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AskMe #2040863 04/11/08 06:01 AM
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1 Samuel 12:20-22 (NLT)
20 “Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him. 21 Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you—they are totally useless! 22 The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people

Samuel had led the people with his sons following in the ways of the Lord. However, Samuel’s sons did not have the integrity of Samuel. The people decided they wanted a king to rule over them like other nations. They wanted someone they thought would protect them, although God had always been their protector. The Lord told Samuel, it is not you they are rejecting. It is Me they are rejecting and displeased with. So God granted their request for a king. In the verses above Samuel is bidding farewell as leader. He tells the people even though they have sinned they should not turn their back on God; for God will not abandon His people.

Brennan Manning is an author, friar, priest, speaker and educator; but most of all a sinner saved by grace. It was May of 1963 when he graduated from seminary and was ordained as a Franciscan priest. In the late sixties he joined the order of Little Brothers of Jesus of Charles de Foucauld in Spain. There he committed himself to a life among the poor. Brennan carried water by donkey to the poor villages. He was a mason’s assistant; he shoveled mud and straw; he was a dishwasher; and he became a voluntary prisoner in a Swiss jail to understand the prisoners’ conditions and minister to them. He returned to the United States and continued to minister following the simple life of the Franciscans. In the mid seventies he began to teach, but fell into alcoholism. It was at this point he sought recovery and emerged wanting everyone to accept and embrace the news of God’s unconditional love in Jesus Christ. He began to write and speak to others about God’s love. One of his famous quotes was, “"The Greatest single cause of Atheism in the world today are Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." He also asked these questions, “What saddened you this past month? Was it the realization that you do not love Jesus enough? That you did not seek his face in prayer often enough? That you did not care for his people enough? Or did you get depressed over a lack of respect, criticism from an authority figure, your finances, a lack of friends, fears about the future, or your bulging waistline? Conversely, what gladdened you the past month? Reflection on your election to the Christian community? The joy of saying slowly, "Abba, Father"? The afternoon you stole away for two hours with only the gospel as your companion? A small victory over selfishness? Or were the sources of your joy a new car, a Brooks Brothers suit, a great date, great sex, a raise, or a loss of four inches from your waistline?” Good questions to consider as we examine ourselves and our love for The Lord. I pray Heavenly Father we would allow your love to overflow in our lives. I pray we would pass the love of Jesus Christ on to those who need him. And in our own lives I pray we would accept the love of Christ when we stumble and fall.

AskMe #2041793 04/14/08 07:05 AM
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Proverbs 14:15 (NLT)
15 Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.

This proverb from King Solomon says one should not heed every report to be credulous; ignore the improbably of a situation; or depend upon a person’s statement of friendship as proof of truth. King Solomon said only simpletons believe in everything they are told, because in comparison to God there is no man without fault that cannot lie or bend the truth. The prudent man will carefully weight out the reliability of information, comparing it to other sources and looking for the probability of the testimony of truth.

The show Myth Busters puts myths to the test and decides if they are Confirmed, Plausible or Busted. In one episode a myth was presented that a person will end up drier running in the rain rather than walking. The Myth Buster Team setup an artificial rain test to make the determination. The original test showed running faster results in getting wetter. So the myth was considered busted. But those watching the show were not convinced. They wrote in saying the test wasn’t a true test of a real rain storm. So the Myth Busters team set out again to prove or disprove the myth. This time they actually waited for a real storm to take place. When retrying the test in actual rain it was conclusively proven that the running test subject got less wet than the walking test subject. The use of artificial rain in the original test led to a false negative. See even those we might trust for accurate results should not be taken for granted. The evidence should be weighted and if necessary the stated facts called into question. Sometimes we think we have all the answers, but the truth is only God has all the answers.

AskMe #2042353 04/15/08 06:22 AM
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Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT)
16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Eleven disciples gathered to go where Jesus had told them to go. There had been twelve disciples Jesus had fellowshipped with right up until the time of His appointed death. Judas was not among those heading off to see Jesus; for Judas had taken his own life out of grief of his sin. Jesus gives the remaining disciples a command to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus assures them he will be with them always.

I wonder what these eleven men thought about Judas as they walked to meet Jesus. Obviously Matthew in his writing acknowledged there were only eleven of them now. Judas had fellowshipped with them. He had been a close friend and even treasurer of their funds. In Acts Luke writes the words of Peter as Peter speaks about Judas. “During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.”” Some of the disciples probably grieved the lost fellowship with Judas, while others were more than likely angry over his betrayal of Christ. Peter understood what happened had been in God’s hands. Prophecy was fulfilled and the fulfillment of salvation through Christ came for the 120 new believers that were present. Had Christ not died there would not have been 120 new believers present with the disciples. Remember Christ called us to share the good news of Salvation. Christ asked us to go and seek out others to tell. But the rest of the work is left in God’s hands. We are just to be obedient tools that God can use to perform His work. And if we fail, God will always find someone else to fulfill His mission.

AskMe #2043325 04/17/08 05:28 AM
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1 Peter 2:21-25 (NLT)
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 25 Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.

In these verses the apostle Peter says Christ is an example we should follow. He suffered for us; therefore we should be willing to do good for others, even if it means suffering to do so. Christ was not a sinner, a deceiver, a retaliator, insulter, or one who took revenge. He left matters in God’s hands to resolve. Christ is an example we should follow. He suffered for our sakes and because of Him we can be dead to sin and live to what God desires. We were once lost sheep, but now Christ our Shepherd watches over us and guards our souls.

This passage is taken from “God is Closer than You Think”, by John Ortberg, Zondervan 2005: “Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers. He moved to Kalawao—a village on the island of Molokai, in Hawaii, that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony. For 16 years, he lived in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built 2,000 coffins by hand so that, when they died, they could be buried with dignity. Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope. Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people. He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients. He shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores. He got close. For this, the people loved him. Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: "We lepers…."Now he wasn't just helping them. Now he was one of them. From this day forward, he wasn't just on their island; he was in their skin. First he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died. Now they were in it together. One day God came to Earth and began his message: "We lepers…." Now he wasn't just helping us. Now he was one of us. Now he was in our skin. Now we were in it together.” Praise our Lord Jesus for living as one of us, understanding our sorrows and pains. Praise Him for the care He has given us, and the love He has demonstrated. May we always give thanks to God for His son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

AskMe #2046937 04/24/08 06:53 AM
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Ephesians 3:14-19 (NLT)
14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

These are the words of the apostle Paul. He was writing to the Ephesians about God’s gracious plan of salvation. As Paul reflects on these thoughts he says he just wants to fall to his knees and pray to God. He has a desire for Christ to indwell the hearts of others that they may tap into God’s gracious love.

Arthur Frank Burns was an economist who served under the Nixon administration. Although Jewish, burns attended informal Christian prayer groups held at the White House. Because the Christians did not know exactly how to include Burns because of his Jewish beliefs he was passed by each week when someone was assigned to pray. Then one week a fairly new person leading the prayer group did not know Burns was Jewish and asked him to pray. Some who had been attending the group for a while glanced around wondering how Burns would react. But without hesitation Burns reached out and held hands with others in the group and then prayed this prayer. “Lord, I pray that you would bring Jews to know Jesus Christ. I pray that you would bring Muslims to know Jesus Christ. Finally, Lord, I pray that you would bring Christians to know Jesus Christ. Amen.” Burns startled some with the refreshing directness of his prayer. But it was a reminder Christians also need to deepen their understanding of Christ. They need to understand who Christ is and what He has done for them. They need to walk the road with Christ and follow Him in all that they do.

AskMe #2047315 04/25/08 07:15 AM
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2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NLT)
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

The apostle Paul gives praise to God, the Father of Christ, and also our Father who provides comfort in our times of need. Paul said when we suffer and seek out God’s comfort we learn how to later comfort those who are also suffering.

When a person has never had to experience grief it is hard to relate to a person who is dealing with a grievous issue. We might have sympathy for the situation, but without having experienced the same problem it is hard to be empathetic. Webster’s Dictionary says empathy is the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present. In other words that person has been where the other person is and knows what the experience was like and they relate fully to their suffering. Christ came to this world and fully experienced our life. He understood heartache, pain, suffering, abuse, torture and many other hardships. It is why Christ understands and can relate to our feelings when we are suffering. It is why Christ wants to reach out and offer His comfort to us during those times. It is also why Christ wants us to reach out to others, because many of us understand the difficulties of life and have been there before. Pray the Lord would help you to see the needs of others and reach out to them with understanding. Pray God can use the difficulties of your past to bring strength to others.

AskMe #2048516 04/28/08 07:11 AM
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Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)
9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

As King Solomon reflects on life he says two people are better off together than one. He says if one falls into trouble then the other person can reach out for help. Two people can assist each other in ways one person cannot. Then Solomon says, three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. In other words, the bond of two can be strong, but it can be even stronger when God is included as a part of their life.

The March of the Penguins is a documentary film on the breeding season of the emperor penguins of the Antarctica. At five years and older the penguins leave the ocean and walk inland to their breeding grounds, an area chosen for it’s protection and firm solid ice. The penguins will walk 70 miles to reach their destination. Once there they select a mate for the breeding season. The female will lay an egg which she transfers it to the feet of the male, where he will protect and keep the egg warm. The female then returns to the ocean to eat, having lost a third of her body weight. She has not eaten for two months so this is her time to eat for herself and for the chick. The mother returns and now the father heads to the sea so he may also eat. The mother shares food with the chick and bonds with the young one. The father returns to watch over the chick as the mother once again goes on the search for food. The parents take turns watching over the chick, going to get food from the sea and bring it back to feed the young bird. The young birds depend on the two parents, but unfortunately at times a parent is lost on the long journey from the sea. The chick is then left alone, depending on the return of one parent. Nature recognizes two together can make a difference in the life of another. And the Bible tells us that including God makes us even stronger in the things we can do. Pray your relationships with others will be strong. Pray for marriages that couples may become stronger in the grace of the Lord. Pray for unity in families knowing that God wants peace and for each to draw on the others strength.

AskMe #2049143 04/29/08 06:55 AM
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Ephesians 3:18-19 (NLT)
18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

As the Apostle Paul writes the Ephesians he tells them there is more to God’s love than we can ever understand. God’s love goes beyond out comprehension, our imagination and out ability to reason. Paul as in a prayer state says, “May you experience the love of Christ, thought it is too great to full understand.” The more intimately we know Christ’s love for us, the more our love for Him will be revealed to ourselves and those who are to drawn to Him.

Webster’s defines pride as the quality or state of being proud; inordinate self esteem to the point of conceit. For one to be proud they find they are pleased with themselves. Sometimes pride becomes excessive, which is why synonyms for proud include arrogant, haughty, lordly, insolent, overbearing, supercilious and disdainful. The book of Proverbs tells us pride leads to disgrace; it leads to conflict; it is a precursor to a downfall; and it ends in humiliation. Twice in Isaiah 2 it says, “Human pride will be brought down, and human arrogance will be humbled. Only the Lord will be exalted on that day of judgment.” And while many may say they are not prideful, many of those same also believe their sins are greater than God’s love. They believe the things they have done are unforgivable. But the truth is God wants to reconcile us to Himself. God wants to forgive our sins. God wants to have a relationship with us. It is pride that stands in the way saying, how can God forgive my sin BECAUSE IT IS SO GREAT? But our God is greater than any of our sin and our God loves us beyond our comprehension. So pray your pride might be put aside to accept the love of God and Christ. Pray you will come to understand the depths of His love.

AskMe #2050309 05/01/08 06:39 AM
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2 Samuel 12:8-9 (NLT)
8 I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. 9 Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife.

These verses follow Nathan’s confrontation of David’s sin with Bathsheba. Nathan told a story David could clearly see as unjust and wrong. Yet David had not identified his own sin and did not recognize the story was about him. David was ready to punish the man in the story, but David was quickly humbled when Nathan said “you are that man”. Nathan then tells David what the Lord has revealed to him in the verses above.

Sometimes it is difficult to see your own sin of the sin becomes so habitual a person will justify their wrongs and see no problem. This same person can hear about the sins of others and be quick to point them out; yet they remain blind to their own sin. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, but he was also responsible for the murder of her husband. David was so consumed with covering up the sin of adultery that he was oblivious to the fact he was responsible for murder. God used Nathan to point out David had received many things from God, but David with his selfish desires took something that did not belong to him. David had stolen the wife of Uriah the Hittite, but even more serious David had taken the life of Uriah to cover his sin. In the book of John Jesus healed a blind man. “Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?” “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” David thought he was blind to his sin, but he clearly saw it when he was confronted. David was guilty of the sin he pretended not to see.

AskMe #2052051 05/05/08 06:36 AM
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2 Corinthians 8:10-15 (NLT)
10 Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. 11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. 12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. 15 As the Scriptures say, “Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.”

In speaking to the Corinthians, Paul has asked they give generously to those in neeed. He says while they are capable of giving they should give in order to help others. Later there may come a time when they are in need and others can help them. Then he quotes a part of Exodus, “Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.

Many are familiar with Steve Martin and his comedic humor. In the rags to riches movie, “The Jerk”, Steve Martin started out as an adopted member of a poor family. For him life seemed good and simple. At one point he leaves his adopted family to explore the world. Having lived a poor life he seems able to get along on a meager existence. He always seemed to have a place to sleep and food to eat no matter how unaccommodating the situation may have been. Steve Martin invents a device for a man who was having trouble with his glasses staying on. He named the invention Opti-grab and the man kindly offered to market the device and share the profits. Steve Martin receives the first check of $250,000 and then a second one for $750,000. In the movie he then marries Bernadette Peters and moves into a luxurious mansion where he lives life frivolously. Suddenly he finds himself in the middle of a lawsuit and having to pay back 10,000,000 people $1.09 each bankrupting him and taking away his exuberant lifestyle. Despondent he decides to walk away from home in a robe and shorts. As he is leaving he picks up an item and says, “I only need this one thing.” Then he picks up another, “I only need this one thing too.” And then he continues to pick up items saying it is the only thing he needs. Steve Martin had gone from a penniless man, to a rich man, to a bankrupt man now desiring the things he had. We never know when similar problems might befall us. Paul says we should be content, sharing with others as we can. And when problems fall our way maybe others will be kind enough to help us. Pray God will give you the wisdom to use money wisely. Pray you might be able to help those who are needy in order to share the love of Christ.

AskMe #2052765 05/06/08 06:20 AM
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James 4:13-16 (NLT)
13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.

In these verses James is cautioning about the presumptive confidence of our life and against forming our own plans that might not agree with God’s desires. James reminds us our life is short in comparison to the life waiting for us in eternity. We should reflect on our present life and look for what God would have us do as opposed to the plans we might make for ourselves.

The actor James Dean said, “Dream as if you will live forever, and live as if you will die tomorrow.” We all need dreams and hope to live for; but we need to evaluate them in the light our next day could be our last. In a commencement speech to the graduates of Stanford College, Apple computer founder Steve Jobs said, “Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward (at his life), You can only connect them looking backward, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” We can look back in life and see our achievements and our failures. We can see how they connect in some manner to each other. We may even be able to realize how a mistake took us in a completely different direction. But we cannot see into the future and if we want the dots of our life to connect in a meaningful manner then we must trust God and his plan for our life. Steve Jobs spoke at the commencement about a year after being diagnosed with a rare curable form of cancer. Doctors first gave him six months to live. Steve has continued to recover and he learned a lesson from life, which he shared with the graduates. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” God has given us a life to use wisely. Don’t waste the time He has given you.

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John 9:30-34 (NLT)
30 “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. 32 Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.” 34 “You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue.

The disciples had pointed out a blind man to Jesus and asked Jesus this question, why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” Then Jesus told them “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” Then Jesus placed mud on the blind man’s eyes and told him to go to the pool of Siloam to wash it off. The blind man did as he was told and could suddenly see. No one could believe the miracle, not even the religious leaders.

Christ touched the life of the blind man in a miraculous way. This man had been blind from birth and had spent most of his life begging. Neighbors and others who knew the man kept asking, “Isn’t this the man who use to sit and beg?” They could not believe this was the same man they had seen earlier on the street. Yet he kept telling them, “YES, I am the same one!” The religious leaders of the synagogue questioned the validity of what happened. They questioned the parents of the blind man. The leaders commented even if this is true, Jesus is a sinner. The parents were afraid to respond for fear of being put out of the synagogue. They said to the leaders, “He is old enough. Ask him.” The man who could now see then professed his faith in Jesus and said, “Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.” The leaders mocked the man as a sinner and threw him out of the synagogue. Are you willing to stand up and profess your faith in Christ when the times get difficult? Pray you will always have the courage and strength to profess Jesus as Lord and Savior. For Christ has done something great in our lives; He paid for our sins.

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Luke 18:35-43 (NLT)
35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. 36 When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. 38 So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see!” 42 And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” 43 Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.

In these verses we have a blind beggar who calls out to Jesus. And although others tried to stop his attempt to get the attention of Jesus he continued to call out to Christ. Jesus then had the man brought to him, and while Christ could see the man was a blind beggar; he asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” The man said, “I want to see” and Jesus healed his blindness.

In the story above Jesus asked the blind man what he wanted from Him. The blind man was acquainted with asking others for help with food or possibly money. But this man was excited about the question he wanted to ask Jesus. While others tried to hold him back, the man kept calling out to Jesus. Jesus heard the repetitious calls and asked the man to be brought to him. Upon hearing his request Jesus healed the man and told him it was his faith that saved him. There are those in this world that will try to hold you back from faith in Christ. But as we saw the blind man was persistent in his pursuit of Jesus. Jesus wants us to bring our requests to Him and as we ask and He answers it strengthens the faith we have in Christ.

AskMe #2056041 05/12/08 06:24 AM
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Amos 5:21-27
21 “I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. 22 I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. 23 Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. 25 “Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, Israel? 26 No, you served your pagan gods—Sakkuth your king god and Kaiwan your star god—the images you made for yourselves. 27 So I will send you into exile, to a land east of Damascus,” says the Lord, whose name is the God of Heaven’s Armies.

Amos is speaking to the people of Israel on behalf of God. God is trying to call the people back into repentance showing them the places they have gone wrong. God says he doesn’t need their showy festivals, offerings, or hymns of praise. Instead He wants justice and righteousness overflowing. God also reminds them of the other God’s they served; images made by their own hands.

Have you ever been in a grocery store and opened a bag of crackers or something else just because you were hungry and wanted a snack. You knew you would be paying for the item when you went to check out, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. I remember when our kids were little. We would be in the grocery store; sometimes the only way to keep them happy was to grab a box of Vanilla Wafers off the shelf and give them a few and then pay for the open box at the checkout. Did you know what seems like such an innocent act is actually against the law in some states? It is called the Law of Concealment; because you are opening and eating items to conceal what you took. It does not matter if your intent is to pay for the item or not. The employees don’t know, the manager doesn’t no, neither does the police offer who shows up to make the arrest. How can they see our intent was righteous and good versus intent to steal? Fortunately we have a God who can see the intent of our heart. He does know when we try to do what is right. But God also knows when we are turning from Him and He calls us back, correctly us in ours ways hoping we will return. Pray you will always seek God’s will to follow Him in justice and righteousness. Pray the same justice you receive you will extend to others.

AskMe #2056772 05/13/08 05:34 AM
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Proverbs 13:10, 13-14, 18
10 Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise. 13 People who despise advice are asking for trouble; those who respect a command will succeed. 14 The instruction of the wise is like a life-giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death. 18 If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.

These proverbs from King Solomon present a common theme: that listening to and accepting advice from another is a good thing. One has to be willing to put aside their pride and respect the words they hear. Having a willingness to listen to advice does not mean it is always accepted, but there are times that accepted advice can provide wisdom and guidance.

There are several ways we can learn about something. One way is to listen to the teachings of another and gain insight from what they have learned in life. Another is to set out on our own trials and efforts in order to find an answer. We can also put both to use, listening to the wisdom of others and drawing upon our own knowledge. I can remember being told as a child certain things were hot, like an iron, the stove, a heater. I didn’t quite understand what hot meant, but I knew it sounded bad. It only took once for me to get burned to realize what bad hot really was. And because of the advice of others I knew what not to touch and what to stay away from. We can grow in wisdom by listening to those who have experienced trials and hardships. We can listen to how they endured. We can gain hope hearing the testimonies of others and how they made it through the difficult times. And for those big problems in our life if we take time to listen, put away pride, accept the valid criticism of others, and follow their wise instruction it will be like a life-giving fountain. Pray you would open to the Godly advice of others. Pray you would grow in wisdom as you listen to what others have to say.

AskMe #2058028 05/15/08 07:09 AM
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Deuteronomy 10:12-21 (NLT)
12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. 13 And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good. 14 “Look, the highest heavens and the earth and everything in it all belong to the Lord your God. 15 Yet the Lord chose your ancestors as the objects of his love. And he chose you, their descendants, above all other nations, as is evident today. 16 Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn. 17 “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. 18 He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. 19 So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. 20 You must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him. Your oaths must be in his name alone. 21 He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.

Moses is speaking to the people of Israel asking to remember the past and where they are today. Then after asking them to recall the past he asked them, “What does the Lord your God require of you?” and he gave a response. Then again he reminded the people how God had chosen them and how God had showed His love to them. Moses talked about the Lord’s greatness, His justice and His care for all people. Then he says, “He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise.”

Justice is defined by Webster’s as the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments. Our God is a just God who defends those who have no one else to defend them. King David said the Lord is a father to the fatherless. In the verses above we see God takes care of orphans and widows. In the book of Kings the prophet Elijah meets a widow who only has a handful or flour and oil left to feed herself and her son. Elijah asks if he could have a glass of water and a piece of bread and the woman responds by saying, "I don't have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die." This poor woman was afraid of giving up what little she had for fear her and her son would starve to death. Elijah told her not to fear that the Lord would not allow the flour to be used up or the oil to run dry and the woman’s faith was validated. Our God is a mighty and powerful God who is always watching out for us and all that He asks of us is to love Him, serve Him and follow His commandments.

AskMe #2058644 05/16/08 06:21 AM
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Job 11:1-6 (NLT)
1 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied to Job: 2 “Shouldn’t someone answer this torrent of words? Is a person proved innocent just by a lot of talking? 3 Should I remain silent while you babble on? When you mock God, shouldn’t someone make you ashamed? 4 You claim, ‘My beliefs are pure,’ and ‘I am clean in the sight of God.’ 5 If only God would speak; if only he would tell you what he thinks! 6 If only he would tell you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom is not a simple matter. Listen! God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve!

The bible says Job was a man blameless, complete of integrity, fearing God, and staying away from evil. Even God pointed Job out to Satan saying he was the finest man in all the earth, blameless and complete of integrity. Yet in the verses above one of Job’s friends, Zophar, accuses Job of having done something evil that God is punishing Job.

Zophar attacked Job with venom. He portrayed Job as a man who loved to hear himself talk; although Zophar had no evidence to backup such a claim. You have to wonder what type of friend Zophar was to attack Job as he sat depressed from the loss of family, friends and property; and miserable from the pain he was suffering. Yet Zophar said, “God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve!” Zophar was quick to use God to backup his claim. Zophar was quick to condemn saying if only God would speak, he would tell you what he thinks. How often have people done that towards others? Have you ever had someone accuse you of something without knowing the truth? Or maybe you heard someone say, wait until God judges that person? Wait until God shows them what the truth is! It was Zophar who was wrong! God had already proclaimed Job to be a man of integrity. God was the one who had judged Job and found him to be blameless. We must be careful in our views of people that we don’t make claims for God that God himself has not made. We are not the judge, God is and God knows every mans heart.

AskMe #2060131 05/19/08 06:49 AM
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Romans 8:38 (NLT)
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

The apostle wants to reassure his readers nothing can separate a person from God’s love. He goes on to list powerful things like death, angels, demons and the power of hell. But included right in the middle of all his words he says, “Neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow.”

Fear and worry are powerful emotions. They can actually cripple a person to the point of not being able to function. Fear and worry produces both anxiety and depression, which cause a person to spiral even further downhill. Fear and worry holds people back and keeps them from moving forward. Fear and worry can even cause a person not to be truthful because they worry about and the consequences that might proceed. Fear is worry about something which has not happened or may not even happen. The presence of fear can change how someone even relates to others. We can become so focused on our worries and fear we forget God is with us. We forget God is there with us, watching over us and protecting us. God is just waiting for us to lay our fears out to Him so that He can comfort us and reassure us. God’s love for us is great and is stronger than any fear or worry. Place your trust in God and let Him handle the problems you are facing. Lord we pray your love will be abundant in our lives. Lord we ask you to calm our fears and worries and move us forward in life. Let us depend upon you God and give us peace to live comfortably in your grace and love.

AskMe #2060754 05/20/08 05:45 AM
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Luke 8:16-18 (NLT)
16 “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. 17 For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all. 18 “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”

Jesus tells a parable about how one does not light a lamp and then cover it with a bowl. What purpose would it serve? In the same way many have God given talents, which should be put to use and not hidden away. We are to serve others, praying for them and ministering to them. If we don’t do these things it is like hiding the light God gave us to help others find their way in the world.

A doctor goes to school for years to gain an education in medicine. After years of study the doctor completes their work by putting it to practice. Their job is to help others who are sick, lame or close to death. What if the doctor decided to quit and put all those talents away, never helping anyone, never ministering to the ill, never healing the sick? The gift received from years of learning would be wasted and hidden from others. God has given us many gifts to help others. Some have been put in positions where they can influence others. Some have talents that allow them to speak publicly about the love of God and Christ. There are others who have a gift for ministering and caring for people. What if all these gifts were put aside and hidden away from view? There would be many who would miss out on vital care they may need. If you have gifts you know God gave you to use put them to use for God. Don’t let them be like a light hidden under a bowl that has no use.

AskMe #2062031 05/22/08 05:55 AM
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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

The apostle Paul is writing to the Thessalonians. In these verses he is giving some final advice as he completes his letter. He tells them to always look for joy in their life; never stop praying; and be thankful for all circumstances.

In 2007 fires swept through southern California as far as from L.A. to the Mexican border. Five hundred thousand acres of land was destroyed. The blaze destroyed over 2000 homes as the fire raged across the state. Over 500,000 people were displaced from their homes as they awaited the outcome of what the fires might do to their properties. Although the fire destroyed the homes and belonging of many, worshipers in a Presbyterian Church in Rancho Bernado met to give thanks. They realized the important things were not lost, such as the lives of family and friends. As a husband and wife were salvaging what they could from their burned out home, the wife found a sundial her husband had given her as a present. The message on it said, “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to come.” The two of them had lost their possessions, but they still had each other. It was something they could be thankful for in the midst of a difficult time. Paul said we are to be joyful and give thanks in all circumstances because that is God’s will for us. Pray God will show you the joy in life and help you to give thanks even when you might not feel thankful.

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