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nChrist
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« Reply #465 on: November 19, 2006, 02:45:41 PM »

Title: And a Child Shall Lead Them-Maybe
Book: Faith Walk
Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett


Ezekiel 11-13, James 1
Key Verse: James 1:21

I started using computers before my daughter was born, and therein lies the difference. While I have learned, she has always lived with computers. There has never been a time in her life when a computer wasn't in the house. Using electronic gadgets seems to come easier for her than learning to ride a bike! When she has my cell phone, I wince, wondering how it might be reprogrammed before she returns it. I keep my PDA out of her sight, just in case.

Then comes the time when, looking over my shoulder, she says, "Dad, you need to . . . ." You know, it can be hard to take instruction from a preteen, especially about something that you have been doing before she came on the scene and especially when she is right. There is something challenging about saying, "You're right, child of mine." You can't do it without either being humiliated or without being humble enough to listen.

The same is true about the Word of God. We sometimes fail to learn from what it says because we are not humble enough to listen. That is why James says, "receive with meekness the implanted word," which means that a person must have the right kind of attitude to accept the Word. The proud person does not receive any instruction well.

Pride can keep a father from listening to his daughter. It also can keep you and me from listening to the Word. The result from the first refusal might be having to learn the lesson the hard way-and that may well be the result of refusing to listen to God's Word too.

"God, help me today to have a teachable spirit, humbly receptive to Your Word. Guide me and I will follow."

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« Reply #466 on: November 21, 2006, 12:57:53 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ezekiel 14-15 James 2

Tripping Ourselves

Ezekiel 14-15, James 2
Key Verse: Ezekiel 14:3

Is there something in your house that you consistently trip over? Or perhaps it is a low-hanging light fixture that you often encounter with your head. You know it is there, but at the moment you are walking by - well, it's like you didn't know it was there! Once again you trip or bang your head.

Wouldn't it make sense to move whatever it is on the floor or raise that fixture hanging from the ceiling? Of course it would. Then again, we don't always do the sensible thing, do we?

Of far greater significance are the things in our lives that can cause us to stumble spiritually. A group of men, leaders of Israel, came to Ezekiel. God told the prophet that these elders had "set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces" (14:3). It was as if they had deliberately put things in their own path to trip over! The specific obstacle God mentioned was idols, objects of worship valued above the true God.

One the one hand this verse reminds us of the wrong of idolatry. On the other, it points to an ongoing problem: setting up in our lives things that cause us to stumble spiritually. In the same way a footstool should be moved, these stumbling blocks need to be taken out of our lives. God even questioned whether He should let them inquire of Him at all. The things we keep in our lives that cause us to stumble spiritually hinder our prayers as well.

Do you have a favorite "stumbling block"? Look for something you keep around or have in your heart that causes you to sin. God wants you to remove it. Do that right now.

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« Reply #467 on: November 21, 2006, 09:15:16 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ezekiel 16-17 James 3

Tongue in Check

Ezekiel 16-17, James 3
Key Verse: James 3:2

Among the most difficult sins to remove from our lives are those we commit with our words. James makes this so clear when he writes, "If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check" (3:2).

The word translated "perfect" does not mean "totally without fault or sin." As it is used here, it speaks of the Christian's maturity. The mature believer will control what he says. The implication plainly is that if one does not control his tongue, he is not mature.

A second important truth in this verse relates to the rest of our character. Since the tongue is so hard to reign in, the believer who can control the tongue gains control of himself in all other areas of life also. It's like in a war: when major cities are captured, the rest of the country is as well. So when we are able to keep our tongue in check, we have developed the discipline and maturity to keep other aspects of our life in line as well.

God wants us to be mature believers, not spiritual infants in our thinking and actions. Control of the tongue is a crucial component of spiritual maturity. It is not impossible, just supernatural. You cannot do it on your own, but you can do it with God's help.

The question is not if you can learn to control your tongue but whether you will. Study James 3. Get the Word into your heart. Ask God to help you mature by keeping your tongue in check.

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« Reply #468 on: November 22, 2006, 09:36:18 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ezekiel 18-19 James 4

Sour Grapes

Ezekiel 18-19, James 4
Key Verse: Ezekiel 18:2

In chapter 16 Ezekiel quoted the proverb "like mother, like daughter" (v. 44) to tell Israel that the nation had become like the people of Canaan, giving into that heathen environment. Now he uses a proverb to drive home another point as he writes, "'The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'" (18:2).

Unless you have eaten sour grapes, you can't relate. Expecting a sweet taste, you instead encounter sour. It may literally set your teeth on edge as you react to the sourness. The next time you have some sour grapes, eat one while sitting next to another person. Ask the person if the sour grape you ate left a bad taste in his mouth. The person may wonder about your mental state! "Why would something you ate leave a bad taste in my mouth?" he might reply.

Ezekiel is not writing about grapes but about how a father's actions affect his children. We might say "the apple does not fall far from the tree." The people, though, had misapplied this principle. They were fatalistic in regard to judgment, thinking that they were being judged because of the past wickedness of their fathers.

God then said directly that judgment will come to the one who sins (v. 4). A righteous father can have a wicked son. That wicked son may have a righteous son. Each will be judged on his own merit.

You will stand before God as an individual, not as someone else’s child, and be judged yourself. Be sure that you have trusted Christ for salvation, and do not rely on the righteousness of your ancestors.

It is so important that we individually accept Christ! Having a godly heritage is a wonderful blessing, but our heritage will not get us into heaven.

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« Reply #469 on: November 23, 2006, 09:43:20 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ezekiel 20-21 James 5

Waiting for the Harvest

Ezekiel 20-21, James 5
Key Verses: James 5:7-8

The fields are about empty now, and so are the gardens. Last spring, with hope, the farmers planted their fields, as did the gardeners. Dirt was turned over, seeds sown and young plants set. Then with water, fertilizer, care and good weather, a day comes when the corn is harvested or the tomato picked from the vine. Between planting and harvesting is watering, cultivating, fertilizing, protecting and patience. "A watched pot doesn’t boil," nor does a watched plant sprout.

In a world that wants instant gratification, the farmer and gardener go against the flow. That is they are such a good picture of patience. Notice, though, that James is speaking of a particular kind of patience, the one that gets us through the long summers of our life. It is a patience that is based on a certain hope-that one day Jesus will come again.

This spring, plant a small garden with a child. Watch her enthusiasm as you show her the pictures on the seed packets. Let her pick her favorite foods to grow. Then watch as her enthusiasm wanes, especially when the heat of summer arrives. Take her out to the garden to weed. She'll probably wilt! The pictures of fresh fruits and vegetables are no longer in her mind. Her patience is exhausted. She'll be content with store-bought food.

Look beyond the challenges of today. Jesus is coming. Just be patient.

James gives us a good word picture here. Ask God to help you be patient, always looking forward to the return of Jesus.

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« Reply #470 on: November 25, 2006, 02:39:49 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ezekiel 22-23 1 Peter 1

Scratched and Dented

Ezekiel 22-23, 1 Peter 1
Key Verse: 1 Peter 1:3-4

Perhaps someday you will receive an inheritance. As hard as you may try, that inheritance will not stay as you get it. Money will be spent. A car will wear out. Furniture will become scratched and dented. Dishes will chip and break. Clothing may become moth-eaten. And the list goes on. Getting an inheritance is one thing. Keeping it is another.

This is what makes these words of Peter so amazing. He tells us that we have an inheritance that "can never perish, spoil or fade" (1:4). No scratches. No dents. No depreciation. It is unlike any other inheritance.

One other great aspect about this inheritance is that it is "kept in heaven for you." You have heard of contested wills. A person may have made his wishes known regarding the dispersal of his worldly goods, but sadly, those wishes are not always followed. A person may have the experience of looking forward to a promised inheritance only to ultimately not receive it. But that will not happen with this inheritance. God has reserved it. No one can contest His will in this matter. It is reserved not by a legal document that can be challenged in a court, but by His divine decreed will.

So the next time you look at something you or someone else has inherited, notice the scratches and dents. And the next time you hear of a contested will, remember that you have an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, unfading and reserved.

Even Christians can get distracted by the things of this world. Look beyond this temporary life to that which is eternal. There your inheritance waits for you.

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« Reply #471 on: November 25, 2006, 06:30:20 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ezekiel 24-26 1 Peter 2

Against the Odds

Ezekiel 24-26, 1 Peter 2
Key Verse: Ezekiel 26:3

Lottery tickets are sold in grocery stores, convenient food marts and gas stations. People buy the tickets even though the chances of them winning are infinitesimally small. The odds are against them, just as with all forms of organized gambling. If the odds were not in favor of the "house," the casinos and lotteries would all go out of business. Still, with just a slight possibility of winning, people will gamble away their money.

Consider these odds: 1 in 400 million. Doesn't sound very favorable, does it? Yet in Ezekiel 26 there is a situation that would occur against similar odds. In verses 3-6 there are seven prophecies: many nations will come against the city of Tyre; its walls will be destroyed, and its towers pulled down; the rubble will be scraped away, leaving a bare rock; the place will be used to spread fishnets; it will become plunder for the nations; and the settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword. Someone has calculated that the possibility of all of that happening as prophesied was 1 in 400 million.

The betting person would not like those odds, but this is not about gambling. Instead, this prophecy draws our attention to the certainty of the Word of God. God's prophets could say something that looked impossible but in reality was more than possible. It was a sure thing because God said it.

Ezekiel 26 is just one of many examples of fulfilled prophecy. The complete accuracy of the Bible in regard to the prophecies it contains as well as its accuracy regarding events of the ancient world are added evidence to the truthfulness of God's Word.

Actually, the odds were not 1 in 400 million. Since God said it, the odds were 1 in 1. What God says is a sure thing. Never doubt the Word of God.

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« Reply #472 on: November 27, 2006, 01:54:25 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Peter 3 Ezekiel 27-29

The Peril of Prosperity

Ezekiel 27–29, 1 Peter 3
Key Verse: Ezekiel 28:5

We live in prosperous times. Not everyone shares in the prosperity, but it is still a time of abundance. Increasingly, there is a desire to be wealthy. Advertisements are intended to create a dissatisfaction that can be assuaged only by getting more. Investments firm then add their enticements to help people gain more to have more. The mailbox contains offers of credit so that we can have instant gratification.

Some will get caught in the trap; the lure of easy credit will put them in financial bondage. Others will prosper. Their investments will do well; their portfolios will flourish.

But with prosperity comes the peril of pride. The words Ezekiel spoke to the prince of Tyre apply to us as well: “‘By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud’” (28:5). He warned the ruler who had done well financially that his prosperity had damaged his heart. The damage was not physical but spiritual.

It’s easy for our hearts to grow proud when we are prosperous. It’s especially easy for this to happen when our prosperity is the apparent result of our own wisdom. When we have worked hard, invested well and made our first million, so to speak, pride grows. We are tempted to rest in our own accomplishments.

One antidote to pride is giving. Giving our money to support the Lord’s work reminds us that money is temporary. Only the things of God are eternal.

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« Reply #473 on: November 27, 2006, 09:23:45 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ezekiel 30-32 1 Peter 4

Ready for His Return

Ezekiel 30-32, 1 Peter 4
Key Verse: 1 Peter 4:7

What will you be doing on the evening of April 15? Millions of Americans will feverishly be finishing their income-tax returns. Postal workers will be stationed at the post office waiting to collect the forms of those last-minute filers. If you wait until the literal eleventh hour to do your taxes, then the evening of April 15 is a night of singular focus. You are intent on one thing, refusing to be distracted until the envelope is in the mail, postmarked before midnight.

God wants us to have a singleness of mind, living, thinking and using our time as one approaching a deadline-because in reality we are facing a deadline. "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray" (4:7).

The Bible does not tell us when the end of all things will come, but we are to live with the expectancy that it could be soon. None of us knows how long we will live nor when Jesus will come again. Our time on this earth will conclude with either our death or with the Rapture, both of which could happen at any time. Either way, we will instantly be in God's presence.

Peter wants us to realize and remember this in such a way that it affects the way we live and pray. More important than being ready for a tax deadline is being ready for Jesus' return.

It seems easier to focus on tax returns than on Jesus' return. Ask God to help you live with a sense of immediacy. Jesus could come today.

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« Reply #474 on: November 28, 2006, 08:39:37 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 1 Peter 5 Ezekiel 33-34

Easier Said Than Done

Ezekiel 33-34, 1 Peter 5
Key Verse: 1 Peter 5:7

Some things are easier said than done. One of those things is casting "all [our] anxiety on him," even though we are told that "he cares for [us]" (5:7).

We do have anxieties. Our concerns range from physical needs to financial needs, from family needs to the needs of our friends. These are things of which prayer lists are made-or at least should be made.

But we have a God who cares for us! We are not a burden, an afterthought or something of which He is not aware. He cares for us more intensely than we can ever imagine. The omniscient God knows our needs, all of them, and is concerned about every one of them.

Peter tells us what we are to do with our cares. We are to "cast" them onto Jesus. As a coat is tossed to someone else with the request, "Would you carry this for me?" we are to take the cares of this world and toss them to Him.

The problem is, we tend to do that but then take back the cares. We are willing to say that we will give our anxieties to Jesus but then continue to mull over and carry them ourselves.

Do not confuse continuing to pray with failing to cast the burden on Him. God doesn't tell us to stop praying but to let Him carry our anxieties.

Do you have a prayer list? If you do, that is good. Don't stop praying. But do you worry about these things on your list? That is bad. Ask God to help you give Him the worries. Keep praying, but stop worrying.

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« Reply #475 on: November 29, 2006, 09:09:17 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Peter 1 Ezekiel 35-36

Everything We Need

Ezekiel 35-36, 2 Peter 1
Key Verse: 2 Peter 1:3

Complete is a wonderful word, especially when putting together something like a computer system. It's encouraging when the advertisement promises, "Everything you need is included." All the necessary parts are there, with no additional cables to buy. You open the boxes, follow the instructions and ultimately the system is up and running.

God gives us a complete offer. Peter puts it this way: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (1:3). Everything we need for life and godliness has been given to us. Nothing has to be added!

Sometimes we look for the fine print of a too-good-to-be-true offer. But Peter doesn't put anything in fine print. This offer is made possible "through the knowledge of him who called us." When we truly know God we are given all that is needed for life and godliness. Eternal life is a gift to those who know Jesus as Savior. This is not just knowing about Jesus but knowing Him.

When we know Jesus, we are changed. God changes us so that we are no longer under the penalty or the power of sin. Freed from sin's power, we can live a life of godliness. Then the better we know God, the better we will know how He wants us to live.

Knowing God begins with salvation. Knowing God better ought to be the desire of our life, one fulfilled by learning His Word. God's offer is a complete one, found in Him.

"God, I thank You for what You have given me-everything I need for life and godliness. Help me know You better so that my life may please You more."

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« Reply #476 on: November 30, 2006, 12:54:43 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Peter 2 Ezekiel 37-39

Dry Bones

Ezekiel 37-39, 2 Peter 2
Key Verse: Ezekiel 37:3-7

Someone has said that an archaeologist is a person who makes his living digging up dead people. If you lived in Israel today, you might believe that is true.

Israel is bustling with archaeological activity. Professionals and volunteers are digging up mounds of past civilizations, finding pottery, coins and, occasionally, human bones. They gather the artifacts carefully, but they do not anticipate that the pottery will ever again be used for cooking or the coins for trading. And they certainly do not anticipate that those dry bones will ever live again.

No so with the Lord God. He called the prophet Ezekiel to a valley full of dry bones and asked, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel was cautious in his response: “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know” (37:3). God was promising that the nation Israel, which was all but obliterated due to enemy invasion, would one day live again.

For almost 20 centuries Israel did not exist as a nation. There was no Jewish homeland. The Hebrew language all but died out. And then God performed a miracle. He gathered Jews from all over the world and brought them to Palestine, and in 1948 the modern state of Israel was born. It was proof that, just as He had predicted to Ezekiel, God would not abandon His people forever. God keeps His promises, even in a valley full of dry bones.

“Thank You, Heavenly Father, for being a God of integrity. Thank You for bringing Your people back to their land and for giving us one more example that You are a God of Your word.”

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« Reply #477 on: December 01, 2006, 07:42:40 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference 2 Peter 3 Ezekiel 40-41

The Daily Double

Ezekiel 40-41, 2 Peter 3
Key Verse: 2 Peter 3:18

Have you noticed how some things just naturally go together? Like bacon and eggs. Batman and Robin. Peanut butter and jelly. That's true in the Bible too. Adam and Eve. David and Goliath. Priscilla and Aquila.

The last verse of 2 Peter highlights one of these biblical dynamic duos-grace and knowledge. Peter says, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (v. 18).

Growing in knowledge requires the discipline to find a time and a place, and then to focus on a plan to get to know God better through His Word. Growing in a knowledge of God means both understanding what He did for us and what He wants us to do. It means applying the Word to our lives daily.

Growing in grace also requires time in the Word. It means growing in the graces that become a Christian, like brotherly kindness and love. You can read about some of these graces in the first chapter of 2 Peter.

Grace and knowledge. We need to grow in them every day. We get both from God’s Word. It's a daily double that will make a difference in your day.

"Lord, help me to find the time and place and discipline myself to read Your Word each day and thus grow both in Your grace and in Your knowledge. And may others around me sense that I've been with You and my life is different as a result."

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« Reply #478 on: December 02, 2006, 10:31:34 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ezekiel 42-44 1 John 1

Evidence to the Change

Ezekiel 42-44, 1 John 1
Key Verse: 1 John 1:6

There is a simple phrase that goes like this: "Do you walk the walk or just talk the talk?" The alliteration and rhyming make it catchy, easy to remember. But don't lose sight of the insightfulness of the question just because it rolls off the tongue so easily.

The apostle John never pulled his punches. He called for a commitment to Christ that included "walking the walk." To the person who said that he had fellowship with God but lived as if he did not, John's message was blunt: "You lie." Read again verse 6: "If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth."

There are two opposite lifestyles from which we can choose. The one is characterized by wickedness and error. John calls it walking in the dark. The other is characterized by holiness and truth. It is walking in the light. For John there was only one choice, and it is to walk in the light as Jesus is in the light. To walk in darkness is not an option.

When a person is a Christian, his or her life should show that commitment. Christianity is not just forgiveness of sins with no change in lifestyle. We are saved not just from sin but to live a life of godliness. Do you walk the walk?

Consider your words. Do they match your life? You can lie to others and even yourself but never to God. To say you have fellowship is meaningless unless your life gives evidence to the change.

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« Reply #479 on: December 04, 2006, 01:16:05 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll, Tony Beckett
Source: Faith Walk
Scripture Reference Ezekiel 45-46 1 John 2

Three Enemies

Ezekiel 45-46, 1 John 2
Key Verses: 1 John 2:15-16

First John 2 contains a much-needed reminder about the three enemies who are constantly trying to defeat the Christian. The more conscious we are of their existence and activities, the more likely we will be to have victory over them. John clearly identifies them and in his direct way warns us that affection for these enemies is an indication that a person does not have the love of God in him.

The world is the present system that is under Satan's control. Sadly, it seems that many churches have quit warning against worldliness. Loving this world is contrary to loving God.

The flesh is an enemy, not in the sense that the human body is evil but that it can be used for evil and it contains the desires that enable Satan to entice us to sin. We are not to hate our bodies but to recognize how they can be used for wrong.

The devil is the personal enemy of the believer. He is not just an influence but an individual who opposes God and the people of God. He is a fallen angel who should be respected for the damage that he can do but not feared because he was defeated at Calvary.

We need to be reminded of these enemies so we will be vigilant, keeping up our guard at all times. None of the three can be escaped, since our bodies are in this world. Escape is not the answer anyway. Victory is, and there is victory in Jesus!

Ask God to help you remember these enemies and to give you victory. Do not live a defeated life. Satan was defeated, not you. Remember that your strength is found in Jesus.

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