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nChrist
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« Reply #420 on: October 06, 2006, 01:49:29 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Philippians 1 Isaiah 23-25

Worship in Judgment

Isaiah 23-25, Philippians 1
Key Verse: Isaiah 24:14

A typical view of worship is much more narrow than what is found in the Bible. It may be that you conceive of worship as a Sunday morning service, something to attend once a week at most. Perhaps your view is a bit wider, recognizing not only corporate but also personal times of worship, such as daily devotions. Some people consider worship as being a response to something good: God does something good so we praise Him.

When we look for worship in the Bible, our understanding is stretched. In chapter 24, Isaiah records a worship scene far different from the one in chapter 6. Now the prompting to worship is not a vision of God in heaven but the carrying out of His wrath on earth. We typically do not think of God's judgment as a call to praise, but it is.

In His judgment, God declares His majesty and righteousness. He is the rightful Ruler of all creation. One day He will declare His majesty, putting down all rebellion, displacing all rulers. Also, the wickedness of the world will be brought to an end as God establishes His reign of righteousness.

Can God's judgment prompt you to worship? It should. But it won't unless you see this world as God sees it, a place of sin deserving His judgment. It will when you see judgment as God setting all things right, demonstrating Himself to be the Sovereign of the universe.

"God, help me worship You in Your majesty and righteousness. May I truly see You as the King who rules in holiness and praise You for the day in which You will establish Your righteous reign on this earth."

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« Reply #421 on: October 08, 2006, 07:00:07 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Philippians 2 Isaiah 26-27

Tranquility

Isaiah 26-27, Philippians 2
Key Verse: Isaiah 26:3

There is something peaceful about the sound of the word tranquility. Life typically is lived on the edge-the ragged edge. Peace, an overused word, is reduced to a slogan, something known but not experienced. But since we have not overused the word tranquility, it sounds so appealing, so peaceful.

God makes tranquility available to us. When He promises us "perfect peace," that is tranquility. It is important to note that perfect peace is not a product that He offers but a result. It is the result of a steadfast mind, one that trusts God.

The better we focus our mind on God, the better we trust, the more we will experience the perfect peace that comes from God alone. This peace, or tranquility, passes all understanding.

Sounds nice, doesn't it? It is such a contrast to the noise and congestion of traffic, the interrupting ring of the phone, the beep of the answering machine letting you know that you have messages, or the sound of children's voices clamoring for attention.

Perfect peace is not the result of God removing all of these, along with the other sights, sounds and smells of a stress-filled life. Instead, it is the result of a mind that is focused solely on Him.

Upon what is your mind focused? Determine today to keep God at the front of your thoughts, viewing everything through a God-conscious grid. Ask Him to help you know His perfect peace.

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« Reply #422 on: October 08, 2006, 07:01:38 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Philippians 3 Isaiah 28-29

Paint-By-Numbers

Isaiah 28–29, Philippians 3
Key Verse: Isaiah 29:13

Remember paint-by-number sets? The pictures were divided into numbered sections, each number indicating the color to go into that portion. People could paint just by putting the right-numbered paint into the corresponding areas of the picture. When done, the person had a painting. Usually you could tell that it was a paint-by-numbers. It looked too much "by the numbers"!

Some people try to do worship "by the numbers." It's as if the worship of God could be printed out with spaces to fill in, the end result being a picture entitled, "Worship," but looking more like a painting done by filling in numbered spaces.

The difference between worship that is acceptable to God and that which He despises is the heart. Isaiah delivered God's rebuke when he said that the people's words may have sounded right but their hearts were wrong. God will always reject right words from wrong hearts. Worship by the numbers, or rules, is not what God desires.

So when we gather with others for worship, or spend time alone with God, we must not let ourselves be like these people, whom God strongly rebuked. Worship is not a matter of art but of the heart. We must look inward, determined that the words we offer in worship are ones that come from the heart. Keep your heart close to God and your worship will be pleasing to Him.

This week ask God to help you worship in a way that pleases Him. If you find that your worship is a paint-by-numbers approach, ask for forgiveness and for help to change.

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« Reply #423 on: October 08, 2006, 07:03:00 AM »

Author: Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Isaiah 30-31 Philippians 4

Don't Worry!

Isaiah 30–31, Philippians 4
Key Verse: Philippians 4:6

Unlike the popular song a few years back, God never tells us, "Don't worry, be happy." Mindlessness is never the answer to anxiety. Avoidance may be a chosen path, but going that direction typically contributes nothing to the solution and may only aggravate the problem.

Instead, God tells us that we are to not be anxious about anything. That could be shortened to, "Don't worry—period." What follows is choosing the path that will take us in the direction of resolving our worries. Paul tells us that we are to take our anxieties, package them up as requests, then by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present them to God. Included in this instruction is the word everything because God wants us to understand how all-encompassing this command is. Give everything to God in prayer.

To the worrier, this is unnatural. Give away your worries and you have nothing left to worry about! But if you give them to God and take care of what you are supposed to do, you can leave the rest to Him. There's no need to worry over them any longer because you have given them to God. He never fumbles.

God does not want you to be a worrier. Do what He wants. Make a list right now and give your worries to Him. Pray, asking God to take those things out of your mind and put them into His hand.

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« Reply #424 on: October 10, 2006, 01:36:31 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Colossians 1 Isaiah 32-33

Only One Can Have It

Isaiah 32-33, Colossians 1
Key Verse: Colossians 1:18

Supremacy is a rather limited word. We may try to use it broadly, but when something or someone has supremacy, it really is singular. Only one can be supreme. Anyone else may be close, but not quite. The same is true of preeminence.

Paul says that preeminence and supremacy belong to Jesus because of the Resurrection. We need to know that and remember that preeminence is His by right, not ours to grasp. In Colossians 1, the emphasis of verses 15-19 is on Jesus.

Contrast this with Diotrephes, the church leader characterized in 3 John as a man "who loves to have the preeminence" (v. 9, NKJV). The root word in Colossians 1 and 3 John is the same in the Greek. The only difference is that in 3 John it is a compound word, the other part meaning "he loves to be." Diotrephes loved to be first, to have the preeminence.

It is striking that this word appears only twice in the New Testament. When Paul used it, he was stating what rightfully belongs to Jesus. When John used it, he was condemning a man who wanted what belongs to Jesus. The desire to control, to be the center of attention, to have the power to exclude others, came from a heart that wanted what belongs to Jesus.

The preeminence is His to have, not ours to take. Watch your pride, lest you become like Diotrephes.

Do you have the heart of a servant or a usurper? Read carefully the description of Diotrophes and then again the one of Jesus. Ask God to help you be humble, not seeking in any way what belongs only to Him.

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« Reply #425 on: October 11, 2006, 04:52:41 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Isaiah 34-36 Colossians 2

God Will Come

Isaiah 34-36, Colossians 2
Key Verses: Isaiah 35:3-4

A writer was describing his experience of hiking in the Grand Canyon. I was surprised when he said that coming back up the trail at the end of the day was easier than his earlier descent into the canyon. It seems like uphill would always be harder, especially when it is the last part of the hike.

But knowing that the hike would soon be over, that he could return to his air-conditioned room, that dinner was waiting at the end, made the climb up easier than the climb down. Basically, hope made the last part less difficult. What he knew was ahead kept him going. His knees felt better and his thoughts were not on cardiac arrest, either! The rim was just ahead, and with it would come rest, refreshment and relief.

Far greater than a motel room with an air conditioner is the word of hope given to the redeemed by the prophet Isaiah. His message was, "'Be strong, do not fear; your God will come'" (35:4). Those words would "strengthen the feeble hands," "steady the knees that give way" and encourage those with "fearful hearts." Better than a room on the rim of the Grand Canyon is the truth that God will come!

The way our life takes us can be hard. The world in which we live can be difficult. Our souls may weary, weakening our hands, our knees, our hearts-but to the weary pilgrim God gives words of hope. He will come.

"God, fill my heart, mind and soul with hope. Help me climb, renewed and reinvigorated by the reminder that You will one day come."

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« Reply #426 on: October 13, 2006, 06:26:50 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Isaiah 37-38 Colossians 3

Habit Trails of the Soul

Isaiah 37-38, Colossians 3
Key Verses: Colossians 3:1-2

Show me three things and I can probably tell what is important to you: your checkbook, your calendar and your home. The first will show me what you do with your money, the things that you value enough to spend your earnings attaining. The second will show me what you do with your time, that in spite of how busy you might be, these are things for which you still find time. The third will show me your interests. Items accumulated or displayed, even the books and magazine on a coffee table, can reveal your interests.

The things that we devote time and money to have captured our minds and our hearts. Thinking about and being involved in those things results in habit trails developing in our souls. We just seem to keep returning to those thoughts, those things.

First and foremost in our habit trails needs to be the things of God, the things of above. Paul tells us to set both our hearts and minds on things above. It is easier, more natural, to think about and love earthly things. After all, we can see them, hold them, collect them-love and think about them. Yet that is exactly what we are to do with the things of God-love and think about them, not totally to the exclusion of other things, but with a priority.

As we discipline our hearts and minds to fall in love with and think about what God teaches us from His Word, this will happen. Consider your habit trails. Are they of things above or below?

A good first step is Bible memory. Memorize Colossians 3:1-2. Then ask God to help you develop heavenly habit trails.

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« Reply #427 on: October 13, 2006, 06:28:06 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Colossians 4 Isaiah 39-40

An Awesome God


Isaiah 39-40, Colossians 4
Key Verse: Isaiah 40:12

A popular praise song says, "Our God is an awesome God." Verses such as Isaiah 40:12 reinforce that truth. Allow yourself a moment to meditate on this description of God.

He has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand. See how much water your hand can hold. Maybe an ounce, maybe two, but probably not much more. Then go look at a body of water, add to it all water you have seen, and toss in all the oceans. God is described as being able to measure all of the water in His hand.

He has marked off the heavens with His hand. I sometimes use my hand, from the tip of my thumb to the tip of my little finger, as a basic measuring device. It is about 9 inches from tip to tip. That is my span. Compare that to God’s. Isaiah said that God could mark off the breadth of the heavens.

We all know what dust is and how much of it there can be. God can put it all in a basket. He can even take the mountains and the hills and put them in a scale or a balance, much like we might weigh fruit at the grocery store.

Granted, this is only a representation of God. He does not have a body like ours but is spirit. Sometimes the Bible describes God in physical terms to help us understand Him. This description leaves us with only one thought: "Our God is an awesome God."

Take a moment to meditate on the awesomeness of God and then pray, praising Him for His majesty.

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« Reply #428 on: October 14, 2006, 02:13:10 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Thessalonians 1 Isaiah 41-42

No Fear

Isaiah 41-42, 1 Thessalonians 1
Key Verse: Isaiah 41:10

Have you seen this on a T-shirt, cap or car window-"No Fear"? It's a strong sentiment, but I sometimes wonder if the words match the reality of life. When life is going well and we are moving along in familiar circumstances with things seemingly under control, it is possible to have no fear. The problem is that what can look like smooth sailing may at any time change to treacherous waters without warning. A person might be tempted to change out of their "No Fear" T-shirt at the same time!

Yet God wants us to be "No Fear" people, not in apparel but in the calmness of our hearts. He tells us not only in Isaiah 41:10 but elsewhere that we should neither fear nor be dismayed.

As is the case with God, He does not just tell us what to do but also enables us to do it. He says, "For I am your God." Remember this! Realize this! Be strengthened by this truth!

What this means is that He will strengthen and help us. He will also uphold us with His righteous right hand. Help is not on the way; help is here!

Knowing this truth is one thing. Making it real is another. To help calm your fears, memorize this verse. Then when you are starting to feel uncertain, remind yourself of this truth. And one other thing—pray this verse. Ask God to keep you from fear and to help you feel His strengthening so that you will know that He is upholding you.

Begin right now to memorize this verse. Learn it well and say it often, especially when fear begins to show itself in your heart.

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« Reply #429 on: October 14, 2006, 02:14:18 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Thessalonians 2 Isaiah 43-44

Forget It

Isaiah 43-44, 1 Thessalonians 2
Key Verse: Isaiah 43:18

One of the most difficult things we can attempt to do is to forget. But sometimes forgetting is easy. Usually that is when we are trying to remember someone's name or what we were supposed to pick up at the grocery store. Other things get so firmly embedded into our minds that nothing could ever dislodge them. Our past can "haunt" us, actually affecting our present.

It is a challenge for us to forget the past, with its pains and failures. Yet God does not want us to be controlled by such things. Instead, He wants us to live with a clear sense of forgiveness.

To His people, Israel, God said, "'Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past" (43:18). To give added emphasis to this instruction, God also said, "'I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more'" (v. 25).

This is a tremendous picture of forgiveness. Our minds, which can't remember names or that we were supposed to pick up milk on the way home, hang onto hurts and wrongs for decades! Yet God, who knows even the number of hairs on your head, says, "I will not remember your sins." Forgiveness is fantastic!

If only we would let forgiveness accomplish all that it can. It can free us from the pain of our past. Forget it. Don’t dwell on it. These are not trendy phrases but biblical truth.

Is anything in your past affecting your present? Right now make sure it is forgiven and then ask God to help you not bring it up again. Remember it no more.

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« Reply #430 on: October 16, 2006, 10:47:28 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Thessalonians 3 Isaiah 45-46

No Other God

Isaiah 45-46, 1 Thessalonians 3
Key Verse: Isaiah 45:22

The God of the Bible is not reticent to say that He alone is God. In the Book of Isaiah Jehovah often claims divine exclusivity: "I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God" (44:6, see also 44:8, 24; and 45:5).

We could dismiss these claims and believe that there are many gods, one for each of us to discover in our own way. But the Bible doesn't give us that option. Jehovah says, "All who make idols are nothing . . . . He bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, 'Save me; you are my god.' . . . A deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself" (44:9, 17, 20).

God will not make room for pretenders to His throne. And nowhere is this more critically important than when it comes to our salvation. Jehovah says, "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other" (45:22).

Make sure you have trusted the right God, the only God who can save you from your sins. You'll know who He is when you meet Him in a personal way. Read John 14:1-6 to know Him personally.

"God, I believe there is but one God, that You have revealed Yourself through Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to be bold in my witness to those who are still searching for a relationship with You."

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« Reply #431 on: October 16, 2006, 10:48:54 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Thessalonians 4 Isaiah 47-49

Hope Makes the Difference

Isaiah 47-49, 1 Thessalonians 4
Key Verse: 1 Thessalonians 4:13

We all have times of grief, times of mourning the loss of a family member, neighbor or close friend. There is a sadness that comes with death, a sadness intensified by the finality of it. For some, their mourning is intensified by both finality and uncertainty. They do not know for certain what happens after death and find themselves facing an unsure future, one that looks hopeless.

When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, he wanted, among other things, to clear up any misunderstandings they might have regarding death. His intent was to do more than just give them information. He wanted them to realize the certain hope of the Christian and to have that hope affect their mourning. Knowing that in Jesus we have eternal life and that those who die in Christ are forever with Him should keep us from grieving like those who have no hope. We will still miss those who have died, but we should not grieve like others might.

We have hope in Christ. When a Christian dies, he is with Jesus, eternally. The day will come when we will join those who have died before us, either through our own death or through Jesus coming to take us out of this world. Our time together here on earth is temporary, as is the separation when our loved ones join Jesus. When we are all with Jesus, that will be permanent. There will be no more separation.

Perhaps you are grieving a loss. The truth of these verses can help you through your grief. You have a certain hope in Jesus!

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« Reply #432 on: October 17, 2006, 01:21:19 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Thessalonians 5 Isaiah 50-52

Hugs and Helps

Isaiah 50-52, 1 Thessalonians 5
Key Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Much can be said in just a few words. One example is the following: "Life is hard." Our knees may buckle at times, our shoulders droop under the load, and a weariness can settle into even our breathing. We sigh, and sigh again. That's life! Good times are interspersed with difficult times.

The good news for the Christian is that we do not go through the tough times alone. When we are involved in a local church, a body of believers that practices fellowship, others will come alongside to give hugs and to help. They are following Paul's command to "encourage one another and build each other up" (5:11).

Paul is not reminding us of a blessing but of a responsibility. It is easy for us to say, "Someone should do this for me!" And they should. But don't just sit back and remind yourself of what others should be doing. Paul wrote these words to you, about what you should be doing.

God wants the Body of Christ to be a place of encouragement and help. That will happen as we all get involved in giving out the hugs and helps to those who need them. The more we sit back, waiting for others to do it, the less likely it will happen. Yes, you may be in need, but so are others. So, get up, go out, and give of yourself to encourage and build each other up.

Is there someone you can encourage or help today? If so, do it-now.

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« Reply #433 on: October 20, 2006, 03:47:18 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Thessalonians 1 Isaiah 53-55

Bottled Water

Isaiah 53-55, 2 Thessalonians 1
Key Verse: Isaiah 55:1

It's a bit ironic that while drinkable water is free, bottled water, which costs, has become very popular. When ordering a sandwich at a fast-food restaurant, your request for water to drink has to be very specific. If you just say "water," a bottle might be put on your tray-and on your bill! Some people do have good reasons for drinking bottled water, but it still seems odd to buy it when water is free.

Isaiah contains very beautiful invitations, ones God gave to His people that also have meaning for us. The call of God, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters," is a touching one. God cries out to us. He has water that will quench our thirst, and it is free. Jesus used the water imagery to describe salvation, a free gift that satisfies the deepest thirst of our souls (John 4:14).

Just as people will pay for water, which is free, some will try to pay for salvation, which also is free. There is a major difference though. You can pay and get water. You cannot pay and get salvation. It is free and only free. God offers it, and we receive it.

There is a sense in which salvation is not free. It did cost a high price, which Jesus paid when He died on the cross. But it is always free to us. We can never pay for what God gives.

Have you received the free gift of salvation? If so, thank God for the living water. If not, pray today, asking to receive this gift. It is yours, already paid for, available for the asking.

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« Reply #434 on: October 20, 2006, 03:48:31 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Thessalonians 2 Isaiah 56-58

Transcendent and Imminent

Isaiah 56–58, 2 Thessalonians 2
Key Verse: Isaiah 57:15

A friend one day contrasted the music she prefers with the music style her teenage sons like. She used two words in particular to describe the difference. She prefers the music in which God is transcendent, while her sons like music in which God is imminent.

Her comment stuck in my mind. It was very insightful. Some do prefer music that describes God as high and lifted up, the One who reigns from above in heaven. Others gravitate to the songs that help them “feel the power.” God is described as working in them and through them. He is right there with them. That is the basic difference between transcendent and imminent—high and exalted compared to right here with us.

In reality God is both. Through Isaiah, God said, “I live in a high and holy place” (57:15). His next statement adds the fact that God is “‘with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit.’” God is both transcendent and imminent.

This affects our worship when we, as Isaiah describes in chapter 6, see the Lord high and exalted. This affects our daily living as we realize that God is right here with us and in us, working through us. Our view of God needs to be as large as all the universes He created and as specific as our street address. It is not a contradiction but a completion. He is transcendent and imminent.

How do you view God—as off in the distant, or right here right now? Thank God for His immensity and for His immediacy.

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