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Post  Admin on Sat 12 May 2012, 9:53 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 Sat 12 May 2012, 9:45 pm

A HEBREW SAGE MIGHT SAY. . .
If you don't know what you're willing to die for, then you
don't know what you're living for!

HAZARDOUS INTENTIONAL SINNING
"But the person, be he citizen or stranger, who acts defiantly (with
upraised hand) reviles the LORD; that person shall be cut off from among
his people, because he has despised the WORD OF THE LORD, and violated
HIS commandment, that person shall be completely cut off— his guilt
shall be upon him." [Numbers (B'Midvar) 15. 30 - 31 Tanakh, Torah]

Under the Mosaic Law, the first four chapters of Leviticus provides
forgiveness of sins committed unintentionally. And again in the book of
Numbers, it is recorded how those sins may be atoned for— "And if a
person sins unintentionally, then he shall bring a she-goat goat in its
first year as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for the
person who sins unintentionally, when he sins unintentionally before the
LORD, to make atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him." [Numbers
(B'Midvar) 15. 27 - 29 Tanakh, Torah; also Leviticus/Vayikra 4. 27
– 31, 35]

However, it is altogether different for the one who deliberately
disobeyed GOD'S Law. The one who so despised GOD'S commandment
was to be put to death. "He who despises the WORD will be destroyed, but
he who respects a command will be rewarded." [Proverbs (Mishle) 13. 13
Tanakh, Kethuvim] 15:30-31]

The GOD of the OLD COVENANT is also the GOD of the NEW COVENANT, "For I
am the LORD — I do not change." [Malachi (Malakhi) 3. 6 Tanakh,
Nevi'im] The OLD COVENANT contains GOD'S Law, but also HIS love,
mercy, and grace is affluently recorded, such as: "Turn us back, O LORD,
to YOURSELF, and we will be restored; renew our days as of old."
[Lamentations (Eicha) 5. 21 Tanakh, Kethuvim] "O LORD! I have heard
YOUR speech and am awed (afraid), O LORD, by YOUR deeds. Renew YOUR work
in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in
wrath remember mercy." [Habakkuk 3. 2 Tanakh, Nevi'im]

In this age or dispensation of mercy and grace, many might say that this
harshness of GOD'S Law has been replaced by HIS love. There is
abundant pardon for all sins, and HE will forgive us. "If we confess
our sins, HE is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse
us from all unrighteousness. " [1 John 1. 9] But, "if we sin willfully
after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer
remains a sacrifice for sins...Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies
without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much
worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has
trampled the SON OF GOD underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by
which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of
grace? — It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the LIVING
GOD." [Hebrews 10. 26, 28 - 29, 31]

If this warning only applied to those who have willfully renounced faith
in the LORD YESHUA ha'MASHIACH, the question still remains whether
one with true saving faith will willfully sin against the known will of
GOD, as revealed in HIS HOLY WORD.

Whoever says, "I know HIM," and does not keep HIS commandments, is a
liar, and the truth is not in him." [1 John 2. 4] And, "Whoever does
not practice righteousness is not of GOD, nor is he who does not love
his brother." [1 John 3. 10]

Only the ALL-KNOWING HEAVENLY FATHER GOD knows the heart, but those who
call themselves "CHRIST-ians" who deliberately reject and disobey HIS
LIFE-GIVING WORD should at least examine themselves, whether they be in
the faith; test themselves and know of a certainty that JESUS CHRIST THE
LORD OF GLORY is in them…lest they be disqualified. [2 Corinthians
13. 5 – 6]

"Come now, and let us reason together — says the LORD. Though your
sins are like scarlet, they shall be as snow-white; though they are red
like crimson, they can become life fleece...If you are willing and
obedient." [Isaiah (Yeshayah) 1. 18 - 19a Tanakh, Nevi'im] And the
SAVIOR, the PRINCE OF PEACE is still bidding…"Return to ME, and I
will return to you."

Sha'alu (Pray) for the Shalom (Peace) of Jerusalem and all of Israel!
Welcome Sabbath! We thank YOU, Great & MIGHTY GOD for by YOUR grace we
were taught the blessed holiness of the weekly day of rest; and Sabbath
is the sign of the tie that binds us to YOU. Keep us ever grateful and
grant us YOUR perfect rest. Amen. On Sabbath, we are reminded that
justice is our duty and a better world our goal.
Be gracious to us ALMIGHTY LORD GOD that we may understand and fulfill
the Teaching of YOUR WORD. Enlighten our eyes in YOUR Law that we may
cling to YOUR commandments. Unite our hearts to love and revere YOU and
to learn YOUR WORDS and wisdom. LORD YOU are my PRAISE, my STRENGTH,
my FORTRESS, my REFUGE — in days of affliction and at all times.

Praying for the peace of Jerusalem, is praying for the return of our
Messiah and Lord and for the Kingdom of God He is bringing when He
comes. Then God's Will shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven and
the world will experience true godly universal peace.

Web Page: http://delrifkah. homestead. com/
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Post  Admin on Fri 11 May 2012, 4:52 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 Thu 10 May 2012, 5:29 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 Wed 09 May 2012, 4:54 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 Psalm 119 and notice how each verse mentions God's Word.
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Post  Admin on Mon 07 May 2012, 8:54 pm

Becoming the Exception

Deuteronomy 8:6

Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.

Believers once knew what it meant to fear God. Men like John Huss and John Wycliffe willingly faced death for refusing to denounce their faith, knowing that God had warned, "If you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father."

Men like Jim Elliot and Nate Saint refused to use their guns against the attacking natives, believing that dying for Christ was far more important than killing unbelievers who would never have another chance at salvation. But this kind of reverence for God and His gospel is rare today.

Today, the church is not only losing its testimony—it is no longer living up to it.

Warren Wiersbe writes in his book, The Integrity Crisis, these sharp and painful words:

For nineteen centuries the church has been telling the world to admit and confess its sins.

Today, in the twilight of the twentieth century, the world is telling the church to face up to its sins and to begin living what it preaches.

I might add that is true for us in the twenty-first century! For hundreds of years, men have stood firm in the gospel despite being persecuted, laughed at, and at times, slaughtered. But a shift has taken place. Now, not only do Christians shy away from persecution and hardship, questioning God in the midst of it, but their lives are full of sin, hiding under the cloak of religion rather than living up to their testimony.

Part of the problem is rooted in our shamefully low viewpoint of God. When we hear truth from God's Word, we are convicted but not changed; we are challenged but not converted.

It naturally follows that an inferior view of God will birth a shallow view of His Word.

Today, the Bible is not only being questioned and debated, but it is being disobeyed. Why? The fear of the Lord is no longer before our eyes. Christ has become an after-thought, rather than an all-consuming thought.

Reverence for the things of God takes a back seat today in the public arena. The crowd who claim the name of Christ but float downstream in the current of popular culture find their lives swirling in the eddy of religious pluralism, inclusivism, and universalism— spiraling rapidly downward—moving farther and farther away from distinctiveness and purity.

This crowd becomes the rule. You must choose to be . . . the exception.

Prayer Point: Pray for the kind of faith in God that Abraham had, the kind of purity that Joseph had, and the kind of heart that David had. Pray that God will teach you to fear and love Him, and ask for strength to live an extraordinary life for Him.

Extra Refreshment: Read Hebrews 11—a chapter filled to the brim with the names of people who have lived in fear of God and who are being rewarded for it now.
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Post  Admin on Fri 04 May 2012, 8:35 pm

A Matter of Life and Death

John 3:36

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

Perhaps you saw the news of the tragic fire in Colorado some years ago. The headline of a USA Today article called it the "Colorado Tragedy," and a tragedy it indeed was. It was not only a tragedy because twelve men died in the fire, but because their deaths were brought about by one wrong decision.

The article related that firefighters carry in their belt pouches a blanket called a shelter. It consists of thin cloth-like layers of aluminum foil and glass glued together, less than an inch thick, and weighs about three pounds. It can be opened, allowing the firefighter to lie under it when the flames get too close. This wonderful invention has saved the lives of many firemen, but in this case, it cost them their lives.

The inferno that raged on Storm Mountain that dreadful Wednesday afternoon took an unexpected turn; the firefighters had successfully contained the blaze to less than fifty acres when all of a sudden, monstrous gusts of wind whipped it back into a fury, spreading the flames over two thousand acres in less than five hours. Many of the men were trapped. One firefighter recalled the event and said that without warning, the forest just exploded. The article reads:



With just seconds to outwit the fires, some firefighters ran back through walls of flame to burned-out, spent ground. They were among the thirty-eight who lived. But at least nine who died had tried to climb into their shelters, in the path of the fire, and found them insufficient shields against suffocating flames and heat. One firefighter summarized it this way, "The guys who used their shelters died; those who ran back into and through the wall of fire to ground that was already burned, lived.

When I read this, I couldn't help but think of humanity running for its life before the flames of eternal judgment. Many people carry their little shelters of religion, good works, baptism, money, or morality, but these shields will not be enough to withstand the heat of God's holy wrath.

The only ones who will live are those who run to scorched ground—ground where the fires of God's wrath have already burned. That ground is none other than Jesus Christ, who has taken upon Himself the wrath of God so that all those who stand "in Christ" will be saved.

Have you made the decision to follow Christ, or are you still hiding beneath your own shelter of misguided whims and ideas? Don't wait another second to make that choice.

It's a matter of life . . . and death!

Prayer Point: If you are already a believer in Christ, thank Him for taking your punishment on the cross and for offering to you His righteousness in return. If you are not yet a believer in Christ, you can accept Him right now. Simply confess that you are a sinner, believe that Christ paid the penalty for your sin on the cross, rose again from the grave and offers forgiveness for all your sin. Receive His free gift of salvation and commit your life to His authority.

Extra Refreshment: Read the entire chapter of John 3, where God's immense love for the lost world is revealed.
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Post  Admin on Thu 03 May 2012, 8:50 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 Wed 02 May 2012, 8:15 pm

Invisibly Involved

Philippians 2:13
For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

The internet has allowed people to engage in events worldwide. Today we can surf sites and witness incidents unfolding in real time.

A decade ago, much was made of the approaching millennium Y2K. At that time, an article from the Wall Street Journal caught my attention. Daystar International Ministry had high hopes of using a strategically located webcam to capture an unusual sight: the second coming of the Messiah! This was expected at the stroke of midnight, signaling the year 2000.

I won’t take time to mention the prophetic problems Daystar was overlooking. Okay––maybe I will mention one . . . the people who care about His second coming won’t be watching Him descend to Jerusalem; we’ll be coming with Him!

Imagine capturingGod on film! You would have Messiah where you could actually see Him. Your own personal DVD from Daystar for $29.99—if you purchase it in the next fifteen minutes, of course!

A paparazzi photo frenzy would be old news compared to such a spectacle as this.

A miraculous sighting of the Lord seems far more marketable and exciting than the invisible working of God . . . an idea that won’t sell many DVDs.

Still, the longing in all our hearts remains—a longing that has television shows spinning off series after series: trying to understand the ways of God; imagining how heaven responds to earth; interpreting the role of angels and demons in the affairs of mankind.

There are today fabricated reports of miraculous occurrences all across the globe: visions, sightings, miracles, and strange happenings.

I’ll admit that it would be exciting to see with my own eyes a miracle performed by God. That’s so much more interesting than attempting to discern His invisible providence—His invisible working in the ordinary events of everyday life.

Yet for the believer today, that is where God actually is at work—in the mundane, tiring, ordinary, and even repetitive duties of life. It may come without the thunder and lightning of Mount Sinai, but He is working in our lives right now just as He worked in the lives of His disciples and followers in the first century.

Howie Stevenson, former Music Minister who served with Pastor Chuck Swindoll for many years, was fond of saying, “God moves among the casseroles.” He meant that God was just as much at work in a person making dinner in the kitchen as He was in Paul planting a church in Ephesus.

God knows how easy it is for you to doubt His sovereignty when you don’t see and hear His power . . . or sense His presence in the silence. But He has spoken, and He is present.

Walter Chalmers Smith put it this way when he wrote the first verse to a hymn in 1867:

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious,
The Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious—
Thy great name we praise.

Kitchens, cubicles, car pools, and conference rooms—all are the Holy of Holies. You are in His presence today; although invisible, He is at work in you at this very moment. You don’t need a camera to prove it—God promised it.

So trust His heart . . . even when you can’t see His hand.

Prayer Point: Ask the Lord for greater trust in His presence and involvement in your life, addressing Him as “The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and me.” This will help remind you that He is the God of all history—past and present.

Extra Refreshment: Read 2 Corinthians 1:2-7 to see one way that God is absolutely involved in your life.

Millions of Muslims throughout Iraq, Israel, and Jordan now hear the Gospel in their own language on Wisdom for the Heart!Click on The Forward Movement to read more about this exciting project.
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Post  Admin on Tue 01 May 2012, 9:15 pm

The Church That Changed

Acts 11:1
Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

I can still vividly remember a change that occurred in our household years ago. It was when I took our older daughter to her first day of kindergarten.

If you had watched us from twenty yards away, we would have made the perfect picture. She had on new shoes and was carrying her shiny lunchbox; I was holding her hand as we walked from the parking lot to the school. But if you had come within earshot, you would have discovered that we were actually arguing!

She wanted me to stay in the car, saying, "Daddy, I don't need you to take me to class; I can do this by myself!" And I was saying, "Listen, you might be feeling good about all this, young lady, but I'm not—so why don't you just allow me a little insecurity! Okay?"

I remember that change. She went from a dependent five-year-old to an independent kindergartener.

No change is easy. We naturally resist the rough waters; the upheaval; the emotions; the hardships—there're all cousins to change.

The most difficult changes to make are those involving lifelong traditions and heritage.

I'll be even more specific: changes are hard to accept when it comes to church; when it involves your relationship to Christ; when it affects how you worship.

How about you? Can you do an internal audit of your deeply cherished church traditions?

· Are they biblically based . . . or culturally based?
· Are they resistant to the things Christ resists . . . or are they conformed to your peers' opinions?
· Are they open to the things Christ teaches . . . or are they closed by personal bias?

Let's be honest: were the Lord to have restricted salvation to the Jews only, we would be lost!

Since Israel is God's light to the nations, it was His predetermined plan that this light should shine to the Gentiles. Remember Abraham was given three promises from God in Genesis 12-17:

1.He would have the title deed to the land of Israel.
2.He would have a great progeny.
3.He would be a spiritual blessing to the entire world.
Paul asks in Romans 3:1, "What advantage has the Jew?" His answer was that they had the oracles [Word] of God, and Christ would be born of the natural seed of Abraham, thus fulfilling God's promise to him that he would bless the entire world.


So, what about us? Are we to be a blessing, too? Are we to accept, and even promote, change that brings the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations?



Are we to drop cultural barriers for the cause of Christ? Are we to welcome all who are saved into the family of God?



These questions bear answering . . . some traditions bear changing.



Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to give you a heart for people . . . and to help you see where change is needed in your own life. Most of all, ask Him to help you love others as Christ has loved you.


Extra Refreshment: Read Acts 15, and take note of the actions of the church when God worked among the Gentiles.



Millions of Muslims throughout Iraq, Israel, and Jordan now hear the Gospel in their own language on Wisdom for the Heart! Click on The Forward Movement to read more about this exciting project.
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Post  Admin on Mon 30 Apr 2012, 10:58 pm

Revival Starts with You

Matthew 5:16

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

How does the church gain the world's attention? How will the local church catch the ears of those who so desperately need to hear the gospel? It will only happen when Christians begin to get real with their faith and start living it out before men.

People are watching you. So, when you say you will do something, do it. When you fail at something, admit it. Don't claw and scrape and climb over others like everyone else. Trust that God is at work and settle for nothing less than the holiness and purity that He requires of you. Let this so establish itself in your character that it emanates from you before a needy and watchful world. If our gospel will change the world, it must first change us.

These words are from an Anglican bishop who lived a few generations ago. They were found among his last effects:

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older, I discovered the world would not change. So, I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But, it, too, seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family—those closest to me. But, alas, they would have none of it. Now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize, if I had only been changed, then by example, perhaps I could have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world.

This is where we must begin. It must start with the person staring back at you from the mirror, the one willing to make any changes necessary—not for your own glory, but for the glory of God. Christ reminds us in Matthew 5 that "they [will] see your good works and glorify [the] Father in heaven." Your ultimate purpose and joy will be in seeing others come to know the Savior as you have, for it is God who changes lives, and we are living testimonies of that.

For that reason, we are to be like mirrors in the world, reflecting His character. If the world is ever going to see God, they must first see Him . . . in us.

Prayer Point: Pray that you will be a living reflection of Jesus Christ to the world, as well as to your church. Then, pray that God will work in the hearts of Christians in your church, calling them to dedicate themselves in living holy lives, breaching the gap between the church and the world.

Extra Refreshment: Read Ephesians 2—reminding the Church how we were called out, and what we have been called to do.
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Post  Admin on Fri 27 Apr 2012, 8:57 pm

Hold the Sugar . . . Pass the Salt!

Matthew 5:13

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

Has it ever occurred to you that Jesus never told you to become salt? In Matthew 5:13, He tells us that we are the salt of the earth. Some Christians, on the other hand, have the wrong impression; they think we're supposed to be the sugar of the earth. Although both are seasonings, they serve very different purposes.

I remember when I taught my kids how to eat oatmeal—not the instant, pre-packaged kind, but the real thing. At first they turned up their noses and refused to eat it. That is, until I sprinkled brown sugar over the top and added milk to the mix. Then they ate three bowls apiece! Why the sudden change? Because they knew it would be sweet. They said, "Dad, this is good. I can taste the sugar." Well, who doesn't love sugar?!

But salt is different from sugar in that it can create intense thirst, prevent decay, cleanse, flavor, and preserve, but never sweeten. Now, I'm not suggesting that Christians shouldn't be sweet—that's an obvious pursuit.

However, in 2 Timothy 3:12-13, Paul says: "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived," reminding the believer that the world will want to be rid of us. Christ says the same thing in John 15:20, when He claims, "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also." Being salt is a lot more dangerous than being sugar!

Just as salt can draw attention to food, Christians can draw attention to sin. The world hates being held accountable. Our message only tastes good to those who wish to be cleansed from sin and preserved from everlasting death, not to those who hate God. We make them thirstier for a happiness they can't find, and more aware of the sin they try to hide. No wonder the world prefers something that tastes sweet . . . a message that's sugar-coated.

At the same time, the world needs salt even though it doesn't want it. Through our ministry as saltshakers, many will come to the knowledge of the truth.

It isn't surprising that salt was meant for sprinkling, not collecting. Our churches tend to become boxes of salt, which is good for keeping our flavor intact, but not for spreading it around. The world can't be reached from inside the church. As one author said, "We need to get out of the salt box and into the world."

Let's take our mission to heart and our message to the world, even if people do prefer sugar . . . to salt!

Prayer Point: Have you backed away from sharing your faith because you haven't been too well-received? Have you upset someone by your message regarding Christ, the cross, sin, and forgiveness? Ask the Lord to help you identify someone today who needs the salt of truth.

Extra Refreshment: Read Matthew 5:1-20.

"The head may seek God, but it is the heart that finds Him." Jeremiah 29:13
Susannah's Grace Counseling (Faith-based &/or Recovery) ~ Healing For The Wounded Heart

"Eternal life [is] to know you, the only true God,& Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth." John 17:3
The Acts 1711 Project ~ Searching The Scriptures to Know Truth
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Post  Admin on Thu 26 Apr 2012, 5:47 pm

The Signature That Saves
Psalm 32:1

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!

The late Harry Allen Ironside, former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, Bible teacher, and prolific author, used to tell the story of a young Russian soldier. Because his father was a friend of Czar Nicholas I, the young man had been made paymaster in one of the barracks. He meant well, but his character was not up to his responsibility and he began gambling, eventually losing a great deal of the government's money and all his own.

In due course the young man received notice that a representative of the czar was coming to check the accounts. That evening he took out the books and totaled up the funds he owed, then went to the safe and retrieved his own pitifully small amount of money. As he sat looking at the books and money, he was overwhelmed at the astronomical debt versus his own small store. He was ruined! Disgrace was certain; prison was looming!

The only solution was to take his life. He pulled out his revolver, placed it on the table before him, and wrote a summation of his misdeeds. At the bottom of the ledger where he had totaled up his illegal borrowings, he wrote, "A great debt! Who can pay?" He decided that at the stroke of midnight the deed would be accomplished—he would end it all.

As the evening wore on the distraught young man grew drowsy and fell asleep. It was during this time that Czar Nicholas I, as was sometimes his custom, made the rounds of the barracks. Seeing a light, he stopped, went in, and saw the young man asleep. He recognized him immediately and, looking over his shoulder, saw the ledger and realized all that had taken place.

He was about to awaken him and put him under arrest when his eye was fastened on the young man's message: "A great debt! Who can pay?" Suddenly, in a surge of magnanimity, he bent over, wrote one word at the bottom of the ledger, and slipped out.

When the soldier awoke, he glanced at the clock and saw that it was long after the midnight hour. He reached for his revolver, but his eye fell upon the ledger and he saw something that he had not seen earlier. There beneath the exclamation that he had written—"A great debt! Who can pay?"—was a single signature: Nicholas.

He was dumbfounded! It was the czar's own signature. He thought to himself, "The czar must have come when I was asleep. He has seen the book! He knows all! Still he is willing to forgive me!" The young soldier then rested on the word of the czar, and the next morning a messenger came from the palace with exactly the amount needed to meet the deficit. Only the czar could pay . . . and he did.

What a great reminder of what Christ has done for us. Beneath the words, "A great debt! Who can pay?" there has been written a single signature: Jesus.

Only Christ could pay for our sins . . . and He did!

Prayer Point: The Psalmist says that you are blessed because your sin is now covered by Christ's blood. Thank Him for paying that enormous debt for you.

Extra Refreshment: Read Ephesians 2 .

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.
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Post  Admin on Wed 25 Apr 2012, 7:22 am

Listening to the Master's Voice
2 Corinthians 12:9

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) was a genius; an intellectual; a statesman par excellence; a linguist who spoke no less than seven languages fluently; a great musician; a patriot; and most of all, a humanitarian who was so generous that every act of kindness to him was always returned manifold.

Through his leadership an army of volunteers of Polish descent was organized in North America to join in the fight for Poland's freedom during World War I. Every day during roll call, when Paderewski's name was called, the entire army answered, "Present."

He signed the Versailles Peace Treaty in 1919, as Poland's Prime Minister, and became its first delegate to the League of Nations.

Substantial contributions for various causes were made by him: construction of a concert hall in Switzerland; rebuilding of a Cathedral in Lausanne; funds for unemployed workers, wartime orphans, Allied Soldier's Hospital, Jewish refugees from Germany, and the American Legion for disabled veterans.

By presidential decree he was buried at Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C., laid to rest under the mast of the battleship Maine until his body could be transported to a free Poland for burial after the end of WW II.

This man who was discouraged from becoming a pianist by his teachers traveled all over the world; crossed the Atlantic more than thirty times; gave more than 1500 concerts in the U.S.; appeared in every state; drew the largest crowds in history.

The term long-haired music may have originated because of him—his magnificent physical appearance and long red hair inspired admiration and awe. He was the first to give a solo recital in newly-built Carnegie Hall. Who has not heard his famous Minuet in G—the goal of doting parents of a child taking piano lessons?

It is easy to imagine that this scenario inspired by a poster during World War II could have taken place: Paderewski had organized a meeting for the Polish Relief Fund; the poster included a sketch of him next to a boy at the piano. A story was fabricated around the picture—the small boy had crept on stage and began to play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." The great musician appeared beside the lad and whispered, "Don't stop—keep playing," as he filled in the bass part with his left hand. The duo accomplished what the soloist could not . . . a mesmerizing performance . . . with the help of the master pianist.

Not one of us is truly accomplished. Not one of us has mastered life. Wrong notes are played no matter how hard we concentrate; our hands grow tired; our minds are distracted; our hearts become discouraged. But in spite of our inexperience, our ignorance, and our weakness, Jesus Christ places His sovereign fingers beside ours and whispers, "Don't stop—keep playing."

Although you may feel as immature and unskilled as a child at times, rely on the power of Christ to strengthen and help you. He has a way of making a simple tune sound like a beautiful melody.

Don't stop . . . just keep playing!

Prayer Point: Thank God for working in your life, giving you power in your weakness, joy in your trials, and mercy in your failures, while making your life into something precious and beautiful.

Extra Refreshment: Read John 16:16-33, wherein Christ encourages His fearful disciples to remain steadfast, and promises that through His Spirit, they will receive power to live.
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Post  Admin on Tue 24 Apr 2012, 8:28 am

Father's Love . . . and Loss

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Dr. Thomas Dooley, the late missionary doctor in Laos, in his book entitled The Night They Burned the Mountain, tells the story of Laotian friends giving him a tiny Himalayan moon bear as a pet. Dr. Dooley loved the cuddly ball of brown fur, so full of interesting antics. While he was working on a cage for the animal, an old Chinese man walked by him. The man stopped, stared, and then began to sob as he stood before the cage. Dr. Dooley walked toward him, hoping to discover the reason for his tears.

The Chinese man told him how he and his son had once worked together on a commune in Red China. He reminded the doctor that laborers on the communes during harvest time were not allowed to have even one grain of rice for themselves, for it all belonged to the Republic. But his wife had become very sick with beriberi and malnutrition, and one day his son concealed a few handfuls of rice in his clothing to feed his starving mother. His act was discovered and the authorities decided to make a public example of the young boy.

He was imprisoned in a cage, not unlike the one that Dr. Dooley had built for his pet bear, and the cage was placed in the center of the city. It was so small that the boy could not move or even sit up straight. The man went on to say:

His mother and I were forced to watch, she from one side of the square and I from the other. But the guards would not allow us to go near him. Day after day, as we looked on, my boy died slowly under the broiling sun, with nothing to eat or drink, covered with filth and flies. It was good when the guards pronounced him dead.

The prolonged tragedy in this story is that the father was not allowed to save his son. He was forced to sit helplessly by and watch the horror unfold, and the image would remain with him the rest of his life.

When I read this story, the crucifixion of Christ immediately came to mind. What an amazing thought . . . God the Father could have stepped in at any moment to save His Son from the agony of the cross, but He chose to allow His death. Unlike the Chinese father in Dooley's story, our Heavenly Father could have sent a legion of angels to rescue His Son, bringing judgment upon those who sought His life; yet He willingly stood by and watched the abomination unfold.

Why? Because He loves you so much that He freely offered His Son . . . for your sins and mine.

Prayer Point: Take a moment to think upon the horror of Calvary. In humble contemplation, praise the Father for His amazing love that caused Him to choose to sacrifice His son on your behalf.

Extra Refreshment: Read John 17—Christ's incredible prayer to His Father before His own death on the cross, capturing only a fraction of the Father's love for you and me.
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Post  Admin on Fri 20 Apr 2012, 8:55 pm

Confession, Cleansing, and Conversion

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

In 1971, a revival came to many churches in Western Canada. It made news in the secular press because of the number of people who journeyed to stores and other businesses to make restitution for their past sins.

Whether it was paying delinquent income tax, admitting dishonesty in business dealings, or going to the border to confess they had lied about goods brought over from the States—hundreds of people were willing to do anything to be fully right with God and man. One author writing about the incident recorded:



When these Christians displayed such a desire for righteousness, the world both admired and hated them. On the one hand, people were thankful that Christians had the courage to make past wrongs right; but on the other hand they deeply resented such integrity. For in the process of seeing righteousness at work in the lives of others, they saw their own hidden sins exposed.



The Bible describes two very different kinds of Christians: those who claim the name of Christ but refuse to live for Him, and those who not only claim the name of Christ, but live for Him as well. The hypocritical Christian is loved by the world because he gives people all the more reason to castigate the church and call it "that bunch of hypocrites"; it actually makes them feel good about themselves. The distinctive Christian, however, is hated by the world because he exposes the world for what it really is—fallen and sinful.

True Christianity is like the glass of a mirror. Not only do we reflect the glory of God to the world, but we show the world its marred image, exposing all its defects and its attempts to hide the blemishes.

This is why we must confess our sins constantly to God and to others, not only to renew our fellowship with Christ, but to show the world where our true identity lies. Indeed this is one of the greatest witnessing tools that you and I have—to live repentant lives before men.

Will you sin? Yes. Will you struggle at times with sin? Absolutely. Will the world notice it? You bet they will. But then, to their shock, they hear from you an apology . . . confessions

. . . attempts to make restitution. In so doing, you declare to the world the message of the gospel: People sin . . . but there is a Savior!

Prayer Point: Ask God to reveal any sin in your life that you are hiding, or may not even recognize. After confessing it to Him, pray for the strength needed to change. Is there anyone who needs an apology from you? Is there restitution that you should make? Ask the Lord for courage to make amends and set the record straight.

Extra Refreshment: Read Psalm 32—a prayer of repentance and restoration.
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Post  Admin on Thu 19 Apr 2012, 3:34 pm

Bearing It All

2 Corinthians 5:21

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Do you understand the concept of Christ's bearing the sin of the world? I can only imagine a fraction of what it means. Mark Mosley captured a small drop from the ocean of truth encompassing this profound act of infinite sacrifice. This is his humbling reminder of just how far Christ went on our behalf:

Jesus bore the sins of the Assyrians, who gloated over the captives they had skinned alive; the sins of SS troops, machine-gunning women and children running from burning synagogues with clothing ablaze.

Jesus bore the sins of child molesters, making sure their victims never have to testify; the sins of the Pharaohs, sacrificing thousands of laborers' lives, to build themselves deifying tombs.

Jesus was tossed about in these endless storms: enraged fathers beating toddlers to death; pimps seducing runaways into lives of drugs and prostitution; church ladies cannibalizing other church ladies over coffee; Canaanites throwing their children to Moloch, their sun god; impoverished parents in China selling their children into slavery.

Jesus bore the sins of embezzlers; gangsters; bullies; rapists; liars; the indifferent; the sadistic; the self-righteous Bible-believing leaders praying long and loud, while their wives sat in back pews praying that heavy make-up covered their bruises.

It is a scene of unbearable horror and unspeakable madness. He is the accused for us all, bearing the weight of abused children; families destroyed by adultery or apathy; civilizations decaying; wars ravaging victims. Yet, through it all, deep in the terror of hell, He keeps His eyes wide open.

He is not just a bystander caught in the accident; He has come deliberately. He will accept it all, absorbing the full force of this storm of wrath in His body, His mind, His heart, and His soul, until there is nothing left to feel.

Finally, the tumbling will slow a bit; the storm will slacken, and Jesus will lift Himself on His nailed feet to snatch a gasp of air and force His swollen tongue to shout, "It is finished—I've come; I've seen; I've paid for it all."

I would add to that last line, "And I have borne all this for them." The mercy that God expended upon mankind at the cross was immeasurable. Christ died for the worst of sinners, and loved the most hateful of enemies. What a powerful reminder of God's enormous love! Christ bore our sin and our punishment so we could bear His righteousness and His reward.

This is the greatest reversal in all of human history: Sinners become sons of God, because the Son of God became sin . . . for us!

Prayer Point: Although you can never begin to grasp the extent of Christ's sacrifice on your behalf, thank Him for the part that you can understand: that He took your place on the cross so that you could have a place with Him in heaven.

Extra Refreshment: Read John 3—another testament of God's love toward fallen humanity.
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Post  Admin on Wed 18 Apr 2012, 8:19 pm

Finding the Right Fit
1 Corinthians 1:18-19

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."

The philosophy of Western culture has changed in the last 50 years from that of pluralism to syncretism. The term syncretism is simply the blending together of ideas. When it comes to religion, you can choose a little bit from Christianity, New Ageism, Hinduism, Protestant doctrine, Catholic tradition, and mix them all together to form your own religion. Choosing a religion is like buying a pair of shoes . . . pick the god that fits best.

In Erwin Lutzer's book entitled Christ Among Other Gods, he describes his exposure to the Parliament of World Religions, which met in Chicago in 1993. Six thousand delegates attended this convention under the major theme "Unite or Perish." It was a call for all the religions of the world to find common ground in their beliefs about God. The Parliament of World Religions actually held seminars to help people get over the thought that one religion could be superior to another—an idea that they considered "the crucial obstacle" to religious unity!

At this conference Dr. Lutzer made an interesting observation. In many of the seven hundred workshops offered, Christ was favorably admired, quoted, and compared to other religious teachers; however, He was merely one enlightened man among many. Though He was respected, He was not worshiped as the one true God.

This is the so-called wisdom of the world: That there is no right way to God, and no way to properly decipher truth from falsehood. Hence, we are told to find common ground and then agree to disagree. Even though no one is exclusively right, everyone has something valuable to bring to the table.

Paul's young apprentice, Timothy, was struggling with similar problems in his own generation as men were turning their minds from Scripture to other means of finding God. Consequently, Paul's challenge to Timothy during that era has much bearing on our dilemma today. Paul's advice is in 2 Timothy 3:13-15:



But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

In other words, Paul is saying, "Hey, Christian! Of course the world is going to hate you! They're going to think you're foolish, and closed-minded, and intolerant; that's what they thought of Christ as well! But you have been given the truth in Scripture and are being delivered by it. You have no reason to become deceived."

While everyone tries to find a religion that fits, we have a relationship that has fashioned us . . . for everlasting life.

Prayer Point: Take a few moments to examine your heart before God: have you been feeding on God's wisdom, or the world's. Have your co-workers or fellow students influenced you to be more open-minded about "other gods"? Pray that Christ will give you the power and strength to share His gospel with others, even at the risk of being considered foolish.

Extra Refreshment: Read all of 2 Timothy 3, as Paul further encourages Timothy to remain faithful to God, even in a world of deceitful men.
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Post  Admin on Tue 17 Apr 2012, 1:29 pm

Almost Home
Philippians 3:20-21

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

If Jesus Christ really is immortal, infinite God and His words are completely trustworthy, then our future is eternally secure in Him. It's guaranteed forever.

Whether you have little faith or great faith; are a mature disciple or an immature one; have been a Christian for years or have just recently received Christ—you are on your way to heaven. Your hope is secure in Christ.

Is it any wonder that around 125 AD, the Greek scholar Aristides marveled at the enormous hope Christians had, even in death? He wrote: "When a member of the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God. They escort the body to burial with songs and thanksgiving, as if he were setting out from one place to another place nearby."

Do you have this hope in God that these early Christians had? Their faith was real, active—touching every part of their lives, even the most sorrowful moments—even at death.

Don Wyrtzen so beautifully wrote this truth into his song, "Finally Home":

Just think of stepping on shore, and finding it heaven;
Of holding a hand and finding it God's;
Of breathing new air and finding it celestial;
Of waking up in glory . . . and finding it home!

This is wonderful poetry but an even greater reminder—heaven is not some figment of your imagination; it is real, and far beyond your wildest dreams!

Do you have unanswered questions, fears, or doubts about eternity? If so, be encouraged. The truth is, we all do. But there will come a day when all our questions will have answers, and all our fears will be put to rest— not to mention that all our tears will be wiped away!

It will not happen here. It will happen there . . . when we are finally home. But until we reach that glorious land, remember that Jesus Christ is completely trustworthy and faithful, regardless of what you see happening around you. He will stay true to His Word.

You can bet your life . . . and your death on it!

Prayer Point: Thank the Lord for holding you firmly in His hands. Thank Him that your security isn't based on your strength or commitment, but on Him. Praise Him that He will never violate that commitment nor fail in His strong promise to take you home!

Extra Refreshment: Read the description of your future home in Revelation 21 & 22.

Victory in Jesus

1 John 5:4

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Sometimes it takes more faith to believe that God is in control of your own personal life than it takes to believe that He is in control of the whole world.

When my children were young, my wife, Marsha, read to them before bedtime. One book that I vividly recall her reading was the biography of Adoniram Judson, pioneer missionary to Burma.

On one occasion Judson was falsely accused of being an English spy. As a result, he endured a cruel imprisonment by the Burmese government. His wife, Anne, faithfully and courageously attempted to have him released through every possible channel, but to no avail.

His prison cell was so tiny that he was forced to stand, while the cells of others allowed room to lie down to sleep. The sun was unbearably hot at times; prisoners were never allowed to bathe; pain filled every fiber of his body as he was tortured day after day. His only respite from the agony of his incarceration was a visit from Anne. In those brief but wonderful moments, she would encourage him with the same message, "Hang on, Adoniram, God will give us the victory."

Week after tortuous week, Anne came and encouraged him, delivering the same words, "God will give us the victory." After many months, Adoniram was unexpectedly released and assigned the task of interpreter for affairs between the English and Burmese. Because of this new duty, he was still separated from Anne. Sadly, during his time of absence, Anne became deathly ill.

Months passed and Judson was finally allowed to return home a free man. Body broken and weak, he approached the place he once called home. As he slowly limped toward the door, he saw a child sitting in the dirt. The little girl was so covered with filth that he failed, at first, to recognize her as his own daughter. He went into their simple hut, squinting in the darkness, and gasped as he saw the emaciated form of his wife lying on a cot, weakened by disease. Tears coursing down his cheeks, he hugged his daughter close to him and knelt beside the cot. Anne looked up at him and with her last breath, smiled and whispered the words, "Adoniram, God will give us the victory."

If you were to be able somehow to interview the Judsons today, they would no longer be saying, "God will give us the victory"; instead, they would joyfully deliver the news, "God has given us the victory!"

Be encouraged, my friend. No matter what you're going through right now, your life is in God's hands. Hold fast to your faith as Anne and Adoniram did, even in the face of squalor and disease, deprivation and disappointment, heartache and loss.

Your reward in the end is everlasting, and the celebration of final victory is . . . just ahead!

Prayer Point: Pray right now that God will give you the kind of faith that Adoniram and Anne Judson exercised, even in the face of persecution. Then, thank God for giving you victory over sin, death, and the world, through Christ's perfect life, His sacrificial death, and His resurrection.

Extra Refreshment: Read John 16.
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Post  Admin on Fri 13 Apr 2012, 12:33 pm

Taking a Bath . . . Daily!
Psalm 85:6

Will You not Yourself revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?

The believer who wants true revival throws away his list of favorite excuses for sin. Confession replaces excuses. Commitment replaces compromise.

You might be tempted to say, "But I've confessed, tried, and failed so many times—revival just doesn't last." A skeptic once made a comment to evangelist Billy Sunday in the early 1900s. He tried to make the point that since personal revival wasn't a permanent end-all to temptation, sin, and failure, times of revival weren't really that important. "Revival just doesn't last," the man complained to Billy Sunday one evening. Sunday just smiled and replied, "Well, a bath doesn't last either, but it's good to take one occasionally!"

Has it ever occurred to you that a great word to describe Christianity is exposure? You become a Christian after being exposed as a sinner. You grow as a Christian after being exposed to your need of change in some area. You confess daily sin as it is exposed in your life. You flourish in your walk as a result of being exposed to the Scriptures.

No wonder every Christian is in need of daily revival. We so easily sugarcoat our selfishness and rationalize our rebellion. We manage our sin, but fail to confess it. We conveniently forget how heartbreaking sin is to our heavenly Father.

Revival, then, could be defined as a movement of God's Spirit in the believer's life, which produces both private confession of sin and public obedience to the Scriptures. The priority for our outward behavior is to please God—a priority that will undeniably impact personal relationships, financial decisions, and lifestyle choices. Therefore, revival is not a once-and-done event . . . it is daily. And it should interrupt your life over and over again.

By the way, you can't plan for revival but you can pray for it. You can't orchestrate it or announce that it is going to happen in a series of meetings the third week of May. All you can do is beg God to give you a heart that confesses and a life that obeys.

So, take His Word daily; ask God to blow on the smoldering embers of your heart, making it burst into flaming affection for Him all over again. While you're at it, remember that revival is not so much about emotion as it is about action.

Don't wait for a week of revival meetings to pray, "Revive me, O Lord" . . . do it today!

Prayer Point: Pray the prayer of David, asking the Lord to create in you a longing for Him, for His Word, for His will, and for His work.

Extra Refreshment: Read Psalm 85 and Hebrews 4.

The Search for the Sacred
John 1:14

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Newsweek ran an article entitled, "The Search for the Sacred." It was a typical article, speaking of the search and longing for spiritual truth, without ever mentioning Jesus Christ.

What I found most fascinating—and heartbreaking at the same time—is the way people responded to the article in the "Letters to the Editor" section of the following issue:

My parents had open minds and allowed me to explore different teachings and beliefs, rather than stifling me or limiting me to any one path. I'm grateful for that. As a youth, I studied Greek mythology and I read Frazier's The Golden Bow. I then read the Bible from cover to cover after a near-death experience. I have spent my life examining various philosophic and religious beliefs through independent study. And today, I have a deep and significant relationship with the god of my understanding.

This writer has obviously rejected the God of creation, having replaced Him with a god of her own creation.

Another wrote:

Although I didn't consciously seek the sacred in my travels during the last five years, I found it—at dawn in the Hong Kong botanical gardens, observing the Chinese practice Tai Chi. I found it on a drizzly morning in a London church listening to a rehearsal of a Mozart selection. I found it at midday in an outdoor Hindu temple in Bali, and at night in the Karnak temple in Luxor, Egypt. I found it in all of those places.

I wouldn't want this person's blended religion, but I'd sure like to have his frequent flyer miles!

Yet another respondent made this complaint:

Tell me, when are we atheists going to get equal time? We don't lack inner strength, peace, identity, self-esteem, or a purpose for living. What we do lack is the need to lean on a crutch of a fantasy figure who will make everything alright [sic], who will take care of us and forgive us, no matter what we do. We lack the desire to have our lives and loves defined by a two-thousand-year-old collection of documents. Atheists don't have all the answers, but at least we know that the place to start looking is within oneself, not into the ozone.

Wow! We certainly live in a world searching for spirituality. And how do we know which religion is right? Plato, a renowned Greek philosopher, provided an answer somewhat accidentally when he wrote, "It may be that someday there will come forth from God a logos [Word], who will reveal all mysteries and make everything plain."

My friends, Plato's desire has been answered! John 1 says that the logos or Word from God came and revealed Himself to mankind. That same Word died on our behalf so we might be able to have a personal relationship with Him. Man's journey to search for God ends with . . . Jesus Christ.

Prayer Point: Ponder for a moment what an incredible privilege it is to know God and to be called His child. Then, thank Him for pursuing you, even to the point of death, and making it possible for you to know Him.

Extra Refreshment: Read John 1 and mark in your Bible the words that speak of God's revealing His truth to us through Christ (hint: came, dwelt, revealed).
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Post  Admin on Wed 11 Apr 2012, 6:59 pm

Pure Logic

John 14:6

Jesus said to him: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."

Men have used the laws of logic in mathematics, science, and history, but when it comes to the spiritual world, they throw these laws away. Instead, they suggest: What is right for you to believe is correct, and what is right for me to believe is equally correct.

I read about a man who was driving in the country. He passed a barn with painted targets on the side facing the road. Interestingly, in the center of each target was an arrow. The driver was amazed by this farmer's skill with the bow. He decided to drive up to the farmhouse and congratulate the farmer.

To his astonishment, the farmer laughed and said, "I didn't do that. It was done by a young guy in our town who shot a bunch of arrows into the side of my barn, and then painted bull's eyes around each arrow."

What a perfect illustration of the shift that has taken place in today's society. The once-held conviction that everyone had a right to his own opinion has been replaced with the belief that every opinion is equally right. Thus, not only is our society living in complete rebellion to Scripture, it is also living in opposition to the very laws of logic to which it holds. It simply invites you to shoot your arrow and then assures you that wherever it strikes, it will be a bull's eye!

But think about it for a minute . . . you have a pot of water sitting on top of your stove; it's boiling and the burner is red hot. You say to your friend, "I believe the water is hot," but he says, "I believe it's cold." So you and he agree that the truth is the water is hot for you, and cold for him. How absurd would that be? The water is either hot or cold. One of you believes the truth, the other believes a lie.

Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the brother of Satan and is one of many "sons of God." You, on the other hand, believe that Christ is God in the flesh and completely unrelated in essence or created matter to Satan. Although both of you could be wrong, both of you cannot be right.

The Western world now believes that you can shoot your arrow of faith in any direction and a benevolent supreme being will approve every shot. This is why you can tell someone that you believe Christ is a fine moral leader, and you will be viewed as a nice religious person. On the other hand, if you dare to say that you believe Jesus Christ is the only true and living Savior, you are labeled an intolerant zealot.

The truth remains: there is a real target—God— and Romans 3:23 informs us that our arrows are continually falling short of Him. In fact, we're consistently shooting broken arrows that don't fly straight . . . they never even hit the target. But we can get in range of it when we open our hearts to the truth in His Word . . . and maybe someday we'll hit the bull's eye!

Only by Christ's redeeming grace are we able to discover that He is the right Way, the correct Truth . . . and the only Life.

Prayer Point: Thank the Lord for opening your eyes to see the truth, and for the person or means through which it was revealed to you: the Holy Spirit, a Sunday school teacher, parent, sibling, friend, pastor, etc. Thank Him for that time when He, in His mercy, brought you into the way of salvation.

Extra Refreshment: Read Romans 3—a portrait of man's senselessness, and of God's mercy toward him.
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Post  Admin on Tue 10 Apr 2012, 11:26 am

God's Beloved

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The word beloved is a special word that is reserved by God only for His children. While God has a general love for the whole world and a sustaining love even for His enemies—He sends sunshine to warm them and rain to water their crops, just as He does for believers—this term of endearment is unique for those who are His precious possessions.

You may remember the first time this word was used in the New Testament. Christ was to be baptized by John the Baptist, when a voice echoed from heaven, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased" (Matthew 3:17). It was the voice of God the Father, who loved Christ dearly; that same voice still echoes today, calling you beloved.

You may be thinking to yourself, "How can God call me that? Doesn't He know how unlovable I am?" The answer is simple. He calls you beloved, not because of some righteousness you have in yourself or because you are worthy of it, but because Christ has deposited His righteousness into your personal account.

When the Father looks down upon you, He no longer sees your sin, but instead, He sees the blood of His Son that was shed on your behalf. That is why Paul can say in Romans 8:1, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." You are eternally free in God's eyes, and that is why He loves you as His beloved.

Think of it in terms of marriage. A wedding ceremony does nothing to change the character or personality of the bride or groom. In fact, several weeks after the wedding, both of them are going to realize just how much they need to change. Although their character and personality may not have changed, their status did. They first walked down the aisle as two independent people who could have belonged to anybody, but when they walked back up the aisle, they belonged to each other. Now they were one.

Just the same, when you became a believer you immediately became the bride of Christ. Although the Lord will continually change your character over the course of your life, your status has been changed forever. You are God's special possession and He deeply, unfailingly, eternally loves you.

You forever will be . . . His beloved.

Prayer Point: Thank God for sending His beloved Son to die for your sins, that you could become a beloved child of God.

Extra Refreshment: Read Revelation 19:1-10, describing the marriage supper of the Lamb. It is the day when you, as God's bride, will finally be joined to Him.
Sorrow Is Fleeting . . . Salvation Is Forever

Romans 8:18

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Philip Yancey tells the story of the Woodson family in his book, Disappointment with God. The Woodsons had two children, Peggie and Joey, both born with cystic fibrosis. They were thin, no matter how much food they ate, and coughed constantly, breathing laboriously. Twice a day Meg pounded their chests to clear out mucus. The children spent several weeks each year in the local hospital, and both grew up knowing they would probably die before reaching adulthood.

Joey, a bright, happy, all-American boy, died at the age of twelve. Peggie defied the odds by surviving several health crises in high school and even lived to experience her college years. To the Woodsons delight, she seemed to grow stronger as the days passed—days filled with desperate prayers from Meg and her husband, but there was no miracle. Peggie died at the age of twenty-three.

One night, sometime later, Philip Yancey came across a letter Meg had written to him after Peggie's death. Part of that letter read:



I find myself wanting to tell you something of how Peggie died. I don't know why except that I need to talk about it and I have run out of people to tell. I was sitting beside her bed a few days before her death, when suddenly she began screaming. I will never forget those shrill, piercing screams. Nurses raced into the room from every direction and surrounded her with their love. Eventually, their words and touches soothed her, though as time went on and the screaming continued, they could not comfort her. Nurses can only stay on that floor so long—God, who could have helped, looked down on a young woman devoted to Him, quite willing to die for Him to give Him glory, and it seemed He decided to sit on His hands and let her death top the horror charts.

One of the greatest frustrations we face during a trial is knowing that: God could rescue us; He could restore us; He could heal us; He could give us that much-longed-for baby; He could provide that much-needed job—all with one stroke of His omnipotent finger. Yet sometimes, He chooses not to. Why?

Is He, like Mrs. Woodson wrote, "sitting on His divine hands?" Absolutely not!

Paul reminds the suffering believers in Philippians 3:20-21, that "our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." This is a powerful thought for a Christian who is suffering through any trial, great or small. It is as if Paul is shouting, "Remember believer! This is not the end, but merely the rugged path which leads us to the beginning!"

What a powerful hope we have in Christ. He may not promise freedom from our sorrows here on earth, but His hands are at work. He has promised us that hardships and sorrow are temporary . . . the prize that awaits us is eternal.

Prayer Point: Meditate on the fact that God is in complete control of your life, even though you may not understand what He's doing. Then pray for the willingness to accept whatever trial He brings you, whether or not you ever receive an explanation for it.

Extra Refreshment: Read 1 Peter 4.
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Post  Admin on Fri 06 Apr 2012, 8:20 pm

The Fountain of Life

Matthew 26:27-28

And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins."

Imagine digging in your back yard while planting some flowers. You overturn a slab of sod and a thin spurt of water shoots upward. You watch as the water trickles onto a patch of brown, dry grass and to your amazement, the grass slowly turns green. The water then flows toward your tomato plants and immediately the wilted leaves stand upright and the tomatoes blush red. You run into your house, grab a cup, and run back out to this tiny fountain. You fill your cup, then drink it in one long gulp. Suddenly, you feel invigorated.

You run back into the house, look in the mirror, and notice that some of your wrinkles are ironed out, leaving a youthful complexion that you haven't seen in years. Your jaw drops in amazement as the realization hits you: you have discovered the Fountain of Youth!

What would you do with this fantastic discovery? Would you share it with your spouse, your children, your older sister or brother? Would you tell your mother who is dying of cancer? Would you invite all of the families in your neighborhood to a barbecue and give them all they wanted to drink? Of course you would! Who would be selfish enough to keep so great a discovery to himself?

Yet we, who have been partakers of the greatest discovery the world has ever known—namely, eternal life through faith in Christ—keep it to ourselves most of the time.

Has it ever occurred to you that the more you value Christ's sacrifice, the higher your priority will be in sharing Him with others? If you do not consider His mercy to be the most significant thing that has ever been given to you, then you will not consider it worth sharing. This would be the most terrible of all tragedies. For if there is one discovery that should never be hidden nor taken for granted, it is the fountain of living water which Christ has offered through His gift of salvation; a fountain wide enough for all to drink and deep enough for all to bathe.

Romans 10:14 says, "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?"

How well are you doing at sharing your faith with others? Are you taking Christ's sacrifice for granted, covering it over with dirt and hoping no one will ever know that you are a Christian? Let me urge you to fervently tell the world about this miraculous, incredible discovery . . . the Fountain of Living Water.

Prayer Point: Take time to thank God for His sacrifice on the cross and for sending that person who first shared the news with you. Pray that you will cease from taking Christ's sacrifice for granted, but rather, that God will bring you to people who need the living water.

Extra Refreshment: Read John 4:1-45.
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Post  Admin on Thu 05 Apr 2012, 9:37 pm

Does Anybody Know Who I Am?

Galatians 3:26-27

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Following World War II, there were more than two hundred French soldiers with amnesia who returned to Paris. They had been prisoners in Japanese camps and suffered through horrible ordeals of privation and torture. These men had been so psychologically devastated by their imprisonment that they lost the conscious awareness of who they were and where they had lived before the war.

Most of the soldiers' identities were quickly established from Red Cross records or with the help of fellow prisoners, but after all known efforts were exhausted, there were still thirty-two men whose existence seemed impossible to trace. Not only were there no records of them, but none of the other soldiers knew anything about them. The doctors who were treating these thirty-two men believed that the chance for recovery would be impossible unless they were reconnected with family and friends.

Someone proposed publishing photographs of the men on the front page of newspapers throughout the country. A date, time, and place of meeting would also be given, hoping anyone having information about them would come. The plan was implemented and French newspapers soon published the pictures, adding that the Paris Opera House would open its doors for the potential identification and connection with loved ones.

On the assigned day, a huge crowd gathered inside the opera house to view the veterans. Every seat was taken and people spilled out onto the streets. Finally, in a dramatic entrance, the first of the amnesia victims walked onto the stage of the darkened room and slowly turned around under the glare of the spotlight, giving everyone a full view. Then, according to instruction, he and the other thirty-one soldiers who followed asked the same pleading question: "Does anybody out there know who I am . . . does anybody know who I am?"

Thankfully, many of the men were soon reunited with their families.

Isn't this the same question that all of humanity is asking? Sadly, many people have a terrible case of self-imposed amnesia. But this is to be expected from a generation that has stepped back from God's Word. Sadder yet is the church—professed Christians seem to have forgotten that they belong to Christ.

So who are we? We are called sons of God (Galatians 3); new creations (2 Corinthians 5); children of God and heirs of God (Romans 8). The New Testament is brimming with descriptions of the Christian's identity in Christ.

Understanding who we are in Christ will cause us to recognize why we are different from the world. The truth is, if we don't understand what makes us different from the world, we will never be able to make a difference in the world.

We, of all people, need never ask, "Does anybody know who I am?" We are new creatures . . . children of God.

Prayer Point: Thank God for the incredible, life-changing work He has accomplished in your life: through His death on the cross, paying for your sin; through His resurrection, securing for you eternal life; through His mercy, flowing for you every day. Don't live in a state of spiritual amnesia any longer; instead, meditate on God's promises on your behalf, and thank Him for who He is molding you to be.

Extra Refreshment: Read 2 Corinthians 5.
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Post  Admin on Wed 04 Apr 2012, 5:23 pm

Salvation Is for Sinners
Mark 2:17

And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Jacob Koshy grew up in Singapore with the ambition to become as rich and successful as he possibly could—the desire that ultimately led him into the world of drugs and gambling. In time, he reached his goal, becoming the leader of an international drug-smuggling network. But in 1980, that dream came to an abrupt end when he was caught, arrested, and detained in a government drug rehabilitation prison in Singapore.

Locked in a tiny cell, Jacob became frustrated and embittered. He wanted to smoke, but cigarettes were not allowed in the prison. Friends smuggled in tobacco and he rolled it in the pages of a Gideon Bible that had been left in his cell. One day he fell asleep while smoking and awoke to find that his homemade cigarette had burned out; all that remained was some charred paper. He unrolled the paper and read the words, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"

Curiosity struck him and he asked the guard for a new Bible. Upon receiving it, he read the story of Saul's miraculous conversion. Immense joy overtook Jacob as he realized the truth of what he had read—if God could save an enemy like Saul, He could save him as well! Without wasting a second, he fell to his knees and prayed for God to forgive his sins. Tears flowed as the Lord heard his prayer and saved his soul.

Jacob began sharing his story with other prisoners; some of them accepted Christ as well. When he was released from prison, he became involved in a Bible-believing church, met and married a Christian woman, and together they began serving as missionaries in the Far East, sharing the gospel with sinners in desperate need of the Savior.

The value of the human soul is so precious that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit devised a plan before the world was created: The Son of God would die to redeem fallen man. No matter what has happened to you, my friend, no matter what you have made of yourself, you can become whole again in the eyes of God.

It was Christ Himself who said, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" . . . aren't we all? If you are lost in your sin today, there is good news: Christ died on the cross for people . . . people just like you.

Prayer Point: If you have never placed your faith in Jesus Christ for your salvation from sin, confess now and accept His free gift to you. If you are a believer, thank the Lord that, although you are a sinner who continually "falls short of His glory" everyday of your life, He never ceases to love you.

Extra Refreshment: Read Acts 9—the story that changed Jacob Koshy's life.

Millions of Muslims throughout Iraq, Israel, and Jordan now hear the Gospel in their own language on Wisdom for the Heart! Click on The Forward Movement to read more about this exciting project.
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