Read: Nehemiah 1:4-11
What does the Lord your God require of you ... to serve the Lord
with all your heart and with all your soul. - Deut. 10:12
A gold rush that began in the 1970s made Boa Vista, Brazil,
a boomtown on the edge of one of the world's richest gold fields.
That changed when the gold mines were shut down. Government
officials say the miners were destroying the rain forest, dumping
mercury into the rivers, and bringing guns and diseases that
killed thousands of local residents. Today Boa Vista is a "town
of lost souls and frustrated adventurers too poor to return to
their bleak beginnings."
Such was the picture of God's people exiled in Babylon. All
they had were memories of the days when God's favor was on them.
Jerusalem was in ruins because a blessed people had been
exploiting the weak, not caring for the land entrusted to them (2
Chron.36:19-21), and going through the motions of worshiping God.
The prophet Nehemiah confessed: "We have acted very corruptly
against You, and have not kept the commandments" (Neh.1:7).
God loved His people too much to let them continue harming
themselves and others. By letting them "do time" in Babylon, He
helped them see what can happen when a blessed people get caught
up in a life that leaves God out of the picture. He'll do what it
takes to help us see that as well! - Mart De Haan
The dearest idol I have known, Whate'er that idol be, Help me to
tear it from Thy throne, And worship only Thee. - Cowper
GOD GIVES BLESSING TO US SO WE CAN GIVE GLORY TO HIM.
Read: pSLAM 104:24-25
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. - Psalm 98:4
Why do birds sing? Birds sing because they can and because
they must," says David Rothenberg, a professor at the New Jersey
Institute of Technology. "Songs are used to attract mates and
defend territories, but the form is much more than function.
Nature is full of beauty, and of music."
Birds sing because they have a syrinx instead of a larynx.
The syrinx is the bird's voice box, an organ that lies deep in a
bird's chest and is uniquely fashioned for song. That, at least,
is the natural explanation for their gift.
But I ask again, why do birds sing? Because their Creator
put a song in their hearts. Each bird is "heaven's high and holy
muse," said John Donne, created to draw our hearts up to our
Creator. They are reminders that He has given us a song that we
may sing His praise. So when you hear God's little hymn-birds
singing their hearts out, remember to sing your own song of
salvation. Lift up your voice-harmonious, hoarse, or harsh-and
join with them in praise to our Creator, Redeemer, and Lord. The
birds of the air "sing among the branches," Israel's poet
observes. "[Therefore] I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being" (Ps.
104:12,33). - David Roper
Field and forest, vale and mountain, Flowery meadow, flashing
sea, Chanting bird and fowing fountain, Call us to rejoice in
Thee. -- van Dyke
ALL CREATION SINGS GOD'S PRAISE.
ALL OUT OF TEENAGERS
Read: Psalm 128
Your children [shall be] like olive plants all around your table.
- Psalm 128:3
For 18 years, our home was blessed by the presence of
teenagers. But now that our youngest is in his 20s, my wife and I
are all out of teenagers. Those years were full of challenges and
demands that sometimes zapped our strength and took all of our
mental and emotional reserves. Along the way, we navigated the
rough seas of the sudden death of one of our four teens. We also
enjoyed the thrills of success and struggled through the turmoil
of rebellion. As I look back on our experiment in parenting, we
learned some valuable lessons:
* Some teens follow life in a straight line, while others zig-zag
along life's pathway. It's best to "zig" with them in love and
* All teens need unconditional love because they live in a
* A love of God's Word is vital to successfully transferring
faith from one generation to the next.
* Teens need to develop a relationship with Christ that is based
not on rules but on a deep love of Jesus.
Has God placed any young people in your life? Whatever their
age, love them unconditionally. Help them learn to love God's
Word. Show them how'to have a deep love for Jesus. And hold on! -
Parents, give your children guidance, And instruction from God's
Word; Then with wisdom and compassion, Teach them how to love the
Lord. - Sper
DON'T MERELY SPEND TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN - INVEST IT.
Read: Ephesians 2:11=19
Through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. -
When Mike Marolt is out of town, he remotely accesses the
computer and files in his Aspen, Colorado, office. On a recent
overseas trip, Marolt answered e-mails and kept in touch with his
clients by using his laptop through a satellite phone hookup.
This time, however, he was sitting in a base camp tent at 21,000
feet on the side of Mt.Everest. These days even - that doesn't
surprise us because we have become used to the technology that
provides access to the rest of the world anytime, anywhere.
We can easily develop a similar lack of amazement toward
prayer. Talk to God? "Of course." We don't have to wait in line,
enter a building, or wear nice clothing. We can pour out our
hearts to the Lord anytime, anywhere. It's easy to lose the
wonder of that because it has become so familiar. Paul always
seemed to marvel at the door opened wide into the presence of
God. "In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought
near by the blood of Christ," he wrote. "For through Him we both
[Gentiles and Jews] have access by one Spirit to the Father"
(Eph.2:13,18). The door is open for everyone. God welcomes all
who come by faith. Through Christ we can enter His presence
anytime, anywhere. Amazing! - David McCasland
Let's always keep the prayer lines open, Knowing God is always
there; For we upon His name may call, Anytime and anywhere. -
D. De Haan
THERE IS NO PLACE OR TIME WE CANNOT PRAY.
Read: Isaiah 53:4-12
Which of you convinces Me of sin? And if I tell you the truth,
why do you not beleive Me? He who is God hears God's word. - John
Are there any perfect people alive today? Not in the opinion
of Harvard University psychiatrist Jerome Groopman. In his
engrossing book How Doctors Think, he expresses agreement with
the profound insights found in the Bible. He writes, "Everyone is
flawed at some time, in thought or in deed, from Abraham to Moses
to the Apostles."
But what about Jesus Christ? He challenged His listeners
regarding Himself: "Which of you convicts Me of sin?" (John
8:46). The disciples' verdict after they had opportunity to
scrutinize His life for at least 3 years was that He was without
sin (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).
Was Jesus a moral miracle, the one sinless Person in the
whole procession of sinful humans? Yes, He was the one spotless
exception to this observation of the apostle Paul: "All have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). And that
word all includes both you and me!
Because all humanity has sinned, we can rejoice that Jesus
was qualified - He and He alone - to be the flawless Sacrifice we
We give thanks for Jesus Christ, our sinless sin-bearer -
the one exception! - Vernon Grounds
Guilty, vile, and helpless, we; Spotless Lamb of God was He;
"Full atonement!" can it be? Hallelujah! What a Savior! - Bliss
ONLY JESUS, THE PERFECT SACRIFICE, CAN DECLARE GUILTY PEOPLE
Read: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
The love of Christ compels me. - 2 Corinthians 5:14
The word "amateur" has been redefined over the years and has
lost the luster of its original meaning. The English word comes
from the Latin word amore, which means "to love." An amateur is
someone who does something simply for the love of it.
In today's way of thinking, receiving payment moves you into
a "higher" category - that of a professional. The reasoning is
that if someone is willing to pay for your service, you must be
really good. An amateur, therefore, is considered to have less
skill or talent.
As I read my Bible, however, I see a different hierarchy of
values. During the time of Jesus, the religious professionals
were using their position to gain power and prestige for them
selves, not to serve the people. Jesus didn't choose those who
were wise, mighty, or noble by human standards (1 Cor.1:26). He
sought those willing to follow Him and be trained for loving
In today's world, the scene is much the same. God is still
looking for "amateurs," those who will serve the Lord for the
sheer love of it. Compelled by our love for Jesus, may we, like
the disciples and apostles before us, proclaim the love of God
for the world by following Christ's example of loving and serving
others. - Julie Ackerman Link
I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me, And purchased my
pardon on Calvary's tree; I love Thee for wearing the thorns on
Thy brow: If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. -
ONE PROOF OF OUR LOVE FOR GOD IS OUR LOVE FOR OUR NEIGHBOR.
Read: Romans 3:19-26
MUch more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall
be saved from wrath through Him. - Romans 5:9
When Lily Pinneo, a missionary nurse, was in West Africa,
she contracted a deadly disease called Lassa fever. After Lily
was flown to New York for medical treatment, her temperature
soared to 107 degrees F. To reduce the fever, doctors packed her
in ice and fed her intravenously. The fever subsided. After 9
weeks, she had lost 28 pounds and most of her hair. Yet somehow,
In a laboratory, Dr Casals carefully isolated and analyzed
the Lassa virus. But he too fell ill from his exposure to
the disease. At the time, no known treatment was effective.
Fortunately, Nurse Pinneo was convalescing and had built up
antibodies to the dread disease. She donated blood plasma to Dr.
Casals and he recovered too. Her blood saved his life.
All of us are infected with the fatal disease of sin (Rom.
6:23). There is only one cure. It resides in the cleansing power
of Jesus Christ's shed blood. Paul wrote, "Much more then, having
now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath
through Him" (Rom. 5:9). The righteous wrath of God against
transgression has been fully satisfied through Jesus' death in
our place. All we need do is repent, recognize Him as our Savior,
and receive the spiritual cure for sin. Have you made that
decision? - Dennis Fisher
Redeemed - how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of
the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child, and
forever, I am. - Crosby
THE PRICE OF OUR FREEDOM FROM SIN WAS PAID BY JESUS' BLOOD.
To be continued