more hidden way in cooperation with our own
choices. An alcoholic prays,“Lord, keep me from drink today.” The
answer to that prayer will likely come from the inside—from a
stiffening resolve or a cry for help to a loyal friend—rather than
from some marvel like the magical disappearance of liquor bottles from
a cabinet.

Whether God supernaturally intervenes or is giving us the power to
obey Him, we trust His character. We see a true partnership, intimate
and intertwined.— Philip Yancey

Help me to walk aright,
More by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with heavenly light—
Teach me Thy way.—Ramsey

An important part of praying is a willingness to be part of the answer ...

Since: Aug 09

Location hidden

#124 Feb 11, 2010
February 11, 2010
The Other Side ...

James 4:13-17 (New International Version)

Boasting About Tomorrow
13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or
that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."
14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your
life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then
vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we
will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast and brag. All
such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to
do and doesn't do it, sins.

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

What is your life? It is even a vapor.—James 4:14

When someone said to my friend,“See you in a year,” it sounded odd
when he replied,“Yes, see you on the other side.” He meant that he’d
see him on the other side of a one-year deployment for the US Navy.
But because the phrase is often used of heaven, it made me think about
the uncertainty of life. I wondered, Who will be here in another year?
Who might by then be on the other side—in heaven?

We certainly don’t know what the next year—or hour—will bring. In his
epistle, James wrote about this uncertainty. He rebuked the greedy
merchants for boasting about what they would do that day, the next
day, or even the next year (4:13). Their sin wasn’t that they were
making plans; it was forgetting God and arrogantly boasting about
those business plans.

James reminded them:“What is your life? It is even a vapor that
appears for a little time and then vanishes away”(v.14). Commentator
Peter Davids says that James was pointing out their foolishness and
saying, in essence,“Come now, you who make plans—you don’t even
understand how little control you have over life itself.”

No part of life is outside the control of God. So when we make plans,
we need to remember,“If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or
that”(v.15).— Anne Cetas

Tomorrow’s plans I do not know,
I only know this minute;
But He will say,“This is the way,
By faith now walk ye in it.”—Ryberg

Write your plans in pencil and let God have the eraser. ...

Since: Aug 09

Location hidden

#125 Feb 15, 2010
February 15, 2010
Defining Failure ...

Hebrews 11:24-34 (New International Version)

24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the
son of Pharaoh's daughter. 25He chose to be mistreated along with the
people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short
time. 26He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater
value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his
reward. 27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he
persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28By faith he kept the
Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the
firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29By faith the people passed through the Red Sea[a] as on dry land;
but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

30By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched
around them for seven days.

31By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was
not killed with those who were disobedient.[b]

32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon,
Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through
faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was
promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the
flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned
to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign

a.Hebrews 11:29 That is, Sea of Reeds
b.Hebrews 11:31 Or unbelieving
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Who through faith ... out of weakness were made strong.—Hebrews
11:33-34During the Great Depression, many people in the US lived in
shantytowns made up of plywood, tarps, and blankets. These decrepit
dwellings, known as “Hoovervilles,” housed those who had been evicted
from their homes. Many blamed President Herbert Hoover for the
economic woes.

Ironically, Hoover’s apparent ineffectiveness as a leader was in sharp
contrast to his previous record. Earlier, Hoover’s expertise in
geological engineering led to successful mining projects in Australia
and China. He also effectively spearheaded humanitarian efforts. But
when the stock market crashed in October 1929, President Hoover was in
circumstances beyond his control. He would be forever tied with the
economic depression of the 1930s.

One major fiasco, however, does not mean one’s whole life is a
failure. What if we remembered Abraham only as a deceiver (Gen.
12:10-20), Moses as disobedient to God (Num. 20:1-13), or David as a
murderer?(2 Sam. 11). Despite their sins, these men are remembered
for their persevering faith:“who through faith ... out of weakness
were made strong”(Heb. 11:33-34).

Our life is not a failure if we’ve repented of our sins. God can still
use us to serve Him.— Dennis Fisher

The lessons we learn from our failures
Are lessons that help us succeed,
And if we are wise and we heed them,
Then failure is just what we need.—D. De Haan

Success often rises out of the ashes of failure. ...

Since: Aug 09

Location hidden

#126 Feb 17, 2010
February 17, 2010
In The Car Wash ...
Isaiah 43:1-13 (New International Version)
Isaiah 43
Israel's Only Savior
1 But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush [a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you,
and people in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north,'Give them up!'
and to the south,'Do not hold them back.'
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth-
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."
8 Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,
who have ears but are deaf.
9 All the nations gather together
and the peoples assemble.
Which of them foretold this
and proclaimed to us the former things?
Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right,
so that others may hear and say, "It is true."
10 "You are my witnesses," declares the LORD,
"and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
11 I, even I, am the LORD,
and apart from me there is no savior.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "that I am God.
13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
When I act, who can reverse it?"

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.—Isaiah 43:2
I’ll never forget my first experience using an automatic car wash.
Approaching it with the dread of going to the dentist, I pushed the
money into the slot, nervously checked and rechecked my windows, eased
the car up to the line, and waited. Powers beyond my control began
moving my car forward as if on a conveyor belt. There I was, cocooned
inside, when a thunderous rush of water, soap, and brushes hit my car
from all directions. What if I get stuck in here or water crashes in?
I thought irrationally. Suddenly the waters ceased. After a blow-dry,
my car was propelled into the outside world again, clean and polished.
In the midst of all this, I remembered stormy times in my life when it
seemed I was on a conveyor belt, a victim of forces beyond my control.
“Car-wash experiences,” I now call them. I remembered that whenever I
passed through deep waters my Redeemer had been with me, sheltering me
against the rising tide (Isa. 43:2). When I came out on the other
side, which I always did, I was able to say with joy and confidence,
“He is a faithful God!”
Are you in the middle of a car-wash experience? Trust God to bring you
through to the other side. You’ll then be a shining testimony of His
keeping power.— Joanie Yoder
How wonderful to know that He
Who watches from above
Will always keep us sheltered in
His ever-present love!—King
A tunnel of testing can produce a shining testimony. ...

Since: Aug 09

Location hidden

#127 Feb 18, 2010
February 18, 2010
Tell It All ...

Psalm 62 (New International Version)

Psalm 62
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.
1 My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

3 How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

4 They fully intend to topple him
from his lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

7 My salvation and my honor depend on God [a] ;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

9 Lowborn men are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie;
if weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.

10 Do not trust in extortion
or take pride in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,

12 and that you, O Lord, are loving.
Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done.

a.Psalm 62:7 Or / God Most High is my salvation and my honor
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.—Psalm 62:8A clerk who helped me purchase a
small digital voice recorder told me that he kept one just like it in
his car when he worked in California.“When I began driving home after
work I switched it on,” he said,“and I talked about everything that
happened that day on the job, good and bad. When I pulled into my
driveway, I hit the erase button.” Then he smiled. After telling
everything to his voice recorder, he apparently had no need to go over
the day’s problems with his wife or family.

It reminded me of how often I needlessly rehearse my disappointments
and problems to others instead of telling them to God. The psalmist
wrote:“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart
before Him; God is a refuge for us”(Ps. 62:8). Twice he spoke of
waiting silently for God, his rock and salvation (vv.1-2,5-7).

While there is great comfort in sharing our difficulties with a
friend, we miss the greatest help if we fail to bring them to the
Lord. Joseph Scriven said it so well:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!— David C. McCasland

No matter where we are, Jesus is only a prayer away. ...

Since: Aug 09

Location hidden

#128 Feb 19, 2010
February 19, 2010
If Day ...

James 1:1-11 (New International Version)

James 1
1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

Trials and Temptations
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many
kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops
perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be
mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks
wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding
fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe
and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown
and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive
anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he
9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high
position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low
position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun
rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and
its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away
even while he goes about his business.

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.—James 1:2-3

February 19, 1942, was a fascinating day for Canada. It was “If Day”—a
World War II staging of a fake Nazi invasion of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The intent was to show what it would be like “if” Canada fell under
the harsh occupation of Nazi forces, and so that Canadians would
support the war effort more fully.

As one person described the event:“If Day brought home the reality of
Nazi occupation. Manitobans got a very bitter taste of nearly every
aspect of Nazi brutality.” The key word there is nearly. While “If
Day” was a valiant attempt to educate people about danger in the
world, it could not begin to recreate the actual suffering that was
sweeping Europe.

Real trials in life are not ifs—they are whens. In fact, life’s most
profound lessons cannot simply be observed, they must be experienced.
It is there, in actual seasons of heartache and loss, that we gain
greater insights into life, faith, and our need of God. To that end,
James wrote,“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various
trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience”
(James 1:2-3).

Trials come because we live in a broken world, but we decide if we
will learn the lessons taught. There are no “ifs” about it—it is an
important way to grow.— Bill Crowder

Though you cannot see the outcome,
Trust the Lord—He knows what’s best;
Be assured He sees your trial,
And He’s with you in your test.—Hess

Tough times can teach us to trust. ...

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