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Showing posts from November, 2018

Switch On the Light

Bible Reading:   Ephesians 5:8-14Though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord.   Ephesians 5:8Picture yourself strolling through a portrait art gallery. The room lights are on, but the spotlights that usually shine on the various paintings are off.With the room lights on, you can see the portrait frames. You might even be able to make out some of the faces in the portraits. But only when the spotlights are flipped on and an intense light beams down on each painting can you see all the details—the facial expressions, the skin tones, the eye colors. Only when the spotlights are on can you see the people as the artists intended you to see them.God shines his light on you—a light that shows who he created you to be. But before you see yourself clearly, you need to know how to turn on the lights.You get light from three places:Jesus Christ is your first source of light.John said that Jesus “gives light to everyone” (John 1:4). Jesus called himself …

Horse Sense

Bible Reading: 1 Peter 1:13-16Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.   1 Peter 1:13, NIVHAVE YOU EVER eaten so much you thought you were going to explode? Most of us have (eaten too much, not exploded!). But did you know that for some animals that is a real danger?For example, horses love oats. If a horse eats his fill of oats, the dry oats tend to make him thirsty. Then, while his stomach is full of dry oats, the horse will start drinking water. The water causes the oats inside his stomach to expand, like a bowl of oatmeal expands when you add water. Before long the horse “founders,” and becomes too sick to walk. He may even die if he doesn’t get help.Pretty gruesome, huh? Tell that to your mom the next time she tells you to eat all your oatmeal (just don’t tell her you read it here!). Seriously, though, here’s the point: An appetite that’s out of control is a dangerous thing.Of cou…

Who Knows You?

Bible Reading:   Psalm 91:1-12He orders his angels to protect you wherever you go.   Psalm 91:11Trevor couldn’t wait to reach middle school. He could finally take Tech Ed. He imagined that his first class project would be to put a loft in his bedroom. His next would be to build a house-sized half-pipe for backyard skateboarding. And his crowning achievement would be to erect an Olympic-sized ski jump on the empty lot behind his school.Trevor was totally disappointed when he learned that Tech Ed class only lasted forty-five minutes. He was wildly discouraged when his teacher said his first assignment was to make a little knickknack for home, picking from a half dozen designs for napkin holders, recipe boxes, and dresser organizers. But Trevor doubled over in dismay when he received his project back. The grading sheet attached by the teacher screamed “F.” At the top of the sheet was scrawled a question: “What is it?”If you’re looking at someone’s thingamabob school project and you can’t…

The Boy in the Mirror

Bible Reading:   Ephesians 4:26-32Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.   Psalm 4:4AN OLD CHINESE folktale tells the story of a young boy who had never seen a mirror before. One day while the boy was playing outside, his father brought home a mirror and hung it on the wall of the house. Sometime later, after his father had gone back out to the fields to work, the boy came home.He saw the mirror on the wall but didn’t understand what it was. He looked with fascination at the boy in the mirror. He thought his reflection was a boy who had come to play with him. He waved, and the boy in the mirror waved back. He smiled, and the boy in the mirror smiled back. He said, “Let’s play!” and the boy in the mirror said, “Let’s play!” at the same time.When the boy walked out of the hut, he looked around for his new friend. But the boy in the mirror did not follow him outside. He waited, and the boy in the mirror did not come. Finally, he bega…

Poor Doubting Thomas

Bible Reading: John 20:24-29Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!   John 20:27Not many people have nice things to say about the disciple Thomas.After Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples behind closed doors, Thomas wasn’t with them. So when the disciples told Thomas that Jesus was alive, he didn’t believe them. “I won’t believe it,” he said, “unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side” (John 20:25). When Jesus later appeared to Thomas, the Lord took him up on his offer. He said, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” (verse 27).Talk about it: What do you think of Thomas? Is he a model for our faith—or would it have been better to leave his story out of the Bible?Okay, so Thomas wasn’t as bad as Judas, the guy who betrayed Jesus. He might not even have been as awful as Peter, who denied the Lord three times. But of…

A Difference That Counts

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:11Now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God.   1 Corinthians 6:11Suppose you’re chatting with a non-Christian about Jesus. You think you’re getting your point across with your gentle and ultrawise persuasion—until you get bopped over the head with this line: “Well,” your friend smirks, “people who are dead stay that way. They don’t rise from the dead.”You can’t make Jesus rise again in a laboratory. But you can point to the Bible for evidence of the empty tomb. Along with that, you can supply an additional sign of life: the change that happens to people when they trust Jesus.Talk about it: Do you think that the changed lives of Christians prove anything about the truth of what we believe?Suppose you are a non-Christian. You have a friend who one day says, “You know, a year ago I trusted Jesus. He’s totally changed my life. I used to scream at my parents. I always trash-talked my little sister. I was totally selfish. I’m not…

Through the Knothole

Bible Reading: Romans 8:28-30And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.   Romans 8:28NORMAN ROCKWELL WAS a famous twentieth-century American painter. Many of his paintings were originally created for magazine covers, which made Rockwell one of the most famous artists of his time.One of Rockwell’s paintings depicted a little boy watching a baseball game through a knothole in the ballpark fence. The boy presses his eye tightly against the hole, but he can see only straight ahead. He can’t see anything to either side of the field, and he’s blind to anything that happens close to the fence. The players and umpires on the field and the spectators in the stands can see the whole game. But the boy looking through the knothole can only see a small part of what’s going on.We are like the boy looking through the knothole. Our view of life is like his view of that baseball game. We don’t know what g…

Bad Influences

Bible Reading: Psalm 1:1-6Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.   Psalm 1:1, NIVTHERE ONCE WAS a young woman who was being shown around a large coal-mining camp in West Virginia along with a group of businesspeople. All the others on the tour were dressed in jeans and work shirts, while she wore a sparkling white dress.As the group prepared to enter the rickety old elevator that would take them down a shaft into the underground coal mine, their guide paused and looked at the woman in the white dress.“Are you sure you want to go down to the mines, ma’am?” he asked her.The woman looked slightly offended. “Well, why not?”The man cleared his throat nervously. “You’re wearing a white dress,” he said.“Anyone can see that,” the woman answered. “There’s nothing to prevent me from wearing a white dress into a coal mine if I want to.”The man nodded and shrugged. “Yes, ma’am,” he said as he closed the door …

Believing Isn’t Rocket Science

Bible Reading: Matthew 28:1-7He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Matthew 28:6A man and a woman wearing lab coats enter a laboratory. She holds a clipboard and pencil, and he clasps a small white rectangular object. The man puts the white object in a small glass tank filled with water. It bobs to the surface. The woman makes a note on her clipboard. The man again pushes the object to the bottom of the tank. It again bobs to the surface. The woman writes.After performing the event over and over, the scientists come to a stunning con­clusion: Ivory soap floats. It has been proven scientifically.True or false: A science experiment is the only way to prove if a fact is true.That’s absolutely false. The scientific method is a great tool for getting smart, but it isn’t the only way to prove something.If science experiments were the only way to get at truth, then you wouldn’t be able to prove that Abraham Lincoln was ever president of the United Stat…

The Game of Life

Bible Reading: Isaiah 64:4-5You welcome those who cheerfully do good, who follow godly ways.   Isaiah 64:5SUPPOSE YOU HAVE the opportunity to make up a game. You design your own playing board. You make playing pieces out of little trinkets you find around the house. You even write down the rules.Then two of your friends come over. You spread the playing board on the floor. You carefully explain the rules of the game. Then you generously allow someone else to take the first turn.Everything goes fine for a while. The game is even more fun than you thought. But then one of your friends makes an illegal move.“You can’t do that,” you say. “Remember the rules?”“I don’t agree with your rules. I think the game will work better if I get to use my own rules.”“Hey,” your other friend says, “if you get to make up rules, I should get to make up rules.”“But I already told you what the rules are!” you say. But it’s too late. Your friends aren’t listening. They’re playing by their own rules. And they…

Close Your Eyes to Blind Faith

Bible Reading: John 8:31-32You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.   John 8:32You’re trying to tell a friend about Jesus when she starts to sound like a college professor. “So,” she says with a creepy voice and one eyebrow raised, “can you prove with 100 percent certainty that Jesus rose from the dead?”You’re not sure where your friend suddenly got the jumbo-sized brain and smart-sounding question. Your answer comes out in a mousy squeak. “Umm, no.”Some people call our Christian belief in Jesus’ resurrection a “blind faith.” That’s a belief accepted without any proof. Or they slam our faith with nasty labels like “ignorant,” “irrational,” or “unreasonable.” Those are all big words that more or less mean the same thing as “dumb.” If someone puts you down this way, you’re probably left feeling red-faced. Odd. Stupid. Defeated.Some people figure that if a truth can’t be proven with 100 percent certainty, it’s useless or untrue. If Jesus’ resurrection or his claim to be …

Are You Sure You’re Sure?

Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 1:9-14I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.   2 Timothy 1:12Night after night little Ricky was scared to crawl into bed. He struggled to go to sleep as spooky thoughts kept him wide-awake. He saw creepy shapes float across the ceiling. He feared that monsters hid in the dark shadows of his closet. He thought he could hear big-fanged creatures munch on the dust bunnies under his bed.Believe it or not, some of us are haunted by some even scarier spiritual questions. We might wonder, Am I really saved? Has anything in my life really changed? If I’m a Christian, then why don’t I feel any different? We might think, Maybe I’m not really a Christian. Maybe I didn’t do it right.Talk about it: Do you ever worry that you really aren’t a Christian?For Satan, the enemy of your soul, every day is Halloween. Satan is always on the job, trying to scare the truth out of you and make you…

Shine

Bible Reading:   Philippians 2:12-15You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them.   Philippians 2:15A WEALTHY BUSINESSMAN in India was preparing to retire. He called his two sons into his office and told them of his plans.“Now, you are both good sons and capable young men,” he said. “I can’t decide who I should put in charge of my business and all my property. So, I have chosen a test for you.” He gave a coin to each son and said, “Take this coin and buy something that will fill this house.”Now, the coin he had given each of his sons was of little value and his house was large with many rooms. Each son knew the task would be difficult.The older son wasted no time. He hurried to the marketplace and began pricing all sorts of bulky materials. He soon decided that the cheapest and bulkiest thing he could buy was straw. So he bought as much straw as his coin would buy and carried gre…

Now or Later?

Bible Reading: Hebrews 10:32-36Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now.   Hebrews 10:35-36YOU CAN GET a lot of things instantly these days: instant coffee, instant oatmeal, even “instant winner” lottery tickets. But there are still things that take time. You can’t get a high school diploma overnight. You can’t grow a sunflower in thirty minutes or less. You can’t lose weight instantly (no matter what the infomercials say!). You can’t even make instant Jell-O instantly; you have to put it in the refrigerator and let it gel.The problem is, all those things we can get instantly make it harder for us to wait for other things. We’re so used to “fast food” that we can’t stand to wait more than a few minutes for dinner in a restaurant (and if we do, we complain about the service!). We’re so used to “quick fixes” that we moan and groan when we unwrap a Christmas present that say…

Claim It and Enjoy It!

Bible Reading:   Hebrews 10:11-14

Our High Priest offered himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time.   Hebrews 10:12Trish told Angela a secret. Guess what? Angela told someone else. Ever since then, Angela has felt like a traitor, a two-timer, especially since Trish found out about it. Now every morning on the school bus, Angela apologizes to Trish.Finally Trish stopped her. “Angela,” she said, “I’ve already forgiven you.”“But I want to make sure that we’re still friends,” she insisted.“Of course we are,” Trish said. “I need you to believe that I’ve forgiven you.”Just like in our human relationships, some Christians have a hard time believing God has really forgiven their sins. They imagine God keeps a record of all our sins, waiting for the day when he will bring them up again and use them against us.To experience the freedom of God’s forgiveness, take these steps:Remember that God loves you unconditionally. You are God’s special child. He paid a high price for your …

The Disguise of Darkness

Bible Reading:   John 3:16-21

Those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants.   John 3:21WHEN DO YOU suppose most violent crimes are committed: during daylight hours or at night?When do you think burglars do their work: during daylight hours or at night?When do you imagine most vandalism (breaking windows, damaging property, and so on) happens: during daylight hours or at night?When do you think most arsonists (people who set fire to things on purpose) do their work: during daylight hours or at night?If you answered “at night” to all those questions, you’re correct. But why is that? Why do so many murders or muggings take place at night? Why do people wait until after dark to break windows or set fires?Because it’s dark, of course! People who don’t want to be caught doing something wrong will wait until it’s dark, so the darkness will disguise their deeds. That’s what Jesus meant when he said that people “loved the darkness m…