Daily Devotional | A Place of Refuge

For Jul 19, 2014
AN AMAZING FACT:  On the Big Island of Hawaii there are ancient ruins of a village with a large oblong temple enclosure inside a huge L-shaped wall. The wall was constructed from thousands of lava rocks around 1550. It measures roughly 1,000 feet long by 700 feet wide. It is about 20 feet thick at the base and up to 20 feet high. This temple village was called Pu’uhonua, or the place of refuge. The massive wall separated the Pu’uhonua from the home of the chief.

In centuries past, even until the early 19th century, Hawaiians were forced to keep strict laws or pay a terrible penalty. They could not walk in the footsteps of a chief, touch any of his belongings, or get too close to him. There was even a law forbidding their shadows from touching the royal grounds. When a native Hawaiian committed kapu and broke one of the sacred laws, he was sentenced to death unless he fled to the place of refuge where the kahuna pule or “big priest” lived. Once inside the walls, he or she was safe and protected from judgment. No one was allowed to harm the person who sought refuge there. Later, the “big priest” would perform a rite of purification for the guilty party. They could then be declared forgiven; they were once again innocent and were free to begin a new life.

Cities of refuge are mentioned in the Bible as well. God told Moses to “appoint cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there. They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger” (Numbers 35:11, 12). People who had caused someone else’s death by accident could run to a city of refuge and be
protected while they awaited trial. No one was allowed to harm them as long as they stayed within the boundaries of the city of refuge.

Since we all incur guilt in our lives, we all need a place of refuge. That place is in the arms of Jesus. He says, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). In Christ we receive refuge, forgiveness, and unending love.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 
- Hebrews 7:25

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Daily Devotional | Blood Transfusion Missing

AN AMAZING FACT:  During World War II, a young Marine lay badly wounded in a military hospital on a South Pacific island. Shrapnel had ripped through his chest, and unless he received a series of blood transfusions at once the boy was doomed to die. But the type of blood required turned out to be very rare. No donors were immediately available and hope for saving the Marine was fading quickly.

Then a medic discovered a supply of the rare blood in a recent shipment from the United States. The transfusion was given and the marine lived. When he recovered, the grateful young man asked about the donor. She turned out to be a Boston woman, and he wrote to thank her for the gift of her life-saving blood. Then he wrote to his father in Kentucky
and told him about his miraculous experience. His father recognized the donor’s name. She was his long-lost sister and the Marine’s own aunt! The wounded man had never known his aunt, but her donation of rare blood, which matched his, saved his life in the faraway Pacific.

Thousands of lives are saved every year because of blood donations. Every day someone needs blood that comes from donors. Only 3 out of 100 people in the United States have donated blood. The term “blood bank” was created to describe the collection and storage of blood donations to be used for transfusions. Careful guidelines and screening
of blood lowers the risk of infection or incompatibility of different blood types. Blood doesn’t simply go from a donor to a recipient without being carefully tracked, tested, processed, stored, and transported.

Did you know, friends, that there is a unique type of blood that is still saving thousands today? The Bible says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:8, 9). The greatest blood donation was made by Jesus Christ when He shed His blood on Calvary to redeem us from sin.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 
- 1 Peter 1:18

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 
- 1 Peter 1:19

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Daily Devotional | A Cup of Water

AN AMAZING FACT:  After the first day of fierce fighting in the Civil War battle of Fredericksburg, hundreds of Union soldiers lay crying on the battlefield, wounded and bleeding. All through the night, and most of the next day, artillery fire prevented their relief. Yet all that time their agonized cries went up, “Water! Water!” Finally, a noble Southern sergeant, Richard Kirkland, rose above his love of life and told his General Kershaw, “I can’t stand this any longer! Those poor souls out there have been praying and crying all night and all day, and it’s more than I can bear! I ask your permission to go and give them water.”

“But you know,” said the general, “that as soon as you show yourself to the enemy, you will be shot.”

“Yes, sir, I know it,” he answered, “but to carry a little comfort to those poor dying men, I’m willing to run the risk!”

The general hesitated, but his heart was also touched with sympathy over the suffering soldiers. “Kirkland, it’s sending you to your death, but I cannot oppose such a motive as yours. I hope God will protect you. Go.”

So the brave soldier, furnished with a supply of water, stepped over the stone rampart and began his work of Christlike mercy. Wondering eyes watched as he knelt by the nearest sufferer, tenderly raised his head, and held the refreshing cup to his parched lips. Every soldier in the Union line understood his tender mission, and not a single shot was fired. For over an hour, one after another of the crying, wounded, and dying was given refreshing drink, had his cramped or mangled limbs straightened, his head cushioned on his knapsack, and was covered with his coat or blanket as tenderly as though by his own mother.

It’s the same on life’s great battlefield, where souls are crying and dying from the fearful effects of sin. They are thirsty for the water of life, with no one to reach out to them the refreshing draft they so crave, except the One who stepped over the ramparts of heaven and came down to risk His all. Christ, on the cross of Calvary, rescued them from their
sins by giving to them “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 
- Mark 9:41

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Daily Devotional | More Than Fine Gold

For Jul 08, 2014

Photo courtesy of abcnew.go.com

AN AMAZING FACT:  The United States Bullion Depository, located on the Fort Knox Army post site, is said to be the most impregnable vault on Earth. The virtual fortress is built out of granite, concrete, and steel, sealed behind a 22-ton door, protected by a 109,000-acre U.S. military base, and watched over day and night by Army units with tanks, heavy artillery, and Apache helicopter gunships at their disposal. It is ringed by fences and multiple alarms, and few people have been inside the highly classified Fort Knox bunker. The depository is a top-secret facility. Visitors are not permitted, and exceptions are not made. It is easy to see why the depository’s nickname, Fort Knox, has become synonymous with total security and inspired expressions like “It’s locked up tighter than Fort Knox.”

The U.S. Mint says that the Fort Knox vault contains 147.2 million troy ounces of gold, stacked in bars measuring 7 inches long, 3 and 5/8 inches wide, and 1 and 3/4 inches thick. Each bar weighs approximately 400 ounces, or 27 and 1/2 pounds. In today’s market that’s about $238 billion. If all the pure gold were put in a single cube, it would measure
20.3 feet on a side. In total, the depository holds 2.5 percent of all the gold ever refined.

Since its construction in 1937, the treasures locked inside Fort Knox have included more than gold. During the uncertainties of World War II, other national treasures from Europe and the U.S. were also protected in the vault. These included the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, the Magna Carta, and three volumes of the Gutenberg Bible. Yes, Bibles! Those priceless copies of the Scriptures may have been the most valuable bullion ever stored in Fort Knox.

How valuable are the Scriptures in your life? King David wrote that he loved God’s commandments more than fine gold, while King Solomon said, “How much better to get wisdom than gold!” (Proverbs 16:16). If David, called a man after God’s own heart, and Solomon, the wisest king in history, valued God’s Word so highly, shouldn’t we make it our top priority as well?

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. 
- Psalms 119:127

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Daily Devotional | As The Days Of Noah

For Jul 05, 2014
Photo courtesy of Politicalconnection.wordpress.com
AN AMAZING FACT:  The American Civil War was over, and the S.S. Sultana was heading home, overloaded with recently liberated prisoners of war anxious to see their families. Even though the Sultana had a legal capacity to carry only 376 passengers, there were more than 2,300 people crammed on the sagging decks. With six times more passengers than she had been designed to carry, there was barely room for standing. To make matters worse, the Sultana had been neglecting proper maintenance.

These ominous factors came together during the homeward journey. At 2:00 a.m., three of the ship’s four boilers exploded, destroying a good portion of the ship and sending hundreds of soldiers flying into the icy water. Some of the dazed men were able to cling to floating wreckage until other boats arrived to rescue them, but most were not so fortunate. Hot coals scattered by the blast caught the rest of the ship on fire, forcing many to choose between burning on the ship and drowning in the cold water.

When it was over, an estimated 1,600 of the 2,300 passengers perished, and many others were badly wounded. In fact, more people died in the Sultana disaster than the infamous Titanic. The Sultana might be listed as one of the greatest ocean disasters, except the Sultana never went to sea. It sank in the Mississippi River—only 150 yards from land. Moreover, news of this terrible steamboat tragedy was relegated to the newspapers’ back pages: it was April 27, 1865, and the War Between the States was just ending. The recent assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the killing of John Wilkes Booth, and the deaths of more than 600,000 soldiers in America’s bloodiest war filled the papers. Surrounded by violence, the nation had become desensitized to death. The deaths of 1,600 Union soldiers on their
way home from Confederate prisons did not seem like front-page news.

Could we become numb to violence again? Jesus predicted that the end of time would be “as the days of Noah were” (Matthew 24:37). Though the earth will be filled with wickedness and violence, mankind will be preoccupied. But God’s people will not be numb to the wickedness: they will “sigh and cry over all the abominations” (Ezekiel 9:4). May God
grant us Christ’s tender heart so that the wickedness and violence of the world will never become our normal!

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 
- Genesis 6:11

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Daily Devotional | The Liberty Bell

For Jul 03, 2014

Photo courtesy of philadelphia.about.com

AN AMAZING FACT:  The Liberty Bell, sometimes called the Bell of the Revolution, or Old Independence, has been a symbol of American patriotism for over 200 years, but it had a rough beginning. Originally cast in London in 1752 and weighing more than 2,000 pounds, the Liberty Bell arrived in Philadelphia in August, but cracked during its first test ringing. It was melted down in Philadelphia and recast to make a second bell in June of 1753. It was judged to have a poor tone, which was thought to be from too much copper, so it was melted down again the same year and recast to make the third and final bell.
This is the celebrated Liberty Bell that exists today, made mostly of copper and tin with small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold, and silver. It hangs from what is believed to be its original yoke, made from 200 pounds of American elm, and when struck it sounds the note of E flat. It was rung on July 8, 1776, to announce the signing of the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming America’s freedom.

During the Revolutionary War, the bell was placed on a wagon, moved 60 miles west to Allentown, and hidden in the floorboards of the Zion Reformed Church to keep it from falling into British hands, where it would have no doubt been melted down to make cannons. After the war, it was rung every July 4 until sometime around 1835, when it cracked
again. No one knows exactly when the Liberty Bell cracked the second time. It is a mystery of history.

Today the 250-year-old icon is a popular attraction in Philadelphia and only rung on special occasions. Many people do not know the bell was first called the Liberty Bell not by patriots of the revolution but by the abolitionists fighting slavery. They chose this name because of the Bible inscription on the bell from Leviticus 25:10 that reads: “Proclaim
liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants.” In retrospect, the cracked bell was a remarkably apt metaphor for a country that was literally split over slavery.

Jesus said whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. So how much does real liberty cost? True liberty involves giving our whole hearts to Christ so He can break our chains of sin. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 
- John 8:34

 

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Simple Food Swaps That Save 100 Calories (or More!) via www.doctoroz.com

Bagel

Swap for: English muffin

You don’t need to cut carbs altogether – just choose better bread! For breakfast, swap a bagel (which can contain as many as 400 calories) for a 150-calorie English muffin, and save yourself 250 calories.

Cheese Slices

Swap for: Sprinkled cheese topping

Say cheese! You can still enjoy this satisfying snack without overdoing it. One tablespoon of Parmesan cheese has only 22 calories, while an ounce has more than 120. Try sprinkling it as a topping rather than hiding whole slices in your meal.

Chocolate Ice Cream

Swap for: Chocolate fudge pop

Did you know that some chocolate fudge pops are only 100 calories each? Compare that to nearly 300 calories in one cup of chocolate ice cream – you can have two chocolate fudge pops and still save yourself 100 calories. Now that’s some tasty math!

Potato Chips

Swap for: Popped chips

Dieting doesn’t have to mean deprivation. If you’re craving potato chips (which will average about 300 calories for 2 ounces), swap them for popped chips; they’re 240 calories for the same 2-ounce size, saving you 60 or more calories.

Sausage Link

Swap for: Two slices of bacon

Everybody loves bacon – and with good reason! You can enjoy two slices of bacon for about 80 calories, which is almost 100 calories less than one pork sausage link that weighs in around a whopping 170 calories.

Spaghetti

Swap for: Spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash is low-calorie (31 calories per cup) and a great alternative to real pasta (221 calories per cup). Once it’s baked, the inside of the squash easily shreds into spaghetti-like strands. Toss it with your favorite pasta sauce and you can enjoy noodles while saving almost 200 calories!

For more information you can go to http://www.doctoroz.com

 

Note:  All information including photos in this post are courtesy of http://www.doctoroz.com.  We are not affiliated with http://www.doctoroz.com

 

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AF Daily Devotional | Missing Declaration of Independence

For Jul 01, 2014

Photo courtesy of www.dsdi1776.com

AN AMAZING FACT:  After Stan Caffy and his wife Linda married, as part of combining households, she urged him to clean out the garage. Stan, an admitted pack rat, was reluctant to part with a reprint of the Declaration of Independence he kept hanging in his shop. He bought the yellowed document about 10 years earlier at a yard sale for a couple of dollars. Linda won the clean-out-the-garage debate, and so in March 2006 she rolled up the old parchment and took it, along with an antique table, and donated them to a local thrift store.

 

Fast forward one year. Michael Sparks was visiting the Music City Thrift Shop in Nashville, where he bought a candle holder, a set of salt and pepper shakers, and a yellowed print of the Declaration of Independence. Sparks, a music equipment technician, also figured the document was a worthless modern reprint, so he paid the asking price of $2.48 and headed home.

After looking over the document for a few days, he wondered if it might be older than he thought. So he clicked around on the Internet to do some research and soon realized, based on a number of clues, he had purchased one of only 200 official copies of the Declaration of Independence! Copies of the original document were commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820, when he was secretary of state. They were printed by William Stone in 1823. Of those 200 early copies, only 35 had been found intact. Michael now had number 36.

It took a year for Sparks to have the print authenticated and preserved. Then he put it up for auction in Burlington, North Carolina. The bidding opened at $125,000 and climbed to the sale price of $477,650. Stan Caffey confessed he felt like the village idiot when he read in the paper the document he had hanging in his garage for 10 years was this rare copy of the Declaration of Independence.

This is not the only time a precious national document has been misplaced or unrealized. During the reign of King Josiah in Judah, a lost parchment was found. “Now when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses. Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord’” (2 Chronicles 34:14, 15). Finding this precious document brought about a national revival. Have you discovered the authentic truth in the Word lately?

 

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
- Matthew 7:7

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Daily Devotional | Immensity of Space

For Jun 30, 2014

AN AMAZING FACT:  For the better part of recorded history, Earth was thought to be the stationary center of the universe and the ancient wise men believed there were only 5,119 stars. The constellations were named and filled with colorful legends. Without a telescope the stars seemed to be just twinkling points of light that move across the night sky. Now we know when we look at the heavens that what we once thought were just single stars are often really a gigantic spiral of stars called galaxies.

A galaxy is like a colossal island in space made up of gas, dust, and millions of stars. On clear nights we see the spiral edge of our own galaxy called the Milky Way. Our Sun is just one small star in a pinwheel containing about a hundred billion blazing suns aligned in the form of a disk. And that’s not counting the planets that could be orbiting around these stars. Recent research indicates that there are billions of galaxies in our universe.

A few years ago the Hubble Telescope took a picture of a small spot of sky near the Big Dipper. To give you a better idea of how big this area was, it was about the size of a dime held 75 feet away. In that tiny dot of sky scientists counted over 1,500 galaxies! Take that number times the volume of space in every direction and you would calculate that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies with billions of stars in each galaxy. Wow!

The distance of these galaxies are measured in light years. Keep in mind one light year is the distance you would travel if you could ride a beam of light 186,000 miles per second for 365 days. Our home, the Milky Way, is some 30,000 light-years across. That means you would have to travel the speed of light 30,000 years to cross just our galaxy! And you still wouldn’t have even left our front yard. For example, if you wanted to visit the Andromeda Galaxy you would have to travel over the speed of light for over 2.4 million years.

When we consider the God who made all of this, we can only say, “How Great Thou Art!” It is almost inconceivable that the God who made the infinite cosmos wants to dwell with us. “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:4).

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 
- Psalms 8:3

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 
- Psalms 8:4

For more information please visit http://www.amazingfacts.org
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Daily Devotional | A Not Expected To Live

AN AMAZING FACT:  Sir Isaac Newton was one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. It was Newtonian physics that contributed most to man landing on the moon. More than any other scientist, Newton was responsible for laying the foundation for classical mechanics, optics, and even mathematics. As with many famous people, some of the stories about Newton have grown with time. For instance, Voltaire says that Newton was walking among his family’s apple orchard when he saw an apple fall from a tree, giving him help in formulating the theory of universal gravitation. Newton says he was actually staring out a window in his house when he saw an apple fall from a tree.
Some other interesting details about his life: Isaac’s mother remarried after his father’s death and he so disliked his stepfather that he threatened, as a teenager, to burn their house down with them inside. His interest in school grew as a result of a conflict with a school bully who threatened young Isaac. He was smaller than the bully but decided to fight back and won. He then determined to beat the bully in scholastics as well. He later attended college and, because of the Great Plague, went home for a time while the school was closed down. It was during this two-year period that he developed his theories on calculus, optics, and the law of gravitation. In his later life he became interested in the interpretation of the Bible and even wrote on the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation.

What many don’t know is that baby Isaac wasn’t expected to live. He was born prematurely on Christmas Day in 1642. Isaac was named after his father, who died three months before he was born. He was so small his mother thought he might not survive. She said he was tiny and could fit into a quart mug jar!

There are many stories in Scripture of babies who almost didn’t live. Perhaps the greatest is the life of Jesus. Herod was angry when the wise men from the East did not return from paying a visit to the Christ-child, and he later ordered that all the children less than two years of age in Bethlehem be slaughtered. But God intervened and Joseph was warned in a dream to escape to Egypt.

God had plans for Isaac Newton and he lived to be one of the greatest God-fearing scientists of all time.

KEY BIBLE TEXTS

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 
- Jeremiah 29:11

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