Saturday, February 25, 2012
Let Down Your Hair
February 25, 2012 — by Julie Ackerman Link
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Read: John 12:1-8
Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. —John 12:3
Bible in a Year:
Shortly before Jesus was crucified, a woman named Mary poured a bottle of expensive perfume on His feet. Then, in what may have been an even more daring act, she wiped His feet with her hair (John 12:3). Not only did Mary sacrifice what may have been her life’s savings, she also sacrificed her reputation. In first-century Middle Eastern culture, respectable women never let down their hair in public. But true worship is not concerned about what others think of us (2 Sam. 6:21-22). To worship Jesus, Mary was willing to be thought of as immodest, perhaps even immoral.
Some of us may feel pressured to be perfect when we go to church so that people will think well of us. Metaphorically speaking, we work hard to make sure we have every hair in place. But a healthy church is a place where we can let down our hair and not hide our flaws behind a façade of perfection. In church, we should be able to reveal our weaknesses to find strength rather than conceal our faults to appear strong.
Worship doesn’t involve behaving as if nothing is wrong; it’s making sure everything is right—right with God and with one another. When our greatest fear is letting down our hair, perhaps our greatest sin is keeping it up.
Whenever we gather to worship Let’s not hide behind a façade; Instead, let’s be open and honest With others and also with God. —Sper
Our worship is right only when we are right with God and with others.
Re-posted From Julie Ackerman Link of Our Daily Bread
Friday, February 24, 2012
Fresh And Flourishing
In Psalm 92, the poet begins with a commendation of praise: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” Good for what? Good for you and me. It does our soul a world of good to turn from anxious thoughts and fill our days with prayerful praise; good to greet each morning with songs of thanksgiving, for such praise makes us glad. It lifts us out of gloom and replaces our sadness with cheerful songs at the “works of [His] hands” (v.4). And what is that work? The work He is doing in us!
Here’s one of my most cherished metaphors: “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing” (vv.12-14).
Palms are symbols of towering beauty and cedars of unbending strength. These are the characteristics of those who have been “planted in the house of the Lord” (v.13). Their roots go down into the soil of God’s unquenchable love.
Do you think your usefulness to God is over? Continue in God’s Word, rooted and grounded in Christ, drinking in His love and faithfulness. Then, no matter your age, you will bear fruit and be “fresh and flourishing.”
Re-posted From David H. Roper of Our Daily Bread
Thursday, February 23, 2012
During World War II, the British Isles represented the last line of resistance against the sweep of Nazi oppression in Europe. Under relentless attack and in danger of collapse, however, Britain lacked the resources to see the conflict through to victory. For that reason, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill went on BBC radio and appealed to the world: “Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.” He knew that without help from the outside, they could not endure the assault they were facing.
Life is like that. Often, we are inadequate for the troubles life throws at us, and we need help from outside of ourselves. As members of the body of Christ, that help can come at times from our Christian brothers and sisters (Rom. 12:10-13)—and that is a wonderful thing. Ultimately, however, we seek help from our heavenly Father. The good and great news is that our God has invited us to come confidently before Him: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
At such times, our greatest resource is prayer—for it brings us into the very presence of God. There we find, in His mercy and grace, the help we need.
Re-posted From Bill Crowder of Our Daily Bread
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
An Ordinary Guy
Steve was just an ordinary guy. He quietly served in a church I attended years ago. He helped prepare communion, shoveled the church sidewalks in the winter, and mowed the lawn in the summer. He spent time with teenage boys who had no fathers in the home. I often heard him telling people at church in his quiet way how good the Lord was to him. During prayer meeting he didn’t talk much about himself but would ask us to pray for those he was telling about Jesus’ forgiveness and love.
A verse in John 10 about John the Baptist makes me think of Steve. People said of him: “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man [Jesus] were true” (v.41). John didn’t perform miracles as Jesus did. He didn’t talk about himself but came to “bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe” (1:7). He said of Jesus, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (1:29). My friend Steve bore witness of that Light as well.
Our aim, as followers of Jesus, is to do the same—to “bear witness of the Light.” We’re just ordinary people, serving God in our little corner of the world. With our quiet deeds and words, let’s point others to the Light!
Re-posted From Anne Cetas of Our Daily Bread
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
While studying the book of Proverbs in my small-group Bible study, our leader suggested that we change the description of a lazy person from a sluggard to a slacker (6:6,9). Ah, now he was speaking my lingo. I immediately started thinking of all the people I consider to be slackers.
Like the men and women who fail to teach and discipline their children. Or that guy who refuses to help around the house. Or those teenagers who neglect their studies and play Internet games day and night.
If we’re honest, we’re all susceptible to this. What about being a “prayer slacker” (1 Thess. 5:17-18), or a “Bible-reading slacker” (Ps. 119:103; 2 Tim. 3:16-17), or a “non-exercising-of-our-spiritual-gift slacker” (Rom. 12:4-8), or a “non-witnessing slacker”? (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
If we are not doing what we know God wants us to do, we are certainly spiritual slackers. In fact, when we refuse to obey God, we are sinning.
Listen to these challenging and convicting words from the book of James: “It is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (4:17 NLT). Let’s not be spiritual slackers.
When we know what God wants us to do,
But then we refuse to obey,
We’re ignoring the voice of the Lord,
And sinfully choosing our way. —Sper
We may make excuses for not obeying God,
but He still calls it disobedience.
Re-posted From Cindy Hess Kasper of Our Daily Bread
Monday, February 20, 2012
The Remedy For Fear
In his first inaugural speech in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the newly elected president of the US, addressed a nation that was still reeling from the Great Depression. Hoping to ignite a more optimistic outlook regarding that economic crisis, he declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!”
Fear often shows up in our lives when we are at risk of losing something—our wealth, health, reputation, position, safety, family, friends. It reveals our innate desire to protect the things in life that are important to us, rather than fully entrusting them to God’s care and control. When fear takes over, it cripples us emotionally and saps us spiritually. We’re afraid to tell others about Christ, to extend our lives and resources for the benefit of others, or to venture into new territory. A fearful spirit is more vulnerable to the enemy, who tempts us to compromise biblical convictions and to take matters into our own hands.
The remedy for fear, of course, is trust in our Creator. Only when we trust the reality of God’s presence, power, protection, and provision for our lives can we share the joy of the psalmist, who said, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Ps. 34:4).
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear. —Berg
Trust in the Lord is the cure for a fearful spirit.
Re-posted From Joe Stowell of Our Daily Bread
Sunday, February 19, 2012
A Word From The Lord
Noted preacher and theologian Helmut Thielicke (1908–1986) endured great opposition from the Nazi regime in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s. Yet he remained committed to proclaiming God’s presence and power in Jesus Christ during a difficult and perplexing time. Scholar Robert Smith said that as Thielicke addressed modern issues and problems in his sermons, “he sought to answer the question, ‘Is there any word from the Lord?’”
Isn’t that what each of us is seeking today? What has God said that will strengthen and guide us through the difficulties and opportunities we face?
First Samuel 3 describes a time when “the word of the Lord was rare” (v.1). When God spoke to young Samuel, the boy mistakenly thought it was the aging priest Eli calling him. Eli told the boy to respond to God’s voice by saying, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears” (v.9). Samuel listened, and he became known as a man who lived faithfully and fearlessly, “for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (v.21).
Whenever we open the Bible, listen to a sermon, or pause to pray, it’s a wonderful practice to say, “Lord Jesus, speak to me. I’m ready to listen and eager to obey.”
God who formed worlds by the power of His word
Speaks through the Scriptures His truth to be heard
And if we read with the will to obey
He by His Spirit will show us His way. —D. De Haan
God speaks through His Word to those who listen with their heart.
Re-posted From David C. McCasland of Our Daily Bread