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3/22/14 9:17 P

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March 22

Coming Soon!

By David C. McCasland


A “COMING SOON!” announcement often precedes future events in entertainment and sports, or the launch of the latest technology. The goal is to create anticipation and excitement for what is going to happen, even though it may be months away.

While reading the book of Revelation, I was impressed with the “coming soon” sense of immediacy permeating the entire book. Rather than saying, “Someday, in the far distant future, Jesus Christ is going to return to earth,” the text is filled with phrases like “things which must shortly take place” (1:1) and “the time is near” (v.3). Three times in the final chapter, the Lord says, “I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:7,12,20). Other versions translate this phrase as, “I’m coming soon,” “I’m coming speedily,” and “I’m on My way!”

How can this be—since 2,000 years have elapsed since these words were written? “Quickly” doesn’t seem appropriate for our experience of time.

Rather than focusing on a date for His return, the Lord is urging us to set our hearts on His promise that will be fulfilled. We are called to live for Him in this present age “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Live as if Christ is coming back today.

Insight

As with today’s text, 2 Peter 3:1-10 deals with Jesus’ imminent return. Peter explains that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise . . . but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (v.9).

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3/21/14 7:58 A

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March 21

Still Working

By Dave Branon

Vivian and Don are in their mid-90s and have been married more than 70 years. Recently Vivian suffered a setback when she broke her hip. This has been additionally difficult because for several years both Don and Vivian have been saddened by the realization that they are no longer strong enough to be active in the life and work of their church.

However, Vivian and Don are still hard at work for the Lord: They are prayer warriors. While they may not always be physically present and visible in the life of their church, they are faithful “behind the scenes” in their service for Him.

The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 reminds us that we must use the “talents” God has given us wisely. All of us have God-given skills and abilities at various levels—and we must not bury, unused, what God has given us.

It is not only in our years of strength that God will use us, but also in our youth and age, as well as in our sickness and weakness. Vivian and Don continue to serve by praying. And like them, we honor our Savior by using our skills—“each according to his own ability” (v.15) to serve Him who is worthy.
Lord, You have done so much for me. Please show
me what I can do to serve You—to honor You with
the abilities You have provided. May my life be a
living sacrifice of love and action for Your honor.

God can use you at any age—if you are willing.

Insight

The parable of the talents contains a profound and enduring message to the believer. It drives home the point that we will be justly compensated for the use of our Spirit-filled talents. Both motive and faithfulness will be key factors in how we are evaluated at the judgment (Bema) seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). “Good works” performed in the energy of the flesh or for the wrong motives will be burned up. But faithful, Spirit-filled service will be rewarded (1 Cor. 3:12-15).

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3/21/14 1:45 A

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Misplaced Love

By Marvin Williams

Martin Lindstrom, an author and speaker, thinks that cellphones have become akin to a best friend for many owners. Lindstrom’s experiment using an MRI helped him discover why. When the subjects saw or heard their phone ringing, their brains fired off neurons in the area associated with feelings of love and compassion. Lindstrom said, “It was as if they were in the presence of a girlfriend, boyfriend, or family member.”

Many things vie for our affection and time and attention, and it seems we’re always needing to evaluate where we’re focusing our lives. Joshua told the people of Israel that they were to give their affection and worship to God alone (Josh. 24:14). This was significant in contrast to the idols worshiped by the nations around them. These idols were made of metal and were only the work of men’s hands (Ps. 115:4). They were totally powerless compared to the Lord. Therefore, God’s people were exhorted to find their security in Him and not in other gods (Judg. 10:13-16). Jesus reiterated this in His discussion of the commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).

The Lord alone is our help and shield (Ps. 115:9). May we reserve our worship for Him.

For Further Thought

What do our actions in the last few months reveal
about our affections? Is there any indication that we
have placed someone or something above God?

God is most worthy of our affections.

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3/17/14 2:22 P

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Perspective From The Clouds

By Dennis Fisher

March 17

In 1927 the silent film Wings, a World War I film about two American aviators, won the first Academy Award for Best Picture. When it was being filmed, production stopped for several days. Frustrated producers asked the director why. He responded: “All we have is blue sky. The conflict in the air will not be as visible without clouds. Clouds bring perspective.” He was right. Only by seeing aerial combat with clouds as a backdrop could the viewer see what was really going on.

We often wish for blue skies instead of storm clouds. But cloudy skies may reveal God’s faithfulness. We gain perspective on how God has been faithful in our trials as we look back on the clouds.

At the beginning of his terrible suffering, Job lamented: “May the day perish on which I was born . . . . May a cloud settle on it” (Job 3:3-5). His experience of despair continued for a long time until God spoke. Then Job exclaimed, “I have heard of You . . . but now my eye sees You” (42:5). Job had encountered the sovereign Creator, and that changed his perspective on God’s purposes.

Do clouds of trouble fill your skies today? Sooner than you think, God may use these clouds to help you gain perspective on His faithfulness.
God, give us wings to rise above
The clouds of trial that block the sun,
To soar above gray skies and see
The love and goodness of Your Son. —Sper

Often the clouds of sorrow reveal the sunshine of His face. —Jasper

Insight

In Job 3:3-5, we have what many Bible scholars call Job’s soliloquy. After a time of quiet agony, the great Old Testament saint breaks his silence and lets out his anguish. He calls for darkness and then destruction to overwhelm him. Instead of seeing God’s light-filled and good creation, Job feels he is living in a world of darkness. But in Job 42:5-6, we see the resolution to Job’s conflict. Out of the whirlwind, God challenges Job and points to creation as a witness to His reality. Although he is never told that his sufferings are the result of spiritual warfare from the devil, Job submits to the sovereignty of God and experiences restoration.

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3/15/14 5:04 P

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March 15

Job Titles

By C. P. Hia

When the British Broadcasting Corporation asked for examples of important-sounding, obscure, and even bizarre job titles, one writer offered hers: Underwater Ceramic Technician. She was a dishwasher at a restaurant. Sometimes titles are used to make a job sound more important.

When the apostle Paul listed some of God’s gifts to the church in Ephesians 4:11, he did not intend for these to be understood as high-sounding job titles. All the parts of the body are necessary for the body to function properly. No one part is better than another.

What was of primary importance was the purpose of these gifts. They were “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to . . . the stature of the fullness of Christ” (vv.12-13).

It matters little what title we hold. What is important is that we strengthen the faith of God’s people. When we gauge our effectiveness by the standard that the Bible gives us, it will not matter when we are moved to another role or no longer hold a specific title. Out of love for God, we serve to build up fellow believers, and we let God give His commendation in heaven as He sees fit (Matt. 25:21).
Lord, please use me as Your instrument to touch
others’ lives. Help me not to be concerned
about what title I hold but instead that my
life might show others Your grace.

God’s gifts to us are not for us but for others.

INSIGHT

Today’s reading records Christ giving spiritual gifts to the church, the body of Christ. These gifts include: apostles, those who open up new mission territories to the gospel; prophets, who apply the Word in spiritually compelling ways; evangelists, who have a special ability to share the gospel that often brings a positive response; and pastors/teachers, who communicate the Word so that believers are built up in their faith. The goal of the use of these gifts is that Christians will be “perfected” in their faith and move on to maturity. The effective use of gifts creates a unity that bears witness to the reality of Christ (John 13:35).

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3/14/14 9:46 P

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March 14

Prone To Wander

By Bill Crowder

One of my favorite classic hymns is “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” which was written in 1757 by 22-year-old Robert Robinson. In the hymn’s lyrics is a line that always captures my attention and forces me to do some self-evaluation. The line says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” I feel that way sometimes. Too often I find myself distracted and drifting, instead of having my heart and mind focused on the Savior who loves me and gave Himself for me. Robert Robinson and I are not alone in this.

In those seasons of wandering, our heart of hearts doesn’t want to drift from God—but, like Paul, we often do what we don’t want to do (Rom. 7:19), and we desperately need to turn back to the Shepherd of our heart who can draw us to Himself. David wrote of this struggle in His great anthem to the Scriptures, Psalm 119, saying, “With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!” (v.10).

Sometimes, even when our hearts long to seek God, the distractions of life can draw us away from Him and His Word. How grateful we can be for a patient, compassionate heavenly Father whose grace is always sufficient—even when we are prone to wander!
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above. —Robinson

Our tendency to wander is matched by God’s willingness to pursue.

Insight

Although high-tech media has multiplied the ways we can be tempted, the issues of the heart remain the same. The question of how we can keep ourselves pure is still related to the Word of God. Our minds are to become preoccupied with Scripture (v.9). Committing the Word to memory makes it accessible in all circumstances (v.11). By meditating on Scripture, we discover its meaning and how to apply spiritual principles (v.15). In addition, sharing with others what we learn can edify them.

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Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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3/13/14 6:07 P

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Without Power

by David C. McCasland

In late October 2012, a hurricane-spawned superstorm struck the heavily populated northeastern US, leaving massive flooding and destruction in its wake. During the storm, more than 8 million customers lost electricity. Power outages alone caused shortages of food, fuel, and water, along with the chaos of gridlocked transportation. The howling winds and surging waters left many neighborhoods crushed, flooded, and choked with mountains of sand. Media coverage of the event reported: “Millions Without Power.”

Like a storm of nature, a personal tragedy can often leave us feeling powerless and in the dark. During such times, God’s Word assures us of His help: “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isa. 40:29).

At our lowest point, drained of emotional resources, we can place our hope in the Lord and find our strength in Him. He promises us that, for each new day, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (v.31).

God is our spiritual power source in every storm of life.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home! —Watts

It takes the storm to prove the real shelter.

Insight

To say the least, coping with life’s many demands can be fatiguing at times. But the reading for today uses wonderful poetic imagery to describe the buoyancy that faith can provide. The believer who depends upon the Lord can “mount up with wings like eagles” (40:31). The text also mentions the supernatural staying power and stamina that only God can provide. In contrast to the strength that youth and health provide, the person of faith can persevere long after others have given up on the race of life. Finally, Isaiah 41:10 extends a wonderful promise of protection and care through life’s threats and troubles.

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