Thursday, November 29, 2012

+DEV+ Reactor or Responder?

Date: November 29, 2012 10:55 PM
Topic: +DEV+  Reactor or Responder?

Reactor or Responder?

"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33)
Scripture Focus: John 18:1-11

In the account of Jesus' betrayal and arrest, we have two very different behaviors in a single situation. Peter, seeing the soldiers with their clubs, impulsively reacted, slashing with his sword against the enemy. Jesus, on the other hand, met the same retinue with calmness and composure that came from knowing the will of His Father.

"Nothing influences the quality of our life more than how we respond to trouble" (Erwin G. Tieman). Are you a reactor or a responder? When things fall apart around you, what do you do? Do you, like Peter, react in fear, frustration, worry, or dread? Or do you respond with quiet confidence in God's power and protection?

Responding with quiet strength is the gift from a heart that has meditated on the Scriptures, sought God's presence, and thanked and praised God in both the good times and the bad. When trouble is at hand, this heart knows Who its refuge is and Who hears and answers its cries. This heart remembers that the God of peace is also the God of deliverance.

Insight: Be Still, My Soul, The Lord Doth Undertake; To Guide The Future As He Has The Past. (Katharina A. Von Schlegel, 1752)

+DEV+ Knocking at the Heart

Date: November 29, 2012 1:05 AM
Topic: +DEV+  Knocking at the Heart

Knocking at the Heart

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in..."  (Revelation 3:20)
Scripture Focus: Revelation 3:14-22

When it comes to coffee, I like mine tongue-toasting hot. After it begins to cool, I cannot drink it. But I also like my coffee iced. It's got to be either hot or cold (I love “Frappuccino’s” drinks).

Jesus warns the Laodecian Christians that they are neither hot nor cold, because their hearts are self-satisfied, content to depend on themselves rather than on Him. What these believers don't understand is that, while they think they have it all together and are living the "good" life, Jesus views them as wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked - not a pretty picture. Like lukewarm coffee, He wants to spit them out of His mouth. Instead, He lovingly stands at the doors of their hearts, knocking and calling for entrance.

How patiently He waits for us, rapping and listening to hear if we will recognize His voice. How He longs for us to let Him fully possess our hearts, to know Him as the Lover of our souls, to open our innermost beings to Him, so we can trust and enjoy that perfect intimacy with Him for which we were created.

Insight: Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling; Calling For You And For Me; See On The Portals He's Waiting And Watching; Watching For You And For Me. (Will L. Thompson, 1880)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

+DEV+ Guarding Our Hearts

Date: November 27, 2012 11:46 PM
Topic: +DEV+  Guarding Our Hearts

Guarding Our Hearts

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."   (Proverbs 4:23)
Scripture Focus: Proverbs 4:20-27
Remember that sweet Sunday school song, "Be Careful Little Eyes What You See"? It tells children to watch over their mouths, ears, hands and feet.

When King Solomon admonished his people to protect their hearts, he also told them to be careful what they said, where their eyes were fixed, and what direction their feet were going. All these physical parts of our bodies are portals to our hearts. They can provide entry for positive and holy thoughts and activities, or they can be the doorways by which sin slithers into our hearts, making its home there.

Never forget that Satan is prowling around, looking for Christians to destroy. He puts blockades in our paths. Yet God provides protection which, with regular use, helps us guard against Satan's attacks: reading, meditating on and memorizing the Word (Psalm 119:11); prayer (Luke 22:40); faith (Ephesians 6:16); being with other believers (Hebrews 10:24-25). Don't leave yourself unprotected.

Insight: Let My Hands Perform His Bidding; Let My Feet Run In His Ways; Let My Eyes See Jesus Only; Let My Lips Speak Forth His Praise. (Mary D. James, 1871)

Monday, November 26, 2012

+DEV+ Obedient at Heart

Date: November 26, 2012 11:14 PM
Topic: +DEV+  Obedient at Heart

Obedient at Heart

"This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome."  (1 John 5:3)
Scripture Focus: Esther 4:5-5:2

Esther was raised by her cousin Mordecai, a devout Jew. Living in exile in a pagan land, she was brought up to love her Jewish heritage and the God of her people. Mordecai also taught her early in her youth to be obedient (Esther 2:20). Even when, because of her rare beauty, she was taken from her home against her will - even when she was chosen to be queen - she still obeyed her cousin and God. She believed Mordecai's conviction that she was God's instrument to save her people from destruction.

By asking her fellow Jews to fast and pray with her before she went to plead with the king, she showed her desire to do God's will. She knew that her only hope was in God's providence and protection. She would do what was right, even if it meant she may perish.

Is there a place in your heart that needs to submit to God? Are you concerned about doing so? Choose to obey, knowing that Jesus has already gone before the King for you. He has perished (yet lives!) so that you might have eternal life with Him.

Insight: Take my will and make it thine;  It shall be no longer mine;  Take my heart-it is thine own;   It shall be thy royal throne. (Frances R. Havergal, 1874)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

+DEV+ A Wayward Heart

Date: November 22, 2012 12:40 AM
Topic: +DEV+  A Wayward Heart

A Wayward Heart

"You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing."  (Psalm 145:16)
Scripture Focus: Luke 15:11-20

As a child growing up in a Christian home and environment, I hardly appreciated how graciously protected my life was from the secular world. I often wondered what it would be like to participate in the activities of my non-believing friends. To my innocent heart, the pleasures of sin didn't look so terrible at all.

The younger son in Jesus' parable must have had similar yearnings. After he'd turned his back on his father and spent his inheritance on wild living, he was left with not only empty pockets and an empty stomach, but an empty heart as well. Eventually, he had the sense to return home, and repent.

Are you stuck somewhere on your journey "feeding the pigs?" Do you long for true joy and peace? God our Father, with even deeper longing, comes running out to each of us and restores us again as His beloved ones. He has brought out the feast and royal robes for us! Like this young son, we can turn from the husks of life and return to Jesus for cleansing, filling, and feeding.

Insight: Hallelujah! I Have Found Him; Who My Soul So Long Has Craved!; Jesus Satisfies My Longing; Through His Blood I Now Am Saved. (Clara Tear Williams, 1875)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

+DEV+ Centering Your Heart

Date: November 21, 2012 1:03 AM
Topic: +DEV+  Centering Your Heart

Centering Your Heart

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him..."  (Philippians 3:10)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 73:23-28

We hear a lot these days about achieving balance in our lives. We know we need to prioritize our long lists of commitments, but often we end up feeling like the circus performer who keeps adding more and more spinning plates on sticks in the air above his head.

Have you been caught up in life's balancing act? The "god of balance" only gives an illusion of satisfaction and control. Peace and contentment are lost in the hustle and bustle, leaving our spirits empty as we fly exhausted from one responsibility to the next.

A recent church bulletin posed this thought: "Suppose the goal is not a balanced life, but a centered life, one that is faithful to God in everything we do .where God is the center "

Let your busy-ness go, starting over again by allowing God to fill your heart with Himself. Then, by His grace, you'll stop spinning in circles and will revolve instead around the Bible and its Living Word, Jesus. Watch Him lovingly transform your perspective each day.

Insight: Take From Our Souls The Strain And Stress; And Let Our Ordered Lives Confess; The Beauty Of Thy Peace. (John G. Whittier, 1872)

Monday, November 19, 2012

+DEV+ Heavenly Gifts

Date: November 19, 2012 9:49 PM
Topic: +DEV+  Heavenly Gifts

Heavenly Gifts

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  (James 1:17)
Scripture Focus: Genesis 21:1-7

How God our Father loves us so completely and consistently is beyond comprehension. Abraham and Sarah must have been overjoyed the day their first and only child was born. Surely their tent filled with laughter at the irony of such an old couple being blessed with this long-desired son. God's promised child had arrived!

Only God can fill our hearts and fill them to overflowing. The Scriptures abound with references to His rich provision. In the Psalms He tells us, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."

Jesus said that since even we human parents know how to give good things to our children, how much more does our loving heavenly Father know how to delight His children's hearts (Matthew 7:11b). Does your life seem void of all this goodness? Sarah must have thought so, too, after many years of waiting. Wait on the Lord; His good and perfect plans - with His timing - for you are sure. All His promises and gifts to you are "Yes" in Christ Jesus.

Insight: Praise To The Lord, Who O'er All Things So Wondrously Reigneth;
Shelters Thee Under His Wings, Yea, So Gently Sustaineth! (Joachim Neander, 1680)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

+DEV+ Secure Hearts

Date: November 18, 2012 10:06 PM
Topic: +DEV+  Secure Hearts

Secure Hearts

"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders."  (Deuteronomy 33:12)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 112:1-9

The circumstances of life change frequently. The economy may and does fluctuate. Wars may escalate and devastate. A loved one may sicken or die. There may be a drought or a flood. Insecurity is everywhere!

However dire the events around us, as Christians we know that these are not happenstance. God is always in control. Our hearts can rest secure in Him, knowing He is working in our circumstances with a plan for our good and not for our harm (Jeremiah 29:11). We can trust His never-failing promises to be our Rock, our Fortress, and our Salvation.

Secure hearts give thanks to their Maker for trouble as well as for blessing. The apostle Paul, having suffered many trying circumstances for the gospel, urges us to do just that, because this is God's will for us in Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

Are you experiencing a difficulty today? Thank God right now for that problem, and put it in His all-powerful hands. Leave it there knowing our God reigns.

Insight: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God - A Bulwark Never Failing - A Helper He Amid The Flood - Of Mortal Ills Prevailing. (Martin Luther, 1529)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

+DEV+ A Tested Heart

Date: November 15, 2012 10:26 PM
Topic: +DEV+  A Tested Heart

A Tested Heart
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."  (Mark 12:30)
Scripture Focus: Genesis 22:1-5, 12-14

Long-awaited Isaac quickly became the apple of his father's eye. Then, unexpectedly, God put Abraham to a test, asking him to sacrifice that son. He wanted to be sure Abraham's heart belonged only to Him, that he had complete faith in His will.

When we read of Abraham lifting the knife over his son, bound on the altar, we cringe at the horrific thought of what lie ahead. But Abraham's faith in his all-powerful God steadied him. He told his servants to wait, explaining, "We will worship and then we will come back to you." Hebrews 5:19 says, "Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead."

While God tests believers' hearts and shows us blessings right in front of us, there is a deeper thing going on in this passage. The gripping story of Abraham sacrificing his son points us to the greatest blessing we've known: God's own Son put on the "altar" at Calvary to pay for our sins. Jesus "passed the test" for me and for you - sinners all - so our hearts would be drawn to faith and obedience in Him.

Insight: For The Favor He Shows And The Joy He Bestows/ Are For Them Who Will Trust And Obey. (John H. Sammis, 1924)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

+DEV+ A Restless Heart

Date: November 13, 2012 10:32 PM
Topic: +DEV+  A Restless Heart

A Restless Heart

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4:7)
Scripture Focus: 2 Samuel 11:1-17

It was spring, and King David felt restless. He'd sent his armies off to fight, but he stayed behind. One restive, sleepless night, he went out walking on the roof of the palace. He had a hole in his heart and was prowling for something to fill it.

Why wasn't he out with his armies? Why didn't he get his harp and sing praises to the Lord? Many better choices certainly were available to the king as he watched Bathsheba bathe. Instead, he chose sin. A lustful look sprouted into adultery, which grew into a snare of lies, and eventually blossomed into murder.

Jesus warned us that "out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed" (Mark 7:20). David was guilty of all of these. Fortunately, the story doesn't end there. David repented of his sins and received God's forgiveness.

Today we also have a remedy for sin. Through confession, repentance, and forgiveness, Jesus lovingly cleanses us. Like David, we are restored to be people after God's own heart.

Insight: Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest; finding as he promised, perfect peace and rest. (Frances R. Havergal, 1876)

Monday, November 12, 2012

+DEV+ Comparative Religion

Date: November 12, 2012 9:34 PM
Topic: +DEV+  Comparative Religion

Comparative Religion

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."  (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Scripture Focus: Ephesians 2:1-10

A famous theologian and writer is credited with saying that Christianity is unique among all other religions because it is the only faith where salvation is a free gift and is not based on the believer's merit. Think how devastating it would be to not be certain that the god in whom you put your trust can or will actually save you. Imagine the stress of always wondering, "Am I good enough? Did I do enough to earn salvation?"

What amazing grace that the God of our Christian faith made a space in our hearts the shape and size that only He can fill and redeem. Only He sent His perfect and holy Son in the person of Jesus Christ to be the complete sacrifice for our sins. We don't have to wonder. We who believe in the atoning blood of Calvary can be confident that we are saved.

Good works? Of course. But they do not earn our entrance into glory. We serve God out of gratitude for the salvation He's already given us and for the heavenly home He has promised us.

Insight: I Need No Other Argument, I Need No Other Plea. It Is Enough That Jesus Died, And That He Died For Me. (Eliza Hewitt, 1891)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

+DEV+ Heart's Treasure

Date: November 11, 2012 9:24 PM
Topic: +DEV+  Heart's Treasure

Heart's Treasure

"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  (Matthew 6:20-21)
Scripture Focus: Mark 10:17-23

My little grand-nephew has a treasure box which he hides under his bed. In it, he secrets away the things that mean the most to his six year old heart. How he loves to open that box before sleep and go through his most cherished possessions.

Each of us Christians has a treasure box, too. We just can't see it, because it's in heaven. Jesus said we should be storing things up in it now. We can know if we are on track filling our heavenly treasure chest by checking what our hearts crave. What do we long for? For example, do we look forward to spending time reading, studying, and memorizing God's Word? The psalmist wrote that to him the Scriptures were, "more precious than gold they are sweeter than honey" (Psalm 19:10).

Years ago a Bible teacher said, "We will take nothing with us to heaven when we die, except our knowledge of the Bible." Interacting with the Word is never time wasted. It is not only necessary nutrition for our spirits, but also treasure stored in heaven for eternity.

Insight: How Firm A Foundation, Ye Saints Of The Lord; Is Laid For Your Faith In His Excellent Word! (John Rippon, 1787)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Date: November 8, 2012 11:35 PM
Topic: +DEV+  A Worshiping Heart

A Worshiping Heart

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'"  (Psalm 14:1)
Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 5:6-11

In 2005, essayist David F. Wallace told the college students he addressed at their commencement, "There is no such thing as atheism. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. If you worship money and things - if they are where you tap real meaning in life - then you will never have enough."

There is nothing wrong with having money or the things money can buy. The Bible warns us that it is our attitude about money that matters. Timothy explains "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils" (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus said that a person can have only one master: God or money (Matthew 6:24).

Why doesn't our culturally-sanctioned race to accumulate more and more wealth satisfy us? It is because God created our hearts to be genuinely happy only when they are full of Him. Stuffing them full of other things leaves no room for our true Satisfaction. God calls us to empty everything from our hearts, install Him as Lord there, and then worship Him only. Anything less is idolatry.

Insight: Jesus Calls Us From The Worship; Of The Vain World's Golden Store; From Each Idol That Would Keep Us; Saying, 'Christian Love Me More.' (Cecil Frances Alexander, 1852)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

+DEV+ Hearts of Shame

Date: November 7, 2012 9:25 PM
Topic: +DEV+  Hearts of Shame

Hearts of Shame

"As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'"  (Romans 10:11)
Scripture Focus: Genesis 3:1-13, 21

Adam and Eve had a truly perfect relationship with God. Daily, God approached them in the garden and spoke to them. What lovely Spirit-to-spirit fellowship that must have been.

We're all too familiar with what happened next. The tempter made tasting a forbidden piece of fruit seem impossible to turn down. He made God's command seem irrelevant. Adam and Eve - and all of creation - would taste and know sin and shame. They pushed God out of His rightful place, filling their hearts with the shame of sinful rebellion. It was not necessarily in their physical nakedness that their shame lay, but in their sudden knowledge that they had sinned against their holy Creator. And it was too much to bear.

By making animal skin garments for them, God provided atonement for them through a blood sacrifice. God has also provided the perfect Atonement for us - we who are burdened with sin's shame. We can trust Jesus' blood to remove our sin, and to wash the shame and guilt from our hearts.

Insight: Out of my shameful failure and loss; Jesus i come, Jesus i come; Into the glorious gain of Thy cross; Jesus I come to Thee. (William T. Sleeper, 1887)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

+DEV+ A Tuned-in Heart

Date: November 6, 2012 10:57 PM
Topic: +DEV+  A Tuned-in Heart

A Tuned-in Heart

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"  (Isaiah 30:21)
Scripture Focus: Proverbs 3:3-6

Sometimes I ponder all the things I have not yet accomplished in my life. We live in a world and time of almost endless diversion. There are so many opportunities available to us that choosing is like changing the radio station. How can we eliminate the static and know we are picking what God wants us to listen to?

Christian writer Cynthia Heald suggests what she calls "a God-paced life." By making living in Christ "a life style my sole purpose is to live simply and purely in devotion to the Lord." The right and fitting activities will follow. Let Him shepherd, seek His kingdom first, and sit before Him, quietly waiting. You will see how the Lord brings "interesting people, worthy activities, and valuable things into life in the right way, at the right time, and for His purpose."

Let's tune our hearts to Jesus. He will clearly lead the way, open doors, and intervene in circumstances so we can live the sometimes exciting, often challenging life He has planned for us, not missing a thing.

Insight: To Take Whate'er The Father's Pleasure; And All-Discerning Love Has Sent; Nor Doubt Our Inmost Wants Are Known; To Him Who Chose Us For His Own. (Georg Neumark, 1641)

Monday, November 5, 2012

+DEV+ In God We Trust

Date: November 5, 2012 8:10 PM
Topic: +DEV+  In God We Trust

In God We Trust

"Search me, O God, and know my heart. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."  (Psalm 139:23-24)
Scripture Focus: Luke 18:18-23

It's printed on our paper bills and stamped into the surface of our coins: "In God We Trust." Yet many of us act as if this motto were a mere suggestion. Like the wealthy ruler who came to Jesus, we are seeking security after death, but we don't want anything to interfere with the modus operandi of our present lives.

Consequently, we walk away from Jesus. We feel sad because we cannot bring ourselves to give what He asks of us. In order to find our security in Him, we must stop trusting whatever else our hearts already have their faith in. Ask, "What makes my heart feel secure?"

"In God We Trust" is a daily reminder, that trusting our hearts to anything or anyone, except God through Jesus, is ephemeral - here today and gone tomorrow. We cannot rely on these things for security in this life. Our eternal future is only safe with God, so put your confidence in Jesus. His promises are not just for today. Through trusting in Him, we are secure for eternity, as well.

Insight: If I Gained The World, But Lost The Savior; Could My Yearning Heart Find Rest; In The Things That Soon Pass Away? (Anna Oelander, 1904)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

+DEV+ Hearts in Common

Date: November 1, 2012 10:29 PM
Topic: +DEV+  Hearts in Common

Hearts in Common

"Your love has given me great joy and encouragement."  (Philemon 1:7A)
Scripture Focus: Luke 1:34-45

After Mary learned of the conception of Jesus by divine plan, she needed a confidante. Her first thought was Elizabeth, a kindred spirit. Mary realized she could go to Elizabeth and receive acceptance, not condemnation. She knew Elizabeth would rejoice with her and delight in the fulfillment of God's promise to send the long-awaited Messiah.

I am blessed with a Christian friend who shares my desire for living whole heartedly at the cross of Christ. Because of this commitment to the Lord, we can confide in each other and pray for each other when we feel discouraged, overwhelmed, or happy. She is not afraid to admonish me, but always in love, never in censure or criticism. What a tremendous encouragement she is to me.

All believers are called to be people who can provide this kind of loving, non-accusatory friendship, seeking out others to love, support, and encourage. Faithful Christian friends are an earthly pointer to a heavenly reality: that our ever faithful friend and Redeemer is near.

Insight: Out Of My Life May Jesus Shine;/ Make Me A Blessing, O Savior, I Pray,/ Make Me A Blessing To Someone Today. (Ira B. Wilson, 1924)