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nChrist
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« Reply #30 on: September 06, 2005, 06:23:05 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 15:1-28 Psalms 146


Popeye Theology


Psalms 146–147, 1 Corinthians 15:1–28
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 15:10

There are words that are a part of our vocabulary today that our parents probably never heard. While we do not seem to use codependent as much as we used to, the word dysfunctional is easily attached to family. If you said “ACOA” a few years ago, people might have thought it was a reference to an aluminum manufacturer. Now it is an acronym for “Adult Children of Alcoholics.” All these words carry the theme that people are affected by their past.

Sometimes it sounds like Popeye talking. One of his favorite lines is, “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.” People “excuse” themselves with words such as that. “My upbringing was dysfunctional and I am a product of my environment”—in other words, “I can’t help myself.”

In contrast there is Pauline theology. He said, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (v. 10). God had worked in his life and changed him. The affects of his past were overcome by the work of God.

It can be the same for us. We may have come from a dysfunctional family and bear the effects—its negativity stamped on our soul, the destructive patterns ingrained in our thoughts, words and deeds. We opt for a Popeye theology, thinking nothing can ever change it.

But by God’s grace it can be changed. Our hope is that we are not inseparably bound to our past when we are children of God and have received His grace.

Do you struggle with the effects of your past? Recognize the truth of what Paul says, grasp it in your soul and do not let it go. Determine to be able to say with him, “I am what I am—by the grace of God!” Let God’s grace change and heal you.

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« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2005, 12:04:50 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Psalms 148 1 Corinthians 15:29-58


The Done Undone


Psalms 148-150, 1 Corinthians 15:29-58
Key Verses: 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

You can't unscramble an egg. That simple statement reminds us that some things, once done, can't be undone. One noticeable exception is death. In the Resurrection, all that death has was undone by Jesus.

Death's sting is sin. As the sting of a bee injects its poison into our system, so sin injects death into mankind. We die and our bodies decay. The power of sin is the law because it shows us our sin and condemns us. We are guilty and sentenced to death.

Yet there is complete victory over death and sin through Christ. It is not that death is destroyed so that it cannot continue to harm God's people. But its effects are reversed so that death is defeated and we will live forever, victorious.

The hope of the Christian is expressed by the epitaph Benjamin Franklin wrote for himself: "The body of Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding, lies here food for worms. But the work will not be lost, for it will appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author."

The defeat of death, the hope of the Christian, is the Resurrection of Jesus.

Our hope is in Jesus, not just as a man of history but as the resurrected Lord. Thank Him now for this truth, by which you are saved, by which you know that death is defeated. Praise God!

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« Reply #32 on: September 09, 2005, 02:02:54 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 1 Proverbs 3


A Gated Life


Proverbs 3-5, 2 Corinthians 1
Key Verses: Proverbs 4:23-27

The term "gated community" is used in real estate ads to describe a secure area, one that is guarded. A wall with a gate surrounds the property, and everyone who goes in and out is monitored. Often a guard stands at the gate.

Our lives should be like a gated community. In Proverbs 4 Solomon tells us to "guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (v. 23).

A guarded heart will show in many ways. It will show in what we say as we put away perversity and corrupt talk (v. 24). Our conversation and speech will be affected.

It will show in what we see (v. 25). Solomon says that we will look straight ahead, not distracted by things off to the side. Television, magazines and the Internet give us things to look at that are wrong, that pull us away from God. A gated life is careful to control the eye gate.

It also will show in how we walk (v. 26). In a guarded life we choose the right paths and do not swerve.

I often say that God did not give us His Word just to increase our knowledge but to affect the way that we live. These verses point us to the truth that our lives are to be directed by His Word. As we guard our hearts, we will live gated lives.

Often we focus just on the outside, while God wants us to start on the inside. If right now you need to make changes in your heart, pray. Ask God to help you change and truly guard your heart.

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« Reply #33 on: September 11, 2005, 07:10:32 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 3 Proverbs 8


Our Competence


Proverbs 8-9, 2 Corinthians 3
Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 3:5

Some help wanted ads sound like only Superman should apply for the job. The job description may include the required education and the amount of experience in the field, plus the abilities that are expected of the person filling the position. We may look over the ad and wonder if anyone would be up to the job.

In 2 Corinthians 2:16, Paul asks a question that is not answered until the next chapter. It is a little like an advertisement in the help wanted section. After describing believers as the "aroma of Christ" (v. 15) and how we are to the one "the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life," he asks, "And who is equal to such a task?" (v. 16).

We certainly aren't! It is important for us to recognize that confidence in self alone is insufficient to accomplish what God wants us to do. It is also vital that we not excuse ourselves from our God given responsibilities by highlighting our inadequacies either. At this point we need to keep reading. "Our competence," Paul writes, "comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant" (3:5-6).

We may feel like the overwhelmed candidate for an overwhelming job, but we have this assurance God can make us competent for the task. The only real question is not if He can but if we will. Will you let Him so mold and make you that He can effectively use you?

"God, help me not to be overly confident in myself but properly dependent on You. Help me see how You are molding and making me to serve as Your witness."

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« Reply #34 on: September 14, 2005, 05:25:35 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 4 Proverbs 10


Audit Phobia


Proverbs 10-12, 2 Corinthians 4
Proverbs 10:9

One of the least welcome return addresses on mail that comes to our homes is that of the Audit Department, Internal Revenue Service. Just reading those words makes us wince. Perhaps we dread the thought of gathering up all the needed materials to answer the questions of the person assigned to examine our tax return. Honest mistakes do happen. We can copy a figure incorrectly, miscalculate or even not understand what deductions are allowable or not allowable. Still, we would rather not make the trip, returns, receipts and documentation in hand, to see the IRS agent.

The dread of an audit is worse if we know that we cheated on our return. Now the mind turns to possible explanations for the intentional error or to wondering what the penalty might be. The stomach churns, the mind races and dread hangs heavy in the air as the appointed day to meet with the auditor approaches.

Solomon said, "The man of integrity walks securely" (10:9). This person may dread an audit but only for the inconvenience. Other than a possible error in his math or a misunderstanding in the tax laws, he approaches an audit with an inward security, at peace because he knows that he has done what is right. In contrast, "he who takes crooked paths will be found out."

Integrity is not a bother but a blessing. It enables a person to walk securely, even when that walk is into the office of an auditor. Choose the secure path.

Is there an aspect of your life you live without integrity? Change that today. Choose the secure path to walk, the one of integrity.

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« Reply #35 on: September 14, 2005, 05:26:25 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 5 Proverbs 13


A House, Not a Tent


Proverbs 13-15, 2 Corinthians 5
Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:1

It is not unusual to see a canopy tent set up in the cemetery near our house. These are temporary structures, providing some relief from the weather during a graveside service. Soon after the burial, the tent is removed.

I like those tents for two reasons. One is obvious they do keep the sun, snow or rain off of those gathered by the grave. The other is not so obvious, but I would point it out if I were leading the service. At the committal I would reach up and grab hold of the tent. "We don’t live in tents," I would say, "but in houses." Tents are fine for times such as that, but most people would not want to live in one. They would rather have a house. I like the tent because it was a reminder of the truth that we all will one day move out of current residences and into our permanent home in heaven.

Where we live now is one sense a tent. That is what Paul calls our body, which will one day be destroyed. Until then we look forward to the building we have that is from God, "an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands" (5:1). A tent over a grave is a vivid picture of this truth. It serves as a reminder that we will leave the earthly tent behind for the home we have in heaven.

All that is around us is temporary, even our aches and pains. Rejoice that one day you will move out of the tent and into the house, the one prepared for you by God.

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« Reply #36 on: September 14, 2005, 05:05:42 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 6 Proverbs 16


Count to Ten, Again


Proverbs 16-18, 2 Corinthians 6
Proverbs 16:32

In our fast paced world, with lives stuck on fast forward, rage comes quicker than ever. Someone gets cut off in traffic and rage kicks in laying on the horn, screaming out the window, if not doing something even more drastic. Road rage is one example; airline rage is another. I once witnessed frustrated and fearful gate agents called for the police when a passenger at the airport, frustrated by a delay, began to yell.

"Better a patient man than a warrior, . . ."

A friend caught in one of those nightmare travel scenarios, flights delayed and canceled due to weather, described what happened when he was patient with the ticket agent. After she worked out the remainder of his trip she thanked him for his demeanor. "You made my day," she said.

". . . a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city."

The person of rage may get his way at the counter or feel better having vented his anger at other drivers. He may feel good about being a road warrior, but he is not. God's Word says that the patient person, the one who can control his temper, is better.

The impatient person may think he is in control by forcing his will on others, but he is not. He is out of control, unable to control himself. We are to be under the control of the Spirit and be people of patience.

Rage may be the rage today, but patience is honored by God forever.

Perhaps something will test your patience today. Do you think you will pass or fail? You probably already know the answer! Ask God right now to help you begin to be a patient person.

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« Reply #37 on: September 15, 2005, 10:17:28 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 7 Proverbs 19


Set Apart and Acceptable


Proverbs 19-21, 2 Corinthians 7
Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 7:1

Imagine sitting down at the table for a meal. A place has been set for you. Imagine looking at the plate and seeing on it the remnants of previous meals eaten from that plate. You just might protest a bit, especially if you are in a restaurant and don't know whose food was left on your plate! Now imagine the waiter saying, "Is there a problem? We set this place for you. What more could you want?"

Your answer would be immediate. "I want a clean plate!"

Now imagine you are the one setting the table for a very special guest. You would not want him to ask you, "Would you please bring me a clean plate?" Instead, you would make certain that not only was a place set for the guest but that it was immaculate.

This illustrates holiness. To be holy means to be "set apart." In a sense the place at the table is set apart for you; it is holy. But more is needed for it to be acceptable. It must not only be set apart but also clean. So it is with holiness.

Paul tells us to be "perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (7:1). Being set aside and available are only part of what makes a person holy. We must be acceptable to God which will be the result of truly being set apart!

How clean is your life before God? If you know of "dirty food" on your plate, ask God to forgive you and to help you remove it from your life.

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« Reply #38 on: September 18, 2005, 07:06:22 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 8 Proverbs 22


Never Give Up!


Proverbs 22-24, 2 Corinthians 8
Key Verse: Proverbs 24:10

He was a paunchy, stern looking, cigar chewing Englishman, an unlikely candidate to stand against the tyranny of Nazism. But Winston Churchill will be forever remembered for his motivational one-liner: "Never give up!"

That's good advice for the Christian. Our verse for today counsels us, "If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!" Translation: never give up.

Let's face it. Anybody can have strong faith when not being tested. It's when the storms of life come, when the report from the doctor is not good, when the voice on the other end of the line bears tragic news, that we need strong faith in God. That’s not a given. In fact, it's not even likely, unless we are convinced of God's righteous character in the good times of life. It's the knowledge of who God is and how He works in our behalf that gives us strength in the day of adversity.

What has God put on your plate today? Is something too difficult to bear? Is it some unexplainable disaster? Is life getting tougher for you instead of sweeter? If so, remember the paunchy Englishman. Better still, remember the advice of King Solomon: "Don't give up when tough times come. God will help you through them. Trust Him. You'll see brighter days if you never give up."

"Lord, help me to face the increasingly difficulties of life with your grace. Help me to hang in there when others hang it up. Give me the courage to do my best and look beyond the difficulty of today to the victory of tomorrow."

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« Reply #39 on: September 21, 2005, 12:53:02 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 11:1-15 Proverbs 30


Aiming for the Middle


Proverbs 30–31, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15
Key Verses: Proverbs 30:8-9

The prosperity train has pulled out of the station and everyone wants to be on board. Markets have been up, "dot coms" have soared, new home starts have increased happy days are here again. Today there are probably more advertisements for investment services than lenders, especially the lenders who bail out people financially. It seems like it used to be the opposite, more quick fix financial ads and fewer long term investment ones, but times have changed.

Now is a good time to review a prayer for financial balance. It is not a prayer to say before balancing your checkbook, but one to help you keep money in perspective, not allowing yourself to get out of balance. Agur writes, "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread" (30:8). These are not the words of the brokerage firm wanting your investments but of a man of God concerned about the heart. The reason for his prayer is rock solid—"Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God" (v. 9).

There is both balance and reason in that prayer. The danger is in the extremes. With poverty comes the temptation to steal, and with affluence comes the temptation to forget God. There is safety in between. More may seem better to those around you, but less may be best!

With affluence and emphasis on prosperity, it can be difficult to keep a balanced perspective on money. Pray this prayer to God today and repeat it as often as needed!

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« Reply #40 on: September 21, 2005, 10:27:05 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 12 Ecclesiastes 4


Stay Weak


Ecclesiastes 4-6, 2 Corinthians 12
Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9

As usual, strength is "in." Join the fitness center, work out, eat right, take supplements, be strong. Then be self-reliant, capable, assured, accomplished, using your connections and abilities to get where you want to be. Overcome your weaknesses and conquer the world.

You hear this over and over again, don't you? What you don't hear is an encouragement to be weak. The closest thing to that is the emphasis on "servant-leadership," but notice that it is still "leadership."

What Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9 is truly counter-culture: "I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." When did you last hear someone say, "Let me tell you about my weak points"? We think they are to be hidden, put out of sight, covered up. But Paul said he would boast about them.

The difference is Christ. Paul knew, and we need to also, that Christ's power rests on us in our weaknesses, not in our strength. Where we say, "I can't," Christ says, "I can." And as long as we say, "I can," Christ says, "I can't." It is not that He can't but that we won't let Him. We are like a child, unwilling to let a parent help. It is only when the child in weakness admits he can't that the parent, in strength, can help.

It's the same for us. Stay strong and you are weak. Stay weak and by Christ you are strong.

"God, help me be weak, to put aside my arrogant self-sufficiency, drawing instead on the strength of Christ. I can't, but He can."

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« Reply #41 on: September 23, 2005, 03:16:18 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 13 Ecclesiastes 7


Unexpected Disaster


Ecclesiastes 7–9, 2 Corinthians 13
Key Verse: Ecclesiastes 9:12

Sophisticated forecasting devices warn us when storms move into our area. Efforts are continually made to improve the equipment and techniques so we can receive even more accurate information. Long gone are the days of looking at the sky and saying, “Looks like rain.” Now it is done by Doppler radar and satellite images beamed from high above the earth. We like to be forewarned, especially of impending disasters. Yet in spite of all the technological advances, we still sometimes get caught unawares. We just don’t know what the future holds.

Sometimes we are like fish, unaware of the net that is in the water until we hit it, or like birds, not realizing that a snare has been set for our capture. Unexpectedly, we are caught by what was unpredictable.

In his wisdom, Solomon says that we are like the fish or the bird ensnared without warning by disaster (9:12). This happens, he says, so be prepared.

God does not give us a pass to avoid all difficulties. Nor does He give us advance warning of every challenge that lies ahead. He does let us know that in this life we will have problems. That does not sound like much encouragement until you remember that whatever comes, He will be with us. God does not keep us from all difficulties, but He does stay with us and sees us through them.

Face the future with realistic confidence. Whatever comes, God will be with you. Ask Him to help you brace yourself for the days ahead and for Him to help you get through the unexpected things that lie ahead.

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« Reply #42 on: September 24, 2005, 10:12:39 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ecclesiastes 10 Galatians 1


The KISS of Life


Ecclesiastes 10-12, Galatians 1
Key Verse: Ecclesiastes 12:13

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the importance of KISS. That word can be an acronym reminding us to "Keep It Short" or "Keep It Simple." I know that is only "KIS," but I prefer to leave off the last "S" because typically that stands for "Stupid." Why call someone a name when you can get across the point without demeaning him!

There is another version of KISS. It is "Keep It Strictly Scriptural." A great admonition, especially for those of us who teach the Word, but it's not just for teachers. All of us should want to live a strictly scriptural life, doing and saying and thinking only what is strictly based on God's Word.

Maybe Solomon heard of KISS when he summarized all of what is important in just six words. He wrote, "Fear God and keep his commandments" (12:13). It is the "KISS of Life," short, simple and strictly scriptural. In those six words are contained the foundation for our life-loving reverence of God. The content is there as well-keep His commandments. There is a completeness in this command, as Solomon notes that it is the "whole duty of man." Far from the meaninglessness of things pointed out in Ecclesiastes is the fulfillment of life found in these words.

This, then, is how we are to live, in the fear of God, keeping His commandments. Remember this "KISS."

Put this verse into your memory, say it daily and live it always. It is the KISS of Life.

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« Reply #43 on: September 25, 2005, 07:16:18 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Song of Solomon 4 Galatians 3


Sweet Words


Song of Solomon 4-5, Galatians 3
Key Verse: Song of Solomon 4:11

Try to go a day without any sugar. That might be close to impossible! There is sugar or a sweetener of some form in many of the things we eat. Read the labels and you may be amazed. Since that first suggestion is probably impossible, spend one day noticing the sweets you eat. Perhaps at some point in the day you'll get one of those "cravings," maybe even while just reading about sweets.

Let's face it-we enjoy the sweet treats, pieces of chocolate, mints, candies, as well as the spoonfuls of sugar we ladle into coffee or tea. Sweet is nice.

With that in mind read again these words: "Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue" (4:11). Here the "Lover" of Song of Solomon compares the words of his bride with the sweetness of the honeycomb. She must have been an expert at sweet talk!

Too often we are better at sounding sour than sweet. Sour words come more naturally. Yet we all like to hear the sweet words, the words that encourage, build up, motivate, calm and lift up our souls. Like the taste of a special piece of candy, the words of others can be sweetness to our hearts.

Now, knowing how much you appreciate the kind words of others, consider your own words. Are they sweet or sour?

Would you be described as one whose lips "drop sweetness as the honeycomb"? Think as you speak today.

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« Reply #44 on: September 27, 2005, 01:18:09 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Song of Solomon 6 Galatians 4


Joy Robbers


Song of Solomon 6-8, Galatians 4
Key Verse: Galatians 4:15

Paul asked the Galatians an agonizing and penetrating question, "What has happened to all your joy?" Biblical Christianity allows us to live life to the fullest extent intended by God, a life of blessing, one that is to be characterized by the joy of the Lord. We should be concerned when God's people are robbed of their joy.

The joy robber in Galatia was the restraints of legalistic Judaism. Later Paul would describe these people as ones who "cut in on" them as they were running a good race (5:7). They sought to enforce rules that were not of God but of man.

The problem is not with rules or with having "standards" in our lives. The problem is with the reason we keep them. If we observe special days or rules, especially those legislated for us by others, in hope of gaining some spiritual merit, then we are sinning. We regress from liberty to bondage and in the process can lose our joy.

In Christ we have liberty, which includes liberty from legalism. We can express our liberty in Christ and enjoy the blessing of it by keeping rules or having standards. Those are not wrong in themselves. The wrong comes from our motives if we do so to gain favor.

Joy will be found when we live a life of liberty, doing what we do to express our love for Jesus. Don't lose your joy.

Christian liberty is often misunderstood. Decide to do what pleases God, not to gain merit, but to show your love. Ask yourself if your Christian life is one of joy.

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