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Post  Admin on Tue 28 Feb 2012, 9:36 pm

Seriously!

Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Sir Isaac Newton, the English mathematician and physicist, is considered by many to be the greatest scientist who ever lived. He was accorded the honor of being the first scientist to be buried in Westminster Abbey.

The well-known story relates that, on seeing an apple fall in his orchard sometime during 1665 or 1666, Newton conceived that the same force governed the motion of the moon and the apple. He calculated the force needed to hold the moon in its orbit, as compared with the force pulling an object to the ground. And that's how he discovered gravity!

Seriously, what you may not know is that it seems to have been due to the influence and tact of Sir Edmund Halley at his visit in November, 1684, that Newton undertook to attack the whole problem of gravitation, and practically pledged himself to publish his results: these are contained in the Principia. The printing of the work was slow, and it was not published until the summer of 1687. The cost was borne by Halley, who also corrected the proofs, and even put his own research aside to press the printing forward. Historians call it one of the most selfless examples in the annals of science.

Newton began almost immediately to reap the rewards of prominence, while Halley received little credit for his work. But he is known for discovering the comet named after him, which appears briefly every 76 years. However, one profound biographical fact regarding Halley stated that he didn't care who received credit for discoveries—his single mission in life was to advance the cause of science . . . and he did.

It seems there is an ever-growing problem in the church today, stemming from confusion surrounding our mission in this world. Why exactly are we here? The members of the early church seemed to have had this answer figured out. Gibbon noted in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that the most sacred duty of the new convert was to diffuse among his friends and relatives the blessing which he had received. Harnack, another church historian, wrote that the great mission of Christianity was accomplished by means of casual missionaries.

Why has it become so difficult in our own society to determine why we are here? George Barna, in his book What Americans Believe, revealed the results of a survey of people claiming to be born-again believers. When asked, "Do you have a responsibility to explain your religious beliefs to others who may believe differently?" less than 45% answered affirmatively.

This is a far cry from the passion and fervency displayed by our brothers and sisters who have gone before us, living and dying to advance the gospel. They took the great commission seriously . . . and it didn't matter who got the credit.

Have you committed your life to advancing the cause of Christ? Think about it . . . seriously!

Prayer Point: If you do not come in close contact with unbelievers on a regular basis, then pray that God will bring someone into your life with whom you can share the Gospel. If you already have relationships with those who are unsaved, pray that God will not only open doors of opportunity for you to witness, but that He will give you boldness when that time comes.

Extra Refreshment: Read the book of Jonah and witness God's incredible mercy on display, as well as His heart for the lost.
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Post  Admin on Mon 27 Feb 2012, 9:55 pm

But You, O Lord . . .

Psalm 102:11-12
My days are like a lengthened shadow, and I wither away like grass. But You, O Lord, abide forever, and Your name to all generations.

What you think these men had in common at the height of their careers during the 1930s, '40s, and '50s?

· Owen D. Young
· James F. Byrnes
· Pierre Laval
· Harlow Curtis
· Hugh Johnson

More than likely you do not recognize the names of any of these men. You certainly could not tell what they did or how they rose to fame. Yet each of these men was at some point in his life Time Magazine's "Man of the Year." They were judged as the person having had the greatest impact on the rest of humanity during a given year.

It is our nature to think that we are really something special. This is why the business of celebrity is so successful. We have a desire to be great at something, and we are even willing to be somewhat satisfied with news of the lives of celebrities—reveling in their fame by proxy.

Think about the yearly audience of the Super Bowl; the Final Four; the NBA playoffs; the Masters; the Stanley Cup; Wimbledon; the Bowl games; the World Series. Factor in the weekly audiences of American Idol; The Celebrity Apprentice; Survivor, and many more "reality" shows. The American public has high hopes and watches intently to see who the winners will be.

Then you have the Academy Awards—for days before and after, water cooler talk centers on who will win/won which Oscar. Why? It's not as if the contenders are really the characters they portray—they're just good pretenders. Maybe that's why we find them so fascinating—we want to be good pretenders, too.

The writers of Psalms had no illusions about who we really are. There is line upon line in the book of Psalms regarding the nature of man.

Here in Psalm 102, the days of our lives are compared to withering grass, but not so the Lord's. He is great and His name lives for all generations—He is the same . . . His years will have no end.

Why do we insist on plying mankind with glory and adulation when we have the God of the universe before us? Our attention and adoration should not be focused on man's folly, but rather upon the greatness of God. J. I. Packer addresses this very point:

The Christian's instincts of trust and worship are stimulated very powerfully by knowledge of the greatness of God. But this is knowledge which Christians today largely lack; that is one reason why our faith is so feeble and our worship so flabby. We are modern men, and modern men—though they cherish great thoughts of man—have, as a rule, small thought of God.

Let's get real about ourselves and mankind as a whole: admit that underneath the façade the world sees, we all are sinners by nature, deserving none of mankind's praise.

Should we really care about the comings and goings [and every detail in between] of celebrities; stars; idols? No!

Let's focus our aim where it should be, and say with the Psalmist, "But You, O Lord . . . "

Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to help you meditate on His greatness. As you read the Scriptures, take time to praise God for Himself—the One whose years will have no end.

Extra Refreshment: Read Psalm 103 and make the first and last verses come alive to you today.

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 Sun 26 Feb 2012, 9:54 pm

Faith is . . .

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

My favorite professor often quoted from Lewis Carroll's book entitled Through the Looking-Glass. He especially used the conversation between Alice and the White Queen:

"How old are you?" asked the queen.

"I'm seven and a half, exactly."

"You needn't say ‘exactly'; I can believe it without that. Now I'll give you something to believe: I'm just one hundred and one, five months, and a day."

Alice protested, "I can't believe that!"

"Can't you? Try again—draw a long breath, and shut your eyes," the queen urged.

Alice roared, "There's no use trying; one can't believe impossible things!"

To this the queen responded, "I daresay you haven't had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it half-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

The unregenerate man on Main Street, USA believes this is the meaning of faith: take a long breath, close your eyes, and begin to believe things that are impossible to believe.

What do you think? Maybe you have been afraid that this is its meaning. It is not!

We expect this kind of thinking outside the church, yet we are shocked when we find it inside the church. Faith is not an elusive, passive thing—it is alive and active.

The fruit of faith is substance and evidence—that which shows in our lives and proves what we believe.

So what is faith? Faith is the act of:

· considering Jesus Christ worthy of trust as to His character and motives;

· placing confidence in His ability to do just what He says He will do;

· entrusting the salvation of our soul into the hands of Christ;

· committing the work of saving our soul to the care of the Lord.

This means taking ourselves out of our own keeping and entrusting ourselves into the keeping of Jesus Christ.

This means that we listen to what God is saying in His Word. Paul exhorted Timothy, his son in the faith, to "accurately handle the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15) because it is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

A friend once asked, "When was the last time God spoke to you and what did He say?" Then he held up his Bible and said, "This is where He is speaking. Are you hearing Him? Are you obeying Him?"

How about you—are you walking by faith? "Now, faith is . . ."

Prayer point: Take time in your prayer life and Bible reading, treating it like a conversation. Before reading the Scriptures, ask God to help you hear Him. After reading the text, ask God to help you obey Him. Pray as the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5).

Extra Refreshment: Read in Hebrews 11 the instances of people hearing God and doing what He says.

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 Sat 25 Feb 2012, 9:20 pm

Persecution—It's a Promise!

2 Timothy 3:12

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

We are presenting a distorted message to the world when we try to make Christianity synonymous with health, wealth, and prosperity, while hiding the crux of Christianity—the cross. Discipleship is impossible without the cross, and following Christ is all about bearing it.

Pat Robertson is a man who teaches the distorted health-and-wealth message, deceiving many. In his book, The Secret Kingdom, he urges Christians to employ what he calls "the laws of prosperity to which God Himself is bound," and writes: "It's a bit like tuning in to a radio or television station: you get on the right frequency and you pick up the program."

But what about those believers who are never healed of their diseases, nor get the financial miracle they are hoping for? According to Robertson, they "have either failed to grasp the points we have been making about the operation of the kingdom, or they are not living according to the principles we have been exploring."

Michael Horton, a reformed theologian, wrote a scathing rebuke of Robertson's "prosperity theology" in his book entitled Made in America. He wrote:

The gospel is now consumer-centered, rather than God-centered. It is as if God must be justified before the sinner; now it is the unbeliever who has to be satisfied with God and His terms . . . and so we package our gospel in attractive terms and with attractive promises . . .

Oh, how far our generation has fallen from the "true theology" modeled by our forefathers of the faith. Hebrews 11:36-38 says:

And others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawn in two, tempted, put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated . . . wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

Evidently they hadn't tuned in to the laws of prosperity nor found the right frequency! The twisted prosperity theology of Robertson, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and a multitude of others, is truly a theology that has been "made in America"—consumer-oriented, consumer-driven. Instead of Sovereign God, we have sovereign man. If we discover the "key" to success, God will hand over the goods. Embedded in this false teaching is the tragic heresy that if mankind isn't happy, then God isn't a just God.

Are you following Christ out of consumer-driven motives? Are you expecting Him to bless you with more material things as a reward for wearing a cross on your necklace or having a fish sticker on your bumper? If you believe the text for today, you know that God has promised the opposite of health and wealth in this life—He's promised persecution to those who live godly in Christ Jesus.

The god of many televangelists is not the God of the Gospel. Don't tune in to the wrong channel . . . stay on His frequency!

Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to give you a willingness to accept whatever state you're in—whether poverty or prosperity. If you are prospering, pray that you will not trust Christ less; if you are struggling to make ends meet, pray that you will trust Christ more.

Extra Refreshment: Read Romans 8, where Paul describes the beauty of the "true" gospel, and reminds suffering believers where their hope is found.
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Post  Admin on Fri 24 Feb 2012, 8:54 pm

God Uses Broken Things

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

He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep."

He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him

"Tend My sheep."

Kathy Ormsby was a success story: a dean's list student at North Carolina State University; a pre‑med major; an All‑American distance runner.

At the University of Pennsylvania Penn Relays in April, 1986 she set an American collegiate record for 10,000 meters. She was "on a roll," and qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships in 3000, 5000, and 10,000 meters. She was a celebrity, and everything seemed so right for this twenty-one-year-old junior in college.

But something was dangerously wrong—she had become obsessed with winning.

In the first week of June, 1986 she began the 10,000 meter run at the NCAA track championships in Indianapolis. At 6500 meters, she abruptly quit. Totally burned out, her life's purpose suddenly became clear: life was nothing more to her than just winning one more race.

She turned and jogged out of the stadium, ran to a bridge two blocks away, and jumped. She fell forty or fifty feet onto a flood plain.

Today this woman is paralyzed from the chest down. Kathy Ormsby will never run again. The Seattle Times article of June 11, 1986, asked the question, "How many other athletes, obsessed with winning, are heading for a fall?"

In today's text, Jesus Christ is restoring Peter from his denial and betrayal of Him. In loving mercy our Lord takes those who belong to Him—broken and despondent—and makes them whole and useful for His purposes.

This is the purpose of our lives: to know Him and to glorify Him. Paul called us "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

Peter's difficulty stemmed from believing that he really was what his new name signified—a rock.

Jesus was in the process of teaching him an important concept: apart from His strength, Peter was a piece of crumbling sandstone. In other words, he was broken. That is painfully clear as Christ reverts to Peter's old name, asking, "Simon . . . do you love Me?"

Vance Havner wrote:

"God uses broken things. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is the broken soil that produces a crop; it is the broken clouds that give rain; it is the broken grain that gives bread, and it is the broken bread that gives strength. . . . God uses broken things."

Brokenness is defined as being totally subdued; humbled; weakened and infirmed; crushed by grief. It's not bad to find yourself in that condition; after all . . . God uses broken things.

Prayer Point: Lift your heart to God in surrender and submission, praying to be broken for His purposes. Tell Him you are willing to be changed!

Extra Refreshment: Read the letter to Philemon to get a perspective on a changed life.

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 Thu 23 Feb 2012, 6:58 pm

Then Comes the Good Part!

John 20:18
Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and that He had said these things to her.

A family was watching The Greatest Story Ever Told, a film on the life of Christ. One of the children in the family was deeply moved. As Jesus journeyed to Calvary, tears rolled down her cheeks. She sat absolutely silent until Jesus had been taken down from the cross and put into the tomb. Then she suddenly grinned and shouted excitedly, "Now comes the good part!"

Now comes the good part! Indeed it does! The resurrection of our Lord is the basis of our faith. Without it, we would be lost! Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

· The gospel would be meaningless.

[I]f you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved (Romans 10:9).

· Forgiveness of sins would be hopeless.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins (I Corinthians 15:17).

· Present life would be joyless.

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (I Corinthians 15:18-19).

· Godly living would be fruitless.

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father (John 14:12).

· Future life would be worthless.

Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:1-2).

Do you understand what is at stake? If there is no resurrection, there is no Gospel; if there is no Gospel, there is no forgiveness of sin; if there is no forgiveness of sin, there is no present joy; if there is no present joy, there is no future hope.

We may sit silently during part of this life; we may shed abundant tears of sadness as we watch and wait. But just remember that Christ is preparing a place for us in His Father's house . . . and then comes the good part!

Prayer Point: Talk to the Lord with gratitude for your salvation. Use the words death, burial, and resurrection when you pray. Keep in mind that you have eternal life because of His resurrection.

Extra Refreshment: Read all of 1 Corinthians 15 for Paul's awesome teaching on the Resurrection.

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 Wed 22 Feb 2012, 5:57 pm

Go to God

1 Samuel 1:10
She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.

If man had written the Bible without God's inspiration, he would have placed the people found there on pedestals and edited the script to remove all of their mistakes, sins, and failures. But God, the Master Artist, paints the heroes of the Bible with realistic brush strokes.

God records the whole story of these men and women—"warts" and all; He records their triumphs and also their tears. There are no perfect people parading across the pages of Scripture—there are real people with real problems.

There was an article in Newsweek written by a woman who had been the editor for a publisher producing self-help books. She wrote:

You might expect that people who work for authors and bosses of such a company would, in general, be terribly well-adjusted folks—on a first name basis with all their feelings; bursting with self-esteem; free of type-A stress, phobias, and anxieties. Think again. The bosses are even now beginning construction on a second story for our building because the office manager and the head of typesetting cannot stand working in the same room together. One of the executive staff routinely gets so upset during phone calls that he falls out of his chair onto the floor.

Two in-house authors of a book on stress are on the verge of suing each other. Our best-selling book on phobias and fears is lacking an author cover photo because—you guessed it—the author has a phobia about having his picture taken!

This is true not only in the secular world but in the sacred world as well. We are all made of clay! If anyone ever gives you the impression that he has it all together, you need to look again . . . or just quit looking.

Hannah was unable to have children; she also suffered the indignity of the mocking of her husband's other wife Peninnah, who was able to bear children. This added insult to injury! It would be unbiblical to say that Hannah, this great woman of faith, was not affected by this situation—she was miserable.

I Samuel 1:8-9 says, "Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?' Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the LORD."

And here comes Hannah's flood of tears!

You may have had times like this: tears bathing your cheeks and washing your soul. But the wonderful thing in verse 10 is that Hannah poured out her soul to the Lord. She went to Him, not away from Him, in the time of her deepest sorrow.

Your heartaches are God's concern; your burdens are His to bear for you. You can take comfort in the knowledge that "casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you," your heart will be eased (1 Peter 5:7). "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). Never forget that God is your greatest source of help; of strength; of comfort; of refuge.

What is it in your life that causes great distress? What causes you to weep bitterly? Whatever the reason, follow Hannah's example . . . go to God.

Prayer Point: Take time to pray to God, using real words about real things. Don't just utter the spiritual words that you think you should say—talk to your heavenly Father about your struggles; your feelings; your desires; your failures. Ask Him to help you trust His provision for your need.

Extra Refreshment: Read Hannah's prayer of exaltation in 1 Sam. 2:1-10, expressing her understanding of God's power.

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.

February 21

Light Up the Runway!

Matthew 5:14-15
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house."

James Dobson told a story about a friend who was flying his single-engine plane toward a small rural airport. When he arrived at the close of the day, the sun had already dropped behind the mountain. By the time he had maneuvered into position to land, he couldn't see the shadowy field below. There was no one on duty at the airport, and there were no lights on the plane.

The pilot circled the runway for another attempted landing, but the darkness had become even more impenetrable. For two hours he flew around in the inky blackness, knowing full well that he faced certain death when his fuel tank emptied.

Then, as panic began to seize him, a wonderful thing happened. Someone who lived near the airport had heard the continuous drone of a small plane engine and realized there was a problem. That kind, merciful man raced to the airport and drove his car back and forth on the runway to indicate the direction of the airstrip. He then drove to the far end of the runway, positioned his lights, and turned them on high beam, to shine down the stretch of tarmac.

The pilot landed safely.

We all know the potential disaster that comes from being caught ill-equipped in darkness.

Maybe you drove to the restaurant anyway, even though your daughter reminded you that you don't see well enough to drive at night. Maybe you tried to get that last section of the deck stained before nightfall and discovered the streaks the next morning. Maybe you stepped on the only Lego left out on the floor as you started down the hallway to get a late-night drink of water.

Darkness can be frightening. Darkness can be dangerous. Darkness can be deadly.

But, "God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).

This Light that He gave us is Himself. In John's Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples that He is the Light of the World (John 8:12). In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus Christ tells His disciples that they are the light of the world. This is to say that Christ puts His Light in us. This He does by giving us Himself.

Because God has given Himself to us, we in turn bear witness of God to others. What if the man who had illuminated the runway had decided to stay home?

The souls of the world hang in the balance, and without Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, they are destined to remain in the darkness—without God . . . without hope.

Grab your keys; start the engine; turn on the headlights—someone's in trouble. Don't make him circle the field again! Light up the runway . . . bring him in for a safe landing!

Prayer Point: Pray that God will give you opportunity to share Christ with others. Pray that you will have the courage to shine brightly.

Extra Refreshment: Read Luke 1:67-79 and experience the same joy as Zacharias in praising God for Jesus, the Light of the World.

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 Fri 17 Feb 2012, 7:00 pm

February 17

I Believe I Will

John 3:17-18
"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

I remember, as a boy, visiting the home of an elderly couple in Wisconsin as we traveled on our way to Minnesota. The man, in his eighties and near death's door, was confined to his chair. We sat in the living room—my father and mother, my three brothers, and I.

Although the man's children supported my missionary parents, he was not a Christian. I can still hear my father as he shared the plan of salvation with him and then asked, "Would you like to receive Christ as your own Savior? Would you like to ask Him into your life?"

The man said, "I don't believe I will."

Something pressed upon my father to risk offense, because he simply rewound his conversation and started over. He pulled his chair right up to the recliner where the old man was sitting wrapped in a comforter. I remember the urgency in my dad's voice.

Here was a man who had lived a respectable life, raised decent children, attended church, and accomplished a lot of good things. Here was my father telling him that he was not good enough in himself!

After explaining the gospel yet another time, Dad put the question to him again: "Would you now place your faith in Christ and simply receive Him as your personal Savior?"

I held my breath. It was then that the man replied, "I believe I will."

Now there were tears running down my cheeks. None of us knew it at the time, but within a few months the man would die.

Death comes to all. It's a reality of the planet we inhabit. This is the reason Jesus Christ came into the world—that it might be saved.

But why are we in this desperate condition? The Scriptures tell us that all men are sinners (Romans 3:10-23) and death is the result of that sin (Genesis 2:17; Ephesians 2). It is spiritual death.

Now that's a problem, and the solution can't be found in mankind because all men are dead. Christ took the punishment that was ours and bore it Himself, offering us His righteousness in return. He paid the debt for our sin on the cross. This He did for all who will believe and accept His gift of salvation.

The death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior provide the proverbial life raft, the cure, the escape from death's everlasting clutches. But the raft must be inflated; the cure must be swallowed; the escape must be made through the open door.

We would think it crazy that a drowning man would pass up a life raft and say, "I don't believe I'll get in it." It would be fatal to turn from the cure and say, "I don't believe I'll take it." It would be suicide to slam the escape door and say, "I don't believe I'll go." Yet, we seem quite unconcerned when a similar response comes from those with whom we've pled to accept Christ's love and sacrifice: "I don't believe I will."

How about you? As you start down this path of spiritual retreat, will you believe on His name and accept His shed blood as the payment for your sins? Will you receive His saving forgiveness? There should be only one answer . . . "I believe I will."

Prayer point: If you have never come to know God through His Son, pray that He would show you the good news in John 3. If you do know Him, pray that God would help you keep in mind that everyone needs Jesus.

Extra Refreshment: Read Romans 3:21-26, the passage that some call the "heart of the Gospel."

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Post  Admin on Thu 16 Feb 2012, 10:51 pm

February 16
Disturbing the Peace

Matthew 10:34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

A riot took place in Kansas a few years ago; it wasn't in a back alley or a city park—it was in the House of Representatives!

The elected officials started their session as they always did—with prayer—but the man who was asked to pray was Pastor Joe Wright. The provocative words of his prayer caused an uproar in the House. He prayed:

Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that's exactly what we've done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and we have inverted our values.

We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it moral pluralism, and worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery, and

neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice, and shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem, and abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition, and polluted the airwaves with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us. Cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas and have been ordained by You to govern this great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will. I ask it in the name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wow! What a prayer!

Joe reminded every Representative—and us— that our culture has been deceived, and stands in need of repentance.

He may as well have been pointing a gun at them by the way they responded to his prayer.

Before he had even finished, representatives were flooding the microphones to begin their angry tirades against this pastor. His prayer for pardon and wisdom quickly made its way into national headlines that read something like this: JOE WRIGHT—YOU HAVE UPSET OUR WORLD!

Telling the world that they've given sin respectable names and are in need of a Savior doesn't go over very well. That means they are sinners! Are you willing to upset your world today?

Now go out . . . and disturb the peace!

Prayer Point: Pray for boldness to share the gospel with unbelievers, asking God to give you the kind of passion that Joe Wright, the apostle Paul, and so many others had for sharing their faith, even though it might just upset your own world.

Extra Refreshment: Read Acts 4.

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 Wed 15 Feb 2012, 8:43 pm

February 15

Living Dependently

Romans 12:5
So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Unity is not achieved by everyone thinking alike, having the same preference in music, or reading from the same translation of the Bible. Neither is it based on personality, appearance, or social standing. Our unity is built upon the Church's body of truth—the Scriptures. And the Scriptures tell us that we are not to live independently of one another, but dependently, as members of a body. Paul emphasized this point when he said,

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Eph. 4:14-16).

The question of whether or not someone else is performing his part in the body isn't yours to answer. The key question for you is, "Am I doing my part in building up the body in love?" When every part of the body does its job, the body is not disabled, but coordinated. This is true for the physical body, and is also true for the body of Christ, known as the Church.

If you don't have the use of an arm or leg, you may be in the category known as "Disabled" (or handicapped, in years gone by). In the same way, when a member of the Church cannot, or will not, function as he should, the church becomes disabled and handicapped in ministry. Those who join local churches but refuse to serve in them actually help to create a disabled body.

On the other hand, when members make the commitment to roll up their sleeves and humbly serve one another, the local church becomes more coordinated and more effective.

The truth is, we need each other. Just as eyes can't provide hearing and ears can't provide sight, you and I provide for the rest of the body the gifts which others lack. The Church is in need of what you as an individual bring to it, and there are no excuses for "sitting it out."

One pastor expressed it this way: "You cannot claim to love Jesus Christ and ignore His bride." God is serious about His Church because He purchased her with His precious blood.

If you are not involved in a local church—not using your gifts for the good of the whole body—then you've forgotten how vitally important you are to a healthy, coordinated Body or . . . you've grown complacent and lazy.

If you're faithfully serving the local body where God has placed you, then you're already experiencing the joys of providing "hearing" or "seeing" or "walking" capabilities for your church, and someone is dependent upon you.

All I have to say to you is . . . "Keep it up!"

Prayer Point: If you are uncertain as to how you can most effectively serve your local church, pray that God will reveal to you your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your giftedness. Then pray that He will give you a greater appreciation for the Church, knowing that it is the greatest way in which He is working in the world today.

Extra Refreshment: Read 1 Corinthians 12.

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Post  Admin on Tue 14 Feb 2012, 10:45 pm

The God of All Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

My wife and I had the privilege of meeting Joni Erickson Tada, the Christian author who was paralyzed from the neck down as a young lady. In the early years after her diving accident, she wrote about coming to terms with the fact that God's plan for her life was to remain paralyzed.

In one of her books, A Step Further, she wrote:

On a rainy afternoon in the early summer of 1972, about fifteen people gathered in a tiny oak church not far from my home. The group consisted of close friends, family, and church leaders whom I had called together to pray for my healing. By the time our brief service was over, the rain had stopped. Exiting through the front doors of the church, we were greeted by a beautiful rainbow in the misty distance. It gave me just one more reassurance that God had heard our prayers. God had indeed heard . . . but He did not heal.

Those who have heard Joni speak have been struck by the peace of Christ that emanates from her face and through her testimony. She is an example to us all of the fact that we can trust God even when times are hard. She has devoted the remainder of her life to reminding believers that, even when God chooses to give sickness instead of health, His plan is always perfect. Even when it doesn't feel good, His will is always perfect.

During my college years I had a friend who went on a hike one night with a group of adventurous young people. Unable to see clearly what lay ahead, he literally walked off the edge of a steep cliff. Though he survived the fall, he was paralyzed from the waist down.

Today Scott Mitchell is the founding pastor of a thriving church in Atlanta, Georgia, believing that, if it hadn't been for that fall, he would not be the man he is today. He now spends his life and ministry sharing with suffering believers the comfort he experienced from God during that trial.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians that this is the very reason for some of our afflictions—that we may be able to comfort others who are afflicted. Therefore the question we should ask during times of suffering is not, "Lord, will You please get me out of this?" but, "Lord, will You show me who I can help through this?"

Everyone in the world is suffering in some way, but not everyone has experienced the comfort that God offers in the midst of it. Follow the examples of Paul, Joni Erickson Tada, and my friend, Scott, who made the decision to use their afflictions for good . . . to comfort others.

Prayer Point: Consider an area of trial in your own life, whether it is physical illness, emotional pain, family strife, etc., and thank the Lord for allowing you to go through it. Then pray that God will bring someone across your path who is going through a similar trial and needs comforting.

Extra Refreshment: Read 2 Corinthians 1.

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 13 Feb 2012, 9:01 pm

The God of All Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

My wife and I had the privilege of meeting Joni Erickson Tada, the Christian author who was paralyzed from the neck down as a young lady. In the early years after her diving accident, she wrote about coming to terms with the fact that God's plan for her life was to remain paralyzed.

In one of her books, A Step Further, she wrote:

On a rainy afternoon in the early summer of 1972, about fifteen people gathered in a tiny oak church not far from my home. The group consisted of close friends, family, and church leaders whom I had called together to pray for my healing. By the time our brief service was over, the rain had stopped. Exiting through the front doors of the church, we were greeted by a beautiful rainbow in the misty distance. It gave me just one more reassurance that God had heard our prayers. God had indeed heard . . . but He did not heal.

Those who have heard Joni speak have been struck by the peace of Christ that emanates from her face and through her testimony. She is an example to us all of the fact that we can trust God even when times are hard. She has devoted the remainder of her life to reminding believers that, even when God chooses to give sickness instead of health, His plan is always perfect. Even when it doesn't feel good, His will is always perfect.

During my college years I had a friend who went on a hike one night with a group of adventurous young people. Unable to see clearly what lay ahead, he literally walked off the edge of a steep cliff. Though he survived the fall, he was paralyzed from the waist down.

Today Scott Mitchell is the founding pastor of a thriving church in Atlanta, Georgia, believing that, if it hadn't been for that fall, he would not be the man he is today. He now spends his life and ministry sharing with suffering believers the comfort he experienced from God during that trial.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians that this is the very reason for some of our afflictions—that we may be able to comfort others who are afflicted. Therefore the question we should ask during times of suffering is not, "Lord, will You please get me out of this?" but, "Lord, will You show me who I can help through this?"

Everyone in the world is suffering in some way, but not everyone has experienced the comfort that God offers in the midst of it. Follow the examples of Paul, Joni Erickson Tada, and my friend, Scott, who made the decision to use their afflictions for good . . . to comfort others.

Prayer Point: Consider an area of trial in your own life, whether it is physical illness, emotional pain, family strife, etc., and thank the Lord for allowing you to go through it. Then pray that God will bring someone across your path who is going through a similar trial and needs comforting.

Extra Refreshment: Read 2 Corinthians 1.

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 Sun 12 Feb 2012, 8:49 am

February 6

Dressed for War

Ephesians 6:11

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

In World War II, as Germany prepared to invade Poland, the Poles readied themselves for battle. They were experienced warriors with a long history of repelling enemy attacks from barbarian neighbors. The Polish army was renowned for its skilled horsemanship—the Cavalry was well-trained and their horses were among Europe's finest steeds.

When it was learned that German forces were advancing, twelve brigades of their finest Cavalry were prepared. With swords flashing in the sunlight, the officers sounded the charge and their horses surged forward with powerful strides. Remember the time frame—World War II.

In his biography of Winston Churchill, Manchester wrote that the Cavalry galloped into oncoming, newly-designed German panzer tanks. The outcome was predictable—total annihilation! Horsemen with swords battled iron tanks.

I'm convinced that we, as believers, often expect to take on the enemy of our soul with methods similar to that of galloping on horseback at full speed, heading into the path of an oncoming tank division.

Even worse, we enter our daily activity without so much as a thought that we have an enemy who is on a search-and-destroy mission. Satan seeks to deceive, to distract, and to defeat any attempt by Christians who desire to advance the kingdom of light and the glory of the Prince of Heaven.

Paul warned us that the battle would be fierce. But in Ephesians 6, he tells us how to dress for war:



Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

So . . . are you properly prepared for battle? You can't go against tanks on horseback! In the same way, you can't resist the enemy of your soul armed with an hour of church, a blessing before meals, and a prayer at bedtime. You are to clothe yourself in a warrior's armor which has been designed by God for the dangers of daily, state-of-the-art battle.

Get dressed for combat . . . today!

Prayer Point: Pray through this passage, mentally putting on each piece of armor and asking the Lord for His strength to wage war with the temptations of life.

Extra Refreshment: Read Ephesians 6:19-24.
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Post  Admin on Fri 10 Feb 2012, 10:22 pm

Constantly Abiding

John 15:9

"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love."

When you desire God; when you talk to Him in prayer; when you privately meditate on His Word; when you relate the events of life to Him; when you praise Him for His delights and His discipline—you are abiding in Him.

If you are a father, you never had to sit down with your son and say, "Okay, son, I want you to watch carefully how I walk, and then I want you to imitate me." No—he shuffles along in your shadow of his own will.

As a mother, you didn't have to tell your daughter to watch you put on make-up or arrange your hair style. Oh, no—she's already sneaked into your room and tried it out for herself! Kids don't need formal lessons to pick up on the way you do things. They learn it by simply abiding with you, by watching you, by imitating you.

It was Dr. Alexander Graham Bell who advised the parents of a little girl named Helen to send for a teacher from the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts. Johanna Sullivan had graduated as valedictorian of her class, triumphing over her impoverished past—her mother's death when Anne was eight years old; her abusive father's abandonment two years later; four years in the state almshouse, where her only sibling died. Life for the nineteen- year-old had been difficult. A year after her graduation, she was chosen for the task of instructing six-year-old Helen Keller, a blind deaf-mute. Anne's success was monumental.

After weeks of arduous work, Helen was able to realize that the sign language letters Annie pressed into her hand spelled the name of objects. Two years later, Helen was reading and writing Braille fluently. At the age of ten, she learned different sounds by placing her fingers on her teacher's throat and feeling the vibrations. When Helen went to college, Annie Sullivan spelled every lecture into Helen's hand. While Helen earned the degree, Annie received a college education, too.

When Annie died in 1936, after fifty years of companionship to Helen, the sorrowing woman wrote these endearing words about the person who had become her eyes, her ears, and her mouth:

My teacher is so near to me that I scarcely think of myself apart from her. I feel that her being is inseparable from my own, and that the footsteps of my life are in hers. All the best of me belongs to her—there is not a talent or an inspiration or a joy in me that has not been awakened by her loving touch.

In many ways, what Anne Sullivan was for Helen Keller, Jesus Christ wants to be for us. He desires to be our eyes, our ears, our mouth. He promises to be our friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), but we must be dependent upon Him . . . as dependent as Helen Keller was on Anne Sullivan.

When we abide [dwell, stay, continue] in Christ, people will see the evidence written all over us. We will imitate His character and share His perspective.

Abiding in Christ is not a list of rules—it is a way of life . . . for the Christian.

Prayer Point: Seek the Lord right now as you would your closest friend. Cry out to Him with your distresses and afflictions; thank Him for His many blessings, and praise Him for always being a faithful companion, even in the times when you are not.

Extra Refreshment: Read Psalm 27.

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 Thu 09 Feb 2012, 7:00 pm

"Not Guilty!"
Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

I have documentation from Rabbi Reuven Lauffer [Jerusalem, Israel] of an incredible story . . . one relating to the Holocaust: the incarceration and slaughter of Jews in the concentration camp known as Auschwitz. This true story took place toward the end of World War II.

At Auschwitz, as in all the camps, there was no lack of great Jewish scholars. One night ten of those learned men made up a Jewish court of law and put God on trial.

The central premise of the trial: how was it possible that God, who is totally good, could create such a living hell as Auschwitz? The debate raged back and forth all night; finally, the court returned a verdict of "Guilty!" God was guilty of failing His people.

However, upon adjourning the court, the entire barracks rose and began to pray their morning prayers. Even after finding God guilty, they prayed to Him!

What an incredible statement of faith it was for these Jews to continue praying to God, even while the torture and systematic killing continued. Yet, I thought how tragic that they were now praying to a God they believed had left them all alone.

If we were honest with ourselves, each of us could point to a time when we felt as though God had left us . . . and it took infinitely less than genocide to make us accuse God of abandonment.

When Moses gathers the people to hear his final counsel, he is 120 years old. His life drawing to a close and the final opportunity looming before him, Moses speaks to the Israelites, reminding them that God does not leave His children.

Think about it—they had just come from 400 years of generational slavery! They had not yet entered into the land which God had promised them!

A man's last speech is usually devoid of self-aggrandizement and is often saturated with words of truth. Moses spoke the words of our text; he believed—he knew—that God does not ever leave His children.

How did Moses convey this truth? He knew it in his heart; he professed it with his lips; he lived it until the end.

This marvelous promise of security should serve to strengthen us in the face of any and all trials. Our trust is in the Lord and His promises, as recorded in Scripture.

The words of the last verse from the great hymn "How Firm a Foundation" take on new meaning when we sing:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose

I will not, I will not desert to his foes.

That soul, though all hell

Should endeavor to shake

I'll never, no never, no never forsake.

Do you cast your cares upon Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:7) or charge that He isn't concerned? In the midst of your conflicts and struggles, do you trust and rest in God or indict, try, and find Him guilty of neglect?
Jesus said, ". . . lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
Do you believe the words of Christ? If your answer is "Yes," then the verdict must be... "Not guilty!"

Prayer Point: If you have had doubts about God's faithfulness, ask Him to increase your faith. Then ask Him to help you remember all that He has done for you and those whom you know and love. Take time to thank your trustworthy Father.
Extra Refreshment: Read and try to memorize 2 Timothy 2:11-13.
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Post  Admin on Thu 09 Feb 2012, 11:52 am

The Guise of Godliness

1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

I have never had a State Highway patrolman stop me and say, "Sorry to bother you, sir, but I just wanted to commend you for coming to a complete stop at that stop sign back there . . . here's fifty dollars—have a nice day!"

Nor have I been pulled over by an officer who said to me: "Hey, I noticed you were keeping the speed limit even when you were going down that steep hill. I thought that was pretty remarkable of you to do that, so I want to give you these gift certificates to the Mall . . . so long!"

This will probably never happen . . . you think?

Truth is, those who abide by the law will often be viewed by men as the "godly" ones. It happened in Jesus' day with the Pharisees and Sadducees; they deceived men, as well as themselves, into thinking that their own good works were enough to make them righteous before a Holy God. They fully expected God to shower them with gift certificates to the bazaar!

Although it is important to obey the law, it isn't the real test of godliness. Actually, it's possible for you to keep the speed limit and still be an ungodly person. It's possible to stop at all the stop signs, hold the door for women, chew with your mouth closed, clock-in to work five minutes early every morning, and perform good deeds galore—and still be completely unholy in your heart.

Although everyone may sing your praises, the question is: what does God see when He looks at your heart?

God reminded Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7 that man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. Even today, God is the only one who sees past the gimmicks—the facade, the clothes, the make-up—directly into the heart of every person.

The encouragement of this truth rests in the fact that, because God sees the secret intents and motives of every person's heart, He actually does reward those who keep their hearts pure. Though the world may often get it wrong and may praise deceptive people, God never will.

The world rewards people of influence; God rewards people of integrity . . . and our reward is just ahead.

Prayer Point: Expose your heart before God and ask Him to cleanse you of all the things you have done recently for the eyes of men, rather than the eyes of God.

Extra Refreshment: Read Matthew 6:1-24.

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 07 Feb 2012, 11:46 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 Mon 06 Feb 2012, 11:00 pm

February 6

Dressed for War

Ephesians 6:11

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

In World War II, as Germany prepared to invade Poland, the Poles readied themselves for battle. They were experienced warriors with a long history of repelling enemy attacks from barbarian neighbors. The Polish army was renowned for its skilled horsemanship—the Cavalry was well-trained and their horses were among Europe's finest steeds.

When it was learned that German forces were advancing, twelve brigades of their finest Cavalry were prepared. With swords flashing in the sunlight, the officers sounded the charge and their horses surged forward with powerful strides. Remember the time frame—World War II.

In his biography of Winston Churchill, Manchester wrote that the Cavalry galloped into oncoming, newly-designed German panzer tanks. The outcome was predictable—total annihilation! Horsemen with swords battled iron tanks.

I'm convinced that we, as believers, often expect to take on the enemy of our soul with methods similar to that of galloping on horseback at full speed, heading into the path of an oncoming tank division.

Even worse, we enter our daily activity without so much as a thought that we have an enemy who is on a search-and-destroy mission. Satan seeks to deceive, to distract, and to defeat any attempt by Christians who desire to advance the kingdom of light and the glory of the Prince of Heaven.

Paul warned us that the battle would be fierce. But in Ephesians 6, he tells us how to dress for war:



Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

So . . . are you properly prepared for battle? You can't go against tanks on horseback! In the same way, you can't resist the enemy of your soul armed with an hour of church, a blessing before meals, and a prayer at bedtime. You are to clothe yourself in a warrior's armor which has been designed by God for the dangers of daily, state-of-the-art battle.

Get dressed for combat . . . today!

Prayer Point: Pray through this passage, mentally putting on each piece of armor and asking the Lord for His strength to wage war with the temptations of life.

Extra Refreshment: Read Ephesians 6:19-24.
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Post  Admin on Sun 05 Feb 2012, 9:51 pm

Breaking a Spiritual Sweat

1 Timothy 4:7-8

But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Godly living is not a sport; it's hard work. It isn't something you do when you feel like it, or if you have some spare time for it, or if you are naturally good at it.

Paul said to train yourself for godliness. The word train is gumnazo, from which we get our word gymnasium. That is, Paul was saying to his son in the faith, "Timothy, go into the gymnasium of the Word and work up a sweat. In fact, if you're not breaking a spiritual sweat, you're probably not working at it hard enough."

Later in the same paragraph, Paul tells Timothy that this godliness is something for which we labor and strive (1 Timothy 4:10). The Greek word for labor is the root of our word agonize.

Imagine—Paul speaks of gaining godliness with words like "agonizing" and "training," just as an athlete would train and push himself to run a race. Actually, Paul uses that very analogy in a different letter wherein he says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it"

(1 Corinthians 9:24). Consequently, godliness only comes as we train, agonize, and then run with all our strength.

I have heard people say, "I don't read the Bible because it's too hard to understand"; "I don't pray like I ought to because that has never come easy for me"; "I'd like to memorize Scripture but it takes forever." Christian growth requires spiritual sweat!

One of the greatest running backs in NFL history died at the age of forty-five. Walter Payton's skill and ability when he received the ball in his hands was legendary. When he retired after the 1987 season, he was the all-time leader in rushing yards. Though his on-field exploits impressed his fellow players, it was his off-season training which elevated him to iconic status in their eyes. Besides weight lifting, his daily routine included running near the Pearl River in Mississippi. He ran through the sand (65 yards of beach) or up the levee (a 45-degree slope).

For his legacy, Payton didn't want his statistics to be the focus, impressive as they were. "I want to be remembered," he said, "for giving it my all."

May we be men and women who "give it our all" for something far more lasting than a football game—let's train, and agonize, and run after, and with . . . godliness!

Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to forgive you for excusing apathy and the lack of discipline in regard to spiritual matters such as prayer, Bible reading/study, and memorization. Thank Him for His patience with you as you've taken time to learn that these disciplines are called "spiritual disciplines" because they require—discipline.

Extra Refreshment: Read and memorize 1 Timothy 4:7-8. This will not only refresh your heart but advance you another step in your spiritual discipline!

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