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nChrist
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« Reply #390 on: September 05, 2006, 09:53:26 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 15:1-28 Psalm 146-147

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 #391 on: September 06, 2006, 02:18:34 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Psalm 148-150 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 #392 on: September 07, 2006, 11:29:18 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Proverbs 1-2 1 Corinthians 16

Systematic Giving

Proverbs 1-2, 1 Corinthians 16
Key Verses: 1 Corinthians 16:1-3

A cartoon featured the sign in front of a church. It boldly announced "Stewardship Sunday" and then meekly suggested, "Try us again next week." That may reflect our culture's thinking about giving, but it should not reflect ours.

Our giving is to be systematic, individual and consistent. On the first day of the week, each of us is to bring our offering. This is to be the pattern of our life.

What we give is to be proportionate. God does not set a price but a standard. He does not even stipulate a percentage. Rather, we are to give as He has prospered us and as we have purposed in our heart. When we consider what is an appropriate percentage, we find that tithing (ten percent) is neither annulled nor endorsed in the New Testament, but it was the minimum for giving in the Old Testament. Setting aside ten percent is a good starting point, one that can be increased as God prospers us.

The money you put in the offering is a private matter between you and God. Paul did not want to pressure people to give, so he instructed that the collection be taken before he arrived. It should motivate you to consider that when you give, God is your witness!

Finally, our giving has a place. The Corinthians brought their offerings to the local church. That is to be the first priority of our giving. Begin there.

Stewardship is not a subject to avoid but a command to obey. Consider your giving. Do you meet the standards Paul outlined?

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« Reply #393 on: September 08, 2006, 11:07:02 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 1 Proverbs 3-5

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 #394 on: September 09, 2006, 06:56:41 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Proverbs 6-7 2 Corinthians 2

What God Hates

Proverbs 6-7, 2 Corinthians 2
Key Verse: Proverbs 6:16

God is love, says 1 John 4:8. We like that. It is comforting, like a warm blanket on a chilly night.

But like a rock dropped into the stillness of a pond are the words, "God hates." The ripples that result disturb the tranquility of the water's surface. Our minds are jolted to a reality that too often we want to ignore.

God is love, but there are things He hates. This really ought to catch our attention! We should sit up and take notice when the One who loves us so much that He would give His Son to die for us says in His Word that there are things He hates. "There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him" (6:16). This does not mean there are only six or seven things God objects to. Hebrew poetry uses a phrase like this to indicate that these are definitely on the list! It is like the flashing lights at a railroad crossing, saying, "Look out!"

Included in the list is "a man who stirs up dissension among brothers" (v. 19). Earlier in the chapter this person is described as one "who plots evil with deceit in his heart" (v. 14). His mouth, his winking, even his body language bring about alienation and conflict.

God hates this. That should be enough to keep us from causing dissension, but sadly we know that dissension can be found even among the people of God. Consider your words and what you do. Is your heart set on causing conflict?

The heart of Christianity is reconciliation first of all us to God! And we are to be people reconciled to one another. Examine you heart. Are you by words or deed sowing seeds of dissension?

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« Reply #395 on: September 10, 2006, 08:47:24 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 3 Proverbs 8-9

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 #396 on: September 12, 2006, 01:32:41 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 4 Proverbs 10-12

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 #397 on: September 12, 2006, 01:33:55 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 5 Proverbs 13-15

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 #398 on: September 14, 2006, 02:54:33 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 6 Proverbs 16-18

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 #399 on: September 14, 2006, 02:55:46 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 7 Proverbs 19-21

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 #400 on: September 17, 2006, 10:17:22 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 8 Proverbs 22-24

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 #401 on: September 17, 2006, 10:18:28 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 9 Proverbs 25-26

Stoking the Fire

Proverbs 25-26, 2 Corinthians 9
Key Verses: Proverbs 26:20-21

A few years ago my wife and I decided to make the change from charcoal to liquid propane gas. We enjoy "grilling" and opted for convenience over taste. The flavor, in our humble palettes' opinion, is better with charcoal, but we do cook out much more with the gas grill. I have at times brushed the snow off the top to fire it up in the middle of the winter. A twist of the knob on the tank, one match and we are on our way.

There is a problem, though. With charcoal I could see how much was left in the bag, but with a propane tank, it is pretty much a guess. One time the meal was not completely cooked when we ran out of gas. No fuel, no fire. That's the way it is.

It is the same with arguments. If there is no fuel, there will be no fire and the argument will end. One of the things that can feed that fire is gossip, and when it dies down, the quarrel does also.

Some people are quarrelsome. They stir up things and keep them stirred up. That is why they are described as being like charcoal, or wood. They kindle strife.

With picturesque words, Solomon challenges us not to be the fuel for the fire. Neither our actions, as in gossip, nor our character, as in being contentious, should start disagreements and keep them burning.

Ask yourself before you say something about another person, "Am I saying this to stir up trouble?" Answer honestly. Better to be quiet than to stoke the furnace of disagreements.

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« Reply #402 on: September 20, 2006, 01:47:00 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 10 Proverbs 27-29

Coached to the End

Proverbs 27-29, 2 Corinthians 10
Key Verse: Proverbs 27:6

The next time you meet a retired Major League Baseball player, ask him, "At what point in your career did you no longer have a coach?" "I always had a coach," he will answer. Even the perennial all star, certain Hall of Famer, needs a coach.

Some coaches are great motivators, encouraging with positive statements to help the athlete maximize his potential. But all coaches are critics. They have an ability to see what is wrong, point it out and correct it. The player who wants to improve his game needs a good coach and a willingness to listen. He may prefer having his ego stroked, but knows that he needs the blows the coach can dish out.

We all need coaches who will tell us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear. We need to be coachable, people who will listen and learn from what Solomon calls the "wounds from a friend" (27:6). The words of a friend may hurt for a while, but ultimately they will help if we will listen. The person who says what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear is more like an enemy who kisses up to us.

Later in this chapter Solomon says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (v. 17). To sharpen involves removing some from the edge being sharpened. In a sense it, too, is a wounding, but for the good.

So which do you want ego strokes or wounds?

Has someone tried to help you but you rejected him because his words hurt? Go back to that friend and ask for his help. You can trust the wounds of a friend.

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« Reply #403 on: September 20, 2006, 01:48:10 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 11:1-15 Proverbs 30-31

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 #404 on: September 20, 2006, 01:49:21 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 Ecclesiastes 1-3

Twisted and Empty

Ecclesiastes 1-3, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33
Key Verse: Ecclesiastes 1:15

A bundle of studs delivered to a building site will invariably have some boards that are twisted, and no amount of nails seems to be sufficient to straighten them. Then there is the frustration of running out of nails. "How many do we have?" someone will ask. When "none" is the answer, frustration sets in.

Know the feeling? When bad things cannot be undone, and the needed supplies or other people who could be of help are unavailable, realization sets in and emotions churn. Are we having fun yet? Not now.

Solomon catches our attention with this scenario. He writes, "What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted" (1:15). It is meaningless, he says, to try to change these facts. His intent is not to leave us in despair but to counsel us to a wise perspective. There are times that we must accept things as they are.

This is not a Christian fatalism or a Christian version of karma, but it is a biblical perspective that brings peace to the heart of the believer. We need to accept what God brings into our life, be content with our situation and learn to live for His glory with our circumstances. Some things cannot be undone. Other things will be lacking. So learn to accept those facts and get on with being the person God wants you to be.

Do you have any areas of discontent right now? Accept them and ask God to help you have contentment and fulfillment in spite of, if not because of, them.

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