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Daily Christian Devotional

Discussion in 'Christianity DIR' started by Green Gaia, Aug 15, 2004.

  1. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    PRAYING FOR ME!

    _________________________

    James 5:13-18 (NRSV)

    Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.

    _________________________

    Paul wrote, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone."

    - 1 Timothy 2:1 (NRSV)

    _________________________



    MY third pregnancy was a difficult one. Then, because of complications during the birth, I ended up in the intensive care unit at our local hospital. During my stay, the chaplain of the hospital came to visit me to tell me she was praying for my recovery. This was my first experience of hearing someone say he or she was praying for me.

    I was amazed. Someone I didn't even know was praying for me! And this was only the beginning. When I finally got out of intensive care, everywhere I turned people told me they were praying for me. It was wonderful to know that so many people -- some of whom had never even met me -- cared enough to intercede for my needs.

    A few months after this experience, I gave my life to Christ. That was 25 years ago. Before this traumatic event I had rarely given a second thought to prayer. Now daily intercession is a vital part of my prayer life because I consider myself a living testimony to the power of intercessory prayer.

    Prayer: Loving God, thank you for the privilege of praying for others. Help us to remember someone somewhere who needs our prayers today. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    When we pray for others, we help to move them toward God.

    -- Linda E. Knight (Ontario, Canada)

    PRAYER FOCUS: Patients in intensive care

     
  2. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    FORGIVEN

    _________________________

    Matthew 6:14-15 (NRSV)

    For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

    _________________________

    Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

    - Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

    _________________________



    KIM stood at the front of our sixth-grade classroom looking nervous and hopeful as our teacher introduced her. When her eyes met mine, I smiled. She smiled back. I thought I had found a new friend. But by the end of her first day it became clear that Kim was our new class outcast, a prime target for bullying and ridicule. Being low on the totem pole myself, I joined in my peers' malice, hoping to boost my own status. I contributed to Kim's misery every chance I got, even picking fights with her.

    Somehow, though, between sixth grade and high-school graduation, Kim and I became friends. We played sports together, hung out together, even spent the night at each other's houses. Amazingly, Kim forgave all of my nasty comments and hurtful acts. She took me as a friend, and we remain in contact today.

    For me, Kim is an example of the forgiveness and love God wants us to demonstrate to each other. She embodied the spirit of forgiveness that Jesus taught, even though when we were younger I could not humble myself to ask for that forgiveness.

    Prayer: Dear Lord, help us learn from and live by the examples you set before us. Thank you for loving and forgiving us, and help us follow where you lead. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    Forgiveness and kindness can make enemies into friends.

    -- Laura Bagley (Georgia, U.S.A.)

     
  3. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    WHO AM I TO JUDGE?

    _________________________

    Romans 2:1-4 (NRSV)

    Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, "We know that God's judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth." Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

    _________________________

    Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God?

    - Romans 2:3 (NRSV)

    _________________________



    FOR our weekly Bible study, we were reading Paul's letter to the Romans, and when I started reading chapter two I felt a distinct sting of rebuke. Paul had written about judging one another, and that passage spoke directly to my heart. While reading those words I could hear myself at previous Bible studies, judging the Israelites for complaining to Moses during their years in the wilderness. "I can't understand it," I remember saying to the group. "After all the miracles they witnessed, how could the Israelites lose their faith and complain about their difficulties?"

    But after reading Paul's words to the Romans, I had to ask myself, In times of crises, am I not prone to live in the moment? Do I not tend to forget my many blessings and give in to worry and fear? Who am I to judge?

    The opening words of Romans, chapter two, have encouraged me not to judge those around me. I still lapse, but these verses comfort me with the assurance of God's "kindness, tolerance and patience."

    Prayer: God of compassion, help us not to judge one another. Help us to remember that we all lapse at times and that you understand and will forgive us. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    When we judge others, we reveal our own imperfection.

    -- Ruby Truax (Ontario, Canada)

     
  4. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME

    _________________________

    2 Timothy 3:10-17 (NRSV)

    Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, and suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

    _________________________

    Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.

    - Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

    _________________________



    I was asked to provide the morning message at our church. As I thought about topics, it occurred to me that the greatest-of-all-time lists appear on many topics -- movies, songs, athletes, etc. I decided to prepare a sermon, "The Greatest Bible Verses of All Time," based on an informal poll I would do with friends and co-workers.

    I sent out my request, asking people what their favorite verse of scripture is and why. I expected that a clear, number-one choice, and my plan was to use the winning verse and the comments on it as the basis for my sermon. But all my friends had a different favorite verse! As I read people's reasons for their selections, I gained new perspectives on verses I had known for years.

    That's the beauty and wonder of the Bible. Words written thousands of years ago are as relevant today as then. And while God speaks to us collectively as the Body of Christ, God also speaks to each of us individually in deeply personal ways as we read and study the Bible.

    Prayer: Lord, thank you for the Bible. Help each of us to read it, study it, reflect on it, and follow its wisdom in our daily lives. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    How does God speak to me today?

    -- John D. Bown (Minnesota, U.S.A.)

     
  5. Dadball

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    A CHANGE OF DIRECTION

    _________________________

    Acts 2:33-39 (NRSV)

    Peter said, "Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

    'The Lord said to my Lord,

    "Sit at my right hand,

    until I make your enemies your footstool."'

    Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified."

    Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him."

    _________________________

    "The time has come," [Jesus] said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

    -- Mark 1:15 (NIV)

    _________________________



    AS I was walking down the hill, a van drew up alongside me. "Excuse me, mate," said the driver, "can you tell me how to get to Spring Vale, please?"

    "I certainly can," I replied. "For a start, you're heading in the wrong direction. Go back the way you came, and you'll find Spring Vale a little way on your right."

    The driver thanked me, reversed, and drove off. He didn't seem annoyed at all that I had told him he was going in the wrong direction. If I had told him to repent, he might well have been puzzled or offended. Yet repentance means to change direction. It isn't a vague feeling of sorrow or regret; it's a determination that from now on we will go in a new way.

    The van driver didn't regret his change of direction. If he had ignored me and driven straight on, he would have wasted time and never reached his goal. In a similar way, God's call to repent isn't meant to discourage us. Rather, it is a call to choose the right path and find all that our Creator has for us.

    Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you that you want the best for us. Help us to follow your guidance and not our own inclinations. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    Repentance means choosing God's way.

     
  6. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    RENEWED FAITH

    _________________________

    Hebrews 11:1-6 (NRSV)

    Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

    By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain's. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and "he was not found, because God had taken him." For it was attested before he was taken away that "he had pleased God." And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

    _________________________

    Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    -- Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

    _________________________



    THE doctor's words rang in my ears, "You have lymph-gland cancer again." It was hard for me to believe that after 10 years, I was faced with this disease again. He went on to tell me about my treatment plan: I would need to take chemotherapy for six months. Six months! I didn't want to take treatments for even one month!

    Then I thought about Job. He suffered, but he still held on to his faith in God. Even when things looked bad for him, when his friends turned against him and his wife wanted him to give up, curse God, and die, Job never lost his faith in God.

    I had to believe and trust in God for my healing. During the following six months, I meditated on God's word, reminding myself of the words of Isaiah 53:5, "With his stripes we are healed."

    I made it through all my treatments, and today I am cancer free. I have renewed faith in God. Once again I was able to face this challenge because God strengthened me and helped me to walk in faith.

    Prayer: God, thank you for strengthening us in our weakness. Help us to trust you in every situation. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    Every trial can deepen our faith in God.

    -- Margaret Watlington (North Carolina, U.S.A.)

     
  7. Dadball

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    HUMAN APPROVAL

    _________________________

    Luke 11:37-54 (NRSV)

    While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.

    "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it."

    One of the lawyers answered him, "Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too." And he said, "Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,' so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering." When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

    _________________________

    Jesus said, "I do not accept glory from human beings."

    -- John 5:41 (NRSV)

    _________________________



    HOW important is earning human approval to you? Personally, I have to admit that the need for it sometimes dominates my life. But in the Bible we have Jesus' example of being free of the need for human approval.

    I buy clothes wondering what my daughters will say: "Too dorky," "too young," "too old" for me! I wait anxiously for approval at the dinner table before I can enjoy the meal I prepared. More seriously, I test the waters very carefully before uttering a controversial word in a group. What will "they" think?

    Jesus, however, did not look for human approval. He spoke the truth -- always. He looked only for God's approval. He was invited to dinner at a pharisee's house and then began speaking the truth about the scribes and pharisees, insulting as it was. He was not even polite in the host's home, as we define politeness. Truth took precedence. If Jesus had made choices that earned human approval, he would never have been hated. He would never have given anyone a reason to crucify him. But Jesus would have failed God, and that was unthinkable for him.

    Prayer: Source of truth and salvation, change us from depending on humans to depending on your approval alone. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    It's not what people think but what God thinks that matters.

    -- Thea J. Bohannon (Virginia, U.S.A.)

     
  8. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    OUR ULTIMATE PROVIDER

    _________________________

    Jeremiah 29:4-14 (NRSV)

    Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the LORD.

    For thus says the LORD: Only when Babylon's seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

    _________________________

    "I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

    -- Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

    _________________________



    I remember being unemployed for nearly a year; it was difficult making ends meet. However, during that time God blessed me with temporary jobs and gifts from our church family to help meet our family's needs. We received meals from neighbors and an occasional check from close friends to help pay bills.

    I thought a lot about my role as husband, father, and provider; but it was God who helped me recognize the true source for all we need. Instead of being proud of my providing for my family, I found my eyes were opened to God's glorious grace in my life. God gave me confidence in the future and showed me that our needs will be met through the compassion of family and church.

    Chapter 29 of Jeremiah reminds me that even when times seem desperate or hopeless, God always has good plans for our lives. Waiting for the next paycheck to buy food or to pay bills can be difficult, but I know that God will take care of all our needs. No matter what our situation, God wants for us lives filled with hope and abundance.

    Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, we thank you for taking care of our needs. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    God's goodness is the ultimate source for meeting all our needs.

    -- Timothy E. Dorset (Missouri, U.S.A.)

     
  9. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    ON PATIENCE

    _________________________

    Luke 21:19-24 (NRSV)

    [Jesus said,] "By your endurance you will gain your souls."

    "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."

    _________________________

    Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord.

    -- James 5:7 (NRSV)

    _________________________



    PATIENCE is often misunderstood. Patience is not submission or resignation to fate. Patience is an active expectation based on faith that involves every aspect of our lives.

    The scriptures affirm patience as an active virtue. We are told, "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1, KJV). James associated transformation with patience, saying, "Let patience have her perfect work" (James 1:4, KJV). And Peter said patience complements temperance (2 Pet. 1:6, KJV). The patient person demonstrates trust in God. Patience is the opposite of both anxiety and ease. Isaiah wrote, "Blessed are all they that wait for" God (Isa. 30:18, KJV).

    Why don't we praise and seek the virtue of patience? By patience alone can we develop proper attitudes for living and the skills for social involvement. Jesus said, "In your patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21:19, KJV).

    Prayer: Holy Spirit, by your power grow in us the fruit of patience, that we may trust God and be transformed. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    Patience means working and trusting as we wait for God to act.

    -- Stephen Contrado (Massachusetts, U.S.A.)

     
  10. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    HUMBLE STEPS

    _________________________

    Isaiah 55:6-13 (NRSV)

    Seek the LORD while he may be found,

    call upon him while he is near;

    let the wicked forsake their way,

    and the unrighteous their thoughts;

    let them return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on them,

    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

    For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.

    For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so are my ways higher than your ways

    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

    and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout,

    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

    so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;

    it shall not return to me empty,

    but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

    and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

    For you shall go out in joy,

    and be led back in peace;

    the mountains and the hills before you

    shall burst into song,

    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;

    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;

    and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial,

    for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

    _________________________

    Our steps are made firm by the LORD, when he delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the LORD holds us by the hand.

    -- Psalm 37:23-24 (NRSV)

    _________________________



    THE heavy doors to the dementia unit are kept locked to protect the residents from wandering and getting lost in the community. One day I was asked to take one of the residents, whom I will call Rachel, for a walk outside the ward. We took each other by the hand and began to walk. Suddenly Rachel's legs locked. Knowing this might be a panic attack, I spoke to her and touched her arm. Gradually she recovered, and her confidence and charming smile returned.

    Later in my daily meditation I read from Psalm 37 with Rachel still on my mind. The words of the psalm reminded me that God is with us even when we feel overwhelmed by a particular event.

    I took pleasure in Rachel's ability to overcome panic and continue our walk. How much more does God, who understands all perfectly, love us and delight when we take humble steps spiritually? When we do, we can be sure that God is with us --cheering us on, teaching us, and loving us deeply.

    Prayer: Holy Spirit, when we feel overwhelmed, help us to keep moving toward God. Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    God delights in our spiritual progress.

    -- Malcolm Simpson (Australian Capital Territory, Australia)

     
  11. Dadball

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    PATCHES OF BLESSING

    _________________________

    Colossians 3:12-17 (NRSV)

    As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

    _________________________

    Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

    -- Colossians 3:14 (NRSV)

    _________________________



    A few weeks ago, it was my privilege to visit a friend who lives on a farm in the southwestern part of our state. When I arrived, I found that several of the women in the community had gathered at her home for an old-fashioned quilting bee.

    Quilting begins with a wooden quilting rack, cotton batting, and patches of cloth that each quilter brings. Each person takes a place around the big frame and works on one special area of the quilt. As each one stitches on her patch, she tells the others something about the significance of the cloth. All of the work is done by hand; and as one person tires, another takes her place until the quilt is completed. The finished quilt is a labor of love to be enjoyed not only by those present but by generations yet to come.

    In a similar way, God pieces our lives together. To all of the patches of blessing the Lord works into our lives, God adds the blessing of friends. It takes a lifetime to complete this quilt. As we look back at patches of understanding, compassion, sharing, sacrifice, and mercy, they become expressions of God's love through friends who have touched our lives.

    Prayer: Thank you, God, for all the gifts and blessings that enrich our lives. Help us to see your hands at work. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    What "patches of blessing" has God woven into my life?

    -- Frances Bundy (Arkansas, U.S.A.)

     
  12. Dadball

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    “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
    John 9:25

    Very few Christians are great theologians, and none of us have every verse of the Bible memorized—but we all have a testimony. We all have the story of how Christ came into our lives. We may not be experts, but like the blind man whom Jesus healed, we can all say, "But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!" (John 9:25). Every Christian can say, "Here is what Jesus did for me." And you know what? Your testimony is a great place to start.

    The Apostle Paul, who was a great intellectual and a brilliant orator, would often begin with his testimony when presenting the message of the gospel. Why would Paul start with his testimony? It built common ground between him and the people to whom he was preaching.

    When you share the story of how you came to Christ, you are in a sense saying, "I have been where you are. And let me tell you about the way I used to think, the way I used to be—the way that my life was. Now let me tell you about what Christ has done for me." A testimony helps a person to understand that you weren't born a Christian. It helps them to see that there is a bridge for them, a way for them to come to Christ. Testimonies prove that anyone can change through the transforming power of Jesus Christ.




    Copyright © 2004 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
     
  13. Dadball

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    I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me—that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.
    1 Corinthians 15:3

    Some of the hardest people to reach are those who are satisfied in life. They are the people who may not see their real spiritual condition because they have everything in order. That is why I think it is a mistake, when we share the gospel, merely to appeal to unhappy, lonely, empty individuals. Not everyone is unhappy, empty, and lonely at every given moment.

    There are some people who will have bursts of happiness. Their life will be going well. Then we come along and say, "Jesus can help you to be happy."

    "Well," they say, "I'm already happy."

    "Oh, well, Jesus can take away your emptiness."

    "I don't really feel any emptiness."

    "You don't?"

    "No."

    "Well, then never mind."

    Wait a minute! There's a little more at stake here than mere happiness. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying there are not unhappy, empty, lonely people. But not every single person is dissatisfied with their life. So we must go beyond this mere message and go to the deepest need of all. That is the need for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus did not die on the cross to make us happy. He died to save us from sin and death. The need for salvation and eternal life is true of every person at every moment in time. The thing to remember is that there is no person, regardless of fame or power, who is beyond the need of the gospel message.




    Copyright © 2004 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
     
  14. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    WHEN ALL IS LOST

    _________________________

    Matthew 27:45-50 (NRSV)

    From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o'clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "This man is calling for Elijah." At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him." Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.

    _________________________

    I say to God, my rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?"

    -- Psalm 42:9 (NRSV)

    _________________________



    EVENTS in my life made me feel as if I had been abandoned by people and by God. Usually when people fail me, I turn to God. But for several years when I have felt broken in heart and mind, I have also felt as if God has abandoned me.

    Then I read how Jesus was tested and what he overcame for our sake. Like me, Jesus felt abandoned by people and even by God the Father. That made me realize that Jesus Christ is in my wilderness experience with me. Even more remarkable is the fact that Jesus Christ chose to identify with us in the pain and loss of being human, when he could have remained in the bliss and joy of heaven.

    My wilderness experience helped me to realize the truth of another statement, this one in Ephesians 4:10: "He fill(s) the whole universe." I'm not totally out of my wilderness yet, but I cling to this promise: "God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day" (Ps. 46:5).

    Prayer: Dear Loving God, thank you for being with us in our darkest experiences. Thank you for being with us even when we feel abandoned and alone. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    When we face the wilderness, we can take comfort in knowing that Christ understands and is with us.

    -- Sarah Chee (Singapore)

     
  15. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    ANGELS OF MERCY

    _________________________

    Acts 8:26-40 (NRSV)

    Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go over to this chariot and join it." So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" He replied, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

    "Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,

    and like a lamb silent before its shearer,

    so he does not open his mouth.

    In his humiliation justice was denied him.

    Who can describe his generation?

    For his life is taken away from the earth."

    The eunuch asked Philip, "About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?" Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?" He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

    _________________________

    The psalmist wrote, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."

    -- Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

    _________________________



    IT was 1978 and I was living alone, single again, in Charleston, West Virginia. One night I went to a gathering and met a young woman who was also single again. We danced and talked. In conversation we learned that we were both Christians. We attended my church together the following Sunday. Afterward we went to lunch and then to my house.

    "Where is your Bible?" she asked.

    I thought, Surely, I must have one somewhere! But the truth was that I had been long separated from Bible study. There was no Bible. The next day we went to a local Christian bookstore, and I purchased a leather Bible. My new friend took it from me right away and wrote on the dedication page, "To Jake, with love, from the Author."

    We parted company, and I never saw her again. However, what immediately came over me was a passionate desire to know everything in that Bible. It led me to a calling to ministry, seminary, ordination, and 14 years of dedication in Christ's service. I believe that that woman was an emissary of God sent to turn my heart to God's word.

    Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your messengers. Help us to learn about them through the witness of holy scripture and to see them in our everyday life. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    Watch for God's messengers.

    -- Jacob Andrew McMorri (Ohio, U.S.A.)

     
  16. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    NO NEED TO REPAY

    _________________________

    Ephesians 2:1-10 (NRSV)

    You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God -- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

    _________________________

    By grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

    -- Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

    _________________________



    ONE evening I needed my friend Vicki to take me to the emergency room. Once at the hospital, Vicki secured my doctor's instructions, answered questions for me, and found me a wheelchair. I was finally admitted into the hospital at three o'clock the next morning; Vicki drove 25 miles home by herself.

    I wanted to do something to repay her for helping me, but she wouldn't let me; she said it wasn't necessary. It may not have been necessary, but it would have made me feel better about needing and asking for her help. It is hard to accept someone's help without repaying the favor. Is that why it is hard to accept God's saving grace?

    God offers life everlasting; all we have to do is accept the gift. We are not expected to repay God as we might try to repay a friend. Still, when we realize what a tremendous gift we have received from God, we want to please the Giver. We can do that by telling others about the gift and spreading the word of its availability to all people.

    Prayer: Loving God, help us to open our hearts and receive all you want to give us. Then help us to show others your love and grace. Amen.

    THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

    When we accept God's grace and love, we have joy to share.

    -- Judy Bloodgood Bander (Virginia, U.S.A.)

     
  17. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    DOING YOUR BEST


    Do you try to be the best or to do your best? The perfectionist has to be the best. He has to be #1. He can't accept himself. But I want you to listen to a key verse that deals with perfectionism.

    Romans 12:3-5 says, " For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."

    The grace of God exalts a man without inflating and it humbles a man without debasing him. The person who has excellence says, I am what I am by the grace of God. Do you value yourself by what you do or by what you are.

    Adrian Rogers
     
  18. Dadball

    Dadball Member

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    For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins.
    Romans 3:23–24

    Most of us are familiar with scales—and most of us usually don't like to get on them. If there is ever a problem with stepping on a scale, it's not usually that we weigh too little; it's that we weigh too much. We'll often say, "I think the scale is broken. I can't possibly weigh this much!"

    Well, God has His scales too. But He weighs things differently than we do. In this world, if you want to be a heavyweight, you need to be a person who has made your mark. You must accomplish things through power, influence, and wealth. But on God's scales, all of those things that speak of weight on earth speak of nothing in eternity. See you can be a great achiever in the world—a great celebrity or a powerful business man or woman—but when you are placed on God's scales, you may be a fluffy lightweight. God places emphasis on the unseen qualities in life. Who we are on the inside is what counts in the commodity of God. Qualities like holiness, character, and commitment are what tip the scales of God.

    All of us step onto the scales of God and are weighed. And as we come and look at God's standards, we immediately realize that we fall short of them. We don't live up to them. We fail. We sin. That is why we need God's help. We try to pull ourselves up. We try to add more weight to our side, but it doesn't help us. The only way to have any substance in life is to realize what God did for us when He sent His own Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross in our place.



    Copyright © 2004 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

    Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
     
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