Saturday, October 22, 2011

So Long

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
[Do not] sorrow as others who have no hope. —1 Thessalonians 4:13
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 65-66; 1 Timothy 2

My grandfather refused to say “goodbye”; he felt the word was too final. So, when we would drive away after family visits, his farewell ritual was always the same. Standing in front of the green ferns that lined his house, he would wave and call out, “So long”!

As believers, we never have to say “goodbye” to the ones we love, as long as they have placed their trust in Jesus as Savior. The Bible promises that we will see them again.

The apostle Paul said that we should not “sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13), because when Jesus returns, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves and—together with the believers who are still alive—will meet the Lord in the air (vv.15-17). We have confidence that one day in heaven there will be “no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” (Rev. 21:4). It’s in that wonderful place that “we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17).

Christians have the hope of an eternal reunion with Christ and with believing loved ones who have passed away. That’s why Paul exhorted us to “comfort one another with these words” (v.18). Today, encourage someone with the hope that allows us to say “so long,” instead of “goodbye.”

Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion
With our dear loved ones who’ve gone before;
In that fair homeland we’ll know no parting—
Beyond the sunset forevermore. —Brock

At death, God’s people don’t say “Goodbye,”
but “We’ll see you later.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Investing In The Future

By Bill Crowder

Read: Matthew 6:19-24
Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. —Matthew 6:20
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 56-58; 2 Thessalonians 2

Jason Bohn was a college student when he made a hole-in-one golf shot that won him a million dollars. While others may have squandered that money, Bohn had a plan. Wanting to be a pro golfer, he used the money as a living-and-training fund to improve his golf skills. The cash became an investment in his future—an investment that paid off when Bohn won the PGA Tour’s 2005 B.C. Open. Bohn’s decision to invest in the future instead of living for the moment was a wise one indeed.

In a sense, that is what Jesus calls us to do. We have been entrusted with resources—time, ability, opportunity— and we decide how to use them. Our challenge is to see those resources as an opportunity to invest long-term. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” is how Jesus put it in Matthew 6:20. Those protected treasures cannot be destroyed nor taken away, Jesus assures us.

Think of your resources: talent, time, knowledge. These are temporal and limited. But if you invest them with an eye toward eternity, these temporary things can have enduring impact. What is your focus? Now or forever? Invest in the future. It will not only have an eternal impact, but it will also change the way you view life each day.

Whatever is done in love for Christ
Will one day have heaven’s reward;
Today let’s do what we can for Him,
Our loving Savior and Lord. —Hess

The richest people on earth
are those who invest their lives in heaven.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Too Busy To Know God?

By Randy Kilgore

Read: Luke 10:38-42
She had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. —Luke 10:39
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 41-42; 1 Thessalonians 1

One day when I was waiting to board a plane, a stranger who had overheard me mention that I was a chaplain began to describe to me his life before he met Christ. He said it was marked by “sin and self-absorption. Then I met Jesus.”

I listened with interest to a list of changes he had made to his life and good deeds he had done. But because everything he told me was about his busyness for God and not his fellowship with God, I wasn’t surprised when he added, “Frankly, chaplain, I thought I’d feel better about myself by now.”

I think the New Testament character Martha would have understood that stranger’s observation. Having invited Jesus to be a guest at her home, she set about doing what she thought were the important things. But this meant she couldn’t focus on Jesus. Because Mary wasn’t helping, Martha felt justified asking Jesus to chide her. It’s a mistake many of us make: We’re so busy doing good that we don’t spend time getting to know God better.

My advice to my new airplane friend came from the core of Jesus’ words to Martha in Luke 10:41-42. I said to him: “Slow down and invest yourself in knowing God; let His Word reveal Himself to you.” If we’re too busy to spend time with God, we’re simply too busy.

Savior, let me walk beside Thee,
Let me feel my hand in Thine;
Let me know the joy of walking
In Thy strength and not in mine. —Sidebotham

Our heavenly Father longs to spend time with His children.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Free To Choose

By David C. McCasland

Read: Daniel 6:1-10
He knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. —Daniel 6:10
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 30-31; Philippians 4

When it was learned that the biggest football game of the 2011 season was scheduled to be played on Yom Kippur, the student government at the University of Texas petitioned school officials to change the date. They said it was unfair to make Jewish students choose between the classic football rivalry with Oklahoma and observing their most important and sacred holy day of the year. But the date was not changed. Even in societies where people have religious freedom, difficult choices are still required of every person of faith.

Daniel demonstrated the courage to obey God no matter what the consequences. When his political rivals set a trap to eliminate him from their path to power (Dan. 6:1-9), he didn’t challenge the law or complain that he had been wronged. “When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (v.10).

Daniel didn’t know if God would save him from the lions’ den, but it didn’t matter. He chose to honor God in his life whatever the outcome. Like Daniel, we are free to choose to follow the Lord.

What freedom lies with all who choose
To live for God each day!
But chains of bondage shackle those
Who choose some other way. —D. De Haan

You can never go wrong when you choose to follow Christ.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

No Authority?

By Dave Branon

Read: Proverbs 6:6-11
Consider [the ant’s] ways and be wise, which, having no . . . ruler, provides her supplies . . . and gathers her food. —Proverbs 6:6-8
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 20-22; Ephesians 6

When the deck behind our house began caving in, I knew its repair would exceed my abilities. So I made some calls, got some bids, and picked a builder to construct a new deck.

Once the contractor was done, I took a close look at his work and noticed some problems. Seeking a second opinion, I called the local building inspector and got a surprise. The deck guy had not obtained a building permit. Working without official oversight, he had violated many points of the building code.

This incident reminded me of an important truth (other than asking to see the building permit): We often do less than our best if we don’t have any accountability to the authority over us.

In Scripture, we see this principle explained in two of Jesus’ parables (Matt. 24:45-51; 25:14-30). In both cases, at least one unsupervised worker failed when the master was gone. But then we see a different approach in Proverbs 6. We see the example of the ant, which does good work without a visible supervisor. It intrinsically does its work without being monitored.

What about us? Do we do good work only when someone is watching? Or do we recognize that all our service is for God, and so do our best at all times—even when no human authority is watching?

God sees and knows the work we do:
Our faithfulness He will reward;
With His authority in view,
Let’s do our best for Christ the Lord. —Hess

No matter who your boss is, you are really working for God.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

In Search Of Silence

By Julie Ackerman Link

Read: Mark 1:35-45
I have calmed and quieted my soul. —Psalm 131:2
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 14-16; Ephesians 5:1-16

My next record should be 45 minutes of silence,” said singer Meg Hutchinson, “because that’s what we’re missing most in society.”

Silence is indeed hard to find. Cities are notoriously noisy due to the high concentration of traffic and people. There seems to be no escape from loud music, loud machines, and loud voices. But the kind of noise that endangers our spiritual well-being is not the noise we can’t escape but the noise we invite into our lives. Some of us use noise as a way of shutting out loneliness: voices of TV and radio personalities give us the illusion of companionship. Some of us use it as a way of shutting out our own thoughts: other voices and opinions keep us from having to think for ourselves. Some of us use noise as a way of shutting out the voice of God: constant chatter, even when we’re talking about God, keeps us from hearing what God has to say.

But Jesus, even during His busiest times, made a point of seeking out places of solitude where He could carry on a conversation with God (Mark 1:35). Even if we can’t find a place that is perfectly quiet, we need to find a place to quiet our souls (Ps. 131:2), a place where God has our full attention.

For Further Study
For more on this topic, read the online booklet
Mary & Martha: Balancing Life’s Priorities

Don’t let the noise of the world
keep you from hearing the voice of the Lord.