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ABORTION

ABORTION

»Daily Devotions

Genesis 1:26

Genesis 1:26

We generally don't realize how special we are to God. Incredibly, we have been made in God's image (see Genesis 1:26). Of all God's creations, we are the only ones who can claim this unique standing. We must see human life as something priceless, purposely created in the image of God. Today, some people take a very casual view of human life. They assume, almost without thinking, that abortion is a convenient option. But because God places a high value on human life, we should, too.

Exodus 1:15-16

Exodus 1:15-16

A person's action can seem either right or wrong, depending on what standard you use to measure it. Midwives Shiphrah and Puah were told by their king to kill the newborn Hebrew boys. It was right in the king's sight. And it was legal. But these women knew it was wrong in God's sight. Read about it in Exodus 1:15-16. Today's version of the same problem is abortion. It's legal, but God condemns the taking of life. The next time you hear someone talking about a woman's right to an abortion, you will know that what seems right to that person is really wrong before God.

2 Chron. 26:4-5

2 Chron. 26:4-5

Decision making can be tough. Some decisions can even have a lasting effect on our lives. Uzziah was only a teenager when he was crowned king. Despite his youth, he was required to make many difficult decisions. He made the right choices, though. In fact, he made a point of choosing to do what was right in God's eyes. Abortion is one of the hard decisions too many students have to face today. The only way to make the right choice is by asking for God's help and by understanding his word. Before making a decision on a critical issue like abortion, seek God's wisdom through the Bible and through prayer. Ask a Christian friend for advice. You can read in 2 Chron. 26:4-5 the key to Uzziah's successful decision making.

2 Chron. 28:2-3

2 Chron. 28:2-3

When we drift away from God's ways, the unthinkable can happen. King Ahaz's life illustrated this fact. Rather than worshiping God, the king worshiped idols. He drifted from God so far that he even sacrificed his own son! Abortion is another reality that occurs when people drift away from God. God's standard is to put the needs of another before our own. Abortion short-circuits that pattern. Consider your own position about abortion. Did you formulate your opinion by following God's way or another's way? You can see King Ahaz's ways in 2 Chron. 28:2-3.

Psalm 139:13-16

Psalm 139:13-16

God knew us before we were even born. Psalm 139:13-16 tells us that God carefully knits every baby together just as he wants that baby to be. Each life is begun by God and carefully planned. He makes no mistakes. Perhaps a close friend of yours is pregnant and wants your opinion about a possible abortion. Share with her God's care for the life inside her, and pray she'll make good decisions. To learn more about our life before birth, read Psalm 139:13-16.

Isaiah 49:1, 5

Isaiah 49:1, 5

As hard as we try, we can't envision what the rest of our lives will be like. Although we can't see the future, Isaiah reminded us that God has plans for our lives. As we think about abortion, we should never forget that God has plans even for the unborn. The next time you are around small children, consider what God might have planned for them. Read Isaiah 49:1, 5 to discover how God makes plans for each one of us.

Jeremiah 1:5

Jeremiah 1:5

We're usually somewhat uncomfortable with strangers but quite relaxed with people we've known for a while because a relationship built over time is comfortable. Jeremiah wrote that God has this type of comfortable relationship with us. Not only is this relationship built over time, but God began it before our birth. As each new life enters the world, he or she is no stranger to God. An ongoing relationship with God already exists. Knowing that God has begun a relationship before birth puts the abortion issue in a new light. Check out Jeremiah 1:5 to see what Jeremiah says about our relationship with God.

Jeremiah 16:17

Jeremiah 16:17

At one time or another, we all try getting away with something we know is wrong. Even if we have managed to fool the people around us, we haven't fooled God. His word tells us there isn't one thing that God misses. He sees it all. If God sees everything, he also sees a baby being aborted. Doctors offer confidentiality, but nothing can be hidden from God's sight. To learn how clear God's vision is, read Jeremiah 16:17.

Mark 9:36-37

Mark 9:36-37

Do you like kids? Not everyone does. Some find them troublesome. But Jesus places a high value on children. He taught that in giving ourselves to children we are most like him and our Heavenly Father. Aborting a baby does the opposite of what Jesus teaches. Rather than caring or arranging for care of a child, abortion ignores the child's value. Check out Jesus' feelings about children in Mark 9:36-37.

Luke 18:15-17

Luke 18:15-17

We don't usually look to children as examples of good behavior. But Jesus said that children illustrate the innocence and trust in God that we need. Any sin—whether it seems as big as an abortion, or as small as a half-truth—causes us to lose our innocence before God. But there is hope. By asking for God's forgiveness and then trusting him, his forgiveness is always available. If someone you know realizes he or she has made a mistake, encourage the person to seek God's forgiveness and trust him—like a child. Jesus' teaching can be found in Luke 18:15-17.

ABUSE

ABUSE

»Daily Devotions

Genesis 34:1-4

Genesis 34:1-4

Sexual abuse is brutal violation. Genesis 34:1-4 says that when Shechem saw Dinah, he took her and raped her. It was a spontaneous act, with no concern for Dinah and no thought for the potential consequences of his abuse. (Genesis 34 tells the story.) Sexual abuse has nothing in common with love. Shechem did what he wanted, when he wanted, without any respect for Dinah. In contrast, we show respect when we do not touch someone in unwanted and inappropriate ways, when we avoid rude comments, and when we control our lustful thoughts.

Judges 19:25

Judges 19:25

Judges 19:25 shows us the truly horrible callousness of abuse. The disgusting men who raped and abused the concubine had originally wanted to have sex with her master! But when he sent her outside to them (an abuse of his authority), they sexually assaulted her while her master apparently slept peacefully inside. It is hard to decide who are the worst characters in this sick scene: the vile men who abused the concubine, or her master, who did not care enough for her to protect her from abuse. Read Judges 19-21 to find out what happens to a society that allows abusive behavior. And evaluate the way you treat others. Though you may not be as bad as any of the characters in this story, careless words and actions can be terribly abusive and carry severe consequences.

1 Samuel 20:1-15, 30-34

1 Samuel 20:1-15, 30-34

Abuse must be fought and countered, even at great personal risk. Jonathan's love for his friend, David, moved him to take a huge risk on David's behalf (see 1 Samuel 20:1-15, 30-34). When Saul's threatening behavior toward David spilled over into domestic violence, Jonathan knew he had to stand against his own father and warn David. Read and see how Jonathan gives us an example of risking his own life and future to protect his friend from further abuse. If you know of someone enduring an abusive situation, help protect the innocent, and seek help for the victim. How can you do this? You can be available for your friend. Listen and encourage him or her. Be willing to open your home as a haven from the abuse. Ask your friend to go with you to talk with your parents, your pastor, or a teacher you trust. Together, tell a trustworthy adult what is happening. Abuse can't be stopped until it's brought out into the open.

2 Samuel 11:6-27

2 Samuel 11:6-27

The worst abuse often happens from a position of power—and the abusers often try to cover up their sin. The story in 2 Samuel 11:6-27 tells how David abused his authority as king, first to commit adultery with Bathsheba, then to send her husband to his death to hide his guilt. With Uriah dead, David could marry Bathsheba and make her pregnancy seem legitimate. Abuse from a position of authority is particularly evil. When others trust us, especially the young or helpless, we represent the Lord to them. We need to remember that and never do anything to break that trust. There is no doubt that God loved David, and yet it's very clear that the Lord considered David's actions evil, and you know what that means: consequences . . . payback . . . what goes around comes around. Read 2 Samuel 12 to see how God dealt with David's sin.

2 Kings 9:22-26

2 Kings 9:22-26

What happens if negative family patterns of abuse continue through generations? Society begins to break down, as 2 Kings 9:22-26 shows. Jehu killed Joram, the king, because Joram's family had a terrible history of idolatry and witchcraft. (Read on in 2 Kings 9 to understand the further breakdown and punishment of the family.) Peace was impossible in the land because the leaders had abused their leadership and broken faith with God. Sometimes we see people in authority abuse their position and take advantage of others. If you have a friend who is being abused, talk with that friend, and offer to go with him or her to a counselor. Tell an adult you trust what is happening, and ask for guidance. If you know someone who is abusing family members, talk with your parents, a teacher, or a pastor. If necessary, consider reporting the situation to the police. Pray for all who are involved, even the abuser.

2 Kings 11:1-3

2 Kings 11:1-3

Sometimes the first thing to do when you learn of an abusive situation is to get the victim away from the abuser for his or her own safety. In 2 Kings 11:1-3, wicked Queen Athaliah began killing her own grandchildren to tighten her grip on the throne. Fortunately, Jehosheba was willing to risk her own life to protect at least one of the children. If you have a friend who is being abused, tell an adult you trust what is happening. You may have to intervene if you feel someone's life is in danger. However, always remember that situations of "domestic violence" are extremely volatile and dangerous. Don't put yourself in an unsafe situation by making yourself a target or trying to physically restrain an abuser. Call the police. If you can, offer the victim shelter in your home while you wait for the police to arrive. Call your parents, pastor, or adult neighbors for assistance. Above all, pray for wisdom and caution. The last thing anyone needs is for you to become a victim as well.

Esther 4:13-17

Esther 4:13-17

If you're aware of an abusive situation and allow it to continue, you may become an accomplice to the abuse. As Esther 4:13-17 says, God may have put you in that situation "for a time like this." In this story, a plot had been hatched to kill all the Jews. If Queen Esther spoke up in their defense, her own Jewish identity could be revealed, and she could die. What's more, the only way she could talk to the king was to risk death! Anyone who went to the king uninvited would be put to death unless the king spared that person (read Esther 5-7 to see what happened!). Like Esther, we are to seek God's will and direction when we discover abusive situations. Be open to God's leading and be willing to help.

Psalm 72:12-14

Psalm 72:12-14

Often victims of abuse feel that no one cares because no one is intervening in their situation, and their tormentor continues to hurt and terrorize them. Psalm 72:12-14 reminds us that God understands and cares about victims of abuse. Even if no one else can see what is happening, the abuse does not escape God's notice. He considers the victims to be "precious"! If you are being abused physically, sexually, or in some other way, seek help, and don't be discouraged—God knows and loves you. (Read Psalm 72 and note God's power and love to help the abused.)

Matthew 18:21-35

Matthew 18:21-35

Jesus tells us that people who have been abused should forgive their abusers. This does not mean that they should allow the abuse to continue or that they should overlook the abuse as if it never happened. Practicing forgiveness is choosing to think good of a person and showing love to him or her—but forgiveness does NOT mean that an abused person should continue to submit to abuse. Forgiving an abuser is extremely difficult. Read the story of forgiveness in Matthew 18:21-35 and remember how much God has forgiven you. Then ask his help to forgive someone who has hurt you.

ANGELS AND DEMONS

ANGELS AND DEMONS

»Daily Devotions

»See Also: December 5: Angels

Isaiah 6:2

Isaiah 6:2

Our stereotypical image that all angels have two wings is wrong. When Isaiah saw God, the angels that flew overhead had six wings. When it is our turn to see God face-to-face, we are going to be surprised about what angels are really like, as well as many other things. God is too great to fit into our ideas of what he or his creatures must be like. Don't set your ideas in concrete images. Be prepared for many delightful surprises to come. Read Isaiah's description of the angels surrounding God in Isaiah 6:2.

Daniel 10

Daniel 10

Our prayers have greater impact than we may realize. The angel who appeared to Daniel came as a result of Daniel's prayer. Not only did God send Daniel a message, but the angel had to fight demons to bring it to him. Daniel's prayer resulted in an invisible spiritual battle. The prayers we bring before God extend further than we can possibly imagine. You never know what will happen as a result of your prayers. Read Daniel 10 to find out more about Daniel's visit with the angel.

Matthew 1:20

Matthew 1:20

Some news is hard to accept. Joseph had the surprise of his life when an angel told him that he should go ahead and marry Mary. Further, the angel told him that the baby inside her had been conceived by the Holy Spirit. As you read biblical accounts of angels, you will find that angels brought incredible news, which was always true. Check out Matthew 1:20 to learn more about Joseph's visit by the angel.

Matthew 8:28-34

Matthew 8:28-34

Demons are often dismissed as farfetched and imaginary. But Jesus took demons seriously. A portion of his ministry was devoted to releasing those held captive by demons. While we shouldn't look for demons, we would do well not to ignore their existence. Don't be fooled into thinking demons are harmless. Avoid becoming involved with them. Think twice before watching a movie or playing a game that honors demons. Read Matthew 8:28-34 for an example of Jesus' ministry against demon possession.

Mark 1:23-28

Mark 1:23-28

People who act strangely are considered mentally ill, but that diagnosis is not always correct. When Jesus went into the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon followed him, shrieking and acting strangely. Jesus ordered the demon out, and the man became peaceful. Some people considered mentally ill, like the man who confronted Jesus, may be demon-possessed. As you encounter people who act violently or strangely, you should realize that there may be more at work than a mental illness. Read Mark 1:23-28 to learn more about Jesus' encounter with a demon in the synagogue.

Acts 12:6-10

Acts 12:6-10

Acts 12:6-10 contains part of the story of Peter's rescue from jail. God didn't have to use an angel, he could have rescued Peter any way he chose. But when God used an angel, he showed Peter a little more of his power. After Peter witnessed the great power of the angel, Peter would have the chance to give the credit to God. Peter knew that God created angels, gave them their abilities, and is far greater than they are. You can have comfort in the fact that God has a whole army of angelic beings that he uses to help you. Praise God!

Col. 1:16

Col. 1:16

We don't usually spend much time considering those things we can't see. However, when Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, he taught them that Jesus created things both visible and invisible. Jesus created beings we cannot see. With our sophisticated way of viewing the world, invisible angels seem unlikely. But God's word tells us otherwise. Because you don't see an angel near you, don't assume one isn't there. An angel may be standing over you now. Read what Paul told the Colossians in Col. 1:16.

1 Thes. 4:16

1 Thes. 4:16

Because we have not seen angels, we may think that they are relatively unimportant. Paul explained that an angel will play an important part when Jesus returns. Throughout Scripture, angels deliver messages, praise God, and rescue people. According to Paul, at least one angel will accompany Christ at his second coming. Angels are God's important servants. Read more about the involvement of angels at the Lord's return in 1 Thes. 4:16 .

Hebrews 1:6

Hebrews 1:6

Sure, angels are awesome, fascinating beings, but we must never worship them. The writer of Hebrews indicates that angels should never be placed above Jesus. Angels were created to worship Jesus, not to be worshiped. Many books today talk about angels, but some focus on angels so much that they lose sight of the creator of angels, Jesus. Read Hebrews 1:6 to see what God said about the position of angels in relation to Jesus.

James 2:19

James 2:19

Not everyone believes there is one God—but they should. In writing to the Jewish Christians, James told them that even demons know there is one God. Many people today do not know what even the demons know. Read what James has to say about this in James 2:19.

Rev. 12:7-9

Rev. 12:7-9

When we think of armies, we tend to think of human soldiers. But John saw a vision of a battle fought between angels and demons. Even now, spiritual battles rage on between the armies of heaven and the armies of hell. You may never have to fight in an earthly war, but you will find yourself entangled in spiritual battles. Satan's army will try to stop you from following Christ. He will try to interfere with your plans to serve God. And Satan will try to make your whole life miserable. Rev. 12:7-9 reveals that God's forces are more powerful than Satan's forces. Tell God what opposition you are experiencing as you try to live for him. Ask him to use his power to help you overcome the obstacles that stand in your way.

ANGER

ANGER

»Daily Devotions

»See Also: February 24: Drunk on Prayer?

»See Also: March 5: Angry at God!

»See Also: August 28: Feeling a Little Angry?

Genesis 4:8

Genesis 4:8

Anger clouds our judgment. We are more likely to overreact and make drastic mistakes when we let our emotions control us. Take Cain for an example. Genesis 4:8 tells us that he allowed his anger against his brother, Abel, to grow. Anger clouded his ability to think clearly and caused him to murder. Don't let anger control you! Read the whole story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:1-16.

Genesis 27

Genesis 27

Rarely does an extreme thought, such as the urge to kill, enter a person's mind from out of the blue. It usually starts small, as a little spark, then smolders, and then finally bursts into flame. Esau's grudging thoughts toward his brother grew into anger, eventually becoming a murderous plan against Jacob. Are you holding, harboring, perhaps even nurturing, a grudge? What may seem innocent and justifiable today may grow into something damaging to you and others. Resolve your disputes now, before the fire grows. Read the whole story of how Esau's anger developed in Genesis 27.

Numbers 22

Numbers 22

Yelling. Screaming. Cursing. Hitting. These are demonstrations of anger given by people who are controlled by their emotions. Balaam was this kind of person. When Balaam's donkey tried to save him, Balaam grew angry. That anger led him to beat his donkey. Because Balaam was controlled by his anger, he could not see the purpose of his donkey's action. When you become angry, do what you need to, to remain in control—take a deep breath, walk away, spend a few moments alone. Don't lash out. Try to make calm decisions despite your strong feelings. Check out the whole story in Numbers 22.

1 Kings 21:1-16

1 Kings 21:1-16

Two heads are better than one, as the saying goes. But two tempers can be worse than anything! The couple of Ahab and Jezebel is a case in point. When the king's anger and sullenness were combined with his wife's fiery temper, an innocent man was stoned. Are your emotions helped or hurt by the company you keep? In the relationships you choose, look for people who will encourage your healthy responses. The whole story of Ahab's sullenness gone haywire is found in 1 Kings 21:1-16.

Proverbs 12:16

Proverbs 12:16

"Stick up for your rights!" "Don't let anybody push you around!" Our culture bombards us with the message that our sacred honor is at stake in every encounter on the highway or across the dinner table. The writer of Proverbs suggests an alternative: Overlook insults instead of jumping at every perceived offense or slight. Otherwise, anger will take over your life. Life is full of potential bruises to the ego, but the wise person discerns when true honor is the issue and worth fighting for. Proverbs 12 has much to say about healthy responses, but the gem about overlooking insults is found in Proverbs 12:16.

Isaiah 14:21-23

Isaiah 14:21-23

Many passages in the Old Testament describe violent scenes. Movie portrayals of some passages of the Bible would definitely get an R-rating for the slaughter, blood, and death described. God promised to punish the Babylonians for their killing. He hated the senseless violence of the Babylonians. The Babylonians destroyed lands and people out of their own anger and greed. God recognized and punished people because of their anger toward others. Always remain in control of your anger; otherwise, you could find yourself lashing out at others. Read part of Isaiah's prophecy against Babylon in Isaiah 14:21-23.

Amos 1:11-12

Amos 1:11-12

Several varieties of power can be found in the world, from political clout to nuclear energy. But few things can match the raw power of unchecked, continuing anger. The prophet Amos spoke of Edom's anger as a great sin. Anger is strong and dangerous. Don't take its power lightly. Consider the full message of Amos 1:11-12—a warning against uncontrolled anger.

Mark 3:1-6

Mark 3:1-6

Sometimes anger is the right response. Jesus himself sometimes expressed anger. But compare his anger to yours. First, think about your anger. What makes you mad, and what do you do when you are really upset? Most anger tends to promote the person who is angry and harm others. Jesus, on the other hand, got angry at the same attitudes that anger God. Contrast the anger of Jesus with that of the Pharisees and Herod's followers in Mark 3:1-6.

John 2:13-22

John 2:13-22

It might have been tempting for Jesus to be nice and avoid making waves. But Jesus made no friends in the temple as he overturned tables and called people some unpleasant names. Jesus demonstrated that anger is the right response to a situation when God's response would also be anger. See Jesus' anger in action in John 2:13-22.

2 Cor. 12:20-21

2 Cor. 12:20-21

Character traits often come in clusters. Paul pointed out that hot tempers often accompany rivalry, jealousy, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, disorderly conduct, and more. The apostle told the Corinthians frankly that he was nervous about what character traits they would exhibit. What character traits are you encouraging in your personality? Learn from the Corinthians' experience, and read more of Paul's concern for them in 2 Cor. 12:20-21.

1 Tim. 2:8

1 Tim. 2:8

Paul knew that our relationships with people affect our relationships with God. Unresolved anger, grudges, and quarrels can block prayer. Paul encouraged Christians to resolve their anger before they prayed. This can be difficult, but we must do it to pray appropriately. Before you pray, deal with the anger you feel against someone, or resolve a lingering quarrel. Read Paul's guidelines on the anger-free attitudes in 1 Tim. 2:8.

James 1:19-21

James 1:19-21

As James began his letter, he reminded Christians of the importance of being at peace with each other. When we are willfully hateful, we cannot do things that God approves of. If we want to please God, we must be at peace. To the best of your ability, make peace with those around you. God will be with you and will reward your efforts. James's reminder can be found in James 1:19-21.