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11-02-2004, 09:46 AM
November 2, 2004

Win Or Lose, Do Good

Read: Titus 3:1-8 (

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work. —Titus 3:1

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 27-29; Titus 3 (;+Titus+3)

When the results of today's presidential election are known, US citizens will either be glad or sad, depending on their political persuasion. Those who voted for the winner are likely to accept the authority of the government he establishes. Most others will submit, though grudgingly.

Christians are to go beyond mere submission to governing authorities and follow the guidelines given in the Bible. In writing to Titus, Paul said we should also be peaceable and considerate, and we should do good without slandering anyone (3:1-2).

Titus was working among believers in Crete, a place notorious for its unruly inhabitants. There were good reasons to say bad things about the people living and ruling there, but Paul warned Christians not to do it.

In fact, seven times in his short letter to Titus, Paul mentioned the importance of doing good: loving what is good (1:8), teaching what is good (2:3), doing what is good (2:7,14; 3:1-2,8,14).

Paul's letter is a timely reminder that as Christians we are to do what is good for people, regardless of whether we approve of their values and agree with their policies. It may not be easy, but it's the right thing to do. —Julie Ackerman Link

From the example of Jesus,
Who went about doing good,
We are to honor our Savior
By helping wherever He would. —Hess
Christians can be constructive if they refuse to be destructive.

11-09-2004, 07:44 AM
November 3, 2004

Another Chance

Read: Luke 22:24-34 (

Do you love Me? . . . Tend My sheep. —John 21:16

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 30-31; Philemon (;+Philemon)

Jesus promised Peter something every repentant believer craves—another chance (Luke 22:31-34). After telling him Satan would sift him as wheat, Jesus reassured Peter that He had prayed that his faith would not fail. Although Peter had insisted he would never forsake Him, Jesus said he would deny Him three times before dawn. In expectation of Peter's restoration, Jesus recommissioned him for future ministry: "When you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren" (v.32).

Preacher George Duncan said, "I don't think many church-vacancy committees would have considered Peter a suitable candidate for a church!" Duncan pointed out that at Pentecost, however, God chose Peter to deliver the most vital sermon in church history. "It would seem," Duncan said, "that some Christians have a message of forgiveness for the unbeliever, but no message of forgiveness for the believer. I'm glad that God does!" Because of that forgiveness, a new day of service dawned for Peter.

Indeed, if you are a repentant believer like Peter, you too can trust the Lord to give you another chance. Confess your sin and experience His forgiveness, healing, and restoration (1 John 1:9). —Joanie Yoder

When we confess our sins to God,
We're washed as white as snow;
Then He will send us out again—
His love and grace to show. —Sper
God's forgiveness always comes with another chance.

11-09-2004, 07:44 AM
November 4, 2004


Read: John 3:1-17 (

Do not marvel that I said to you, "You must be born again." —John 3:7

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 32-33; Hebrews 1 (;+Hebrews+1)

What do regular coffee, acoustic guitars, and black-and-white television have in common? All are what journalist Frank Mankiewicz calls "retronyms"—words or phrases created because a familiar word needs to be distinguished from a term that refers to a new development or invention.

Once, all coffee was regular, all guitars were acoustic, and all TVs were black and white. Not so today, thus the need for a growing list of retronyms, including decaf mocha java, electric guitar, and high-def television.

It could be said that Jesus turned the phrase physical birth into a retronym when He told an inquiring man named Nicodemus, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

Nicodemus was a religious person who didn't grasp the idea of second birth. "How can a man be born when he is old?" he asked Jesus. "Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" (v.4). Jesus further explained the difference between being born of the flesh and being born of the Spirit, then concluded, "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again'" (v.7).

Our Christian life begins when we invite Jesus to live within us. It's a miracle! We're born again. —David McCasland

Rejoice, O soul, the debt is paid,
For all our sins on Christ were laid;
We've been redeemed, we're justified—
And all because the Savior died. —D. De Haan
Natural life came by God's breath; eternal life comes by Christ's death.

11-09-2004, 07:45 AM
November 5, 2004

Marching Off The Map

Read: Genesis 12:1-4 (

Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. —Genesis 12:1

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 34-36; Hebrews 2 (;+Hebrews+2)

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. Our lives are subject to detours and corrections that we never expected or imagined.

Abraham and Sarah could testify to that. They were planning for retirement when life "happened" to them. God adjusted their agenda. He told Abraham, "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). So this old couple packed up the tent and headed out to only God knew where.

When Alexander the Great had completed his conquest of Persia, he headed east. Author Halford Luccock said the general "marched off his maps."

That happened to Sarah and Abraham. God gave them marching orders without a map. They needed only enough faith to begin the journey, and they headed out to unknown territories and unimagined adventures. God never told them He would turn them "every which way but loose" before fulfilling His promise of a son who would become a great nation.

Make your plans. But write them on paper, not in concrete. God and life have a way of intruding and leading you on a journey that you might not have anticipated in your wildest dreams. —Haddon Robinson

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand. —Stanphill
© 1950 Singspiration Music, Inc.
A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. —Proverbs 16:9

11-09-2004, 07:46 AM
November 6, 2004

The Good Atheist

Read: Luke 10:25-37 (

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. —Romans 13:9

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 37-39; Hebrews 3 (;+Hebrews+3)

When a man learned that an elderly woman could no longer buy her medicine and pay her rent, he came to her rescue. He took her into his home and treated her as if she were his mother. He gave her a bedroom, prepared the food for her meals, bought her medicine, and transported her whenever she needed medical attention. He continued to care for her when she could no longer do much for herself. I was amazed when I learned that this good man was a zealous atheist!

The Jews were shocked by Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan, because He put him in a positive light. They despised the Samaritans the way I tend to look down on atheists.

A lawyer had tested Jesus by asking how he could inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him what the law said. The man answered that he must love the Lord with all his heart and his neighbor as himself (Luke 10:25-27). He asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" (v.29). In Jesus' story, the Samaritan was the neighbor who showed kindness to the wounded man.

Jesus wanted this parable to challenge His listeners. The stories of the Good Samaritan and the good atheist remind us of this high standard of God's Word: "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Romans 13:9). —Herb Vander Lugt

To love my neighbor as myself
Is not an easy task,
But God will show His love through me
If only I will ask. —Sper
Needy people need our helping hand.

11-09-2004, 07:46 AM
November 7, 2004

The War Is Over!

Read: Hebrews 4 (

[Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. —Ephesians 2:17

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 40-42; Hebrews 4 (;+Hebrews+4)

The bitter conflict had finally ended between the North and the South. The soldiers of the US Civil War were free to return to their families. But a number of them remained hidden in the woods, living on berries. They either didn't hear or didn't believe that the war was over, so they continued enduring miserable conditions when they could have been back home.

It's something like that in the spiritual realm too. Christ made peace between God and man by dying in our place. He paid sin's penalty on the cross. Anyone who accepts His sacrifice will be forgiven by a holy God.

Sadly, many people refuse to believe the gospel and continue to live as spiritual fugitives. Sometimes even those who have placed their trust in Christ live on almost the same level. Either out of ignorance or unwillingness, they fail to claim the promises of God's Word. They do not experience the joy and assurance that should accompany salvation. They do not draw from their relationship with God the comfort and peace He intends for His children. They are the objects of His love, care, and provision but live as if they were orphans.

Have you been living apart from the comfort, love, and care of your heavenly Father? Come on home. The war is over! —Richard De Haan

We fail, O Lord, to realize
The fullness of what You have done,
So help us trust Your saving work
And claim the triumph You have won. —D. De Haan
Christ's victory over death means peace for His saints.

11-09-2004, 07:47 AM
November 8, 2004

The Little Evangelist

Read: Mark 12:28-34 (

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. —Mark 12:30

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 43-45; Hebrews 5 (;+Hebrews+5)

My 6-year-old neighbor Michael and I were talking in my front yard when two new neighbor kids stopped by. After I asked them their names, Michael's first question to them was: "Do you love God?" Sugar, a 5-year-old boy, quickly responded, "No!" Michael gave him a look of disapproval and concern. When 4-year-old Nana noticed he wasn't pleased with that answer, she said, "Yes!"

Michael's "witnessing strategy" may not be the most effective, but he does have an important question for the people he meets (and I've heard him ask it of several others as well).

Jesus was asked, "Which is the first commandment of all?" (Mark 12:28). He answered, "The Lord is one. 'And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength'" (vv.29-30).

Jesus was referring to Old Testament times, when God had told the Israelites to place Him as the one and only God in their lives and nation. The pagan nations around them had many gods they loved and worshiped, but God's people were to be different.

Loving God is to be our top priority too. So, Michael wants to know, "Do you love God?" —Anne Cetas

For Further Thought
Have you trusted in Jesus as your Savior?
What evidence is there in your life that you love God?
How are you showing God's love to others?
If you truly love the Lord, you'll want others to love Him too.

11-09-2004, 07:48 AM
November 9, 2004

Hope For Worriers

Read: Psalm 23 (

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. —Psalm 23:1

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 46-47; Hebrews 6 (;+Hebrews+6)

Everyone worries occasionally, but I was once a "professional worrier." My daily preoccupation was mulling over my worries, one by one.

Then one day I had to face an uncomfortable medical test, and I was frantic with fear. Finally I decided that during the test I would focus on the first five words of Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd." This exercise in meditation not only calmed me, but I gained several fresh insights. Later, as I slowly meditated through the entire psalm, the Lord gave me more insights. Eventually I was able to share at conferences what the Lord had taught me.

If you're a worrier, there's hope for you too! Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, wrote: "When you think about a problem over and over in your mind, that's called worry. When you think about God's Word over and over in your mind, that's meditation. If you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate!"

The more we meditate on God's Word, the less we need to worry. In Psalm 23, David meditated on his great Shepherd instead of worrying. Later, God chose him to be the shepherd of His people (Psalm 78:70-72). God uses those who can honestly say, "The Lord is my shepherd." —Joanie Yoder

When fear and worry test your faith
And anxious thoughts assail,
Remember God is in control
And He will never fail. —Sper
The more we think about God's Word, the less we'll think about our worries.

11-10-2004, 09:12 AM
November 10, 2004

Walking Our Faith

Read: Romans 2:17-24 (

Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? —James 2:22

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 48-49; Hebrews 7 (;+Hebrews+7)

Often we Christians are urged not just to "talk the talk" but to "walk the talk." The same advice may be expressed in these words: Don't let your behavior contradict your professed belief. At other times we are admonished to be sure that life and lip agree. If our conduct doesn't harmonize with our confession of faith, however, that discrepancy nullifies the testimony of the gospel which we proclaim.

As far as we can know, Mahatma Gandhi never became a Christian, but he made a statement that we who follow Jesus would do well to ponder. When asked to put his message into one short sentence, he replied, "My life is my message."

Certainly we should explain the gospel message as clearly as possible. Yet the clearest explanation isn't going to win hearts for our Lord unless His love is embodied in our lives. To quote the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." And holding himself up as a pattern, he wrote in Philippians 4:9, "The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."

Pray, then, that like Paul we may live out our saving faith before the watching world. —Vernon Grounds

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me—
All His wonderful passion and purity!
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine,
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. —Orsborn
The world is watching us—do they see Jesus?

11-11-2004, 08:22 AM
November 11, 2004

The Agony Of The Cross

Read: Isaiah 53 (

[Jesus] humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. —Philippians 2:8

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 50; Hebrews 8 (;+Hebrews+8)

As Christians, we understand the spiritual significance of Christ's sacrifice at Calvary, but it's easy to forget about the tremendous agony He endured there. The worst aspect was separation from the Father, but the physical suffering was also horrible beyond comprehension.

In his book Dare To Believe, Dan Baumann shares some thoughts that can deepen our gratitude for what the Savior did for us. He wrote, "We have perhaps unwisely and sometimes unconsciously glamorized the cross. Jewelry and steeples alike are often ornamental and attractive but carry nothing of the real story of crucifixion. It was the most painful method of public death in the first century. The victim was placed on a wooden cross. Nails . . . were driven into the hands and feet of the victim, and then the cross was lifted and jarred into the ground, tearing the flesh of the crucified and racking his body with excruciating pain. Historians remind us that even the soldiers could not get used to the horrible sight, and often took strong drink to numb their senses."

With a fresh awareness of our Savior's physical agony, let's thank Him anew for His sacrifice at Calvary. He loved us so much that He was willing to die for us—even the painful death of the cross. —Richard De Haan

Was it for crimes that I have done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree! —Watts
We can never sacrifice enough for the One who sacrificed His all for us.

11-12-2004, 09:17 AM
November 12, 2004

Gloom Index

Read: Acts 16:16-31 (

At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. —Acts 16:25

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 51-52; Hebrews 9 (;+Hebrews+9)

Gray skies, blue mood. It's common enough to produce what some have called the "gloom index." That's a way of describing the amount of cloudy weather a region can expect during a winter season.

A related idea is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The theory is that weather-sensitive people experience a certain amount of cloud-induced melancholy.

Other factors might be figured into a gloom index. Think about what Paul and Silas endured (Acts 16). Any one of their troubles was enough to ruin the sunniest day. Imagine the irritations of dealing with greedy profiteers who had turned a demon-possessed girl into a sideshow (vv.16-17). Think about the pain of confronting an angry mob and furious judges (v.22), of receiving a whipping and imprisonment (v.23), and of having your feet locked in stocks (v.24).

But Paul and Silas rose above it (v.25). How did they do that? They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they had a sense of mission. They were motivated by a desire to obey God and spread the message of Christ.

Like them, we can rise above the mood swings prompted by our circumstances. By being strong in the Spirit, we can overcome the gloom index. —Mart De Haan

God often sends me joy through pain,
Through bitter loss, divinest gain;
Yet through it all—dark days or bright—
I know my Father leads aright. —Conklin
God's Son can brighten our darkest days.

11-13-2004, 11:05 AM
November 13, 2004

Ain't It Awful!

Read: Lamentations 3:25-42 (

Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord. —Lamentations 3:40

Bible In One Year: Lamentations 1-2; Hebrews 10:1-18 (;+Hebrews+10:1-18)

A friend told me about a man who shouted the same three words each day from his street-corner newsstand. "Ain't it awful!" he would say to passersby while extending a newspaper. People bought a paper because they just had to know what terrible thing had occurred.

Tragedy and dire predictions always make the front page, but if we become preoccupied with bad news, we will succumb to what my friend calls "awfulizing"—a pervasive pessimism that clouds every situation with gloom.

If anyone had a good reason for being despondent, it was the prophet Jeremiah. For 40 years, he declared God's judgment on the rebellious and unrepentant nation of Judah. Jeremiah suffered because of their disobedience, but he clung to his faith in God's goodness. Even after witnessing the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of his people, Jeremiah wrote: "The Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord" (Lamentations 3:31-32,40).

Disobedience to God can cause great pain, but the doorway out of discouragement leads to the Lord, who "is good to those who wait for Him" (v.25). —David McCasland

Turn not aside, discouraged one,
Stir up your gift, pursue your goal;
In God's own time you'll see Him work,
He'll give you hope and lift your soul. —D. De Haan
Awful circumstances cannot alter the goodness of God.

11-15-2004, 02:34 PM
November 14, 2004

More Than Socializing

Read: Hebrews 10:19-25 (

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love. —Romans 12:10

Bible In One Year: Lamentations 3-5; Hebrews 10:19-39 (;+Hebrews+10:19-39)

Church can be a great place to get caught up on the latest football games, golf scores, family news, health concerns, or just to visit with friends. A cup of coffee together, a warm handshake, a friendly pat on the back are all part of the social interaction we need as human beings.

All of this is good, but New Testament fellowship goes much deeper than merely socializing when we get together at church. It takes place when we consider how we can lift up, build up, and brighten up our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Bible clearly says that we are to "serve one another" (Galatians 5:13), forgive as we are forgiven (Ephesians 4:32), and "bear one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2). From the first century, believers have gathered in Jesus' name to "consider one another in order to stir up love and good works" and to exhort one another (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Christian fellowship takes place when we offer encouragement to our friends, pray for them, and confess our sins and weaknesses to one another. These are the elements that make fellowship genuine.

What about your church? Are you merely socializing? Or are you practicing true Christian fellowship? —Dave Egner

We Christians have a kinship with
All others who believe,
And from that bond of faith and love
A mutual strength receive. —Hess
Christian fellowship builds us up and binds us together.

11-15-2004, 02:34 PM
November 15, 2004

What God Has Done

Read: Acts 26:6-23 (

King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. —Acts 26:19

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 1-2; Hebrews 11:1-19 (;+Hebrews+11:1-19)

In a debate at Boston College, Christian scholar William Craig Lane convincingly set forth the historical arguments for believing in Jesus' resurrection, much as the apostle Paul did in Acts 26. Then Lane told the story of his conversion.

As a child he never went to church, but in his teens he began to be plagued by questions about death and the meaning of life. He started going to church, but the sermons didn't answer his questions. What he saw in his church-going classmates led him to conclude that most Christians were phonies. He became an angry loner. One day a girl who always seemed to be happy told him that her joy came from having Jesus in her life, and she assured him that Jesus wanted to live in him too.

Lane spent the next 6 months soul-searching and reading the New Testament. "I came to the end of my rope and cried out to God," he said. "I cried out all the bitterness and anger that was within me. And I felt this tremendous infusion of joy, and God became at that moment a living reality in my life—a reality that has never left me."

We tell others our logic for believing in Jesus, which is based on God's Word. But it's also important to tell them what He has done for us personally. —Herb Vander Lugt

You may be tempted to debate
To change another's view,
But nothing speaks with greater power
Than what Christ does for you. —Sper
When telling others what Jesus can do for them, tell them what He has done for you.

11-18-2004, 04:03 PM
November 16, 2004

As Is

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. —2 Corinthians 5:17

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 3-4; Hebrews 11:20-40 (;+Hebrews+11:20-40)

The beat-up old car sits on the used-car lot, rusty and forsaken. Years of abuse and hard driving have taken their toll on the formerly shiny automobile.

A man walks onto the lot and is attracted to this rust bucket. He plunks down cash and the salesperson hands over the keys while saying, "I'm selling you this car 'as is.'" The new owner just smiles; he knows his cars, and he's about to restore this castoff to its former beauty.

Across town, a troubled woman sits in forlorn sadness, contemplating where she went wrong. Years of abuse and hard living have taken their toll on what was once a vibrant young girl. She's been mistreated by others so many times that she feels she has little value anymore. And after making her own mistakes and living with her own bad choices, she's sure she will be left on life's junk heap forever.

But then someone tells her about Jesus. Someone mentions that Jesus specializes in castoffs, that He is waiting to transform anyone who trusts Him—even her. Someone tells her that Jesus will take her "as is." She believes. She trusts. And Jesus begins to restore another lost person to the abundant life He has promised. —Dave Branon

The new life in Christ has begun—
The past with its darkness is gone;
Look closer to see what the Savior has done,
For change is beginning to dawn. —Hess
Salvation is not turning over a new leaf, but receiving a new life.

11-18-2004, 04:03 PM
November 17, 2004

Pain Is Not Pointless

Read: Isaiah 28:23-29 (

This also comes from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance. —Isaiah 28:29

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 5-7; Hebrews 12 (;+Hebrews+12)

During times of hardship, I often feel like whining, "Who needs this pain? I certainly don't!" But Isaiah 28 and my own experience tell me this is a shortsighted reaction. Not that we need hardship just for its own sake, but we do need to be changed and to mature. In God's hand, hardship can be an effective tool to bring about our much-needed growth.

In verses 23-28, we read the prophet's "poetic parable," written to help the people of Israel understand how God works and what He intended to accomplish in their lives through tough times. A farmer is portrayed skillfully plowing the ground, planting his crops, and threshing the harvest. If the soil could talk, it might have whined, "Who needs this painful plowing?" But the pain is not pointless. Isaiah said that the farmer is taught by God to work in measured and well-timed ways, handling delicate crops with care and others more vigorously, but always with a sure harvest in view.

Our reassurance during tough times is that the farmer's God is our God, "who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance" (v.29). His dealings with us are always thoughtful and purposeful, producing in us "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" (Hebrews 12:11). —Joanie Yoder

God has a purpose in our heartaches—
The Savior always knows what's best;
We learn so many precious lessons
In every sorrow, trial, and test. —Jarvis
When you trust in God, pain is an opportunity for progress.

11-18-2004, 04:05 PM
November 18, 2004

God's Astonishing Promise

Read: Hebrews 13:5-6 (

I will never leave you nor forsake you. —Hebrews 13:5

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 8-10; Hebrews 13 (;+Hebrews+13)

The writer to the Hebrews quotes God as saying to His people, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). How does that strike you? Is it just some pleasant piety that evokes a wide yawn?

This isn't like saying we have coffee with the President or a Supreme Court justice. Knowing people like that would say something significant about us. But to claim that God is with us every moment of every day, as close as our skin, in every turn of life, tear-stained or drenched in smiles—some would say that borders on insanity.

Yet throughout history men and women have staked their lives on that truth. Abraham, Moses, Rahab, Joshua, David, Esther, just to name a few. The promise was true for them, but how can we know it's true for us?

It is true for us because of Jesus. By His coming, He says, "I want to be with you; I gave Myself to you; I gave Myself for you. Do you really think I would ever forsake you?"

How do you respond to this astonishing promise? Say it's too good to be true. Say it sounds unbelievable. But don't ignore it. In your hurts, your fears, your struggles, your temptations, there is no more wonderful promise than this: "I will never leave you nor forsake you." —Haddon Robinson

Though all around is darkness,
Earthly joys have flown;
My Savior whispers His promise
Never to leave me alone. —Anon.
No matter where you go, God goes with you.

11-20-2004, 12:12 PM
November 19, 2004

Joyful Trials

Read: James 1:1-12 (

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials. —James 1:2

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 11-13; James 1 (;+James+1)

The Bible tells us to respond to difficult circumstances in a way that is directly opposed to our natural tendency. One of the most challenging of those commands is this: "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (James 1:2).

Other translations speak of viewing our difficulties with pure joy, considering ourselves happy—not resisting trials and temptations as intruders but welcoming them as friends. I don't know about you, but that's not the first thing that pops into my mind.

This outlook would seem absurd and unattainable if not for the reason behind it: "knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience" (v.3). An attitude of joy is not based on what we feel but on what we know of God and His work in our lives. Therefore, a painful process that yields a desired goal can be welcomed as a friend.

It's not the testing of our strength but the trying of our faith in Almighty God that develops our endurance. Through it all, the Lord promises wisdom for today (v.5) and a crown of life for those who persevere (v.12).

My natural response to difficult circumstances is "Oh, no!" The Lord wants me to see what He can accomplish through them and say, "Oh, yes!" —David McCasland

The deeper meaning of my trials
O Lord, You've kept from me;
But some small part of Your great plan
I pray, Lord, help me see. —D. De Haan
Joy in trials comes from knowing that the outcome will be good.

11-20-2004, 12:12 PM
November 20, 2004

Let The Whole World Hear

Read: Acts 1:1-8 (

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. —Mark 16:15

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 14-15; James 2 (;+James+2)

Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), the world-famous violinist, earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions, but he generously gave most of it away. So, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips, he lacked the money to buy it.

Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller, hoping to purchase that beautiful instrument. But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector. Kreisler made his way to the new owner's home and offered to buy the violin. The collector said it had become his prized possession and he would not sell it.

Disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea. "Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?" he asked. Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector's emotions were deeply stirred. "I have no right to keep that to myself," he exclaimed. "It's yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it."

To sinners saved by grace, the gospel is like the rapturous harmonies of heaven. We have no right to keep it to ourselves. Jesus tells us to take it into our world and let people hear it. —Vernon Grounds

I'll tell the world how Jesus saved me
And how He gave me a life brand new;
And I know that if you trust Him
That all He gave me He'll give to you. —Fox
© 1958, 1963 Fox Music Publications
Someone told you about Jesus. Have you told someone lately?

11-30-2004, 12:29 PM

November 21, 2004

A Unique Sacrifice

Read: [url=""]Hebrews 10:1-18 (

This Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. —Hebrews 10:12

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 16-17; James 3 (;+James+3)

What do you think of when you hear the word sacrifice? We may use the term when we see parents who follow a strict budget and drive an old car so they can send their children to college. It certainly is a good word to describe the selfless action of a soldier who throws himself on a live grenade to take the full brunt of the explosion and save the lives of his companions.

Such noble sacrifices, however, pale when compared to what our Savior did for us on the cross. His sacrifice was unique. Jesus suffered and died "for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:2). Because of His death and resurrection, all who accept His offer of salvation receive complete forgiveness and eternal life (John 3:16).

In Hebrews 10, the Bible speaks about the animal offerings of the Old Testament and compares them to the death of Jesus. Verse 4 states, "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins." Those sacrifices pointed to the need for Christ's death.

The substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ provides full salvation to all who have placed their trust in Him. Hallelujah, what a Savior! —Herb Vander Lugt

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood,
Hallelujah! What a Savior! —Bliss
Believing Christ died—that's history; believing He died for me—that's salvation!

11-30-2004, 12:30 PM
November 22, 2004

Closet Christians

Read: Matthew 5:13-16 (

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:16

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 18-19; James 4 (;+James+4)

A businessman gave his heart to Jesus as a result of a Billy Graham evangelistic event. When he told his co-workers, his Christian business partner was elated. But the new believer hadn't known about his faith, and said, "You know, you're one reason I resisted becoming a Christian for several years. I figured that if someone like you could live a good life and not be a Christian, there was no need for me to become one."

A friend of mine and I were doing business in a local bank. He needed to change a $100 bill. By mistake the teller counted out six $20 bills. When my friend discovered the error, he walked back into the bank and quietly told her what had happened. The teller said, "I can't thank you enough. I would have had to make up the difference. Obviously, you are an honest man." He replied, "The reason I am honest is that I'm a committed follower of Jesus Christ. Giving you back the money is something He would want me to do."

Christians should lead exemplary lives. But it's important that we reveal the Source of strength and life who enables us to be different. As Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). —Haddon Robinson

Like a brightly shining light
In the darkness of the night,
We will stand for truth and right—
Let the whole world know! —Peterson
© 1968 Singspiration Music, Inc.
It's the life behind the words that makes your testimony effective.

11-30-2004, 12:31 PM
November 23, 2004

"Just As I Am"

Read: John 6:35-40 (

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. —John 6:37

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 20-21; James 5 (;+James+5)

Charlotte Elliott learned an important lesson about Jesus one sleepless night in 1834. She was an invalid, so when her family held a bazaar in Brighton, England, to raise money to build a school, she could only watch from afar.

That night she was overwhelmed by her helplessness and could not sleep. But her sadness turned to joy when she realized that God accepted her just as she was.

Her experience inspired these well-loved words: "Just as I am, without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!" When she published the poem in The Invalid's Hymn Book, she included with it John 6:37.

Jesus always accepts people as they are. In John 6, the people had come from miles around to hear Jesus. When the crowd became hungry, He miraculously fed them with a boy's unselfish gift of five loaves and two fish. Then the Lord offered Himself as "the bread of life," promising that He would not turn away anyone who came to Him.

It's still true today. No one who comes to Jesus will be turned away. Come to Him with all your sin. He'll accept you just as you are. —Dave Egner

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come! —Elliott
No one is too good or too bad to be saved.

11-30-2004, 12:31 PM
November 24, 2004

Give Thanks And Remember

Read: Hebrews 13:1-16 (

Do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. —Hebrews 13:16

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 22-23; 1 Peter 1 (;+1+Peter+1)

One of today's most popular syndicated newspaper columns is "Dear Abby." Started in 1956 by Abigail Van Buren, the advice column is written today by her daughter Jeanne Phillips. In a recent edition, she included this Thanksgiving Prayer written many years before by her mother:

O Heavenly Father:
We thank Thee for food
and remember the hungry.
We thank Thee for health
and remember the sick.
We thank Thee for friends
and remember the friendless.
We thank Thee for freedom
and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances
stir us to service.
That Thy gifts to us may be used
for others. Amen.

The words of this prayer echo the clear teaching of Scripture. Our thanksgiving to God should always be accompanied by thinking of those in need. "Therefore," said the writer to the Hebrews, "by [Jesus] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15).

But there is more to it than thankfulness. We are to put actions behind our gratitude. "Do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (v.16).

Be thankful for God's many blessings, but be sure to remember those who have less. —David McCasland

Serving others is a way of thanking God.

11-30-2004, 12:32 PM
November 25, 2004

Be Filled With Thankfulness

Read: Romans 1:18-22 (

Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. —Hebrews 13:15

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 24-26; 1 Peter 2 (;+1+Peter+2)

Throughout history, many cultures have set aside a time for expressing their thankfulness. In the US, Thanksgiving Day originated with the pilgrims. In the midst of extreme hardship, loss of loved ones, and meager supplies, they still believed they were blessed. They chose to celebrate God's blessings by sharing a meal with Native Americans who had helped them survive.

We know we've lost the spirit of that original celebration when we catch ourselves complaining that our Thanksgiving Day has been "spoiled" by bad weather, disappointing food, or a bad cold. It's we who are spoiled—spoiled by the very blessings that should make every day a day of thanksgiving, whatever our circumstances.

Billy Graham wrote, "Ingratitude is a sin, just as surely as is lying or stealing or immorality or any other sin condemned by the Bible." He then quoted Romans 1:21, one of the Bible's indictments against rebellious humanity. Then Dr. Graham added, "Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness."

Which condition describes you? —Joanie Yoder

A grumbling mood of discontent
Gives way to thankfulness
When we consider all God's gifts
And all that we possess. —Sper
Gratitude is a God-honoring attitude.

11-30-2004, 12:32 PM
November 26, 2004

Watch Your Eyes

Read: Matthew 6:19-23 (

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. —Matthew 6:22

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 27-29; 1 Peter 3 (;+1+Peter+3)

The ability to discern between good and evil is determined by the things on which we focus our spiritual eyes. If we set our eyes on money, for example, we may have the good life for a while, but our judgment will become clouded. We'll make choices that defy our own values—choices that may devastate our families and destroy us in the end.

The Bible warns, "Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts" (1 Timothy 6:9). If we love money we'll go to any extreme to get it. And then, "How great is that darkness" (Matthew 6:23).

In C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, Edmund's lust for sweets leads him to betray his beloved brother and sisters. Eustace's desire for the dragon's gold eventually turns him into a dragon. Greed overcomes Prince Caspian on Deathwater Island as he dreams of the power its magic water will bring him.

Food, money, power—wherever we focus our spiritual eyes determines what we desire, and whether our lives are filled with light or filled with darkness. Jesus said, "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light" (Matthew 6:22).

Be careful where your eyes lead your desires. —David Roper

No greater peace can flood our soul
Than when we choose a heavenly goal,
But when we covet worldly gain
We choose a path that brings us pain. —D. De Haan
Cure for covetousness: Think of something to give instead of something to get.

11-30-2004, 12:34 PM
November 27, 2004

Pointing Fingers

Read: Psalm 14 (

There is none who does good, no, not one. —Psalm 14:3

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 30-32; 1 Peter 4 (;+1+Peter+4)

An employee in the bill-collection department of a large store gave me an insight into human nature. He told me that he repeatedly gets the following response from customers who are delinquent in paying their bills: "I know you must have others who owe a lot more than I do. Get off my back, will you!"

The employee then told me, "They miss the point entirely. Sure, there are a lot of others who owe more. But somehow I have to tell them in a nice way, 'Look, what somebody else owes isn't the issue. Our records say that your account is overdue!'"

The tendency of sinful man has always been to shift attention from himself by pointing the finger at others. Religious people excuse their inconsistencies by referring to the "pagans" around them. And the "pagans" try to sidestep the issue by talking about the hypocrisies of the religious. But God is not fooled by finger-pointers.

When someone else appears to be a greater sinner than we are, it's just an illusion. The sooner we realize that no one owes more to God than we do, the more likely we are to receive His free forgiveness. He extends His pardon only to those who humbly acknowledge that they are hopelessly in debt. —Mart De Haan

My sin, O Lord, defies Your Word,
It scorns Your holy name;
I will not make excuse for wrong—
Christ's blood is what I claim. —D. De Haan
One sin rationalized becomes two.

11-30-2004, 12:34 PM
November 28, 2004

Worthy Of Worship

Read: Psalm 99 (

Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool—He is holy. —Psalm 99:5

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 33-34; 1 Peter 5 (;+1+Peter+5)

As Moses was tending his father-in-law's sheep in the desert, his attention was drawn to a strange sight. A bush was burning without being consumed. When Moses turned to look more closely, God said to him, "Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5).

Joshua had a similar experience when he approached the captain of the host of the Lord. As Joshua drew nearer, he was given this command: "Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy" (Joshua 5:15).

The experiences of Moses and Joshua teach us that a holy God demands our reverence and respect. True, we are encouraged to "come boldly to the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16). We can enter the presence of God with confidence because Jesus has opened the way for us through His death on the cross. But never are we to approach God with disrespect. Never are we to profane His name.

Our heavenly Father is not "the man upstairs." He is God, the One who is high and lifted up. And because of His majesty and holiness, we are to exalt and worship Him. As the one true God, He is worthy of our adoration. Let's give Him our highest praise. —Richard De Haan

You alone are worthy, Lord,
To be worshiped and adored;
We to You our tribute bring
As our hearts rejoice and sing. —Hess
True worship acknowledges the true worthship of God.

11-30-2004, 12:36 PM
November 29, 2004

How To Clean Anything

Read: 1 John 1:5-10 (

The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. —1 John 1:7

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 35-36; 2 Peter 1 (;+2+Peter+1)

Consumer Reports published a booklet with the intriguing title How To Clean Practically Anything. It offers advice on what solvent to use to remove a wide assortment of stains. Living as I do with drips and drops, that is my kind of book.

Did you know that glycerin will remove stains made by a ball-point pen? Boiling water can remove berry stains. Parents of small children should keep a gallon of vinegar handy to get rid of crayon marks. Bleach works well for mildew. Lemon juice performs minor miracles on rust stains.

I haven't tried them all, but I assume that scientists have put these common cleansing agents to the test.

What you will not find in this little book is how to deal with the most serious stain of all—the stain made on your life by sin. Deep, ugly stains made by hostile words and shame-filled actions. Tears won't touch them. Zeal can't erase them. At times we are convinced that we have gotten on with our lives and the sins are gone, but in an unguarded moment we notice the stain seeping through.

The Bible tells us just what we need: "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). That's the only remedy that works. —Haddon Robinson

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain—
He washed it white as snow. —Hall
We may whitewash sin, but only Jesus' blood can truly wash it white.

11-30-2004, 12:37 PM
November 30, 2004

Sounds Of Silence

Read: Colossians 3:12-17 (

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom. —Colossians 3:16

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 37-39; 2 Peter 2 (;+2+Peter+2)

During a Sunday morning worship service, I was intrigued to see the interpreter for the deaf continue to sign during an instrumental piano offertory. After the service I asked her what she was saying during that time when no words were being spoken or sung. She said that she had signed the words to the hymn being played, and also answered questions her "audience" asked about the pianist, her style, and her training.

"Instrumental music can be a blank place in worship for the deaf," she told me. Instead of taking a break or enjoying it alone, she thought of those who couldn't hear and kept the worship service unbroken for them.

That experience broadened my understanding of Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." As we allow God's Word to fill our hearts and have free rein in our lives, we can share it with others through words of instruction, encouragement, and praise to the Lord. Imagine the impact it could have in our homes, in private conversations, and in worship together.

As you encourage others by sharing God's Word from your heart, it will be music to their ears. —David McCasland

Sing praise to God who reigns above,
The God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love,
The God of our salvation. —Schutz
Let God's Word fill your heart and guide your words.

12-07-2004, 07:16 AM
December 1, 2004

Dead Ducks Don't Flutter

Read: Romans 7:14-25 (

What I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. —Romans 7:15

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 40-41; 2 Peter 3 (;+2+Peter+3)

Many years ago, a wealthy man went duck hunting with a hired hand named Sam. They took a horse and carriage, and along the way a rim came off one of the wheels. As Sam hammered it back on, he accidentally hit his finger. Instantly he let go with some bad words. He quickly fell to his knees, asking God's forgiveness. "Lord, it's so difficult at times to live the Christian life," he prayed.

"Sam," said the man, "I know you're a Christian, but tell me why you struggle so. I'm an atheist, and I don't have problems like that."

Sam didn't know what to say. Just then two ducks flew overhead. The man raised his gun and two shots rang out. "Leave the dead one and go after that wounded bird!" he shouted. Sam pointed at the duck that was fluttering desperately to escape and said, "I've got an answer for you now, Boss. You said that my Christianity isn't any good because I have to struggle so. Well, I'm the wounded duck, and I struggle to get away from the devil. But Boss, you're the dead duck!"

That insight fits Paul's description of his Christian experience in Romans 7:14-25. Struggle is one evidence of God's work in our lives. Forgiveness of sin is available, so don't despair. Remember, dead ducks don't flutter. —Dennis De Haan

Struggle, yes, it's part of living,
Nothing's gained on beds of ease;
But when our heart is set on Jesus,
Struggle drives us to our knees. —D. De Haan
If Jesus lives within us, sin need not overwhelm us.

12-07-2004, 07:17 AM
December 2, 2004

Returning God's Love

Read: Malachi 3:16-18 (

"I have loved you," says the Lord. —Malachi 1:2

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 42-44; 1 John 1 (;+1+John+1)

The book of Malachi begins with this wholehearted word from the Lord to His halfhearted worshipers: "I have loved you" (1:2). Though Israel had long been the object of God's love, they no longer returned His love.

God listed the ways His people had offended His love through their disobedience. Israel's response was to question God. When He implored them, "Return to Me, and I will return to you," they questioned Him in their blindness, "In what way shall we return?" (3:7). With divine "tough love," the Lord exposed their many blind spots. He did this so that they might repent and accept His love, and return it with wholehearted obedience.

We too are often halfhearted in our faith, appearing to love and serve God but really loving and serving ourselves. Today, as in Malachi's time, God looks for people who reverence Him by maintaining two spiritual practices: speaking to each other about Him, and meditating on His wonderful attributes (v.16). The first is fellowship with God's people; the second is fellowship with God Himself. Not only are we to receive and share God's love, we are also to return it through glad obedience.

Such worshipers are God's "jewels" (v.17). Are you one of them? —Joanie Yoder

"We love You, Lord Jesus," we often will say,
But are we as ready His will to obey?
Let's heed what God's Spirit would have us to do—
That's how we show Him a love that is true. —D. De Haan
To love God is to obey God.

12-07-2004, 07:17 AM
December 3, 2004

Looking For God?

Read: Matthew 21:28-32 (

Tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. —Matthew 21:31

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 45-46; 1 John 2 (;+1+John+2)

My wife and I were having dinner with another couple at a fishing lodge in Montana. It was interrupted when a fellow fisherman in a drunken rant began to regale us with tales of the houses of ill-repute he had visited.

Though his comments were crass and offensive, I caught a note of pathos in his voice and thought of something G. K. Chesterton had said: "Even when men knock on the door of a brothel they're looking for God."

Chesterton was right. Many desires are evidence of a deeper hunger for God. This man, who seemed so far from God, was closer than he realized.

Every man knows he was made for lofty pursuits, yet he easily wanders into paths that demean and debase him. He becomes less manly than he ought to be, and he knows it. There's a nagging feeling that he ought to be something more. Some cover it up with self-righteousness, as the Pharisees did, or else they ignore it. Others know they have lost their way. That elusive feeling, when followed up, may bring them to God.

"Tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you," Jesus told the Pharisees (Matthew 21:31). That's why I think the drunken fisherman is much more likely to repent than the Pharisees were. —David Roper

Our heart is made for God alone,
For only He can satisfy;
But oh how much we yearn for things
That in the end are but a lie. —D. DeHaan
Within each one of us there is a God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill. —Pascal

12-07-2004, 07:18 AM
December 4, 2004

Read All Of It

Read: Psalm 119:97-112 (

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. —2 Timothy 3:16

Bible In One Year: Ezekiel 47-48; 1 John 3 (;+1+John+3)

Some Christian families follow the practice of reading through the whole Bible. After evening meals, they read a chapter or two. They read from Genesis to Revelation, skipping nothing. Even the genealogies with their hard-to-pronounce names are read aloud.

We might question the relevance of such a method for small children, but it does acquaint all the family members with the entirety of God's Word. It also exposes children to the sinful depths and spiritual heights of which we are capable, and it teaches them right and wrong.

If you've never done so, why not embark on your own program of reading the Bible straight through? Try doing it as a family or for your personal devotions.

There are two persuasive reasons for resolving to undertake such a program. One is Paul's declaration that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable (2 Timothy 3:16). The other is the testimony of believers whose lives have been changed by following such a practice.

Read God's Word straight through and you'll begin to see the unfolding plan of God's redeeming grace, and that you were the object of His love even before you were born. Do it once, and you'll want to do it again. —Vernon Grounds

Oh, may these heavenly pages be
My ever dear delight,
And still new beauties may I see,
And still increasing light. —Steele
Those who only sample the Bible never acquire a taste for it.

12-07-2004, 07:18 AM
December 5, 2004

No Answers

Read: Job 42:1-6 (

Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? —Job 40:2

Bible In One Year: Daniel 1-2; 1 John 4 (;+1+John+4)

Just before Christmas 2003, Lydia came home from work to the sight of flames shooting out of her house. She was devastated by more than the loss of her home—seven of her family members died in the flames. When news about the tragedy spread that morning, a deacon from her church rushed to comfort her. She had some deep questions for him, but he had no answers.

Lydia could relate to Job's story. He lost all 10 of his children (Job 1:18-19), yet he continued to worship God (v.21). Then his health was affected, and his wife urged him to curse God and die (2:9). Job's friends thought they had the answer—he must have sinned and deserved his troubles.

Job complained bitterly to the Lord and pleaded for an explanation and relief, but God didn't give him any answers. He didn't even tell him about Satan's request to test him (1:6-12; 2:1-6). Instead, He reminded Job that He was the all-wise God and that Job was not. Job was humbled, and he repented for having questioned God's authority (42:1-6).

This side of heaven, we may not find answers for our desperate questions of "Why did this happen?" and "Why me?" But we can rest in the truth that God is in control and that He loves us. —Anne Cetas

Though darker, rougher, grows the way
And cares press harder day by day,
With patience in His love I'll rest,
And whisper that He knoweth best. —Pentecost
God does not have to answer our questions, but He will always keep His promises.

12-07-2004, 07:19 AM
December 6, 2004

It's The Knees

Read: James 5:13-18 (

Continue earnestly in prayer. —Colossians 4:2

Bible In One Year: Daniel 3-4; 1 John 5 (;+1+John+5)

Both of my knees were hurting, and I could not figure out why. I hadn't done anything to damage them or put undo pressure on them.

Or had I? I recalled that over the previous few days I had been working on the walls in our house, scrubbing them and getting them ready for painting. And then I had painted them. All the while, as I stood on the short ladder to reach the top, I had been pressing my knees against the ladder for balance. I was, in effect, being supported by my knees.

Then a new thought came to mind: When was the last time my knees hurt because I was on them praying? It had been a while.

Although it's true that people pray all the time without kneeling, the question I asked myself is a convicting one. Whether we are on our knees, standing up, or seated, how often do we use prayer to support ourselves? We can find help from many sources—friends, counselors, books—but there's nothing better than the support and strength we get from God when we pray.

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). Prayer has power. We are to "continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant" (Colossians 4:2).

How are your knees? —Dave Branon

When I kneel before my Master,
I can feel His presence there,
And the load of care and sorrow
Seems much easier to bear. —Anon.
Prayer does not require eloquence but earnestness.

12-07-2004, 07:20 AM
December 7, 2004

How To Be Unpopular

Read: Jeremiah 23:16-23 (

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! —Jeremiah 23:1

Bible In One Year: Daniel 5-7; 2 John (;+2+John)


In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg. Luther became known as a reformer, and we remember his bold stand as a turning point in church history.

The fiery priest demonstrated great courage in expressing outrage at the church's practice of selling forgiveness through indulgences, which allowed the people to sin intentionally in exchange for money.

Luther's passion to stop these practices did not make him popular with the religious authorities of his day. In fact, his efforts resulted in a series of attempts to silence him.

Long before Luther, the prophet Jeremiah felt the power of God's Word in his heart "like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not" (Jeremiah 20:9). Jeremiah and Luther refused to allow God's truth to be compromised.

Living for God is about grace and forgiveness, but it's also about boldly standing for the truth. Having God's Word in our heart doesn't always result in warm, pleasant feelings. Sometimes His truth becomes a blazing fire that causes us to challenge corruption—even though we may be attacked for it. —Julie Ackerman Link

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word. —Watts
It's better to declare the truth and be rejected than to withhold it just to be accepted.

12-08-2004, 08:04 AM
December 8, 2004

Bad News?

Read: Psalm 112:1-10 (

He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. —Psalm 112:7

Bible In One Year: Daniel 8-10; 3 John (;+3+John)

Several years ago, before cell phones became common, a seminar leader asked the audience, "If someone came into this meeting, called your name, and said, 'You have a phone call,' would you assume that it was good news or bad news?" Most of us admitted we would think it was bad news, but we weren't sure why.

It points out a common burden many people carry—the fear of bad news. It may be a natural concern for the safety of those we love, but it can become an irrational dread of tragedy.

When we are most afraid, we most need confidence in God. Psalm 112 speaks of a person who fears the Lord, delights in His commandments, and is gracious to others (vv.1,4-5). But perhaps most striking is: "He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord" (v.7).

A hymn by Frances Havergal reminds us that a trusting heart is the answer for a worried mind: "Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest; finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest."

The Bible doesn't promise that we will never receive bad news. But it does assure us that we don't have to live each day in gnawing fear of what might happen. "His heart is established; he will not be afraid" (v.8). —David McCasland

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the Spirit there. —Havergal
Faith in the living God can take the fear out of living.

12-09-2004, 08:02 AM
December 9, 2004

Afraid To Be Afraid

Read: Psalm 56 (

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. —Psalm 56:3

Bible In One Year: Daniel 11-12; Jude (;+Jude)

A young woman was waiting for a bus in a crime-ridden area when a rookie policeman approached her and asked, "Do you want me to wait with you?" "That's not necessary," she replied. "I'm not afraid." "Well, I am," he grinned. "Would you mind waiting with me?"

Like that policeman, we as Christians must be willing to admit that sometimes we become fearful—about dying, about getting cancer, about losing our mind, about losing our job, about our children getting in trouble, about getting old. We don't like to confess it, so we may ignore, deny, or repress those fears. But to overcome our fear, we must first acknowledge it.

The psalmist recognized his fears. "Whenever I am afraid," he said, "I will trust in You" (Psalm 56:3). This trust in the Lord gave him a growing confidence. "I will not fear," he said (v.4). And again, "I will not be afraid" (v.11). This was much more than self-talk. It was a conscious decision to trust in God: "I will."

We can conquer our fears. To admit that we are afraid is to admit that we are human. But to admit being afraid and then trusting the Lord and going forward will take the fear out of fear. —Dennis De Haan

I can walk with Christ in safety,
Trusting Him, my faithful Guide;
There's no reason to be fearful,
Knowing He is by my side. —Hess
We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

12-10-2004, 07:37 AM
December 10, 2004

Dangerous Proverbs

Read: Ezekiel 18:1-9 (

If he has walked in My statutes and kept My judgments faithfully—he is just; he shall surely live! —Ezekiel 18:9

Bible In One Year: Hosea 1-4; Revelation 1 (;+Revelation+1)

There is a hidden danger in any proverb. A proverb is a general principle—not an absolute truth—and it can be misused. "Like father, like son," we say, but it depends on who says it and why. There is truth in it, but when someone quotes it to justify the shambles he has made of life, the proverb serves as an excuse to play the victim.

The prophet Ezekiel wanted to get the Hebrew captives in Babylon to return not only to their homes but to their God. It was a tough sell. The people responded by taking refuge in a proverb: "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge" (Ezekiel 18:2).

This saying blamed their captivity on an earlier generation. "You can't be serious about asking us to repent," they protested. "It's our parents' fault. They ate the sour grapes and we have to bear the consequences."

So God declared through Ezekiel, "You shall no longer use this proverb in Israel" (v.3). Each person bore responsibility for his own actions. "The soul who sins shall die," God said (v.4). But "if he has walked in My statutes and kept My judgments faithfully—he is just; he shall surely live!" (v.9).

Proverbs are wonderful tools for guidance. They were never intended to excuse our bad behavior. —Haddon Robinson

Don't hide your sin and cover up,
Pretending that there's nothing wrong;
Instead, confess it and repent,
And God will fill your heart with song. —Sper

A good test of character: When we do wrong, whom do we blame?

12-13-2004, 04:43 PM
December 11, 2004

A Pleasant Diversion

Read: Romans 11:33-12:2 (

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. —Romans 12:2

Bible In One Year: Hosea 5-8; Revelation 2 (;+Revelation+2)

A friend was looking for a church to join and told me she had found just what she was looking for: "I like this church because I don't have to change my lifestyle of partying. It doesn't make me feel guilty or require anything of me. I feel good about myself when I'm there."

Her story makes me wonder how many people are in that type of situation. Their "Christianity" is what author W. Waldo Beach calls "a pleasant weekend diversion."

But is that the kind of life Jesus calls us to? Beach says, "No amount of air-conditioning and pew-cushioning in the suburban church can cover over the hard truth that . . . discipleship is costly; that, for the faithful, there is always a cross to be carried. No one can understand Christianity to its depths who comes to it to enjoy it as a pleasant weekend diversion."

Being a Christian means that we know Jesus personally. We have received Him by faith as our Savior from sin, and we present ourselves to Him. We deny our will and choose His instead. He transforms our thinking, our values, and our priorities to reflect what is acceptable to God (Romans 12:1-2).

Is your religion just a pleasant weekend diversion? That's no substitute for a vital relationship with Jesus! —Anne Cetas

"Take up your cross," the Savior said,
"If you would My disciple be;
Take up your cross with willing heart
And humbly follow after Me." —Everest
Discipleship demands discipline.

12-13-2004, 04:44 PM
December 12, 2004

Serving Without Distraction

Read: Luke 10:38-42 (

Martha was distracted with much serving. —Luke 10:40

Bible In One Year: Hosea 9-11; Revelation 3 (;+Revelation+3)

While Martha served Jesus unsparingly, her sister Mary sat at His feet, listening and learning. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) believed that Martha's mistake wasn't her serving, but rather that she allowed it to distract her attention from Jesus. Spurgeon believed that we should be Martha and Mary in one. He wrote, "We should do much service, and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace. It is easier to serve than to commune."

I once met a young mother who found the grace to do both. She hungered after God and His Word but was unavoidably immersed in family life each day. Then an idea came to her. In each room she placed paper and a pencil on a high surface, away from tiny hands. As she served the Lord in household responsibilities, she also kept herself open to God. Whenever a Scripture came to mind, or something to confess, to correct, or to pray about, she jotted it on the nearest pad of paper. In the evening after the children were asleep, she gathered her pieces of paper and pondered them prayerfully over her open Bible.

This woman found a way to be Martha and Mary at the same time. May we too discover ways to serve God and to commune with Him. —Joanie Yoder

Our service for the Lord each day
Can make us feel distressed,
But spending time each day with Christ
Can make our service blest. —D. De Haan
To keep your life in balance, lean on the Lord.

12-13-2004, 04:45 PM
December 13, 2004

Cave Man

Read: Psalm 142 (

Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low. —Psalm 142:6

Bible In One Year: Hosea 12-14; Revelation 4 (;+Revelation+4)

David was stuck in a cave (Psalm 142). Some Bible commentators think this was when he was running from King Saul, who wanted to kill him (1 Samuel 22:1). Trouble and troublemakers hounded him. Hemmed in by his circumstances and smothered by danger, he turned to God for help.

David was frightened, so he poured out his complaint to God (v.2).
He felt alone and uncared for, so he cried out to God (vv.1,4-5).
His situation was desperate, so he pleaded for rescue (v.6).
David was trapped, so he begged for freedom (v.7).

What cave surrounds you today? A cave of despair brought on by grief or illness? A cave of difficulties caused by your own poor decisions? Are you stuck in a cave of questions or doubts that rob you of joy and confidence?

Here's what David did when he was trapped in his cave: He asked God for mercy, he sought refuge in Him, and he promised to use his eventual freedom as a way to praise God. In the end, he looked forward to the comfort of fellow believers.

Complaint followed by faith. Desperation followed by praise. Loneliness followed by fellowship. We can learn a lot from a cave man. —Dave Branon

When we experience suffering,
God's comfort will abound;
For tribulations teach us where
True comfort can be found. —Sper
In every desert of calamity, God has an oasis of comfort.

12-16-2004, 10:12 AM
December 14, 2004

Believing Is Trusting

Read: Romans 5:1-11 (

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. —Romans 1:16

Bible In One Year: Joel 1-3; Revelation 5 (;+Revelation+5)

Occasionally I meet people who know they have a spiritual need but are reluctant to make a personal commitment to Christ. Although they have seen what faith in Christ has done for others, they are confused by the advice they get from some good churchgoing people.

One man told me he had been advised to join a certain church to be saved. He was told by someone else that he had to be baptized in a particular church. Still others spoke vaguely about trying to obey the Sermon on the Mount. And one of his friends said he needed to go through a period of intense sorrow for sin before he could expect God to save him.

Frankly, I don't blame that confused man for saying to me, "I don't want to read any pamphlets or tracts. Show me right from the Bible how I can be saved." So we started reading passages in Romans and discussing them. By the time we reached the fifth chapter, he said, "It's clear to me now. All I need to do is place my trust in Jesus Christ." He did, and he found peace.

We have saving faith when we believe what the Bible says about us and about Jesus Christ, and when we act upon that truth by placing our trust in Him.

If you have not done so, trust Jesus now. —Herb Vander Lugt

God sent His Son to die for us—
No other life would do;
So why not trust in Christ today,
Accept His gift to you. —Branon
We are saved not by what we do but by trusting what Christ has done.

12-16-2004, 10:13 AM
December 15, 2004

Perfect Peace Is Possible

Read: Isaiah 26:1-9 (

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. —Isaiah 26:3

Bible In One Year: Amos 1-3; Revelation 6 (;+Revelation+6)

Few things (if anything at all) in this fallen world can be called perfect. But God promises to keep us in "perfect peace" if we keep our minds focused on Him and continue trusting Him (Isaiah 26:3).

So why do we find it so difficult to trust Him? Often, it's because we're afraid that things won't go as we want them to unless we control them ourselves. The less we are in control, the more anxious and worried we become.

Author Hannah Whitall Smith wrote, "It is not hard, you find, to trust the management of the universe, and of all the outward creation, to the Lord. Can your case then be so much more complex and difficult than these, that you need to be anxious or troubled about His management of you?"

Yet we often think our situation is too difficult for God. If we can't solve things ourselves, we doubt that He can. We have our Christian beliefs, yes—but that isn't the same as believing God. Believing God is a personal response that grows out of our Christian faith and is expressed by our increasing trust in Him and His promises.

As our mind remains on Him, He keeps us in perfect peace. This has been the experience of countless believers, and you can experience it too. —Joanie Yoder

If God's creation helps us see
What wonders He can do,
Then we can trust His promises
For they are always true. —D. De Haan
God can be trusted in the dark as well as in the light.

12-16-2004, 10:13 AM
December 16, 2004

The Gift Of Family

Read: Exodus 20:1-20 (

Honor your father and your mother. —Exodus 20:12

Bible In One Year: Amos 4-6; Revelation 7 (;+Revelation+7)

Through her books and lectures, Edith Schaeffer has become much appreciated for her insights into the value of life's ordinary days. When she and her husband Francis were first married, both sets of parents lived nearby. The newlyweds divided each Sunday afternoon and evening be-tween the Schaeffers and the Sevilles.

After a few years, Edith and Francis moved to Switzerland, where they could talk with their parents only once a year in a brief phone conversation.

Looking back half a century later, Edith wrote of being glad for the way they had used those Sunday afternoons. She noted that "proximity of loved ones is not an endless situation." She concluded that a package labeled "time to care for parents and exhibit love" doesn't just arrive someday. We must show love while we can.

The fifth of the Ten Commandments says: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12). The command to love and respect our parents applies equally to children living at home, newly independent young couples, and empty-nesters.

Seize each moment you have to love and honor your family. The opportunity won't last forever. —David McCasland

Putting It Into Action
<LI>Plan a regular time to call a family member.
<LI>Help an aged relative with a project or housework.
<LI>Write a letter to someone you love but cannot visit.
Time is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other.

12-20-2004, 12:34 PM
December 17, 2004

Earth Walk

Read: John 1:11-18 (

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. —John 1:14

Bible In One Year: Amos 7-9; Revelation 8 (;+Revelation+8)

After the Apollo XV mission, Colonel James Irwin related some of the high points of his experience. He told of their weightless bodies floating free in the space capsule, the rising crescent of the earth as seen from the moon, and the triumphal splashdown before a watching world.

Irwin also spoke of the impact the experience had on his spiritual life. He said that from the lunar surface he sensed both the glory of God and the plight of earthbound man. As he came back to earth, he realized he couldn't content himself with being merely a celebrity. He would have to be a servant, telling his fellowman of a better way to live. Irwin concluded by saying that if we think it a great event to go to the moon, how much greater is the wonder that God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ!

Because man walked on the moon, science and technology have made tremendous advances. But because God walked on earth, we know both our origin and our destiny. We can know our Creator personally (John 1:1,14,18), and we can live in His light (v.9). Through Jesus' sinless life and sacrificial death, we can know the joy of having our sins forgiven and experience the fullness of an abundant life—all because God walked on the earth. —Mart De Haan

Down from His glory, ever-living story,
My God and Savior came, and Jesus was His name.
Born in a manger, to His own a stranger,
A Man of sorrows, tears, and agony. —Booth-Clibborn
God made His home with us so that we might make our home with God.

12-20-2004, 12:34 PM
December 18, 2004

Caretakers, Not Owners

Read: Psalm 95 (

All things come from You, and of Your own we have given You. —1 Chronicles 29:14

Bible In One Year: Obadiah; Revelation 9 (;+Revelation+9)

John Hauberg and his wife live in a stunning home in Seattle. It is built mostly of glass inside and out. Hundreds of glass artifacts decorate the light-flooded rooms, and even the sinks, shelves, and mantelpieces are made of glass. You might think that the Haubergs would be in constant fear that something would break. On the contrary, they invite visitors to roam freely throughout their entire home.

John is also a connoisseur of Native American crafts, but he has donated his entire collection to the Seattle Art Museum. His motive is not to hoard but to share. "I'm not an owner," he says. "I am a caretaker."

John Hauberg's comment expresses a basic biblical principle that applies to all our possessions: We aren't owners; we are caretakers. Legally, of course, we own our possessions. But as Christians, we gladly acknowledge with David that "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1).

By right of creation, God holds the deed to all that exists, including what we possess. He allows us to use the resources of His world for a time. But in the end it all reverts to Him.

Are we being wise and generous caretakers of what belongs to God? —Vernon Grounds

Naught that I have my own I call,
I hold it for the Giver;
My heart, my strength, my life, my all
Are His, and His forever. —Small
All we own is on loan from God.

12-20-2004, 12:35 PM
December 19, 2004

Isn't He Beautiful!

Read: Isaiah 9:1-7 (

Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. —Isaiah 9:6

Bible In One Year: Jonah 1-4; Revelation 10 (;+Revelation+10)

A group of children from our city were in a worship service, and we started to sing. Ariel, age 7, leaned close to me and softly said, "I love this song; it makes me cry."

The music and words about Jesus, her Savior, touched her heart: "Isn't He beautiful? Beautiful, isn't He? Prince of peace, Son of God, isn't He?"

Yes, the Lord Jesus is beautiful. We don't find a specific reference in the Bible describing Him that way, but His personal character is strong yet gentle, holy yet forgiving, majestic yet humble—all combined. Simply beautiful!

In his prophecy, Isaiah described Jesus and His coming in this way: "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor—giving us comfort and wisdom. The Mighty God—acting with power and authority. The Everlasting Father—providing for all our needs and protecting us. And the Prince of Peace—offering reconciliation with God and others.

Isn't Jesus beautiful! Worship Him. —Anne Cetas

Beautiful Savior! Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration
Now and forevermore be Thine! —Seiss
Jesus is the image of the invisible God. —Colossians 1:15

12-20-2004, 12:35 PM
December 20, 2004

Tried By Fire

Read: Psalm 66:1-12 (

You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. —Psalm 66:10

Bible In One Year: Micah 1-3; Revelation 11 (;+Revelation+11)

The main end of life is not to do but to become," F. B. Meyer said. And for this we are being prepared every day. As silver is refined by fire, the heart is often refined in the furnace of sadness. The psalmist said in his sorrow, "We went through fire" (Psalm 66:12).

The refining process may be very painful, but it will not destroy us, for the Refiner sits by the furnace tending the flame. He will not allow us to be tried beyond our endurance; it is for our good.

We may not understand why we have to endure such misery year after year. The ordeal seems endless and pointless. Our days are wasted, or so it appears. We feel as if we are doing nothing of lasting significance.

But God is doing what matters—we are being refined. He is placing us into a crucible in which we acquire patience, meekness, humility, compassion, and the other "quiet" virtues our souls naturally lack.

So don't be afraid and don't fret. Your present trial, as painful as it may be, has been screened through God's wisdom and love. The Refiner sits beside the crucible tempering the flames, monitoring the process, waiting patiently until His face is mirrored in the surface. —David Roper

"As thy day thy strength shall be!"
This should be enough for thee;
He who knows thy frame will spare
Burdens more than thou canst bear. —Havergal
The fires of testing can produce a shining testimony.

12-21-2004, 08:42 AM
December 21, 2004

Road Builders

Read: Hebrews 12:12-24 (

Make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. —Hebrews 12:13

Bible In One Year: Micah 4-5; Revelation 12 (;+Revelation+12)

The cover of a recent Our Daily Bread pictures a leaf-strewn road through the mountains of Vermont. Those who use the road can enjoy a smooth and beautiful ride over difficult terrain. To make this possible, others had to work hard to chart the route, clear the trees, and level the rough spots.

In a way, all Christians are road builders. We are paving the way of faith for the next generation. The faithfulness of our lives may determine how difficult their journey will be. Will they have to repair the damage we have done to the road? Will they be able to build new roads for others to find the way to God?

To be good road builders, we must heed the advice found in God's Word. The author of Hebrews instructed us to live in peace and be holy (12:14), to make sure no one misses the grace of God, and not to permit a root of bitterness to grow and cause trouble (v.15).

Those of us who have come to Jesus owe gratitude to those who have made "straight paths" for our walk of faith (v.13). In turn, we must remember those who will follow us and make straight paths for them. Let's practice our faith in a way that makes it easy for others to come to Jesus and to follow Him. What kind of road builder are you? —Julie Ackerman Link

Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful;
May the fire of our devotion light their way;
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey. —Mohr
© 1987 Jonathan Mark Music and Birdwing Music
A life lived for God leaves a lasting legacy.

12-22-2004, 09:13 AM
December 22, 2004

Small Spark, Big Fire

Read: James 3 (

The tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! —James 3:5

Bible In One Year: Micah 6-7; Revelation 13 (;+Revelation+13)

In June 2002, the Hayman fire destroyed more than 137,000 acres of beautiful mountain forest in Colorado. Smoke darkened the skies, choking residents of cities 40 miles away. Thousands of people evacuated their homes, and millions of dollars were spent fighting a blaze that began with a single match.

Small spark, big fire. That's the way James described the damage done by our reckless and careless words. "See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. . . . It defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell" (3:5-6).

The Bible urges us not to underestimate the destructive potential of what we say. One incendiary remark can kindle an inferno of emotional harm. The best way to avert the flames of anger is to keep from striking that first match. We must let the wisdom of God check our thoughts before they leave our tongues. "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" (v.17).

As we draw on God's wisdom through His Word, we can smother the sparks of dissension and instead speak words of peace. —David McCasland

One careless word can be a spark
Igniting anger into flame;
It can destroy relationships
And bring reproach to Jesus' name. —Sper
Words can't break bones, but they can break hearts.

12-23-2004, 02:28 PM
December 23, 2004

Celebrate The Baby

Read: Luke 2:8-14 (

There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. —Luke 2:11

Bible In One Year: Nahum 1-3; Revelation 14 (;+Revelation+14)

Why do we celebrate Jesus' birthday so differently from other birthdays? When it's time to honor historical figures who have a day set aside for them, we don't think about them as babies. We don't have pictures of cute little Abe Lincoln in his log cabin in Kentucky. No, we remember him for his contributions as an adult.

It is proper, though, that we celebrate Jesus as a child. Think about it. When He was born, shepherds came to honor Him (Luke 2:15-16). Later, wise men from the East brought Him gifts (Matthew 2:8-12). These people had no idea what Christ would eventually accomplish as an adult. But they were right in doing what they did, because Jesus' birth was the most remarkable event in human history.

How amazing! God in human form. The Creator of the universe visiting this planet. Let's never hesitate to celebrate this baby at Christmas. Marvel at His incarnation. Stand in awe of the tiny baby who had created His worshipers. Then step back in wonder, for the story gets even better. This baby grew into manhood, lived a perfect life, and willingly died for your sins and mine.

Celebrate the baby and trust the Savior. That's how to make Christmas complete. —Dave Branon

How wonderful that we on Christmas morn,
Though centuries have passed since Christ was born,
May worship still the Living Lord of men,
Our Savior, Jesus, Babe of Bethlehem. —Hutchings
Wise men today worship not only the Child of Bethlehem, but also the Man of Calvary.

12-24-2004, 10:10 AM
December 24, 2004

Born To Die

Read: Matthew 1:18-25 (

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. —Matthew 20:28

Bible In One Year: Habakkuk 1-3; Revelation 15 (;+Revelation+15)

Although millions celebrate Jesus' birthday, few seem to be aware of its real significance.

We recognize that His birth was unusual because He was born of a virgin. His life was unique too, for He was the only one who lived without sinning. His death was also unusual. Jesus was not a martyr. He was not the victim of unfortunate circumstances, dying for a worthy cause. Nor did He lay down His life just to set a good example. There's much more to it than that. The Lord Jesus came into this world to be our Savior!

Jesus Himself said that He came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Who are the lost? The Bible tells us that "all have sinned" and that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23; 6:23). In order to save the world, Jesus had to die for it. He came and lived the perfect life and then died the death we should have died. The true meaning of Christmas is that Jesus was born to die. Because He was crucified and then rose from the dead, forgiveness of sin and assurance of heaven is now offered to all who believe (John 1:12).

Have you accepted God's gift of salvation? If not, do so today, and this will be your most meaningful Christmas ever. —Richard De Haan

God offers new life;
Yea, what more could He give?
For He sent the Redeemer
That sinners might live! —Morgan
Unless we see the cross overshadowing the cradle, we have lost the real meaning of Christ's birth.

12-27-2004, 01:29 PM
December 25, 2004

Hiding In Plain Sight

Read: Luke 1:26-35 (

You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. —Luke 1:31

Bible In One Year: Zephaniah 1-3; Revelation 16 (;+Revelation+16)

A Baltimore congregation found the answer to their financial troubles on the wall of their church. And it had been "hiding" there for more than 25 years! Someone finally recognized a piece of art hanging in the chapel—it was a valuable woodblock print by Albrecht Dürer, dated 1493. The work shows the angel telling Mary she would give birth to God's Son.

Some members just could not believe they had been unaware of the value of the old masterpiece, saying in effect, "If it were real, why would it be here?"

What about us? Are we overlooking the value of the event depicted on that woodblock print?

Jesus isn't hiding. The truth that God came to earth in human form is plainly announced in His Word. It is reflected in our art and in our hymnbooks. But the significance of Christ's birth is still neglected. We get so wrapped up in activities and programs that we miss the immeasurable worth of knowing who that Baby was.

What's missing is our worship. Think about the meaning of His birth. Jesus is God! He came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21) and give us eternal life (John 3:14-18).

This Christmas, join with the wisemen and shepherds and give praise to Jesus—God who became Man. —Mart De Haan

He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race. —Wesley
Christ's birth brought the infinite God to finite man.

12-27-2004, 01:30 PM
December 26, 2004


Read: Luke 2:8-20 (

Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God. —Luke 2:19-20

Bible In One Year: Haggai 1-2; Revelation 17 (;+Revelation+17)

The night of Jesus' birth was exciting for Mary and Joseph. There before their eyes was the miracle Baby whose coming into the world had been announced by an angel. The shepherds too were excited when they saw and heard "a multitude of the heavenly host praising God" and heralding His birth (Luke 2:13).

But it wouldn't be long before Mary and Joseph would face the ordinary tasks of caring for a new baby and all the accompanying responsibilities. The shepherds would be back on the hillside tending their sheep. All the elements were in place for an emotional letdown, which often follows an emotional high.

I don't believe they experienced any "after-Christmas blues," however. Mary didn't quickly forget all that had happened, and the shepherds couldn't easily forget what they had heard and seen (vv.19-20). The angelic message had proven true, and their lives were filled with new hope and anticipation.

There's no reason for an after-Christmas letdown. We have the full story. Jesus came to die for our sins, then conquered death for us by rising from the grave. We have more truth to ponder and more reason to glorify God than Mary and the shepherds did. —Herb Vander Lugt

Life's ebb and flow that moves our hearts
From heights of joy to feelings low
Cannot exhaust God's matchless grace
Nor stem that never-ending flow. —D. De Haan
Feeling let down today? Try looking up.

12-27-2004, 01:31 PM
December 27, 2004

The Place Of Going Forth

Read: Micah 5:1-4 (

Bethlehem . . . , out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel. —Micah 5:2

Bible In One Year: Zechariah 1-4; Revelation 18 (;+Revelation+18)

A lot of attention was suddenly focused on the small town of Bethlehem. Jews from many parts of the world came to be counted in a census. Mary and Joseph traveled there from Nazareth. Shepherds came from the fields to see the Baby lying in a manger (Luke 2:15-16) after a multitude of angels had come to announce, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (vv.13-14).

Every Christmas, in our imagination, we go to Bethlehem to celebrate Jesus' birth. But we cannot stay there; we must leave. The angels returned to heaven. Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem, then sought safety in Egypt.

The shepherds' exit gives a clear message to us. They left the stable and told everyone about the holy Child. "And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds" (v.18).

It's appropriate for us to do the same. Micah prophesied that from Bethlehem would go forth a Ruler of Israel, the eternal Maker of the world, who had come to save mankind from sin (Micah 5:2). This season, let's join those who have gone forth from their visits to Bethlehem to proclaim the good news of Christ, who came to save us. —Dave Egner

Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere—
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born! —Traditional
The gospel is one gift you can keep and still pass on to others.

12-28-2004, 12:58 PM
December 28, 2004

When God Thunders

Read: Psalm 81:6-10 (

You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder. —Psalm 81:7

Bible In One Year: Zechariah 5-8; Revelation 19 (;+Revelation+19)

Thunder rolls across the Sawtooth Mountains, crashing and echoing through the peaks and canyons, shaking the ground with celestial sonic booms. My old dog cuts and runs. I stand amazed and delighted.

The storm reminds me of the "secret place of thunder" from which God answered His people (Psalm 81:7). Israel cried out from the straw pits and brick kilns of Egypt. In time, God's salvation rolled over the land in peals of thunder (Exodus 9:13-34).

Another psalm speaks of the storm that overshadowed Israel as they passed through the Red Sea (Psalm 77:16-20). Its thunder spelled doom for the Egyptians but deliverance to God's people. Each resounding clap was the comforting voice of a Father speaking to His children.

When Jesus foretold His death in John 12:28-29, He called on His Father to glorify His name. A voice answered from heaven saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again." To the crowd, it sounded like thunder.

Are you in trouble? Cry out to God in your sorrow and distress. You may not hear the thunder roll, but it will reverberate through the heavens once again as He answers you "in the secret place of thunder." God will speak comfort to your heart and deliver you from your fears. —David Roper

The lightning of a mighty storm,
Its thunder from on high,
Reminds us that our powerful God
Will answer when we cry. —D. De Haan
Those who trust in God find comfort in His power.

12-29-2004, 08:58 AM
December 29, 2004


Read: 1 Peter 3:8-17 (

All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous. —1 Peter 3:8

Bible In One Year: Zechariah 9-12; Revelation 20 (;+Revelation+20)

A quote in Sports Illustrated magazine expresses a truth that we as people of faith sometimes neglect: "What counts most in creating a successful team is not how compatible its players are, but how they deal with incompatibility." When we don't get along with others, we are tempted to ignore them and shove them aside.

God calls us to take a different approach: "All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this" (1 Peter 3:8-9).

Oswald Chambers reminds us in My Utmost For His Highest: "In the spiritual life, beware of walking according to natural affinities. Everyone has natural affinities; some people we like and others we do not like. We must never let those likes and dislikes rule in our Christian life. If we 'walk in the light,' as God is in the light, God will give us communion with people for whom we have no natural affinity."

It is natural to have likes and dislikes. But when we seek to honor the Lord in our relationships, compassion, love, humility, and kindness are the God-ordered, supernatural steps in dealing with incompatibility. —David McCasland

We have a common enemy
Who would destroy the life
Of Jesus' precious bride, the church,
Through worldliness and strife. —Sper
The way to preserve the peace of the church is to promote the unity of it.

12-30-2004, 10:38 AM
December 30, 2004

Do Angels Sleep?

Read: Deut. 30:11-14 (

The word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. —Deuteronomy 30:14

Bible In One Year: Zechariah 13-14; Revelation 21 (;+Revelation+21)

A friend of mine has a 5-year-old daughter who is on her way to becoming a theologian. One day she asked her father, "Do angels sleep?" After pondering the theological dimensions of her question, he answered, "Yes, I think they might." His daughter moved in with a follow-up question, "Well, then, how do they get their pajamas on over their wings?"

We may be more like that little girl than we think. We never seem to outgrow asking interesting questions that do not need to be answered. It's healthy to be inquisitive, but it isn't healthy to obsess over matters that don't really matter. Such questions may sidetrack us from our faith.

What we need to know about God and His will for us is clearly spelled out in Scripture. The words He spoke through Moses to His people are true for us today. "For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. . . . But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it" (Deuteronomy 30:11,14).

The Bible isn't a riddle; it's a revelation. It tells us all we need to know to be all that God wants us to be in every situation in life. —Haddon Robinson

God's Word reveals what we should know
To live for Him each day;
His principles we must commit
To study and obey. —Sper
The Bible is as wise in what it leaves unsaid as in what it says.

12-31-2004, 09:55 AM
December 31, 2004

Past, Present, & Future

Read: Philippians 3:15-21 (

I press toward the goal . . . . Brethren, join in following my example. —Philippians 3:14,17

Bible In One Year: Malachi 1-4; Revelation 22 (;+Revelation+22)

In his painting "An Allegory of Prudence," 16th-century Venetian artist Titian portrayed Prudence as a man with three heads. One head was of a youth facing the future, another was of a mature man eyeing the present, and the third was of a wise old man gazing at the past. Over their heads Titian wrote a Latin phrase that means, "From the example of the past, the man of the present acts prudently so as not to imperil the future."

We need that kind of wisdom to overcome the anxiety created by our past failures and the fear of repeating them in the future—an anxiety that keeps us from living to the fullest now.

Paul was able to "forget" his past and anticipate his future (Philippians 3:13-14). This doesn't mean his memory was erased; it means that Paul was free of any guilt or pride he may have felt from his past actions, because God had forgiven him. This attitude enabled him to live in the present and "press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (v.14). So he had one driving passion—to know Christ better.

As we close the chapter of 2004, let's rededicate ourselves to Christ. Jesus will enable us to live fully in the present as we gain wisdom from the past and face the future with courage. —Dennis De Haan

Standing at the portal
Of the opening year,
Words of comfort meet us,
Hushing every fear. —Havergal
Never let a bleak past overshadow a bright future.

01-03-2005, 01:29 PM
January 1, 2005

Look Both Ways

Read: Joshua 1:1-9 (

Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise. —Joshua 1:2

Bible In One Year: Genesis 1-2 (

During our church's annual New Year's Eve Communion service, we say this prayer together: "Father, we surrender this past year and give it up to You. We give You our failures, our regrets, and our disappointments, for we have no more use for them. Make us now a new people, forgetting what lies behind and pressing on toward that which lies ahead of us.

"We give You all our hopes and dreams for the future. Purify them by Your Spirit so that our wills shall truly reflect Your will for us.

"As we stand on the threshold of another year, encourage us by our successes of the past, challenge us by the power of Your Word, and guide us by the presence of Your Holy Spirit."

In every transition, it's good to look both ways. When Joshua assumed leadership of Israel, God told him to consider the past and the future: "Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them" (Joshua 1:2). Then He promised, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. . . . Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (vv.5,9).

With confidence in God, we can look back and look ahead, then walk boldly into a new year. —David McCasland

Forgive us, Lord, for failures past,
Then help us start anew
With strength and courage to obey
And closely follow You. —Sper
The victories of the past give courage for the future.

01-03-2005, 01:30 PM
January 2, 2005

The Nature Of The Beast

Read: Galatians 5:16-26 (

I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. —Romans 7:18

Bible In One Year: Genesis 3-5 (

Years ago we had a pet raccoon named Jason. One minute he would snuggle up on your lap like a perfect angel and the next he'd be engaged in the most fiendish antics. If unrestrained, he would raid the garbage can or tear up the flowerbed. Although he was a delightful pet, we became increasingly aware that his destructive actions were governed by his wild instincts. Jason would always have the nature of a raccoon, and we had to watch him closely no matter how tame he seemed to be.

Often when I observed Jason's behavior, I thought of the sinful nature that we as Christians retain even though we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Paul referred to this as the "flesh" in which "nothing good dwells" (Romans 7:18). It may be restrained, but it's always there. Unless we are daily controlled by the Lord, our old "self" will demonstrate its destructive pleasure-seeking capacity in some way.

Although we are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), we still possess the tendency to sin. But we don't need to be governed by it, for we are united to Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. By obeying God's Word and yielding to the Spirit (Romans 8:11), we can be victorious over the flesh—the nature of the beast within. —Mart De Haan

Lord, I am learning of Your power
To give me victory each hour;
As I keep walking close to You,
Your Spirit fills with life anew. —Hess
The Christian gains victory by starving the old nature and feeding the new.

01-03-2005, 01:31 PM
January 3, 2005

Will You Tell Them?

Read: Proverbs 24:10-12 (

Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. —John 11:26

Bible In One Year: Genesis 6-9 (

John, a friend of mine, was once addicted to drugs. Several times he nearly died. He was a broken man when he entered the Christian rehabilitation program that my husband and I established. By the end of the program, John had become a Christian.

One day as John strolled along a busy street, he began to see the bustling shoppers as God sees them—dying people. He had learned from God's Word that those who die without Christ will spend eternity separated from Him. With deep concern, John thought, These people don't have to die!

We all need to see people as God sees them. But that revelation also brings responsibility. Solomon pleaded, "Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter" (Proverbs 24:11). He also warned that once our eyes are opened we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act (v.12).

Think of people you know who are without Christ. They don't have to die without Him! Jesus said, "Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die" (John 11:26). Will you tell them this good news? —Joanie Yoder

If we really care for those
Who live beneath God's wrath,
The gospel must be shared with them,
To turn them from death's path. —Sper
Wanted: Messengers to deliver the good news.

01-04-2005, 10:17 AM
January 4, 2005

Deep Water

Read: Psalm 69:13-18 (

Let not the floodwater overflow me, nor let the deep swallow me up. —Psalm 69:15

Bible In One Year: Genesis 10-11 (

The builders of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) like to show us their products in mind-boggling situations. High on a mountain crag, where no truck could seemingly go. Or in a swamp so impassable you'd need a hovercraft to negotiate it. We're supposed to think that SUVs are invincible.

That's why I found unintended humor in the disclaimer in a recent ad for a four-wheel-drive SUV. A photo showed the vehicle up to its headlights in water as it forged across a foreboding river. The ad said: "Traversing deep water can cause damage, which voids the vehicle warranty."

Deep water is a problem not only for cars but also for us. As we travel the roadways of life, we often find ourselves surrounded with oceans of grief or crashing waves of broken relationships. We need help.

The writers of the Psalms told of that needed assistance. They said God is "a refuge in times of trouble" (9:9), and that "in the time of trouble He shall . . . set me high upon a rock" (27:5). No disclaimers here. Traversing deep water won't affect our spiritual warranty. God will always be there to guarantee His support.

Are you in deep water? Reach up and grab God's hand of mercy. —Dave Branon

When you're passing through the waters
Of deep sorrow and despair
And you get no help from others,
Just remember, Christ is there. —Elliott
When trouble overtakes you, let God take over.

01-05-2005, 02:34 PM
January 5, 2005


Read: James 1:9-11; 5:1-6 (;+5:1-6)

The rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. —James 1:11

Bible In One Year: Genesis 12-15 (

After Bob Ritchie graduated from college, he spent the next two decades in the grasp of a love for money and advancement. He uprooted his wife and family five times for his career, so that he could make more money. Each time they left warm church communities behind.

After a while, Bob and his family seldom had time for church. As God's people became strangers, so did the Lord. He became desperately lonely and isolated. Growing discontented with his life, he finally said, "Enough!"

Bob now testifies that God taught him the meaning of the word downsize. He stopped pursuing money, spent less time at work, cut back on his purchases, and learned to be content with what he had. The family again became faithful to the Lord and active in a church.

In his brief and practical epistle, James warned us not to be obsessed with amassing wealth (1:9-11; 5:1-6). Whether we're rich or poor, the desire for money can subtly take over our lives. Some believers have fallen into its clutches without being aware of it and are fading away in their pursuits (1:11).

Do you need to follow Bob's example? It may be time to say, "Enough!" —Dave Egner

If money is your highest goal,
The thing you long to gain,
Its power will enslave your soul
And cause your life much pain. —D. De Haan
He is truly rich who is satisfied with Jesus.

01-07-2005, 10:09 AM
Undeserved Blessings

Read: Habakkuk 3:17-19 (

God . . . has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. —Ephesians 1:3

Bible In One Year: Genesis 16-19 (

Tennis superstar Arthur Ashe died of AIDS, which he contracted from a blood transfusion during heart surgery. More than a great athlete, Ashe was a gentleman who inspired and encouraged many with his exemplary behavior on and off the court.

Ashe could have become embittered and self-pitying in the face of his disease, but he maintained a grateful attitude. He explained, "If I asked, 'Why me?' about my troubles, I would have to ask, 'Why me?' about my blessings. Why my winning Wimbledon? Why my marrying a beautiful, gifted woman and having a wonderful child?"

Ashe's attitude rebukes those of us who often grumble, "Why me? Why is God allowing this to happen?" Even if we're suffering acutely, we must not forget the mercies God pours into our lives—such things as food, shelter, and friends—blessings that many are deprived of.

And what about spiritual blessings? We can hold the very Word of God in our hands and read it. We have the knowledge of His saving grace, the comfort of His Spirit, and the joyful assurance of life everlasting with Jesus.

Think about God's blessings and ask, "Why me?" Then your grumbling will give way to praise. —Vernon Grounds

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by. —Oatman
With unwanted burdens come undeserved blessings.

01-07-2005, 10:09 AM
I'm In Debt

Read: Romans 1:8-17 (

I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. —Romans 1:14

Bible In One Year: Genesis 20-22 (

A shopper underestimated the total cost of her groceries. When the cashier added up the items, the woman was $4 short. Then something unusual happened. The man behind her in the checkout lane saw her digging through her purse and motioned to the clerk to put the amount on his bill. He modestly refused to give the woman his name.

A few days later, the local newspaper reported that a charity organization had received a $4 check with the following note: "This check is for the man who helped me out of a tight spot. I came up with the idea of giving it to you as a thank-you to him."

This incident illustrates a vital spiritual principle. We should feel an obligation to pass along to others the kindnesses shown to us. That's how the apostle Paul responded to God's mercy. Of course, he could never repay the Lord for salvation, but that didn't stop him from openly showing his gratitude. Because of what he had received, he showed the highest kind of charity—sharing the gospel with others.

Let's not think that because we can't repay God for saving us, we owe Him nothing. We are indebted to Him for everything. The least we can do is show our appreciation by telling others about Him. —Mart De Haan

How much I owe for love divine!
How much I owe that Christ is mine!
But what He did for me I know,
I cannot tell how much I owe. —Hamilton
Jesus gave His all for us. Do we give our all for Him?

01-21-2005, 10:50 AM
January 21, 2005

Say So

Read: Romans 10:1-13 (

Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. —Hebrews 13:15

Bible In One Year: Exodus 18-20 (

Mel Trotter was a drunken barber whose salvation not only turned his own life around but also changed thousands of others. He was saved in 1897 in Chicago at the Pacific Garden Mission, and not long afterward was named director of the City Rescue Mission in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Thirty-five years later, at a meeting at the mission, Mel Trotter was conducting "Say-So" time. He asked people in the crowd to testify how Jesus had saved them. That night, a 14-year-old boy stood up and said simply, "I'm glad Jesus saved me. Amen." Trotter remarked, "That's the finest testimony I ever heard." Encouraged by those words from such an important leader, that teenager, Mel Johnson, went on to become a Christian leader in his own right.

Young Mel was encouraged to say so, and he did. Six little words, followed by an encouraging comment. A testimony and an affirmation led to a life of service for God.

Let's look for opportunities to offer "the fruit of our lips," to tell others that Jesus is Lord and that He saved us. Tell your own salvation story, and ask others to share theirs as well—as a "sacrifice of praise to God" (Hebrews 13:15). Whether we are children, teens, or adults, we who belong to Jesus Christ need to stand up and "say so." —Dave Branon

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard! —Crosby
The more you love Jesus, the more you'll talk about Him.

01-26-2005, 09:09 AM
January 26, 2005

Tried And True

Read: Galatians 5:22-26 (

Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man? —Proverbs 20:6

Bible In One Year: Job 35-37 (

We are often disappointed by the unfaithfulness of people. A family member promises to write, but months go by without a letter. A pastor says he will visit when we are sick, but he doesn't make it to the hospital or to our home. A friend agrees to be there for us in our bereavement but doesn't even call. Others tell us they will pray for us but quickly forget our need. Someone promises to do an important task for us but never follows through. We ask ourselves, "Who can find a faithful man?" (Proverbs 20:6).

We can do very little about the unfaithfulness of others. But we can do a lot about our faithfulness to others. When we make a promise we must keep it. When we tell someone we will pray for them, we need to follow through and do it. When we proclaim our loyalty and love for others, we can do little things that show them we mean it.

The apostle Paul said that one fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness (Galatians 5:22). God will create in us a steadfast spirit if we take seriously what we tell others we will do for them, and if we follow through.

Ask God to make you a person whom others can count on—a person who is tried and true. —David Roper

Lord, grant to me a faithfulness
In what I say and do
So others will be confident
That I will follow through. —D. De Haan
Faithfulness in little things is a great thing.

01-27-2005, 03:55 PM
January 27, 2005

"Consumer Christianity"

Read: Luke 9:18-26 (

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. —Luke 9:23

Bible In One Year: Job 38-42 (

In his book The Empty Church, historian Thomas C. Reeves says: "Christianity in modern America . . . tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient, and compatible. It does not require self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, an otherworldly outlook, a zeal for souls, a fear as well as love of God. There is little guilt and no punishment, and the payoff in heaven is virtually certain. What we now have might best be labeled 'Consumer Christianity.' The cost is low and customer satisfaction seems guaranteed."

If we were only customers of Almighty God, we could be selective in our faith and reject anything we didn't like. But that's not an idea we get from Jesus. He pointed us to a cross, not to a spiritual check-out counter. He said: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it" (Luke 9:23-24). Christ died on a cross for our sins, not for our satisfaction. And He calls us to trust in Him, then follow Him with a life of self-denial.

In a world where the customer is always right, it takes radical obedience to God to keep from buying into "Consumer Christianity." —David McCasland

When Jesus said to follow Him
Regardless of the cost,
He promised He would surely give
Much more than would be lost. —Sper

Following Jesus is not always easy, but it's always right.

02-02-2005, 09:59 AM
February 2, 2005

My Compliments

Colossians 1:3-8 (

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . . since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints. —Colossians 1:3-4

Bible In One Year: Exodus 18-20 (

When I receive a compliment, it gives me a warm, inner glow. At times I have felt guilty for enjoying a commendation. After all, isn't that a form of pride? But I have concluded that it is not wrong to feel good when we receive a sincere compliment because of something we have done.

By finding pleasure in being commended, we allow others to exercise their gift of encouragement. Their words can lift our spirits.

We also show that pride hasn't gained the upper hand in our lives when we praise others. A proud person is so preoccupied with himself that he doesn't notice what others do and has no desire to compliment them.

Paul freely commended his friends in Colosse because he knew it would encourage them. And we should do likewise.

Give people a pat on the back when they deserve it. Compliment the child who does something well. Commend the single mother who regularly brings her children to church. Encourage the man who keeps helping others even though he receives little appreciation from them. Keep trying to please God and the people around you.

No need to feel guilty about feeling good when someone compliments you. —Herb Vander Lugt

For Further Thought
How do I respond when someone commends me?
Why is it sometimes hard to accept a compliment?
Do I freely praise others for their accomplishments?

Praise loudly, blame softly.

02-03-2005, 09:28 AM
February 3, 2005

The Right Light

1 John 1:1-7 (

He put the lampstand in the tabernacle of meeting, across from the table, on the south side of the tabernacle. —Exodus 40:24

Bible In One Year: Exodus 21-24 (

Eating in the dark is no fun. Low light in a restaurant is one thing; eating in a room with no light at all is another. The same is true in our walk with God. Unless we take advantage of the light He gives, we will miss seeing what He is doing for us.

We have an Old Testament picture of this—the tabernacle. As the priest entered a room called the Holy Place, he could see only by the light of a golden lampstand (Exodus 25:31-40). Like everything else in the room, it had been carefully fashioned according to the pattern God gave Moses (v.40).

The lampstand is a picture of spiritual light. The gold speaks of value. The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The six branches coming out from the center shaft portray unity in plurality. The symbol of the almond blossom is linked to God's anointed priesthood (Numbers 17:1-8). When all this is combined with a New Testament reference that uses a golden lampstand to represent the church (Revelation 1:20), we have the complete picture. God gives light through the Spirit, who works through His congregation of anointed people (1 Peter 2:9).

Yes, the Holy Spirit provides us with the light we need. Are we daily spending time in prayer and reading God's Word so that we can take advantage of it? —Mart De Haan

Holy Ghost, with light divine,
Shine upon this heart of mine;
Chase the shades of night away,
Turn my darkness into day. —Reed
The light of God's holiness convicts the sinner and guides the saint.

06-09-2005, 01:23 PM
February 4, 2005

The Obedience Factor

Matthew 3:13-17 (

Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. —Matthew 3:15

Bible In One Year: Exodus 25-27 (

Dewey VanderVelde refused to be baptized. He steadfastly resisted, even when his wife and daughters were baptized one Sunday afternoon.

Years later, his pastor preached on the baptism of Jesus. He pointed out that John the Baptist initially refused to baptize Jesus, but Jesus said, "It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15). The pastor then added this comment: "If Jesus obeyed the will of the Father, so should we."

After the message, Dewey asked to be baptized. He said that he should have obeyed the Lord's command much sooner, and he regretted having been so stubborn.

The issue, of course, was more than just baptism; it was obedience. The same may be true for us. We may be stubbornly disobeying the Lord in a certain area of our life—lying, cheating, stealing at work, not giving to the Lord.

Here's what we must face: Jesus obeyed the Father in everything. His submission took Him from the height of popularity to abandonment. It took Him from public adoration to solitary suffering. It took Him to Pilate's judgment hall, the terrible road to Calvary, the cross, and the tomb.

Let it be today that we willingly decide to obey the Lord in everything. —Dave Egner

O give us strength to quench the urge
To do things our own way;
And help us, Lord, to heed Your Word,
Its precepts to obey. —Sper

True faith will obey without delay.

What Does It Take To Follow Christ? (

06-09-2005, 01:24 PM
February 5, 2005

The Blackness Of Midnight

Revelation 20 (

They are . . . wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. —Jude 12-13.

Bible In One Year: Exodus 28-31 (

When I was a young boy, our family visited an old abandoned copper mine. Having descended into the mine, our guide suddenly turned off his flashlight and we were enveloped by an oppressive blackness. It seemed as though we could feel the darkness.

Through the years, the memory of our descent into that pit has reminded me again and again of Jesus' words concerning the lost, who are "cast out into outer darkness" (Matthew 8:12). As terrifying as it was to be in that cave for just a few moments, imagine what it would be like for eternity!

We don't hear much about hell these days. But that doesn't mean there is no such place.

Have you ever thought about where you will spend eternity? According to the Scriptures, you will spend it in one of two places—either heaven or hell.

If you have never made sure of heaven, why not pray something like this right now: "Lord Jesus, I believe that You died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead. I now receive You as my Savior. I don't want to be lost. I want to go to heaven. Save me!"

Jesus promised, "The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out" (John 6:37). —Richard De Haan

Be not afraid of the darkness—
Even the darkness of night;
Trusting in Christ brings salvation—
You will be walking in light. —Hess

Every sinner must be pardoned or punished.

The Forgiveness Of God (
What If It's True? (

06-09-2005, 01:24 PM
February 6, 2005

God's Description Of Himself

Exodus 33:18-34:8 (

The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious. —Exodus 34:6

Bible In One Year: Exodus 32-34 ( The prayers of young children show us what they think of God. Here are two I read recently:

"Dear God, what does it mean that You are a 'jealous' God? I thought You had everything."

"I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset You made on Tuesday. That was cool."

These children are right to think of God as the owner and creator of everything, the One who can paint beautiful sunsets. But how does God describe Himself?

Moses needed an answer to that question when he was about to lead the Israelites into the wilderness. He wanted to be assured of God's presence and leading, so he asked Him to reveal Himself (Exodus 33:13,18). In response, God came down in a cloud and said: "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, . . . by no means clearing the guilty" (34:5-7). He is good. He is also just.

We too can know this God. He won't come down in a cloud, but He has revealed Himself to us in His Word—the Bible. We can ask Him to make Himself real to us as we read and study it. We'll learn that He is even more than the the owner and creator of everything. —Anne Cetas

Sing praise to God who reigns above,
The God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love,
The God of our salvation. —Schütz

In a world of superlatives, God is the greatest.

How Can I Know There Is A God? (
God Our Father (

06-09-2005, 01:25 PM
February 7, 2005

"Soft Time"

Galatians 3:26-4:7 (

When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law. —Galatians 4:4

Bible In One Year: Exodus 35-37 ( After studying the behavior of thousands of cell-phone users, James Katz, a professor of communication at Rutgers University, has concluded that the cell phone has changed the nature of the way we think of time. Researchers now speak of the US as living in "soft time." This term has been coined to describe the thinking of a cell-phone user who calls at 8:20 to say he will be late for the 8:30 meeting, arrives at 8:45, and considers himself on time because he called ahead.

Unlike us, God is always on time. While we may struggle to understand why He doesn't act in world events or in our personal lives as speedily as we think He should, the Bible proclaims the punctuality of the Almighty according to His plan. Galatians 4:4-5 says, "When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." And Romans 5:6, "When we were still without strength, in due time [at just the right time] Christ died for the ungodly."

We can trust this same wise and loving God, who has never been late in His eternal plan, to be right on time in every detail of our lives. —David McCasland

God's thoughts are above human knowledge—
He moves in mysterious ways
To work out eternity's purpose
Through time's short procession of days. —Stiefel

God's timing is always right.

How Much Does God Control? (

06-09-2005, 01:25 PM
February 8, 2005

What's The Connection?

Colossians 3:1-14 (

Whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, . . . meditate on these things. —Philippians 4:8

Bible In One Year: Exodus 38-40 ( The image on the TV screen captures our attention and we sit down to watch. As we flip from channel to channel, is there any connection between what we decide to watch and what is in our heart? Does our faith in Christ have anything at all to do with our TV choices?

In a world of falling standards, we must think through this question: How does our relationship with Christ affect our TV viewing habits?

One secular writer speaking about today's television programs said, "The notion of indecency has become obsolete." He is suggesting that a standard has been pushed aside. What is that standard? I believe it's the moral standard found in biblical teaching.

Most TV productions are not governed by the guidelines God wants us to follow. The Bible tells us, "Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8). It's hard to do that when we're being bombarded by the ungodly images presented on television.

Let's ask God to help us make godly choices in what we watch on TV. —Dave Branon

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny. —Anon.

Character is formed by making choices in one direction.

What In The World Is Satan Doing? (

06-09-2005, 01:26 PM
February 9, 2005

Fast Freeze

Deuteronomy 9:9-16 (

Go down quickly from here, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have . . . quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. —Deuteronomy 9:12

Bible In One Year: Leviticus 1-4 ( Thanks to Internet technology, I can watch ice building up on Lake Michigan from my warm office 30 miles away. The changing angle of the sun's rays in winter chills the earth. Frigid temperatures turn surging water into rock-hard ice in a surprisingly short time. Witnessing this rapid transition reminds me of how quickly our hearts can turn cool toward God.

That happened to the ancient Israelites. After God miraculously rescued them from slavery, they became impatient when Moses climbed Mt. Sinai to meet God and didn't return according to their timetable. So they got together and created their own god (Exodus 32:1). The Lord told Moses to hurry back down the mountain because the people had so quickly turned away (Deuteronomy 9:12).

When situations don't unfold according to our timetable, we might assume that God has lost interest in us. When we no longer feel close to Him, our hearts may grow cold. But God is always with us. As the psalmist wrote, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?" (Psalm 139:7).

Even when God seems distant, He's not. His presence fills heaven and earth (vv.8-10). There's never a reason to let our hearts freeze over. —Julie Ackerman Link

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With all Thy quickening powers;
Kindle a flame of sacred love
In these cold hearts of ours. —Watts

The question is not where is God, but where isn't He?

Questions Skeptics Ask About The God Of The Old Testament (

06-09-2005, 01:27 PM
February 10, 2005

Living In Retirement

Philippians 1:12-21 (

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. —Philippians 1:21

Bible In One Year: Leviticus 5-7 ( As our plane landed at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, applause broke out among a group of airline employees. I thought this was a bit unusual, until I was told that the pilot had just completed the last flight of his career. He would retire the next day, and his colleagues were expressing their happiness for him.

For many people, retirement means doing what they have always wanted to do—fish, golf, travel. Others work hard to retire early so they can enjoy the fruit of their labor while still young and healthy.

The Christian looks at retirement differently. An elderly friend who loves the Lord put it this way: "Tonight, I will retire to my bed. Tomorrow morning, should the Lord give me life to live, I will wake up and serve Him." He had Paul's perspective: "To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). Paul's sole purpose was to glorify Christ. Whatever came of suffering, inprisonment, or hardship was another opportunity to further the gospel and live for Him.

There is always work to be done for the Lord. As long as we live, Christ can work in and through us if we adopt Paul's outlook on life and death. For him, there was no retirement from serving the Lord. —Albert Lee

Growing old but not retiring,
For the battle still is on;
Going on without relenting
Till the final victory's won. —Anon.

Retirement from our jobs—yes. Retirement from serving Christ—never!

Finishing Well (

06-09-2005, 01:27 PM
February 11, 2005

Love's Check List

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (

Love suffers long and is kind. —1 Corinthians 13:4

Bible In One Year: Leviticus 8-10 ( A woman named Nancy uses verses from 1 Corinthians 13 to help her cope with the frustrations of a busy family life. She calls verses 4 to 7 "Love's Check List" and refers to it when anger wells up within her.

Nancy gave an example of how she uses her check list. She was running errands one morning before she and her family were to leave on vacation. Her husband Bill was at home caring for the children and getting things ready for an early afternoon departure. When she arrived home after stopping at the grocery store, her mother's house, the post office, the bank, and the hospital to visit a friend, she found that all he had accomplished the entire morning was to wash and polish his car—which they weren't even taking on the trip!

Nancy was angry and said some harsh things to Bill. Within a few minutes the words of Love's Check List came to mind: "Love suffers long and is kind." She prayed, then she apologized to her husband for her angry outburst. He said he was sorry too, and they left that afternoon for their vacation—just a little late.

Next time you say angry, bitter things, remember Love's Check List in 1 Corinthians 13. Better yet, consider it before you say them. —Dave Egner

Lord, fill our hearts with Christlike love,
With goodness, kindness, care,
Lest bitter thoughts and hurtful words
Will find a welcome there. —D. De Haan

Bitter feelings can be sweetened when we take them to the Lord in prayer.

What Is Real Love? (
When Forgiveness Seems Impossible (

06-09-2005, 01:28 PM
February 12, 2005

The Leviticus Reminder

Leviticus 11:41-45 (

I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. —Leviticus 11:44

Bible In One Year: Leviticus 11-13 ( If you are following the Bible reading schedule in Our Daily Bread, you've been in the book of Leviticus lately. Leviticus may be one of the least-read books in the Bible, and you might be wondering what its purpose really is. Why all those laws and rules about clean and unclean animals? (ch.11). What message was God giving to the Israelites—and to us?

Bible commentator Gordon Wenham says, "As the laws distinguished clean from unclean animals, so the people were reminded that God had distinguished them from all the other nations on earth to be His own possession. . . . Man's highest duty is to imitate his creator."

Five times in Leviticus God says, "Be holy, for I am holy" (11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7,26). And forty-five times He says, "I am the Lord" or "I am the Lord your God." One of the most important themes in the book is God's call for His people to be holy. Jesus echoed that theme when He said, "You shall be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).

As you read Leviticus 11, remember that you are special to God and are to "proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

We need the Leviticus reminder every day. —Anne Cetas

Some portions of the Word of God
Are difficult to read,
But God will help us understand
Rich truths He'd have us heed. —D. De Haan

Study the Bible to be wise; believe it to be safe; practice it to be holy.

How Can I Understand The Bible? (
Knowing God Through The Old Testament (

06-09-2005, 01:29 PM
February 13, 2005

I Expect Jesus

Acts 27:9-25 (

I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. —Acts 27:25

Bible In One Year: Leviticus 14-16 ( A Sunday school teacher gave every boy in his class a New Testament and encouraged each of them to write his own name inside the front cover.

Several weeks later, after repeatedly inviting the boys to receive Christ as their Savior, he asked those who had done so to write these words under his name: "I accept Jesus." One boy scribbled instead, "I expect Jesus." When the teacher talked to him, he realized that the boy knew what he had written after all. He had not only trusted the Lord for salvation but expected Him to be with him at all times and to do all He had promised.

That boy's statement presents a simple yet profound commentary on the true meaning of faith.

In Acts 27, we see the apostle Paul's expectant faith. He was a prisoner being transported by ship to Rome when a violent storm arose and threatened to destroy the vessel. During the night, an angel of the Lord told Paul they would all survive (vv.23-24). He knew the word of the Lord could be trusted. In the midst of the storm, he said, "I believe God that it will be just as it was told me" (v.25). And so it was.

It should be no surprise to us when God keeps His word. It's to be expected! —Richard De Haan

O for a faith that will not shrink
Though pressed by many a foe,
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe. —Bathurst

Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.

How Does God Keep His Promises? (

06-09-2005, 01:29 PM
February 14, 2005

Sacrificial Love

John 15:9-17 (

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. —John 15:13

Bible In One Year: Leviticus 17-19 ( What does it mean to lay down our lives for Christ and for our friends? In John 15, notice Christ's logic as He taught about sacrificial love.

First He said, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (v.12). Then He described the fullest extent of such love: "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (v.13). Jesus died willingly for us and we should be willing to die for Him and our friends.

Then He added, "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (v.14). Jesus didn't say we're His friends only if we die for Him. We are also His friends if we obey Him. In God's eyes, obeying Him as a living sacrifice is the way we lay down our life for Him (Romans 12:1).

Similarly, we may not have to die for our friends, but there are other ways to make sacrifices for them. We can lay down our plans or tight schedules to focus on someone in need. Or we can lay down our possessions to make provision for the poor.

Such sacrifices, though small, can be powerful ways to lay down our lives for our friends—if we sacrifice willingly and in the spirit of Christ's love. —Joanie Yoder

We say we love humanity,
But it is only true
If we're prepared to sacrifice—
For those God asks us to. —Sper

The closer you are to God, the bigger your heart for people.

The Compassion Of Jesus (
What Is Real Love? (

06-09-2005, 01:31 PM
February 15, 2005

All Year Long

Isaiah 58:6-12 (

[The Lord said], "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: . . . Is it not to share your bread with the hungry?" —Isaiah 58:6-7

Bible In One Year: Leviticus 20-23 ( During Lent (the 40 days prior to Easter) many Christians follow the practice of giving up something and taking the time to reflect on Jesus' sacrifice of Himself for us.

One group of middle-class believers in a church in the UK decided to live on the minimum wage. Their goal was to identify with those who live on little, to learn the joy of giving, to invite God to change their attitude toward money, and to challenge others in their church to do the same. For their study they chose Isaiah 58.

Afterward, one of the leaders of the group said they learned an important lesson. Living on less "makes you realize just how much you really can give away. It makes you look at what you normally give and realize that it is far from being sacrificial."

What they learned agrees with God's idea of what fasting and sacrificial living are all about. The Lord said to Israel, "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: . . . Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out?" (Isaiah 58:6-7). God was chiding His people because their fasting had become an empty ritual with no concern for others.

Let's give sacrificially to others—not just during Lent but all year long. —Anne Cetas

Grant us, then, the grace for giving
With a spirit large and free,
That our life and all our living
We may consecrate to Thee. —Murray

Your standard of giving is more important than your standard of living.

Knowing God Through Isaiah (

06-09-2005, 01:32 PM
February 16, 2005

Temporary Tears

1 Peter 5:6-11 (

May the God of all grace, . . . after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. —1 Peter 5:10

Bible In One Year: Leviticus 24-27 ( Author George MacDonald wrote, "God has come to wipe away our tears. He is doing it; He will have it done as soon as He can; and until He can He would have them flow without bitterness; to which end He tells us it is a blessed thing to mourn because of the comfort that is on its way."

While we wait for that comfort, we can be assured that God will not allow us to be tested beyond our ability to bear the trial. Every difficult circumstance is timed with exact precision. Every hard situation is screened through His perfect love. We will not suffer one moment more, nor will we suffer more intensely than is necessary. "To a close-shorn sheep God gives wind by measure" goes an old Basque saying. In other words, God will not allow those most vulnerable to life's difficulties to be overtaken by them.

There may be deep waters through which you must wade; there may be fires through which the ore of your character must pass. But in the midst of them God promises to be your partner, companion, and faithful friend. He will "perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you" (1 Peter 5:10).

And then, when He has finished His work, He will take you home to heaven and wipe away all your tears—forever (Revelation 21:4). —David Roper

He knows our burdens and our crosses,
Those things that hurt, our trials and losses;
He cares for every soul that cries—
God wipes the tears from weeping eyes. —Brandt

Tears are often the telescope by which we can see into heaven.

Why Would A Good God Allow Suffering? (
When Hope Is Lost (

06-09-2005, 01:32 PM
February 17, 2005


Psalm 32 (

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. —Psalm 32:1

Bible In One Year: Numbers 1-3 ( A man arrested for the murder of a 12-year-old girl was also suspected of other killings. When police searched his computer, they found a file labeled "My Sins," but it couldn't be opened because it was protected with a password. A computer expert went to work using software to break the code. After 16 hours and billions of combinations, he found this password: "Godhelp." The file detailed six brutal crimes, including rape and murder.

I wonder if that man had created the file and its unique password because of the overwhelming burden of guilt for what he had done. Perhaps he knew that only God could help him deal with the enormity of his crimes.

We all have past sins that weigh us down. We may feel as David did when he wrote that God's hand was heavy upon him day and night and that his "vitality was turned into the drought of summer" (Psalm 32:4). Yet relief can come. David said, "I acknowledged my sin to You . . . . I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin" (v.5).

The miracle of God's forgiveness does not remove the consequences of our sins. But when we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive us and cleanse us (1 John 1:9). His mercy and help are sure. —David McCasland

Lord, give me courage to confess,
To bare my sinful heart to Thee;
Thy full forgiveness I would know
And from this weight of guilt be free. —D. De Haan

When God forgives, He removes the sin and restores the sinner.

The Forgiveness Of God (

06-09-2005, 01:33 PM
February 18, 2005

Hearing And Doing

James 1:19-27 (

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. —James 1:22

Bible In One Year: Numbers 4-6 ( I read about a man in New York City who died at the age of 63 without ever having had a job. He spent his entire adult life in college. He had acquired so many academic degrees that they looked like the alphabet behind his name.

Why did this man spend his entire life in college? When he was a child, a wealthy relative died who had named him as a beneficiary in his will. It stated that he was to be given enough money to support him every year as long as he stayed in school. And it was to be discontinued when he had completed his education.

The man met the terms of the will, but by staying in school indefinitely he turned a technicality into a steady income for life—something his benefactor never intended. Unfortunately, he spent thousands of hours listening to professors and reading books but never "doing." He acquired more and more knowledge but didn't put it into practice.

This reminds me of what James said: "Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only" (1:22). If we read the Bible or listen as it is taught but fail to put to work what we have learned, we are as bad as that man with his string of degrees. His education was of no practical benefit to anyone.

Hearing must be matched by doing. —Richard De Haan

We take delight to read God's Word
And say, "Oh, yes, it's true!"
But it's of little use to us
Unless we hear and do. —D. De Haan

Open your Bible prayerfully, read it carefully, obey it joyfully.

Can I Really Trust The Bible? (

06-09-2005, 01:34 PM
February 19, 2005

Serving With Limitations

Hebrews 11:8-19 (

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. —2 Corinthians 12:9

Bible In One Year: Numbers 7-10 ( When he was not yet 4 years old, Itzhak Perlman was stricken by polio, making him unable to use his legs. But he compensated for that loss by devoting himself to his violin. In the years that followed, he delighted multitudes of people with his music. He lost the use of his legs but his music gave him wings. What an inspiring example of devotion!

Some of God's servants have shown a similar devotion to their Lord. They have suffered the loss of certain abilities but have been inspired to develop other capacities for service. For example, when William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, discovered that he was going blind, he did not surrender to despair. With a positive outlook, he told his colleagues that he had served Christ while he could see, and he would do his utmost to serve Him even when blind.

What motivates Christians to keep on serving and following Jesus to the best of their ability despite loss or hardship? Like Abraham, we live by faith. We look beyond this life and wait "for the city . . . whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). It's "a better . . . heavenly country" (v.16).

May the Holy Spirit empower us to glorify Christ—no matter what our limitations. —Vernon Grounds

Give me, Savior, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy trust to keep;
And so through trouble, care, and strife,
Glorify Thee in my daily life. —Bell

Circumstances that imprison us cannot limit God's work through us.

Joseph: Overcoming Life's Challenges (
Why Is Life So Unfair? (

06-09-2005, 01:35 PM
February 20, 2005

Did You Thank God Today?

Psalm 100 (

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving . . . . Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. —Psalm 100:4

Bible In One Year: Numbers 11-14 ( On my way to work one day I saw a bumper sticker that read: "Did you thank a green plant today?" Plants are essential to the balance of nature. They release oxygen into the air. They're also a source of food, fuel, medicine, and building materials.

Was the bumper sticker suggesting that because we are so dependent on plants we should actually thank them? If that's what the driver believes, he certainly has a lot to learn about who should receive our gratitude.

Nature bears marvelous testimony to the wisdom of the Creator. The interdependence of one life-form on another makes us realize that we're part of a complex system characterized by beauty and balance. But to direct our praise to nature reminds us of Paul's indictment of those who "worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:25). God alone is worthy of our gratitude! He set our world in motion, and He sustains it by His power.

Yes, it's wonderful to be alive, and deep feelings of appreciation often well up within us. But we must always center our devotion on the One who not only provides the air we breathe but also gives us eternal life through faith in Christ.

I'd like to see that bumper sticker changed to: "Did you thank God today?" —Dennis De Haan

Wind and water, light and sod
Speak with faithful lips for God;
May we give to Him our praise
For the goodness He displays. —Anon.

When you think of all that's good, give your thanks to God.

Celebrating The Wonder Of Creation (

06-09-2005, 01:35 PM
February 21, 2005

News Bulletin

Deuteronomy 7:6-16 (

He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. —Deuteronomy 7:10

Bible In One Year: Numbers 15-17 ( The news bulletin commanded attention. Several inmates had escaped from a penitentiary. They were armed and considered extremely dangerous. A police spokesman stressed to the community the importance of caution. He said, "These men are desperate. They have nothing to lose. They have killed and could kill again."

Deuteronomy 7 contains a far more serious warning. Overall, the passage is a positive expression of blessing. It shows the willingness of God to help those who trust Him. But that's not the whole picture. Did you catch the "news bulletin" in verse 10? The Lord alerted Israel to be on the lookout—not for bad men roaming the streets but for a good God who will destroy all those who hate Him.

It's true. Evil men are not the only ones to be feared. We are also to fear our good God. Even though He is merciful and full of compassion, His awesome holiness makes all other kinds of fear look mild by comparison.

We might not like to face this sobering truth. But God will not always be patient with those people who have no love or respect for Him. That's a news bulletin we can't afford to miss. —Mart De Haan

You've heard the news—there's no escape—
The Lord is coming to make right
The wrongs in this dark world of hate;
So make your choice—come to the Light. —Hess

Live today as if you will stand before God tomorrow.

Just Before Heaven (

06-09-2005, 01:36 PM
February 22, 2005

A Reason For Optimism

John 16:16-33 (

A merry heart does good, like medicine. —Proverbs 17:22

Bible In One Year: Numbers 18-20 ( The Bible isn't a psychology textbook, but it gives us the wisest counsel for experiencing happiness here and now. Proverbs 17:22, for example, assures us that "a merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones."

That simple statement was recently corroborated by the extensive research of Dr. Daniel Mark, a heart specialist at Duke University. The New York Times article that reported his findings carried this headline: "Optimism Can Mean Life for Heart Patients and Pessimism Death." The article begins with these words: "A healthy outlook helps heal the heart."

But Dr. Nancy Frasure-Smith, a heart specialist who has studied the effect of depression, anxiety, and anger, admitted, "We don't know how to change negative emotions."

Faith in God, however, can produce that change. People who look beyond their present difficulty and put their trust in God's goodness cannot help but be joyful.

It's significant that our Savior said on several occasions, "Be of good cheer" (Matthew 9:2,22; 14:27; Acts 23:11). Knowing that life is filled with many crises, He encourages us with this word of reassurance: "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). —Vernon Grounds

All your anxiety, all your care
Bring to the mercy seat, leave it there;
Never a burden He cannot bear,
Never a friend like Jesus. —Joy

No matter what happens, you can find joy in the Lord.

Do I Have The Right Kind Of Faith? (
Knowing God Through Proverbs (

06-09-2005, 01:36 PM
February 23, 2005

The Ethics Of Good News

2 Kings 7:3-9 (

We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. —2 Kings 7:9

Bible In One Year: Numbers 21-24 ( If a scientist discovered the cure for cancer, we would expect the discovery to be shared with the world. Basic ethics requires that good news not be kept secret.

When the king of Syria laid siege to the city of Samaria, the food supply was cut off. Four men with leprosy, deciding it would be preferable to die at the hands of the Syrians than to starve, went to surrender to the enemy. But when they came to the camp, they found it deserted. The army had fled in the night.

Food lay everywhere. The four men stuffed themselves, and they were tempted to remain silent about the good news. But then the memory of Samaria with its famished inhabitants came back to them. "We are not doing right," they told each other (2 Kings 7:9). So they became evangelists—bearers of good news. Ultimately, evangelism comes down to this: one starving person telling another starving person where to find food.

You and I have discovered that salvation is found in Jesus Christ. It is a breakdown of basic integrity to keep that truth to ourselves. If we have found the cure for a guilty conscience, if we have found the food of life, we are obligated to share it with others. —Haddon Robinson

If you've received God's great salvation,
Do not keep it to yourself;
The Bible tells where all may find it—
Do not leave it on the shelf. —Hess

Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

How Can I Break The Silence? (
What About Those Who Have Never Heard? (

06-09-2005, 01:37 PM
February 24, 2005

Sing Of Your Love

Revelation 5:8-14 (

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. —Psalm 89:1

Bible In One Year: Numbers 25-27 ( I was driving to work and listening to a local Christian radio station. Amid the usual morning banter came the song "I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever."

I have no idea what came over me. As soon as this uplifting praise song began, I felt tears running down my face. There I was, almost at work, and I could hardly see to drive because of a song. What was going on?

I sat in my car after I arrived at my destination, trying to figure it out. Then it struck me. The song reminded me that while another day of normal activity was beginning here on earth, my daughter Melissa was fulfilling the ultimate hope of that song in heaven. I pictured her brightly singing of God's love—getting a head start on the rest of us in that forever song. It was a bittersweet moment of understanding Melissa's joy while being reminded again of our sadness in not having her with us.

Much of life is like that. Joys and sorrows intermingle—making reminders of God's glory so vital. We need those glimpses of a promising praise-filled future in our Savior's presence. In the sadnesses of life, we need the anticipation of joy—the joy that comes from singing of God's love and enjoying His presence forever. —Dave Branon

The saints of all ages in heaven sing praise
With voices and harps to the Ancient of Days;
No music on earth with that sound can compare,
Yet in that vast chorus our voices will share. —D. De Haan

Those who know Christ now will sing His praises forever.

How Can I Live With My Loss? (

06-09-2005, 01:38 PM
February 25, 2005

Anger Management

James 4:1-6 (

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure? —James 4:1

Bible In One Year: Numbers 28-30 ( In James 4, the writer swung his axe at the root of one of our deepest problems: a smothering absorption with our own desires—getting our own way and having our own needs met. When that passion is frustrated, it can quickly become blind rage that demeans others and debases us. Though we may get what we want, we're left feeling unsatisfied.

It's better to ask God to meet our needs with His hands, in His time, in His way; to yield our will to His control, and pray as Jesus did, "Not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42).

It does no good to brood over injustices, to try to set things right on our own, or to let our lustful desires determine our decisions. Submitting to our own desire for pleasure will lead to "wars and fights" inside us and with those around us (James 4:1).

Before our anger peaks, we can call for a "time out" and take a walk with the One who understands us better than we understand ourselves—who cares for us more than we can ever know. We can tell Him about our anger and mull things over with Him.

We can ask God to meet our needs His way, for as James said, He gives "more grace" (v.6)—a gift far greater than anything we can manage on our own. —David Roper

When anger lingers in our hearts,
It poisons all we think and do;
But faith seeks ways to show God's love
And keeps our spirit strong and true. —D. De Haan

For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.

When Anger Burns (
Moses: His Anger And What It Cost Him (

06-09-2005, 01:38 PM
February 26, 2005


Psalm 139:1-12 (

The Lord knows those who are His. —2 Timothy 2:19

Bible In One Year: Numbers 31-33 ( Arctic sea birds called guillemots live on rocky coastal cliffs, where thousands of them come together in small areas. Because of the crowded conditions, the females lay their eggs side by side in a long row. It's incredible that a mother bird can identify the eggs that belong to her. Studies show that even when one is moved some distance away, she finds it and carries it back to its original location.

Our heavenly Father is far more intimately acquainted with each of His children. He is aware of every thought, emotion, and decision we make. From morning till night He gives personal attention to our daily affairs. Overwhelmed by this glorious reality, the psalmist exclaimed in amazement, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it" (Psalm 139:6).

Not only does this evoke our praise, but it should also bring great comfort to our hearts. Jesus told His disciples that the Father knows when a single sparrow falls to the ground. Because people are of so much greater value than the birds, God's children can be assured of His constant care.

How wonderful it is to be such a well-loved, "well-known" person! —Mart De Haan

The Savior knows our deepest need,
He knows our every care;
Our Lord has promised to be near
And all our burdens share. —Anon.

With God, you're never lost in a crowd.

How Has God Loved Us? (
Lonely But Never Alone (

06-09-2005, 01:39 PM
February 27, 2005

Our Creator

Genesis 1 (

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. —Genesis 1:1

Bible In One Year: Numbers 34-36 ( The Bible's first chapter addresses the most fundamental issues of life. It declares that God brought all things into existence. This should affect the way we live.

The writer of Genesis made the radical declaration that there is one God. That truth stood in sharp contrast to the polytheism and idolatry of the ancient world. The description of each creation day denounced the various gods worshiped by the pagans of Moses' day and declared that they were not gods at all—just creations of the one and only true and living God.

On day 1, gods of light and darkness are dismissed; day 2, gods of sea and sky; day 3, gods of earth and vegetation; day 4, sun, moon, and star gods; days 5 and 6, animal gods. And finally, humans. Even though all people are granted a divine likeness, they too are only created beings and must never be worshiped.

This account gives the foundation for Israel's covenant with God. For example, why do the Ten Commandments prohibit the worship of other gods? Because God alone is the maker of heaven and earth. Why is murder wrong? Because human beings are created in God's image.

Let's make it our goal to get to know the true and living God. —Haddon Robinson

So many gods have all come and gone,
Gods of earth, of sky, and of sea;
But God the Creator alone will stand
Tests of time and eternity. —Carbaugh

In the beginning—God.

How Can I Know There Is A God? (
Celebrating The Wonder Of Creation (

06-09-2005, 01:40 PM
February 28, 2005

Child's Play

Matthew 18:1-11 (

Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. —Matthew 18:3

Bible In One Year: Deuteronomy 1-3 ( After a surprise storm blanketed the Middle East with snow, a newspaper photo showed four armed men smiling as they built a snowman outside the battered walls of a military headquarters. The wintry weather also caused a protest to be canceled and delayed a debate over parliamentary matters of pressing importance. Men wearing long robes and women in traditional black dresses and headscarves were seen playing in the snow. There's something about snow that brings out the child in all of us.

And there's something about the gospel that beckons us to abandon our deep hostilities and feelings of self-importance in favor of a childlike humility and faith. When Jesus was asked, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (Matthew 18:1), He called a little child to come to Him and said, "Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (v.3).

It has been said that age diminishes our imagination, hopes, and possibilities. The older we get, the more easily we say, "That could never happen." But in a child's mind, God can do anything. A childlike faith filled with wonder and confidence in God unlocks the door to the kingdom of heaven. —David McCasland

God, give me the faith of a little child!
A faith that will look to Thee—
That never will falter and never fail,
But follow Thee trustingly. —Showerman

Faith shines brightest in a childlike heart.

Do I Have The Right Kind Of Faith? (
What Is A Personal Relationship With God? (

06-10-2005, 08:04 AM
March 1, 2005

Just A Glimpse

Revelation 22:1-5 (

There shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it. —Revelation 22:3

Bible In One Year: Deuteronomy 4-6 ( How grateful we are for the wonders of the world that God has created for us as our home in time. Though blighted with evil and pain, the earth is full of beautiful things that dazzle our senses. Early some midsummer morning, take a walk in a flower garden and absorb its beauty and fragrance. Then think about all of its loveliness—a faint glimpse of heaven's glory.

Years ago I stood outside a cabin high in the Rocky Mountains. As far as I could see, all the peaks were snow-covered and glistening under the light of a full moon. What an overwhelming spectacle that was! Yet still, just a glimpse of heaven's glory.

Listen to the thrilling cascade of harmony in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Then imagine the rapturous sound of angelic choirs.

Our Savior assured His disciples that He would return to His Father and His eternal home to prepare a place for those who simply believe. It will be a place of such splendor that nothing on earth can compare with it.

The only requirement for entry is personal faith in Christ and His atoning death and resurrection. Trust in His sacrifice, and one day He'll welcome you into that glorious beauty and joy. —Vernon Grounds

Brightest and best of that glorious throng,
Center of all, and the theme of their song,
Jesus, our Savior, the pierced One stands,
Lovingly calling with beckoning hands. —Ludlow

Christ opens the door of heaven to those who open their heart to Him.

Where Do We Go From Here? (

06-10-2005, 08:04 AM
March 2, 2005

Little By Little!

Exodus 23:20-33 (

Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land. —Exodus 23:30

Bible In One Year: Deuteronomy 7-9 ( When I was a little girl, my mother gave me her prized "reader" to help me learn, just as it had helped her years earlier. I loved one particular story, never dreaming how much it would affect me years later.

It was about a little boy with a small shovel. He was trying to clear a pathway through deep, new-fallen snow in front of his house. A man paused to observe the child's enormous task. "Little boy," he inquired, "how can someone as small as you expect to finish a task as big as this?" The boy looked up and replied confidently, "Little by little, that's how!" And he continued shoveling.

God awakened in me the seed of that story at a time when I was recovering from a breakdown. I remember how my "adult" self taunted the weak "child" within me: "How can someone as inadequate as you expect to surmount so great a mountain as this?" That little boy's reply became my reply: "Little by little, that's how!" And I did overcome—by depending on God. But it was one small victory after another.

The obstacles facing Israel as they considered claiming the land God had promised them must have seemed insurmountable. But He didn't ask them to do it all at once.

"Little by little" is the strategy for victory. —Joanie Yoder

He does not lead me year by year,
Nor even day by day;
But step by step my path unfolds—
My Lord directs my way. —Ryberg

Trust God to move your mountain, but keep on climbing.

How Do You Live The Christian Life? (

06-10-2005, 08:05 AM
March 3, 2005

Where To Look

Romans 8:35-39 (

Let us run . . . , looking unto Jesus. —Hebrews 12:1-2

Bible In One Year: Deuteronomy 10-12 ( Let's see. What is the crisis of the day? It could be terrorism and its random threat. Or the economy and the fear that we will run out of money before we run out of time. Maybe it's a personal crisis with no foreseeable solution—a tragedy or a failure too great to bear.

Before we fall under the weight of our accumulated fears, we would do well to look back to a 20th-century woman who bore sadness, pain, and heartache with grace.

Corrie ten Boom lived through the hellish life of Nazi concentration camps—a place where hope was lost for most people. She survived to tell her story of unfaltering faith and tight-fisted hope in God.

She saw the face of evil up close and personal. She saw some of the most inhumane acts man can do to man. And when she came out of it all, she said this: "If you look at the world, you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you'll be at rest."

Where are you looking? Are you focusing on the world and its dangers? Are you gazing at yourself, hoping to find your own answers? Or are you looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith? (Hebrews 12:1-2). In an uncertain world, we must keep looking to Him. —Dave Branon

Looking to Jesus, my spirit is blest,
The world is in turmoil, in Him I have rest;
The sea of my life around me may roar,
When I look to Jesus, I hear it no more. —Anon.

When your world is falling apart, trust Jesus to hold it together.

The Lord Is My Shepherd (

06-10-2005, 08:05 AM
March 4, 2005

Say "Mercy!"

Philippians 4:1-7 (

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer . . . let your requests be made known to God. —Philippians 4:6

Bible In One Year: Deuteronomy 13-16 ( You may have played the game when you were a child. You interlace your fingers with someone else's and try to bend the other's hands back until one or the other cries "Mercy!" The winner is the one who gets the other person to surrender.

Sometimes we try to play "Mercy" with God when we pray. We have a request that we desperately want answered in a certain way, so we try to "bend His fingers back" and get Him to give in. When it seems we aren't winning, we try a little harder to convince Him by begging or bargaining. We may even give up grudgingly and say, "Lord, You always win! That's not fair!"

God does want honesty of heart. But occasionally in our honesty a demanding spirit comes out. Deep down we know that prayer is not meant to be a contest with God that we try to win. In our wiser moments, we make our requests known to our Lord, surrender them to Him, rely on His grace, and wait for His answers (Philippians 4:6-7). Author Hannah Whitall Smith said, "Be glad and eager to throw yourself unreservedly into His loving arms, and to hand over the reins of government to Him."

Instead of praying with grudging resignation, "Lord, You always win," surrender to Him. Say "Mercy!" —Anne Cetas

In Jesus' name we voice our prayers—
The Bible tells us to;
But may we never use that name
To tell God what to do. —D. De Haan

Prayer isn't a time to give orders but to report for duty!

Jesus' Blueprint For Prayer (

06-10-2005, 08:06 AM
March 5, 2005

The Plantings Of Grace

Isaiah 55:6-13 (

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree. —Isaiah 55:13

Bible In One Year: Deuteronomy 17-19 ( Today's text states that God causes the cypress tree and the myrtle tree to flourish where once thorns and briers encumbered the ground. This analogy reminds us that God can bring forth beauty and grace where evil once flourished.

Where cynicism once grew, hope and optimism can begin to emerge. Where sarcasm thrived, gentle words of healing can appear. Where lust grew rampant and unrestrained, pure love can spring up. This—a transformed life—is the living and lasting sign of God's work, the memorial He seeks (Isaiah 55:13).

Do you long for this kind of transformation in your life? Then "seek the Lord while He may be found" (v.6). There are moments when we grow tired of the evil within us, and our heart aches for holiness. This is God calling, reminding us that He is near. At such times we must sink our roots deep into God's Word and ask Him to conform us to His likeness. He says that "as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and . . . water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, . . . so shall [His] word be that goes forth from [His] mouth" (vv.10-11).

Seek the Lord while He may be found. Plantings of grace can replace the thorns of our sinful nature. —David Roper

Sift the substance of my life,
Filter out the sin and strife;
Leave me, Lord, a purer soul,
Cleansed and sanctified and whole. —Lemon

God can transform a sin-stained soul into a masterpiece of grace.

David & Manasseh: Overcoming Failure (
Self-Esteem: What Does The Bible Say? (

06-10-2005, 08:07 AM
March 6, 2005

Keep The Organ Playing

1 Corinthians 12:20-26 (

Those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. —1 Corinthians 12:22

Bible In One Year: Deuteronomy 20-22 ( Many years ago an accomplished organist was giving a concert. (In those days someone had to pump large bellows backstage to provide air for the pipes.) After each song, the audience applauded heartily. Before his final number, the organist stood and said, "I shall now play . . ." and he announced the title. He sat down and adjusted his music. With feet poised over the pedals and hands over the keys, he began with a mighty chord. But the organ remained silent. Just then a voice was heard from backstage: "Say 'We'!"

In the Lord's work, there is plenty of room for personal achievement. Our abilities are God-given, and the Holy Spirit helps us to excel in what we do best. But a self-sufficient spirit that overlooks the contributions of others can ruin it all. No Christians have ever climbed the ladder of success alone. With them were mothers, fathers, friends, a husband, a wife, or children who prayed, sacrificed, and did what they could to help.

Aware of our deep indebtedness to others, we should be grateful for their vital role in the Lord's work in and through us. A note of sincere thanks, a word of honest recognition, or a thoughtful deed of love will help to "keep the organ playing." —Dennis De Haan

Two Christians working for the Lord
Should keep this goal in mind:
Give praise for what the other does—
To your success be blind. —Branon

It's amazing what can be accomplished when you don't care who gets the credit.

The Church We Need (

06-10-2005, 08:07 AM
March 7, 2005


Numbers 11:1-9 (

Our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes! —Numbers 11:6

Bible In One Year: Deuteronomy 23-25 ( Many of our recurring complaints focus not on what we don't have, but on what we do have and find uninteresting. Whether it's our work, our church, our house, or our spouse, boredom grumbles that it's not what we want or need. This frustration with sameness has been true of the human spirit since the beginning.

Notice the protest of God's people about their menu in the wilderness. Recalling the variety of food they ate as slaves in Egypt, they despised the monotony of God's current provision: "Our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!" (Numbers 11:6).

God provided exactly what they needed each day, but they wanted something more exciting. Are we tempted to do the same? Oswald Chambers said: "Drudgery is the touchstone of character. There are times when there is no illumination and no thrill, but just the daily round, the common task. Routine is God's way of saving us between our times of inspiration. Do not expect God always to give you His thrilling minutes, but learn to live in the domain of drudgery by the power of God."

During the boring times of life, God is working to instill His character in us. Drudgery is our opportunity to experience the presence of the Lord. —David McCasland

Steadfast, then, in our endeavor,
Heavenly Father, may we be;
And forever, and forever,
We will give the praise to Thee. —MacKellar

Blessing is found along the pathway of duty.

How Can I Know What God Wants Me To Do? (

06-10-2005, 08:08 AM
March 8, 2005

Weight Loss

Hebrews 11:30-12:1 (

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us. —Hebrews 12:1

Bible In One Year: Deuteronomy 26-28 ( The army of Alexander the Great was advancing on Persia. At one critical point, it appeared that his troops might be defeated. The soldiers had taken so much plunder from their previous campaigns that they had become weighted down and were losing their effectiveness in combat.

Alexander commanded that all the spoils be thrown into a heap and burned. The men complained bitterly but soon saw the wisdom of the order. Someone wrote, "It was as if wings had been given to them—they walked lightly again." Victory was assured.

As soldiers of Christ, we must rid ourselves of anything that hinders us in the conflict with our spiritual enemy. To fight the battle effectively, we must be clad only with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17).

The Bible also likens Christians to runners. To win the race, we must "lay aside every weight" that would drag us down and rob us of our strength and endurance (Hebrews 12:1). This weight may be an excessive desire for possessions, the captivating love of money, an endless pursuit of pleasure, slavery to sinful passions, or a burdensome legalism.

Yes, if we are to fight the good fight of faith and run the spiritual race with endurance, the watchword must be: Off with the weight! —Richard De Haan

Fight the good fight with all thy might!
Christ is thy strength and Christ thy right;
Lay hold on life and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally. —Monsell

If your Christian life is a drag, worldly weights may be holding you back.

What Does It Take To Follow Christ? (

06-10-2005, 08:09 AM
March 9, 2005

Careful Thought

Haggai 1 (

Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways!" —Haggai 1:7

Bible In One Year: Deuteronomy 29-31 ( Have you ever locked your keys inside your car? Mailed an envelope without putting the payment check inside? Baked a recipe without adding one of the main ingredients?

These are the kinds of things we all do when we don't give careful thought to what we are doing. Careless thinking means we either do something we shouldn't do or fail to do something we should. These wrong actions or irresponsible inactions can be minor inconveniences—or they can have serious lasting consequences.

You would think the people in Haggai's day wouldn't have committed thoughtless mistakes. Just 20 years before, they were living in exile in Babylon because they had disobeyed God. Now they were back in Jerusalem, but they were living as if that whole exile episode had never happened.

So through the prophet Haggai, God told them, "Consider your ways!" (Haggai 1:7). Then He told them their mistake: They were living selfish lives of luxury instead of completing God's temple. Careless thinking had led to wrong decisions and inaction.

God wants us to give careful thought to our actions, words, and relationships, and make decisions that bring glory to Him. Whatever you do today, give it careful thought. —Dave Branon

Let us think about what's good—
What's right and pure and true;
May God's Word control our thoughts
In everything we do. —Fitzhugh

Keep your thoughts in line, or they'll lead you astray.

Mary & Martha: Balancing Life's Priorities (
Eve & Rahab: Learning To Make Better Choices (

06-10-2005, 08:09 AM
March 10, 2005

Rabbit-Hole Christians

Luke 19:1-10 (

Jesus . . . said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." —Luke 19:5

Bible In One Year: Deuteronomy 32-34 ( Rabbits are timid creatures that pop out of their holes every morning, try to avoid everything (except other rabbits), eat their food, and jump back into their holes in the evening. "Whew! We made it through another day," they'd say if they could talk.

Rabbit-hole Christians are a lot like that. They eat lunch with other Christians at work and relate almost exclusively with fellow-believers in their church. They avoid socializing with unbelievers and wouldn't think of accepting an invitation to one of their parties. No wonder unbelievers equate being a Christian with a kind of aloof self-righteousness.

No one could say that about Jesus. He actually invited Himself to the home of Zacchaeus, a notorious tax collector. His congeniality among disreputable people earned Him the title of "a friend of tax collectors and sinners" (Matthew 11:19). He reached out to such people because He knew He couldn't help them without becoming their friend. Jesus never said anything He shouldn't have said, nor did He laugh at off-color stories. He won people's respect by caring for them.

Jesus has equipped us with the Holy Spirit and assured us that He'll be with us so we can follow His example. Let's guard against being rabbit-hole Christians. —Herb Vander Lugt

Help us, O Lord, to live our lives
So people clearly see
Reflections of Your caring heart,
Your love and purity. —Sper

Jesus leaves us in the world to be a witness to the world.

The Compassion Of Jesus (

06-10-2005, 08:10 AM
March 11, 2005

Trivial Pursuits

2 Peter 1:1-4 (

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. —2 Peter 1:3

Bible In One Year: Joshua 1-3 ( A number of years ago I was in the library of a prestigious university. As I walked among the bookshelves, I happened to pass by a row of small cubicles set aside for study and spied a student reading a Bugs Bunny comic book. I almost laughed out loud. Here was a young man surrounded by the wisdom of the ages, yet immersed in childish trivia.

There's nothing wrong with comic books, and all of us need occasional respite from study, but some of us never get beyond trivial pursuits. Books, magazines, and other media are the preoccupation and primary influence in our lives. How foolish! We have in our hands the Word of Life—the Book that tells us how to know God and live abundantly.

The greatest cause for our neglect of the Bible is not lack of time but lack of heart. Someone else's word is taking the place of the Word of Christ. There are many good books and magazines to read, but we must not neglect the mysteries of God's grace and love that are written on every page of the Bible. That's where we find everything we need for "life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3).

Ask God to give you a desire for His Word and a hunger to taste His goodness every day. —David Roper

How rich the truths within God's Word—
What gems beyond compare!
By faith we can discover them
When study joins with prayer. —D. De Haan

It is an awesome responsibility to own a Bible.

Can I Really Trust The Bible? (
Keeping Our Appointments With God (

06-10-2005, 08:10 AM
March 12, 2005

The Storm Will Pass

Exodus 5:1-14,22-23 (,22-23)

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered. —Proverbs 28:26

Bible In One Year: Joshua 4-6 ( The local TV meteorologist occasionally points to a map and says something like this: "I'm afraid that things are going to get worse before they get better."

Such a forecast could very well have applied to Israel when God sent Moses to free His people from slavery in Egypt. The barometer of events was falling rapidly, and the dark, ominous sky of oppression would soon break forth into a churning, flashing storm of cruelty unleashed by Pharaoh.

Moses had appealed to Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go into the desert to worship God, but the king accused them of loafing on the job (Exodus 5:1,17). So he multiplied their workload, and the situation went from bad to horrible (v.18). Moses cried out in bitterness to the Lord for an explanation (vv.22-23). He found it hard to believe that a glorious exodus could be just around the corner.

The plans of the Lord were not being frustrated, however. Before conditions would get better for His children, God tested them by allowing their suffering to increase.

Even when we are obedient to the Lord, the skies of adversity may not always clear immediately. Circumstances may get worse before they improve. But praise God, His grace will sustain us, and the storm will pass. —Mart De Haan

Have faith in God, the sun will shine,
Though dark your path may be today;
His love has planned your way and mine,
Have faith in God, have faith alway. —Anon.

It's always darkest before the dawn.

Surviving The Storms Of Stress (
When Hope Is Lost (

06-10-2005, 08:11 AM
March 13, 2005

Stars & Sand

Psalm 147:1-11 (

He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. —Psalm 147:4

Bible In One Year: Joshua 7-9 ( A team led by an Australian astronomer calculated the number of stars in the known universe to be 70 sextillion—7 followed by 22 zeros. That unfathomable number is said to be more than the grains of sand in every beach and every desert on earth. The calculation was the by-product of research on the development of galaxies. One team member said, "Finding the number of stars is not really the research we were doing, but it was a nice result to play around with."

Having an estimate of the number of stars can help us praise God with greater awe and wonder. Psalm 147 says: "It is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. . . . He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite" (vv.1,4-5).

This psalm not only presents God's majesty, but it also affirms His personal concern for each of us. He "heals the brokenhearted" (v.3), "lifts up the humble" (v.6), and "takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy" (v.11).

Let's praise the great God of stars and sand who knows and cares for each one of us. —David McCasland

The God who made the firmament,
Who made the deepest sea,
The God who put the stars in place
Is the God who cares for me. —Berg

All creation points to the almighty Creator.

Celebrating The Wonder Of Creation (

06-10-2005, 08:12 AM
March 14, 2005

Change The World?

Matthew 25:34-40 (

I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. —Matthew 25:35

Bible In One Year: Joshua 10-12 ( When my son Steve came home from a concert recently, he had with him a free T-shirt and a brochure for an organization that helps needy children in a far-off continent. Apparently, one of the singers had issued a challenge.

"We wanted to change the world with our music," he said, "but often all we do is sing. We decided that we were going to take action to change some lives, so we started supporting some needy kids." Then he set forth the challenge, which Steve accepted. He then talked with his Bible-study group at church about supporting a child each month.

Most of us want to change the world for the better, but the job seems too big. So what if we decided to do at least one thing to change just one person's life? In the name of Jesus, who said that providing physical help would be the same as helping our Savior Himself (Matthew 25:35-36), what if we reached out to one person with food, or clothing, or transportation? And what if that person, wondering about our motive, asks why we helped? We could then help change that person's life for eternity by introducing him or her to the Savior.

Change the world? Let's start with changing one person in Jesus' name. —Dave Branon

Do a deed of simple kindness,
Though its end you may not see;
It may reach, like widening ripples,
Down a long eternity. —Norris

Wherever a human being exists, there is an opportunity to do a kindness. —Seneca

How Can I Share My Faith Without An Argument? (

06-10-2005, 08:12 AM
March 15, 2005

Neighborly Love

Ephesians 4:29-32 (

Love your neighbor as yourself. —Matthew 22:39

Bible In One Year: Joshua 13-15 ( The Carnegie Foundation discovered that to be successful on the job, relational skills are far more important than knowledge. Its research found that only 15 percent of a person's success is determined by job knowledge and technical skills. Eighty-five percent is determined by an individual's attitude and ability to relate to other people.

Scripture commands us to "be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32). In fact, it tells us to love our "neighbor" as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). And a neighbor is not only someone who lives near us or works next to us, but anyone we meet on life's journey—especially those in need.

So having an attitude of courtesy, care, and concern for others is a basic spiritual principle. It is also the most important guideline for congenial and happy relationships. Indeed, it is even the golden key to vocational success.

Our purpose for modeling a Christlike spirit of neighborly love, though, is that we want to obey God, not just to achieve success at work. After all, our supreme vocation as believers is to embody and practice the neighbor-loving character of our Lord. —Vernon Grounds

Who measures how we've done in life
And judges our success?
Our God, who gives rewards to those
Who live in righteousness. —Branon

Those who love God will love their neighbor.

How Can I Find Satisfaction In My Work (

06-10-2005, 08:13 AM
March 16, 2005

A Cleansed Conscience

Romans 2:12-16 (

I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. —Acts 24:16

Bible In One Year: Joshua 16-18 ( The much-loved children's story Pinocchio is about a wooden puppet whose nose grows long when he tells a lie. His friend Jiminy Cricket chirps, "Let your conscience be your guide." Pinocchio follows his advice, repents, and returns to Geppetto his creator, where he is given a heart of flesh and is freed from his strings.

There's a principle in this story for God's children. If we don't listen to that voice deep down inside that tells us what we should and should not do, we live in bondage. But a cleansed conscience brings freedom.

Some people have no strong basis for making godly decisions. Their conscience is weak, and they can be easily swayed by the behavior of others. Then there are those whose conscience is defiled. The standard by which they measure good and evil is corrupted, polluted, and impure (Titus 1:15). But saddest of all are those who have a "seared" conscience (1 Timothy 4:2). They have resisted that inner voice for so long that they no longer hear what it has to say.

But you ask, "How can we have a cleansed conscience?" We must repent of our sin and return to our Creator. We must ask Him to conform our desires and behavior to His Word and then be careful to obey it. —David Roper

There is a treasure you can own
That's greater than a crown or throne;
This treasure is a conscience clear
That brings the sweetest peace and cheer. —Isenhour

Conscience is a trustworthy compass when God's Word is your true north.

The Forgiveness Of God (

06-10-2005, 08:13 AM
March 17, 2005

Dots And Doughnut Holes

Psalm 104:1-15 (

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. —Psalm 103:2

Bible In One Year: Joshua 19-21 ( As a minister was addressing a group of men, he took a large piece of paper and made a black dot in the center of it. Then he held up the paper and asked them what they saw.

One person replied, "I see a black mark." "Right," the preacher said. "What else?" Complete silence prevailed. "I'm really surprised," the speaker commented. "You have completely overlooked the most important thing of all—the sheet of paper."

We are often distracted by small, dot-like disappointments, and we are prone to forget the innumerable blessings we receive from the Lord. But like the sheet of paper, the good things are far more important than the adversities that monopolize our attention.

This reminds me of a whimsical bit of verse that expresses good practical advice. "As you travel down life's pathway, may this ever be your goal: Keep your eye upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole!"

Yes, rather than concentrating on the trials of life, we should fix our attention on its blessings. Let's say with the psalmist, "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits" (Psalm 68:19).

Let's keep praising Him so we won't be distracted by dots and doughnut holes. —Richard De Haan

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged—God is over all;
Count your many blessings—angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end. —Oatman

Spend your time counting your blessings—not airing your complaints.

Why Is Life So Unfair? (

06-10-2005, 08:14 AM
March 18, 2005

Is Fear Healthy?

2 Chronicles 17:3-10 (

The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom. —Proverbs 15:33

Bible In One Year: Joshua 22-24 ( During a severe thunderstorm, a mother tucked her child into bed and turned off the light. Frightened by the tempest, he asked, "Mommy, will you sleep with me?" Hugging him, she replied, "I can't, dear. I have to sleep with Daddy." Stepping out of the room, she heard, "That big sissy!"

Fear is real. But it's not always negative. In 2 Chronicles 17:3-10, we read about a healthy, positive fear that prevented neighboring countries from going to war against Judah. What had caused this fear? We are told that "the fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat" (v.10).

A respectful fear of the Lord was also what King Jehoshaphat desired for his own people. So he made it a priority that they be taught God's Word. He knew that if the people were in awe of the Almighty, they would humble themselves and obey Him. Doing what was right would bring prosperity to Judah and respect from neighboring countries.

Proverbs 15:33 declares, "The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom." Those who fear Him act with wisdom; they walk faithfully before Him as they obey His commands. —Albert Lee

God dwells in light and holiness,
In splendor and in might;
And godly fear of His great power
Can help us do what's right. —D. De Haan

The right kind of fear will keep us from doing wrong.

How Can I Know God Through His Book? (

06-10-2005, 08:14 AM
March 19, 2005

Riding A Rollercoaster

Galatians 6:1-10 (

Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. —Galatians 6:9

Bible In One Year: Judges 1-4 ( If you love someone who struggles with a substance-abuse problem, you know that your emotions and his can be like riding a rollercoaster—up and down. Today he wants help; tomorrow he's drinking or is high on drugs again. Today she's being honest; tomorrow she's running from the truth.

The Holy Spirit helps us learn how to love people like that, even in their sins and struggles. Here are a few principles we can put into practice:

<LI>Treat the person with respect. Be gentle when trying to restore him (Galatians 6:1). But don't do for him what he should do for himself. Don't get in the way of the consequences that God can use to bring change.
<LI>Remember that you do not have the power to change another person. Instead, ask God to help you become the person He wants you to be (vv.4-5).
<LI>Reach out in love. Seek God's wisdom in what to say and do in each encounter (James 1:5). Then rebuke or be silent—in love.
<LI>Depend on God. You will make mistakes. But anchor yourself in God's Word and continually commit yourself and your loved one to the Lord in prayer (Philippians 4:6).

Making some of these choices can help to slow down the rollercoaster ride of changing emotions. —Anne Cetas

Love is an attitude, love is a prayer
For someone in sorrow, a heart in despair;
Love is goodwill for the gain of another,
Love suffers long with the fault of a brother. —Anon.

Love helps people even when it hurts.

When We Just Can't Stop (
When Help Is Needed (

06-10-2005, 08:15 AM
March 20, 2005

The Way To Praise Him

Luke 19:28-38 (

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! —Luke 19:38

Bible In One Year: Judges 5-8 ( The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem a few days before His death focused attention on Christ as Lord. When Jesus sent His disciples to get the colt He was to ride, He instructed them to tell its owners, "The Lord has need of it" (Luke 19:31). And when the crowds shouted their praise, they quoted Psalm 118:26, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Luke 19:38).

Jesus is Lord. His is "the name which is above every name" (Philippians 2:9). The word Lord refers to His sovereignty. He is the King, and every believer in Him is a member of His kingdom.

We make Jesus the Lord of our lives by bowing to His authority as King. This means we live in obedience to Him. Don't be like the man who claimed to be a Christian but chose to live in sin. When his minister confronted him, he glibly replied, "Don't worry, pastor. It's okay. I'm just a bad Christian."

It's not okay. Not at all! Not for a member of Christ's kingdom (Luke 6:43-49).

On this Palm Sunday, make sure you're honoring Him with your deeds as well as with your words. Then you can join with others in proclaiming, "Jesus is Lord!" —Dave Egner

Worthy is God of our worship,
Worthy is He of our praise;
Magnify Him with thanksgiving—
Gladly our voices we raise. —Anon.

To follow Christ is to take Him as your Savior and your Lord.

Religion Or Christ: What's The Difference? (
What Does It Take To Follow Christ? (

06-10-2005, 08:16 AM
March 21, 2005

A Bumpy Road

Philippians 1:27-30 (

To you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. —Philippians 1:29

Bible In One Year: Judges 9-12 ( When people tell me life is hard, I always reply, "Of course it is." I find that answer more satisfying than anything else I can say. Writer Charles Williams said, "The world is painful in any case; but it is quite unbearable if anybody gives us the idea that we are meant to be liking it."

The path by which God takes us often seems to lead away from what we perceive as our good, causing us to believe we've missed a turn and taken the wrong road. That's because most of us have been taught to believe that if we're on the right track God's goodness will always translate into a life free of trouble.

But that's a pipe dream far removed from the biblical perspective. God's love often leads us down roads where earthly comforts fail us. Paul said, "To you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29). When we come to the end of all our dark valleys, we'll understand that every circumstance has been allowed for our ultimate good.

"No other route would have been as safe and as certain as the one by which we came," Bible teacher F. B. Meyer said. "If only we could see the path as God has always seen it, we would have selected it as well." —David Roper

If some darker lot be good,
Lord, teach us to endure
The sorrow, pain, or solitude
That makes the spirit pure. —Irons

No trial would cause us to despair if we knew God's reason for allowing it.

10 Reasons To Believe In A God Who Allows Suffering (

06-10-2005, 08:16 AM
March 22, 2005

Our Mysterious God

Judges 13:15-23 (

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past . . . , has in these last days spoken to us by His Son. —Hebrews 1:1-2

Bible In One Year: Judges 13-15 ( In today's Scripture, we read that a mysterious and awesome visitor appeared to Manoah and his wife (Samson's parents). When Manoah asked, "What is Your name?" the visitor didn't answer the question directly but instead "ascended in the flame of the altar" (Judges 13:17-20). Then Manoah knew he had seen God in human form.

Who can understand such a God—the God who wrote the 3-billion-letter software code in the DNA molecule of every human cell? Who can fully comprehend the God who knows everything, even our inner thoughts? Yet many Old Testament saints knew and loved this God. They experienced the joy of His grace and forgiveness, even though they didn't completely understand how a holy God could forgive their sins.

As Christians, we too stand in awe before the majesty and mystery of an incomprehensible God. But we have a great advantage because we see Him revealed in Jesus, who said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). And when Jesus hung on the cross, He revealed God's compassion and love, for He died there for us.

A mystery? Yes. But how wonderful that we can know the love of this incomprehensible God! —Herb Vander Lugt

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

To understand God is impossible—to worship Him is imperative.

How Can I Know There Is A God? (
God Our Father (

06-10-2005, 08:17 AM
March 23, 2005

Open Bible

Psalm 119:41-48 (

I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. —Psalm 119:46

Bible In One Year: Judges 16-18 ( Many hotels in countries around the world have a Bible in each room. Just open a drawer and you'll find it.

But during a recent hotel stay, I was surprised to see an open Bible placed prominently on a table in the lobby. And when I reached my room, instead of the Bible being in a drawer, it was lying open on the desk. My guess is that the owner decided to draw people's attention to the presence of God and His Word as they travel—often alone and sometimes in great need.

This caused me to ponder my own response to the Scriptures. Is the Bible open in my heart for people to see? Do my actions give evidence that I'm meditating on God's Word?

Psalm 119 is filled with praise for the wonder of God's Word, along with the writer's promise to live by it and share it with others. "I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts," he wrote. "I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love. . . . And I will meditate on Your statutes" (vv.45-47).

Since every life is an open book, let's seek to demonstrate the love and power of God's Word, the Bible, for everyone to see. —David McCasland

We are the only Bible
The careless world will read;
We are the sinner's gospel,
We are the scoffer's creed. —Flint

Of all the commentaries on the Scriptures, good examples are the best. —John Donne

The Greatest Story Ever Told (
How Can I Understand The Bible? (

06-10-2005, 08:18 AM
March 24, 2005

Celebrate Beginnings

Luke 1:26-38 (

You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. —Luke 1:31

Bible In One Year: Judges 19-21 ( Many churches observe March 25 as Annunciation Day. It commemorates the angel's announcement to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus, the Messiah. In our success-oriented society, this festival is a needed reminder to recognize and rejoice at the beginning of God's work in a person's life rather than holding our applause for the accomplishments.

Because we often read Luke's gospel at Christmas, we may forget that 9 months of trust and waiting separated Mary's response to Gabriel from the birth of Jesus. When we read her words of surrender in light of this timespan, they take on added meaning: "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). Mary must have received great encouragement when her cousin Elizabeth told her, "Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord" (v.45).

We can celebrate beginnings by giving a hug or handshake to a new believer who professes faith in Christ. We can write a note of encouragement to a friend who has chosen to obey God's Word.

Let's grasp every opportunity to celebrate the beginnings of God's work in the lives of others. —David McCasland

It takes but a moment of time
And minimal energy spent
To pass an encouraging word
To one who'll be glad it was sent. —Hess

The human spirit soars with hope when lifted by an encouraging word.

How Much Does God Control? (

06-10-2005, 08:18 AM
March 25, 2005

King Of Our Lives

John 19:16-22 (

I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. —1 Corinthians 15:3

Bible In One Year: Ruth 1-4 ( More than 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate commanded that a placard be placed on the cross that read: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Perhaps Pilate sought to induce fear among the people and discourage them from crowning their own king.

King of the Jews. Was it an original thought at the time? Perhaps it had been introduced when the wise men asked, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2). They had sought the fulfillment of this promise: "For unto us a Child is born . . . ; the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). They believed Jesus was this Child.

Later, when Christ was crucified, some jeered, "If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matthew 27:40). They wanted to see if Jesus really was King. But Jesus did not come down. The true meaning of the cross is that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3). He who paid the penalty of our sins has made God's forgiveness possible.

Those who accept God's forgiveness and ask Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord can have only one appropriate response—to serve Him. He is King of our lives. —Albert Lee

King of my life I crown Thee now—
Thine shall the glory be;
Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow,
Lead me to Calvary. —Hussey

Jesus is King of our lives, so we must serve Him all of our lives.

Why Did Christ Have To Die? (
Knowing God Through John (

06-10-2005, 08:19 AM
March 26, 2005

Grace To Forgive

Romans 12:14-21 (

Love your enemies, . . . and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. —Matthew 5:44

Bible In One Year: 1 Samuel 1-3 ( It is difficult to understand how the Lord Jesus could pray for His brutal executioners to be forgiven (Luke 23:34). We often try to excuse our unforgiving hearts by arguing that He was God, whereas we are sinful creatures. But Jesus calls us to follow His divine example.

Putting into practice the Bible's directives isn't easy. For example, it's hard to pray sincerely for God to forgive our enemies and those who humiliate and belittle us. Yet God's Word is crystal-clear: "Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).

As we lift our eyes to the Lord in prayer, we can be Spirit-enabled to put into practice His most difficult directives. Think of someone toward whom you have harbored a bitter spirit. Ransack your memory if necessary. As you consider that your feelings for that person, pray: "Lord, flood my heart with compassion, and purge away my unforgiving spirit. Help me to 'live peaceably with all men'" (Romans 12:18).

If multitudes of Christians did that, what a transforming difference it would make in our marriages, our homes, and our churches. We could have a big influence on our hate-filled world. —Vernon Grounds

When others we will not forgive,
God's blessings are denied;
We must forsake our stubbornness
And banish sinful pride. —Sper

Ground that is filled with roots of bitterness needs to be plowed by the grace of God.

Violence: Why It Happens (
Finding Peace In A World Of Racial Conflict (

06-10-2005, 08:19 AM
March 27, 2005

Fact, Not Fable

1 Corinthians 15:1-19 (

If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! —1 Corinthians 15:17

Bible In One Year: 1 Samuel 4-7 ( The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Without it we have no hope for this life nor the life to come. That's why it is important to recognize that our belief in Christ's resurrection is not based on a religious feeling or unfounded rumor, but on historical fact with solid evidence to support it.

A century ago, a group of lawyers met in England to discuss the biblical accounts of Jesus' resurrection. They wanted to see if enough information was available to make a case that would hold up in a court of law. They concluded that Christ's resurrection was one of the most well-established facts of history.

In his book Countdown, G. B. Hardy offers some thought-provoking questions about the resurrection: "There are but two essential requirements: (1) Has anyone cheated death and proved it? (2) Is it available to me?" Hardy goes on to declare that only the tomb of Jesus is empty. And because Jesus conquered sin and death, we who put our faith in Him will share in His resurrection.

"If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile," Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17. Historical evidence and countless changed lives testify that the resurrection of Jesus is a fact. Have you put your hope in the risen Christ? —Dave Egner

Yes, Christ the Lord is risen,
Has come forth from the grave;
He breaks the chains of death for you
And now has power to save. —Woodruff

Christ's resurrection is more than a fact of history—it's the proof of our salvation.

Did Christ Really Rise From The Dead? (
10 Reasons To Believe Christ Rose From The Dead (

06-10-2005, 08:20 AM
March 28, 2005

The Center Of History

Matthew 16:13-20 (

Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." —Matthew 16:16

Bible In One Year: 1 Samuel 8-10 ( In its biographical archives, The Washington Post identifies famous people with a single vocational notice, such as "home-run king" or "motion-picture star." According to a reporter, one of these files is marked, "Jesus Christ (martyr)."

Every individual who considers Jesus Christ makes some judgment about Him. French philosopher and historian Ernest Renan said, "All history is incomprehensible without Christ." American author Ralph Waldo Emerson concluded, "His name is not so much written but plowed into the history of the world."

Kenneth Scott Latourette, former chairman of the department of religion at Yale Graduate School, wrote, "That short life of Jesus has been the most influential ever lived. Through Him millions have been transformed and have begun to live the life which He exemplified. Gauged by the consequences which have followed, the birth, life, and death and resurrection of Jesus have been the most important events in the history of man."

What label do you put on Jesus Christ? If you agree that He is who He claimed to be, then let Him who is the center of history be not only the center of your creed but also the object of your loyalty and love. —Haddon Robinson

Christ wants to be the center of your life,
The reason for your being here at all;
He gave Himself a sacrifice for you,
And now He waits for you to hear His call. —Hess

Your decision about Jesus determines your destiny.

Who Is This Man Who Says He's God? (

06-10-2005, 08:21 AM
March 29, 2005

The Forest And The Tree

Genesis 3:17-24 (

Blessed is the man who endures temptation. —James 1:12

Bible In One Year: 1 Samuel 11-13 ( All of us have been so close to a temptation that we've lost our perspective. It may have involved something as small as a rumor that we knew shouldn't be passed along, but the urge to gossip blocked out our sense of love and good judgment.

Adam and Eve faced a similar problem. They became so preoccupied with one plant in their garden paradise that they couldn't see the forest for the tree.

Just look at what it cost them. The Garden of Eden had been created especially for them. In it they knew no evil, no trials, no sickness, no death. They enjoyed the company of the Creator Himself. Yet they gave up everything they had—just to eat the fruit of that one forbidden tree.

Their mistake still plagues us. How often do we miss the whole forest of God's goodness for a single tree of testing? The moment of temptation seems so overwhelming, the idea so irresistible, our twisted logic so justifiable.

Think about all that Adam and Eve left behind in the Garden. Fill your mind with the truths of God's Word and rely on the Holy Spirit's moment-by-moment guidance and strength. Then you'll experience the lasting joy of God's blessing rather than temporary pleasure. —Mart De Haan

How To Handle Temptation
Seek God with your whole heart (Psalm 119:9-16).
Listen to wisdom (Proverbs 8:1-11).
Resist the devil; draw near to God (James 4:7-8).

Your response to temptation will make you or break you.

What In The World Is Satan Doing? (

06-10-2005, 08:21 AM
March 30, 2005

His Unseen Presence

John 14:19-28 (

He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. —John 14:21

Bible In One Year: 1 Samuel 14-16 ( I feel uncomfortable at times with preachers who are always saying, "The Lord told me," as if they had just heard from God directly. They give the impression that we must believe that everything they say is true. After all, how can we argue with God.

In contrast, I have often been deeply moved when people in great sorrow or battling a grave illness have told me that the Lord had spoken to their heart and made Himself very real to them. I have come away with the sense that they truly did experience God's unseen presence.

G. K. Chesterton, trying to think of an analogy to what these believers feel, wrote: "Plato has told you a truth; but Plato is dead. Shakespeare has startled you with an image; but Shakespeare will startle you no more. But imagine what it would be to live with such men still living, to know that Plato may break out with an original lecture tomorrow, or that at any moment Shakespeare might shatter everything with a simple song."

Jesus is alive in every sense of the word and He is fully aware of each of us and our needs. As we live in obedience to Him, we can expect Him to keep His promise to manifest Himself to us (John 14:21). Then we can say with humility, "The Lord spoke to me." —Herb Vander Lugt

In the secret of His presence
How my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons
Which I learn at Jesus' side! —Goreh

God speaks to those who are willing to hear Him.

10 Reasons To Believe In The Christian Faith (

06-10-2005, 08:23 AM
March 31, 2005

Wise Behavior

1 Samuel 18:1-5 (

David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. . . . And he was accepted in the sight of all the people. —1 Samuel 18:5

Bible In One Year: 1 Samuel 17-20 ( Four times in 1 Samuel 18, the writer tells us that David "behaved wisely" (vv.5,14,15,30). In fact, he behaved "more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed" (v.30).

The phrase "highly esteemed" suggests an unusual respect. David was honored by all the people, but more significantly he was highly respected by those in Saul's court who were impressed by his noble character.

As Christians come to know Jesus through obedience to His Word, they will begin to display qualities of character that set them apart from others, for true wisdom is to live like Christ. It is more than common sense; it is uncommon behavior.

James said, "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" (3:17). This gracious way of making our way through the world can come only "from above."

David's experience can be our experience. God's promise to him is also true for believers today. He said, "I will instruct you [cause you to be wise] and teach you in the way you should go" (Psalm 32:8).

Are we learning to behave wisely? —David Roper

Be like Jesus, this my song,
In the home and in the throng;
Be like Jesus, all day long!
I would be like Jesus. —Rowe
© 1912, 1940, The Rodeheaver Co.

Our character is only as strong as our behavior.

Transformed Lives (
How Does God Keep His Promises? (

06-13-2005, 08:22 AM
April 1, 2005

Broken Things

Psalm 31:9-24 (

I am like a broken vessel. —Psalm 31:12

Bible In One Year: 1 Samuel 21-24 ( Few unbroken lives in this world are useful to God. Few men and women can fulfill their hopes and plans without some interruption and disappointment along the way.

But man's disappointments are often God's appointments, and the things we believe are tragedies may be the very opportunities through which God chooses to exhibit His love and grace. We have but to follow these lives to the end to see that people who have been broken become better and more effective Christians than if they had carried out all their own plans and purposes.

Are you, my friend, being broken today? Has the dearest thing in your life been torn away? Then remember that if you could see the purpose of it all from God's standpoint, you would praise the Lord.

The best things that come to us are not those that accrue from having our way, but by letting God have His way. Though the way of testing and trial and sorrow often seems hard and cruel, it is the way of God's love and in the end will be the best for us.

Remember, we have the Lord's promise: "No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11). —M. R. De Haan, M.D.

Then trust in God through all thy days;
Fear not, for He doth hold thy hand;
Though dark thy way, still sing and praise,
Sometime, sometime, we'll understand. —Cornelius

For a Christian, wholeness always comes after brokenness.

Why Would A Good God Allow Suffering? (
Knowing God Through Job (

06-13-2005, 08:23 AM
April 2, 2005

The Children's Friend

Matthew 19:13-15 (

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." —Matthew 19:14

Bible In One Year: 1 Samuel 25-28 ( Today, people around the globe will observe the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. The lessons and encouragement contained in his tales of The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, and The Emperor's New Clothes are still considered a great gift to children everywhere.

I'm reminded, however, that Jesus Christ is the greatest friend of children the world has ever known. No one has done more for them than Jesus.

When Jesus' disciples reprimanded people for bringing little ones to Him, the Lord said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14).

Jesus valued children as persons of worth. After His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Lord accepted the praise of children and reminded those who criticized them that God has ordained praise even "out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants" (Matthew 21:16; Psalm 8:2).

Companionship with the Savior is the privilege of everyone who trusts Him with the simple faith of a child. His loving arms and tender heart are ready to embrace every child who accepts Him. He willingly receives all who open their hearts to Him. He is the children's Friend. —David McCasland

O Jesus, You who once did say
To little children at their play,
"Come to Me, you will be blessed,"
So come to us and be our Guest. —Anon.

The Creator hides secrets from sages, yet He can be known by children.

God Our Father (

06-13-2005, 08:23 AM
April 3, 2005


Romans 10:11-17 (

How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard. —Romans 10:14

Bible In One Year: 1 Samuel 29-31 ( The story is told of a painter who was commissioned to portray a run-down church. But instead of an old, tottering ruin, he painted a magnificent edifice of modern design. Through the windows could be seen an ornate collection box for the gifts of the fashionable worshipers. Above it hung a sign bearing the inscription "For Missions." Sadly, the box was covered in cobwebs.

The church or the individual whose heart and life is not involved in the worldwide proclamation of the gospel is on the way to ruin. We may be engaged in feverish "Christian activity," but our energies are misdirected if the main thrust of God's program for this age goes unattended.

God has so designed His plan of world evangelization that every believer is to be vitally involved. We all should "pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest" (Matthew 9:38).

Some will also hear His personal call to be preachers—otherwise, "how shall they hear?" (Romans 10:14).

Still others will be givers and senders, for "how shall they preach unless they are sent?" (v.15).

Let there be no cobwebs over the cause of world missions because of our lack of concern. —Paul Van Gorder

Lord of harvest, send forth reapers,
Hear us, Lord, to Thee we cry;
Send them now the sheaves to gather,
Ere the harvest time pass by. —Thompson

Untold millions are perishing—untold.

What About Those Who Have Never Heard? (

06-13-2005, 08:24 AM
April 4, 2005

The Wisdom In God's Word

Proverbs 8:12-21 (

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? . . . Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world. —1 Corinthians 1:20

Bible In One Year: 2 Samuel 1-4 ( We treasure Scripture. It's God's inspired Word, and it teaches us the way to abundant life in this world and eternal life in the world to come. Indeed, it is the source of a wisdom that goes beyond that of the wisest philosophers (1 Corinthians 1:20). But this fact is rarely acknowledged in our culture.

So I was glad to read an article by The New York Times columnist David Brooks extolling biblical wisdom. He praised Martin Luther King Jr. for insight into human nature derived from Scripture. He felt that King "had a more accurate view of political realities than his more secular liberal allies because he could draw on biblical wisdom about human nature. Religion didn't just make civil rights leaders stronger—it made them smarter." And Brooks said further: "Biblical wisdom is deeper and more accurate than the wisdom offered by the secular social sciences."

Are we drawing on that source of wisdom in our own lives? We need Scripture's wisdom to deal with our personal problems and political issues. If we study and obey the Bible, we will be able to humbly testify with the psalmist, "I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation" (Psalm 119:99). —Vernon Grounds

The Bible is God's Word to us,
Still fresh through all the ages;
And if we read it we will find
God's wisdom on its pages. —Sper

One truth from the Bible is worth more than all the wisdom of man.

Can I Really Trust The Bible? (
10 Reasons To Believe In The Bible (

06-13-2005, 08:25 AM
April 5, 2005

Where Is Your Trust?

Jeremiah 17:5-10 (

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. —Jeremiah 17:7

Bible In One Year: 2 Samuel 5-8 ( Let's be honest. Are we always able to trust ourselves in everything? Even the apostle Paul said emphatically about himself, "I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:27). He wouldn't trust himself to do the right thing unless he kept his body under strict discipline.

Today's Bible reading reminds us that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9.) It is not possible for any of us to fathom the extent of the deceptions of our heart. How then can we ever trust ourselves or anyone else completely?

Jeremiah warned the last Judean kings against placing their trust in earthly kings (vv.5-6). But they continually sought help from Egypt. How foolish they were! They should have repented of their wickedness and returned to Almighty God for His help.

Where can we put our trust for help in difficult and uncertain times? God's Word tells us that those who place their trust in God are like trees planted by the waters. Even in drought they will not cease to bear fruit (vv.7-8).

Let's trust God to produce fruit in our lives. —Albert Lee

We find it easier to trust
In what our eyes can see,
But God asks us to trust in Him
For our security. —Sper

Don't let self-confidence replace your trust in God.

How Much Does God Control? (

06-13-2005, 08:25 AM
April 6, 2005

Go Home And Tell

Luke 8:26-39 (

Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you. —Luke 8:39

Bible In One Year: 2 Samuel 9-12 ( Two young men had been friends from childhood. One was a Christian, the other was not. The second man was about to embark on a long ocean voyage, and the believer felt the urge to speak to him about Christ before he left. "I'll do it on the way to the dock," he promised himself. But when they reached the dock, he still hadn't done so.

He went on board to say goodbye, and thought, "When we bring the baggage to his room, I'll speak to him." But the porter took the trunks and suitcases, so they did not visit the stateroom. Finally he said to himself, "I'll be sure to witness to him in some quiet place before the ship departs."

Suddenly, however, there came the announcement that all visitors must leave. Two months later word came that the man had died overseas.

In Luke's gospel, we read of a man possessed by many demons who had been wonderfully restored by Jesus. In gratitude to the Lord he wanted to stay with Him to worship Him (8:38). But Jesus said, "Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you" (v.39).

Will you apply Jesus' words to your life and tell someone of His grace and salvation—beginning at home? Don't put it off. Tell someone now about Jesus! —M. R. De Haan, M.D.

To the work! To the work! Let the hungry be fed;
To the fountain of life let the weary be led;
In the cross and its banner our glory shall be,
While we herald the tidings, "Salvation is free!" —Crosby

Any place can be the right place to witness.

How Can I Break The Silence? (

06-13-2005, 08:26 AM
April 7, 2005

Are You Struggling?

Hebrews 12:1-7 (

Consider Him who endured such hostility . . . , lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. —Hebrews 12:3

Bible In One Year: 2 Samuel 13-15 ( I was in my second year of widowhood and I was struggling. Morning after morning my prayer-life consisted of one daily sigh: "Lord, I shouldn't be struggling like this!" "And why not?" His still, small voice asked me from within one morning.

Then the answer came—unrecognized pride! Somehow I had thought that a person of my spiritual maturity should be beyond such struggle. What a ridiculous thought! I had never been a widow before and needed the freedom to be a true learner—even a struggling learner.

At the same time, I was reminded of the story of a man who took home a cocoon so he could watch the emperor moth emerge. As the moth struggled to get through the tiny opening, the man enlarged it with a snip of his scissors. The moth emerged easily—but its wings were shriveled. The struggle through the narrow opening is God's way to force fluid from its body into its wings. The "merciful" snip, in reality, was cruel.

Hebrews 12 describes the Christian life as a race that involves endurance, discipline, and correction. We never get beyond the need of a holy striving against self and sin. Sometimes the struggle is exactly what we need to become what God intends us to be. —Joanie Yoder

When God allows His chastening hand
To give us little rest,
His only purpose is our good—
He wants for us His best. —D. De Haan

We experience God's strength in the strain of our struggle.

Joseph: Overcoming Life's Challenges (
Why Is Life So Unfair? (

06-13-2005, 08:26 AM
April 8, 2005

Faithful Ambition

Galatians 6:12-18 (

God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Galatians 6:14

Bible In One Year: 2 Samuel 16-18 ( In the late 19th century, a former student of Oxford University became the Lord Chancellor of England. One of his classmates became Britain's Foreign Secretary. A third gained an international reputation as an author. A fourth, Temple Gairdner, was perhaps the most gifted of his classmates but did not achieve fame and influence. Why? He accepted Jesus as his Savior and lived as a missionary in obscure and dangerous places.

Gairdner could have become as well-known as his fellow students. But when he decided to become a missionary, he wrote to his sister, "I have found ambition dreadfully difficult to cope with. It seems so natural, especially with one's upbringing and education, to look forward to making a mark and a name, and so awfully hard to resign oneself to living and dying tucked away in some corner."

We probably will not be called upon to make that kind of sacrifice. But are we willing to serve our Savior in radical obedience? To serve Him faithfully we must put aside our own interests, as Paul did: "God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14).

We don't need to be famous. But we do need to be faithful wherever God calls us. —Vernon Grounds

Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving, every day;
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay. —Hewitt

The world rewards quick success; God rewards long-term faithfulness.

Knowing God Through Galatians (

06-13-2005, 08:27 AM
April 9, 2005

The Cross And The Crown

Mark 11:1-11 (

Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey. —Zechariah 9:9

Bible In One Year: 2 Samuel 19-21 ( On the day we call Palm Sunday the Lord Jesus presented Himself to Israel as their King when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Had He been astride a spirited horse, He would have looked more kingly. But Zechariah had prophesied He would come in the humble way that He did.

Why? Kings of the East rode donkeys when on errands of peace. The horse was used as a charger in war.

The multitudes thought in terms of earthly prosperity and freedom from Rome. So they cried, "Hosanna in the highest!" (Mark 11:10). Yet a few days later, the shouts of the crowd became: "Crucify Him!" (15:13).

Some who declare themselves admirers of Jesus do not recognize Him as the Savior of sinners. But our deepest need cannot be met until our sin problem is overcome. For this reason Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey with His face set toward the cross, knowing full well the shameful and painful death He would suffer there. Now, having paid the price for human sin, He is highly exalted at God's right hand and will come again as King of kings and Lord of lords. His cross had to precede His crown.

If we want to be part of His heavenly kingdom, we must trust Him as our Savior now. —Herb Vander Lugt

If in heaven a crown you'd wear
And bright palms of victory bear,
Christ the Savior you must claim;
Find redemption in His name. —Anon.

There would be no crown-wearers in heaven had Christ not been the cross-bearer on earth.

The Passion Of Christ (

06-13-2005, 08:27 AM
April 10, 2005

Let Your Balloon Go!

2 Samuel 22:1-8 (

I will give thanks to You, O Lord, . . . and sing praises to Your name. —2 Samuel 22:50

Bible In One Year: 2 Samuel 22-24 ( The participants at a conference in a church in Nebraska were given helium-filled balloons and told to release them at a point in the worship service when they felt like expressing their joy. All through the service, balloons ascended one by one. But when the meeting was over, one-third of the people had not released their balloons. I wonder if they couldn't think of any reason to praise God.

King David would have let go of his balloon when singing his song of praise recorded in 2 Samuel 22. God had delivered him from all his enemies (v.1). Earlier, when hiding from King Saul in the rocky desert, he had learned that true security is found only in God (1 Samuel 23:25). David's heart had to "give thanks" and "sing praises," for the Lord had become David's rock, fortress, deliverer, stronghold, refuge, and Savior (2 Samuel 22:2-3,50).

What has the Lord been for you throughout your life? Your peace in a chaotic time? Your comforter amid loss? Your forgiver of a sinful choice? Your strength in a difficult task?

Take out a piece of paper and write down your list of thanks. Then take time to praise God for all He is and all He has done.

Let your balloon go! —Anne Cetas

From your heart give God your praise
For His blessings all your days;
Lift your voice to God above—
God of mercy, God of love. —Hess

Praise is the overflow of a joyful heart.

What Is Worship? (

06-13-2005, 08:28 AM
April 11, 2005

Get Rid Of The Grubs

Proverbs 3:19-26 (

Keep sound wisdom and discretion . . . . Then you will walk safely in your way. —Proverbs 3:21,23

Bible In One Year: Psalm 1-3 ( A frustrated homeowner had a yard full of moles. He tried everything he knew to defeat his underground enemy, but he was losing the battle. Finally a friend informed him that he was trying to solve his problem the wrong way. The moles weren't the true culprits. The real problem was the grubs that the moles were feeding on. Get rid of them and the moles would have no reason to stay.

The third chapter of Proverbs gives us a parallel situation. Instead of moles, the problem is fear—the kind of fear that robs us of strength during the day and sleep at night (vv.24-25).

What is also evident from this chapter is that we can eliminate our fears only by attacking the "grubs" that attract it. We must go after our self-sufficiency and irreverence (vv.5-8). We have to treat our evil and foolish ways with a strong application of divine wisdom and understanding (vv.13-18). Then and only then will fear lose its grip.

What's important is to know the real problem so that we can work on it. When it comes to fear, we must make wise decisions based on God's Word and build a love-trust relationship with Christ. That's what it takes to get rid of the "grubs." —Mart De Haan

When you are deeply troubled
By fear and inward doubt,
Strive to do what pleases God,
And He will lead you out. —Lloyd

Keep your eyes on God and you'll soon lose sight of your fears.

When Fear Seems Overwhelming (

06-13-2005, 08:29 AM
April 12, 2005

Paneled Houses

Haggai 2:1-9 (

Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins? —Haggai 1:4

Bible In One Year: Psalm 4-6 ( The prophecy of Haggai is often overlooked in Scripture, but it holds much for us. This brief book consists of four messages from God to the Jewish exiles who had returned from Babylon. Their mission was to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.

They started well, but then their enthusiasm waned and they turned to building houses for themselves. In his first message, Haggai asked, "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" (1:4).

In message two (2:1-9), Haggai asked if anyone remembered the temple Solomon had built, and that King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed. A few elderly exiles could recall the former glory. By comparison, the abandoned work looked pitiful.

Let's think for a moment about our work of building the church. For us, the church is the body of Christ—the believers themselves (1 Corinthians 12:27). Our mission as followers of Jesus is to become a strong, dedicated, growing, witnessing church.

How is your local congregation doing? Is it busy doing the work of God? Are you personally involved? Or have you become distracted with the work of building your own "paneled houses"? —Dave Egner

God gives us talents to be used for Him.
Should then His work for lack of zeal decline?
His kingdom first! Our light must not grow dim—
Through faithful servants may His glory shine! —Mollon

Commitment to Christ goes hand in hand with commitment to His church.

The Church We Need (
Developing The Art Of Gracious Disagreement (

06-13-2005, 08:29 AM
April 13, 2005

The Darkest Day

Matthew 26:17-30 (

The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. —Psalm 118:22

Bible In One Year: Psalm 7-9 ( To celebrate Passover, Jewish worshipers sing Psalms 113-118, a section called the "Egyptian Hallel." The ceremony builds to a crescendo of appreciation for freedom and the beauty of life given by God. It ends with participants singing and praising God both to please Him and to express their own pleasure. One rabbi explains it as experiencing the "emotional joy of freedom."

Near the end of the Passover meal, the second half of these Hallel psalms are sung. According to the gospel of Matthew, Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn and "went out to the Mount of Olives" after celebrating their last Passover together (26:30). They may well have sung this psalm:

The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord's doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:22-24).

Regardless of which hymn they sang, the confidence Jesus had in the goodness of His heavenly Father is astounding. He was able to praise His Father even though He knew He was about to experience His darkest day. —Julie Link

Even on the darkest days
My heart sings in joyful praise,
Not because God says I should
But because I know He's good. —Link

Praise has the power to lighten our heaviest burden.

Why Did Christ Have To Die? (

06-13-2005, 08:30 AM
April 14, 2005

Why Is Sin So Bad?

Isaiah 53:4-10 (

He was wounded for our transgressions. —Isaiah 53:5

Bible In One Year: Psalm 10-12 ( Pain. Abject, horrible, excruciating pain. Unrelenting, unbearable, unspeakable pain. With each slash across Jesus' back and with every muscle-burning step up Golgotha's hill, our Savior received the punishment for our sin.

In our let's-make-everything-okay world we often look at sin and wonder, what's the big deal? After all, our sin isn't so bad. If we lie a little or cheat just a bit—what's the harm? If we gossip some or use coarse language a few times—whom will it hurt? What's so bad about sin?

It's bad because of what it put Jesus through. Yes, our sin was the reason for the torment Jesus suffered as He made His way to the cross—and as He hung on that cross and ultimately died a horrific death.

Of course we can never undo what has been done; that pain can never be reversed. Yet we must understand that if we continue to sin knowingly, we are in effect turning our back on Jesus and His pain. It's as if we're saying that it doesn't matter to us what we put Jesus through, we're going to do what we want. To sin in the light of the cross is to tell Jesus that even His intense suffering has not taught us about the awfulness of sin.

Why is sin so bad? Look what it did to Jesus. —Dave Branon

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown? —Watts

Jesus took our sin so that we might have His salvation.

Why Does It Make Sense To Believe In Christ? (
The Passion Of Christ (

06-13-2005, 08:30 AM
April 15, 2005

Those Who Passed By

Mark 15:24-38 (

Those who passed by blasphemed Him. —Mark 15:29

Bible In One Year: Psalm 13-15 ( Consider the people who callously passed by the Savior as He hung on the cross. How heartless they were! But before we rush to judge them, let's remember that many are still doing it today. They fall into three groups:

Those who want a cross without Christ. It's possible to revere a symbol without the Savior. Some may clasp in their hand a miniature cross made of wood or gold, but that emblem will never atone for even one sin. It is Christ alone who redeems our souls with His precious blood.

Those who want a Christ without a cross. They want a conqueror, not a dying Lamb. They would cry, "Come down from the cross!" (Mark 15:30). Many desire a good example, or a great teacher, or a triumphant king. Their gospel is one of works. They despise the gospel that declares we are justified by faith in One who shed His blood on the cross.

Those who want neither Christ nor His cross. They are untouched by His sorrow, unmoved by His suffering, and unrepentant of their sins that He bore. Never have they exclaimed as did the songwriter John M. Moore, "All my iniquities on Him were laid—He nailed them all to the tree. Jesus the debt of my sin fully paid—He paid the ransom for me." —Paul Van Gorder

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood—
Sealed my pardon with His blood:
Hallelujah, what a Savior! —Bliss
© 1953, Singspiration, Inc.

Jesus took our place that we might have His peace.

Religion Or Christ: What's The Difference? (

06-13-2005, 08:31 AM
April 16, 2005

God Will Move The Stone

Mark 16:1-14 (

When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. —Mark 16:4

Bible In One Year: Psalm 16-18 ( The women who sought to anoint the dead body of Jesus are to be commended for their tender love and regard for the Savior. Yet, as they came near the place of burial, the practical difficulty of moving the heavy stone that sealed His tomb brought them unnecessary anxiety. Their fears were groundless; it had already been moved.

So too, we are often needlessly concerned over prospective difficulties that God graciously removes or helps us overcome. Let us exercise greater faith in facing possible obstructions on the pathway of duty. We may be sure of the Lord's assistance in such matters when we press on in His name and for His glory.

The following poem gives us some practical admonitions that apply to today's reading:

In today's bright sunlight basking,
Leave tomorrow's cares alone—
Spoil not present joys by asking:
"Who shall roll away the stone?"
Oft, before we've faced the trial
We have come with joy to own,
Angels have from heaven descended
And have rolled away the stone. —Anon.

Go forward today on the pathway of service, undaunted by possible future obstacles. Let your heart be cheered by the certainty that whatever difficulty you may face, God will move the stone. —Henry Bosch

If God doesn't remove an obstacle, He'll help you find a way around it.

10 Reasons To Believe Christ Rose From The Dead (

06-13-2005, 08:32 AM
April 17, 2005

Christ's Unfinished Work

Hebrews 7:23-8:2 (

He always lives to make intercession for them. —Hebrews 7:25

Bible In One Year: Psalm 19-21 ( We often hear of the salvation Christ provided at Calvary when He died for our sins. But little is said of His continuing ministry of prayer for our spiritual growth. Just as Jesus prayed for Peter in a time of severe temptation (Luke 22:31-32), so also He intercedes before the Father's throne on our behalf. This vital work of the Savior will go on as long as we are in need of His help, comfort, and blessing.

Robert Murray McCheyne, the beloved Scottish minister of the 19th century, wrote, "If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me!"

During a deep personal crisis, I realized the truth of Hebrews 7 in a new and wonderful way. Satan seemed to be attacking me on every side. So I asked the Lord to plead for me. The next day the problem was solved, and I knew it was the Lord's special intervention. Never before had I been so conscious of the Savior's high-priestly ministry (8:1).

If you are having great difficulty, tell Jesus about it. He will present your needs to the Father. Through His intercessory work, you'll experience the remarkable results that only His prayers can accomplish. —Henry Bosch

In the hour of trial, Jesus, plead for me,
Lest, by base denial, I depart from Thee;
When Thou seest me waver, with a look recall;
Nor for fear or favor suffer me to fall. —Montgomery

Satan is powerless against the power of Christ's prayer.

The Compassion Of Jesus (

06-13-2005, 08:32 AM
April 18, 2005

Help On The Way

1 John 3:11-20 (

Whoever . . . sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? —1 John 3:17

Bible In One Year: Psalm 22-24 ( Our friends were traveling from Georgia to Illinois in a rented van. About halfway to their destination, their van was damaged when it hit a huge hole in the road. Other cars were disabled as well, and it was a rather chaotic scene.

While our friends were sorting things out, a police officer offered to drop them off at a nearby McDonald's. When they got there, they sat in a booth to await word about getting the van fixed. Because of their dedication to serving others, they didn't have much money.

Meanwhile, they had called to let us know about the difficulty, but there wasn't much we could do except pray and trust that God would watch over them. As they and their children sat in the booth, a man came over with bags of burgers and fries. "God told me I should give you some food," he explained as he delivered supper for the hungry family.

How many times have we seen God send help on the way? On the flip side, how many times have we felt the urge to help someone—and balked at the notion?

We are God's hands on earth—created both to receive help and to give it. Do you know someone who needs help on the way? —Dave Branon

Jesus taught when He lived on this earth
How to show love to the lost;
Don't be afraid to give a kind touch,
No matter how much it may cost. —Carbaugh

A helping hand can lighten another's burden.

How Do You Live The Christian Life? (
The Compassion Of Jesus (

06-13-2005, 08:33 AM
April 19, 2005

Lesson From A Honey Bee

2 Kings 7:1-11 (

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. —Psalm 107:2

Bible In One Year: Psalm 25-27 ( Years ago I set out a honeycomb to feed some bees that had a hive a short distance away. To start the process I captured one bee in a cup, placed it over the honeycomb, and waited until the bee discovered the treasure. When it was filled and satisfied, it flew directly to the hive. After a moment the bee returned with a dozen others. These in turn brought many more, until finally a swarm of bees covered the comb and soon had carried all the honey into the hive.

What a lesson for us! Are we telling others about the One we have found? Christ has committed to us the proclamation of the "good news." Shall we who have found honey in the Rock—Christ Jesus—be less considerate of others than the bees are?

The four lepers who sat just outside the gate of Samaria, after they had found food in the tents of the Syrians who had fled in the night, passed on the good news. They said one to another, "We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. . . . Let us go and tell the king's household" (2 Kings 7:9).

The child of God who knows the good tidings of the gospel does not do right if he fails to pass it on to others. Tell a hungry soul about Christ today. —M. R. De Haan, M.D.

Close to your door may be someone in sin,
O tell him the story true
Of Him who died his lost soul for to win—
O bring the one next to you! —Forsythe

Once you've tasted the Bread of Life, you'll want to share it.

How Can I Share My Faith Without An Argument? (

06-13-2005, 08:33 AM
April 20, 2005

A God Of Absolutes

Malachi 3:6-12 (

I am the Lord, I do not change. —Malachi 3:6

Bible In One Year: Psalm 28-30 ( I am dubious about the accuracy of our bathroom scale. So I've learned to manipulate it in a self-satisfying manner. The little adjustment knob serves to vary the register, and if that becomes too much bother, I just lean a certain way. The idea is to get a favorable reading—hopefully one that is a few pounds less.

We live in an age when many people believe there are no absolutes. Self-serving behavior is rampant and tramples the moral law given for the protection of society. Our culture prides itself on "freedom" that is actually slavery to sin (Romans 6:16-17).

But there is a God of absolutes whose scales never lose their adjustment. With Him, a pound is a pound, right is right, and wrong is wrong. He says, "I am the Lord, I do not change" (Malachi 3:6).

For us as believers, this puts steel into our spiritual backbone. We gain confidence in the face of difficulty and are assured of the fulfillment of every divine promise.

If God were easily moved by every whim or notion, our eternal destiny would be in constant jeopardy. But because He is the Unchanging One, we "are not consumed" (v.6). "His compassions fail not. They are new every morning" (Lamentations 3:22-23). —Paul Van Gorder

Unchanging God who reigns above,
His truth remains forever;
And from this faithful God of love
No earthly trial can sever. —D. De Haan

Earth changes, but God and His Word stand sure! —Browning

How Much Does God Control? (
Right & Wrong: A Case For Moral Absolutes (

06-13-2005, 08:34 AM
April 21, 2005

Pass It On

Psalm 71:12-18 (

When I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation. —Psalm 71:18

Bible In One Year: Psalm 31-33 ( Getting older doesn't mean becoming obsolete. It can mean growing, maturing, serving, ministering, venturing, enjoying ourselves to the end of our days. "Old men ought to be explorers," author T. S. Eliot said. One of my friends says, "Have a blast while you last."

To idle away our last years is to rob ourselves of what could be the best years of our lives and to deprive the church of gifts God has given to enrich it. There is still service to be rendered and there are victories to be won.

Some older folks may not have the energy or inclination for leadership, but they are an invaluable asset to the next generation of leaders. John Wesley was asked what he would do if he knew he had only a short time to live. He responded, "I should meet with my young men till the moment came that I was called to yield my spirit back to Him that gave it."

The psalmist also desired to pass along his understanding of the Lord to others, and he prayed, "When I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation" (Psalm 71:18).

We too should remain open to being used by God to enrich others' lives. Our greatest usefulness may be to pass our understanding of God on to others. —David Roper

The longer we live, the more that we know,
Old age is the time for wisdom to show;
Who knows how much good some word we might say
Could do for the leaders of some future day. —Bosch

To forget the elderly is to ignore the wisdom of the years.

Finishing Well (

06-13-2005, 08:34 AM
April 22, 2005

Hurting And Hearing

Exodus 6:1-9 (

I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry. —Exodus 3:7

Bible In One Year: Psalm 34-36 ( When we are experiencing deep sorrow or difficult circumstances, we may feel offended if someone suggests that something good can emerge from our adversity. A well-meaning person who tries to encourage us to trust God's promises may be perceived as insensitive or even unrealistic.

That happened to the children of Israel when God was working for their deliverance from Egypt. As Pharaoh hardened his heart toward the Lord's command to let His people go, he increased the Hebrew slaves' workload by forcing them to gather the straw they needed to make bricks (Exodus 5:10-11). They became so discouraged, they couldn't accept Moses' assurance that God had heard their cries and promised to take them to a land of their own (6:9).

There are times when our hurts and fears can close our ears to the hopeful words of God. But the Lord doesn't stop speaking to us when it's hard for us to hear. He continues working on our behalf just as He did in delivering His people from Egypt.

As we experience God's compassion and His loving care, we can begin to hear again even as the hurt continues to heal. —David McCasland

O yes, He cares—I know He cares!
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares. —Graeff

Even when we don't sense God's presence, His loving care is all around us.

Knowing God Through Exodus (

06-13-2005, 08:35 AM
April 23, 2005

We Can't But God Can

John 3:1-16 (

Unless one is born of . . . the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. —John 3:5

Bible In One Year: Psalm 37-39 ( Pastor Craig was having an intense conversation at a health club with Jacob, a man he had befriended. It started after Jacob climbed onto the exercise bike beside him. Craig asked, "Are you going to see the movie The Passion of the Christ?" "No!" came the quick response. As the two men pedaled side-by-side, they had a half-hour discussion about the purpose of Jesus' death. When they parted, Jacob said, "I still don't think I'll see the movie."

Craig felt frustrated. Nothing would please him more than to see Jacob open his heart to Christ. But he could see no evidence that Jacob would ever budge.

As believers in Jesus, we sometimes become frustrated when people who are not believers refuse to trust in Him. When that happens, we must remember that our role is to obey the command to tell others about Christ; the Holy Spirit's work is to convict and save them. People need to be born of the Spirit (John 3:5,7); we can neither believe for them nor redeem them. He is the One who convicts of sin, forgives, and imparts new life from above. We are powerless to do more—except pray.

We witness faithfully and pray, and God performs the miracle of salvation. —Dave Egner

Lord, help me make my witness clear
And labor faithfully,
So friends and neighbors turn to Christ
Through what they hear from me. —Anon.

We plant the seed; God gives the harvest.

God's Good Earth (

06-13-2005, 08:36 AM
April 24, 2005

Worship And Obey

Psalm 95 (

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! . . . Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion. —Psalm 95:1,8

Bible In One Year: Psalm 40-42 ( Millions of Christians gather each Sunday to worship God as their Creator and Redeemer. Whether formal and liturgical or casual and spontaneous, church services are occasions to declare God's worthiness and to give Him praise. But centuries of church history reveal how quickly worship can degenerate into empty ritualism. This occurs whenever God's people harden their hearts and fail to obey His Word.

The psalmist knew this to be true from Israel's experience. Under the leadership of Moses they had been miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt and had fervently praised the Lord (Exodus 12-15). But almost immediately they began to doubt God's goodness and trustworthiness. They complained bitterly and found fault with the Lord and His servant Moses. They ignored His instructions, and their worship became hollow. This angered God and resulted in their wandering for 40 years in a desert they could have crossed in a short time. Most were not allowed to enter the Promised Land.

Lord, fill us with wonder and gratitude for Your marvelous salvation. Help us to give You the praise You deserve, and enable us to be faithful in our love and obedience to You. —Herb Vander Lugt

Praise the Savior, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have. —Kelly

Our worship is right only when we are right with God.

What Is Worship? (
Do I Have The Right Kind Of Faith? (

06-13-2005, 08:36 AM
April 25, 2005

The Power Of Our Limits

Exodus 4:10-17 (

Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say. —Exodus 4:12

Bible In One Year: Psalm 43-45 ( Moses, on the occasion of his call by God, made excuses. "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue" (Exodus 4:10).

The wording suggests that Moses had a speech impediment—perhaps he stuttered. But the Lord said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?" (v.11).

Our impairments, our disabilities, our handicaps are not accidents; they are God-designed. He uses every one of our flaws for His own glory. God's way of dealing with what we call "limitations" is not to remove them but to endow them with strength and use them for good.

In the New Testament, Paul the apostle referred to an unspecified "thorn in the flesh" that he repeatedly asked the Lord to take from him (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). But God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (v.9).

Paul even learned to "take pleasure" in his troubles. "Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me," he said (v.9). "For when I am weak, then I am strong" (v.10). —David Roper

All faithful saints who walk with God
Through weakness learn to trust His Word;
They're not immune to pain or tears,
But learn to rise above their fears. —D. De Haan

God's strength is best seen in our weakness.

Surviving The Storms Of Stress (
When Disappointment Deceives (

06-13-2005, 08:37 AM
April 26, 2005

From Worms To Wars

Judges 6:11-16,33-40 (,33-40)

The Lord said to [Gideon], "Peace be with you; do not fear." —Judges 6:23

Bible In One Year: Psalm 46-48 ( It was 10-year-old Cleotis' first time fishing, and as he looked into the container of bait he seemed hesitant to get started. Finally he said to my husband, "Help me, I-S-O-W!" When my husband asked him what the problem was, Cleotis responded, "I-S-O-W! I'm Scared Of Worms!" His fear had made him unable to act.

Fear can paralyze grown men too. Gideon must've been afraid when the angel of the Lord came to him as he was threshing wheat in secret, hiding from his Midianite enemies (Judges 6:11). The angel told him he had been chosen by God to lead His people in battle (vv.12-14).

Gideon's response? "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house" (v.15). After being assured of the Lord's presence, Gideon still seemed fearful and asked Him for signs that He would use him to save Israel as He promised (vv.36-40). And God responded to Gideon's requests. The Israelites were successful in battle and then enjoyed peace for 40 years.

We all have fears of various kinds—from worms to wars. Gideon's story teaches us that we can be confident of this: If God asks us to do something, He'll give us the strength and power to do it. —Anne Cetas

When you're afraid of what's ahead,
Remember, God is near;
He'll give you strength and joy and hope
And calm your inner fear. —Sper

To take the fear out of living, put your faith in the living God.

What Can I Do With My Worry? (

06-13-2005, 08:37 AM
April 27, 2005

The Teacher's Legacy

2 Corinthians 6:1-10 (

We commend ourselves as ministers of God . . . by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love. —2 Corinthians 6:4,6

Bible In One Year: Psalm 49-51 ( Pastor Paul Walker shared this story of his salvation experience: "During my lifetime I was instructed by many different Sunday school teachers, but only one stands out in my memory. He was a big, red-faced ex-Marine, who probably broke every rule and technique of good teaching. The thing I remember best about him is how much he loved us. . . .

"At the end of each session he would say, 'Boys, let's take time to kneel and talk to the Lord.' Then he would try to put his big arms around all nine of us as we huddled together, and he would pray for each of us by name. Are you surprised that seven of those boys are now in the ministry, and that I am one of them?"

If you have a Sunday school class, small group, or some other teaching responsibility, do you take a warm, personal interest in your students? The apostle Paul said he commended himself as a minister of God "by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love" (2 Corinthians 6:6).

The exact methods employed by the one who taught Paul Walker do not need to be duplicated, but the earnest attention he gave and the spiritual concern he showed toward each pupil is a beautiful example of the importance of teaching by love. —Henry Bosch

A Sunday school teacher, I don't know his name,
Was a wonderful person who never found fame;
Yet he shaped my whole life far more than he knew,
For his loving example has helped me be true. —Anon.

To love to teach is one thing—to love those you teach is quite another.

What Does It Take To Follow Christ? (

06-13-2005, 08:38 AM
April 28, 2005

Let It Shine

Matthew 5:1-16 (

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:16

Bible In One Year: Psalm 52-54 ( As a young boy, I enjoyed singing hymns in church like "Throw Out the Lifeline" and "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning," which used images of shipwreck and danger at sea to illustrate our spiritual responsibility to others. But living in landlocked Oklahoma I had never seen the ocean, and my nautical experience was limited to sailing matchbox boats on mud puddles. I knew the words but had little concept of how to rescue a "fainting, struggling seaman."

But in Sunday school, when we sang "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine," it seemed perfectly clear what I should do. Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14,16). We memorized the Beatitudes (vv.3-12) as an example of how we could let our lives shine for Him.

As a child I understood that I should not be ashamed to live for Jesus. A secret Christian was like a lamp hidden under a basket instead of shining openly where it could help others (v.15).

Today, people around us are in spiritual danger and darkness. Young or old, we can let our light shine for Him and for them. —David McCasland

Oh, make me, Lord, so much like Thee,
My life controlled by power divine,
That I a shining light may be
From which Thy grace may ever shine. —Robertson

A single light can provide hope in the darkest night.

How Do You Live The Christian Life? (
Knowing God Through The New Testament (

06-13-2005, 08:38 AM
April 29, 2005

The One Who Could Not Be Hidden

Mark 7:24-30 (

He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden. —Mark 7:24

Bible In One Year: Psalm 55-57 ( Attar of Roses, a fragrant oil, is one of the most valuable products of Bulgaria and is heavily taxed for export. A tourist, unwilling to pay the duty, sought to evade customs by concealing two vials of the precious fluid in his suitcase. Apparently a little of the perfume had spilled in his suitcase. By the time he reached the train station, the aroma was emanating from the luggage, declaring the presence of the hidden treasure. The authorities immediately knew what the man had done and confiscated the costly souvenirs.

The Lord Jesus could not be hidden either. Crowds were constantly mobbing Him to hear His words of wisdom, to benefit from His deeds of mercy, and to derive help from His loving compassion.

After He ascended to His Father, Jesus' influence continued in the lives of His disciples. The populace "realized that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). Their deportment and their attitude marked them as His true followers.

Are you living completely for Jesus? Is the love of Christ so obvious in your life that those who know you realize that you are a follower of the One who "could not be hidden"? (Mark 7:24). If so, the world will readily see that you are on God's side. Your influence cannot be hidden. —Henry Bosch

When we've been alone with Jesus,
Learning from Him day by day,
Others soon will sense the difference
As we walk along life's way. —Hess

You cannot hide your influence.

What Does It Take To Follow Christ? (
Keeping Our Appointments With God (

06-13-2005, 08:39 AM
April 30, 2005

A Lost Experience

Psalm 51:1-13 (

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation. —Psalm 51:12

Bible In One Year: Psalm 58-60 ( A pastor in Los Angeles visited a man and asked if he was a Christian. "Oh, yes, I was a member of a church in Ohio," he said, "and when I asked for my letter of church membership before coming west, I sat down and wrote out my Christian experience. I took them both and put them in a little box. I would like to show them to you."

But when he got the box, it was evident that a mouse had gnawed its way into the container and destroyed the papers. He said to the pastor, "I have lost my Christian experience and my church letter."

If all that the man lost was those two documents, it was no great loss. Many put great stock in a baptismal certificate or a church letter but have experienced no genuine work of grace in their heart. Only faith in the Savior will provide salvation.

Genuine Christians can also take a warning from this story. Their once vital "experience" may have been "put in a box" and allowed to deteriorate. They have failed to keep it fresh and vibrant by daily fellowship with the Lord through prayer and Bible study.

If this describes you, cry with David, "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation" (Psalm 51:12). —Paul Van Gorder

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
Show the way that Jesus has trod;
Then I will tell of Your saving grace,
Until the day when I see Your face. —Hess

Faith in a creed can go stale—faith in Christ can be fresh every day.

What Does God Think Of Me Now? (
What Is A Personal Relationship With God? (

06-14-2005, 07:40 AM
May 1, 2005

May Day

Genesis 8:15-22 (

While the earth remains . . . day and night shall not cease. —Genesis 8:22

Bible In One Year: Psalm 61-63 ( When I was a young girl in West Michigan, we always celebrated spring and the blooming of the first flowers on May 1. I'd make a basket out of construction paper and fill it with any flowers I could find—mostly daffodils and violets. Then I would place the basket on my neighbor's doorstep, knock on her door, and quickly hide behind a bush. I'd peek out to watch her as she opened the door and picked up her surprise. When she went inside, I'd run home.

The beauty of springtime flowers and the regular changing of the seasons reminds us of God's faithfulness. When Noah and his family and the animals came out of the ark after the flood waters receded, God gave them this promise: "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease" (Genesis 8:22). And He's been faithful to keep that promise ever since. God "made the worlds," and He continues to uphold "all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:2-3).

Let's thank God today for His beautiful creation and for His faithfulness in sustaining His world and us. —Anne Cetas

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise. —Pierpoint

Look at the wonder of creation and say, "What a wonderful God!"

Celebrating The Wonder Of Creation (
God's Good Earth (

06-14-2005, 07:41 AM
May 2, 2005

The Devil's Soup Bowl

Matthew 4:1-11 (

When [the devil] speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. —John 8:44

Bible In One Year: Psalm 64-66 ( While my sons-in-law and I were hiking in a state park last summer, we noticed a trail marker that pointed toward something called The Devil's Soup Bowl. Intrigued, we took off for this geologic formation. As we went, we joked about the kind of soup we might find in the bowl.

When we arrived, we discovered it to be a large sunken area of land—something like a deep lake without any water in it. We were rather disappointed to discover that The Devil's Soup Bowl was filled with nothing but trees and weeds.

The Devil's Soup Bowl is the perfect name for a formation that offers something of interest but ends up providing nothing, because the devil is a deceiver. His menu is a bowl of tricks that delivers only empty promises and broken dreams.

Satan began his deceitful work of substituting nothing for something when he tricked Eve in the Garden of Eden, and he has not changed his plan. He tried his deceit on Jesus, but the Lord resisted and "the devil left Him" (Matthew 4:9-11).

So how do you know if you are being offered one of Satan's lies? Test new ideas with Scripture. Consult with people you trust to be godly and wise. And pray.

Don't fall for the devil's bowl of empty lies. —Dave Branon

Satan's a liar, deceiving all men,
Subtly he causes their fall into sin;
But his sly methods we surely can know,
Looking to Jesus wherever we go. —D. De Haan

Satan offers nothing but tricks and deceit.

What In The World Is Satan Doing? (

06-14-2005, 07:42 AM
May 3, 2005

Say The Word

Psalm 14 (

They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt. —Psalm 14:3

Bible In One Year: Psalm 67-69 ( People seldom use the word sin anymore. When we do something wrong, we say we showed "inappropriate behavior" or made a "tactical error" or "mistake." We may even say, "I have done a bad thing." It seems as if people have come to believe in their own innate goodness.

We do so in spite of overwhelming physical and spiritual evidence to the contrary. As I write, genocide is rampant in Sudan. Unbelievable atrocities have been endured in Bosnia and Rwanda. Who can forget the killing fields of Cambodia? And what about the millions of unborn babies killed in the US in the name of convenience? Evil has not dropped off the face of the earth.

As followers of Jesus, we must steadfastly resist the efforts of our world to minimize the reality of sin. We must agree with God that "there is none who does good, no, not one" (Psalm 14:3).

Recognizing the sins of nations is easier than admitting our own personal sin. But we need to confess the specific sins we commit against our holy God. "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us" (1 John 1:10).

Call your sin sin and confess it to God. —Dave Egner

If we would know God's power to heal
And cleanse us from within,
We must acknowledge when we're wrong,
Confessing sin as sin. —Fasick

Jesus' blood can cleanse any sin, but is powerless to forgive an excuse.

Why Did Christ Have To Die? (

06-14-2005, 07:42 AM
May 4, 2005

Godly Exercise

1 Timothy 4:6-16 (

Exercise yourself toward godliness. —1 Timothy 4:7

Bible In One Year: Psalm 70-72 ( Fitness advocate Jhannie Tolbert says you don't need a treadmill or specialized equipment to get a great physical workout at home. Tolbert uses a toolbox for stepping exercises, lifts soup cans to work his shoulder muscles, and employs other common household items in his daily training. He says you can stay fit at home using a low-tech approach. Other trainers agree and encourage people to use jump ropes, chairs, brooms, and even bags of groceries in conditioning routines. They see exercise as a matter of will, not wealth.

The same principle holds true with spiritual fitness. While Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and other books are helpful, we can begin spiritual training with nothing more than the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul urged his protégé Timothy: "Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

It requires no money to study a Bible passage or memorize a verse. We don't need special equipment or materials to pray for a friend, give thanks to God, or sing His praise. We just need to begin where we are, with what we have, right now. —David McCasland

Just as the body will grow strong
With exercise each day,
So too, we grow more like our Lord
By living life His way. —D. De Haan

Godly exercise is the key to godly character.

How Can I Understand The Bible? (
How Can I Know God Through His Book? (

06-14-2005, 07:43 AM
May 5, 2005

Only One Door

John 10:7-10 (

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved. —John 10:9

Bible In One Year: Psalm 73-75 ( Old Testament scholar Sir George Adam Smith says that when he visited the Holy Land he came upon a shepherd and his sheep standing before a stockade. There was no door in that protective enclosure, only an opening the width of a man's body.

Smith asked the shepherd why there was no door, and he explained: "I am the way in. I stand in the opening, and the sheep pass under me into the stockade. When they are all safely inside, I lie down across that opening. No thief can get in and no sheep can get out except over my body. I am the entrance."

We are like sheep who need a Shepherd (1 Peter 2:25). For entrance into heaven, a place of eternal bliss, Jesus gave this amazing claim: "I am the door of the sheep. . . . If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved" (John 10:7-9). The people listening to Him that day didn't think of a wooden gate swinging on hinges. They understood that He was really saying, "I am the entrance into the homeland of God." He could claim to be the way into that eternal blessedness, the exclusive way into God's glory, because He is the incarnate Son of God.

Jesus is the only way into heaven (John 14:6). We gain entrance only by putting our faith in Him. —Vernon Grounds

Come to the Savior, make no delay—
Here in His Word He's shown us the way;
Here in our midst He's standing today,
Tenderly saying, "Come!" —Root

There are many ways to hell, but only one way to heaven.

Religion Or Christ: What's The Difference? (

06-14-2005, 07:43 AM
May 6, 2005

Don't Be Afraid

Isaiah 12 (

God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid. —Isaiah 12:2

Bible In One Year: Psalm 76-78 ( I have an ancient leaf blower that I use to clean up our patio. It sputters, rattles, smokes, emits irritating fumes, and is considered by my wife (and probably by my neighbors) to be excessively noisy.

But our old dog is utterly indifferent to the racket. When I start up the blower, she doesn't even raise her head, and only reluctantly moves when I blow leaves or dirt in her direction. That's because she trusts me.

A young man who occasionally mows our yard uses a similar blower, but his is not tolerated by our dog. Years ago, when she was a puppy, he teased her with the machine and she has never forgotten. Now, when the man enters the backyard, we have to put her in the house, because she growls, barks, and snarls at him. Same set of circumstances, but the hands that use the blower make all the difference.

So it is with us. Frightening circumstances are less troublesome if we trust the hands that control them. If our world and our lives were governed by a thoughtless and indifferent force, we would have good reason to fear. But the hands that control the universe—God's hands—are wise and compassionate. We can trust them in spite of our circumstances and not be afraid. —David Roper

When fear and worry test your faith
And anxious thoughts assail,
Remember, God is in control,
And He will never fail. —Sper

God is in control, so we have nothing to fear.

When Fear Seems Overwhelming (
What Can I Do With My Worry? (

06-14-2005, 07:44 AM
May 7, 2005

Get Off My Back!

Romans 7:14-25 (

Who will deliver me from this body of death? —Romans 7:24

Bible In One Year: Psalm 79-81 ( Roman emperors saw torture as a legitimate way to put muscle and teeth into their laws. They were known to bind the body of a murder victim to the back of his killer. Under penalty of death, no one was allowed to release the condemned criminal.

This terrible practice calls to mind the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 7. It's as if he felt that something dead was strapped to him and accompanied him wherever he went.

As children of God, we long for purity and holiness, yet at times we feel helplessly bound to the "dead body" of our flesh. Even though we are new creatures in Christ and we know that the physical body itself is not evil, the tendency to sin is always with us. This causes us to cry out with the apostle, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (v.24).

Paul answered his own cry in chapter 8. He said that through the forgiveness of Christ we are freed from eternal condemnation (v.1). Then by the strength of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are empowered to do the will of God (v.9). And someday in heaven these mortal bodies of ours will be redeemed (v.23). We are not hopelessly bound by the flesh.

Praise God, Christ broke the power of sin! We can serve Him in newness of life. —Mart De Haan

At times sin's power within grows strong,
Too strong, it seems, for us to bear;
But Jesus says, "Look unto Me.
I broke sin's power, so don't despair." —D. De Haan

To overcome sin, starve the old nature and feed the new.

Knowing God Through Romans (

06-14-2005, 07:45 AM
May 8, 2005


Luke 10:38-42 (

Mary . . . sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was disstracted with much serving. —Luke 10:39-40

Bible In One Year: Psalm 82-84 ( A woman in North Carolina is a mother who juggles—literally. In fact, her whole family can perform simultaneous feats of aerial exchange with everyday household items. Imagine the excitement at her dinner parties!

Many of today's women are jugglers too, whether they are businesswomen or stay-at-home moms. The task of completing the mundane stuff of life usually falls in the laps of women—especially mothers. The women of the 21st century have all sorts of things in the air at once—from frying pans and strollers to appointment calendars and mortgage payments. It can all become quite overwhelming.

Society places a premium on those who can maintain a hectic schedule and get it all done. So women who pause to sit "at Jesus' feet" (Luke 10:39-40) are sometimes considered unproductive. But Jesus commended Mary for taking time to be with Him (v.42). Certainly work had to be done, but Mary made the best choice.

Men, you can help women find the time to be with Jesus by pitching in with the daily activities. Women, choose to stop the daily juggling long enough to spend a few moments with the Lord. —Dale Beaver

Take time to be holy,
The world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret
With Jesus alone. —Longstaff

"As the dishes sit and soak, take your Bible and do the same." —Grandma Beaver

What Does God Expect Of A Woman? (
What Does God Expect Of A Man? (

06-14-2005, 07:45 AM
May 9, 2005

He Lights The Way

Psalm 112 (

Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness. —Psalm 112:4

Bible In One Year: Psalm 85-87 (

A missionary in Peru went to visit a group of believers one evening. She knew that the house where they were meeting was located on a cliff and the path would be treacherous. She took a taxi as far as it could go, and then she began the hazardous ascent to the house on foot. The night was dark and the way was very difficult. As she rounded a bend, she suddenly came upon several believers carrying bright lanterns. They had come out to light the way. Her fears were relieved, and she ascended the path easily.

In a similar way, God lights our path. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, He who is the Light of the world enters our lives and removes the darkness of our sin and despair. This light continues to comfort us through times of sorrow. In the midst of sadness, trouble, illness, or disappointment, the Lord brightens the way and encourages His children by giving hope.

This may come through a word of exhortation from a fellow believer. It may be the illumination of God's Word by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It may be calm reassurance in response to heartfelt prayer. Or it may be the miraculous supply of a specific need. Whatever the case, God sends light when we are engulfed in darkness. Jesus gives light in the darkest night! —Dave Egner

No darkness have we who in Jesus abide—
The Light of the world is Jesus;
We walk in the Light when we follow our Guide—
The Light of the world is Jesus. —Bliss

God sometimes puts us in the dark to show us that Jesus is the light.

10 Reasons To Believe In A God Who Allows Suffering (

06-14-2005, 07:47 AM
May 10, 2005

The Answer Is No

2 Samuel 12:13-23 (

David arose from the ground, . . . and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. —2 Samuel 12:20

Bible In One Year: Psalm 88-90 (

Children are so lovable and innocent—until their parents say no to their demands. When that happens, some kids scream uncontrollably, insisting on what they want.

When our children were little, my wife and I thought it was important for them to learn to accept no for an answer. We felt this would help them to handle the disappointments of life more effectively. We prayed that it would also help them submit to God's will.

Today's Bible reading records King David's admission of guilt when confronted by Nathan. David was forgiven, but God let the consequence of his sin fall on the baby conceived out of wedlock. David fasted and prayed to the Lord day and night for his son's healing. In spite of his sincere petitions, the baby died.

Instead of behaving like a demanding child and being angry with God, David got up, washed, changed his clothes, "went into the house of the Lord, and worshiped" (2 Samuel 12:20). His actions teach us an important lesson: Sometimes we must accept no from God as the answer to our pleas.

In times of difficulty or loss, we should seek God's help and deliverance. But we must still trust Him if He does not answer our prayers the way we want Him to.

Have we learned to take no for an answer? —Albert Lee

I do accept Your will, O God,
And all Your ways adore;
And every day I live I'll seek
To please You more and more. —Anon.

In His will is our peace. —Dante

God Our Father (

06-14-2005, 07:49 AM
May 11, 2005

A White Stone

Revelation 2:12-17 (

I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. —Revelation 2:17

Bible In One Year: Psalm 91-93 ( Our Lord's message to the church at Pergamum has a curious reference to "a new name" written on "a white stone" (Revelation 2:17). What could this mean?

There are two plausible explanations. In an ancient court of law, when defendants were condemned, they received a black stone with their name on it. If they were acquitted, they received a white stone. Similarly, those who have trusted Jesus Christ for salvation will receive an acquittal from the judgment of God. What a relief it is to know that our sins are forgiven!

Another explanation comes from the ancient olympic games. When athletes won, they were awarded a white stone, which was a token of honor.

Together, these illustrations show us the wonderful balance of the Christian life. We are saved by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet obedient Christians often struggle as they seek to serve the One who saved them. One explanation of the white stone is a picture of unearned acquittal. The other shows that we will be rewarded for acts of good works (1 Corinthians 3:13-14).

Trusting Christ for salvation gives us a new identity. It's like receiving a new name written on a white stone, which shows that we are forgiven—completely. —Dennis Fisher

We're saved by grace through faith alone,
Good works can have no part;
But God rewards each loving deed
That's done with all our heart. —D. De Haan

Jesus removes our sin and rewards our service.

The Forgiveness Of God (
Accepted By God (

06-14-2005, 07:51 AM
May 12, 2005


Deuteronomy 32:1-14 (

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. —Deuteronomy 33:27

Bible In One Year: Psalm 94-96 ( In the tender song of Moses found in today's Bible reading, God is portrayed as a dedicated mother eagle who can be trusted by her young, even in the scary experience of their learning to fly (Deuteronomy 32:11-12).

A mother eagle builds a comfortable nest for her young, padding it with feathers from her own breast. But the God-given instinct that builds that secure nest also forces the eaglets out of it before long. Eagles are made to fly, and the mother eagle will not fail to teach them. Only then will they become what they are meant to be.

So one day the mother eagle will disturb the twigs of the nest, making it an uncomfortable place to stay. Then she will pick up a perplexed eaglet, soar into the sky, and drop it. The little bird will begin to free-fall. Where is Mama now? She is not far away. Quickly she will swoop under and catch the fledgling on one strong wing. She will repeat this exercise until each eaglet is capable of flying on its own.

Are you afraid of free-falling, unsure of where or how hard you will land? Remember, God will fly to your rescue and spread His everlasting arms beneath you. He will also teach you something new and wonderful through it. Falling into God's arms is nothing to be afraid of. —Joanie Yoder

He will ever keep your soul,
What would harm, He will control;
In the home and by the way
He will keep you day by day. —Psalter

God's love does not keep us from trials but sees us through them.

How Much Does God Control? (
Does God Want Me Well? (

06-14-2005, 07:52 AM
May 13, 2005

More Than Wishing

Matthew 6:5-15 (

Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. —Matthew 6:8

Bible In One Year: Psalm 97-99 ( As a child, C. S. Lewis enjoyed reading the books of E. Nesbit, especially Five Children and It. In this book, brothers and sisters on a summer holiday discover an ancient sand fairy who grants them one wish each day. But every wish brings the children more trouble than happiness because they can't foresee the results of getting everything they ask for.

The Bible tells us to make our requests known to God (Philippians 4:6). But prayer is much more than telling God what we want Him to do for us. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He began by reminding them, "Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:8).

What we call "The Lord's Prayer" is more about living in a growing, trusting relationship with our heavenly Father than about getting what we want from Him. As we grow in faith, our prayers will become less of a wish list and more of an intimate conversation with the Lord.

Toward the end of his life, C. S. Lewis wrote, "If God had granted all the silly prayers I've made in my life, where should I be now?"

Prayer is placing ourselves in the presence of God to receive from Him what we really need. —David McCasland

We grasp but a thread of the garment of prayer;
We reel at the thought of His infinite care;
We cannot conceive of a God who will say:
"Be careful for nothing; in everything pray." —Farrell

Our highest privilege is to talk to God; our highest duty is to listen to Him.

Jesus' Blueprint For Prayer (

06-14-2005, 07:53 AM
May 14, 2005

Our Changing World

Psalm 102:25-27 (

I am the Lord, I do not change. —Malachi 3:6

Bible In One Year: Psalm 100-102 ( Change is one thing we can be sure of in this life. Our relationships change as we move to new places, experience illness, and ultimately face death. Even the cells in our bodies are always in the process of change. When cells wear out, most are replaced by new ones. This is especially noticeable with our skin—we shed and regrow outer skin cells about every 27 days.

Yes, change is the one certainty in our world. Henry Lyte's melancholy line in his hymn "Abide With Me" is true: "Change and decay in all around I see." But the hymn immediately adds, "O Thou who changest not, abide with me!"

By faith in Jesus Christ we can have a relationship with the unchanging God, who says of Himself in Malachi 3:6, "I am the Lord, I do not change." We can depend on God to be the same forever, as the psalmist says (Psalm 102:27). Hebrews 13:8 adds this reassuring testimony: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." He is our firm foundation, who can give us confidence and security in this changing world.

We creatures, caught up in the swirling tide of time, can rest our souls on the everlasting arms, which will never let us go. —Vernon Grounds

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day,
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me! —Lyte

To face life's changes, look to the unchanging God.

Surviving The Storms Of Stress (

06-14-2005, 07:54 AM
May 15, 2005

A Noble Request

Acts 9:1-9 (

So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" —Acts 9:6

Bible In One Year: Psalm 103-105 ( As a seminary student I was often impressed by stories of Christians who made a great impact for God. So I asked the Lord to give me the same spiritual insight and power they had. On the surface that looks like a noble request. But one day I realized that it was actually a self-centered prayer. So instead of asking God to make me like someone else, I began asking Him to show me what He wanted me to do.

When Saul of Tarsus was converted on the road to Damascus, he asked two questions. The first was, "Who are You, Lord?" Realizing he was in the presence of the living God, only one other question mattered: "Lord, what do You want me to do?" (Acts 9:5-6). He recognized that obedience to God's will for him was to be the central focus of the rest of his life.

Requests for health, healing, success, and even spiritual power are not wrong, but they can become selfish prayers if they do not flow from a heart determined to obey God. Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father" (John 14:21). Obedience expresses our love for God and enables us to experience His love for us.

Have you made that noble request: "Lord, what do You want me to do?" —Herb Vander Lugt

Master, speak, and make me ready,
When Thy voice is truly heard,
With obedience glad and steady,
Still to follow every word. —Havergal

The best way to know God's will is to say "I will" to God.

How Can I Know What God Wants Me To Do? (

06-14-2005, 07:55 AM
May 16, 2005

Our Very Best

Ephesians 2:4-10 (

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. —Ephesians 2:8

Bible In One Year: Psalm 106-108 ( Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was a lonely and unhappy child, with no siblings or friends. One day he was investigating the backyard of his home and discovered a hole in the fence surrounding the yard. Suddenly a small hand reached out toward him from the other side of the fence. Then just as suddenly the hand was gone. On the ground was a small toy sheep.

Pablo ran inside the house and brought back the best thing he had—a pinecone. He set it down in the same spot and ran off with the sheep. That toy lamb became his most cherished possession.

The exchange brought home to him a profound yet simple fact: To know that you are cared for by someone is one of life's greatest gifts. "This small and mysterious exchange of gifts remained inside of me," he said, "deep and indestructible."

Reading this story made me think of God's gift to you and me—His hand reaching out to us with His love that sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins. Salvation is the "deep and indestructible" gift of God, received by grace through faith.

What should our response be to our God's infinite love and grace? Let's give Him in return our very best—our heart. —David Roper

Oh, help me, Lord, to take by grace divine
Yet more and more of that great love of Thine;
That day by day my heart may give to Thee
A deeper love, and grow more constantly. —Mountain

Jesus gave His all for us; are we giving our all for Him?

How Do You Live The Christian Life? (

06-14-2005, 07:56 AM
May 17, 2005

Duff Stuff

Jeremiah 32:16-25 (

You are . . . mighty in work, for Your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men. —Jeremiah 32:19

Bible In One Year: Psalm 109-111 ( When something big happens—a blessing or a tragedy—we recognize it immediately and respond with praise or pleadings to God. When we find a long-sought-after job, hear of a loved one coming to Christ, or get bad news from the doctor, we think of God and turn to Him. But in the little things—the routine, the mundane, the details—it's easy for us to overlook that He is working (Jeremiah 32:19).

God is at work in the big and little things of the forest too. The big stuff, which is visible and colorful, is called duff—the partly decayed organic matter of leaves and sticks that covers the forest floor. But if you rake back the duff, you will find all sorts of important little things happening. The soil is rich and dark, and smells of life. It is filled with tiny plants, insects, and a variety of fungi. There under the duff they are performing an important function, for with them God is building the future forest.

The Lord works similarly with His people. Of course His eyes are on the big issues of life. But He's also at work "under the duff" through our everyday activities, preparing us for the significant tasks He has planned for us.

So when the mundane gets you down, thank God for what's under the duff. —Dave Egner

We can give thanks in everything
And say, "Your will be done,"
For God's at work in everything
To make us like His Son. —D. De Haan

Eyes of faith see God at work in everything.

How Has God Loved Us? (
How Much Does God Control? (

06-14-2005, 07:57 AM
May 18, 2005


Jeremiah 33:1-9 (

I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth. —Jeremiah 33:6

Bible In One Year: Psalm 112-114 ( Twenty-five years ago, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted in one of the greatest natural disasters of modern times. The top of the mountain was blown into the atmosphere and became a dark plume of pulverized rock 11 miles high. At the same time, avalanches of rock, mud, and ice swept down the mountain—destroying everything in their path, clogging rivers, and stopping ships.

During the past quarter of a century, the US government has spent over $1 billion on Mount St. Helens' recovery and long-term improvements of the area. Much of the engineering and construction work done by the US Army Corps of Engineers is unseen because "it takes the form of floods that will not happen, homes and communities that will not be destroyed, [and] river traffic that will flow smoothly."

In this process of recovery, I see a picture of God's forgiveness and healing for the disastrous results of our disobedience. When God allowed His people to be taken captive by the Chaldeans, He promised: "I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth" (Jeremiah 33:6).

True spiritual recovery often takes time. But as we allow the Lord to clean up our lives, He can safeguard us against future failures. —David McCasland

Events may sometimes touch our lives
With change and dire destruction,
But God by grace can heal, restore,
And bring us reconstruction. —Hess

Christ's cleansing power can remove the most stubborn stain of sin.

Transformed Lives (
The Way Back (

06-14-2005, 07:58 AM
May 19, 2005

Doing Our Part

2 Kings 20:1-7 (

I have heard your prayer . . . ; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. —2 Kings 20:5

Bible In One Year: Psalm 115-118 ( A runner at a school track meet crossed the finish line just ahead of his nearest rival. A bystander, noticing that the winner's lips were moving during the last couple of laps, wondered what he was saying. So he asked him about it. "I was praying," the runner answered. Pointing to his feet, he said, "I was saying, 'You pick 'em up, Lord, and I'll put 'em down.'" That athlete prayed for God's help, but he also did what he could to answer his own prayer.

When we ask God for help, we must be willing to do whatever we can, using whatever means He gives. When Hezekiah heard that he was going to die, he prayed for a miracle, and God promised to extend his life 15 years. Then Isaiah gave instructions to place a lump of figs on the troublesome boil (2 Kings 20:5-7). God did the healing, but He used human effort and natural means.

A couple of children were walking to school one morning when it suddenly dawned on them that unless they really hurried they were going to be late. One of them suggested that they stop and pray that they wouldn't be tardy. "No," the other replied, "let's pray while we run as fast as we can."

When we ask the Lord to do something, we must also be ready to do our part. —Richard De Haan

Points To Ponder
How does the truth of today's article apply to illness?
To receiving a job promotion? To social evils?
To final exams? To increasing faith?

Pray as if everything depends on God; work as if everything depends on you.

Praying With Confidence (
How Can I Know What God Wants Me To Do? (

06-14-2005, 07:59 AM
May 20, 2005

Money Matters

Luke 16:1-13 (

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. —Luke 16:13

Bible In One Year: Psalm 119 ( Godfrey Davis, who wrote a biography of the Duke of Wellington, said, "I found an old account ledger that showed how the Duke spent his money. It was a far better clue to what he thought was really important than the reading of his letters or speeches."

How we handle money reveals much about our priorities. That's why Jesus often talked about money. One-sixth of the Gospels' content, including one out of every three parables, touches on stewardship. Jesus wasn't a fundraiser. He dealt with money matters because money matters. For some of us, though, it matters too much.

Jesus warned that we can become slaves to money. We may not think that money means more to us than God does. But Jesus did not say we must serve God more than we serve money. The issue isn't what occupies first place in our life, but whether we serve money at all. Pastor and author George Buttrick said, "Of all the masters the soul can choose, there are at last only two—God and money. All choices, however small, however the alternatives may be disguised, are but variants of this choice."

Does your checkbook show that Jesus is the Master in your life? —Haddon Robinson

If we pursue mere earthly gain,
We choose a path that ends in pain;
But joy and peace are in our soul
When we pursue a heavenly goal. —D. De Haan

For a quick check on your heart, check out your checkbook.

Jesus' Parables About Money (

06-14-2005, 07:59 AM
May 21, 2005

Short & Full Of Trouble

Genesis 47:1-10 (

Jacob said to Pharaoh, ". . . Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life." —Genesis 47:9

Bible In One Year: Psalm 120-123 ( Jacob's life was full of trials. And as it was for the old patriarch, so it is for us. Life buffets and restricts us, makes demands on us that we do not want to bear. Yet even the most unjust, undeserved, and pointless suffering is an opportunity for us to respond in a way that our Lord can turn us into His own likeness. We can take joy in our trials, because we know that adversity is working to make us "perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:3-4). But this takes time.

We want the quick fix, but there are no shortcuts that can accomplish God's ultimate purpose for us. The only way to grow into Christ's likeness is to submit each day to the conditions God brings into our lives. As we accept His will and submit to His ways, His holiness becomes ours. Gradually but inexorably, God's Spirit begins to turn us into kinder, gentler men and women—sturdier, stronger, more secure and sensible. The process is mysterious and inexplicable, but it is God's way of endowing us with grace and beauty. Progress is inevitable.

As Ruth Bell Graham puts it, may God give us grace "to bear the heat of cleansing flame, not bitter at our lot, but mete to bear our share of suffering and keep sweet, in Jesus' name." —David Roper

Give me, Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy trust to keep;
And so through trouble, care, and strife,
Glorify Thee in my daily life. —Bell

God often empties our hands to fill our heart.

Why Would A Good God Allow Suffering? (

06-14-2005, 08:00 AM
May 22, 2005

What Does God Like?

Ephesians 5:15-21 (

Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. —Ephesians 5:18-19

Bible In One Year: Psalm 124-126 ( Some churches have become divided over styles of worship. One group may be insisting on a traditional service, while another is agitating for a more contemporary format.

We can all profit from a lesson a man learned on a business trip after attending a church service near his hotel. He talked with the pastor about how he had been blessed by the sermon, even though some of the worship time was not to his liking.

The pastor simply asked, "What was it you think God didn't like?" The man had the grace to reply, "I don't suppose there was anything He didn't like. I was talking about my own reaction. But worship isn't really about me, is it?"

We are entitled to our own preferences, and we must hold firmly to our biblical convictions. But before we voice our fault-finding opinions, let's seriously try to understand God's viewpoint. Consider Ephesians 5 in the light of worship: We are to be filled with the Spirit, speak to each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, give thanks to God, and submit to one another (vv.19,21).

Whatever the style of worship, as we express to God our praise for who He is and all He has done, we lift Him up and encourage others. That's what God likes. —Vernon Grounds

Let us celebrate together,
Lift our voice in one accord,
Singing of God's grace and mercy
And the goodness of the Lord. —Sper

At the heart of worship is worship from the heart.

What Is Worship? (
The Church We Need (

06-14-2005, 08:01 AM
May 23, 2005

"I Will Be Good"

1 Samuel 15:10-23 (

Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? —1 Samuel 15:19

Bible In One Year: Psalm 127-129 ( When Queen Victoria was a child, she didn't realize that she was in line for the throne of England. Her instructors, trying to prepare her for the future, were frustrated because they couldn't motivate her. She just didn't take her studies seriously. Finally, her teachers decided to tell her that one day she would become the queen of England. Upon hearing this, Victoria quietly said, "Then I will be good." The realization that she had inherited this high calling gave her a sense of responsibility that profoundly affected her conduct from that day forward.

Our Scripture reading for today tells how Saul had been chosen from among the people of Israel as their anointed king (1 Samuel 15:17). Almighty God had honored him greatly in giving him this position as leader of His special nation. But Saul didn't think about the kind of attitude that should accompany his high calling. If he had, he would not have pounced on the loot of battle as if he were the leader of an outlaw band (v.19).

As believers, we are children of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17). We have a noble calling. Let's always keep in mind who we are. This will help us to say, as young Victoria said, "I will be good." —Herb Vander Lugt

O Lord, you see what's in my heart,
There's nothing hid from You;
So help me live the kind of life
That's honest, good, and true. —D. De Haan

A child of the King will want to display the manners of the court.

How Do You Live The Christian Life? (

06-14-2005, 08:02 AM
May 24, 2005

Change The Word?

2 Timothy 3 (

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable. —2 Timothy 3:16

Bible In One Year: Psalm 130-132 ( The Bible, God's written Word, changes lives. Its message of salvation makes the most profound change, of course, but Scripture can also change the way we treat others. It can provide a firm foundation for society with its clear teachings on institutions such as marriage, family, and the church.

But what happens when what the Bible clearly says—as understood for centuries by learned believers and scholars alike—is rejected? Those who reject its teachings try to change the Word.

Two Greek words can help explain this: eisegesis and exegesis. Eisegesis is the process of reading into a passage something that is not there—inserting a meaning that flows from a personal agenda. By contrast, exegesis means drawing from the passage the clearly intended meaning, using context, other Scripture passages on the same topic, and legitimate tools of understanding such as Bible commentaries.

Instead of trying to change God's Word to fit our own ideas, let's allow the Word to change us. As we read His Word and obey it, the Holy Spirit will transform us into the kind of people God wants us to be.

Don't change the Word—let it change you. —Dave Branon

The Lord has given man His Word,
His will He has made known;
Let man not try to change that Word
With words that are his own. —D. De Haan

The Bible—eternal truth and never-fading beauty.

Can I Really Trust The Bible? (
Studies In Contrast (

06-14-2005, 08:03 AM
May 25, 2005

Frustrating Promises

Psalm 37:1-24 (

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. —Psalm 37:4

Bible In One Year: Psalm 133-135 ( Do any Bible promises frustrate you? Some people say that Psalm 37:4 is a guarantee that you'll get whatever you want—a spouse, a job, money. This has made me wonder at times, Why don't I have what I want?

When a promise frustrates us because it seems that God is not fulfilling it, maybe it's because we don't understand what the verse really means. Here are three suggestions to help, using Psalm 37 as an example:

Consider the context. Psalm 37 is telling us not to worry or be envious of the wicked. Our focus is not to be on what they have, nor on what they seem to be getting away with (vv.12-13). Instead, we are commanded to trust and delight in the Lord (vv.3-4).

Consider other verses. We're taught in 1 John 5:14 that our requests need to be according to God's will for us. Other Scriptures on the same topic can give us a balance.

Consult a Bible commentary. In The Treasury of David, C. H. Spurgeon says this about verse 4: "[Those] who delight in God desire or ask for nothing but what will please God." Doing a little deeper study can help us understand frustrating Bible verses like this one.

As we learn to delight in the Lord, His desires will become our own and He will grant them. —Anne Cetas

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God. —Carter

You can't break God's promises by leaning on them.

How Does God Keep His Promises? (

06-14-2005, 08:04 AM
May 26, 2005

For Now And Forever

Ezekiel 33:23-33 (

Receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. —James 1:21

Bible In One Year: Psalm 136-138 ( Cold terror gripped the heart of a soldier as mortar rounds whistled overhead, rifles cracked, and the enemy closed in. Suddenly he felt ripping pains as a bullet tore into his chest and arm. Yet it wasn't the end for this soldier. According to an article in The New York Times, the bullet was slowed by a New Testament he was carrying in his shirt pocket. Years later, the young man still treasured the blood-stained book with the ragged hole through the middle. He believes it saved his life.

This is a nice story, but it says nothing about the life-saving spiritual help the Bible was designed to give. In Ezekiel 33, we read that the ancient Israelites used the words of the prophets to make them feel good but not to change their lives. They misused God's promises to Abraham to support their own claim to the land (v.24). They found pleasure in listening to the words of the prophet (v.30), yet the Lord said to Ezekiel, "They hear your words, but they do not do them" (v.31). The result? They came under divine judgment.

Then as now, God's Word is not to be cherished as a good-luck charm or to soothe the mind by bringing temporary relief from anxiety. It was given to be obeyed so that its help would not be only for this life—but forever. —Mart De Haan

Thy Word is a lamp to my feet,
A light to my path alway,
To guide and to save me from sin
And show me the heavenly way. —Sellers
© Renewal 1936, Broadman Press

We don't really know the Bible until we obey the Bible.

The Greatest Story Ever Told (
10 Reasons To Believe In The Bible (

06-14-2005, 08:05 AM
May 27, 2005

Tonsilitis Jones

Acts 11:19-26 (

The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. —Acts 11:26

Bible In One Year: Psalm 139-141 ( A psychologist made the observation that children often develop lifelong complexes because of their names. That may have been true in the case of a boy I read about. His parents gave him the name Tonsilitis Jones, and it caused him difficulties in school and again when he tried to enlist in the navy.

I know from personal experience that our names have a definite bearing on how we feel about ourselves and the way we behave. Because my father was a well-known preacher by the name of De Haan, I felt that people had higher expectations of me than of my peers. But the family name was also a helpful reminder of many positive values that were to guide my behavior.

According to today's Bible reading, the disciples of the Lord Jesus in Antioch were the first to be called Christians. It's a name that could never be improved on because it identifies believers as followers of Jesus Christ. And what an honor to bear a name linking us to God's Son, our Savior and Redeemer! This should shape and mold our manner of living so that it becomes increasingly consistent with the way Jesus spoke and conducted Himself.

If we want to call ourselves Christians, let's live up to our name! —Richard De Haan

O to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer!
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I'll forfeit all of earth's treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. —Chisholm

Christians are either Bibles or libels.

What Does It Take To Follow Christ? (
Knowing God Through Acts (

06-14-2005, 08:06 AM
May 28, 2005

Dangerous Beauty

Job 38:22-30 (

From whose womb comes the ice? And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth? —Job 38:29

Bible In One Year: Psalm 142-144 ( Loud creaking and snapping broke the stillness of the icy morning. Freezing rain had silenced every man-made noisemaker. Power lines were down; homes and businesses had no electricity. Roads were impassable, keeping thousands from daily routines. Nature was calling attention to herself, and she got it. As the sun rose, her stunning beauty was indescribable, her destructive power undeniable.

Ice glistened like crystal against a brilliant blue sky. But the ice that made the branches sparkle in the sunlight also weighed them down, causing them to break under the burden.

The same can happen to those who have glittering lives. They call attention to themselves with stunning beauty, talent, or intelligence. People notice and admire them. But eventually the weight of pride causes people to crack and break. The reality is that God alone is worthy of all praise.

Job's friends called attention to themselves by speaking as if they were experts on suffering. When God had heard enough, He pointed out to Job that no one has knowledge, power, or importance apart from Him. Later, He sharply rebuked Job's friends, and said, "You have not spoken of Me what is right" (Job 42:8).

True worth is in exalting God, not ourselves. —Julie Ackerman Link

Lord, pride, that fearful enemy,
So quickly takes control;
I plead this day Your pardoning grace
Will cleanse my heart and soul. —D. De Haan

The fly that buzzes loudest usually gets swatted first.

Knowing God Through Job (

06-14-2005, 08:06 AM
May 29, 2005

Touching Bottom

Revelation 1:10-18 (

Jesus . . . has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. —2 Timothy 1:10

Bible In One Year: Psalm 145-147 ( Crowds gathered each week to hear the soul-stirring sermons of Joseph Parker, the famous pastor of London's City Temple in the late 19th century. Then a crisis hit him hard. His wife died after an agonizing illness. Parker later said he would not have allowed a dog to suffer as she did. A heartbroken husband whose prayers had gone unanswered, he confessed publicly that for a week he had even denied that God existed.

But Parker's loss of faith was only temporary. From that experience he gained a stronger personal trust in Jesus' death-destroying resurrection and began to testify: "I have touched the bottom, and it is sound."

Listen to this exclamation of triumph from the risen Christ as He proclaims His victory over the grave: "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:17-18).

Death is our most venomous enemy, robbing us of joy and hope—unless the triumph of Christ's resurrection reverberates in our heart. As we believe in the mighty Victor over death, doubt is banished and light drives away the darkness.

Hold fast to that triumphant trust as you struggle through life's worst crises. —Vernon Grounds

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song
In the night season and all the day long. —Young

Because of Christ's empty tomb, we can be full of hope.

Did Christ Really Rise From The Dead? (

06-14-2005, 08:07 AM
May 30, 2005

Known Unto God

Psalm 77:1-15 (

Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? —Psalm 77:9

Bible In One Year: Psalm 148-150 ( While visiting a World War I military cemetery in France, I was struck by the number of grave markers bearing only these words:


The cemetery was surrounded on three sides by stone panels bearing the names of 20,000 soldiers who fell in nearby battles. Imagining the loneliness of men dying in war and the anguish of families grieving at home was overpowering.

There may be times in life when we feel forgotten and alone. Like the psalmist we cry out: "Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? . . . Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?" (Psalm 77:7,9).

The psalmist's answer to feeling abandoned came in remembering all that God had done in the past, meditating on His wonderful work, and speaking of it to others (vv.11-12).

In our darkest moments, we can remember the words of Jesus: "Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7).

We are never forgotten by God. —David McCasland

When trials loom or death is near,
In Christ we can confide;
We never need to feel alone—
He's always at our side. —Sper

In every desert of trial, God has an oasis of comfort.

Lonely But Never Alone (
Safe And Secure (

06-14-2005, 08:08 AM
May 31, 2005

Touched By A Stranger

Romans 12:3-16 (

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love. —Romans 12:10

Bible In One Year: 1 Kings 1-4 ( Marsha Burgess was a complete stranger to us, so we were touched by the note she sent. She knew my husband Carl's mom who had recently died. She had often seen her when visiting her own mother at a local nursing home.

So when Carl lost his mother, Marsha took the time to share her memories with us. She closed her note with these words: "Your mom always had a big smile on her face and was happy to see us. How wonderful to have such precious memories! We just loved your mom. We'll never forget her." Marsha is a Christian, and her words brought comfort in our grief. They reminded us of the joy of being part of Christ's body (Romans 12:5).

Every believer has been given a specific gift or gifts by God to use in building up others—prophesying, ministering, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading, and showing mercy (vv.6-8). But all of us are to "be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love" (v.10) and to "rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" (v.15).

Sometimes we hesitate to reach out to someone we don't know. We wonder if it is appropriate or if it will mean anything to the person. But that note from Marsha reminds us how much it means to be touched by a stranger. —Anne Cetas

Like refreshing rain in summer
Or the gentle breeze in spring,
Just a little gift of kindness
Joy to someone's heart can bring. —Hess

Opportunities to be kind are never hard to find.

The Compassion Of Jesus (

06-15-2005, 08:26 AM
June 1, 2005

God Said That

Psalm 23 (

You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. —Psalm 23:4

Bible In One Year: Proverbs 1-3 ( When 8-year-old Jacob visited his Grampa in the hospital, he came with his own custom-made "Get Well" card. It was an 81/2" x 11" piece of stiff white paper folded in half. On the front he had written, "Hope you feel better soon." On the inside, in large block letters, was this message:

I will be with you
wherever you go.

There was no Scripture reference, so Jacob added these words: "God said that." He wanted to be sure I didn't expect him to be at my side during my entire hospital stay.

That added note conveyed an unintended and deeper truth that brought a smile to my face and comfort to my heart. A hospital can be a lonely place. It's a world of unfamiliar faces, first-time medical procedures, and uncertain diagnoses. But it's in just such a setting that God can quiet an anxious heart and give assurance that He'll go with you down every hall, through every new door, into any unknown future—yes, even through "the valley of the shadow of death" (Psalm 23:4).

Maybe you have had an unexpected setback or loss. Your future is unknown. Trusting Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you can be sure of this: He will go with you wherever you go. You can believe it. God said that! —Dennis De Haan

Whenever I feel that Christ is near,
All cares and sorrows flee;
He is my strength, my hope, my life,
He's all in all to me. —Lewis

No danger can come so near the Christian that God is not nearer.

How Does God Keep His Promises? (

06-15-2005, 08:27 AM
June 2, 2005

Five-Finger Prayers

James 5:13-18 (

Pray for one another. —James 5:16

Bible In One Year: Proverbs 4-7 ( Prayer is a conversation with God, not a formula. Yet sometimes we might need to use a "method" to freshen up our prayer time. We can pray the Psalms or other Scriptures (such as The Lord's Prayer), or use the ACTS method (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). I recently came across this "Five-Finger Prayer" to use as a guide when praying for others:

<LI>When you fold your hands, the thumb is nearest you. So begin by praying for those closest to you—your loved ones (Philippians 1:3-5).

<LI>The index finger is the pointer. Pray for those who teach—Bible teachers and preachers, and those who teach children (1 Thessalonians 5:25).

<LI>The next finger is the tallest. It reminds you to pray for those in authority over you—national and local leaders, and your supervisor at work (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

<LI>The fourth finger is usually the weakest. Pray for those who are in trouble or who are suffering (James 5:13-16).

Then comes your little finger. It reminds you of your smallness in relation to God's greatness. Ask Him to supply your needs (Philippians 4:6,19).

Whatever method you use, just talk with your Father. He wants to hear what's on your heart. —Anne Cetas

Our prayers ascend to heaven's throne
Regardless of the form we use;
Our Father always hears His own
Regardless of the words we choose. —D. De Haan

It's not the words we pray that matter, it's the condition of our heart.

Jesus' Blueprint For Prayer (

06-15-2005, 08:28 AM
June 3, 2005

I'll Pay You Later

Luke 14:7-14 (

You shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just. —Luke 14:14

Bible In One Year: Proverbs 8-11 ( Suppose a boss were to say to an employee, "We really appreciate what you're doing around here, but we've decided to change the way we pay you. Starting today, we're going to pay you later—after you retire." Would the employee jump for joy? Of course not. That's not the way things work in this world. We like our payment now—or at least every payday.

Did you know that God promises to "pay" us later—much later? And He asks us to be happy about it!

Jesus suggested that our ultimate reward for the good things we do in His name comes after we die. In Luke 14, Jesus said that if we care for the poor, the lame, and the blind, our reward for such kindness will come at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:14). He also said that if we are persecuted, we should "rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed [our] reward is great in heaven" (6:22-23). Surely, the Lord gives us comfort, love, and guidance today, but what wonderful things He has planned for us in the future!

This may not be the way we would have planned it; we don't enjoy waiting for things. But imagine how glorious it will be when we receive our rewards in Jesus' presence. What a grand time we'll have as we enjoy what God has reserved for later. —Dave Branon

Beyond earth's sorrows, the joys of heaven,
Eternal blessings with Christ my Lord;
Earth's weeping ended, earth's trials over,
Sweet rest in Jesus, O blest reward! —Gilmore

What is done for Christ in this life will be rewarded in the life to come.

Is There Life After Death? (

06-15-2005, 08:29 AM
June 4, 2005

Have A Great Day!

Psalm 118 (

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. —Psalm 118:24

Bible In One Year: Proverbs 12-14 ( I was in a convenience store one day, standing in line behind a man paying for his groceries. When he was finished, the clerk sent him off with a cheery "Have a great day!"

To the clerk's surprise (and mine) the man exploded in anger. "This is one of the worst days of my life," he shouted. "How can I have a great day?" And with that he stormed out of the store.

I understand the man's frustration; I too have "bad" days over which I have no control. How can I have a great day, I ask myself, when it's beyond my control? Then I remember these words: "This is the day the Lord has made" (Psalm 118:24).

The Lord has made every day, and my Father will show Himself strong on my behalf today. He has control over everything in it—even the hard things that will come my way. All events have been screened through His wisdom and love, and they are opportunities for me to grow in faith. "His mercy endures forever" (v.1). "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear" (v.6).

Now, when people give me the parting admonition to have a great day, I reply, "That's beyond my control, but I can be grateful for whatever comes my way, and rejoice—for this is the day the Lord has made." —David Roper

When dawn announces each new day,
Before you rise up out of bed,
Rejoice—be glad and give God praise,
And thank Him for what lies ahead. —Sper

A smile is a curve that can set things straight.

How Much Does God Control? (
When Hope Is Lost (

06-15-2005, 08:30 AM
June 5, 2005

A Friend To The End

Proverbs 18:14-24 (

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. —Proverbs 18:24

Bible In One Year: Proverbs 15-18 ( Traditionally, medical schools have trained their students to help patients live, while offering little instruction in helping them face death. But that is changing with the addition of courses in end-of-life care. Physicians are now taught that when they have used all their medical expertise without achieving a cure, they should seize the opportunity to stand compassionately beside their dying patients and be a friend.

Death frightens many of us and makes us feel awkward in the presence of a terminally ill person. But our greatest opportunities to help someone in Jesus' name may come during a person's final days on earth.

The Bible speaks of a friendship that knows no limits. "A friend loves at all times," said the wise man (Proverbs 17:17). And "there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (18:24). Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13).

Jesus is both our Great Physician and our Friend, and He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He calls us to stand with our friends and family in His name as their earthly journey nears its end. That's what a true friend would do. —David McCasland

A friend is he who always knows
When the cold wind of trouble blows,
Who comes in dark and stormy night
With friendship's glowing lamp alight. —Mason

A true friend stays true to the end.

What Is Real Love? (

06-15-2005, 08:31 AM
June 6, 2005

A Vision That Transforms

2 Corinthians 3:7-18 (

We all . . . are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. —2 Corinthians 3:18

Bible In One Year: Proverbs 19-21 ( In one version of the mythical tale of King Arthur, the young king is hiding in a tree, nervously awaiting his betrothed. After falling, he felt he had to explain himself to the princess. So he recounted how he mysteriously was able to pull a sword out of a stone, entitling him to be king.

"That's how I became king," Arthur told her. "I never wanted to be. And since I am, I have been ill at ease in my crown—until I dropped from the tree and my eye beheld you. Then suddenly, for the first time, I felt I was king. I was glad to be king. And most astonishing of all, I wanted to be the wisest, most heroic, most splendid king who ever sat on any throne." Simply gazing at his beloved brought about a change in character and purpose.

As we reflect on our beloved, the Lord Jesus, we too experience a transformation. Paul wrote, "We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

By gazing at our Lord in the pages of Scripture, and by yielding to the Holy Spirit, we become different people. We will want to become more like Him. And our highest desire will be to please Him. —Dennis Fisher

Every day more like my Savior,
Every day my will resign,
Till at last Christ reigns supremely
In this grateful heart of mine. —Brandt

Only Jesus can transform your life.

What Does It Take To Follow Christ? (
How Can I Understand The Bible? (

06-15-2005, 08:32 AM
June 7, 2005

Above All

John 3:22-36 (

He who comes from heaven is above all. —John 3:31

Bible In One Year: Proverbs 22-24 ( In the mid-1800s, Ralph Waldo Emerson became a leader in a philosophical movement known as "transcendentalism," which says that truth comes from personal insight. Emerson wrote, "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men—that is genius."

Sadly, Emerson's faulty thinking took root, and personal thoughts about God replaced God's thoughts and words about Himself. The Lord said in Isaiah, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (55:9).

One of ancient Israel's songwriters expressed God's greatness this way: "I know that the Lord is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places" (Psalm 135:5-6).

Jesus, the image of the invisible God, is the source of all truth (Colossians 1:15-19). John the Baptist said of Him: "He who comes from heaven is above all" (John 3:31).

Only God, the creator of all things, deserves to be called transcendent—that is, above and beyond all things. Contrary to what Emerson concluded, truth comes from above, not from within. —Julie Ackerman Link

No matter how we think and try
To understand the Lord above,
Our thoughts can only amplify
Our need to know His truth and love. —Hess

He is no genius who ignores his Creator.

Celebrating The Wonder Of Creation (

06-15-2005, 08:33 AM
June 8, 2005

A Crooked Generation

Philippians 2:12-16 (

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless . . . in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. —Philippians 2:14-15

Bible In One Year: Proverbs 25-28 ( You could call today's generation "crooked and perverse," just as Paul described his own generation in Philippians 2:15. Even Moses would have understood what Paul was talking about, for he said of Israel, "They have corrupted themselves; they are not His children, because of their blemish: a perverse and crooked generation" (Deuteronomy 32:5).

Crookedness refers to the means by which people accomplish their objectives—doing whatever it takes to get what they want. Shortcuts to success are applauded. Some even boast about how they circumvent the law.

Perversion refers to the way people distort the truth. For example, I heard about three teenagers who wanted to end their stay in a youth hostel long before their expected departure. They angrily insisted that the manager return their nonrefundable deposit. When he finally gave in and the three teens were on their way out, they exclaimed to the hostel's other guests that they had been forced to leave.

We may sometimes get hurt by the crooked behavior and distorted thinking of people. But we are called to be "blameless and harmless" and to "shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15).

Let's show the world a different way of living. —Albert Lee

We are called with a holy calling
The light of the world to be,
To lift up the lamp of the Savior
That others His light may see. —Anon.

The straight and narrow way is God's way for a crooked generation.

Right & Wrong (

06-15-2005, 08:33 AM
June 9, 2005

"Dumb Ox"

1 Samuel 16:1-7 (

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. —1 Samuel 16:7

Bible In One Year: Proverbs 29-31 ( When Thomas Aquinas began to attend classes at the University of Paris in the 13th century, he seldom spoke up in class. His fellow students thought that his silence meant he wasn't very smart, so they nicknamed him "the dumb ox."

His peers must have been surprised when he excelled in his studies and went on to write great works of theology still in use today. Thomas Aquinas was a misjudged genius.

How could his classmates have been so wrong? They judged him only by his outward appearance. They didn't really know what he was like on the inside.

God had told the prophet Samuel to anoint a new king to rule His people Israel. David the shepherd boy did not appear to be kingly material. His youthfulness did not measure up to the age and stature of his older brother Eliab (1 Samuel 16:6). Yet the Lord corrected Samuel's original perception (1 Samuel 16:7). David would go on to become a great warrior and the Lord's chosen ruler of His people (1 Samuel 13:14; 18:8; 2 Samuel 7:1-17).

When you are tempted to judge someone by his outward appearance, remember Thomas Aquinas and King David. The heart is what matters to God. —Dennis Fisher

First impressions can mislead us,
For we do not know the heart;
We can often be mistaken,
Since we only know in part. —Fitzhugh

The true measure of a person is what's in the heart.

The Compassion Of Jesus (

06-15-2005, 08:34 AM
June 10, 2005


1 John 1:1-7 (

That which we have seen and heard we declare to you. —1 John 1:3

Bible In One Year: Ecclesiastes 1-3 ( "You don't want to interview me for your television program," the man told me. "You need someone who is young and photogenic, and I'm neither." I replied that we indeed wanted him because he had known C. S. Lewis, the noted author and the subject of our documentary. "Sir," I said, "when it comes to telling the story of a person's life, there is no substitute for an eyewitness."

As Christians, we often refer to sharing our faith in Christ as "witnessing" or "giving our testimony." It's an accurate concept taken directly from the Bible. John, a companion and disciple of Jesus, wrote: "We have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you" (1 John 1:2-3).

If you know Jesus as your Savior and have experienced His love, grace, and forgiveness, you can tell someone else about Him. Youth, beauty, and theological training are not required. Reality and enthusiasm are more valuable than a training course in how to share your faith.

When it comes to telling someone the wonderful story of how Jesus Christ can transform a person's life, there is no substitute for a firsthand witness like you. —David McCasland

Let us go forth, as called of God,
Redeemed by Jesus' precious blood,
His love to show, His life to live,
His message speak, His mercy give. —Whittle

Jesus doesn't need lawyers, He needs witnesses.

How Can I Share My Faith Without An Argument? (

06-15-2005, 08:35 AM
June 11, 2005

Heaven's Asphalt

Revelation 21:14-21 (

The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. —Revelation 21:21

Bible In One Year: Ecclesiastes 4-6 ( The story is told about a miner who struck gold and carried his bag of nuggets with him everywhere. One day he died and went to heaven, still carrying his precious nuggets. When he arrived, an angel asked him why he was carrying asphalt. "This isn't asphalt," he explained, "it's gold." To which the angel replied, "On earth it's called gold, but here in heaven we use it to pave our streets."

Granted, this is just a funny story. But it prompts us to think about what we consider valuable—and what is truly valuable to God.

What impresses me most about Revelation 21 is the description of heaven's street: It is "pure gold, like transparent glass" (v.21). We value gold as being the most precious of metals, and we use it to make our most prized possessions. In heaven it will be what we walk on. What a reversal!

The things we prize here on earth will not be so highly valued in heaven—the unnecessary things we buy and collect, stock portfolios and bank accounts, admiration and fame. When the time comes to bid earth goodbye, what value will they have?

Earthly possessions are temporary. Remember, our true wealth is in heaven. —Vernon Grounds

Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption,
The way into heaven could not thus be bought;
The blood of the cross is my only foundation,
The death of my Savior redemption hath wrought. —Gray

Those who lay up treasures in heaven are the richest people on earth.

Our Eternal Home (
Knowing God Through Revelation (

06-15-2005, 08:36 AM
June 12, 2005

Have A Heart

Exodus 22:21-27 (

You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. —Exodus 22:21

Bible In One Year: Ecclesiastes 7-9 ( People who lack feeling for others are like cold fronts on the weather map in winter—you'd rather see them going than coming. An example is the homeowner who treats the paperboy like the neighborhood pest. He acts as if the youngster were behind the bad news that lands on his porch day after day. I'm not saying that sometimes there isn't cause for frustration. There may be legitimate reasons for dissatisfaction with his service. But being unkind to those who are weaker or in a lower socio-economic position is never right.

God made this very clear to ancient Israel when He told them to treat those of lesser social rank as they themselves would want to be treated. He reminded His chosen people that because they had once been strangers in a foreign land, they should know how it feels to work under those who show no sympathy (Exodus 22:21).

Christians have the same responsibility to the poor and downtrodden as Israel had. We may argue that if we don't look out for ourselves no one else will. But God has told us to love our neighbors. He also reminds us that if we forget what it's like to be on the bottom we are no longer fit to be on top. —Mart De Haan

If you once bore a heavy load
That drove you to despair,
You'll have a heart for those who bend
Beneath their load of care. —D. De Haan

When Jesus changes your heart, He gives you a heart for others.

How Do You Live The Christian Life? (
Knowing God Through Exodus (

06-15-2005, 08:37 AM
June 13, 2005

Spiritual Deafness

1 Corinthians 2 (

The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. —1 Corinthians 2:14

Bible In One Year: Ecclesiastes 10-12 ( Some people suffer from a strange hearing disorder—they can hear sounds but can't understand words. They have no trouble hearing a bird sing or a watch tick, but words are as unintelligible as if they were a foreign language. The source of the problem is not in the ears. It stems from an injury to the brain.

There is also a spiritual deafness that affects many people. Because of a sinful heart, those without faith in Christ can read the Bible and hear the teachings of God's Word, but its spiritual message is foolishness to them (1 Corinthians 2:14).

That explains why some people can appreciate the Bible as literature, as reliable history, and as a source of high moral standards, but they fail to understand its spiritual message. They don't grasp the significance of what it says about Christ—His death on the cross for our sins, His resurrection, and His ministry of intercession for us in heaven today. These truths make no sense to them.

As you read the Bible, do you "hear" what it says? If not, ask the Lord to open your understanding to what it says about Jesus. Put your trust in Him as your personal Savior and experience a spiritual birth. That's the cure for spiritual deafness. —Richard De Haan

We cannot understand God's truth
Until we know the Lord;
It's when our heart is home to Him
We understand His Word. —Anon.

The key to understanding the written Word is knowing the Living Word.

Can I Really Trust The Bible? (
How Can I Know God Through His Book? (

06-15-2005, 08:38 AM
June 14, 2005

He's Always On The Bridge

Joshua 1:1-9 (

I will not leave you nor forsake you. —Joshua 1:5

Bible In One Year: Song of Songs 1-4 ( My friend Ralph had the thrilling experience of going on a short cruise on the aircraft carrier USS Kennedy. He saw jet fighters take off, land, and demonstrate maneuvers. He was told that whenever the planes are taking off or landing—dangerous operations—the captain watches from the bridge. Even if the planes are flying continually, he stays on the bridge, cat-napping between runs if necessary. So each time a pilot takes off or lands on the deck, he knows that his captain is always on duty.

In today's Scripture reading, when it was time for Joshua to take over as leader of Israel, he needed reassurance that God would be with him as He had been with Moses. The Israelites knew that Moses had divine direction during their wilderness journey because God led them by a pillar of fire and a cloud.

But what about Joshua? God promised him, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5). Joshua could lead Israel with the absolute confidence that God was always watching over him.

Wherever we are, whatever bold endeavor we are involved in, or whatever spiritual battle we may face, we have the confidence that God is with us. What's more, He guides, protects, and leads us. He's always on the bridge! —Dave Egner

I trust in God—I know He cares for me,
On mountain bleak or on the stormy sea;
Though billows roll, He keeps my soul—
My heavenly Father watches over me. —Martin
© 1938, The Rodeheaver Co.

The Christian finds safety not in the absence of danger but in the presence of God.

How Has God Loved Us? (

06-15-2005, 08:39 AM
June 15, 2005

Working Wisely

John 9:1-11 (

I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. —John 9:4

Bible In One Year: Song of Songs 5-8 ( In a photo on my wall, a rusted rake leans against a post in a vegetable garden overgrown with weeds. I took the picture several months after my father-in-law died and there was no one to care for his usually well-tended garden. One afternoon, he had leaned his rake against a post, walked to the house, and never returned.

The photo says two things to me about work: First, I must do it while I can. Second, I must keep it in perspective and not make it more important than it is. Because my days are numbered, I need God's wisdom to spend each one as I should.

When Jesus healed a man born blind, He told His disciples, "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world" (John 9:4-5).

As Jesus labored in His Father's "garden" on earth, He demonstrated how to work wisely by having a balance between work and rest. He never valued productivity more than prayer, and He never became so preoccupied with a program that He failed to help people in need.

Lord, give us the wisdom to work faithfully while it is still day. —David McCasland

Lord, help me know from day to day
The good I should pursue;
And grant me wisdom to discern
The things I should not do. —D. De Haan

Work is a blessing when it blesses others.

How Can I Find Satisfaction In My Work? (

06-16-2005, 02:02 PM
June 16, 2005

That's The Way It Works

Romans 15:23-33 (

Strive together with me in prayers to God for me. —Romans 15:30

Bible In One Year: 1 Kings 5-7 ( In his book Dear Zoe, Max De Pree writes, "The way to turn problems over to the Lord is to ask His people for help."

Before flying to Europe on business, Max learned that his daughter was pregnant. Her marriage, however, was in serious trouble. Sorrow and joy filled his heart as he prayed and sought to commit her to the Lord's care.

The next day he shared his pain with his close friend David Hubbard and told him that he was uneasy about leaving for Europe. He asked David if he would be willing to keep in touch with his daughter, to call or to visit if necessary. David assured him that he would. Max was relieved but also perplexed. He said, "Why is it I feel so relieved to place her in your hands, but last night when I placed her in the Lord's hands, I didn't feel so relieved?" David kindly explained that this is how the body of Christ is supposed to work.

The apostle Paul was keenly aware of that fact. Facing possible opposition from unbelievers in Jerusalem, he asked the Christians at Rome to join in his struggle by praying that he would be rescued from them (Romans 15:30-31).

Lord, may we not be too proud to ask for Your help by asking for help from Your children. —Dennis De Haan

God often meets our deepest need
With help we gain from others,
From caring members of His church—
Our sisters and our brothers. —D. De Haan

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. —Galatians 6:2

When Help Is Needed (

06-17-2005, 09:25 AM
June 17, 2005

Shooing Satan

James 4:7-10 (

Resist the devil and he will flee from you. —James 4:7

Bible In One Year: 1 Kings 8-10 ( Down in Texas where I was raised, the standard way to respond when someone sneezed was to say, "Scat!" It was common practice, but I never knew why we said it. Now I know. It's an old custom dating back to ancient times, when folks believed that sneezing expelled the devil. You said "Scat!" to shoo him away.

That's mere superstition, of course. There are better, biblical ways to chase away the devil.

Satan's schemes always begin with a lie, a false lead, a subtle twist to the truth, which if acted on will tear us away from God. His proposals rarely seem evil, because our minds are repelled by obvious evil. More often they come disguised as good. Satan adds a trace of grace and beauty to every lure, lest we recognize its deadly nature. It's easy to be taken in.

"Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). Counter Satan's lies with truth when they first enter your mind. Meet them immediately with a word from God and banish him, as you would shoo away a pushy salesman, before he gets a foot in the door. Call to mind a verse or portion of Scripture that speaks to the particular lie Satan is selling you and submit yourself to that truth.

That's the way to make the devil run. —David Roper

Satan can catch you by surprise—
He'll stop you in your tracks;
So keep on guard and trust God's Word,
Resist his strong attacks. —Branon

When Satan strikes, strike back with the Word of God.

What In The World Is Satan Doing? (

06-20-2005, 08:53 AM
June 18, 2005

Creative Connections

Genesis 2:7-8,15-22 (,15-22)

God said, "Let Us make man in Our image." —Genesis 1:26

Bible In One Year: 1 Kings 11-13 ( I built my first racecar for less than $15. With band-saw precision and painstaking effort, I carved a solid rectangular block of pine into an impressive aerodynamic package.

My 9-year-old son painted the finished product French blue. I polished the axles to a mirrored shine. Together we detailed the body with fiery decals and dubbed our Pinewood Derby entry "The Flaming Speeder." The look on my son's face was priceless.

No sense of accomplishment can match that of a parent who creates something with his child. It's a setting where both young and old can appreciate the joy of teamwork.

In the Bible we see God displaying delight in His creation. Genesis 1 records the crowning achievement of this divine creative process. "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (v.27). Then God charged mankind with this task: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it" (2:15).

Like a father with his child, God takes joy in a partnership with us. As the perfect triune Being, He could have chosen to work alone, but He didn't. He created us in His image, and He delights in our creativity. —Dale Beaver

How blessed are the children
Who in their fathers see
The tender Father-love of God,
And find their way to Thee. —Johnson

Our heavenly Father longs to spend quality time with His children.

Knowing God Through Genesis (
God Our Father (

06-20-2005, 08:54 AM
June 19, 2005

Dad's Hat

Ephesians 6:1-4 (

Honor your father. —Ephesians 6:2

Bible In One Year: 1 Kings 14-16 ( Amid the celebration, there was tragedy. It was the opening ceremonies of the 1992 summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. One by one the teams entered the stadium and paraded around the track to the cheers of 65,000 people. But in one section of Olympic Stadium, shock and sadness fell as Peter Karnaugh, father of United States swimmer Ron Karnaugh, was stricken with a fatal heart attack.

Five days later, Ron showed up for his race wearing his dad's hat, which he carefully set aside before his competition began. Why the hat? It was the swimmer's tribute to his dad, whom he described as "my best friend." The hat was one his dad had worn when they went fishing and did other things together. Wearing the hat was Ron's way of honoring his dad for standing beside him, encouraging him, and guiding him. When Ron dove into the water, he did so without his dad's presence but inspired by his memory.

On this Father's Day, there are many ways to honor our fathers, as Scripture tells us to do (Ephesians 6:2). One way, even if they're no longer with us, is to show respect for the values they taught us.

What can you do for your dad today to show him the kind of honor the Bible talks about? —Dave Branon

We're thankful for our fathers, Lord,
They're special gifts from You;
Help us to show we honor them
By what we say and do. —Sper

The best fathers not only give us life—they teach us how to live.

What Does God Expect Of A Man? (

06-20-2005, 08:55 AM
June 20, 2005


Psalm 34:15-22 (

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. —Psalm 34:15

Bible In One Year: 1 Kings 17-19 ( It was a sad day in May 2003 when "The Old Man of the Mountain" broke apart and slid down the mountainside. This 40-foot profile of an old man's face, carved by nature in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, had long been an attraction to tourists, a solid presence for residents, and the official state emblem. It was written about by Nathaniel Hawthorne in his short story The Great Stone Face.

Some nearby residents were devastated when The Old Man fell. One woman said, "I grew up thinking that someone was watching over me. I feel a little less watched-over now."

There are times when a dependable presence disappears. Something or someone we've relied on is gone, and our life is shaken. Maybe it's the loss of a loved one, or a job, or good health. The loss makes us feel off-balance, unstable. We might even think that God is no longer watching over us.

But "the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their cry" (Psalm 34:15). He "is near to those who have a broken heart" (v.18). He is the Rock whose presence we can always depend on (Deuteronomy 32:4).

God's presence is real. He continually watches over us. He is rock-solid. —Anne Cetas

The Rock of Ages stands secure,
He always will be there;
He watches over all His own
To calm their anxious care. —D. De Haan

The question is not where is God, but where isn't He?

How Can I Know There Is A God? (

06-21-2005, 09:06 AM
June 21, 2005

Better Than Your Best

Colossians 1:19-29 (

I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. —Colossians 1:29

Bible In One Year: 1 Kings 20-22 ( When John became a salesman in a well-known insurance company years ago, his aim was to work effectively in his firm without compromising his Christian integrity. But there were those who considered him naive. In their view, one could possess either job security or Christian integrity—not both.

But John did not waver in his commitment to be a godly witness in the business world. Although he was in a job that required accurate calculations, he had a weakness when it came to simple arithmetic. This forced him to depend more on Christ in everything, which enhanced his witness.

John eventually became the company's top salesman, and God used him to win many colleagues to Christ. Later, as a branch manager, John and his team became the company's largest branch worldwide—all without compromising Christian integrity.

Are you striving to live and work without compromise in a tough place? Are you doing your best, but your best is not enough? Colossians 1:29 reminds us that dependence on God's mighty power within us is what makes us effective. John, the businessman, summed it up like this: "God helps me do better than I can!"

He will do the same for you. —Joanie Yoder

Savior, let me walk beside Thee,
Let me feel my hand in Thine;
Let me know the joy of walking
In Thy strength and not in mine. —Sidebotham

Boast not in what you do for Christ, but in what Christ does for you.

The Mind Of Christ (

06-28-2005, 08:09 AM
June 22, 2005

Christianity's Best Argument

1 Peter 3:13-17 (

Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. —1 Peter 3:15

Bible In One Year: 2 Kings 1-3 ( What's the best argument we can give those who ask why we have accepted Jesus as our Savior? How can we most persuasively bear witness to our faith?

"Always be ready," Peter urged, "to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). The Greek term for "reason" is apology. That doesn't mean a weak-kneed excuse; it means a convincing argument.

Philosopher William Alston of Syracuse University has written very helpful books in defense of the Christian faith. He has something to say that should encourage all of us: "The final test of the Christian scheme comes from trying it out in one's life, testing the promises the scheme tells us God has made, following in the way enjoined on us by the church, and seeing whether it leads to the new life of the Spirit."

Don't think that because you aren't a philosopher or a scholar that you can't be an apologist. You can bear witness to the truth and power of the gospel. Your life can be your own best argument—your best defense of your faith in Jesus Christ—to anyone who asks why you believe.

So put your faith into practice. Let people see the difference Jesus makes. —Vernon Grounds

O that my life may useful be
As I serve Jesus faithfully;
And may the world see Christ in me—
This is my earnest prayer. —Hess

People will listen to you carefully if they see you living faithfully.

How Can I Break The Silence? (

06-28-2005, 08:10 AM
June 23, 2005

Gaining Respect

Daniel 1:1-16 (

Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. —Daniel 1:8

Bible In One Year: 2 Kings 4-6 ( When a professional musician nicknamed "Happy" became a Christian, he quit playing in nightclubs and offered his services to a rescue mission. Some time later, he received a phone call from a club manager who wanted to hire him to do a show that would have brought in a lot of money. But Happy turned down the offer, telling the manager that he would be playing at the mission. Happy said, "He congratulated me. That surprised me. Here was a man who wanted me to play for him and he was congratulating me for refusing his offer." The manager respected Happy's decision.

Daniel was a captive in a foreign land, but he did not forget his religious principles. He could not in good conscience eat meat that had been dedicated to a pagan god and had not been slaughtered in accordance with Hebrew laws. He asked for a simple fare of vegetables and water, and the steward risked his life to honor his request. I believe he did this because Daniel's noble conduct had earned his respect.

The world looks with disdain on Christians who do not live what they say they believe. That's why we should remain true to our convictions. Consistency of character is what gains the respect of others. —Herb Vander Lugt

You'll gain respect when people see
That you are faithful to God's Word;
There may be some who disagree,
But they will know you love the Lord. —D. De Haan

If you're living for Christ you may lose some friends, but you won't lose their respect.

What Does It Take To Follow Christ? (

06-28-2005, 08:12 AM
June 24, 2005

Inadequate Treatment

Jeremiah 6:10-19 (

They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, "Peace, peace!" when there is no peace. —Jeremiah 6:14

Bible In One Year: 2 Kings 7-10 ( A sprained ankle, so common during summer activities, can cause lingering problems if not properly treated. Minor sprains respond well to RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. But people who ignore a serious sprain and keep going in spite of the pain run the risk of a greater injury.

A podiatric surgeon says we often get used to sprains and put up with them, but "even minor sprains should be rehabilitated so they don't happen again." And, of course, a major injury always requires proper treatment.

When Jeremiah spoke the Lord's message against the corrupt spiritual leaders of Judah, he said: "They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, 'Peace, peace!' when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14). He repeated the accusation of inadequate treatment for serious spiritual injury in 8:11, then asked, "Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there . . . for the health of the daughter of my people?" (v.22).

Jeremiah's searching question inspired an old spiritual that proclaims the message of hope and forgiveness we still need today: "There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul."

That balm is the healing power of Jesus for our deep wound of sin. Have you applied His balm? —David McCasland

Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work's in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul. —Trad.

The Great Physician always has the right remedy.

The Assurance Of Salvation (
What If It's True? (

06-28-2005, 08:12 AM
June 25, 2005

Word Watch

James 3:1-12 (

Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. —James 3:10

Bible In One Year: 2 Kings 11:1-14:20 ( Good grammar matters to me. As a writer and former English teacher, I'm bothered when I hear the wrong word used by people I think should know better. For instance, using "I" instead of "me" or "who" instead of "whom." There's a proper way to use the language, and it makes me cringe when the standard is violated.

There's another kind of incorrect word usage that is far worse. It happens when Christians utter words that fall short of the standard God expects. Whenever we use words that are considered crude, profane, or obscene, we violate God's clear standards.

Anytime we speak any form of God's name irreverently or in a way that doesn't honor Him, we displease Him (Exodus 20:7). If we joke about sinful practices, we are speaking in a way we shouldn't (Ephesians 5:12). Or if we participate in coarse talk (5:4), we bring dishonor to the name of Christ.

James said, "Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. . . . These things ought not to be so" (James 3:10). Such speech is hypocritical.

Controlling our tongue is difficult because it is an "unruly evil" (v.8). For the glory of God, and with respect for His standards, let's watch our words. —Dave Branon

A wise old owl sat on an oak;
The more he saw, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard—
Why aren't we like that wise old bird? —Richards

Every time you speak, your mind is on parade.

Moses: His Anger And What It Cost Him (
When Words Hurt (

06-28-2005, 08:13 AM
June 26, 2005

Love One Another

1 John 4:7-12 (

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. —1 John 4:7

Bible In One Year: Joel 1-3 ( Brandon Moody was attending his uncle D. L. Moody's church on Easter morning. The final scene in the impressive pageant was a depiction of Jesus' ascension into heaven. The actor who was playing Jesus was being hoisted by stagehands through an opening in the ceiling. But when he was halfway up, they lost their grip and down came the actor—thankfully uninjured. With amazing presence of mind, the actor said to the shocked congregation, "And one more thing. Love one another."

Love was so important to Jesus that He told His disciples shortly before His arrest and crucifixion, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another . . . . By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).

John, known as the disciple whom Jesus loved (and the man who recorded these words of Jesus), wrote much about love in his first letter. Several times in chapter 4, the apostle urged his fellow believers to "love one another" (1 John 4:7,11-12).

No matter what is happening in our lives, let's make Jesus' commandment and John's exhortation our mission statement: "Love one another." —Vernon Grounds

Lord, when I learn that someone is hurting,
Help me know what to do and to say;
Speak to my heart and give me compassion,
Let Your great love flow through me today. —K. De Haan

A little love can make a big difference.

What Is Real Love? (
The Compassion Of Jesus (

06-28-2005, 08:14 AM
June 27, 2005

Perfecting Holiness

Galatians 5:16-26 (

Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. —2 Corinthians 7:1

Bible In One Year: 2 Kings 14:21-25, Jonah 1-4 (,+Jonah+1-4) I had not worked in my yard for several weeks, and I was amazed at how quickly weeds had sprung up and taken over. Weeds don't need tending; they seem to love to sprout up for anyone who just lets things go. A bed of beautiful flowers, however, takes watering, feeding, and of course, weeding. Flowers thrive under the care of one who is not afraid to get dirt under his fingernails.

The Christian life takes work too. It requires the commitment of one's whole being to Jesus—body, mind, emotions, and will—to have a life that is wholesome, attractive, uplifting to others, and fulfilling to oneself. Even then, weeds of selfishness and sinful attitudes can quickly spring up and overrun the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

That was the problem with many believers at Corinth. They had become overgrown with envy and divisiveness (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). So Paul told them to cleanse themselves from all "filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). By "holiness" he didn't mean they could be sinless, but blameless.

Lord, help us uproot any weeds of the flesh and the spirit before they become ugly habits. May the beauty of Jesus' character be what others see in us. —Dennis De Haan

The Weeding Process
1. Identify sins of the flesh or the spirit (Gal. 5:17-21).
2. Call them sin and confess them (1 John 1:9).
3. Stand firm in your position in Christ (Gal. 2:20).

If you yield to God, you won't give in to sin.

Why Would Anyone Want To Be Holy? (

06-28-2005, 08:15 AM
June 28, 2005

No Alteration Needed

Jeremiah 36:20-26 (

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. —2 Timothy 3:16

Bible In One Year: 2 Kings 14:26-29, Amos 1-3 (,+Amos+1-3) In every era there has been a spirit of the age that challenges our acceptance of Scripture. The temptation is to remove or alter those portions that seem old-fashioned.

Whether it's the doctrine of hell or God's view on sexual behavior, many feel pressured to reject parts of the Bible. Inevitably, some truths will be offensive in every day and age.

Centuries ago, a Jewish king was handed a scroll with a message from God. As the document was read aloud, the king took offense, and with a small knife he cut out a portion of the scroll and threw it into the fire. Eventually the entire text was thrown into the flames, yet the king and his servants who had heard the words of the Lord "were not afraid" (Jeremiah 36:24). In the end, the king lost his kingdom because of his disobedience.

When we selectively edit the Bible to suit our fancy, or neglect its teachings, we show that we do not fear God. Rather than submit to what He says, we exalt our own finite reason and fallible conscience above the inspired text.

When you're tempted to overlook or ignore a portion of the Word of God, remember: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16). It tells us all we need to know to live a life that pleases Him. —Dennis Fisher

What is the meaning of life here on earth?
What is its purpose, and what is its worth?
God has the answers in His holy book;
That is the first and the best place to look. —Hess

In a changing world, you can trust God's unchanging Word.

Can I Really Trust The Bible? (
Studies In Contrast (

06-29-2005, 02:35 PM
June 29, 2005

Come Back

Amos 4:4-13 (

"You have not returned to Me," says the Lord. —Amos 4:6

Bible In One Year: Amos 4-6 ( The Old Testament book of Amos has given us some memorable phrases: "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" (3:3). "Prepare to meet your God" (4:12). "Let justice run down like water" (5:24).

But the most-repeated phrase in Amos occurs five times in chapter 4. Time after time the Lord speaks of all He has done to discipline His wayward, self-indulgent people and draw them back to Himself. In every case the response is the same: "'You have not returned to Me,' says the Lord" (Amos 4:6,8-11).

As we read and marvel at their hardness of heart, we must also ask if the same could be true of us. If we have sensed that the Lord has been trying to get our attention, how have we responded to Him?

The prophecy of Amos contains warnings of judgment, captivity, and destruction. Yet there are calls for repentance and promises of restoration: "Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the Lord God of hosts will be with you" (5:14).

The book of Amos has many memorable phrases, but we should never forget God's invitation to all who have wandered away from Him: Return to Me.

If you haven't returned, do it now. —David McCasland

I've strayed, O Lord, and turned aside,
I've disobeyed Your voice;
But now with contrite heart I turn
And make Your will my choice. —D. De Haan

True repentance turns from the wrong and returns to the right.

The Way Back (
Knowing God Through The Old Testament (

07-21-2005, 05:55 AM
July 21, 2005

His Way

Matthew 26:36-46 (

O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. —Matthew 26:39

Bible In One Year: Isaiah 43-45 ( A question about the title of a hymn took me back to a wonderful old song I grew up singing in church called "Let Him Have His Way With Thee." The chorus says: "His power can make you what you ought to be; His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free; His love can fill your soul, and you will see 'twas best for Him to have His way with thee."

Even when we know that God's way is best for us, we may still struggle to obey Him. When Christ our Savior faced the horrible reality of bearing our sins on the cross, He agonized in prayer, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:39). Jesus, who lived to do His Father's will, struggled and prayed, then willingly obeyed. And He can help us as we grapple with the difficult choices in our lives.

C. S. Lewis wrote: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'" If we continually choose our own way, He will eventually allow us to suffer the consequences.

It's best to surrender to God now. If we do, we'll have the assurance that His way is best for us. —David McCasland

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay;
Mould me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still. —Pollard
There is victory in surrender when the conqueror is Christ.

07-26-2005, 02:31 AM
July 25, 2005

Growing Old; Growing Up

Psalm 71:14-24 (

When I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation. —Psalm 71:18

Bible In One Year: Isaiah 55-57 ( Old age is the season when we can give ourselves to "soul-making," as the Quakers say. We can concentrate on getting to know God better and cultivating character traits that make us more like Him. Age breaks down our strength and energy and strips us of our busyness. It's God's way of getting us to slow down so we'll take more time for Him. We can think more deeply about life, about ourselves, and about others.

Change is an inevitable part of life. We're being shaped every minute we live. Every thought, every decision, every action, every emotion, every response is shaping us into one kind of person or another. Either we're moving toward likeness to Christ or away from Him into some sort of caricature of the person God intended us to be.

It's true, we lose some things as we age: physical strength, quickness, agility. But think of the calm God gives us, the peace He leaves us, the benefits of His salvation, and His faithfulness to us (Psalm 71:15).

Old age is the best time to grow in grace and godliness, in inner strength and beauty of character. "The silver-haired head," the wise man said, "is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness" (Proverbs 16:31). —David Roper

When wrinkles and weakness come with age
And life with its stress takes a toll,
Yet beauty and vigor can still be seen
When Jesus gives peace to one's soul. —D. De Haan
"Grow up" is what the young are told—"age gracefully" when growing old.

07-28-2005, 09:03 AM
July 26, 2005

A Wonderful Pair

Exodus 23:1-13 (

What is desired in a man is kindness, and a poor man is better than a liar. —Proverbs 19:22

Bible In One Year: Isaiah 58-60 ( An honest and kind man drove the streets of San Francisco for more than an hour to find the woman who had left her purse with $1,792 in cash on the back seat of his cab. I like what he said when some of his fellow drivers ridiculed him for not pocketing the money. He responded, "I am a card-carrying member of the Christian faith, and what good is it to go to church if you don't practice what you preach?"

In Exodus 23, the principles of honesty and kindness were brought together for the Israelites in the laws God gave them. They were to be honest enough to return a straying animal to its owner, even if that person were an enemy (v.4). They were to be kind enough to a foe to help him get a stubborn donkey to its feet (v.5). They were to be so concerned about making sure that a poor person got fair treatment that they would help him, even when it was a costly thing to do (vv.6-9). Landowners were to let their farm lie idle every seventh year and allow the poor to glean freely from it (vv.10-11).

Honest people can be cruel. Kind people may be soft and not concerned enough about righteousness. But when you put honesty and kindness together, you have a wonderful pair that honors God and blesses others. —Herb Vander Lugt

When others view our lives today,
Our honesty is on display;
Lord, help us point the way to You
By doing what is kind and true. —Branon

Tact is the ability to make a point without making an enemy.

How Can I Share My Faith Without An Argument? (

07-28-2005, 09:03 AM
July 27, 2005


Matthew 11:25-30 (

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart. —Matthew 11:29

Bible In One Year: Isaiah 61-63 ( A New York City man who sold books and magazines on the street was freed after being trapped for 2 days under a mountain of paper in his apartment. The man's collection of printed materials, which he had stacked wall to wall and floor to ceiling, collapsed and buried him alive. Emergency workers filled 50 garbage bags as they dug through the debris just to reach him.

We don't need a Mount Everest of old newspapers to know the feeling of being trapped under the crush of our work and the burden of overwhelming spiritual demands. Yet a glance at our Savior reveals His deep inner rest. In Tyranny of the Urgent, Charles E. Hummel writes: "Jesus' prayerful waiting for God's instructions . . . gave Him a sense of direction, set a steady pace, and enabled Him to do every task God assigned."

Jesus invites the weary to come to Him. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29).

This rest that comes with salvation is not achieved by effort but is received by faith. In Christ we can also find release from the tyranny of the urgent and accomplish everything He has given us to do. —David McCasland

Come, heavy-laden, weary one,
Come unto Christ for rest;
Come lay your every burden down,
And lean upon His breast. —Anon.

Following Jesus takes the busyness out of life.

Who Is This Man Who Says He's God? (
Religion Or Christ: What's The Difference? (

07-28-2005, 09:04 AM
July 28, 2005

The Day The Sun Didn't Shine

Psalm 103 (

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. —Psalm 103:2

Bible In One Year: Isaiah 64-66 ( We often take God's blessings for granted until they are taken from us. Then we recognize how important even the most common gifts of God really are.

There's a legend about a day the sun didn't rise. At 6:00 in the morning it was dark. At 7:00 it was still night. Noon came and it was like midnight. By 4:00 in the afternoon, people flocked to the churches to beg God for the sun.

The next morning, huge crowds gathered outdoors to face the eastern sky. When the first rays of sunlight pushed open the door of the morning, the people burst into cheers and praised God for the sun.

The psalmist knew he couldn't possibly remember all of God's benefits to him. He was distressed that he might forget them all, so he took his sluggish soul in hand, shook it, and urged it to consider at least some of the good gifts God gave to him.

Because God's goodness is as constant as the sun, we are in danger of forgetting what He showers on us each day. If we count our blessings one by one, we'll never get finished. But if we jot down a list of 10 or 20 gifts God gives us each day, something will happen to our hearts.

Let's try it and find out for ourselves. —Haddon Robinson

Every morning as we rise,
God's new mercies greet our eyes;
And when twilight shadows fall,
Evening blessings brighten all. —Anon.

If you want to be rich, count all the things you have that money can't buy.

How Has God Loved Us? (

08-01-2005, 10:22 AM
August 1, 2005

Take As Directed

Psalm 119:33-48 (

Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart. —Jeremiah 15:16

Bible In One Year: 2 Kings 20-21 ( Dr. Smiley Blanton was a busy New York City psychiatrist who kept a Bible on his desk. Somewhat surprised to see this, a client asked, "Do you, a psychiatrist, read the Bible?"

"I not only read it, I study it," said Dr. Blanton, a devout Christian. Then he added, "If people would absorb its message, a lot of psychiatrists would go out of business."

To clarify his point, Dr. Blanton said that if clients who are plagued by guilt would read the parable of the prodigal son and his forgiving father (Luke 15:11-32), they could find the key to healing.

Do we look for healing in God's powerful Word? We may read the Bible, but do we really believe it, study it, and put its teachings into practice? The saving truth of Scripture is God's potent medicine for delivering us from the disease of sin.

The prophet Jeremiah, despite difficulties and hardships, found joy in the words of the Lord (Jeremiah 15:16). And the psalmist loved the commandments of God (Psalm 119:48) and said to Him, "I will delight myself in Your commandments . . . . I will meditate on Your statutes" (vv.47-48).

Like medicine, God's Word must be taken as directed. Are you internalizing its truth? —Vernon Grounds

God's Word brings health and healing
To every sin-sick soul,
But we must take and heed it
Before we can be whole. —D. De Haan

The Bible contains the vitamins for soul health.

How Can I Know God Through His Book? (

08-02-2005, 06:58 AM
August 2, 2005

I'm Sorry

Luke 15:11-24 (

Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son. —Luke 15:21

Bible In One Year: Zephaniah 1-3 ( A meaningful apology can be the first step toward forgiveness. Colleen O'Connor writes in The Denver Post: "The successful apology dissolves anger and humiliation. It shows respect, builds trust, and helps prevent further misunderstanding. A sincere apology makes it much easier to forgive."

And author Barbara Engel says that a true apology depends on the three Rs: regret, responsibility, and remedy.

In Jesus' story of the prodigal son, the headstrong young man who returned home after squandering his inheritance approached his father with humility and remorse: "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son" (Luke 15:21). He expressed regret for the pain he had caused, took responsibility for what he had done, and was prepared to work as a hired servant (v.19).

As Christians, we have a responsibility to repent and sincerely say "I'm sorry" whenever we wrong another person. In a spirit of humility and love, we can help those who need to forgive us by offering a genuine apology.

A sincere apology doesn't compel others to forgive, but it's the right thing to do. We must take the first step on the pathway toward the freedom of forgiveness. —David McCasland

Have you hurt a friend or brother?
Go at once and make things right;
From your heart say, "I am sorry."
How these words bring God delight! —D. De Haan

A heartfelt apology can't change the past, but it can brighten the future.

Avoiding The Dangers Of Superficial Forgiveness (

08-03-2005, 11:57 AM
August 3, 2005

We Don't Need You

Jeremiah 2:5-13 (

What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters? —Jeremiah 2:5

Bible In One Year: Habakkuk 1-3 ( There's a story about a group of scientists who decided that humans could do without God. So one of them looked up to God and said, "We've decided that we no longer need You. We have enough wisdom to clone people and do many miraculous things."

God listened patiently and then said, "Very well, let's have a man-making contest. We'll do it just like I did back in the old days with Adam." The scientists agreed, and one of them bent down and picked up a handful of dirt. God looked at him and said, "No! You have to make your own dirt!"

In Jeremiah's day, the Israelites were living as if they no longer needed the Lord. They had entrusted themselves to other gods, even though their gods could not respond to their needs. Jeremiah confronted them about their rebellion, for they had forsaken the true God and shown disrespect for Him (Jeremiah 2:13,19).

Are we guilty of living as if we don't need God? We may know Him as our Savior but be worshiping the idol of our own wisdom or self-sufficiency. Could the Lord be saying of us, "They have gone far from Me"? (2:5).

Living far from God dishonors and displeases Him, and it will never meet our deepest needs. But we can return to Him today (3:7). —Anne Cetas

Unless we worship only God
Our lives cannot be truly free;
For we were made for Him alone—
All else is but idolatry. —D. De Haan

The idol of self is a sorry substitute for God.

How Do You Live The Christian Life? (

08-05-2005, 04:11 PM
August 4, 2005

Is Evolution A Fact?

Genesis 2:1-7, Hebrews 11:1-3 (,+Hebrews+11:1-3)

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. —Hebrews 11:3

Bible In One Year: 2 Kings 22-25 ( The theory of evolution is not without its problems. One scientist says this about life starting on its own: "Amino acids would have to be arranged in an exact sequence to form a protein . . . just like the letters in a sentence. Mere laws of chemistry and physics cannot do that. The probability of a protein forming by chance would be 1064 [10 with 64 zeros after it] to 1!"

Many people assume the theory of evolution to be true. But can it be scientifically proven? Something is considered scientifically true only if it can be repeatedly verified under laboratory conditions. The claim that life sprang up on its own out of a long impersonal process cannot pass this test of truth. That is why evolution remains only a theory.

So if you're ever tempted to doubt the Genesis account of the creation story, consider the alternative. The odds against even a simple protein creating itself are astronomical. How much more reasonable to believe God and His Word: "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible" (Hebrews 11:3).

Isn't it more reasonable to believe that God designed and created the universe? (Genesis 1:1). —Dennis Fisher

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful—
The Lord God made them all. —Alexander

All creation points to the almighty Creator.

Celebrating The Wonder Of Creation (
Dinosaurs & The Bible (

08-19-2005, 11:54 AM
August 5, 2005
Wholesome Humor

Ephesians 5:1-10 (

All uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, . . . neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting. —Ephesians 5:3-4

Bible In One Year: Obadiah 1, Jeremiah 1-2 (,+Jeremiah+1-2) Abraham Lincoln faced enormous pressures as president during the US Civil War. Without humor, it's doubtful he would have been able to bear the strain. When emotions ran high in cabinet meetings, he often told a funny story to break the tension. Laughing at himself kept him from becoming defensive. And a good story with a strong point sometimes won over an opponent.
The spontaneity of humor reflects the way God created man. It is both physically and emotionally beneficial. Laughter can keep a tense situation from ending in bitter words or hard feelings.
Although Jesus was a "Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3), I believe He laughed often. Sometimes Jesus used humor to make a point. Imagine a camel trying to squeeze through the eye of a needle! (Matthew 19:24).
But there's also a dark side to humor. Paul called it "coarse jesting" and said that it should have no place in the believer's life (Ephesians 5:4). It demeans, degrades, and defiles those who use it and those who hear it.
So what do we laugh at? What kinds of stories do we tell each other? Would Jesus laugh with us? I believe He would—if it were wholesome humor. —Dennis De Haan
Give us a sense of humor, Lord,
Give us the grace to laugh and smile;
But check our lips from needless jest
That what we speak may be worthwhile. —Anon.

To laugh is to be fully human.

The Mind Of Christ (

08-19-2005, 11:54 AM
August 6, 2005
The Worry Box

Philippians 4:1-9 (

Do not worry about your life. —Matthew 6:25

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 3-5 ( I heard about a woman who kept a box in her kitchen that she called her "Worry Box." Every time something troubled her, she would write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the box. She resolved not to think about her problems as long as they were in the box. This enabled the woman to put her troubles completely out of mind. She knew they could be dealt with later.
Occasionally she would take out a slip of paper and review the concern written on it. Because she had not been drained by anxiety, she was relaxed and better able to find the solution to her problem. Many times she discovered that a specific worry no longer existed.
Writing your worries on paper and putting them in a box may be helpful, but how much better it is to place them in the hands of God. Worry robs us of joy, drains us of energy, stunts our spiritual growth, and dishonors God. Jesus said, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34).
Let's believe the Lord's promises and trust Him to meet our needs. Placing our problems in His hands is far better than putting them in a worry box. —Richard De Haan
Never a trial that He is not there,
Never a burden that He does not bear;
Never a sorrow that He does not share—
Moment by moment, I'm under His care. —Whittle

When we put our cares in God's hands, He puts His peace in our heart.

What Can I Do With My Worry? (

08-19-2005, 11:55 AM
August 7, 2005
No Change

Romans 4:1-12 (

Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. —Romans 5:1

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 6-8 ( All around us, life is changing at a dizzying pace. Even in the church, change is happening so fast that it can be tough to keep up.
For example, to communicate more effectively with people, Christians have changed the way "church" is done. Many believers have become accustomed to churches without pews, sanctuaries without hymnbooks, and message outlines and songs projected onto large screens.
Christians have also recognized the need to change their methods of reaching out to non-Christians with the gospel of Jesus. Churches use sports leagues to bring the gospel to people in their neighborhood. They open up food pantries to reach out to the disadvantaged. They hold special group meetings for people dealing with grief or addictions.
Not everything is changing, however. Dr. M. R. De Haan wrote in the first edition of Our Daily Bread in 1956: "If there is one thing Paul insisted upon, it is that works have nothing to do with obtaining or retaining our salvation. We are justified by faith, and faith alone" (Romans 4:5; 5:1).
Modes and methods of worship may change. But salvation is through faith in Jesus alone. That will never change—ever. —Dave Branon
Unchanging is the Word of God—
Salvation is by grace
Through faith alone in Christ who died
In every sinner's place. —Hess

In a world of constant change, you can trust God's unchanging Word.

Do I Have The Right Kind Of Faith? (
What If It's True? (

08-19-2005, 11:55 AM
August 8, 2005
What We Cannot Lose

Psalm 92:12-15 (

Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. —Isaiah 46:4

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 9-12 ( Years ago I heard about an elderly gentleman who was suffering from the first stages of dementia. He lamented the fact that he often forgot about God. "Don't you worry," said a good friend, "He will never forget you."
Growing old is perhaps the hardest task we have to face in this life. As the saying goes, "Getting old is not for sissies."
Mainly, growing old is about losses. We devote most of our early life to acquiring things, but they are merely things we will lose as we age. We lose our strength, our looks, our friends, our job. We may lose our wealth, our home, our health, our spouse, our independence, and perhaps the greatest loss of all, our sense of dignity and self-worth.
But there is one thing that you and I will never lose—the love of God. "Even to your old age, I am He," God said to the prophet, "and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you" (Isaiah 46:4).
"The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree," wrote the songwriter (Psalm 92:12). "Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age" (vv.13-14). —David Roper
Jesus loves me, this I know,
Though my hair is white as snow;
Though my sight is growing dim,
Still He bids me trust in Him. —Warner

God's love never grows old.

Finishing Well (
How Has God Loved Us? (

08-19-2005, 11:56 AM
August 9, 2005
Count It All Joy

James 1:2-12 (

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life. —James 1:12

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 13-16 ( A pastor placed this sign on his door: "If you have problems, come in and tell me all about them. If you don't have any problems, come in and tell me how you avoid them."
What do we do when problems come unannounced and with great intensity? James told us to "count it all joy," because trials do not happen without a reason. He said, "The testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete" (James 1:3-4). Armed with this understanding, our prayer changes from asking God "why" to thanking Him for what He is doing.
Having endured many trials and facing a new struggle with cancer, Our Daily Bread author Joanie Yoder shared her thoughts in a letter: "I have relinquished my destiny to God's will. Nothing, praise God, not even cancer, can thwart His will. I may have cancer, but cancer doesn't have me—God alone has me. So in this light, I would value your prayers that Christ may be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death."
Trials are unavoidable and unpredictable, and they come in an unimaginable variety. Knowing that our sovereign God will walk with us and use trials to deepen our maturity, we can count them "all joy." —Albert Lee
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whatever befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well. —Crosby

We can endure trials in this life because of the joys in the life to come.

Surviving The Storms Of Stress (

08-19-2005, 11:56 AM
August 10, 2005
Walking Away

Exodus 33:12-23 (

My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. —Exodus 33:14

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 17-20 ( After winning a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, wrestler Rulon Gardner took off his shoes, placed them in the center of the mat, and walked away in tears. Through that symbolic act, Gardner announced his retirement from the sport which had defined his life for many years.
Times of walking away come to all of us, and they can be emotionally wrenching. A loved one "walks away" in death. A child moves away from home. We leave a job or a community and it feels as if we've left everything behind. But when we know the Lord, we never have to walk into an unknown future alone.
It's worth pausing to reflect on how much the children of Israel walked away from when Moses led them out of Egypt. They left the heavy burden of slavery, but they also left everything stable and predictable they had ever known. Later, when the Lord told Moses, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Exodus 33:14), Moses replied, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here" (v.15).
During our most difficult times, our stability comes from the presence and peace of God. Because He goes with us, we can walk into the future with confidence. —David McCasland
I never walk alone, Christ walks beside me,
He is the dearest Friend I've ever known;
With such a Friend to comfort and to guide me,
I never, no, I never walk alone. —Ackley
© 1952, The Rodeheaver Company

Every loss leaves a space that only God's presence can fill.

How Does God Keep His Promises? (

08-19-2005, 11:57 AM
August 11, 2005
Why Do I Sigh?

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 (

I turned my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun. —Ecclesiastes 2:20

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 21-23 ( According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a 15-year-old girl yawned continually for 5 weeks in 1888. No details were given as to the reason for the girl's plight.
It made me wonder why we yawn. Why does a person suddenly stretch his mouth wide open, take a deep breath, and give forth a sigh? The answer is that shallow breathing, warm stuffy air, or nervousness can deplete the oxygen in the body. So our Creator-Designer equipped us with a deep-breath reflex that sends a rush of oxygen to the rescue. Aside from this technical explanation, a yawn or a sigh usually signals nervousness, tiredness, or boredom.
Then there's the "sigh" of the soul. Reading Ecclesiastes, we can almost hear Solomon sigh as he tried one thing after another in an effort to find meaning. Time after time his spirit reacted to various situations, only to cry, "All is vanity." Everything he touched produced emptiness (1:2; 2:11). He finally realized that nothing satisfies except to fear God and keep His commandments (12:13).
Lord, help us see that our sighs of disappointment with the pleasures and things of this life are meant to bring us to You. You alone give eternal significance to everything we pursue. —Mart De Haan
Christian, are you disappointed
With the world and all around?
Turn your eyes from earth to heaven,
Where true joys may all be found. —Anon.

Once we've feasted on the goodness of God, nothing else will satisfy.

Why In The World Am I Here? (

08-19-2005, 11:58 AM
August 12, 2005
No Regrets

1 Peter 4:12-19 (

The Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. —Matthew 16:27

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 24-26 ( A little girl who needed surgery was terrified. As an encouragement, her parents promised to give her something she had wanted for a long time—a kitten. The operation went well, but as the anesthesia was wearing off the youngster was heard mumbling to herself, "This sure is a lousy way to get a cat!"
Christians who endure hardship in serving the Lord will never feel that way when they look back on their trials. It's true that "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24). He also assured them that when He returns to earth, "He will reward each according to his works" (v.27).
Paul said our suffering for Christ isn't worthy "to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). And Peter told us, "Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:13).
Believers who endure hardship for Christ count it a privilege to be identified with their Savior. Suffering for Him brings a sure reward—with no regrets. —Richard De Haan
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ. —Rusthoi
© Renewal 1969, Singspiration, Inc.

Serving the Lord is an investment with eternal dividends.

Why Would A Good God Allow Suffering? (

08-19-2005, 11:58 AM
August 13, 2005
A Walk With Whitaker

Genesis 1:20-25 (

Let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens. —Genesis 1:20

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 27-29 (

When my dog Whitaker and I take our morning walk through the deep woods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the air is filled with sound. Birds of many species break the early morning silence with their songs.
Sometimes it's a steady chirp-chirp-chirp—probably a sparrow. It could be the lilting melody of a robin or the happy trill of a proud cardinal. At times it's a sustained, single-note call from some unfamiliar bird. Then come the harsh squawks of a blue jay or the raucous caw of a raven. Then a little group of chickadees will flit their way through the trees, repeating their "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" sounds.
"Isn't God great!" I say to Whit, who seems to have chipmunks on his mind. I thank God for the great gift of hearing and the wonderful variety of sounds with which He fills His woods. He created hundreds of varieties of birds, each with its own color and habits and call (Genesis 1:20-21). "God saw that it was good. And God blessed them" (vv.21-22).
As I continue my walk with Whitaker, my heart is filled with thankfulness to God for the multitude of sights and sounds and colors and species that enrich our world. I praise Him for His creativity in not only forming our world but making it so beautiful—and good. —Dave Egner
This is my Father's world—
The birds their carols raise;
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker's praise. —Babcock

In nature we hear the voice of God.

Celebrating The Wonder Of A Tree (
Celebrating The Wonder Of Water (

08-19-2005, 11:59 AM
August 14, 2005
Bellyaching And Its Cure

Matthew 20:1-16 (

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. —1 Corinthians 13:4

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 30-32 (

A mentally impaired man always shook hands with his pastor after each service. But he often made critical comments like these: "You preach too long." "Your sermons are boring." "You talk about yourself too much." Distressed, the pastor mentioned this to a deacon, who replied, "Oh, don't worry about him. All he does is parrot what he hears others say."
Grumbling is an all-too-common sin among Christians, and some are chronic complainers. They are skilled at finding something wrong with anyone who is actively trying to serve the Lord. And undoubtedly all of us have done some bellyaching.
The best cure for this sinful habit is Christian love—something easy to talk about but difficult to practice. First, we must consciously desire God's best for everyone. This love "suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; . . . love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil" (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Then, as we depend on the Lord, we must put these attitudes into practice.
The next time you feel like finding fault with someone, resist that impulse and look for a way to do good to that person (Galatians 6:10). Do this diligently, and in time you will be cured of your bellyaching. —Herb Vander Lugt
I would not criticize the one who works,
The one who listens to God's Word and heeds;
But I would criticize myself, dear Lord,
Confess to You my faithless words and deeds. —Hess

Don't find a fault—find a remedy.

The Compassion Of Jesus (

08-19-2005, 12:00 PM
August 15, 2005
It's Beautiful!

Mark 14:3-9 (

Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me." —Mark 14:6

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 33-36 (

After being away on business, Terry wanted to pick up some small gifts for his children. The clerk at the airport gift shop recommended a number of costly items. "I don't have that much money with me," he said. "I need something less expensive." The clerk tried to make him feel that he was being cheap. But Terry knew his children would be happy with whatever he gave them, because it came from a heart of love. And he was right—they loved the gifts he bought.
During Jesus' last visit to the town of Bethany, Mary wanted to show her love for Him (Mark 14:3-9). So she brought "an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard" and anointed Him (v.3). The disciples asked angrily, "Why this waste?" (Matthew 26:8). Jesus told them to stop troubling her, for "she has done a good work for Me" (Mark 14:6). Another translation reads, "She has done a beautiful thing to Me." Jesus delighted in her gift, for it came from a heart of love. Even anointing Him for burial was beautiful!
What would you like to give to Jesus to show your love? Your time, talent, treasure? It doesn't matter if it's costly or inexpensive, whether others understand or criticize. Whatever is given from a heart of love is beautiful to Him. —Anne Cetas
With thankful hearts give praise to Jesus
For His blessings without end;
Let's give to Him our full devotion—
He's our Savior and our Friend. —D. De Haan

A healthy heart beats with love for Jesus.

What Does It Take To Follow Christ? (

08-19-2005, 12:00 PM
August 16, 2005
Handyman Genius

Ephesians 4:11-16 (

He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, . . . for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry. —Ephesians 4:11-12

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 37-39 (

My father-in-law Pete is a genius. No, he didn't develop any scientific theories like Einstein did. His genius is that of a handyman. Just ask him about an ailing furnace or a clogged garbage disposal. He can intuitively diagnose the problem and come up with a solution. When my in-laws visit, it looks like a home repair TV show. I often take notes. In many ways, as I watch Pete, I am equipped to do the repairs on my own.
In the church, there are spiritual leaders whose job it is to equip us for ministry. In Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, he wrote about equipping the people for service (Ephesians 4:11-12). The word used here for "equip" is the same one used to describe the disciples' mending of their nets when Jesus called them into service (Mark 1:16-20). For 3 years, Jesus "mended holes" in their "ministry nets" so they could be effective fishers of men (v.17).
If you don't know how to get started in finding and participating in a ministry, watch for people who can show you how it's done. Observe the way they use the Bible, pray, and work with people. Soon you will find that the Lord is using you more effectively in the lives of others. All you need is to be equipped. —Dennis Fisher
By God's design, there lies in wait for you
Important work that no one else can do.
Just as the planets find their paths through space,
You too must grow to fill your proper place. —Thayer

Are you following the right leader?

Who Qualifies To Be A Church Leader? (
The Church We Need (

08-19-2005, 12:01 PM
August 17, 2005
Facing Your Enemies

Psalm 27 (

Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. —Psalm 27:3

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 40-42 (

During the US Civil War, fierce fighting was taking place near Moorefield, West Virginia. Because the town was close to enemy lines, it would be controlled one day by Union troops, and the next by Confederates.
In the heart of the town lived an old woman. According to the testimony of a Presbyterian minister, one morning several enemy soldiers knocked on her door and demanded breakfast. She asked them in and said she would prepare something for them.
When the food was ready, she said, "It's my custom to read the Bible and pray before breakfast. I hope you won't mind." They consented, so she took her Bible, opened it at random, and began to read Psalm 27. "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (v.1). She read on through the last verse: "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart" (v.14). When she finished reading, she said, "Let us pray." While she was praying, she heard sounds of the men moving around in the room. When she said "amen" and looked up, the soldiers were gone.
Meditate on Psalm 27. If you are facing enemies, God will use His Word to help you. —Haddon Robinson
When you know the Lord is near,
Face the enemy without fear;
Though an army may surround you,
You are safe—God's arms around you. —Hess

Let your fears drive you to your heavenly Father.

When Fear Seems Overwhelming (

08-19-2005, 12:01 PM
August 18, 2005
Why Love Begets Hate

John 15:18-27 (

[Jesus said], "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you." —John 15:18

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 43-46 (

If there is one thing believers in Jesus should be known for, it is love. The word love appears in Scripture more than 500 times. The essence of the gospel is love, as we see in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world . . . ." The epistle of 1 John 3:16 elaborates: "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us."
Christians are to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13), love their neighbors as themselves (Galatians 5:14), live a life of love (Ephesians 5:2), and love with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18).
So, if Jesus and His followers are all about love, why do some people love to hate us? Why are there, according to one estimate, 200 million persecuted believers in the world today?
Jesus told us why. He said to His disciples, "Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:20). Jesus is the Light. When He walked this earth, people hated Him because He exposed the darkness of their sin. We are now His light in this world (Matthew 5:14); therefore, the world will also hate us (John 15:19).
Our task is to be channels of God's love and light, even if we are hated in return. —Dave Branon
Some will hate you, some will love you;
Some will flatter, some will slight;
Cease from man, and look above you,
Trust in God and do the right. —Macleod

Love in return for love is natural, but love in return for hate is supernatural.

Knowing God Through John (

08-19-2005, 12:02 PM
August 18, 2005
Why Love Begets Hate

John 15:18-27 (

[Jesus said], "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you." —John 15:18

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 43-46 (

If there is one thing believers in Jesus should be known for, it is love. The word love appears in Scripture more than 500 times. The essence of the gospel is love, as we see in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world . . . ." The epistle of 1 John 3:16 elaborates: "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us."
Christians are to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13), love their neighbors as themselves (Galatians 5:14), live a life of love (Ephesians 5:2), and love with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18).
So, if Jesus and His followers are all about love, why do some people love to hate us? Why are there, according to one estimate, 200 million persecuted believers in the world today?
Jesus told us why. He said to His disciples, "Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:20). Jesus is the Light. When He walked this earth, people hated Him because He exposed the darkness of their sin. We are now His light in this world (Matthew 5:14); therefore, the world will also hate us (John 15:19).
Our task is to be channels of God's love and light, even if we are hated in return. —Dave Branon
Some will hate you, some will love you;
Some will flatter, some will slight;
Cease from man, and look above you,
Trust in God and do the right. —Macleod

Love in return for love is natural, but love in return for hate is supernatural.

Knowing God Through John (

08-19-2005, 12:02 PM
August 19, 2005
Rock Bottom

Psalm 119:65-72 (

It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. —Psalm 119:71

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 47-49 (

I was in my early thirties, a dedicated wife and mother, a Christian worker at my husband's side. Yet inwardly I found myself on a trip nobody wants to take—the trip downward. I was heading for that certain sort of breakdown that most of us resist, the breakdown of my stubborn self-sufficiency.
Finally I experienced the odd relief of hitting rock bottom, where I made an unexpected discovery: The rock on which I had been thrown was none other than Christ Himself. Cast on Him alone, I was in a position to rebuild the rest of my life, this time as a God-dependent person rather than the self-dependent person I had been. My rock-bottom experience became a turning point and one of the most vital spiritual developments of my life.
Most people feel anything but spiritual when they hit bottom. Their misery is often reinforced by Christians who take a very shortsighted view of what the sufferer is going through, and why. But our heavenly Father is well-pleased with what He intends to bring out of such a painful process.
A person who knows the secret of the God-dependent life can say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes" (Psalm 119:71). —Joanie Yoder
Lift up your eyes, discouraged one,
The Lord your help will be;
New strength will come from Him who said,
"For rest, come unto Me." —Anon.

When a Christian hits rock bottom, he finds that Christ is a firm foundation.

When Hope Is Lost (

08-23-2005, 10:45 AM
August 20, 2005
Don't Forget

2 Peter 1:12-21 (

I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. —2 Peter 1:12

Bible In One Year: Jeremiah 50-52 (

How can people who experienced the same event have radically different recollections of what happened? An Associated Press article summarized the results of dozens of studies on human memory: "Far from being an indelible recording, human memory is fragile, incomplete, malleable and highly subject to suggestion."
Memories can change with time. In some cases, people may slightly alter their version of an event with each retelling, much like a fisherman's exaggerated account of "the one that got away." But an objective, factual record can correct the mental wanderings to which we're all susceptible.
Peter wrote two letters to give us an accurate, enduring record of God's truth. "I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. . . . Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things" (2 Peter 1:12,15).
Our fragile memories need constant refreshing through the unchanging record of God's Word, the Bible. Through this reliable reminder, we can guard our thinking against the subtle drift toward a merely human perspective on life.
Throughout the Bible, the Lord's purpose is to stir up our minds so that we don't forget His truth. —David McCasland
God's Word must verify the truth
Of what is wrong or right,
And test what seems so real to me
Of feelings, sense, and sight. —D. De Haan

The best way to renew our minds is to read God's Word daily.

Keeping Our Appointments With God (
10 Reasons To Believe In The Bible (
August 21, 2005
The Prospect Of Heaven

Revelation 22:1-5 (

Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. —1 Corinthians 13:12

Bible In One Year: Lamentations 1-5 (

As I approached my 90th birthday, two emotions surged through my heart. One was certainty, the positive assurance of life to come. And why not? Jesus said, "Because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19).
That assurance, however, is often accompanied by another emotion— curiosity. What will the next world really be like? Even the inspired descriptions of the celestial dwelling that we have in the Bible's last book are inadequate to convey what awaits us. Yet they do intensify our desire to leave this dark earthly existence and to enter that heavenly reality. We read about "a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God," "the tree of life," and "no more curse" (Revelation 22:1-3).
What are your own reactions as you think about the life beyond this life? Perhaps you are not especially curious. But are you blessed with the certainty of heaven, which you can have by faith in Jesus? Think of the words He spoke at the grave of Lazarus: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die" (John 11:25).
Is that promise the foundation of your certainty? You can make it so by believing in Jesus. —Vernon Grounds
How Can We Have The Assurance Of Heaven?
Recognize our sinfulness (Romans 6:23).
Believe Jesus died for us (Acts 16:31).
Receive Him as Savior (John 1:12).
Trust His promise (John 20:31).

What you do with Jesus now determines what He will do with you later.

Safe & Secure (
Where Do We Go From Here? (
August 22, 2005
Keep The Goal In View

1 Timothy 4:1-11 (

Reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. —1 Timothy 4:7

Bible In One Year: 1 Chronicles 1-3 (

Bible scholar William Barclay tells of his walks through the meadow with his bull terrier Rusty. Whenever his dog came to a shallow creek, he jumped in and started removing stones, one by one, dropping them haphazardly on the shore. This pointless activity would go on for hours.
Barclay says that Rusty's strange behavior reminds him of some self-proclaimed experts on the Bible. They expend enormous energy and countless hours trying to interpret obscure passages, but all their effort does nothing to edify themselves or others.
Through the years I have received long letters from people like that. Some show me how to know exactly who the Antichrist will be. Others claim to have found the key to certain Bible mysteries by studying the meaning of names in the lists of genealogies.
Apparently there were some teachers in Ephesus who were trying to impress the believers by weaving myths and fables into their interpretation of the Bible. But what they taught did nothing to promote godliness. It was therefore as pointless as Rusty's stone removal project.
Paul said to Timothy, "Exercise yourself toward godliness." That's the most important goal to keep in view as we study the Bible. —Herb Vander Lugt
Oh, grant us grace, Almighty Lord!
To read and mark Thy holy Word,
Its truths with meekness to receive,
And by its holy precepts live. —Boddome

Don't study the Bible to be able to quote it; study it to obey it.

Knowing God Through The Whole Bible (

08-23-2005, 10:45 AM
August 23, 2005
Spiritual Reupholstering

Ephesians 4:17-24 (

Put on the new man which was created according to God. —Ephesians 4:24

Bible In One Year: 1 Chronicles 4-6 ( When we moved into our home 5 years ago, we discovered that the former owner had left us six dining room chairs. They were covered with fabric of beautiful African art—tasteful zebra stripes. We appreciated the unexpected gifts and used them frequently when entertaining guests.
When we recently moved again, those chairs needed a makeover to match our new decor. So I called an upholsterer and asked, "Shouldn't we just put the new material over the existing fabric?" He responded, "No, you'll ruin the shape of the chair if you just put new material over the old."
The work of God in our lives is similar. He's not interested in merely changing our spiritual appearance. Instead, He intends to replace our character with what is called "the new man," made in the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:24). The flesh has a tendency to perform religious activity, but this is not the work of the Holy Spirit. He will completely transform us on the inside.
But the process is a partnership (Philippians 2:12-13). As we daily lay aside our old behaviors and replace them with godly ones, the God of grace works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
God wants to reupholster us. —Dennis Fisher
Dear Lord, You've given new life to me—
A great and full salvation;
And may the life that others see
Display the transformation. —Hess

When you receive Christ, God's work in you has just begun.

Why Would Anyone Want To Be Holy? (

08-24-2005, 05:34 AM
August 24, 2005
Our Main Calling

Exodus 19:1-8 (

I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. —Exodus 19:4

Bible In One Year: 1 Chronicles 7-9 (

In our performance-driven world, Christians often assume that God's main calling on their lives is to work for Him. But working for Christ should be secondary to our devotion to Him. As Oswald Chambers warned: "The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him."
I encountered this subtle "competitor" soon after the Lord led our family to start a ministry among street addicts. We loved these searching youths, and I devoted my entire attention and energy to helping them experience Christ's saving power.
Then Derek, one of our seekers, ran back to London and to drugs. This loss shocked me into realizing that I had become so absorbed in our work that my devotion to Jesus had lost its importance. God used my distresses as "eagles' wings" to carry me away from my worship of work and back to my first love—Jesus!
God did the same for Israel in Moses' day. He delivered the Hebrews from an impossible taskmaster and brought them on "eagles' wings" back to Himself (Exodus 19:4).
Praise God, Derek soon returned. Meanwhile, I had learned a lesson that's vital for all followers of Jesus. Our God-given work must never compete with our main calling: devotion to Christ. —Joanie Yoder
Striving for souls, I loved the work too well;
Then disappointments came; I could not tell
The reason, till He said, "I am thine all;
Unto Myself I call." —Cowman

Many Christians are strong on service but weak on worship.

What Is Worship? (

08-25-2005, 09:13 AM
August 25, 2005
Broken Cisterns

John 4:9-14 (

They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. —Jeremiah 2:13

Bible In One Year: 1 Chronicles 10-13 ( Picture yourself swinging a pick, digging from dawn to dusk, chiseling a cistern out of the hard, unyielding stone. You stay on the job, working through the biting cold of winter and the blazing heat of summer.
After years of strenuous effort you finally complete the task. Then you step back and wait for your cistern to fill—and it leaks. You discover—too late—that all cisterns, no matter how well constructed, will leak.
The story is a picture of the futility of our attempts to find satisfaction in life. It's an age-old problem.
God told the prophet Jeremiah that His people "have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters." Instead, they had expended their efforts on "broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13).
Are you driven by soul-thirst, yearning for satisfaction? There is a spring of living water, rising from hidden depths, pouring into our hearts, satisfying us even as it makes us thirst for more. Stoop down and drink.
Only God can satisfy your heart. Everything else will deceive and disappoint. "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst," said Jesus. "But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). —David Roper
I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame,
And nothing satisfying there I found;
But to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came,
Where springs of living water did abound. —Peterson
© 1950, Singspiration, Inc.

Only Living Water can quench the driving thirst of the soul.

Religion Or Christ: What's The Difference? (

08-29-2005, 05:11 AM
August 26, 2005
Flee Temptation

2 Timothy 2:14-26 (

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace. —2 Timothy 2:22

Bible In One Year: 1 Chronicles 14-16 ( According to Greek mythology, sirens (sea nymphs) inhabited certain Mediterranean coastal areas. As ships passed by, the sirens sang such enchanting songs that the sailors, drawn by the music, would jump overboard and drown.
Odysseus was on a ship that had to pass that way. Aware of the powerful allurement of those songs, he ordered that he be bound with ropes to the mast and that the crewmen's ears be sealed with wax to block out the tantalizing music of the sirens. Having taken such precautions, Odysseus and the rest of the crew were able to sail past without yielding to the lure of the sea nymphs.
As Christians, we should be prepared to resist any temptations to evil. We must hate sin and be so serious about not giving in to its allurements that we are determined to deny our desire to participate in it.
Are there recurring sins in your life that have been defeating you? Drastic measures must be taken. You must keep away from any enticements that you know would play into your weakness. The best protection against temptation is to heed the warning Paul gave to Timothy: "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness" (2 Timothy 2:22). That was good counsel then; it's still good today. —Richard De Haan
It's wise to flee when tempted—
A fool is one who'd stay;
For those who toy with evil
Soon learn it doesn't pay. —D. De Haan

The best way to escape temptation is to flee to God.

When We Just Can't Stop (
Resisting The Lure (

08-29-2005, 05:11 AM
August 27, 2005
Roughed Up To Grow Up

Hebrews 12:1-11 (

Do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction. —Proverbs 3:11

Bible In One Year: 1 Chronicles 17-19 ( Many Christians have to be lovingly roughed up before they will grow up. Although the heavenly Father never allows His children to suffer needlessly, sometimes He lets them experience hard knocks so they'll become mature believers.
The need for "bad weather" to stimulate growth can be seen in nature. Scientists say that the seeds of some desert bushes must be damaged by a storm before they will germinate. They are covered with hard shells that keep out water. This allows them to lie dormant on the sand for several seasons until conditions are right for growth.
When heavy rains finally come, the little seeds are carried away in a flash flood. They are banged against sand, gravel, and rocks as they rush down the slopes. Eventually they settle in a depression where the soil has become damp to a depth of several feet. Only then do they begin to grow, for moisture is absorbed through the nicks and scratches they picked up on their downhill plunge.
Similarly, difficulties may be needed to wake up a sleeping saint. This may hurt for a while, but if we yield to the Lord we will find that life's bruises can mark the beginning of spiritual advances. We may prefer to remain "seeds," but He wants us to become "fruitful trees." —Mart De Haan
Should Thy mercy send me sorrow, toil, and woe,
Or should pain attend me on my path below,
Grant that I may never fail Thy hand to see,
Grant that I may ever cast my care on Thee. —Montgomery

There are no gains without pains.

Knowing God Through Proverbs (

08-29-2005, 05:12 AM
August 29, 2005
Sweet Company

John 14:15-26 (

The Spirit of truth . . . dwells with you and will be in you. —John 14:17

Bible In One Year: 1 Chronicles 24-26 ( The elderly woman in the nursing home didn't speak to anyone or request anything. It seemed she merely existed, rocking in her creaky old chair. She didn't have many visitors, so one young nurse would often go into her room on her breaks. Without asking the woman questions to try to get her to talk, she simply pulled up another chair and rocked with her. After several months, the elderly woman said to her, "Thank you for rocking with me." She was grateful for the companionship.
Before He went back to heaven, Jesus promised to send a constant companion to His disciples. He told them He would not leave them alone but would send the Holy Spirit to be in them (John 14:17). That promise is still true for believers in Jesus today. Jesus said that the triune God makes His "home" in us (v.23).
The Lord is our close and faithful companion throughout our entire life. Recording artist Scott Krippayne expresses this truth in song: "In my deepest night He is the guiding star; in my sinfulness He is the forgiving heart; a willing ear for each silent prayer, a shoulder for burdens I cannot bear. Sweet company from now through all eternity."
We can enjoy His sweet company today. —Anne Cetas
In my bed of thorns, He is the fragrant rose;
In my wilderness, He's the stream that flows;
A shelter built with loving grace,
His refuge shall be my dwelling place. —Krippayne
© 2002, New Spring Publishing, Inc./Chips and Salsa Songs

The Christian's heart is the Holy Spirit's home.

How Can I Be Filled With The Holy Spirit? (