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Showing posts from October, 2018

Love No Matter What

Bible Reading: Romans 5:6-11

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.   Romans 5:6Chris and Phil were lifelong chums, friends since meeting at the playground wading pool when they were two years old. They had never even had a fight—until eighth grade, that is, when Andrew Patterson walked into their lives. Andrew’s family had moved to their town from out of state at the beginning of the school year. One Saturday when Chris told Phil he would meet him at the roller-skating rink the way he always did, he was shocked. Andrew had already asked Phil to meet him there. And Phil had said yes!So will Chris still be friends with Phil, or will he yell, “You dirty rat!” and never talk to him again? The answer depends on whether or not Chris has learned how to love like Jesus loved—unconditionally—no strings attached.Jesus knows what it means to be let down and rejected by friends. When Jesus was arrested, “all the disciples deserted him and fled” …

Steer Clear!

Bible Reading: Proverbs 4:14-15

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.   Proverbs 4:14-15, NIVA WEALTHY MAN was once searching for a chauffeur to drive his limousine. Many people applied for the job, but the millionaire picked only a few to take a driving test.The millionaire sat comfortably in the back of the limousine and told the first applicant to begin driving. As they drove along a narrow mountain road, the millionaire called to the driver, “See how close you can steer us to the edge of the cliff without falling off.” The driver, eager to show his skill, steered the expensive car within a few feet of the dangerous bluff. When they returned to the mansion, the millionaire said, “Thank you. We’ll let you know.”The second driver then slipped behind the steering wheel. Again, the millionaire said, “See how close you can steer us to the edge of the cliff without falling off.” The driver,…

Loving People … Honestly

Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:14-16

We will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.   Ephesians 4:15Talk about it: Suppose you spotted a friend asleep in the middle of the street and a car was approaching. What would you do?No question, right? You would run to the middle of the road and shake your friend awake—even if you had to slap him or splash a soda in his face. You would point to the oncoming car. You would grab him by the hand and run for safety.That one was easy. But sometimes we see our friends making poor choices—choices that in the long run can be just as destructive as waking up in the middle of a road to meet an oncoming car face-first. Maybe you have friends in the habit of lying, stealing, or disobeying their parents. Or perhaps you know someone interested in smoking or even doing drugs. You know what you shouldsay and what you want to say. But it’s a little harder to spit out the words, isn’t it?O…

What’s So Funny?

Bible Reading: Ephesians 5:4

Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.   Ephesians 5:4So have you learned any good jokes in the locker room—or at a slumber party? Do you have any you’d like to share right now—during family devotions? Maybe not.You probably know firsthand how quickly guy-talk and girl-talk and even guy-girl talk can slide into the category of rudely crude. You’ve maybe heard some jokes that were hysterically funny—but that sizzled your ears.Talk about it: Is it okay for the same mouth that says “I love Jesus” to also say “Did you hear the one about. . .”? Why—or why not?Maybe you wonder what the fuss is about. Then answer this: If dirty jokes are no big deal, why don’t you run home to tell them to your mom? If you won’t share your most comic material with Mom, it’s good to understand why. Fact is, crude humor makes us think our bodies are dirty… that it’s okay to make fun of the opposite sex … and t…

Two Towers of Strength

Bible Reading: Jude 1:20-24

But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foun­dation of your holy faith. And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit.   Jude 1:20THE GOLDEN GATE Bridge stretches across San Francisco Bay in California. This bridge, perhaps the most famous bridge in the whole world, was completed in 1937. It’s one of the longest suspension bridges in the world, stretching for 8,891 feet (or one and three-quarter miles—that’s almost thirty football fields long!).Now, the Golden Gate Bridge spans a channel where very strong winds blow. That area has been hit by many earthquakes, some of them strong enough to topple buildings and collapse expressways. Yet the Golden Gate Bridge has withstood those earthquakes and is as strong today as when it was built.You want to know how the Golden Gate can stand while many other structures all around it have cracked or crumbled?Part of the secret is in the foundation. You see, the builders of the Golden …

Bob’s Secret

Bible Reading: Psalm 44:1-8

Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes.   Psalm 44:5THE MOVIE What about Bob? starred Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss in an odd comedy about a psychologist and one of his patients, a man afraid of almost everything. Bob, the patient, follows the psychologist to his vacation home. The psychologist is angry at Bob, but the doctor’s family thinks Bob is fun. In fact, they even take Bob sailing—his first time—and tie him to the mast so he won’t chicken out!When Bob arrives back at the dock, he sees his psychiatrist and begins yelling excitedly, “I sailed! I sailed! I’m a sailor! I actually went sailing!” Later, a calmer Bob explains to the doctor’s son (who has a few fears of his own), “I just let the boat do all the work.. . . That’s my secret.”Bob’s “secret” is actually a lot wiser than it may sound.You see, a lot of people—people who love God and want to obey him—think it’s their job to do good things and a…

God’s Version of Superglue

Bible Reading:   Genesis 2:18-25

A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Genesis 2:24There’s an incredible secret you need to know about married love. And you’re old enough to know all about it. Ready? Here it is: If you want to have a long-lasting, love-filled marriage someday, you need one special ingredient: superglue.You might be thinking, Whoa! God wants me and my spouse to glue our eye­brows together so we’ll always see eye-to-eye?Not exactly. God has a deeper kind of glue. Genesis 2:24 commands a man to be glued to his wife. That’s what “joined” means. When husband and wife are glued to­gether with God’s superglue, they become one in a marriage that will last.Falling in love—the emotional side of love—is a lot like the glue stick you have in your desk at school. It isn’t strong enough to hold a marriage together. Even in the best relationships, feelings come and go. They don’t make an unbreakable bond or a lifelong marriage.…

Jukebox Way

Bible Reading: James 1:19-25

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.   James 1:22, NIVYOU’RE ON VACATION with your parents. You wanted to go on a two-week tour of the best amusement parks in the world, but your mom and dad overruled you. You’re going to the International Jukebox Museum instead.You’ve been in the car with your parents and your little sister for four days, and if she sings “If You’re Happy and You Know It” one more time, you’ll knock yourself unconscious against the window. Your dad has stopped the car only once in those four days, announcing as you poured yourself out of the car, “We leave in three minutes.” Lately, however, you’ve noticed that the scenery seems to be repeating itself.“Are we lost?” you ask.“No,” Dad says in a voice of exasperation. “We’re almost there.”“Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom,” your little sister says.“Why don’t you just ask for directions?” your mom suggests.“I don’t need directions. I know where I’m …

Divorce Is a Dirty Word

Bible Reading:   Mark 10:1-10

Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.   Mark 10:8-9Mike and Jessica were both high school students when they met in the supermarket where they worked as clerks. They started to date and fell madly in love. They married before graduation and before their first anniversary Jessica gave birth to an adorable baby. But during their second year, Mike and Jessica fell out of love almost as quickly as they had fallen in. They ended their Cinderella romance with a divorce.Most of us know some couples—acquaintances, neighbors, friends, maybe even parents—who have become victims of the divorce epidemic that rages in our culture. Sadly—and for a variety of reasons—divorce happens among Christians too. Divorce is a topic many Christians argue about today.Divorce was a hot issue in Bible times too. The Old Testament referred to a man divorcing his wife if he “discovers something about her that is shameful” (emp…

“Mister, Are You God?”

Bible Reading: Psalm 145:8-13

The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.   Psalm 145:13, NIVCHRISTIAN YOUTH SPEAKER and author Doug Fields has shared a story of an event that happened after World War II.At the end of that devastating war, much of Europe lay in ruins. Buildings had been bombed and burned out, streets lay under dust and rubble, and many orphaned children wandered the streets, picking among the ruins for clothes and food.Early one morning an American soldier was driving his jeep through the war-torn streets of London. As he turned a corner, he spied a little boy, dressed in rags. The boy stood with his nose pressed against the steamed window of a pastry shop. Inside, the cook was working a large lump of dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts.The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb and stopped. He got out, strode into the little shop, and bought a dozen doughnuts. Then he left the store and offered the bag of fresh doughnuts to the boy. “Here…

Soaring Above the Storm

Bible Reading:   Isaiah 40:25-31

Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.   Isaiah 40:31Terry just got a D on his report card. Carlos was cut from the team. Shannon was back-stabbed by a friend. Situations like these can be heartbreaking. And for some the pain goes even deeper—like Melinda, whose mom and dad are going through a divorce. Or Suzanne, whose best friend was killed last month in a car accident. Or Corey, who was just diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.Have you ever noticed that no one escapes hard times? Some of those times are life-and-death situations. Others are just frustrations or setbacks. But without exception, they all cause agonizing pain. They make us feel like our world is caving in. And at times like these there is nothing we need more than an eye-popping look at who God is. Think about this wonderful description in Isaiah 40:• God is all-powerful…

Guessing Game

Bible Reading: Isaiah 46:3-10

To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?   Isaiah 46:5IN THE MOOD for a quick guessing game? Let’s try it.You already know that a pattern is a form or a model that’s imitated in making something else. For example, you may use a pattern to make a dress. You may use a cookie cutter to make cookies in a certain “pattern.” Right? Well, let’s play a guessing game about different kinds of patterns. Circle the answers you think are correct.1. The pattern for the shape of an airplane isa. the shape of an ocean vessel.b. the human body.c. the body of a bird.2. The pattern for a duck hunter’s decoy isa. Donald Duck.b. Daffy Duck.c. a real duck.3. The pattern for everything that is “good” and “right” isa. individual opinion.b. human tradition.c. the nature and character of God.You probably don’t have to be told that the shape of an airplane is patterned mostly after the body of a bird, and that the pattern for a duck hunter’s decoy is the shape and coloring of a…

Being the Right Kind of Friend

Bible Reading:   James 1:17-18

Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above. . . . He never changes or casts shifting shadows.   James 1:17Emily’s fifth-grade class was in the middle of a math test when Mrs. Chen got called out into the hall. Emily noticed the teacher had left the room, but she quickly focused her brain back on the word problem she was working on.“Psst, Emmy,” she heard from behind her. She glanced over her shoulder and saw her friend Charlotte leaning forward trying to get her attention. “I’m stuck. What’s the answer on number five?”“Shhh,” Emily whispered. “I can’t help you. That would be cheating.”“Don’t be a dork,” Charlotte said. “You know I didn’t get a chance to study last night.”Emily turned back to her own desk, and then she heard the words she dreaded to hear: “Come on, Emmy. If you’re really my friend, you’ll help me with this test.”Talk about it: Was Charlotte right? Does true friendship really mean you’ll do whatever your friends ask, even when …

“The Smartest Kid in the World”

Bible Reading:   Proverbs 9:9-12

If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.   Proverbs 9:12THREE PEOPLE—a minister and two kids—once went on a short sight-seeing flight in a small, four-passenger plane. One of the kids had just been honored in a national newsmagazine as “the smartest kid in the world.”Suddenly, the pilot shouted to his passengers over the roar of the engine. “We’ve got a big problem!” he said. “Our gas tank has a leak in it, and we’re going to run out of gas in just a couple minutes. We’re going to have to jump!”“That’s not so bad,” the minister said, forcing a nervous smile. “I’ve always wanted to learn to skydive!”The pilot shook his head. “We only have three parachutes. One of us isn’t going to make it! I’ve got a family. I can’t leave them alone without a father.”“Well, I’m the smartest kid in the world,” said the one kid. “I may be the only person who can discover a cure for cancer or AIDS or something l…

The Futility of Hoop-Jumping

Bible Reading:   1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you.   1 Corinthians 1:26Have you ever seen pro athletes from rival teams being interviewed before a big game? They come on camera all pumped, talking up their team—and trashing the other guys. “We have the strongest defense in the nation,” they brag. “There’s no way they’re getting past us today.”Bragging is part of the game. But it’s pointless. No matter what athletes say and no matter how sure they are of stomping the other team, the game is still won or lost on the field.It’s easy to laugh at sports figures who try to impress others with their triumphs. But Christians often fall into the trap of relying on all the good things we’ve done to win God’s favor.Take a vote: Which of these great deeds are good enough to impress God—and maybe get someone into heaven?• I got straight A’s on all my Sunday school report cards.• I pl…

Thirteen Ways to Say, “I Love You”

Bible Reading: John 14:18-21

Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me. John 14:21THERE ARE MANY, many different ways to tell someone, “I love you.” You can• say, “I love you!”• sing a song;• mouth the words “I love you”;• give him or her a hug;• send flowers;• send a card or valentine;• write his or her name in the snow;• bake him or her a dozen cookies;• read him or her a story;• scatter tiny construction-paper hearts in• throw a kiss;   his or her lunch box or bag• clean his or her room; • give that person a commandBet that last one surprised you, didn’t it? After all, who tells someone else “I love you” by giving that person a command?A lot of people do. Your parents probably do it all the time. They say, “Don’t skateboard in the street”; “Fasten your seat belt”; and “Don’t strap a giant firecracker to your back and try to shoot yourself to the moon.” They don’t give you such commands because they hate you. They don’t tell you those things because they’ve got nothing …

Take It Away, Jesus

Bible Reading:   1 Corinthians 1:21-25

Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful wisdom of God.   1 Corinthians 1:24There once was an old scientist who traveled from university to university delivering lectures on his field of expertise. After long weeks of travel, the scientist and Bob, his chauffeur, became friends.The scientist tired of giving the same lecture over and over. So one day—knowing his chauffeur had heard his lecture so many times he had it memorized—the scientist asked Bob to give the lecture for him.Bob gave it a whirl, and the lecture went off perfectly. No one knew that the “scientist” talking to the audience was the chauffeur and that the “chauffeur” sitting in the front row was actually the scientist. There was even a question-and-answer time, but Bob had heard the scientist answer the same questions so many times that he answered them all perfectly.Then someone asked a new question—a question Bob couldn’t answer on his own. “That’s a great question,” he …

Getting Oriented

Bible Reading: John 14:15-17

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.   John 14:16-17HOW MANY DIFFERENT sports can you name? Name as many as you can.How many can you think of? You probably named baseball, right? And football, basketball, and soccer. Maybe even tennis, hockey, or track. But there’s one sport you’d probably never guess in a hundred years. It’s called “orienteering.”Orienteering is a sport or pastime that’s becoming more and more popular. Participants go out into a wild area (a forest, field, desert, and so on) with almost nothing except a map and a compass. Then, using the map, compass, and their “orienteering” skills, they find their way to some distant destination. People enjoy the sport because it’s sort of like solving a puzzle or finding your way through a maze.Well, all of us are constantly doing something similar. We may not be in a forest or field, but we often fi…

Down But Not Out

Bible Reading:   Genesis 37:18-28; 50:20God turned into good what you meant for evil.   Genesis 50:20Joseph was in a bad spot. He had tight relationships with God and his father—a marvelous thing. Those special friendships, however, made his older brothers extremely jealous—a hazardous thing. His brothers were so jealous, in fact, that they thought about killing him. Instead, they came up with a cruel plan to sell Joseph into slavery and report to their father that he had been killed by wild animals. Not only was Joseph sold as a slave, but he wound up in an Egyptian prison for refusing to do wrong.You might not have experienced exactly what Joseph did, but maybe you’ve been rejected by friends. Maybe you’ve been punished for something you didn’t do or ridiculed for doing what was right.Talk about it: When people have teased you or made you feel left out, did you wonder what God was doing while you were in pain? What did you expect him to do to make things right?We can only guess what…

Coming off Your High Horse

Bible Reading: Hebrews 11:24-27Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.   Matthew 11:29DURING THE AMERICAN War for Independence, a group of soldiers had been assigned to cut down some trees to make a bridge across a creek. The work was very hard, and the men were making slow progress. As they grunted and sweated, a man rode up on a horse and looked over the scene.The man on the horse spoke to one of the soldiers, who was not working but was telling the others what they should do. “You don’t have enough men, do you?” the man on the horse asked.“No,” said the man who had been giving orders.“Why don’t you lend a hand yourself?” the man on the horse asked.“Me?” the soldier answered in a shocked tone. “Why, sir, I am a corporal!”“Ah,” said the man on the horse, as if the soldier’s rank explained everything. He got off his horse and helped the men. When the trees were all cut down and the bridge was built, he got back on…

Babel Babble

Bible Reading:   Genesis 11:1-9Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.   Proverbs 16:18IMAGINE WHAT IT would have been like to have been a kid living in the Plain of Shinar thousands of years ago. You wake up in your corner of the family tent and turn on your radio. (OK, so they didn’t have radio back then. Just play along, OK?)“Goood mornin’, Plain of Shinar! This is Wolfman Mash, broadcasting live from the site of the Tower of Babel, the greatest real estate development the human race has ever seen!” Wolfman Mash continues. “We’ve got the latest hits by Dust II Men, The Artist Formerly Known as Arphaxad, and Tupac Shinar—but first, I’m sitting here with Nimrod, one of the builders of this amazing tower. Thanks for joining me and my listeners this morning, Nimrod.”“We are so excited about this project, Wolfman,” another voice says. “When it’s done it should convince everyone that we don’t need any superstitious belief in a god or creator. We are ascending our ow…

The Not-So-Great Wall

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 7:11-14If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.   2 Chronicles 7:14IT’S THE ONLY man-made thing on earth that can be seen from outer space. It’s the longest structure ever built entirely by hand, winding for nearly four thousand miles. It’s the Great Wall of China.The Great Wall of China was started about four hundred years before Jesus was born, and it continued to be built off and on for about two thousand years. Although it has collapsed in places, it stretches from the east coast of China all the way into the north-central part of the country. The Chinese people built it to keep other people from attacking and invading their country. To this day, the Great Wall is a great source of pride among the Chinese. Tourists come to see it. Historians study it. And scientists use it to study earthquakes.But some …

THE GOODNESS OF GOD

Romans 2:4 (NKJV) Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

This verse is so powerful!  It says that God’s goodness is what leads us to repentance.  It is not banging people over the head, or telling them what a terrible sinner they are, that leads them to God.  It is sharing God’s goodness with them, and letting them know that God loves them and is out for their good.

I know in my life I have seen God’s goodness again and again, and it has brought me to the place of opening my heart and getting rid of junk.  I have not seen God whacking me and telling me that I am a no-good sinner and that I am a waste in the Kingdom of God.  No!  He is always there to love me and help me get back on track.

I remember as a child I had a figure-eight racetrack, and to keep a car on track there was a little pin on the bottom of the car that fit into a groove on the racetrack.  Whenever the car would get off t…

SO WHAT IF THE WORLD HATES US

1 John 3:13 (NKJV) Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.

Here we have a short verse, yet it says so much.  We are living in a time when this world is not going for godliness and righteousness, but for darkness and sin.  But the Scripture says that we are the light of the world, and to let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.

Remember that where sin abounds, grace abounds much more!  If we are to be light and salt, then we need to be the brightest light we can be, and the saltiest salt that we can be.  I heard one person say it like this: “Be so salty for Jesus that people will thirst for Him.”  That is what we need to do with light also.  As people see the Lord shining brightly, they will come to Him.

The wise men saw a light in the night.  It was a star shining brighter than any other light, and they followed that star.  So it is with us.  If we love God and want to do the works of Jesus, people will take notice, and…