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Post  Admin on Mon 25 Nov 2013, 8:15 pm

Food for the Taking
Matthew 5:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
When Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years, God supplied bread for them to eat. Without God's provision, they never would have survived.
It's the same for us. We, like the Israelites, are walking through the dry and dreary wilderness of life, with constant dependency on, and need for, spiritual food—God's Word. Just like the manna that fell from the skies, His Word is offered to us fresh every morning, bringing nourishment to all who will eat.
There are many other similarities between the manna sent from heaven to the Israelites, and the food sent from heaven to us. Manna basically fell right into the Israelites' laps. They didn't have to search far and wide to find it; it was there for the taking. In the same way, a meal in God's Word is available to us if  we will only reach out and take it.
Manna was available in abundance to those who would collect it. Similarly, the Word is available to those who will study it. It would have been foolish for the hungry Israelites to step outside their homes and gather only enough manna to whet their appetites, instead of gathering enough to satisfy their hunger. It is just as foolish when Christians open the Word of God and read only a verse or two, rather than studying it to savor the nourishing truths God has provided in the writings.
Manna was never force-fed, but the Israelites had the opportunity either to eat it or go hungry. In the same way, you will never be forced to feed upon God's Word. It will have to be your choice, whether or not you eat or go spiritually hungry.
If a friend complained of lack of energy, you would ask when she last had anything to eat.  Her reply that she had skipped breakfast and lunch would tip you off to her problem, and you would be perfectly in order to say, "No wonder you're weak . . . get some food in you!"  If someone came to you and told you that he was spiritually weak, you would be justified in asking, "How often do you study the Bible?"  The reply would reveal the reason for his weakness: "Well, I read it a couple of times during the week, but I get a good dose of it on Sunday."  He's starving himself!
Spiritual anemia is the condition resulting from not spending time in God's Word. That Word is readily available—in fact, you probably have three or four Bibles in your home and a few more in your family vehicle.
Just because it isn't force-fed, it doesn't mean that it should be ignored. The truth is, you can't live without it. You will never survive the harsh desert winds of doubt, fear, materialism, gluttony, lust, and pride if you are not reaching out every morning and gathering the food that God has offered you. You simply cannot live without physical food . . . how do you expect to live without spiritual food?  You can't.
One of the critical differences between  manna and Scripture is that God's Word never grows stale. Unlike manna when it was hoarded, God's Word is still fresh when you store it away in your heart; you can gather, save, stash as much as you want for future needs.
So . . . when's the last time you had a solid meal?
Prayer Point: Thank the Lord for the availability of His Word. Confess your lack of desire to know His Word better and ask Him for additional discipline to daily read and study His Word.
Extra Refreshment: Read several paragraphs from Psalms 119 and notice how each verse mentions God's Word.
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Post  Admin on Fri 22 Nov 2013, 11:15 pm

Counting the Cost
Luke 14:27
"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."
You probably have never heard of Stephanie Stephenson, and I doubt you will ever hear about her again. Stephanie was a  freshman music major at Southwest Missouri State University. Her teacher encouraged her to audition for the Broadway production of Les Miserables, to give her some acting experience. She traveled to Branson, Missouri, where the auditions were being held, and tried out with one hundred other women.
A few weeks later, Stephanie was shocked to receive a telephone call from the director in New York, asking her to come for a second audition. The applicants had been narrowed down to five women, and she was one of the five.
Stephanie had always dreamed of performing on Broadway. She talked it over with her parents, who were deeply committed Christians, as was she.  They agreed that she could make the trip
Another few weeks passed, and Stephanie was even more stunned to receive word that she had landed a role in Les Miserables.   Without stage experience, and with the promise that she would later join the Broadway cast, Stephanie was sent to the touring production troupe for a year on the road, to sharpen her skills and gain exposure.
When parts were assigned for the first performance, she was given the role of a prostitute wearing a tawdry costume. Her angst was apparent; she struggled and made every excuse imaginable to justify playing the part. Finally, she sought the director and asked if she could be given a different part, but instead of finding a sympathetic ear, she was rebuffed and told, "It's just acting, and if you can't separate your personal life from the role, you'll never make it in this business."
Stephanie then appealed to the producer, but was given virtually the same answer: "Get over it . . . it's just a part . . . it's not really you . . . don't throw this opportunity away."
Stephanie ceased to plead, left the troupe, and walked away from her dream of a future on Broadway. After the young actress was gone, the associate director and executive producer of Les Miserable talked to the Associated Press about her decision to leave, making this comment: "She's gorgeous and she's talented and she could have played the daylights out of the role, probably to great acclaim on Broadway. But I respect what she did. She is a brave young girl to forgo an amazing career."
Knowing the cost of following Christ and yet willing to make the sacrifice, Stephanie Stephenson turned her back on the stage— relinquishing a promising career, the smell of grease paint, the glare of footlights, the excitement of curtain calls, the thrill of applause—and that's why you've never heard of her . . . but God has.
 
Prayer Point: Pray for God to reveal to you ways in which you may be compromising your faith for something else, whether it is a friend, a loved one, a job, or a hobby. Pray that God will give you the strength to turn your back, knowing that the joy He offers will be far greater than the object or person who is coming between you and Him.
 
Extra Refreshment: Read Luke 14.
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Post  Admin on Thu 21 Nov 2013, 11:59 pm

Run for Your Life!
Genesis 4:7 
"If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."
It was late summer when Sir Ernest Shackleton left England with twenty-seven men, bound for Antarctica . They set sail on the HMS Endurance, initially built to carry polar bear hunting parties into the Arctic.  Sir Ernest had first been to the Antarctic in 1901; in 1907, he led his own expedition in a failed attempt to be the first to cross the continent.  This time he was determined to succeed!  They left the last port of call December 5, 1914. 
Reaching pack ice (the top layer of frozen sea) on December 11, the ship was unable to make more than thirty miles a day.  It was still summer in the Southern Hemisphere, but by mid-January the ice closed in and froze around the ship, causing it to rotate with the floes in a circular pattern around the Weddell Sea. Early May the sun slipped behind the horizon for the last time that year, plunging the ship and its crew into complete darkness.
Winter on the Endurance was cold and still; the men shot seals to supplement their rations, using the thick blubber for cooking fuel.  In August the first sounds of pressure were heard as the floes began to break up.  Initially the ship was fine, but as millions of tonnes of pressure came against her, the bow split on October 27.  After pumping and bailing, the order to abandon ship was given forty-eight hours later, 210 miles from land.
On November 21, 1915, the HMS Endurance sank slowly beneath the ice.  Survival, rather than crossing the Antarctic, became the aim of Shackleton and his crew. Their hardships are legendary and their perseverance admirable; on the morning of May 22, 1916, six men from the expedition walked into a whaling station—522 days since setting sail.  And after three frustrating attempts, the remainder of the party was rescued August 30, 1916, seventeen months without contact from the outside world. 
One author drew these comparisons between Shackleton's ice prison and sin:
• Sin will take you farther than you ever wanted to go.
• Sin will keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay.
• Sin will cost you more than you ever wanted to pay.
History records a rather profound journal entry during that period: "The ship is pretty near the end and what the ice gets . . . the ice keeps."
What a great analogy to sin! What sin gets, it keeps. God told Cain in Genesis 4: "Sin is crouching at your door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."
So, how do we master sin? How do we keep from floating farther and farther away from spiritual safety? Paul answers these questions with practical advice in 2 Timothy 2:22. He tells young Timothy to "flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness."  Flirting with sin may not take your life, but it will take everything else it possibly can!
It's interesting that Paul never advised Timothy to battle his lusts—to stand and fight against them. Instead, he said, "Run for your life . . . flee!"
If sin is lurking at your door, keep it closed! Move to another location as quickly as you can . . . and don't leave a forwarding address.
Prayer Point: If you are trapped in sin today, you can rid yourself of it right now.  1 John 1:9 says: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." It's far better to 'fess up to Christ, than to face up to the consequences.
Extra Refreshment: Read Genesis 39—a vivid picture of what it means to run for your life!
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Post  Admin on Wed 20 Nov 2013, 11:36 pm

How's Your Resume?
1 Corinthians 1:26-27
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong . . .
We often have the idea that God is looking for people with an impressive spiritual resume—men and women who meet all the qualifications. We think if God is seeking people to serve Him, He will look for the most qualified, the smartest, the bravest.
The truth is, God doesn't look for eloquence—He looks for emptiness.
In Acts 6, the newfound church had  exploded into existence and discovered their first problem: they had a great deal of money! All of its members were selling their land and  possessions to give to the needs of others, but some of the widows in dire circumstances were being overlooked. The Holy Spirit moved the apostles' hearts to choose seven men to solve the problem.
That job seems easy enough, doesn't it? If I were one of the apostles, I would have called for the accountants in the church, the financiers, the treasurers, the bookkeepers—those who had experience with handling and dispersing funds. That would seem the logical choice, wouldn't it?
But the apostles had different criteria.  In Acts 6:3 we find the qualifications: "Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task."
Wow! The implication here is that the men who were selected were men devoid of themselves, having been filled with the Holy Spirit. They were wise because they were surrendered to God, and because of this, God chose them for the task. Can you guess what happened next? The matter was settled and the widows were taken care of from that day forth.
God doesn't need the best-of-the-best to change the world; He can do it all by Himself. Yet, in His mercy and love, He has decided to allow us the opportunity to leave a mark on our sphere of influence for His glory. So be encouraged, friend; you don't have to be the best-looking, the smartest, or the most talented person in the world to gain God's approval.
When Jesus Christ chose twelve men to be His closest companions, He didn't go into the rabbinical schools to find the most brilliant graduates. He chose instead twelve unlearned men who were nobodies in the religious world's estimation. Why? He wasn't looking for impressive resumes.
Today Christ seeks out men and women who are both dependent upon and available to the Holy Spirit for His enabling.
He's looking for people who know they don't deserve the credit . . . have you updated your resume?
Prayer Point:  Lay your heart before God at this moment and ask Him to show you the prideful things you should rid from your life. Pray that He will empty you of that pride and give you faith to rely fully on Him.
Extra Refreshment: Read the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 1.
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Post  Admin on Tue 19 Nov 2013, 11:56 pm

Hiding behind Your Halo
Matthew 23:27
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
There is no doubt that first impressions can last a long time. Whether you are interviewing for a job, showing up for a class, or moving into the neighborhood, first impressions are hard to live down.
Sociologists have studied the subject of first impressions. One study concluded that a first impression is solidified in the first four minutes of a conversation. They say that if those first four minutes are positive, your acquaintances will most likely view everything about you in a positive light—even things unknown to them.  Your professional skills, your morals, and even your intelligence will be held by them in high regard. Why? Simply because you made a good first impression.
Sociologists have even given a name to this phenomenon—the "halo effect." If you can put your best foot forward and come out looking and sounding impressive, you will create a certain air about you that may last a long time, regardless of whether or not it is true.
This happens all the time in our modern culture; a culture where charisma matters more than character—where image is more important than integrity. We live in a world that is consumed with creating halos and keeping them shiny at every opportunity, while hiding the sordidness of our true identity.
This is certainly not a new development. During the days of Christ, the people who wore the brightest halos were the Pharisees. They arrived at the busiest street corners in the marketplace at exactly 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m., where they prayed on public display.  People thought of them as men who loved God more than other people did; men whom God loved most; but Jesus Christ was not deceived by their chicanery. He, being God, looked beyond their smiles and priestly robes and saw what was in their heart. They were hypocrites to the core and Christ was not fooled by their good impressions.
His condemnation of the Pharisees was justified when they crucified Him. How ironic! They were the supposed "Godfearers" of the day, yet at their first chance, they put Christ to death for unmasking their true identity. Though they studied the Scriptures fervently, they did not heed the words of Solomon, who wrote in Proverbs 15:33, "The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility."           
Fear of man induces hypocrisy—fear of God produces humility. 
Are you living a double life in order to gain the approval of others, or living a singular life that recognizes the need for God's grace and direction each day? 
Are you shining your halo or cultivating your humility?
Halos make a good first impression on mankind . . . humility makes a lasting impression on God.
Prayer Point: David prayed in Psalm 139:23-24: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." Pray this same prayer, knowing that God sees your heart—and ask Him to move you from hypocrisy to humility.
Extra Refreshment: Read Acts 5—a story of a hypocritical couple who desired men's approval rather than God's, and received their just reward.
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Post  Admin on Mon 18 Nov 2013, 11:35 pm

Persecution—It's a Promise!
2 Timothy 3:12
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
We are presenting a distorted message to the world when we try to make Christianity synonymous with health, wealth, and prosperity, while hiding the crux of Christianity—the cross. Discipleship is impossible without the cross, and following Christ is all about bearing it.
Pat Robertson is a man who teaches the distorted health-and-wealth message, deceiving many. In his book, The Secret Kingdom, he urges Christians to employ what he calls "the laws of prosperity to which God Himself is bound," and writes: "It's a bit like tuning in to a radio or television station: you get on the right frequency and you pick up the program."
But what about those believers who are never healed of their diseases, nor get the financial miracle they are hoping for? According to Robertson, they "have either failed to grasp the points we have been making about the operation of the kingdom, or they are not living according to the principles we have been exploring."
Michael Horton, a reformed theologian,  wrote a scathing rebuke of Robertson's "prosperity theology" in his book entitled Made in America. He wrote:
The gospel is now consumer-centered, rather than God-centered. It is as if God must be justified before the sinner; now it is the unbeliever who has to be satisfied with God and His terms . . . and so we package our gospel in attractive terms and with attractive promises . . .
Oh, how far our generation has fallen from the "true theology" modeled by our forefathers of the faith. Hebrews 11:36-38 says:  
And others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawn in two, tempted, put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated . . . wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
Evidently they hadn't tuned in to the laws of prosperity nor found the right frequency! The twisted prosperity theology of Robertson, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and a multitude of others, is truly a theology that has been "made in America"—consumer-oriented, consumer-driven. Instead of Sovereign God, we have sovereign man. If we discover the "key" to success, God will hand over the goods. Embedded in this false teaching is the tragic heresy that if mankind isn't happy, then God isn't a just God.
Are you following Christ out of consumer-driven motives? Are you expecting Him to bless you with more material things as a reward for wearing a cross on your necklace or having a fish sticker on your bumper? If you believe the text for today, you know that God has promised the opposite of health and wealth in this life—He's promised persecution to those who live godly in Christ Jesus.
The god of many televangelists is not the God of the Gospel. Don't tune in to the wrong channel . . . stay on His frequency!
Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to give you a willingness to accept whatever state you're in—whether poverty or prosperity. If you are prospering, pray that you will not trust Christ less; if you are struggling to make ends meet, pray that you will trust Christ more.
Extra Refreshment: Read Romans 8, where Paul describes the beauty of the "true" gospel, and reminds suffering believers where their hope is found.
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Post  Admin on Sun 17 Nov 2013, 12:15 am

Only God Knows
Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became his counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. 
The 1921 story of David and Svea Flood, missionaries to the Belgian Congo, is little-known today.  But what follows is a remarkable story of faith . . . and restoration.
The Floods left their native Sweden with a two-year-old son, set out for the interior of Africa, and together with another young Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, sought God's direction for their endeavors.  Rebuffed by the chief who would not let them enter the village for fear of alienating the local gods, the two couples opted to go half a mile up the slope and build their own mud huts. 
They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but the only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell chickens and eggs twice a week to them. Svea Flood decided if this was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead the boy to Jesus—and she did.  But there were no other converts.
Malaria struck the members of the little team and, in time, the Ericksons returned to the central mission station.  The Floods remained; when the time came for Svea to give birth, the village chief allowed a midwife to help her. A healthy girl, Aina, was born, but the delivery was difficult for Svea; she died seventeen days later.
Angry with God, David dug a crude grave, buried his young wife, and took his two children back to the mission station.  He left the baby with the Ericksons and returned to Sweden, saying, "God has ruined my life." Both Ericksons died eight months later, and little Aina was taken in by American missionaries, coming to the States at age three.  Aggie, as she was now called, grew up in South Dakota, attended North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, and married a young man named Dewey Hurst.
Years later her husband became president of a Christian college in the Seattle area, and she found much Scandinavian heritage there. One day a photo in a Swedish religious magazine  caught her eye. There in a primitive setting was a grave with a white cross—and on the cross were the words SVEA FLOOD.  Six hundred Christian believers now lived in that village . . . a testimony to David and Svea Flood!
Aggie knew she had to go to Sweden!  Her father, now married with four children, and  an old man, was bitter and broken.  When she came to his bed, he turned away and began to cry. "Aina, I never meant to give you away." "It's all right, Papa," she replied, taking him gently into her arms, "God took care of me."  By the end of the afternoon, David had come back to the God he had resented for so many decades.
Some years later, the Hursts attended an  evangelism conference in London, where a report was given from the nation of Zaire, the former Belgian Congo. The superintendent of the national church, representing 110,000 baptized believers, spoke eloquently of the gospel's spread in his nation. Aggie asked him afterward if he had heard of David and Svea Flood. "Yes, madam," the man replied in French, "Svea Flood led me to Jesus Christ. I was the boy who brought food to your parents before you were born.  You must come to Africa; your mother is the most famous person in our history."
Later, in Zaire, Aggie Hurst and her husband were welcomed . . . by cheering throngs of villagers in the place where she was born!
Prayer Point: Praise God for His goodness to you, even in your times of doubt and confusion. Thank him that He never leaves you in your bitterness, but restores you to Himself.
Extra Refreshment: Read Jonah 1—a story of how God's kindness led to salvation for thousands.
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Post  Admin on Thu 14 Nov 2013, 11:46 pm

Signed, Sealed, and Committed
Romans 8:9
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
Contrary to popular opinion, the power of the Holy Spirit is not a special privilege for spiritual people. Actually, according to Romans 8:9, if you do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside you, then you do not have a claim to Christianity. So anyone who tells you, "You haven't been baptized by the Holy Spirit" is really saying that you are not saved. All Christians are Spirit-indwelled. The Holy Spirit is not some treat for the spiritually elite, but a gift to all believers, great and small.
I used to tell my kids, "Listen, if you behave for your mother today, and do your chores, and treat each other with some semblance of civility, then I'll take you to Goodberry's for ice cream after dinner."
Now parenting experts warn against bribing your kids, but I wasn't bribing them. I was simply instructing them: "If you behave, we go to Goodberry's; if you misbehave, you go to bed." Parenting experts need to learn about the power of the promise of ice cream!
Fortunately, God does not do the same thing with us in regard to the Holy Spirit. He doesn't say, "Now if you pray long and hard, if you tarry and weep, and behave in a good manner, then I will give you a taste of the Holy Spirit." No! The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a once-for-all-time experience for every believer.
God takes the new believer and by means of the Holy Spirit, immerses him into the body of Christ.
Paul wrote to Titus in Titus 3:5-6, that "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior." In other words, you and I are no more deserving of the Holy Spirit than we are of Jesus Christ. We do not receive Christ by our own merit or works, and neither do we receive the Holy Spirit by anything we do. Both are given as gifts.
Thus, we do not pray for the Holy Spirit to descend upon us, or fall upon us, or come from heaven with power. He has been ours all along! Ephesians 1:13 says that we are "sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise," and His seal will remain fixed . . . forever.
What an incredible gift we have been given through the Spirit! Think about it. The God of the universe is actually living inside you, committed to helping you, and guiding you until the day of your redemption.
God signed our new-birth certificate; He sealed it; He committed to us for life!
From a loving Heavenly Father . . . what more could you ask?
Prayer Point: Thank the Lord for sending His Spirit into your life, confirming that you are His child. Pray for strength to walk according to His way, rather than the way of your flesh, which leads you to sin.
Extra Refreshment: Read 2 Corinthians 1.
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Post  Admin on Thu 14 Nov 2013, 12:09 am

Best Friends Forever
John 15:15
"No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
A very special event happened some years ago on October 31.   No, it wasn't Halloween, with thoughts of extra candy at hand.  And it wasn't the "beginning" of the Protestant Reformation—for all you spiritually and historically minded people reading this.
It was something quite personal: the birth of our fourth child, Charity, occurred early on the morning of October 31. 
She is our last child . . . I promise.  She is the child of my "old age," as I often remind her.  
As I was sifting through some old notes recently, I came across a story which told the beginning of a tradition that Charity and I still carry on to this day.
When she was around two-and-one-half years old, she could not pronounce her r's. I remember her coming into our bedroom one evening with some of her favorite books and asking me to read them. She snuggled down beside me on a pillow and smiled really big as I opened to the first page. But before I began to read, she looked up at me and said, "You'we my best fwiend."  
I have to admit she said the same thing to her mother as well, but she didn't mean it quite the same way as when she said it to me.  You'll just have to trust me on that one!
A few days after that incident she went up to her mother and announced, "I'm gonna go see my fwiend named Daddy." 
That started it. From that day to this, we have observed a tradition that has continued now into her high school years—a tradition I cherish.  She and I will say to one another at different times, "We'll be best friends forever."
That's why whenever October 31 rolls around in the Davey household, nothing—not even a national party or an ecclesiastical event—can hold a candle to the celebration of my daughter and the reminder that we will be friends . . . forever.
As I began thinking of that sentimental little promise I share with Charity, I considered how God has so clearly given the same message to us throughout Scripture. 
We are His children now—adopted through the finished work of His own beloved Son.  And it doesn't end there as if salvation were nothing more than a cold theological transaction.
It is much more personal.  In fact, we are not just regenerated disciples of Christ but someone He considers His "friends."
Although Paul elsewhere will call himself a bond servant to Christ, as well as a slave to righteousness, he also reveals the remarkable truth that what ultimately defines our relationship to our Lord is everlasting friendship.
Let this thought warm your heart today with greater affection for Him.  He is revealed as many things in Scripture: a consuming fire, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Great Counselor, and a righteous Judge, among other titles. 
But for those who have accepted Him by faith alone, He is something far more personal and intimate to us all:  He is our friend.
In fact, we will be best friends . . . forever!
Prayer Point: As you open your Bible today, pull up a chair and imagine that you're sitting next to your best friend, eagerly awaiting the story He is about to read to you. Take time today to thank Him for being such a loving Friend who is always there for you.
Extra Refreshment: John 17, where Christ prays an intimate prayer to the Father, revealing the love that He has for you. 

Set Apart
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession.
The word sanctification is a common word in the New Testament. It relates to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, minds, and lives, to conform us to the character of Jesus Christ. The simpler definition of sanctification comes from the Greek word, meaning set apart.
The concept is not hard to grasp, as I'm sure you have things in your home that are sanctified—set apart for a particular use. I know I do. My wife's butcher knives were not to be used as swords when my children were younger, pretending to be knights of the Middle Ages. My golf clubs were not meant for hitting rocks and acorns . . . wonder what gave them that idea . . . ?
Some things are set apart for a distinct purpose and shouldn't be used for anything else.  The truth is, your life, which has been bought by the precious blood of the King, happens to be set apart for a distinct purpose:  to bring glory to God through lives marked by godly living.
When little Victoria Guelph learned at the age of eleven that she was next in line for the British throne, historians tell us that she burst into tears. Then upon regaining composure, she said with great conviction and purpose, "If I am to be queen, then I shall be good."
What a remarkable resolution! Even at the tender age of eleven, Victoria recognized something that many Christians never quite grasp—the principle of sanctification. Victoria determined with passion and conviction that her practice would live up to her position. When told that she would wear the crown as Queen of England, she determined to exercise a godly lifestyle worthy of her crown.
You are more like the royalty of England than you thought—having believed in Jesus Christ for salvation, you are royalty! Peter calls you a chosen race and a royal priesthood, which means that you are the highest order in God's kingdom.
But the question is, have you resolved to live up to it? Are you exercising the kind of character worthy of the crown of life?
Today there is a dire need in our churches for people who will say with conviction, "Since I am headed for a future throne as fellow heir and ruler with Christ in heaven, I will live up to my position while on earth. Because of who I am in Christ, I will determine to live for Christ."
Anything less will become like a dull butcher knife or a splintered golf club—fairly useless in performing the task it was distinctly set apart to accomplish.  In God's kingdom, we are chosen vessels to do His work for His glory . . . so, sanctify yourself.   
Prayer Point: Ask God to help you identify areas of your life which are not set apart for Him. Take time to carefully think through your daily, weekly, and monthly activities. Are there any that are not consistent with your position "in Christ"? Commit those areas to Him, asking God to sanctify you . . . completely.
Extra Refreshment: Read Romans 8.
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Post  Admin on Fri 08 Nov 2013, 4:07 pm

Prayer Changes Nothing
Nehemiah 1:5-6
I said, "I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant . . . we have sinned against You."
Prayer that gets past the living room ceiling is prayer that recognizes, first and foremost, that God is sovereign and man is nothing more than a servant. Proper praying places God on His throne and mankind at His feet.  
Prayer is not having our way with God—it is God having His way with us. Prayer is not our manipulating and controlling God—it is God influencing and controlling us. It is not our putting pressure on God—it is God putting the pressure on us!
If you are not willing to change, to submit, to work, then whatever you do—do not pray!
The great preacher, Donald Grey Barnhouse, once shocked his congregation by beginning a sermon with these words, "Prayer changes nothing." You could have heard a pin drop. His comment was designed to make Christians think about the sovereignty of God—that God is seated in the heavens and nothing ever surprises Him or falls outside His control.
We're due a good reminder as well. Prayer isn't our attempt to bribe, cajole, or convince God to change. In the scriptural accounts that seem to indicate that God changed His mind, the broader context reveals that it was actually part of His sovereign plan. He is unchangeable.
I think Barnhouse's statement is correct but incomplete. When Nehemiah fell on his knees before God, begging God to show grace to His people, something did change. Was it God's will? No!  It was Nehemiah's heart. To Barnhouse's statement I would add that prayer changes nothing about God . . . but everything about us.
Powerful prayer does not change God's heart . . . it radically changes ours.
Prayer Point: Pray and commit your plans to the authority and will of God, rather than asking Him to make certain things happen. Thank Him for His unchangeable character and faithfulness.
Extra Refreshment: Read Psalm 51 and Nehemiah 1. 

The Works of Your Hands
Psalm 92:4
For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.
You heard the name in history class—John Wilkes Booth, assassin of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.  This is the lesson that was never taught:
After the mortal shooting of the President at Ford's Theater in April, 1865, Booth and his accomplice, David Herold, fled into Maryland, spending a restless night in an inn.  At four o'clock in the morning, they awakened Dr. Mudd in his home, asking him to set Booth's broken left leg.  The two fugitives hid five days until it was safe to cross the Potomac to the Virginia side of the river.  A detachment of twenty-five soldiers tracked the killers to a barn on the Garrett farm near Port Royal.
The Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, ordered that these men be taken alive. But this would not be an easy task. Booth was heavily armed and determined to fight his way out; his companion surrendered, held out his hands through the slats of the barn door, was dragged outside, and tied to a tree.  Simultaneously the barn was fired, the hay catching quickly. 
When Booth leaned toward the barn door to get away from the flames, a soldier noticed the carbine in his hand. Sergeant Boston Corbett had been positioned at a crack in the barn; when he saw Booth raise his rifle, he fired, hoping to disable him in the arm.  A sudden movement by Booth resulted in the bullet striking him in the neck.  He was carried from the barn to the porch, unconscious, but was revived; unable to swallow the offered medicine, he lifted his hands and  said, "Useless, useless!" He died two hours later.
Sgt. Corbett's commendation by his superiors reached the commanding general:  ". . . [he]was untiring in his efforts to bring the murderers to justice.  His soldierly qualifications have been tested before this occasion, and, in my judgment, are second to none in the service."
Sgt. Corbett was arrested for disobeying orders, but the charges were dropped.  Sadly, due to repeated erratic behavior, he was declared insane twenty-two years later and was committed to an asylum in Kansas, where he escaped after a year and disappeared for good.
When it comes to salvation, you and I are no different from John Wilkes Booth. Salvation came when you looked at your life and cried, "Useless! Useless!"
Like Sgt. Corbett, all the good works you do will not give you peace of mind.  All the Sundays you attend church, and all the money you give to charitable causes will not assure your gaining salvation.  Those things are useless, vain, without meaning.
It is recorded in Hebrews 9:27 that  ". . . it is appointed for men to die . . . " and then to face "judgment," but we who are in Christ will not have to face that judgment day. Christ has already been through the fire of God's wrath, dying the death of a criminal on our behalf, gaining peace for us, that we may have eternal life in Him.
Our hands are not stained with the deeds of the world—they have been washed in the cleansing blood of the Lamb! We can sing for joy at the works of our hands when they perform the most important work in the world . . . the work of God.
Prayer Point: Thank the Lord again for saving you when you could not save yourself. Thank Him for lifting you up with His loving hands and rescuing you from the wrath that you deserve.
Extra Refreshment: Read Psalms 37 (especially vs. 24) which speaks of our security in the "hand" of God.
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Post  Admin on Wed 06 Nov 2013, 9:25 pm

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
John 15:14-15
You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
Joseph Scriven was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1820. After graduating from Trinity College, he had great expectations and plans. He was engaged to marry his lovely Irish sweetheart, and together they had dreams for building their life and home together. Wedding plans were made, business ventures were decided upon, but the day before their wedding his fiancé drowned in a boating accident. His world fell apart.
Joseph moved to Canada, attempting to put all the memories and heartache behind him. Although he was very much alone, he served faithfully as a missionary bachelor, driven to share the gospel with those in need of salvation.
Years later tragedy struck again. His mother became seriously ill and he was unable to be with her. In his absence, he sat down and wrote a poem for her. He scribbled out a copy for himself, and it was later discovered by a visitor.
The powerful lyrics not only brought great encouragement to his mother on her deathbed, but they were put to music and sung in churches, even to this day. His lyrics read: 
 
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.
 
Have we trials and temptations? 
Is there trouble anywhere? 
We should never be discouraged; 
Take it to the Lord in prayer. 
Can we find a friend so faithful 
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness 
Take it to the Lord in prayer. 
 
Are we weak and heavy laden, 
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge; 
Take it to the Lord in prayer. 
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? 
Take it to the Lord in prayer, 
In His arms He'll take and shield thee; 
Thou wilt find a solace there.
(cont. next page)
To onlookers Joseph Scriven would seem to have lived a lonely life marred by sorrow. But after his death [also by drowning], his poem that circulated through churches and penetrated the hearts of believers for nearly two centuries revealed his heart for all to see—he had been content with life, for his closest friend was Jesus.
What trials, temptations, and troubles are you facing today? What sins, grief, and pain are you bearing? Remember this—before Jesus died on the cross for you, He whispered into the ears of His frightened disciples, "I consider you my closest friends!" No matter that sorrows and cares may come—Christ, who knows your every weakness, will shield and comfort you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.
If you are His disciple, you are also His friend . . . forever.
Prayer Point: God's incredible humility is shown by stooping to call us friends when we deserve to be called slaves. Thank the Lord for restoring your relationship to Him, who walked that terrible path to the cross on your behalf.
Extra Refreshment: Read Psalms 23 and witness the faithfulness and the friendship of God in the life of David.
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Post  Admin on Tue 05 Nov 2013, 11:18 pm

God's Love for a Prodigal World
Psalm 8:3-4
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?
The Hubble space telescope has been re-engineered with a new wide-field camera that can take pictures of objects twelve billion light-years away. Astonishing, isn't it? But even as unbelievable as this technological advancement is, a question quickly comes to my mind: "What exactly are we looking for?"
Newsweek basically answered this question when it stated, "Radiation from so far away, and hence so long ago, should carry messages about the universe's childhood and shed light on how the cosmos began and grew." There you have it, plain and simple!
Humans are looking for some kind of clue which will tell us where we came from and how we got here. Like an adopted child who searches for his biological parents, humanity is searching intensely for its true Father. We have an inborn desire to find the answer to the age-old question, "Out of whose womb did we come?"
The truth is obvious . . . and the newest discoveries of our universe are pointing to a Designer.
Tony Rothman, a theoretical physicist, wrote, "When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it's very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it."
One such astronomer, George Greenstein, actually did come close to admitting it in his book, The Symbiotic Universe, wherein he writes: 
As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?
We know the answer to be a resounding, "Yes!"  Sadly though, our world continually looks for God in the far reaches of the universe, using man-made telescopes that will always fall short of finding Him.
Praise God for giving us His telescope— His Word—through which we catch amazing glimpses of His glory, His attributes, and His plan for the world. If you want to see God, you don't need to look twelve billion light years into the vast universe. Pick up the Bible . . . and in His Word discover the God-Man who walked among us, died for our sins, and restored our relationship with Him.
The inhabitants of our planet should cease looking to the stars for answers and look toward the Son. Would you like to see Him? The Bible is the telescope through which we discover the Creator of the cosmos . . . this prodigal world we live in.
Prayer Point: Read the passage from Psalm 8 again and consider the enormous depth of God's kindness toward us. He is not obliged to love us, rescue us, or to think upon us with joy; yet He does it anyway. Think also upon the trillions of light years that stand between our world and the rest of the universe, and thank God for stooping down to rescue sinners on His prodigal planet. We should never cease to be grateful.
Extra Refreshment: Read John 1 & Psalms 19
Psalms 19
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Post  Admin on Fri 01 Nov 2013, 11:13 pm

The Stops of a Good Man
Proverbs 4:26-27
Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.
Three young men from Tampa FL were driving home one evening after finishing a night of bowling. Kevin was driving his white Camaro, his friend Brian was riding in the front passenger seat, and Randall was sitting in the back. They drove through a familiar intersection, unaware of the danger that awaited them.  Kevin didn't notice that the stop sign was missing from this busy intersection.  He never even slowed down.  
He assumed the other car would stop . . . it didn't (that stop sign was missing, too).  The two cars collided; Kevin, Brian, and Randall were instantly killed.  
An investigation eventually led to discovering the young men who were responsible for this tragic accident. They confessed to stealing the stop sign.  It was just a prank.  In fact, they admitted to stealing other stop signs in the area and dumping them into the river on the outskirts of town.
Who would be reckless enough to steal a stop sign?
Apparently, stealing road signs is a fairly popular prank these days.  In the state of Texas alone, 50,000 road signs are vandalized every year—costing the state more than $2,000,000!  But two million dollars can't compare to the lives of three men. The cost of those lives is priceless.
I can't help but think of the analogy to our culture today. It seems that wherever God puts up a stop sign, someone comes along and takes it down.  It's just fun to do.  Besides, stop signs mean rules—laws—and no one likes either . . . they slow you down.  
What a dangerous game to play.  Pulling down God-ordained stop signs is a setup for disaster.
Christians are not immune to tragic collisions. Even believers ignore the fact that God has given us stop signs to help us rather than harm us.  They are for our spiritual protection, safety, and security. 
God isn't interested in creating a bunch of rules because He's some kind of cosmic killjoy, but our society would have us think that. 
God actually sees the headlights of an oncoming car; He's fully aware of dangerous intersections; He protects us by clearly revealing His wisely ordained stop signs along the road of life.
Are you surrendered to the Lord's direction for your life?  This includes both  steps and stops!
What are some of the signs that you might be tempted to ignore today . . . or to remove?  
Perhaps a friend is warning you to slow down or stop; Scripture jumps out at you, highlighting the verses on the danger of dating an unbeliever; the Holy Spirit persistently whispers a warning regarding dangerous activities: online surfing . . . boardroom compromising . . . expense account fudging.
Whatever form God's stop signs take, learn to obey them . . . stop signs are there to save your life!
Prayer Point: Would you let the Lord examine your heart today and convict you of any hidden sins you might be holding on to? Ask Him to give you eyes to see beyond the here-and-now—eyes that look into the future to see where your decisions might be leading you. Then pray for wisdom to make courageous decisions, knowing that God has promised to give you the strength to slow down—or maybe even stop—at just the right time.
Extra Refreshment: Proverbs 4, where Solomon tells his son to watch out for some very important stop signs.
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Post  Admin on Fri 01 Nov 2013, 1:03 am

Patience Is Virtue
James 1:2-4
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Trials are not given to make us weak, but to make us learn to wait.  Jesus Christ wants to develop our faith, and He rarely develops it in the normal circumstances of life. It is most often  through the interruptions, the heartbreaks, and the discouragements that our faith progresses. 
A young black girl living in the poverty section of Philadelphia enjoyed singing in her Union Baptist Church choir. The adults noticed latent talent in her voice and began "The Fund for Marian Anderson's Future." They raised one hundred twenty-six dollars in pennies, nickels, and dimes, and she began taking singing lessons.
When she was eighteen she auditioned with a famous instructor, but was rejected. Those who continued to believe in her planned a concert in a town hall in New York City. However, the critics were brutal in their reviews. While on a European concert tour, she was well-received, but in Washington, D.C., she was not allowed to sing in Constitution Hall because of her race. 
For many years, Marian Anderson wallowed in self-pity. Her mother finally said, "Marian, I want you to think about your troubles and your failures a little—and pray a lot." Then her mother said something that Marian never forgot: "Marian, you must learn that grace comes before greatness." 
Marian Anderson became a well-known opera singer, performing for the Eisenhowers and their guests in the White House, being appointed a delegate to the United Nations, and winning a Medal of Freedom. All of this came only after learning the valuable lesson that her mother had taught her. 
This is the same lesson delivered throughout Scripture. Learning to fail, yet to persevere, comes as we learn to live a life of faith. Times of trial are not only necessary to teach us humility, but they remind us where our true possessions lie—in Christ. 
What better example than Christ—the Model—who shows us that grace comes before greatness . . . humility before honor. 
Prayer Point: Take time to do the unthinkable: thank God for something painful in your life, whether a broken relationship, the death of a loved one, a failing grade, an illness, or a difficult circumstance. Pray that God will give you strength to persevere during the test, no matter how long it takes—even a lifetime. Remember that trials are given for your good, and even the painful times are a gift from God.
Extra Refreshment: Read Philippians 2 and James 1. Notice what these Apostles had to say about the purpose of trials in the lives of believers and the necessity of humility.
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Post  Admin on Thu 31 Oct 2013, 1:14 am

Let the Wisdom Search Begin!
Proverbs 3:13-14
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold.
Contrary to popular belief, wisdom is not an easy thing to attain. Like diamonds, you won't find it lying on top of the ground. It is something that many would like to have, but few ever mine the depths in order to discover where it lies.
I read a story of a young man who approached the great thinker, Aristotle, and asked him the profound question, "How can I have wisdom?" Aristotle smiled and replied, "Follow me."
The young man followed closely as they made their way down several streets, arriving at a shallow pool in the city square. Without any hesitation, Aristotle gathered up his robes and waded into the water. The young man stopped for a moment, but then followed him into the pool.
When both men were standing in the middle, Aristotle suddenly turned, grabbed the younger man by the neck, and pushed his head under the water. The student flailed with his arms, but to no avail. Aristotle was the stronger of the two, and he held the struggling lad's head beneath the surface. At the last possible moment, Aristotle pulled him up, dragged him over to the edge, and sat him down. Coughing and gasping for air, the student could hardly believe what had just occurred.
Unmoved by the young man's confusion and surprise, Aristotle simply asked him, "Young man, when I held you under the water, what did you want more than anything in the world?" He sputtered between coughs, "Air, sir . . . air!" Aristotle then responded, "When you want wisdom as badly as you wanted air, then you will find it," and he walked away.
The test for wisdom is: do you believe you can live without it? If it isn't as vital as food, shelter, or clothing—all of which can be purchased—it won't be found. Although you may desire it, you'll never find it. After a few scrapes with a shovel or pick, in search of this rare jewel, you'll never get much farther than scratching the surface before completely giving up.
The Bible is all about wisdom. Read Psalms, Proverbs, Ephesians, or Colossians, and you will find this word used repeatedly. Proverbs 2:7 tells us that wisdom is obeying God's commands and seeking to know His will; therefore, even believers can run low on wisdom! But when we first desire wisdom "as silver and hidden treasure" (Proverbs 2:4), and then ask God for it "who gives to all generously and without reproach" (James 1:5), as well as cherish what we find (Proverbs 3:5-6), we will become that rare person who not only pursues wisdom . . . but finds it.
Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to give you a longing for wisdom—that ability to discern between right and wrong—the quality of thinking that puts truth into action.
Extra Refreshment: Read Proverbs 8.
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Post  Admin on Tue 29 Oct 2013, 11:07 pm

A "Forever" Kind of Love
Romans 5:7-8
For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
We find it easy to love people who are easy to love. In reality, we tend to like people who are like us. Furthermore, we assume that God's love is bound by the same standards. If He loves us, we assume it must mean that we are not all that bad. Not only is this view false in every way, it destroys a deep appreciation for the amazing beauty of God's love—that He loved the unlovely, and died for the unloving.
D. A. Carson illustrated the difference between our vision of love and God's:
Charles and Susan are walking down the beach, hand in hand. They've kicked off their shoes and the wet sand squishes between their toes. Charles turns to Susan, gazes deeply into her large hazel eyes and says, "Susan, I love you; I really do." What does he mean? If we assume he has decency and Christian virtue, the least he could mean is something like, "Susan, you mean everything to me. I can't live without you. Your smile paralyzes me from fifty yards; your sparkling good humor, your beautiful eyes, the scent of your hair—everything about you transfixes me . . . I really love you."
Or do his words I love you mean something like, "Susan, in spite of the fact that your nose is so large it belongs in cartoons, your hair has enough grease to lubricate an eighteen-wheeler, your knees make a camel look elegant, and your personality would scare Attila the Hun, I really love you."
I'm guessing Charles meant the first one! Yet this is how human love differs from God's love. When Romans 5 tells us that God "loved us," it doesn't mean that God looked down on us and said. "You mean everything to me. I can't live without you: your personality, your witty conversation, your beauty, your smile— everything about you."
Not a chance!  When God says, "I love you," He is saying, "Listen—your nose and greasy hair, your disjointed knees and selfish personality, your wretched sinfulness—all make you disgustingly unattractive to Me. But I love you because I have chosen to love you, through My Son, your Savior."
My friend, if you think you deserve God's love, even to the smallest degree, you will never feel totally secure in Him. You will live in perpetual fear that you might do something undeserving of His love and, if that is the case, then you definitely will!
Don't be afraid. This is the amazing beauty of God's love toward us, that "while we were still sinners, He died for us." The truth is, there isn't anything you can do that will ever change His mind. His love for you is the same yesterday, today . . . and forever!
Prayer Point: Thank the Lord for loving you so much that He not only chose to die for you while you were still in your sins, but He chooses to love you every day in spite of your sin. Pray that He will give you strength to obey His command to love others in the same way He has loved you.
Extra Refreshment: Read the whole chapter of Romans 5.
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Post  Admin on Tue 29 Oct 2013, 1:07 am

Seriously!
Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Sir Isaac Newton, the English mathematician and physicist, is considered by many to be the greatest scientist who ever lived. He was accorded the honor of being the first scientist to be buried in Westminster Abbey.  
The well-known story relates that, on seeing an apple fall in his orchard sometime during 1665 or 1666, Newton conceived that the same force governed the motion of the moon and the apple. He calculated the force needed to hold the moon in its orbit, as compared with the force pulling an object to the ground. And that's how he discovered gravity!
Seriously, what you may not know is that it seems to have been due to the influence and tact of Sir Edmund Halley at his visit in November, 1684, that Newton undertook to attack the whole problem of gravitation, and practically pledged himself to publish his results: these are contained in the Principia.  The printing of the work was slow, and it was not published until the summer of 1687. The cost was borne by Halley, who also corrected the proofs, and even put his own research aside to press the printing forward. Historians call it one of the most selfless examples in the annals of science.
Newton began almost immediately to reap the rewards of prominence, while Halley received little credit for his work.  But he is known for discovering the comet named after him, which appears briefly every 76 years. However, one profound biographical fact regarding Halley stated that he didn't care who received credit for discoveries—his single mission in life was to advance the cause of science . . . and he did.
It seems there is an ever-growing problem in the church today, stemming from confusion surrounding our mission in this world. Why exactly are we here? The members of the early church seemed to have had this answer figured out. Gibbon noted in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that the most sacred duty of the new convert was to diffuse among his friends and relatives the blessing which he had received. Harnack, another church historian, wrote that the great mission of Christianity was accomplished by means of casual missionaries.
Why has it become so difficult in our own society to determine why we are here? George Barna, in his book What Americans Believe, revealed the results of a survey of people claiming to be born-again believers. When asked, "Do you have a responsibility to explain your religious beliefs to others who may believe differently?" less than 45% answered affirmatively.
This is a far cry from the passion and fervency displayed by our brothers and sisters who have gone before us, living and dying to advance the gospel. They took the great commission seriously . . . and it didn't matter who got the credit.
Have you committed your life to advancing the cause of Christ?  Think about it . . . seriously!
Prayer Point: If you do not come in close contact with unbelievers on a regular basis, then pray that God will bring someone into your life with whom you can share the Gospel. If you already have relationships with those who are unsaved, pray that God will not only open doors of opportunity for you to witness, but that He will give you boldness when that time comes.
Extra Refreshment: Read the book of Jonah 1 and witness God's incredible mercy on display, as well as His heart for the lost.
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Post  Admin on Fri 25 Oct 2013, 8:39 pm

Jealousy . . . or Jesus?
Romans 13:13-14
Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
In one of his books, Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie,  retired Chaplain of the U.S. Senate,  retells an ancient Greek legend of a major foot race between two competitive young athletes. As in all sports contests, there is a winner and a loser—and the loser of this one was devastated. He had trained long and hard, believing himself to be the superior of the two runners. His memory became haunted by the face of his opponent and the man's adoring fans.  
Moved by the victory, the city erected a statue in the winner's honor.  The losing athlete was consumed with envy, both physically and emotionally; he could think of nothing but his defeat and his opponent's new-found prestige. Ultimately, he reached the decision to destroy the statue that plagued him with the daily reminder of lost glory; a plan began to take form in his mind.
Late each night, when the city square was empty, the youth went to the statue and chiseled away at the base, hoping to weaken the foundation enough to make it eventually topple. While chipping at the sculpture with especially violent envy one night, he misjudged his efforts. The heavy statue teetered on its already fragile base, crashing to the ground.  The disgruntled athlete was crushed beneath the weight of the marble replica of his nemesis, literally destroyed by his own jealousy.
Obviously, the moral of this story lies in the fact that this man had been dying long before the statue fell on him. Inch by inch, blow by blow of the chisel, he had become the victim of his own dissatisfaction.
How many Christians have you known who were overcome with bitterness?  It chips away at a believer's life, destroying the spirit and corrupting the heart.
Hebrews 12:15 warns, "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled."  The Scripture is clear—a Christian is to overcome his feelings of bitterness lest he become overtaken by them, for to be defiled is to be destroyed . . . and bitterness has the power to do both.
In addition, bitterness resulting from jealousy is the complete opposite of putting on Christ—as you would put on clothing, your attire should be "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control," as described in Galatians 5:21-23.
Since you can't wear both, which outfit will you choose to wear—jealousy . . . or Jesus? 
Prayer Point: Are you struggling with bitterness toward someone? Is your spirit being eroded by the slow chipping away of jealousy's chisel? Pray  that God will reveal to you any hidden malice in your heart toward others; ask Him to replace it with a spirit of gentleness and kindness.
Extra Refreshment: Read 1 Samuel 13—a story of jealousy and its consequences.
The Gospel . . . and a Cup of Tea
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Sam Kamaleson, the vice president of a worldwide mission organization, told a tremendous story of a seventy-year-old lady who came to faith in Christ.
Like many newly-converted believers, her desire was to serve God in any way possible, but she had one troubling question for which she had no answer:  how could she best be used in God's service?  She eventually approached her pastor with the dilemma and said, "I believe God has called me into some sort of ministry; what should I do?" Since he had no idea what might suit her, he replied, "Maybe you should go home and pray about it." Now, this is Pastoring 101—if you don't know the answer, suggest prayer!
After returning home, she followed her pastor's advice, and sensed that God wanted her to do something to reach students who attended a nearby university.  Thinking of how to connect with them, she hurried to the drugstore, bought a pack of 3x5 cards, and wrote on each one: "Are you homesick? Come to my home for tea at 4:00."  Then she added her address.
She took her stack of cards and went around the University of Melbourne campus, putting them in places where students were sure to see them: bulletin boards, dining hall, restroom mirrors, car windshields—you name it. She went back home and began preparing tea. When four o'clock came, no one knocked at the door. Day after day, no one showed up. Instead of becoming discouraged, she continued to pray and prepare tea . . . just in case.
At last, on the fifteenth day, an Indonesian student was at her door, homesick and as eager to talk as she was to listen. Excitedly she served tea and gave him a listening ear as he intently told his story.
When he returned to campus, he told all his friends, "Hey, you won't believe it! I met a lady that's just like my grandmother." The young man's visit was the beginning of other students going to her home at four o'clock for tea. Soon her house was filled with college kids eager to talk. What started as a simple God-given desire to minister to lost souls led to ten years of one-on-one ministry for a woman who sought God's direction in her service for Him.
When she died there were no less than seventy pallbearers, all of whom were Indonesian, Malaysian, Indian, and other  international students who had come to her home for tea and conversation—and had found Jesus Christ.
Imagine that!
The moral of this story is simple: God has called you for a purpose, and you have been uniquely gifted for it. No matter what your limitations may be, God can use you to touch the lives of people who need Christ.
So, if it's putting on the kettle and setting out an extra cup—there are still people out there who are in desperate need of the gospel . . . and a cup of tea.
Prayer Point: Pray right now, just as that woman did, for an opportunity to share the gospel with someone else, or the opportunity to help a brother or sister in need. Ask the Lord to impress on your heart some specific way you can serve as an ambassador of heaven. Then thank the Lord for giving His life in service for you, setting the perfect example of humility and love.
Extra Refreshment: Read John 13:1-20.
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Post  Admin on Wed 23 Oct 2013, 10:19 pm

Seriously!
Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Sir Isaac Newton, the English mathematician and physicist, is considered by many to be the greatest scientist who ever lived. He was accorded the honor of being the first scientist to be buried in Westminster Abbey.   
The well-known story relates that, on seeing an apple fall in his orchard sometime during 1665 or 1666, Newton conceived that the same force governed the motion of the moon and the apple. He calculated the force needed to hold the moon in its orbit, as compared with the force pulling an object to the ground. And that's how he discovered gravity! 
Seriously, what you may not know is that it seems to have been due to the influence and tact of Sir Edmund Halley at his visit in November, 1684, that Newton undertook to attack the whole problem of gravitation, and practically pledged himself to publish his results: these are contained in the Principia.  The printing of the work was slow, and it was not published until the summer of 1687. The cost was borne by Halley, who also corrected the proofs, and even put his own research aside to press the printing forward. Historians call it one of the most selfless examples in the annals of science. 
Newton began almost immediately to reap the rewards of prominence, while Halley received little credit for his work.  But he is known for discovering the comet named after him, which appears briefly every 76 years. However, one profound biographical fact regarding Halley stated that he didn't care who received credit for discoveries—his single mission in life was to advance the cause of science . . . and he did. 
It seems there is an ever-growing problem in the church today, stemming from confusion surrounding our mission in this world. Why exactly are we here? The members of the early church seemed to have had this answer figured out. Gibbon noted in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that the most sacred duty of the new convert was to diffuse among his friends and relatives the blessing which he had received. Harnack, another church historian, wrote that the great mission of Christianity was accomplished by means of casual missionaries. 
Why has it become so difficult in our own society to determine why we are here? George Barna, in his book What Americans Believe, revealed the results of a survey of people claiming to be born-again believers. When asked, "Do you have a responsibility to explain your religious beliefs to others who may believe differently?" less than 45% answered affirmatively. 
This is a far cry from the passion and fervency displayed by our brothers and sisters who have gone before us, living and dying to advance the gospel. They took the great commission seriously . . . and it didn't matter who got the credit. 
Have you committed your life to advancing the cause of Christ?  Think about it . . . seriously!
Prayer Point: If you do not come in close contact with unbelievers on a regular basis, then pray that God will bring someone into your life with whom you can share the Gospel. If you already have relationships with those who are unsaved, pray that God will not only open doors of opportunity for you to witness, but that He will give you boldness when that time comes. 
Extra Refreshment: Read the book of Jonah 1 and witness God's incredible mercy on display, as well as His heart for the lost.
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Post  Admin on Tue 22 Oct 2013, 11:10 pm

But You, O Lord . . .
Psalm 102:11-12
My  days  are  like a  lengthened  shadow,  and  I wither away like grass.  But You, O Lord,  abide  forever, and Your name to all generations.
What you think these men had in common at the height of their careers during the 1930s, '40s, and '50s?
·         Owen D. Young
·         James F. Byrnes
·         Pierre Laval
·         Harlow Curtis
·         Hugh Johnson
More than likely you do not recognize the names of any of these men.  You certainly could not tell what they did or how they rose to fame.  Yet each of these men was at some point in his life Time Magazine's "Man of the Year."  They were judged as the person having had the greatest impact on the rest of humanity during a given year.
It is our nature to think that we are really something special. This is why the business of celebrity is so successful.  We have a desire to be great at something, and we are even willing to be somewhat satisfied with news of the lives of celebrities—reveling in their fame by proxy. 
Think about the yearly audience of the Super Bowl; the Final Four; the NBA playoffs; the Masters; the Stanley Cup; Wimbledon; the Bowl games; the World Series.   Factor in the weekly audiences of American Idol; The Celebrity Apprentice; Survivor, and many more "reality" shows.  The American public has high hopes and watches intently to see who the winners will be.
Then you have the Academy Awards—for days before and after, water cooler talk centers on who will win/won which Oscar. Why? It's not as if the contenders are really the characters they portray—they're just good pretenders. Maybe that's why we find them so fascinating—we want to be good pretenders, too.
The writers of Psalms had no illusions about who we really are. There is line upon line in the book of Psalms regarding the nature of man.
Here in Psalm 102, the days of our lives are compared to withering grass, but not so the Lord's. He is great and His name lives for all generations—He is the same . . . His years will have no end. 
Why do we insist on plying mankind with glory and adulation when we have the God of the universe before us?   Our attention and adoration should not be focused on man's folly, but rather upon the greatness of God.  J. I. Packer addresses this very point:
The Christian's instincts of trust and worship are stimulated very powerfully by knowledge of the greatness of God.  But this is knowledge which Christians today largely lack; that is one reason why our faith is so feeble and our worship so flabby.  We are modern men, and modern men—though they cherish great thoughts of man—have, as a rule, small thought of God.
Let's get real about ourselves and mankind as a whole: admit that underneath the façade the world sees, we all are sinners by nature, deserving none of mankind's praise.
Should we really care about the comings and goings [and every detail in between] of  celebrities; stars; idols?  No!
Let's focus our aim where it should be, and say with the Psalmist, "But You, O Lord . . . "
Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to help you meditate on His greatness.  As you read the Scriptures, take time to praise God for Himself—the One whose years will have no end.
Extra Refreshment:  Read Psalms 103 and make the first and last verses come alive to you today.
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Post  Admin on Mon 21 Oct 2013, 7:13 pm

God Uses Broken Things
John 21:15-17
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,"Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him,"Tend My lambs."

He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I  love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep."
He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him
"Tend My sheep."
Kathy Ormsby was a success story: a dean's list student at North Carolina State University; a pre‑med major; an All‑American distance runner. 
At the University of Pennsylvania Penn Relays in April, 1986 she set an American collegiate record for 10,000 meters.  She was "on a roll," and qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships in 3000, 5000, and 10,000 meters. She was a celebrity, and everything seemed so right for this twenty-one-year-old junior in college.
But something was dangerously wrong—she had become obsessed with winning. 
In the first week of June, 1986 she began the 10,000 meter run at the NCAA track championships in Indianapolis.  At 6500 meters, she abruptly quit.  Totally burned out, her life's purpose suddenly became clear:  life was nothing more to her than just winning one more race. 
She turned and jogged out of the stadium, ran to a bridge two blocks away, and jumped.  She fell forty or fifty feet onto a flood plain.
Today this woman is paralyzed from the chest down.  Kathy Ormsby will never run again.  The Seattle Times article of June 11, 1986, asked the question, "How many other athletes, obsessed with winning, are heading for a fall?"
In today's text, Jesus Christ is restoring Peter from his denial and betrayal of Him. In loving mercy our Lord takes those who belong to Him—broken and despondent—and makes them whole and useful for His purposes.  
This is the purpose of our lives:  to know Him and to glorify Him.  Paul called us "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
Peter's difficulty stemmed from believing that he really was what his new name signified—a rock. 
Jesus was in the process of teaching him an important concept:  apart from His strength, Peter was a piece of crumbling sandstone.  In other words, he was broken.  That is painfully clear as Christ reverts to Peter's old name, asking, "Simon [stone] . . . do you love Me?"
Vance Havner wrote:
"God uses broken things.  It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume.  It is the broken soil that produces a crop; it is the broken clouds that give rain; it is the broken grain that gives bread, and it is the broken bread that gives strength. . . . God uses broken things."
Brokenness is defined as being totally subdued; humbled; weakened and infirmed; crushed by grief.  It's not bad to find yourself in that condition; after all . . . God uses broken things.
Prayer Point:  Lift your heart to God in surrender and submission, praying to be broken for His purposes. Tell Him you are willing to be changed!
Extra Refreshment: Read the letter to Philemon to get a perspective on a changed life.
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Post  Admin on Fri 18 Oct 2013, 8:05 pm

Then Comes the Good Part!
John 20:18
Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and that He had said these things to her.
A family was watching The Greatest Story Ever Told, a film on the life of Christ.  One of the children in the family was deeply moved.  As Jesus journeyed to Calvary, tears rolled down her cheeks. She sat absolutely silent until Jesus had been taken down from the cross and put into the tomb.  Then she suddenly grinned and shouted excitedly, "Now comes the good part!" 
Now comes the good part!  Indeed it does! The resurrection of our Lord is the basis of our faith.  Without it, we would be lost! Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 
·         The gospel would be meaningless. 
       f you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved (Romans 10:9).
·         Forgiveness of sins would be hopeless. 
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins (I Corinthians 15:17).
·         Present life would be joyless.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (I Corinthians 15:18-19). 
·         Godly living would be fruitless.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father (John 14:12).  
·         Future life would be worthless.
Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also  in Me.  In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:1-2).
Do you understand what is at stake?  If there is no resurrection, there is no Gospel; if there is no Gospel, there is no forgiveness of sin; if there is no forgiveness of sin, there is no present joy; if there is no present joy, there is no future hope.
We may sit silently during part of this life; we may shed abundant tears of sadness as we watch and wait.  But just remember that Christ is preparing a place for us in His Father's house . . . and then comes the good part!
Prayer Point: Talk to the Lord with gratitude for your salvation.  Use the words death, burial, and resurrection when you pray. Keep in mind that you have eternal life because of His resurrection.
Extra Refreshment:  Read all of 1 Corinthians 15 for Paul's awesome teaching on the Resurrection.
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Post  Admin on Thu 17 Oct 2013, 8:20 pm

Go to God
1 Samuel 1:10
She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.
If man had written the Bible without God's inspiration, he would have placed the people found there on pedestals and edited the script to remove all of their mistakes, sins, and failures. But God, the Master Artist, paints the heroes of the Bible with realistic brush strokes.
God records the whole story of these men and women—"warts" and all; He records their triumphs and also their tears. There are no perfect people parading across the pages of Scripture—there are real people with real problems.
There was an article in Newsweek written by a woman who had been the editor for a publisher producing self-help books. She wrote:
You might expect that people who work for authors and bosses of such a company would, in general, be terribly well-adjusted folks—on a first name basis with all their feelings; bursting with self-esteem; free of type-A stress, phobias, and anxieties. Think again. The bosses are even now beginning construction on a second story for our building because the office manager and the head of typesetting cannot stand working in the same room together. One of the executive staff routinely gets so upset during phone calls that he falls out of his chair onto the floor.
Two in-house authors of a book on stress are on the verge of suing each other. Our best-selling book on phobias and fears is lacking an author cover photo because—you guessed it—the author has a phobia about having his picture taken!
This is true not only in the secular world but in the sacred world as well. We are all made of clay! If anyone ever gives you the impression that he has it all together, you need to look again . . . or just quit looking.
Hannah was unable to have children; she also suffered the indignity of the mocking of her husband's other wife Peninnah, who was able to bear children. This added insult to injury! It would be unbiblical to say that Hannah, this great woman of faith, was not affected by this situation—she was miserable.
I Samuel 1:8-9 says, "Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?' Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the LORD."
And here comes Hannah's flood of tears!
You may have had times like this: tears bathing your cheeks and washing your soul. But the wonderful thing in verse 10 is that Hannah poured out her soul to the Lord. She went to Him, not away from Him, in the time of her deepest sorrow.
Your heartaches are God's concern; your burdens are His to bear for you. You can take comfort in the knowledge that "casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you," your heart will be eased (1 Peter 5:7). "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). Never forget that God is your greatest source of help; of strength; of comfort; of refuge.
What is it in your life that causes great distress? What causes you to weep bitterly? Whatever the reason, follow Hannah's example . . . go to God.
Prayer Point: Take time to pray to God, using real words about real things. Don't just utter the spiritual words that you think you should say—talk to your heavenly Father about your struggles; your feelings; your desires; your failures. Ask Him to help you trust His provision for your need.
Extra Refreshment: Read Hannah's prayer of exaltation in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, expressing her understanding of God's power.
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Post  Admin on Wed 16 Oct 2013, 10:27 pm

Light Up the Runway!
Matthew 5:14-15
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house."
James Dobson told a story about a friend who was flying his single-engine plane toward a small rural airport. When he arrived at the close of the day, the sun had already dropped behind the mountain. By the time he had maneuvered into position to land, he couldn't see the shadowy field below. There was no one on duty at the airport, and there were no lights on the plane.
The pilot circled the runway for another attempted landing, but the darkness had become even more impenetrable. For two hours he flew around in the inky blackness, knowing full well that he faced certain death when his fuel tank emptied.
Then, as panic began to seize him, a wonderful thing happened. Someone who lived near the airport had heard the continuous drone of a small plane engine and realized there was a problem. That kind, merciful man raced to the airport and drove his car back and forth on the runway to indicate the direction of the airstrip. He then drove to the far end of the runway, positioned his lights, and turned them on high beam, to shine down the stretch of tarmac.
The pilot landed safely.
We all know the potential disaster that comes from being caught ill-equipped in darkness.
Maybe you drove to the restaurant anyway, even though your daughter reminded you that you don't see well enough to drive at night. Maybe you tried to get that last section of the deck stained before nightfall and discovered the streaks the next morning. Maybe you stepped on the only Lego left out on the floor as you started down the hallway to get a late-night drink of water.
Darkness can be frightening. Darkness can be dangerous. Darkness can be deadly.
But, "God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).
This Light that He gave us is Himself. In John's Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples that He is the Light of the World (John 8:12). In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus Christ tells His disciples that they are the light of the world. This is to say that Christ puts His Light in us. This He does by giving us Himself.
Because God has given Himself to us, we in turn bear witness of God to others. What if the man who had illuminated the runway had decided to stay home?
The souls of the world hang in the balance, and without Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, they are destined to remain in the darkness—without God . . . without hope.
Grab your keys; start the engine; turn on the headlights—someone's in trouble. Don't make him circle the field again! Light up the runway . . . bring him in for a safe landing!
Prayer Point: Pray that God will give you opportunity to share Christ with others. Pray that you will have the courage to shine brightly.
Extra Refreshment: Read Luke 1:67-79 and experience the same joy as Zacharias in praising God for Jesus, the Light of the World.
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Post  Admin on Tue 15 Oct 2013, 10:45 pm

I Believe I Will
John 3:17-18
"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
I remember, as a boy, visiting the home of an elderly couple in Wisconsin as we traveled on our way to Minnesota. The man, in his eighties and near death's door, was confined to his chair. We sat in the living room—my father and mother, my three brothers, and I.
Although the man's children supported my missionary parents, he was not a Christian. I can still hear my father as he shared the plan of salvation with him and then asked, "Would you like to receive Christ as your own Savior? Would you like to ask Him into your life?"
The man said, "I don't believe I will."
Something pressed upon my father to risk offense, because he simply rewound his conversation and started over. He pulled his chair right up to the recliner where the old man was sitting wrapped in a comforter. I remember the urgency in my dad's voice.
Here was a man who had lived a respectable life, raised decent children, attended church, and accomplished a lot of good things. Here was my father telling him that he was not good enough in himself!
After explaining the gospel yet another time, Dad put the question to him again: "Would you now place your faith in Christ and simply receive Him as your personal Savior?"
I held my breath. It was then that the man replied, "I believe I will."
Now there were tears running down my cheeks. None of us knew it at the time, but within a few months the man would die.
Death comes to all. It's a reality of the planet we inhabit. This is the reason Jesus Christ came into the world—that it might be saved.
But why are we in this desperate condition? The Scriptures tell us that all men are sinners (Romans 3:10-23) and death is the result of that sin (Genesis 2:17; Ephesians 2). It is spiritual death.
Now that's a problem, and the solution can't be found in mankind because all men are dead. Christ took the punishment that was ours and bore it Himself, offering us His righteousness in return. He paid the debt for our sin on the cross. This He did for all who will believe and accept His gift of salvation.
The death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior provide the proverbial life raft, the cure, the escape from death's everlasting clutches. But the raft must be inflated; the cure must be swallowed; the escape must be made through the open door.
We would think it crazy that a drowning man would pass up a life raft and say, "I don't believe I'll get in it." It would be fatal to turn from the cure and say, "I don't believe I'll take it." It would be suicide to slam the escape door and say, "I don't believe I'll go." Yet, we seem quite unconcerned when a similar response comes from those with whom we've pled to accept Christ's love and sacrifice: "I don't believe I will."
How about you? As you start down this path of spiritual retreat, will you believe on His name and accept His shed blood as the payment for your sins? Will you receive His saving forgiveness? There should be only one answer . . . "I believe I will."
Prayer point: If you have never come to know God through His Son, pray that He would show you the good news in John 3. If you do know Him, pray that God would help you keep in mind that everyone needs Jesus.
Extra Refreshment: Read Romans 3:21-26, the passage that some call the "heart of the Gospel."


Faith is . . .
Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
My favorite professor often quoted from Lewis Carroll's book entitled Through the Looking-Glass. He especially used the conversation between Alice and the White Queen:
"How old are you?" asked the queen.
"I'm seven and a half, exactly."
"You needn't say ‘exactly'; I can believe it without that. Now I'll give you something to believe: I'm just one hundred and one, five months, and a day."
Alice protested, "I can't believe that!"
"Can't you? Try again—draw a long breath, and shut your eyes," the queen urged.
Alice roared, "There's no use trying; one can't believe impossible things!"
To this the queen responded, "I daresay you haven't had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it half-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
The unregenerate man on Main Street, USA believes this is the meaning of faith: take a long breath, close your eyes, and begin to believe things that are impossible to believe.
What do you think? Maybe you have been afraid that this is its meaning. It is not!
We expect this kind of thinking outside the church, yet we are shocked when we find it inside the church. Faith is not an elusive, passive thing—it is alive and active.
The fruit of faith is substance and evidence—that which shows in our lives and proves what we believe.
So what is faith? Faith is the act of:
· considering Jesus Christ worthy of trust as to His character and motives;
· placing confidence in His ability to do just what He says He will do;
· entrusting the salvation of our soul into the hands of Christ;
· committing the work of saving our soul to the care of the Lord.
This means taking ourselves out of our own keeping and entrusting ourselves into the keeping of Jesus Christ.
This means that we listen to what God is saying in His Word. Paul exhorted Timothy, his son in the faith, to "accurately handle the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15) because it is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
A friend once asked, "When was the last time God spoke to you and what did He say?" Then he held up his Bible and said, "This is where He is speaking. Are you hearing Him? Are you obeying Him?"
How about you—are you walking by faith? "Now, faith is . . ."
Prayer point: Take time in your prayer life and Bible reading, treating it like a conversation. Before reading the Scriptures, ask God to help you hear Him. After reading the text, ask God to help you obey Him. Pray as the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5).
Extra Refreshment: Read in Hebrews 11the instances of people hearing God and doing what He says.
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