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nChrist
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« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2005, 11:49:01 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Romans 7 Psalms 66


At Ease in Zion


Psalms 66–67, Romans 7
Key Verse: Psalm 66:10

We prefer being at ease in Zion. It’s nice to sit on padded pews in air-conditioned auditoriums. Our version of “life is hard” comes in the form of a street being closed for widening. We complain over being inconvenienced when the work is being done for our convenience! We’re at ease in Zion, blessed, enjoying the good life.

Then one day the plug is pulled. A doctor’s grim expression belies the test results. Downsizing is not just a word found in a book on business trends but in a note in the pay envelope. Your accountant calls; the ink in his pen is red. You reach for the motion sickness pills because your boat is now rocking. Life is no longer smooth sailing.

There are times when God rocks our boat, and with a good purpose. He wants to test us so that we will emerge from the experience better. The imagery the psalmist used is that of the process for refining silver. Silver is heated to the point of melting so the impurities float to the surface. Then they are skimmed off, leaving better-quality silver, a more pure metal.

God at times tests us to remove the wrong and the unnecessary from our lives. We may find that these tests increase our praying, strengthen our faith and cause us to reorder our priorities. The result is a better-quality Christian, one who has been tested and strengthened.

Times of difficulty are tough. Don’t try to escape them. Instead, learn the lesson(s) God may have for you in those times. Ask Him to give you the wisdom to know what He is teaching you.

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« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2005, 06:42:43 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Romans 12 Psalms 84


Make the Mark


Psalms 84–86, Romans 12
Key Verses: Romans 12:1–2

In his commentary on Romans, Ray Stedman tells the following story. “Many years ago a man was walking through Union Station in Chicago. It was busy and crowded. He had been thinking of what he might do with his life. It suddenly dawned on him the only logical thing he could do with his life, since it belonged to God and had been redeemed by the Lord, was to give it to Him and ask Him to use it.

“Right in the midst of the crowd he stopped and drew a little mark with his toe. Then he stood on the mark and said, ‘Lord, here I am, I am Yours. The rest of my life, whatever You want me to do, if You will show me and convince me what You want, I will do it. The attitudes You want me to have, I will have. As I study and read Your Word, I will try to carry out what You tell me to do, and think the way You tell me to think. Here I am, Lord; do with my life as You want.’

“That commitment service in Union Station in Chicago was known only by this man and God. But God picked that man up and began to use him in remarkable ways. He has traveled the world and touched hundreds of lives because God used him.”

That story embodies the significance of Romans 12:1–2, a text that takes the step beyond doctrine and doxology to duty. We are called to make a decisive commitment to God.

Like the man in the train station, have you ever made that mark? If you have, then stay by the mark, stay committed. If you have wandered from the mark, get back to it. And if you never have made it, then right now pray and make the mark.

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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2005, 11:32:57 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Romans 13 Psalms 87


When There Is No Relief


Psalms 87–88, Romans 13
Key Verse: Psalm 88:1

The words “and they lived happily ever after” are usually found at the end of fairy tales. We read the last line of the story, sigh at the nice ending, close the book and return to the reality of a world without fairy-tale endings. The truth is, sometimes life is fine, and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes problems get solved, and sometimes they don’t. Hopeless should not be found in the Christian’s vocabulary because we do have hope in Christ. It’s not an “I hope so” hope but a certain hope. Still there are times when hope dims.

Psalm 88 is a prayer that begins simply enough: “O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you.” We read on expecting to find the usual—God hears, God saves, the psalmist praises. But not this time. Instead we find ourselves reading the saddest of the psalms. Notice all the times the writer speaks of death. He writes not of the death of others but of feeling as if he is about to join the dead. His situation is so dismal that his closest friend is the darkness (v. 18).

There is no “happily ever after” to this story. The psalm is not a fairy tale but a tale of real life. Sometimes our situations will look hopeless. We feel like we are about to die. Our prayers seem to go unanswered.

So what then? We do what we find in verse 1. We pray and keep praying. This psalm calls us to a higher faith, one that continues when the darkness closes in on us.

The next psalm begins with words of hope, but until we get out of the dark times, we must keep praying. Are any ongoing situations weighing you down today? Don’t give up. Ask God for the continued faith you need to trust Him.

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« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2005, 02:23:51 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Romans 15:1-13 Psalms 91


God’s Secret Place


Psalms 91–93, Romans 15:1–13
Key Verse: Psalm 91:1

Did you have a secret hideout when you were a child? A place where you could go to feel safe and protected? Mine was in the woods behind our house, beside a bubbling brook.

God has a secret place too. It’s called God’s pavilion, the place under His wings—God’s hiding place. Psalm 27:5 promises, “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”

The more I learn about God’s secret place, the more I am convinced that it’s not a place at all—it’s a person. Jesus Christ is our secret place. He is our shelter in the time of storm, our shield and buckler, the one under whose wings we take refuge. He said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from you can do nothing” (John 15:4–5).

Are you looking for God’s special hiding place today? Are you in need of some encouragement and nourishment from Him? The answer is to find God’s secret place and live there. The answer is to find Jesus Christ.

“Lord, give me the courage to live in You today, and not just run to You when I am in trouble. Help me to find peace and shelter in You, and give me strength from the true Vine, Jesus Christ.”

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« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2005, 01:24:41 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 4 Psalms 107


Staying Focused


Psalms 107–109, 1 Corinthians 4
Key Verses: 1 Corinthians 4:1–2

My daughter came home from an overnight stay at a friend’s house with a latch hook rug she had made. Her friend’s mother had taught the girls how to do latch hook. The process involved attaching pieces of yarn to a plastic grid using a hook. Various colored pieces were placed so that the picture of a cartoon character was evident. Such talent!

Yes, it did take talent, but mostly the picture was the result of following the instructions and the pattern printed on the grid. The better the girls stayed focused on those two things, the better their rugs looked.

It’s the same with life. The better we follow the instructions and the pattern God has given us, the better our lives will be.

Paul helps us stay focused by reminding us of who we are and what we are to do: we are servants who have been entrusted by God to accomplish His will. It’s so easy to lose that focus. We typically have an “I” problem. When we look at things with our “I,” what God wants is not so clearly seen. It is also hard for an “I” to be a servant. Yet that is exactly what we are—servants who are to be faithful stewards.

Remember that a steward is a manager, not an owner. God entrusts things into our care. What He, the owner, then requires of us, the manager, is that we be faithful. That is the pattern for our lives, the one that we must keep in focus.

Do you have an “I” problem? It really is easy to see how things get out of focus. Ask God to help you stay focused on His pattern, determining to serve as a faithful steward.

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« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2005, 09:17:02 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 6 Psalms 113


Two Tests


Psalms 113–115, 1 Corinthians 6
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 6:12

We live in an “anything goes” world, and sometimes it seems as if everything has gone! Occasionally we need the Bible to jerk us back to reality, biblical reality. It is the same for the child of God as it was for you as a child of your parents. Remember how sometimes they told you no? Anything didn’t go, and it still doesn’t.

If God says clearly that something is wrong, then it is wrong. There’s no use asking because the answer is no.

Then there are all the other things, the ones the Bible neither says are wrong nor right. We usually call these “gray areas.” Paul gives us two important things to remember.

First, even if something may be allowed, ask yourself if it is beneficial for you. Some things can be like the weights mentioned in Hebrews 12:1, the things that hinder us in the Christian life. They are not wrong, but they don’t help.

Second, don’t let anything control you. Paul teaches us that we are to be controlled by the Spirit—nothing else. We can be controlled not only by addictive substances but by addictive activities. Habits, compulsions, foods and so much more can control a person. Paul says to us by his example and teaching that we must “not be mastered by anything” (v. 12).

This verse gives us two tests to use in deciding what we will do or not do. In any area that Scripture does not clearly address, ask yourself these questions: Is it beneficial? Will it control me?

Anything does go, but some things should go! Ask God to help you see if there are things in your life that are not beneficial to you or that are controlling you.

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(My Note: Ask a third question: will it have a negative impact on your Christian testimony before men?)
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« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2005, 11:42:25 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 10:1-18 Psalms 123


The Eyes of Slaves


Psalms 123–125, 1 Corinthians 10:1–18
Key Verse: Psalm 123:2

There probably has been a time when you could not get the attention of your waiter or waitress at a restaurant. Maybe you needed another napkin or wanted a refill of your coffee or just wanted the check. You probably began with a slight wave of the hand, not wanting to be too distracting to others. Then your hand started moving a little higher in hopes of catching the eye. Finally, you wave like you’re waving to a friend on the other side of the stadium!

Some members of the wait staff seem to catch the slightest signal. A glance into your coffee cup and they are there anticipating that you are about to ask for a refill. Your child spills his drink and before you signal the need for an additional napkin, they arrive at your table with an ample supply. They are more observant than an auctioneer who can catch a bid off the raising of an eyebrow.

Today’s key verse reminds me of these waiters: “As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master . . . .” They watch, wanting to serve well, trying to please, anticipating what they should do next.

However, this verse isn’t about others, but about us: “. . . so our eyes look to the LORD our God.” It isn’t about what we should expect when we go out to eat but how we should live as the servants of God. The slightest indication of what He desires should be sufficient to catch our attention.

Does God have to “wave big” to catch your attention, or are you attentive to His signals? Pray that today you will be more aware of what He wills so you can serve Him better.

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« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2005, 11:55:05 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 9 Psalms 120


“I’d Love to Go!”


Psalms 120–122, 1 Corinthians 9
Key Verse: Psalm 122:1

Have you ever received an invitation that you didn’t want? Perhaps you had planned to play golf that afternoon but instead were sitting in a pew waiting for the wedding to begin. Have you ever not received an invitation that you wanted? Undoubtedly! Someone tells you he has an extra ticket to the big game, you have the day free, and you want to go badly. Then he heads off, saying, “I need to find someone to go with me.” You are in agony.

Then there is the time you get an invitation you want. It does happen, occasionally. Think about your reaction when that happens. “Sounds great! I’d love to go.”

Three scenarios: invited but didn’t want to go, wanted to go but not invited, wanted to go and invited. Three responses: dread going, disappointed not going, and ecstatic about going.

Which of those three responses would match yours if you received this invitation: “Let us go to the house of the Lord”? Since it is an invitation, one response is eliminated, that of disappointed not going. So, two answers are left, and only one of them is right.

Can you honestly say that you would be ecstatic? Or would your real response be closer to dread? This is pretty convicting, isn’t it? It makes us consider our attitude toward worship.

Psalm 122 is one of the pilgrimage psalms, sung as the people traveled to Jerusalem for one of the annual feasts. This one expresses deep joy at the thought of being called to travel to the house of the Lord. That invitation should always bring rejoicing.

Do you share the psalmist David’s heart for worship? Ask God to help you come to worship with rejoicing.

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« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2005, 10:41:31 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 10:19-33 Psalms 126


For the Good of Others


Psalms 126–128, 1 Corinthians 10:19–33
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 10:24

Sometimes we get so focused on what we want that we lose sight of what God wants. He not only wants us to consider whether or not something is beneficial for us but also whether it is good for others.

The emphasis on self can distort our view of others. When self occupies our vision it becomes difficult to set aside what we want, or what we think is acceptable. Yet Paul repeatedly reminds us that we do not live for ourselves only. We are part of the community of believers and must consider how our actions affect others.

“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others” (v. 24). Paul is not talking about good things we can do for others but how we must consider the effect our actions will have on others. It is not just a matter of saying, “This is right for me.” It is even more than deciding something is edifying. This verse commands an added dimension to our decision making—how will what I do affect others, and will it be for their good?

“God, help me think about how what I do affects others. Give me a heart that desires to do what will be good for them, not just what pleases myself.”

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« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2005, 10:43:01 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 Psalms 129


Weaned or Fussy?


Psalms 129–131, 1 Corinthians 11:1–16
Key Verse: Psalm 131:2

I sometimes humorously talk about things that sound true but are not. My list of “accepted lies” includes “one size fits all.” Another one that parents of newborns especially understand is “sleeps like a baby.” In reality, that means waking every couple of hours and demanding to be fed. Babies can be fussy and demanding at anytime, day or night.

Among the challenges of parenting are teething and weaning. It is a blessing when the child no longer has sore gums and is no longer so demanding in his or her attachment to the mother when hungry. It is a blessing when babies truly sleep like a baby!

Christians are to be like a weaned baby, still and quiet. Our souls are to have a calmness that is like a sleeping baby’s. So often, though, we are like the unweaned child, demanding immediate relief for our discomfort. We fuss while waiting for God to be the immediate provider of the warm milk that will allow us to go back to undisturbed sleep.

Even my teenagers at times wonder if they are going to be fed, especially when we are traveling. I sometimes say to them, “We haven’t let you starve yet!” in hopes that they will quiet down. “Relax. Trust me to feed you” is what I’m really telling them.

God wants us to trust Him, to be still and quiet our souls. We need to be like a weaned child, resting confidently that He will take care of us.

Look over your prayer list. Do the personal requests sound like a weaned child or a fussy baby? Be still and quiet your soul. Sleep like a baby, not like a fussy newborn.

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« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2005, 11:01:17 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Psalms 132


Self-Examination


Psalms 132–134; 1 Corinthians 11:17–34
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 11:28

Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” By that he meant that we must not take things for granted but investigate everything to see if it has a ring of truth.

The apostle Paul said much the same to the Corinthians believers. Apparently the Corinthian Christians were abusing the sanctity of the Lord’s table. They were gorging themselves at the communal meal; some were even getting drunk. Then, still wallowing in their unrepentant sin, these believers were partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Paul warned, “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:28).

Self-examination is good for all of us. We need to keep short accounts with God. Daily we should ask, “Is what I’m doing today pleasing to God?” We should even ask, “Does what I do give evidence of my salvation?” Paul wrote, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5). When we keep short accounts with God it prevents that ugly sin build-up that stains so many Christian lives.

Take a close look—at yourself. Would you be comfortable knowing the Lord Jesus is examining your life closely? He is, you know. We all should do the same.

“Father, I want You to examine my life, but first let me take a hard look and clear away any clutter I find there. Give me the courage to daily check my life for the ring of truth—Your truth.”

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« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2005, 11:02:48 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Psalms 135 1 Corinthians 12


God’s Choices Are Right Choices


Psalms 135–136, 1 Corinthians 12
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 12:18

Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Have you wanted to handle a basketball like Michael Jordan or hit a baseball like Mark McGuire? Do you feel like you got the short end of the stick when it comes to gifts and talents? If so, cheer up. God has good news for you.

The Corinthian congregation was made up of very diverse people. In addition, God gave each of these Christians special gifts—spiritual gifts. These gifts were to be used to help others in the church develop to full maturity in Christ. Instead, the Corinthians argued over whose spiritual gift was the greatest. God gave each member exactly He wanted them to have, but they failed to use that gift while they dreamed about being someone else.

Sometimes that happens in the church today. We forget that what God gives us to do is the most important task we can do. If we do someone else’s job in church and neglect our own, we fail twice.

Has God gifted you in a certain way? The only way you can be happy is to allow God to get out of you what He has put in you. He has tailor-made a gift for you. It’s His choice for you, and God’s choices are always right choices. Don’t fail twice by salivating after someone else’s gift; savor your own.

“Help me, Father, to recognize that You have given me gifts to use for others. Don’t let me be jealous of others. Instead, let me be zealous in serving You with my gift.”

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« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2005, 11:04:09 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 13 Psalms 137


Not on Our List


Psalms 137–139, 1 Corinthians 13
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 13:6

Try this with a group. Ask everyone to finish this sentence: “Love is _____________.” Some of the phrases from 1 Corinthians 13 will be suggested, but one undoubtedly will not. It is this: “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (v. 6). Why is that a characteristic of love?

What we delight in we will share with those we love. A person who enjoys fine dining will want to take others to his favorite restaurants. The sports fan will tell others about his love of the game. A collector may try to get her friends involved in her hobby. We want our interests to be their interests.

If we delight in evil, the same will be true. We will want those around us to be involved in the same things, in the same way. This is a sad but unmentioned truth.

Our desire should be to help others become more like Christ. Paul even said that a husband should love his wife as Christ loved the church, giving Himself for her “to make her holy” (Eph. 5:25–26).

Do you see how delighting in evil works against that? If we delight in evil, then we are bringing into others’ lives that which pulls them away from Christ. Love does not do that. It desires that others would “rejoice with the truth.”

Are there things in your life that are wrong? Don’t think about only yourself, but also about how you influence others with what you delight in. Determine to get the wrong out and the right in.

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« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2005, 11:05:37 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 14:1-20 Psalms 140


The Gatekeeper


Psalms 140–142, 1 Corinthians 14:1–20
Key Verse: Psalm 141:3

We probably get into trouble quicker by what we say than any other means. A moment of speaking before thinking can result in damage that seems beyond repair. I sometimes say that I have two goals: one is not to begin a sentence with the words, “Don’t quote me on this,” and the other is not to end a sentence with the words, “Just kidding.”

The books of Proverbs and James have plenty to say about what we say. Both give us warnings that should help us pause before we speak. We also can learn from those books how to speak.

Still, we come back to the problem of execution—doing what we know we are supposed to do. Too often we find ourselves “hung by the tongue.”

David gives us an example to follow. It is not a “count to ten” or some other technique to practice. It is what you would expect from a godly person. His approach was to pray. Notice that it was not a prayer of the moment, as in, “Help me not to say this!” but a prayer for a consistent quality of speech. He prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (141:3).

We need a gatekeeper, one who watches over our mouth. If we make that our prayer, God will help us so that what goes out of our mouth is only that which the sentry allows to pass.

Pray the prayer of David, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

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« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2005, 01:47:19 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 14:21-40 Psalms 143


Thirsty and Teachable


Psalms 143–145, 1 Corinthians 14:21–40
Key Verse: Psalm 143:10

As mentioned yesterday, sometimes the problem isn’t with knowing what to do but with doing it. In Psalm 143 David prays not only to know God’s will but to do it. “Show me the way I should go,” he prays (v. 8), and then asks, “Teach me to do your will (v. 10).” Far too often our problem is with failing to do God’s will.

Earlier in the psalm David describes his soul as longing for God like a parched land. As dry ground thirsts for moisture, David’s soul thirsts for God. There is a connection with what he says in verse 6 about his thirst and his prayer to be teachable in verse 10. The thirsty soul will be teachable.

We need to keep our souls thirsty. That is done by keeping a proper attitude. When we feel satisfied spiritually, we will not be thirsty. It is tempting to stay spiritually anemic if we are satisfied with our spiritual condition. But the proper attitude is one that longs for more of God. Then when our souls are thirsty, we will be teachable.

If we are spiritually satisfied, no more is wanted—we are neither thirsty nor teachable. Stay thirsty!

Examine your heart, asking, “Do I thirst for God?” If not, ask God to make you a thirsty and teachable Christian.

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