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nChrist
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« Reply #405 on: September 20, 2006, 01:45:40 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 12 Ecclesiastes 4-6

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 #406 on: September 22, 2006, 02:26:04 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 13 Ecclesiastes 7-9

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 #407 on: September 22, 2006, 02:27:11 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ecclesiastes 10-12 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 #408 on: September 25, 2006, 02:00:46 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Song of Solomon 1-3 Galatians 2

Repetition Aids Learning

Song of Solomon 1-3, Galatians 2
Key Verse: Galatians 2:16

Those who are taught how to teach will sooner or later hear that "repetition aids learning." Repeat your point, in a different way, restating so your hearers will have more than one opportunity to learn the lesson.

Sometimes we find repetition in the Bible, and when we read a passage with repetition it should really catch our attention. If God thought it necessary to repeat a point, it is extremely significant.

In Galatians 2:16, we are told the same thing three times. As is pointed out in the New International Study Bible, "Three times it tells us that no one is justified by observing the law, and three times it underscores the indispensable requirement of placing one's faith in Christ." Read the verse again, looking for the repetition. It says that man is "not justified by observing the law . . . . not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." The point is made, remade and made again!

God repeats it because we struggle to learn this lesson. People try to earn salvation, work their way to heaven, keep the Ten Commandments, even though God clearly says it doesn't work that way. Salvation is by faith alone, never by works or faith and works.

Have you learned this lesson? The final exam is when you die. See if you pass this one question mid-term exam: Why should God let you into heaven? The wrong answer is "works."

God gives salvation to those who believe, who by faith accept Jesus as their Savior. You cannot trust in anything or anyone else and be saved. Make sure your hope is based on Jesus and Him alone.

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« Reply #409 on: September 25, 2006, 02:01:53 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Song of Solomon 4-5 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 #410 on: September 25, 2006, 09:59:49 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Song of Solomon 6-8 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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« Reply #411 on: September 30, 2006, 10:26:14 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Isaiah 1-2 Galatians 5

Not Good Enough


Isaiah 1-2, Galatians 5
Key Verse: Isaiah 1:15

It seems inconceivable to think that God would not listen to our prayers, yet there are times when that is exactly the case. Our concept of God is that He always hears, always listens, but that is an incomplete concept. It may be the one that we like, but it is not what the Bible teaches.

What makes the difference between God hearing or not hearing our prayers is a matter of our heart. Some think, if I have the right "form," if I pray with the right words, in the right place, at the right time, then it is a done deal. I prayed. God will answer. That is the way it is supposed to be.

That attitude toward prayer is very man-centered, one that views God as the cosmic servant rather than the holy, sovereign Creator. His view differs drastically. Isaiah 1 makes that apparent. God looks at the heart of the one praying. Even His view of the raised hands is penetrating as He sometimes sees the uncleanness of the supplicant's life (1:15). In this chapter Isaiah also condemns strongly the sacrifices and festivals of the people, making the point that it is not a matter of art but of heart that makes what we do acceptable to God.

Flowing out of these rebukes are the gentle words, "'Come now, let us reason together'" (v. 18 ). Notice, though, that between rebuke and reconciliation is repentance (vv. 16–17). When there is wrong in our life it must be made right, a process that starts in the heart.

Perhaps you go through all the right motions, but is there wrong in your life? Don't just trust your routines to indicate all is right in your relationship with God. Look at your heart.

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« Reply #412 on: September 30, 2006, 10:27:27 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Galatians 6 Isaiah 3-4

Farmers' Market

Isaiah 3-4, Galatians 6
Key Verse: Galatians 6:9

Two words that will get a person to wake up early on a Saturday morning are "garage sales." Two other words are "farmers' market." Both have their own appeal, but there is something extra special about fresh fruits and vegetables, picked just a few hours before, trucked in from the country in the back of a pickup. These are not the processed, hauled long-distance, waxed, sprayed, treated versions, but the real deal.

We enjoy wandering through the stalls, picking and choosing, feasting on the fruit of someone else's labor. But ours is a different view of those items from the person selling them. The fruit of the harvest is the fruit of their labor. They may remember tilling, planting, cultivating, fertilizing, pruning, staking, watering-then finally came harvesting. Giving up is not in the process, unless the person wanted a bed of weeds.

Life is like that. Paul uses farming as an illustration to teach us both the importance of sowing and of not giving up. We will reap a harvest if we do not lose heart (6:9), and what we reap will depend on what we sow (vv. 7-8 ).

At the farmers' market, we reap the benefit of what others have sown, of their hard work. That is the way it can be with fruits and vegetables but not with the blessing of God in our life. We cannot buy His blessings from a vendor. We must sow and reap, not giving up. The blessings do come!

Look at what you are sowing in your life. Remember that you will reap what you sow. When it is difficult to keep doing right, remember that the good harvest will come for those who do not give up.

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« Reply #413 on: September 30, 2006, 10:28:38 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Isaiah 5-6 Ephesians 1

Purpose-Driven

Isaiah 5-6, Ephesians 1
Key Verses: Ephesians 1:6a, 12b, 14b

It is not unusual to see posted in a business or printed in an organization's literature things like a vision statement, a mission statement or objectives. Being purpose-driven has become one of the trends of business that has been adopted and adapted by some churches. Even some families and individuals have decided to write vision/mission statements.

Long before any writer or consultant suggested having a clear sense of vision, God communicated to His church that what He was doing was purpose-driven. Three times in Ephesians 1 we find the same basic expression that says, "to the praise of his glory." Each time the phrase is attached to another aspect of God's plan for our salvation, and each time it is in regard to another person of the Trinity.

God purposed and planned our salvation to the praise of His glory. The provision for our salvation is in the finished work of Christ, in whom we hope that we might be "for the praise of his glory." The Holy Spirit is given us as a pledge of our inheritance-again, "to the praise of his glory."

Purpose-driven? Definitely. What God did in eternity past, what Jesus did on Calvary's cross, what the Spirit does in our life, is all with purpose. It is all intended to bring glory to God.

So let's not mess it up! Let's live in a way that brings glory to God and in no way cause Him shame.

It is easy for us to see salvation as just for our benefit. Ask God to help you focus your heart and life on bringing glory to Him. Do not think only about how what He has done is for your good. It is also for His glory.

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« Reply #414 on: September 30, 2006, 10:29:53 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Isaiah 7-8 Ephesians 2

Serious about the Word

Isaiah 7-8, Ephesians 2
Key Verse: Isaiah 7:9

The phrase, "Is that your final answer?" has recently become part of our lexicon. The hope of winning a million dollars seems to be the key to a highly watched television program. Repeatedly there is the tension and anticipation of a contestant saying, "Yes, that is my final answer." After a dramatic pause they are then told if their answer was correct-or not.

Isaiah gave King Ahaz the final answer. It was the word of the Lord, a prophecy, one that the Lord would confirm with a sign. What more could a person ask for than that? God's word, confirmed!

Still, man being what man is, with a hesitancy to declare that something is his "final answer," can waver. So Isaiah, in a very straightforward way, said to Ahaz, "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all" (7:9).

This is an either/or statement, not a both/and. It is a one-way street. Our faith is to be our final answer.

We need to study the Bible, learning what it says so we can live what it teaches. That will bring blessing and confidence. And as we correctly understand and apply the Word of God to our lives, we will be able to stand. It is a stand we take in faith, but not in a blind faith. It is a faith based on the revealed Word of God.

Isaiah will not come knocking on our door, giving us new revelation. Isaiah is in our home, though! He brings us God's message in written form. Continue to read, learn and live the Word. Make it your "final answer."

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« Reply #415 on: September 30, 2006, 10:31:09 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ephesians 3 Isaiah 9-10

Mr. Wonderful

Isaiah 9–10, Ephesians 3
Key Verse: Isaiah 9:6

Many people do wonderful things for us. The doctor performs a wonderful operation and removes a cancerous tumor. The newspaper editor runs a wonderful article on our church. The guy at the garage gives us the wonderful advice just to ignore the check engine light on our car. But there is only one person who can be our wonderful Savior. That person is Jesus.

In one of the most thrilling and inclusive prophecies of the Bible, Isaiah predicts some of the qualities we should expect in the Savior. "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (9:6).

Jesus Christ is "Mr. Wonderful," in every sense of the word. He has given us a wonderful salvation because of His wonderful sacrifice at Calvary (2 Cor. 5:21). He calls us to a wonderfully abundant life now because of His wonderful resurrection (John 10:10; 14:19). And He is preparing a wonderful home for us in heaven because of His wonderful promise (John 14:1–3).

It is true that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. He is the Mighty God. He is the great Counselor. But in this world where the quality of almost everything is suspect, it's good to know we have a wonderful Savior. He is Mr. Wonderful.

"Thank You, Lord, for being a wonderful Savior to me. May I today be a wonderful witness to You."

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« Reply #416 on: October 01, 2006, 09:30:32 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Isaiah 11-13 Ephesians 4

Bitter, Not Better

Isaiah 11–13, Ephesians 4
Key Verse: Ephesians 4:31

Do you remember the medicines your mother tried to give you as a child? There was aspirin, cough syrup, cod liver oil and more. And for some reason mothers were always trying to get kids to take castor oil. All I remember is that they all tasted terrible.

Sometimes bitter tastes made us healthy; sometimes they didn't. Bitterness is a bit like that. It tastes terrible, but it doesn't do us any good. That's why Paul said, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice" (4:31). Did you notice what topped the list of bad medicine? Bitterness.

Bitterness is the only substance that does more damage to its container than it does to those it is applied to. It destroys people, but not those who are its recipients. Bitterness destroys those who are bitter towards others.

If you are bitter toward your spouse, your boss, your pastor, your brother, your parents, your neighbor or anyone else in your life, they are untouched and unharmed by your bitterness.

Identify your bitterness. Admit it. Confess it. Discard it. It's the only way to have a relationship with others that benefits both of you. Replace bitterness with forgiveness and you will replace acid with honey.

"Lord, don't allow me to retain bitterness. Help me to confess it as sin and forsake it. Help me to realize the personal harm bitterness causes, not to those toward whom I am bitter, but to me."

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« Reply #417 on: October 02, 2006, 10:51:16 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ephesians 5:1-16 Isaiah 14-16

Life Is Short

Isaiah 14–16, Ephesians 5:1–16
Key Verses: Ephesians 5:15–16

Perhaps you have seen this slogan: "Life is short. Play hard." Perhaps you have also seen the rewritten version: "Life is short. Pray hard." One letter makes all the difference. It is the difference between a temporal mind-set and an eternal one.

A temporal mind-set thinks primarily about the things of now. It focuses on this world as if it is all there is. The time is now because there is no other time. It embraces an "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die" philosophy of life.

The Christ follower, however, knows that this life is only temporary; the world to come is permanent. So, we have only this much time and we better make good use of it-good use not in the sense of getting maximum pleasure as we play hard, but as we make it count for all eternity.

It is foolish to waste time. Paul both warns and encourages us: the time we have is limited and the days are evil, so we need to make the best use of our time to impact this world for Jesus while we have opportunity.

Opportunity is originally a Latin word that means "toward the port." When the winds and tides were favorable, the sailing ship would take advantage of the "opportunity." The days are evil, Paul says, which sounds like unfavorable winds, not favorable. Still, this is our time, our opportunity. Life is short. Pray hard.

Think about how you spent your day yesterday. Did you make it count for eternity? Now think about today. In what ways will you make it count?

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« Reply #418 on: October 03, 2006, 10:02:41 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Isaiah 17-19 Ephesians 5:17-33

Idol Worshipers

Isaiah 17-19, Ephesians 5:17–33
Key Verses: Isaiah 17:7–8

Man has the innate ability to look more to what can be seen and made than to the unseen God, who is the Maker of all things. That is the lure of idolatry. A person can see an idol or make or designate something to be an idol. The problem with idolatry has always been that whatever the idol is, it is worthless. It may have some monetary value, depending on the materials in it, but it has no spiritual worth.

Even Christians, while perhaps not actually putting an idol on a shelf in their home, can have eyes that wander from the true God to other things. It may be the skill of their hands that becomes the object of their trust. A person’s investment portfolio can be viewed as the source of security. Someone might rest in his accomplishments, as if having done this much will enable him to get through whatever might come his way.

To the people in Damascus, the prophet said that a day would come when "men will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel" (17:7–8 ). When people forget God, living as if He doesn't exist, they become like the people of Damascus, who had turned their eyes from God to idols.

We might chafe at being compared to an idol worshiper, but when our eyes are off God and on other things, we are really the same.

Is your trust in God or other things? Think hard about this. If your trust is first in yourself, then get your eyes right. Look to God.

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« Reply #419 on: October 06, 2006, 01:48:11 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ephesians 6 Isaiah 20-22

All!

Isaiah 20–22, Ephesians 6
Key Verse: Ephesians 6:18

Some words are so simple and clear that they should not need definition. All is one of those words. It means . . . well, you know, it means all! While we may understand the word, there are times when we need to be reminded of just how much all includes. Nothing is left out when all is included. To see what I mean, look at the all's of this verse:

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

Paul uses the word all repeatedly to stress the "all-ness" of prayer. We are to pray on all occasions, which leaves none out. All kinds of prayers and requests are to be brought to God. Praying is something we should always be doing. Finally, notice that we are to pray for all the saints. No one is to be left out of our praying.

One of the things going on in your life all the time is your heartbeat. It beats all the time. What does that all mean? It means all the time; no time is excluded.

You are to pray "all the time." What does that all mean?

Now, pray as if your heart beats with that kind of all, and let your heart beat like you pray with that kind of all. Would you live?

Praying always does not mean that you must always have your head bowed and your eyes closed. It does mean you are in constant communication with God. Consciously think today about keeping communication going with God.

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