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Post  Admin on Wed 12 Sep 2012, 7:55 am

Outside My Window

Luke 12:15

Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."

G.W. Target wrote a short story in 1973 called "The Window." It illustrates powerfully the choice we all have of living for self or living for others:

Two men were confined to a hospital room due to their illnesses. One man had to lie on his back at all times; the other had to sit up for one hour every day because of the accumulation of fluid in his lungs. His bed was next to the only window in the room.

Each day for one hour, he would describe to the man in the hospital bed what he saw out the window. The man in bed began to live for that hour; his roommate spoke of the beautiful lake down below, describing the fishermen and the results of their efforts. Another day he described the skyline of the city on the horizon and the busy lives of the people living there. Mountains in the distance, capped with snow were reported on other days. And so the months and seasons passed with these two men.

Eventually, the man confined on his back began to resent the reports from the window. He was ashamed to admit it to himself, but it didn't seem fair that his roommate had a window by his bed. In time, this resentment turned to anger, and then bitterness. One night he was awakened by the coughing of the man next to him, desperately needing to clear his lungs. He looked over and saw him stretching to reach the call button for the nurse. It would have been easy to push his own call button, but he didn't. He chose to offer no help, and in a few moments the coughing ended. It was replaced with labored wheezing, and finally . . . silence.

A few hours later the nurse discovered that the patient by the window had died during the night. His body was removed from the room and the other man said quietly, "Since I am now alone in this room, may I have my bed moved where I can look out the window?"

The nurse agreed, and after the bed had been moved and he was alone in the room again, he summoned all his strength to pull himself up on his elbows. At last he would see all that awaited him outside his window.

It was then that he made the discovery—outside the window there was nothing except a brick wall.

Contentment is sometimes a difficult thing for a believer. "Why does he have a better job . . . a nicer house . . . a closer family . . . ? "

Why does the other person always get the window seat? Life just doesn't seem fair!

Romans 12:15 says to "rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep," meaning that contentment is not only being joyful in what you have been given—great or small—but being happy for others in what they have been given.

According to the words of Christ, happiness is not found in our possessions . . . but in our perspective.

Prayer Point: Consider the needs God has met for you in the past week, and the ways He has blessed you beyond those needs. If you have been envious of others, confess it to Him; ask Him to give you the proper perspective on life to make you content in every circumstance.

Extra Refreshment: Read Luke 12:13-34.
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Post  Admin on Tue 11 Sep 2012, 8:07 am

Saved and Assured

1 John 1:1-4fs
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

Queen Victoria, sovereign of Great Britain from 1837-1901, attended worship in St. Paul's Cathedral and listened to a sermon that piqued her interest. After the message she asked her chaplain the question, "Can one be absolutely sure in this life of eternal safety?" His answer was, "No, there is no way that anyone can be absolutely sure."

This incident was published afterward in the Court News and came to the notice of a humble minister named John Townsend. After reading the Queen's question and the answer given, he prayed for wisdom, and felt compelled to send these words:

To Her Gracious Majesty, our beloved Queen Victoria, from one of your most humble subjects: With trembling hands, but heart-filled love, and because I know that we can be absolutely sure now for our eternal life in the home that Jesus went to prepare, may I ask Your Most Gracious Majesty to read the following passages of Scripture: John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10. I sign myself, your servant for Jesus' sake, John Townsend.

John Townsend took others into his confidence, and they offered up prayer to God on Her Majesty's behalf. About two weeks later, he received the following letter:

To John Townsend: I have carefully and prayerfully read the portions of Scripture referred to. I now believe in the finished work of Christ for me, and trust by God's grace, to meet you one day in that place He has prepared for us in heaven. Victoria Guelph

The Queen of England bowed her heart and surrendered her life to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords—the One whose majesty extends over all the earth. After she discovered the assurance of salvation through faith in Christ alone, she eventually carried copies of a small booklet to give to her subjects. Safety, Certainty, and Enjoyment contained the plan of salvation and the assurance that one could have in Christ. These were the very things she had discovered upon receiving the Truth.

My friend, don't be deceived by the wisdom of the present age, which says that truth cannot be known, and that material, scientific evidence must be obtained before anything can be proven. As John writes, the proof is in our hearts, and only those who have tasted the everlasting water which God has so freely offered (John 6) can be assured of its never-ending benefit.

Here are the facts: Jesus was born; He died; He rose again on the third day; He is living in the hearts of all those who trust in Him.

And the Apostle John says . . . of this we can be assured!

Prayer Point: Thank the Lord for writing down an eyewitness account of His ministry, His miracles, and His mission, so that "you may know that you have eternal life." Then, thank Him for giving you assurance in your heart, even when you are crippled by doubt.

Extra Refreshment: Read John 20—a passage where Christ proves His divinity by conquering death, and blesses those who have "believed in Him even though we have never seen Him."

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 07 Sep 2012, 8:08 pm

More Than Letter- Reading
James 1:22

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

The president of his own company employing several hundred workers was preparing for an extended business trip. Before leaving he sat down and wrote a lengthy letter, detailing projects he wanted accomplished in his absence, clients he wanted contacted, and the tasks he expected his employees to do while he was away. He finished it, put it in the company post office box, rode to the airport, and boarded his plane.

On his return several months later, he immediately noticed the grounds were unkempt: the grass obviously had not been cut in weeks, the lawn was littered, the shrubs and trees needed trimming, and the doors were marked with handprints. He parked his car and hurried inside. Employees were lounging in their chairs, drinking coffee and talking, feet propped on desks, and most weren't dressed in office attire. A ping-pong table had been set up, and an array of video games littered the flat surfaces. His arrival went unnoticed.

Angrily, the CEO called a meeting of the entire management staff. When all had assembled, he began his tirade: "I can't believe what I'm seeing! Everything is completely different from what I expected it would be. What's been going here? Didn't you get my letter?" Their faces brightened, and someone replied, "Yes sir, we did. We love that letter. We read it almost every day." "In fact," said one man, "I've even memorized several paragraphs from your letter." "It's terrific reading," others chimed in. Another spoke, saying, "Sir, we've organized some study groups. We gather at least once a week and re-read portions of your letter to make sure we understand it all."

Dumbfounded, the president asked, "But did you finish the projects? Did you call the clients? Did you do the things I asked you to do?" At that, everyone looked down. One man finally spoke on behalf of the group, saying, "No sir . . . you see, we're still studying your letter."

Our problem is not in our failure to understand certain biblical truths, but to live the truths we understand. We have all been entrusted with a letter from God—an inspired letter from our great King. Are you content to merely read it, study it, and perhaps memorize it? When are you going to put it into practice?

It is one thing for believers to say, "We believe the Bible!" It is quite another to behave as though we believe. May our belief and our behavior be one and the same—for the glory of God. Then, indeed, there will be no shame . . . should He return today!

Prayer Point: Search your heart before God right now. Ask Him to open your eyes to the ways in which you have not been obedient to His Word, and confess those shortcomings to Him. Then pray for the power to change those habits, and strength to flee from those besetting sins.

Extra Refreshment: Read James 1.
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Post  Admin on Thu 06 Sep 2012, 9:35 pm

Piercing the Darkness

Psalm 77:6

I will remember my song in the night . . .

Darkness is actually more than the absence of light. It is also a place—a place of fear, emptiness, and loneliness.

A Jewish man named Eliezer Wiesel experienced this darkness and wrote about it in his book, Night. He describes one of the most horrible chapters ever recorded in the history of mankind: the Holocaust.

As a teenager, Elie Wiesel was sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz during Hitler's maddening reign; later he was moved to the camps at Buna, Buchenwald, and Gleiwitz. According to Elie's testimony, he had seen all the Jews in his village banded together, stripped of their possessions, and loaded into cattle cars.

He saw his mother, little sister, and all his family disappear into an oven fueled with human flesh. He saw children hanged and weak men killed by fellow prisoners for a piece of bread.

Wiesel wrote of the night the train in which he was riding pulled up at the camp. Coils of ominous black smoke billowed from the tower; beneath it lay the ovens. For the first time in his life, Elie smelled the scent of burning human flesh. He wrote:

Never shall I forget that night, seven times cursed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget that silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust.

That night was dark for Elie Wiesel and many other Jews, but the greater tragedy is that the darkness found its way into Elie's heart. Not only did he watch friends and family die on that fateful night, but he claims that his God died as well.

But there was another person who entered that same dark night; she came forth as a shining light. Her name was Corrie ten Boom. Although she herself was not a Jew, she and her family had been discovered aiding Jews and had been sent to one of the German death camps as well. She, too, saw people murdered, watched her own sister Betsie die from illness in the camp, and felt the gnaw of hunger and the sting of the whip.

But in her account of the terrible things which transpired all around her, there was a thread of hope. She wrote of the Bible study that some of the Jews held in secret, of the hymn singing, and of the many acts of compassion and sacrifice they offered to one another.

Throughout her days of blackness, Corrie continued to trust in a God who was at work even in a cave as dark as hers! She would later write, "I discovered that there is not a pit where God's love is not deeper still!"

Corrie ten Boom could relate to the author of Psalm 77:6; he, too, found himself in a dark, empty place where God seemed distant. But as the darkness deepened, the volume of his song increased. He committed to singing in the middle of his long, dark night.

The same is true for us. The darker the night grows, the more we see God's light shining around us—if we're willing to look with the eyes of faith and trust.

That is a choice we have to make. Either we can collapse in our discouragement and give up on God as Elie Wiesel did, or we can praise Him in the midst of it, as did Corrie ten Boom.

Are you experiencing darkness right now in your own life? Does God seem distant and the heavens made of brass? Let me encourage you to look farther ahead by faith . . . the faithful light of Christ is inviting you to take just one more step in His direction.

Every act of trust and every offering of praise are stubborn refusals to give in to the darkness; they are faith-filled decisions to walk in the light.

Stay the course . . . and don't forget to sing in the dark.

Prayer Point: Take time to ask God to help you remember that when the darkness comes, His light is ever present. Thank Him for the times when He led you out of the dark.

Extra Refreshment: Read again all of Psalm 23 to remember that the Good Shepherd is with us... even in the valley.
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.

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 05 Sep 2012, 6:17 am

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). (See advert below)

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 03 Sep 2012, 6:54 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 heart 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.

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 31 Aug 2012, 11:26 am

The Aisle Seat
John 13:34-35

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Rebecca Pippert, in her fascinating book entitled Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World, told the story of her arrival in Portland, Oregon, where she met Bill, one of the students on the campus where she served. He was a brilliant young man with messy hair and, as she recalls, he was perpetually shoeless. From outward appearances he was a little strange, but inwardly he was inquisitive and incredibly bright.

One day Bill decided to attend a middle-class church that was across the street from the campus. He walked into this church of well-dressed people in his tattered jeans, tee shirt, and, of course, barefooted. In truth, this was the first time he'd ever been inside a church sanctuary.

People looked a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything as Bill walked down the aisle looking for a seat. The church was quite crowded that Sunday, and as he came to the front pew he realized there were no seats left. So without any hesitation, he sat down on the carpet in the middle of the aisle, the same way he sat when his Christian friends invited him as they met for Bible study. He casually crossed his legs and waited for the service to begin.

The tension was palpable as people murmured, craning their necks to see the stranger in the aisle. Then one of the elderly deacons—a man who was well-respected in the church—began walking down the aisle toward the student. Rebecca's friends who witnessed this scene told her that they whispered to each other, "Well, you can't exactly blame him for scolding the guy . . . he is a disruption to the service!"

As the well-groomed deacon neared Bill, the church was deathly quiet. All eyes were glued front and center to see what would happen next. With some difficulty, the old man lowered himself to the floor and sat down next to Bill. He crossed his legs and shared his hymnal with the college-aged boy. The crowd was stunned.

That Sunday the deacon not only worshiped there on the floor, but he reminded the congregation how to worship.

Jesus Christ considers us His representatives on earth and we are to win the world for Him. How? Bribe them? . . . threaten them? . . . scare them? . . . debate them? No!

We are to show them the love of Christ by showing them our love for each other; we are to reflect the character of Christ to those around us.

Unbelievers may rebuff your message, refute your argument, and reject your faith, but they can't deny your loving spirit toward them.

So, be on the lookout for aisle seats. You never know when you'll be in the perfect place to serve up a heaping helping of "loving spirit" . . . for the glory of Christ.

Prayer Point: Pray for humility; think of others as you go through this day, and try to love those in the world as God loves them.

Extra Refreshment: Luke 10:30-37 tells the story of the good Samaritan, an illustration of the kind of love God wants us to practice.

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.
Sitting in the Sonlight

John 15:5

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."

James Montgomery Boice wrote about a dinner he had with a fellow pastor. During the meal, the pastor relayed to Boice the story of a man who had challenged him deeply in his walk with Christ. Bishop James Ussher, an old man who was once a notable Bible chronologist, suffered from many diseases, and was crippled by an inflammation in his joints. His condition forced him to stay home, unable to participate in normal activities.

A visitor hoped to encourage Dr. Ussher, and didn't know that he was the one who would be most encouraged. The experience that day gave him a life-changing perspective.

It seems that every day Dr. Ussher asked his nurse to seat him by the east window in the morning, where he could enjoy the warmth of the rising sun. At noon, his nurse moved him to a window with southern exposure, where the warm rays of the midday sun cheered and soothed him. As the afternoon wore on, he was moved again to a window facing westward, and he sat watching the sun slip below the horizon. As the pastor recalled to Boice during their meal, "Dr. Ussher spent his day literally abiding in the sun."

What an incredible reminder to us! How closely do we follow the Son? Are you abiding in Him as He commanded? If you focus your energy on abiding in Christ, He will reproduce His character in you, over time. That is His promise to us. All those who choose to abide in Him, to literally walk with a constant acknowledgment of His presence, will eventually bear the same qualities that distinguish Him.

Think of it this way: You never sat down with your child and said, "Okay, I'm going to teach you to talk just like me, and speak your words with my accent and inflection." Mom, you didn't give your little girl lessons on how to hold her hands like you do; Dad, you didn't give your son a lesson on how to walk like you do. They learned it over the years of abiding with you—you literally rubbed off on them.

And they are not the only ones who bear resemblances to their parents. Even now, things that you learned from your father and mother are manifested in a variety of situations. You can't fight it . . . this is an inevitable result of spending time with someone, observing and imitating both the desired and undesired characteristics.

Resemblance is the result of relationship.

That's why we must focus our eyes on Christ and give daily attention to our relationship with Him. He will teach us to talk like Him, walk like Him, view life like Him, and love like Him.

When you begin to abide in Christ, people will not see you only, but Christ in you. It will be His life, through you, responding to the daily environment and conditions that affect you.

Like Dr. Ussher, we are all crippled and in need of Sonlight. We need His warmth and soothing touch. So pull up your chair beside the window of God's Word, gaze upon the glory of the Son, and reflect the warmth of His light . . . the true Sonlight.

Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to give your heart contentment in His presence; ask Him to cause you to long for His presence in your daily activities; take time to talk to Him throughout the most mundane activities you perform today.

Extra Refreshment: Read Ephesians 5, where Paul calls believers to imitate God just as a child imitates his parents.
http://www.colsoncenter.org/voices/entry/43/20156
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Post  Admin on Wed 29 Aug 2012, 8:39 pm

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
John 15:14-15

You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Joseph Scriven was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1820. After graduating from Trinity College, he had great expectations and plans. He was engaged to marry his lovely Irish sweetheart, and together they had dreams for building their life and home together. Wedding plans were made, business ventures were decided upon, but the day before their wedding his fiancé drowned in a boating accident. His world fell apart.

Joseph moved to Canada, attempting to put all the memories and heartache behind him. Although he was very much alone, he served faithfully as a missionary bachelor, driven to share the gospel with those in need of salvation.

Years later tragedy struck again. His mother became seriously ill and he was unable to be with her. In his absence, he sat down and wrote a poem for her. He scribbled out a copy for himself, and it was later discovered by a visitor.

The powerful lyrics not only brought great encouragement to his mother on her deathbed, but they were put to music and sung in churches, even to this day. His lyrics read:



What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear,

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer.

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer.



Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged;

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful

Who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness

Take it to the Lord in prayer.



Are we weak and heavy laden,

Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge;

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer,

In His arms He'll take and shield thee;

Thou wilt find a solace there.

To onlookers Joseph Scriven would seem to have lived a lonely life marred by sorrow. But after his death [also by drowning], his poem that circulated through churches and penetrated the hearts of believers for nearly two centuries revealed his heart for all to see—he had been content with life, for his closest friend was Jesus.

What trials, temptations, and troubles are you facing today? What sins, grief, and pain are you bearing? Remember this—before Jesus died on the cross for you, He whispered into the ears of His frightened disciples, "I consider you my closest friends!" No matter that sorrows and cares may come—Christ, who knows your every weakness, will shield and comfort you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

If you are His disciple, you are also His friend . . . forever.

Prayer Point: God's incredible humility is shown by stooping to call us friends when we deserve to be called slaves. Thank the Lord for restoring your relationship to Him, who walked that terrible path to the cross on your behalf.

Extra Refreshment: Read Psalm 23 and witness the faithfulness and the friendship of God in the life of David.

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 28 Aug 2012, 9:51 pm

The Purpose of Prayer
Hiding Our Sin

Romans 8:1

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

In Dr. Richard Hoefler's book, Will Daylight Come, he tells the story of a young boy who was visiting his grandparents. Johnny had just been given his first slingshot and had taken it into the woods. Unable to hit anything because of his poor aim, he was still having the time of his life.

On his way home for lunch, he cut through the back yard and saw his grandmother's pet duck. He took aim and let a stone fly. This time—for the first time—his aim was on the mark. To his shock and dismay, the duck dropped immediately. It was dead!

Johnny panicked and in frightened desperation, hid the duck in the woodpile, but not in time to escape the curiosity of his sister, who was standing by the corner of the house. She saw the whole thing! With a look of shame and fear, he followed his sister inside for lunch. But Sally said nothing.

Getting up after lunch, their grandmother said, "Okay, Sally, let's clear the table and wash the dishes." Sally responded with a smile, "Oh, Grandma, Johnny said he wanted to help you in the kitchen today. Didn't you, Johnny?" Then she whispered in his ear, "Remember the duck."

Needless to say, Johnny ended up doing the dishes after lunch. Later in the evening, Grandpa asked the children if they would like to go fishing, but Grandma interjected, "I'm sorry, but Sally can't go. She has to stay here and help me get supper ready." Sally just smiled and replied, "That's all been taken care of. Johnny said he wanted to help today, didn't you, Johnny?" The look she gave him delivered that same threat, "Remember the duck."

This went on for several days, as Johnny did all the chores around the house, both his and Sally's, until he could stand it no longer. Trembling all over, he went to his grandmother and confessed everything.

To his surprise, Grandma took him up in her arms and said, "I know about the duck, Johnny. I was standing at the kitchen window and I saw the whole thing. But because I love you, I was already willing to forgive you. I've been waiting for you to tell me about it. And—I would never have mentioned the duck again."

Imagine the look on Johnny's face when he heard his grandmother's words, "I already forgave you"!

What a powerful reminder to us of what our own Father has said to us in His Word: "There is now no condemnation for those who believe!" It's as if He reached down from heaven and lifted our sorrowing, fearful bodies into His arms, and reminded us that He saw all our sin take place and has already forgiven us.

This is a beautiful truth for a Christian. No matter what you've done or where you've been, God has already forgiven you—He simply waits for us to tell Him about it so our fellowship with Him can be fully restored.

My good friend put it wonderfully when he said, "God will not love you better when you become better." This, after all, is the marvel of God's forgiveness. He died on the cross not only for your past sins, but also for your present and future sins.

So quit hiding your "ducks" in the woodpile—bury them! God has already seen them... and He has forgiven you.

Prayer Point: Confess any hidden sin to God, knowing that He has already seen it, and pray for His forgiveness. Wash yourself in the reviving, overflowing stream of God's mercy.

Extra Refreshment: Read Psalm 139, where David reminds us that although nothing is hidden from God's eyes, He continues to love us intensely.

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 27 Aug 2012, 8:34 pm

A Word to the Wise
Proverbs 2:2-6
Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Mankind has been seeking wisdom and knowledge since the beginning of time, but most people never find it. Why? Because in their pride and arrogance, they have sought for it inside themselves, rejecting God and His Word.

In their minds, wisdom is easy to come by rather than being a treasure that must be sought. Just listen to the best-selling advice of Oprah Winfrey, whom thousands of people follow:



Our real power comes from knowing who we are . . . and that begins with looking inside ourselves in silence. I've always believed you really need no gurus, no leaders, no guides—just yourself. You have all your own best answers. What you're trying to find is already there. Be still and know it.

She could not be more spiritually deceived. Psalm 46:10 does not say "Be still and know yourself," but "Be still and know that I am God." The Bible doesn't teach that our real power comes from within ourselves, but quite the opposite. In John 15:5b, Christ says, ". . . apart from Me you can do nothing," and in Philippians 4:13, Paul states, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." In other words, our power and wisdom come from Christ, not from within ourselves.

So who's right—Oprah or the Bible? Are the answers to life deep within your own heart, or deep within the heart of God? In Jeremiah 17:9, the prophet leaves no room for hesitation on this answer when he proclaims, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" Put differently, because of sin and our fallen nature, wisdom does not dwell within us. Instead, our hearts are sinful, evil, and prideful. Oprah is tragically mistaken . . . wisdom must come from outside ourselves.

James promised that ". . . if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him" ( James 1:5). David wrote, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).

These passages leave no shadow of a doubt as to where true wisdom is found. We are in a world of darkness and in desperate need of light; how distressingly foolish to think that light can be found inside us. Not so! God is that light, and only by coming to know Him through His revealed Word will we be able to gain wisdom.

So, God is the ultimate prize. Seek after Him with all your heart, and along the way, you will discover . . . wisdom.

Prayer Point: Think of ways in which God has given you wisdom in the past, whether it was in making an important decision, turning from a sinful habit, or encouraging a friend. Thank Him for the light you needed to make the right decision or to take the next step. Don't hesitate to pray for more wisdom—you will need it today!

Extra Refreshment: Read Proverbs 8 to discover the riches of true wisdom.
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Post  Admin on Fri 24 Aug 2012, 8:41 pm

A Word to the Wise

Proverbs 2:2-6

Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Mankind has been seeking wisdom and knowledge since the beginning of time, but most people never find it. Why? Because in their pride and arrogance, they have sought for it inside themselves, rejecting God and His Word.

In their minds, wisdom is easy to come by rather than being a treasure that must be sought. Just listen to the best-selling advice of Oprah Winfrey, whom thousands of people follow:



Our real power comes from knowing who we are . . . and that begins with looking inside ourselves in silence. I've always believed you really need no gurus, no leaders, no guides—just yourself. You have all your own best answers. What you're trying to find is already there. Be still and know it.

She could not be more spiritually deceived. Psalm 46:10 does not say "Be still and know yourself," but "Be still and know that I am God." The Bible doesn't teach that our real power comes from within ourselves, but quite the opposite. In John 15:5b, Christ says, ". . . apart from Me you can do nothing," and in Philippians 4:13, Paul states, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." In other words, our power and wisdom come from Christ, not from within ourselves.

So who's right—Oprah or the Bible? Are the answers to life deep within your own heart, or deep within the heart of God? In Jeremiah 17:9, the prophet leaves no room for hesitation on this answer when he proclaims, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" Put differently, because of sin and our fallen nature, wisdom does not dwell within us. Instead, our hearts are sinful, evil, and prideful. Oprah is tragically mistaken . . . wisdom must come from outside ourselves.

James promised that ". . . if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him" ( James 1:5). David wrote, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).

These passages leave no shadow of a doubt as to where true wisdom is found. We are in a world of darkness and in desperate need of light; how distressingly foolish to think that light can be found inside us. Not so! God is that light, and only by coming to know Him through His revealed Word will we be able to gain wisdom.

So, God is the ultimate prize. Seek after Him with all your heart, and along the way, you will discover . . . wisdom.

Prayer Point: Think of ways in which God has given you wisdom in the past, whether it was in making an important decision, turning from a sinful habit, or encouraging a friend. Thank Him for the light you needed to make the right decision or to take the next step. Don't hesitate to pray for more wisdom—you will need it today!

Extra Refreshment: Read Proverbs 8 to discover the riches of true wisdom.
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Post  Admin on Thu 23 Aug 2012, 5:27 pm

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.
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Post  Admin on Wed 22 Aug 2012, 11:05 am

Confession and Compassion
Matthew 9:13

"But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Do you want to sense the maximum attention of God? You must first give Him your maximum attention.

Do you want the Lord to be available to you? You must first be available to Him.

Do you want to touch the heart of God? You must first be available to His moving.

If you want to be part of God's effort to rebuild our broken world through the redeeming gospel of Christ, you must be willing to become part of God's solution—whatever it may be.

Isn't it easier just to pray, "Lord, do this. . . Lord, bless that . . . Lord, help him [or her] . . . Lord, provide in this way . . . Lord, minister in that way"? But what if you heard a voice from heaven that said, "Of the five requests you just prayed, four of them are up to you!"

God's work often requires your willingness. In the parable of the Good Samaritan it becomes clear that anyone who claims the name of Christ is not merely to pray for someone, but to pray for wisdom to know how to help.

Compassion for the lost and needy among us is what draws God's attention, for it comes from a heart modeled after His own.

With this in mind, is it any wonder that the average Christian really doesn't want the maximum attention of God? He or she really doesn't want to become part of His divine solution because it may cause a bit of discomfort or uneasiness.

It is one thing to get on your knees and pray for God to bless a person, but it is quite another to follow up that prayer with a letter, a phone call, a visit, an invitation, a gift.

If your compassion does not extend beyond your prayer time, it isn't genuine.

If we are to gain God's special attention as a co-laborer with Him, we must share in His anguish over the fallen world around us.

Aren't we rather self-centered to expect God to share our distress over what we care about if we don't share His distress over His concerns?

Let's not create a double standard in our thinking and living, but wholeheartedly imitate God's standard—following up with acts of sincere compassion after our prayers.

When we begin to pray and act in this way, we can be sure that God is not only hearing us . . . but He is pleased with us!

Prayer Point: Pray for someone you know who is in need, whether it is physical or spiritual, but start your prayer by asking what you can do to help meet that need. Don't just ask God for the solution—ask Him how you can become part of the solution.
Extra Refreshment: Read Luke 10:25-37.
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 Mon 20 Aug 2012, 10:08 pm

It's Possible . . . Not Easy!
Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

God's will is not always easy but it is always possible. For with God all things are possible. Rest in the fact that God will never command you to do something you can't accomplish. He will never direct your steps without providing the strength to walk the path.

Jack Handey wrote in his book entitled Fuzzy Memories:



There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day at school. Since I was smaller than he was, I would give it to him. Then I decided to fight back. I started taking karate lessons. But then the karate instructor told me I owed him five dollars a lesson. Five dollars! So I just went back to paying the bully.

Truth be told, it's sometimes easier to pay the bully than it is to learn how to defeat him. However, God never commands you to live for His glory without helping you to overcome the obstacles you will face. Whether it is loving your spouse, witnessing to friends and family, or remaining pure on a college campus, Christ will enable you if you obey Him. Paul did not say, "I can do most things through Christ," but "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

While you're at it, stay alert to the fact that opposition usually means opportunity is close at hand. In fact, there is rarely opportunity without opposition, so you must be prepared for both opportunities and obstacles at the same time.

Paul intends to encourage us as we follow the leadership of Christ, which in real terms means never throw in the towel. He challenged the Corinthians and every Christian to be "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." What a great promise—your toil is not in vain.

Endurance that demands blood, sweat, and tears, will be rewarded one day. So get ready for today's obstacle course and run it with patient diligence. The hurdles may be high, the track may be uneven, the distance may be great, but it's possible . . . not easy!

Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to help you to discern opportunities masked by obstacles. Ask Him to give you the ability to see possible advancements in your character development that are presently cloaked in those difficult obstacles.

Extra Refreshment: Read Philippians, chapters 1 & 4.
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Post  Admin on Fri 17 Aug 2012, 7:49 pm

The Last Laugh
Psalm 2:1-4

Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!" He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.

To oppose God is a foolish thing. The Psalmist says that God laughs from heaven as He watches corrupt humans doing their best to deflect His will. Even the best attempts seem to backfire against them, as God uses their own corruption to further His sovereign plan in the world.

Have you ever seen this happen? God turns something that was meant to oppose Him into something that is useful in spreading the gospel. According to David, God actually has a sense of humor, too, and He always gets the last laugh.

I remember viewing the funeral service of Richard Nixon. It was being broadcast all around the world. To my amazement, I watched as Billy Graham, the well-known evangelist, stepped up to the podium. He had been invited to be the keynote speaker of the service, much to the chagrin of many in the audience. The liberal media was literally roped in, forced into giving free airtime to this preacher as he delivered the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Millions of people throughout the world gathered around their television sets to watch the event unfold. Ungodly politicians cringed in their designated seats as Graham preached to them the gospel of sin and hell, forgiveness and heaven. And they couldn't go anywhere—they were literally stuck in God's trap! They could do nothing else but listen as Graham boldly called them all "sinners in need of the Lamb of God, who died on your behalf." His message was clear, and at the conclusion he gave everyone an opportunity to accept the claims of Jesus Christ and find forgiveness at the foot of His cross. The gospel was preached in the faces of those who despised it. I imagined the hosts of heaven laughing.

Atheistic Romania was once ruled by a man who, to the core of his being, hated Christ. Masses of Christians were persecuted throughout his regime as he continually blasphemed the name of God. However, just when he thought he had the upper hand on Christianity, God took his life. A short time later, seven graduates walked across a seminary platform in Arad, Romania. One of them was a pastor from Zalow, who had once been poisoned by the communist tyrant but had survived. He, along with former dentists, an engineer, and a newspaper editor, determined to spend the rest of their lives preaching the gospel to their countrymen. God laughed at the feeble attempts of that dead communist tyrant.

During the "Age of Enlightenment" in the 1700s, deism was sweeping Europe. In the midst of this development, Voltaire, the infamous French skeptic, proclaimed that within fifty years the Bible would be forgotten and Christianity would be a thing of the past. He penned these words: "You have seen what one Jew did to create Christianity; I will show you what one Frenchman will do to destroy it." Yet on his deathbed he screamed to his doctor, "I am abandoned by God and man! I shall go to hell!"

Tragic . . . and no laughing matter.

Prayer Point: Joseph understood this truth well when he said to his brothers in Egypt: "What you meant for evil, God has meant for good." The same is true today. Thank God that He not only arranges the lives of believers to accomplish His work, but He also acts in the lives of unbelievers to accomplish His work.

Extra Refreshment: Read Genesis 50.
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Post  Admin on Thu 16 Aug 2012, 8:04 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 15 Aug 2012, 10:41 am

Prayer Changes Nothing
Nehemiah 1:5-6

I said, "I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant . . . we have sinned against You."

Prayer that gets past the living room ceiling is prayer that recognizes, first and foremost, that God is sovereign and man is nothing more than a servant. Proper praying places God on His throne and mankind at His feet.

Prayer is not having our way with God—it is God having His way with us. Prayer is not our manipulating and controlling God—it is God influencing and controlling us. It is not our putting pressure on God—it is God putting the pressure on us!

If you are not willing to change, to submit, to work, then whatever you do—do not pray!

The great preacher, Donald Grey Barnhouse, once shocked his congregation by beginning a sermon with these words, "Prayer changes nothing." You could have heard a pin drop. His comment was designed to make Christians think about the sovereignty of God—that God is seated in the heavens and nothing ever surprises Him or falls outside His control.

We're due a good reminder as well. Prayer isn't our attempt to bribe, cajole, or convince God to change. In the scriptural accounts that seem to indicate that God changed His mind, the broader context reveals that it was actually part of His sovereign plan. He is unchangeable.

I think Barnhouse's statement is correct but incomplete. When Nehemiah fell on his knees before God, begging God to show grace to His people, something did change. Was it God's will? No! It was Nehemiah's heart. To Barnhouse's statement I would add that prayer changes nothing about God . . . but everything about us.

Powerful prayer does not change God's heart . . . it radically changes ours.

Prayer Point: Pray and commit your plans to the authority and will of God, rather than asking Him to make certain things happen. Thank Him for His unchangeable character and faithfulness.

Extra Refreshment: Read Psalm 51 and Nehemiah 1.
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 Mon 13 Aug 2012, 8:57 pm

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 Sat 11 Aug 2012, 10:00 am

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 Thu 09 Aug 2012, 8:20 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 Wed 08 Aug 2012, 5:54 pm

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 Tue 07 Aug 2012, 11:49 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.

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Post  Admin on Mon 06 Aug 2012, 9:08 pm

Evidence from Within

Romans 8:15-17

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

H. A. Ironside, a former pastor of Moody Church, began preaching one night in the open air of Chicago, attracting a large and enthusiastic gathering. During his message a man stepped out from the crowd and handed him a note. This particular man was a well-known agnostic, sowing skepticism and discord wherever the truth of Scripture was spoken, especially in relation to God being a personal God who seeks relationships with humans. That is why, with face full of pride and self-confidence, he approached Ironside with a letter. Pastor Ironside opened the note and read the words aloud: "I challenge you to a debate in the Hall of Science next Sunday afternoon." Then he turned to the agnostic and delivered this wise response:

I will come and debate with you the reality of the Christian life, if you will do one thing; you must agree to bring with you one person from your sphere of influence. One person who was discouraged and defeated by life, not knowing where to turn or what to believe, until that person came and heard you lecture your agnostic beliefs. And then that man, after listening to you, said in effect, ‘I believe what you are saying and will begin living in light of it.' Bring one person who, after hearing you speak, found peace of mind, victory over temptation, and a purpose for living. Bring one and I will debate you; and will bring with me one hundred.

Upon hearing this, it was reported that the agnostic refused the offer and quickly turned away.

What a great reminder to us that the unanswerable argument for Christianity is, in fact, the Christian! Every religion requires faith to believe it, reason to defend it, and evidence to prove it; but this is where Christianity stands out above all the rest. Our primary evidence is not only found in the revelation of Scripture and the discoveries of science, but it is found inside us.

We are the living and breathing evidence of Christianity—the walking proof that God really does save lives, and that His Spirit changes them completely. God's Spirit is actually inside us, giving us faith when we have none, and testifying in our spirits that we are part of His family.

Make no mistake about it—our God is not only alive, but He is alive and dwelling . . . in us!

Prayer Point: Take a moment to consider a time or an event in your life when you lacked faith—either in God or His Word—and recall how the Holy Spirit drew you back to Himself, "testifying" in your spirit that He was alive and active in your life. Thank Him for the promise in Romans 8:16, that He has not left us to mere faith, nor reason, nor science (like all other religions), but He has given us Himself as evidence in our hearts.

Extra Refreshment: Read the whole chapter of Romans 8, and notice the incredible ways in which the Spirit of God works in the lives of believers, changing us and conforming us into the image of Christ.
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Post  Admin on Fri 03 Aug 2012, 8:10 pm

Rekindling the Flame
1 Thessalonians 1:6

You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit.

In my study at home I have a small, yellowed piece of paper framed in glass. It was given to me by a missionary who works with Chinese believers.

Today, millions of Chinese Christians are meeting secretly in house churches to study the Word of God together. Many of them do not have a personal copy of the Bible. Often entire churches do not have access to a complete copy of the Scriptures.

That is why this old piece of paper is so special to me; it happens to be a handwritten page—a portion of the New Testament in the Mandarin language. This piece of paper was once someone's copy of Scripture.

Imagine . . . they didn't have a Bible—they had a page.

Much like the Thessalonians, these believers obviously hungered to hear and have the Word of God. They had no doubt copied it many times over so that other believers could read from God's Word, perhaps never before hearing the truths that were written on this small page.

What a contrast to most of us! The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association estimates that the average church-going family in America owns at least four Bibles.

Perhaps one reason that we don't treasure the Scriptures is because we have such ready access to them. It's easy to take precious things for granted. We may have copies of the Bible lying on tables, closet shelves, and bookcases but this can lead to a serious problem: how does the truth within the pages of that closed Book penetrate our lives?

There is a vast difference between having the Bible inside our home and having the Bible inside our heart.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:6, we are told that the believers received the Word of God. They readily received its truth, even though it would mean tribulation and persecution.

What we take for granted, the early church received with great hunger, as does the Chinese church today.

We conclude these 30 days of contemplation with this challenge: let's ask Christ to rekindle in our hearts a greater love for His Word and a greater desire to hear and study it.

Oh, that He would imprint on our hearts what we hold in our hands!

God does not want you to simply possess a Bible . . . He wants the Bible to possess you.

Prayer Point: Ask God to give you a stronger passion for His Word. That is exactly what we need: a hunger and thirst for the written Word—which leads to a greater love for Jesus Christ, the Living Word.

Extra Refreshment: Read all of Psalm 119 and take note of each verse delivering some truth or principle about the Word of God.
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Post  Admin on Thu 02 Aug 2012, 7:58 pm

Me, Myself, and I

Ephesians 4:27

Do not give the devil an opportunity.

All too often, the worst enemy of the church is . . . the church. New believers do not grow in Christ because "older" believers who have not matured become the primary stumbling blocks by their poor example. Selfishness and arrogance so often serve in the church's most visible and crucial positions of ministry. One of the church's favorite hymns, Holy, Holy, Holy, has shifted its focus from "God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!" to "Me, Myself, and I!"

Warren Wiersbe wrote, "When the enemy fails in his attacks from the outside, he then begins to attack from within, and one of his favorite weapons is selfishness." Selfishness is defined as having the attitude that people exist merely to meet my agenda, my wishes, my needs, and the value of anything (people, church, God, etc.) is determined only in light of what it can do for me.

This attitude is revealed not only in outward behavior but also in secret thoughts. If left unchecked, it ultimately poisons the heart. Selfishness destroys friendships, marriages, ministries, and churches; it also destroys mission fields and all other sacred projects where God is clearly at work.

The Ephesian church was struggling with this problem, so Paul dedicated nearly an entire chapter to exhort the believers. He wrote, "Speak the truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger; and do not give the devil an opportunity."

These verses clearly warn us that the devil actually watches us. And he longs for opportunities birthed by selfish believers. No wonder he baits his hook with self-centered advice, whispering, "Don't think about others, think only of yourself: your desires, your life, your money, your plans, your career, your retirement, your position, your agenda, your ministry."

Frankly, we are all terminally infected with selfishness, and it lies at the core of every act. That is why selfishness is such a productive and powerful weapon in the hands of Satan. He will use it against us whenever he can. It must never be excused; it must never be coddled; it must be cut away daily! Sometimes . . . moment by moment.

Prayer Point: Thank the Lord for His example of selflessness and servanthood, and ask Him for the discipline to imitate His spirit throughout this day.

Extra Refreshment: Read Ephesians 4:17-32.

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