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nChrist
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« Reply #450 on: November 06, 2006, 11:48:38 AM »

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

Endless Loop

Jeremiah 32-33, Hebrews 1
Key Verse: Jeremiah 32:40

Sunrise, sunset. The two words go together, like tick and tock. Sometimes when we hear pairs of words like these, we repeat them. They roll off the tongue naturally, easily repeated, communicating endlessness: sunrise is followed by sunset, which is followed by sunrise ... and so on.

There is a loop of sorts that God promises will one day come, just as sure as sunrise will follow sunset. It is a loop of two parts, one His and one His people's.

For God's part, He will "'never stop doing good to them'" (32:40). That is His promise, contained in this prophecy uttered by Jeremiah. A day will come when God's everlasting covenant will be established, and without fail He will do good for His people.

The other part of the loop will be the faithfulness of God's people. Jeremiah said that "'they will never turn away from'" God. As He does good to them, they will not forsake Him.

In between the two parts of the loop is another thing that God will do to insure the everlasting nature of this loop. He will "'inspire them to fear'" Him. This fear is not a terror of God but a reverential respect of Him. As His people have that fear in their hearts, they will stay faithful.

The day is coming when this endless loop of doing good and faithfulness will be in effect. But we should live that way today. In our hearts we should have a proper fear of God, one that affects the way that we live, that keeps us close to Him.

Do you fear God? The Bible speaks repeatedly of how fear is the beginning of wisdom and of knowledge. The fear of God should affect the way we live. Do you truly have this reverential respect of Him?

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« Reply #451 on: November 06, 2006, 11:49:51 AM »

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

Drift

Jeremiah 34-36, Hebrews 2
Key Verse: Hebrews 2:1

If I were choosing a material to make a model of the human heart, something that would show the nature of our hearts, I would use driftwood. You have probably seen those pieces of wood floating by on a river or along the shore of a lake, wood that is rootless, just drifting wherever the current carries it. Our hearts are like that, prone to drift.

Throughout the Book of Hebrews we are warned about our propensity to wander away from God. Chapter two begins with the warning that "we must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away" (2:1). As you read through Hebrews, watch for this theme and hear the repeated warnings. The warnings often come with instructions, things to do to keep this from happening.

In chapter 2 the instruction is very basic: "pay more careful attention ... to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." To hear is one thing; to heed is another. We can hear, even read, the Word of God and its instruction, but this is not enough. We need to pay careful attention because the help we need to stay close to God comes not from just hearing but from heeding.

If I were choosing the material that I wish would make a good model of a Christian's heart, my choice would be an anchor. Now I know that an anchor is not a material per se, but I want it to be the image that best represents my heart-one that is anchored close to God.

The hymn writer's words were, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it" ("Come, Thou Fount"). Do you feel prone to wander? Ask God to help you anchor your heart close to Him. Do it by both hearing and heeding His Word.

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« Reply #452 on: November 06, 2006, 11:51:09 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Jeremiah 37-39 Hebrews 3

A Word for "Today"

Jeremiah 37-39, Hebrews 3
Key Verses: Hebrews 3:12-13

Many a long-distance runner has come around that final turn wondering if he has enough energy left to finish the race, only to be energized by the cheering of the crowd. He may feel like he's running the remainder of the race in slow motion, but his exertion is fortified by the voices of onlookers.

Words can have a powerful effect. They can build up or tear down. Our words can, and should be, encouraging ones, words that help others-especially those who are running the race of faith alongside us. The race is hard, the challenge real, and the temptation to sin constant.

Hebrews warns us of the possibility of drifting, of allowing our hearts to harden, of being deceived by sin. That is a very real danger that each Christian faces. Our natural tendency is away from God, not toward Him.

An antidote for this is encouraging words. The community of believers should daily give exhortations to help keep one another from developing a hardened heart. As each of us has a responsibility to keep our hearts anchored close to God, so each has a responsibility to help others do so as well. Notice that we are to encourage one another "Today" (3:13). Any day that you can call "today" is a day that you are to be an encourager.

Your assignment is to encourage someone in his faith today. Who will it be and what will you do? Now do it.

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« Reply #453 on: November 07, 2006, 02:07:58 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Hebrews 4 Jeremiah 40-42

Exposed

Jeremiah 40-42, Hebrews 4
Key Verse: Hebrews 4:13

We keep many things in our lives private. Some people are very private about their finances. They do not want others to know how much they earn, what they have in the bank or any other details about their money. Physical health is another very private subject. Some people will undergo a surgical procedure and not tell even their closest friends about it.

Any list of things that people try to keep private includes sin. We may have-should have, in fact-a sense of shame when we do wrong. Along with feeling shame, though, we might hope we get away with out sin. Things can be hidden in computer files, underneath clothes in a drawer or tucked behind a loose brick. Perhaps the hidden sin is an activity. A person traveling away from home might think he can get away with sin in a town where he's unknown.

But God knows. The Bible says, "Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (4:13). That verse says two things to us. One is that God knows. Nothing we think or do is hidden from His sight. We are naked. The other is that we will give an account to Him, and it will be an account that covers everything!

God tells us this for a reason. He wants us to live right and not try to get away with wrong. He knows everything we do, say and think-and one day we will have to tell Him about all of it.

Are you trying to hide anything from God? If so, then you need to stop doing wrong, get ride of the hidden things, ask for forgiveness and live right. Take those steps today.

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« Reply #454 on: November 08, 2006, 08:47:00 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Hebrews 5 Jeremiah 43-45

Hard of Hearing

Jeremiah 43:45, Hebrews 5
Key Verse: Jeremiah 44:4-5

The sign said, "Stop." That much I read, and that is what I did. As I pulled away from the stop sign, my wife asked, "Did you see what that sign said?"

"Stop," I replied.

"It also said, 'Look again,'" she told me. I hadn't noticed that second line.

I wonder how many warnings we miss because we aren't looking or listening. The answer is probably more than we could imagine. The saddest of these are the warnings from God we ignore.

God sent His prophets to the people of Israel to especially warn them against the sin of idolatry. Again and again they were sent, but the people did not listen or pay attention. In Jeremiah 44:6 God says that the result of the failure to listen was judgment. No more messengers were sent. Instead, God sent His fury and wrath.

While Jeremiah spoke to a specific time in the history of Israel, his message is one we need to hear. We, too, can hear the Word of God again and again. We can read the Bible, hear it taught and ignore what it says.

God did not give us the Bible just to increase our knowledge but to also affect the way we live. For it to have that affect on us means that we must not only hear but also heed. When it says "stop," we must stop. Those things that it says "do," we must do. What we must not do is what the people of Jeremiah's day did - neither hear nor heed.

Is there anything in particular that you know God wants you to change in your life today? If so, make that change now.

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« Reply #455 on: November 13, 2006, 11:43:49 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Jeremiah 46-47 Hebrews 6

An Anchor

Jeremiah 46-47, Hebrews 6
Key Verse: Hebrews 6:19

Among the symbols that Christians have held dear are the fish and the anchor. Over 60 such pictures have been found in the catacombs of ancient Rome. The outline of a fish on the back of a car can be a testimony. The picture of an anchor also is a strong statement of what Jesus means to the Christian. People put their trust in anchors, and we have put our trust in Christ.

During a storm at sea, hope is placed in an anchor. It can keep the boat from drifting and help it weather the storm. The better the anchor, the more firm the hope.

For us, Jesus is the anchor, the One who not only can keep us from drifting but help us through every storm. To emphasize the security we have in Christ, the author of Hebrews describes this anchor as "firm and secure" (6:19). It is "firm" in that it cannot break and "secure" in that it cannot slip. That cannot be said of any other anchor, only of the Anchor of our soul-Jesus.

The next time you see an anchored ship, watch how the waters move but the ship does not. Storms may come that are greater than an anchor, but there are no storms greater than the Anchor of our soul. In this Anchor we have hope and confidence, whatever the storms we face.

"Thank You, God, for giving me an Anchor that is sure and steadfast. Help me today and every day to rest secure in this knowledge."

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« Reply #456 on: November 13, 2006, 11:46:08 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Jeremiah 48-49 Hebrews 7

He Pleads Our Case

Jeremiah 48-49, Hebrews 7
Key Verse: Hebrews 7:25

When needed, an effective lawyer is very appreciated, especially one who can plead our case for us. A good attorney knows what to say and how to say it as he represents us before a judge or magistrate. With him pleading our case, we have high hopes for a favorable ruling or verdict.

Everyone has a case that we cannot win without the help of Jesus. If we were to stand before the Judge of the universe and plead our case, we would lose. There is nothing we can do or say that can change the fact that we are guilty sinners before Him. Still we have hope-because of Jesus.

When Jesus pleads our case, He does it not on our merit but on His own. It is His sacrifice that satisfies the requirement of God, and it is our acceptance of what He did on our behalf that saves us. The writer of Hebrews says that it saves us completely (7:25). There is no appeals process or partial settlement. We are saved completely, and unlike a human attorney who may move on to other cases once ours is settled, Jesus continues to intercede for us.

Notice the simplicity of this statement: "He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." Jesus saves-no doubt. He saves completely-nothing is left undone. And He keeps us saved as He ever lives to intercede for us.

Thank God today for the salvation you have in Christ. Even now He is interceding for you!

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« Reply #457 on: November 13, 2006, 11:47:54 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Hebrews 8 Jeremiah 50

Misguided

Jeremiah 50, Hebrews 8
Key Verse: Jeremiah 50:6

When traveling by car, my wife and I usually have a road atlas in the front seat with us. Sometimes we have just the basic map that comes when you rent a car at an airport. At other times we use maps from the Internet. Then there are times we stop the car and ask for directions-a last resort for any guy!

It would be extremely rare today to get lost following a map. Technology and publishing advances provide us with accurate and highly detailed maps. Sometimes, though, a person you ask directions from can err and send you on the wrong path. Or, shunning the help of a map, we can get lost on our own.

God uses the images of being lost and misguided to challenge us. He said through His prophet Jeremiah that His people were like lost sheep that had been misguided, led astray, taken away from the places of rest. The image is not of physical but of spiritual wandering. It is a sad picture that God's people could be like wandering, misled animals.

You probably don't like it when you get lost while traveling or trying to find a certain place in town. Even a wrong turn can be annoying. And if someone gives you wrong directions, you know the irritability that you can feel.

So if that is how you react to getting lost on the road, how do you feel about wandering spiritually? The Bible is like your map. You need to read it and know it to keep from wandering. Also, watch out for those who give poor directions. Compare their teaching with the Word. Don't be like lost sheep, led astray.

You need to read and know the Word to keep from wandering spiritually. Commit yourself anew today to reading, studying and learning the Bible.

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« Reply #458 on: November 13, 2006, 11:49:27 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Hebrews 9 Jeremiah 51-52

Nothing But

Jeremiah 51-52, Hebrews 9
Key Verse: Hebrews 9:12

The glass doors, front windows, display cases or even cash registers of stores tell us the variety of ways we can pay for our purchases-VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, debit cards, checks and cash. Some retailers also have a coupon program or voucher system, maybe a card filled with stamps. Options abound.

That is the way it is at gas stations, department stores, restaurants and other places of business, but not the way it is in regard to salvation. In the words of the old hymn, it is "nothing but the blood of Jesus" that can make the payment for our debt of sin.

This chapter of Hebrews draws our attention to what Jesus has done for us. It especially reminds us that we are not saved by His life or by His example but by His shed blood. We also must remember that salvation is nothing in or of ourselves but is totally of Him. Again, as a songwriter put it, "Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling." As this chapter says, "He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption" (6:12).

While some people might want to turn away from this imagery, preferring instead to focus on Jesus' life and example, we must remember that it is by His death, burial and resurrection that we are saved. Again, quoting from a modern writer, "We had a debt we could not pay; He paid a debt that He did not owe."

"Thank You, God, for my salvation. It is a gift given freely to me but one that was purchased at great price. I thank You for the shed blood of Jesus."

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« Reply #459 on: November 13, 2006, 11:51:04 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Lamentations 1-2 Hebrews 10:1-18

Any Other Way?

Lamentations 1-2, Hebrews 10:1-18
Key Verse: Hebrews 10:4

In many situations we understand that only certain things are acceptable. Show up for a football game with a ticket to a baseball game. Think you will get in? Go to a concert with an admission pass for an amusement park. Won't work. Try to get backstage without a pass hanging around your neck. You'll be turned away. It's easy to come up with example after example where there is only one way in; no others work.

So why do people understand this principle at the auditorium, stadium or amusement park but think it will be different with heaven? Salvation is through Jesus, nothing else, not even through sacrifice.

God had given His people rituals that symbolized the covering of their sins. These pointed to Christ's atoning death for sinners, looking forward to the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of all people. His sacrifice eliminated all need for other sacrifices and eliminated those sacrifices totally. We read that "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (10:4). Nothing else can accomplish what Christ alone did on Calvary's cross.

We need to know this so that we do not wrongly think that there is some other way into heaven. There is only one way, and it is Jesus. No sacrifice we offer, no deeds we do, no gifts we bring, will work. Just Jesus.

Friend, be sure you are saved. If you are hoping in some other way, you will be disappointed. Salvation is found in Jesus alone.

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« Reply #460 on: November 15, 2006, 08:01:18 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Hebrews 10:19-39 Lamentations 3-5

I Have Hope

Lamentations 3:5, Hebrews 10:19-39
Key Verses: Lamentations 3:19-20

When the weather is nice, temperatures are pleasant, and a gentle breeze blows, people will sing, "This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it." But when the weather is horrible, temperatures are at the extremes, and perhaps the wind is a gale force, people aren't as likely to sing. Yet God makes both kinds of days.

We need to remember that God is good all the time. His goodness is not dependent on how much we like our current situation. That must have been Jeremiah's perspective. At a time when his soul was "downcast" within him (3:20), he could look beyond the immediate to the eternal. Rather than allowing his circumstances to drag him down, he focused his attention on God's faithfulness and said, "I have hope" (v. 21).

You probably know the next verse: "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (v. 22)

It's easy to sing the hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" when things are going well. Yet the verses from which that theme is taken do not come from a time of smooth sailing for the prophet. Instead, it was a time of extreme difficulty. Jeremiah knew that God is good all the time and that even in the worst of times He is faithful.

Even when life looks hopeless, remember that looks can be deceiving. Hope in the ever- faithful God.

Ask God today to help you be a person of hope. Don't let the immediate cloud your view of the eternal. Hope in the ever-faithful God.

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« Reply #461 on: November 15, 2006, 08:02:50 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Hebrews 11:1-19 Ezekiel 1-2

How to Please God

Ezekiel 1:2, Hebrews 11:1-19
Key Verse: Hebrews 11:6

Someone once said, "Faith is getting yourself in so deep only God can get you out." Be careful - that could define stupidity too.

I like this definition much better. Faith is confidence in the righteous character of God that fosters trust and hope, even when the evidence fosters doubt and despair.

Hebrews 11 is a cast of characters, all of whom had great faith. From the first verse all the way to the middle of verse 35 are recorded the success stories of the heroes of faith. But there's a dramatic change beginning in verse 35. Others were tortured . . . . still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two . . . . They went about in sheepskins and goatskins (vv. 35b-37).

These were heroes of faith, too, but their circumstances were very different. Still, they had faith in God. Why - Because faith is unrelated to our circumstances. If you have faith in the righteous character of God before tough times come, that faith will see you through the tough times. If you aren't already convinced of God's righteous character, the moment disaster strikes is no time to wrestle with that issue.

Do you want to please God today? Then don't allow your circumstances to determine your faith. Have faith in God. He can change your circumstances, but He Himself cannot change.

"Lord, help me to live above my circumstances today. Help me to have faith in who God is and recognize that no matter what happens to me, God is faithful and I can trust Him."

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« Reply #462 on: November 16, 2006, 09:46:19 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Hebrews 11:20-40 Ezekiel 3-4

On Your Face

Ezekiel 3:4, Hebrews 11:20-40
Key Verse: Ezekiel 3:23

Have you ever sat in church and wished the song leader would give you an opportunity to stand and stretch your legs for a minute? Probably. Have you ever grumbled that the song leader had you stand up and sit down too much? Probably. While we are on the subject, are your pews too hard or too close together - or just plain uncomfortable? Probably.

Having comfortable seats during worship is important to most people. They want adequate but not too-bright lighting, along with cool - not cold - temperatures. And they don't want to feel crowded.

Yet as you read your Bible, one of the things you will not find is people sitting during worship. The only One who sits is God. Others stand, kneel, walk and get on their faces. Now what would it take to get you to put yourself flat on the ground with your face on the floor? When Ezekiel saw "the glory of the LORD," he says, "I fell facedown" (3:23). Worship put him on his face.

True worship is not about us. It is about God. Too often we focus on ourselves, making ourselves comfortable, designing worship to fit our tastes, whims and wishes. Put our face on the floor? Unheard of - until we catch a glimpse of the glory of the Lord.

It is not the physical act that makes something an act of worship. It is the heart from which that act originates. Ezekiel's heart responded to the glory of the Lord with this act of worship. His focus was clearly on God, not himself.

Which is more important to you: your comfort in church or your worship of God? Would you ever put your face on the floor, or even bend your knee? Ask yourself if your worship focus is on yourself or on God.

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« Reply #463 on: November 17, 2006, 09:31:15 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Hebrews 12 Ezekiel 5-7

Acceptable Worship

Ezekiel 5:7, Hebrews 12
Key Verses: Hebrews 12:28-29

Imagine you've ordered your favorite pepperoni pizza. The delivery person arrives at your house and greets you with the words, "Here's your anchovy pizza!"

"But I didn't order anchovy. I ordered pepperoni," you would protest.

"Yes, but anchovy is my favorite kind," he replies.

Would this be acceptable? Of course not. While this situation may never happen in the world of pizza, it happens too often in our church pews. We may want God to accept any and all forms of worship, expecting Him to let us approach Him as we want, but He does not. Some of our ideas about God, how we perceive Him to be, and our approaches to worship - based on our wishes, not His will - are not acceptable. Just as we would not accept any and all pizza when we ordered pepperoni, so God does not accept any and all worship. Some is acceptable and some is not.

In an "anything goes" world that has given some people the idea that anything goes in worship as well, it is important for us to understand that when it comes to worship, anything doesn't go. Understanding what is and is not acceptable to God will bring us to a decision point. Either we seek in our worship to please Him or to please ourselves. And when it comes down to doing what we want because it is what we want, we are no longer worshiping God but serving self, satisfying self, putting what we desire above what God requires.

"God, help me know Your will in worship, that my worship will be acceptable to You."

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« Reply #464 on: November 19, 2006, 02:44:14 PM »

Title: Going, Going . . .
Book: Faith Walk
Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett


Ezekiel 8-10, Hebrews 13
Key Verse: Ezekiel 9:3

I have a collection of mental images filed under the heading of "Used to be churches." There is a certain sadness in my heart when I see restaurants, bookstores and antique and furniture stores that obviously used to be churches. People of God had sacrificially given to build that structure and had gathered there, joined together in ministry. Sometimes a cornerstone remains, inscribed with words such as, "Dedicated to the glory of God."

Reasons for the change vary, for sure. Some churches relocate to new facilities, but sometimes the building is empty because the church no longer exists. The ministry there is over. Among the saddest images in my mind is that of a sign in the front yard of a church. It simply said, "For Sale by Owner." The ministry there was going, going, gone.

Ezekiel describes over a series of three chapters a vision of the glory of God departing from the temple in Jerusalem. The glory moved from above the cherubim (9:3) to the threshold of the temple (10:4), to the east gate (10:19) and finally out of the city (11:23). It was a slow, sad departure of the glory, unseen except by the prophet.

Our heart's desire should be that the Lord's glory remain in our churches! That will take more than just wishing. It requires staying true and faithful to God and to His Word. When we move away from correct interpretation, clear teaching and correct application of His Word, then we move closer to a time in which the glory may leave.

Be people of the Book. Read the Word, learn the Word and live the Word.

"God, help my local church to stay true to Your Word. May Your glory continue to be proclaimed through my church."

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