Archive | July, 2012

RECALL NOTICE

31 Jul

Repent . . . that your sins may be blotted out. —Acts 3:19

In 2010, auto manufacturers recalled a staggering 20 million cars in the US for various defects. The thought of such a large number of defective cars on the road is startling enough. But what is more disturbing is the apathy of some owners. In one instance, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety warned owners, “It’s a free repair. Get it done. It may save your life.” Yet, despite the risk to their own lives, 30 percent never responded.

Likewise, many ignore God’s “recall notice” to the entire human race. Unlike a defect found in automobiles, the moral defect of the human race is not the Maker’s fault. He made everything “very good” (Gen. 1:31), but people’s sin ruined it. God’s offer to us is “repent . . . that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).

God offers not just a free repair of the human heart but a replacement of it (Ezek. 36:26; 2 Cor. 5:17). Though the offer costs us nothing (Eph. 2:8-9), it cost God the life of His only Son Jesus Christ. “[Jesus] bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

Don’t ignore the Lord’s call. The free and permanent remedy offered by God for your spiritual defect will save your life!

The heart of man is stained by sin, from Adam’s fall this has been true; yet God in Christ can make a change through faith in Him we are made new. -Fitzhugh

FOR A NEW START, ASK GOD FOR A NEW HEART.

BAD NEWS AND GOOD NEWS

30 Jul

I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel. —Philippians 1:12

Recently I had a conversation with a woman who had experienced a very difficult situation. The stress had affected her health, so she had to visit the doctor frequently. But with a smile on her face, she told me that she has been able to use this painful circumstance as an opportunity to share Christ with her doctor.

In the book of Philippians, we read how the apostle Paul used his difficult situation—imprisonment—to preach the gospel. The Philippian believers were grieved because Paul had been arrested for preaching Jesus, but he told them that his bondage had “actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (1:12). The whole palace guard and others knew why he was in jail—because he preached Christ. Whoever came in contact with Paul heard about Jesus—whether soldiers (who guarded him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or others outside. As a result of using his bad news to share the good news, some of the guards may have even become believers (4:22). Just because Paul was confined didn’t mean that the gospel was confined.

As Jesus-followers, we can allow our pain to be a platform to share the gospel. In our bad news, let’s find an opening to share the good news.

We often think if life were smooth, we would a better witness be; but God knows best—that faith midst trials can honor Him more powerfully. —Cetas

PAIN CAN BE A PLATFORM TO SHARE CHRIST.

NOT A MYTH

29 Jul

After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. —1 Corinthians 15:6

I’m fascinated with history, so I eagerly watched a television special on England’s great King Arthur. A theme surfaced as each historian acknowledged that there were no eyewitness accounts nor historical evidence to support the story of King Arthur, his knights, and their Round Table. Repeatedly, the story was referred to as “legend” or “mythology.” It appears that the story is merely a legend woven together over centuries from fragments of other stories.

The good news of the gospel, however, is not rooted in mythology or legend but in verified fact, and it’s the greatest story ever told. Paul wrote that the most important event in human history—the resurrection of Jesus Christ—is supported by actual eyewitnesses. While listing disciples who had seen the risen Christ, Paul punctuated the list of eyewitnesses by writing, “After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:6). At the time of Paul’s writing, many of those witnesses were still alive and available for questioning.

The resurrection of Christ is not a myth. It is the factual pivot-point of history.

Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a Victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign. —Lowry

THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST IS THE BEST ATTESTED FACT OF ANCIENT HISTORY. —ARNOLD

FROM MARS?

28 Jul

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves . . . . Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image.” —Genesis 1:21,26

Microbes from Mars fell on the very early Earth . . . , and the offspring of those microbes are still here—and they are us.” That’s how one astronomer speculated about how life originated on Mars and then came to Earth.

Some men and women of science are looking to outer space for the origins of life on earth, not believing the Bible’s explanation that God placed mankind, animals, and plant life on earth through special creation. But how did that supposed microbial life start on a hostile planet? The bigger question is this: Why is it so difficult to accept that the earth, uniquely and singularly fitted for life to exist, is where God created and placed living creatures?

As humans struggle to accept a miraculous beginning of life from the breath of God (Gen. 2:7), they choose to trust a miracle of a far different sort—the miracle of life originating from no first cause at all. Perhaps they could follow the advice Job received: “Listen to this, O Job; stand still and consider the wondrous works of God” (Job 37:14). And maybe they should try to answer God’s question: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (38:4).

Praise God for creating such a wonderful place for us to live! We stand in awe of His marvelous creation.

Dear Heavenly Father, what an awesome and powerful God You are! You created life by Your very breath. We praise You and stand in awe of You. Thank You for Your creation.

ONLY GOD COULD CREATE THE COSMOS OUT OF NOTHING.

QUIET ENCOURAGERS

27 Jul

[He] encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. — Acts 11:23

One of the qualities I most admire in others is the gift of quiet, behind-the-scenes encouragement. I remember arriving home from a stay in the hospital and finding that my friend Jackie (who had surgery a few days earlier) sent me a book of God’s promises.

My Uncle Bob was so thankful for the people who cared for him at the cancer center that he sent hundreds of complimentary notes to their work supervisors.

My cousin Brenda experienced the agonizing loss of a child almost 20 years ago, and now her quiet deeds of compassion are treasured by many.

Often it is the very people who have experienced the most suffering—physical and emotional—who are the most abundant providers of encouragement to others.

In Acts, we read about Barnabas, who was known as the “Son of Encouragement” (4:36). He was “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (11:24) and encouraged others so “that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (v.23). His acts of encouragement must have had a wide and strong sphere of influence.

Just as we have been blessed with encouragement, let’s be a modern-day Daughter or Son of Encouragement to others.

Teach me to love—this is my plea; May all the Spirit’s graces shine through me; Tear from my heart all hate, foolish pride; Help me to live like Christ the crucified. —Peterson

THE HUMAN SPIRIT RINGS WITH HOPE AT THE SOUND OF AN ENCOURAGING WORD.

CHANGING ENEMIES INTO FRIENDS

26 Jul

But I say to you, love your enemies . . . do good to those who hate you. —Matthew 5:44

During the US Civil War, hatred became entrenched between the North and South. In one instance, President Abraham Lincoln was criticized for speaking of benevolent treatment for the Southern rebels. The critic reminded Lincoln that there was a war going on, the Confederates were the enemy, and they should be destroyed. But Lincoln wisely responded, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”

Lincoln’s comment is insightful. In many ways it reflects Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:44-45).

We will encounter difficult people in our lives—some on whom we will need to set limits. But to give in to the temptation to undermine or hurt them in any way is not God’s way. Instead, we should pray for them, show consideration, look out for their best interests, and emphasize the positive. This may result in changing an enemy into a friend.

Not everyone will respond positively to us, but we can pray and plan for a more harmonious relationship. What difficult person can you start befriending?

Lord, some people in my life are difficult to love. I am tempted not even to try to care. But You showed love to me even when I was Your enemy. Please direct me into ways to love with Your power and grace.

IT’S HARD TO HATE SOMEONE WHEN YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING GOOD FOR HIM.

REMEMBERING THE REASON

25 Jul

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. —Mark 10:45

Joe Morris flavors his ice cream with ingredients ranging from chocolate and strawberries to green tea and dried chipotle peppers. He’s one of three ice-cream makers for a successful Texas company known for its quality, creativity, and innovation. But Joe hasn’t forgotten why he does it.

He told reporter Ricardo Gándara that one of the longtime employees always reminded them, “Why are we making ice cream? It’s a happy food. We’re here to make people happy.” And that’s why Joe Morris makes ice cream.

We know that it’s extremely important to remember the reason for what we do as followers of Jesus. If we forget, we become like the disciples when a dispute over who was most important created anger and division among them. Jesus reminded them that “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:35-45).

If our goal is to share the good news of God’s love with others, we won’t become impersonal or harsh if someone resists or ridicules our appeal. As we follow our Lord’s path of loving service and sacrifice, we are reminded that He came to serve and save.

That’s the reason for everything we do.

He whose right was heaven’s glory chose to serve on earth below, leaving us a clear example of the love He’d have us show. —D. De Haan

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE LORD, AND YOU WON’T LOSE SIGHT OF LIFE’S PURPOSE.