Friday, February 28, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
Friday, February 21, 2014
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Monday, February 17, 2014
Where starting the New Week with this Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. —Ecclesiastes 5:2 God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason,” the saying goes. The ability to listen is an essential life skill. Counselors tell us to listen to each other. Spiritual leaders tell us to listen to God. But hardly anyone says, “Listen to yourself.” I’m not suggesting that we have an inner voice that always knows the right thing to say. Nor am I saying we should listen to ourselves instead of to God and others. I’m suggesting that we need to listen to ourselves in order to learn how others might be receiving our words. The Israelites could have used this advice when Moses was leading them out of Egypt. Within days of their miraculous deliverance, they were complaining (Ex. 16:2). Although their need for food was legitimate, their way of expressing the need was not (v.3). Whenever we speak out of fear, anger, ignorance, or pride—even if what we say is true—those who listen will hear more than our words. They hear emotion. But they don’t know whether the emotion comes from love and concern or disdain and disrespect, so we risk misunderstanding. If we listen to ourselves before speaking out loud, we can judge our hearts before our careless words harm others or sadden our God. —Julie Ackerman Link Lord, help me to think before I speak, to check my heart. Help me to control my tongue and to express myself clearly so that I won’t cause dissension. Set a guard on my lips. Words spoken rashly do more harm than good.
Friday, February 14, 2014
On this Friday which is Valentine's Day the week has come to an end Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. —John 15:13 During the rehearsal for my brother’s wedding ceremony, my husband snapped a picture of the bride and groom as they faced each other in front of the pastor. When we looked at the photograph later, we noticed that the camera’s flash had illuminated a metal cross in the background, which appeared as a glowing image above the couple. The photograph reminded me that marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for the church as shown on the cross. When the Bible instructs husbands to love their wives (Eph. 5:25), God compares that kind of faithful, selfless affection to Christ’s love for His followers. Because Christ sacrificed His life for the sake of love, we are all to love each other (1 John 4:10-11). He died in our place, so that our sin would not keep us separate from God for eternity. He lived out His words to the disciples: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Many of us suffer from the pain of abandonment, rejection, and betrayal. Despite all of this, through Christ we can understand the sacrificial, compassionate, and enduring nature of true love. Today, remember that you are loved by God. Jesus said so with His life. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt Love divine, so great and wondrous, Deep and mighty, pure, sublime! Coming from the heart of Jesus— Just the same through tests of time. —Blom Nothing speaks more clearly of God’s love than the cross of Jesus. Bible in a year: Leviticus 15-16; Matthew 27:1-26 Insight In the ancient Roman hierarchy, to be a “friend of Caesar” meant having a close relationship with the highest seat of power. Such “friends” knew the emperor so well that they actually opened his mail and carried on his correspondence. They also showed a willingness to serve the emperor as he directed. So it is for the follower of Christ today. The Lord Jesus has called us “friends” (John 15:15). He has let us in on His intimacy with His Father and wants us to share His message of love with others. Certainly, to be the friend of Jesus is to be in relationship with the highest seat of power (Phil. 2:5-11).
Monday, February 10, 2014
Starting the New Week off with I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. —Psalm 59:16 In Wales, the music of men’s chorus groups is deeply engrained in the culture. Prior to World War II, one Welsh glee club had a friendly yet competitive rivalry with a German glee club, but that bond was replaced with animosity during and after the war. The tension was gradually overcome, though, by the message on the trophy shared by the two choruses: “Speak with me, and you’re my friend. Sing with me, and you’re my brother.” The power of music to heal and help is a gift from God that comforts many. Perhaps that is why the Psalms speak so deeply to us. There we find lyrics that connect with our hearts, allowing us to speak to God from the depth of our spirits. “But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble” (Ps. 59:16). Amazingly, David wrote this song as he was being hunted down by men seeking to kill him! Despite his circumstances, David remembered God’s power and mercy, and singing of them encouraged him to go on. May our God give us a song today that will remind us of His goodness and greatness, no matter what we may face. —Bill Crowder This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long; This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long. —Crosby “I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel.” —Judges 5:3 (nlt) Bible in a year: Leviticus 8-10; Matthew 25:31-46 Insight David did not immediately assume the throne after Samuel the prophet anointed him king of Israel. In fact, despite the promise of God, David had to run for his life. Today’s psalm was written by David while he was fleeing from his predecessor Saul. Here, David describes the actions of evil men (vv.6-7) but expresses confidence in the sovereignty of God (vv.8-10).
Friday, February 7, 2014
It's Friday. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:16 Reading the book of Judges, with its battles and mighty warriors, can sometimes feel like reading about comic book superheroes. We have Deborah, Barak, Gideon, and Samson. However, in the line of judges (or deliverers), we also find Othniel. The account of his life is brief and straightforward (Judges 3:7-11). No drama. No display of prowess. But what we do see is what God did through Othniel: “The raised up a deliverer” (v.9), “the Spirit of the came upon him” (v.10), and “the delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand” (v.10). The Othniel account helps us focus on what is most important—the activity of God. Interesting stories and fascinating people can obscure that. We end up concentrating on those and fail to see what the Lord is doing. When I was young, I wished I could be more talented so that I could point more people to Christ. But I was looking at the wrong thing. God often uses ordinary people for His extraordinary work. It is His light shining through our lives that glorifies God and draws others to Him (Matt. 5:16). When others look at our life, it is more important that they see God—not us. —Poh Fang Chia May the Word of God dwell richly In my heart from hour to hour, So that all may see I triumph Only through His power. Wilkinson Our limited ability highlights God’s limitless power. Insight The book of Judges gives the story of the people of Israel in the Promised Land, but without their great leaders of the past—Moses and Joshua—and before the first of the kings. This lack of leadership resulted in repeated seasons of rebellion and idolatry during which God would raise up judges to defeat the Israelites’ enemies and to guide the wayward people back to Himself. The story of this era is a difficult one, summarized in the words of Judges 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Monday, February 3, 2014
Starting the New Week Off with Resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. —Romans 14:13 I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions since 1975. I haven’t needed any new ones—I’m still working on old ones like these: write at least a short note in my journal every day; make a strong effort to read my Bible and pray each day; organize my time; try to keep my room clean (this was before I had a whole house to keep clean). This year, however, I am adding a new resolution that I found in Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (14:13). Although this resolution is old (about 2,000 years), it is one that we should renew annually. Like believers in Rome centuries ago, believers today sometimes make up rules for others to follow and insist on adherence to certain behaviors and beliefs that the Bible says little or nothing about. These “stumbling blocks” make it difficult for followers of Jesus to continue in the way of faith that He came to show us—that salvation is by grace not works (Gal. 2:16). It requires only that we trust in His death and resurrection for forgiveness. We can celebrate this good news of Christ in the coming year by resolving not to set up hurdles that cause people to stumble. —Julie Ackerman Link Thank You, Lord, that You sent the Holy Spirit to do the work of convincing and convicting. May I be content with my own assignment: to do what leads to peace and edification. Faith is the hand that receives God’s gift, then faith is the feet that walk with God.