Keith Hunt - Our Daily Bread #23 - Page Twenty- three   Restitution of All Things

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Our Daily Bread #23

Life's lessons

                               TREES VS.BEAR

Read: Jeremiah 8:4-12

Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times ... but
My people do not know the judgment of the Lord. - Jeremiah 8:7

     It's not often that police must break up a brawl between a
bear and a tree. The "fight began with a playful insult
and an accidental bump. Suddenly the bear talked! Then the tree
talked back! Soon a guy in a bear suit was mixing it up with
someone dressed as a tree.
     Police had to pull the two apart. The two mascots for
Stanford and University of California had stopped enter-
taining and started fighting.
     Bears and tees weren't made to fight. Neither were we. Yet,
throughout history people who were created to love and serve each
other have often added insult to injury.
     The amazing thing, according to the prophet Jeremiah, is
that even those who know God's law can hurt another without
regret "No man repented of his wickedness," he reported (8:6).
"They were not at all ashamed" (v.12). Jeremiah also expressed
God's astonishment that even creatures of the wild reflect more
wisdom than those who say "peace, peace" while doing harm
     The One who designed birds to migrate at His command (v.7)
does not merely call attention to our wrongs. He offers to fill
our emptiness with the fullness of Himself. The alternatives are
good: grace for bitterness, wisdom for foolishness, peace for
conflict. - Mart De Haan

Heavenly Father, forgive us for our reluctance to recognize and
confess our sins. Replace our eagerness to vindicate ourselves
with a willingness to see things Your way. Help us to repent.


                            CONSUMER MENTALITY

Read: 1 Corinthians 3:5-15

If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will
receive a reward. - 1 Corinthians 3:14

     I like to read, and I enjoy buying books. But I don't like
it when publishers refer to me as a "consumer." The word consume
can mean "do away with completely" or "spend wastefully." It
brings to mind forest fires that devour acre after acre of
vegetation, leaving behind only scorched remnants of trees and
homes. When we read books, we don't consume them in that sense,
for they don't cease to exist after we've used them. In fact,
quite the opposite is true. They become a part of us; they 
change us.
     This is especially true of the Bible. When the words of
Scripture remain in us, they keep us from taking the
destructive way of sin (Ps.119:11).
     Jesus said that when His words abide us, we will bear much
fruit (John 15:5-8). In other words, we will be creators, not
consumers; givers, not takes.
     The apostle Paul referred to Christians as "God's fellow
workers" (1 Cor.3:9), who are to build things that cannot be
consumed in the fire of God's judgment of their works (vv.13-15).
Later he urged readers to excel in gifts that build up the church
     As Christians, let's be known not for the goods we consume
but for the good fruit we produce. - Julie Ackerman Link 


Why does God give us spiritual gifts? (Eph.4:11-13). On what are
we to build our works? (1 Cor.3:10-11). What is the result of
work that will last? (I Cor.3:14).


                             THE TIPPING POINT

Read: Romans 12:1-8

Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.
- Romans 12:1

     In his book "The Tipping Point," Malcolm Gladwell observes
that struggling businesses are often turned  around by one key
decision. Many once-foundering companies are now thriving and
successful because of a choice that became the tipping point.
Although targeted to those in business management, the principle
also applies to those who are committed to advancing the cause of
Christ. Sometimes we find ourselves up against a wall, struggling
with a decision or situation that threatens to cripple our
capacity for effective service to our King. It's at those
critical junctures that we can make a "tipping point" decision to
turn things around.
     The decision? Surrender your will and heart to God James 4:7
says, "Submit to God," and Romans 12:1 tells us, "Present your
bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God." Be willing
to sacrifice your agenda for His greater purposes.
     What if Noah had told God, "I don't do boats!" What if
Joseph had not forgiven his brothers and failed to protect them
from the life-threatening famine? Or what if Jesus had refused to
die on the cross?
     Surrender is the tipping point. When we make that choice,
God can use us to do great things for Him - Joe 5towell 

Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine; Fill my poor heart
with Thy great love divine. Take all my will, my passion, self
and pride; I now surrender, Lord - in me abide. - Orr


                             GOD WEEPS WITH US

Read: Psalm 116

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. -
Psalm 116:15

     What is the meaning of Psalm 116:15, "Precious in the sight
of the Lord is the death of His saints"? God certainly doesn't
value or find enjoyment in the death of His children! If He did
why would the psalmist praise God for delivering him from   
death? And why did Jesus groan and weep as He saw the grief at
Lazarus' tomb? (John 11:33-35). I agree with scholars who render
Psalm 116:15, "Costly in the sight of the Lord is the death of
His saints."
     In this world, unless you are a celebrity your passing will
soon be forgotten by all but a small circle of relatives and
friends. But Jesus showed us that God shares the sorrow, and pain
of the bereaved and that the death of the humblest believer
causes His heart great pain.
     This thought came to me recently at the funeral of my
brother Tunis. His family and his pastor extolled his compassion,
kindness, and generosity. Afterward people who knew him as a
businessman spoke well of him. Though his name was just one of
many in the newspaper obituaries, his death was a matter of great
loss to us who knew and loved him. And it is comforting to know
that God did not take his passing without feeling our pain. In
fact, I believe He wept with us. - Herb Vander Lugt

When we are happy or when we are blue, God is aware of whatever
we do: All of our sorrows He takes as His own, And He will never
leave us alone. - Hess


                                 THE LINGO

Read: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save
some. - 1 Corinthians 9:23

     What do teenagers mean when they say they're "chillaxin"?
(They're chilling and relaxing.) What if they ask for some
"cheddar"? (That's cash.) If a teen likes someone's new clothes,
he might just say, "money," meaning cool. Teenagers have their
own lingo that some of us might not understand, and it seems to
be always changing.
     Believers in Jesus have their own lingo as well. We use
common jargon that nonbelievers may not comprehend. For instance,
we use the words grace, saved and repentance. These are all good
words, but as we're sharing our faith, it might be more helpful
to say, "God's gift of unearned forgiveness" instead of grace. Or
"rescued from death and given an eternal life" for saved. We
could say, "to run away from wrongs" for repentance.
     The apostle Paul was willing to be flexible in his ministry
in order to reach as many as possible with the gospel of Christ
(1 Cor.9:19-23). That might have even included the words he used
as he explained the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection.
     Explaining our faith in easy-to-understand terms may help
someone to grasp the meaning of being transformed by Jesus' love
and forgiveness. - Anne Cetas

You have called us, Lord, to witness, To tell others of Your Son;
Spirit, give us words so simple That they'll reach some seeking
one. - D.De Haan


                                        VISIBLE REMINDERS

Read: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. -
Deuteronomy 6:6

     A growing number of people find that wearing a pedometer
helps them increase their level of daily exercise. The
step-counting device is both a recorder and a motivator for them.
Knowing how many steps they take encourages them to walk more.
One woman, whose goal was to take 10,000 steps a day, began
parking farther away from her workplace and doing more active
tasks around the office. Her awareness of the pedometer helped
produce a lifestyle change.
     Observable reminders have a place in our walk with Christ as
well. When God instructed the Israelites to keep His commands in
their hearts, He also told them to make visible reminders of the
Word: "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall
be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the
doorposts of your house and on your gates" (Dent.6;5-9). The
purpose was not physical decoration but spiritual deliverance:
"Beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land
of Egypt, from the house of bondage" (v.12),
     Words of Scripture on a plaque, a memory card, or a calendar
can turn our focus toward the Lord throughout the day. These
visible reminders of Christ and His Word will encourage our steps
of obedience to Him. - David McCasland

                          PING IT INTO PRACTICE 

Memorize a verse of Scripture as you go to work. Write a verse on
a card, and tape it where it is visible. Meditate on that verse
during the day.


                                THE BUG ZOO

Read: Proverbs 30:24-28

The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in
the summer. - Proverbs 30:25

     A bug zoo in Philadelphia with more than 100,000 live
insects entertains 75,000 visitors a year. The Insectarium's
founder and proprietor says, "I've got a million more bugs still
in storage." He points to boxes, cookie tins, and other
containers piled floor-to-ceiling, filled with dead bugs from
around the globe. Movies, holo-grams, microscopes, and games keep
people of all ages occupied. There's even a scale to weigh
yourself in ladybugs, fireflies, and other creatures.
     In Proverbs 30, a wise man named Agar also showcases insects
and other small creatures. He calls them small but very wise.
Look at the ant. He's weak, but his Creator has taught him to use
whatever strength he has to prepare for the future. Consider the
locust. He has no king, but when his numbers multiply, God has
taught him how to line up and move as one. Look at the spider. He
too is a lowly creature, but by using the ability God gives him,
he rises to high places.
     Do you sometimes feel small and insignificant like an
insect? When you do, remember that God showcases His wisdom and
greatness through even the smallest things. That's because His
"strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor.12:9). - Mart De

Inadequate but mighty, How strange, yet wholly true; Weak men
endued with power, The Lord's blest work shall do. - Bosch


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