Drawing Near : daily readings for the month of May

May 01 | The Master’s Men

We live in a qualification-conscious society. Almost everything you do requires you to meet someone else’s standards. You must qualify to purchase a home, buy a car, get a credit card, or attend college. In the job market, the most difficult jobs require people with the highest possible qualifications.

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May 02 | Exemplary Living

Matthew 10:1 is Christ’s official commissioning of the twelve men He handpicked to serve beside Him during His earthly ministry. Mark 3:13 says He “summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him.” In John 15:16 He tells them, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you...

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May 03 | Overcoming Spiritual Inadequacies

Most people think of the disciples as stained-glass saints who didn’t have to struggle with the faults and frailties of normal people. But they had inadequacies just like we all do. Seeing how Jesus dealt with them gives us hope that He can use us too.

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May 04 | Chosen to Be Sent

Have you ever met someone who constantly absorbs what the church has to offer, yet never seems to plug into a ministry where he can give to others? I’ve met many people like that. Some have attended church for many years, and have even taken evangelism and other special training classes. But they never quite...

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May 05 | The Priority of Spiritual Unity

Unity is a crucial element in the life of the church—especially among its leadership. A unified church can accomplish great things for Christ, but disunity can cripple or destroy it. Even the most orthodox churches aren’t immune to disunity’s subtle attack because it often arises from personality clashes or pride rather than doctrinal issues.

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May 06 | Gaining Spiritual Stability (Peter)

The first disciple Matthew’s Gospel names is “Simon, who is called Peter.” He was a fisherman by trade, but Jesus called him to be a fisher of men. John 1:40-42 records their first encounter: “One of the two who heard John [the Baptist] speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He found first...

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May 07 | Building a Leader:The Right Raw Material (Peter)

Peter is a good illustration of how God builds a spiritual leader. He begins with a person’s natural traits and works from there. Natural traits alone don’t make a spiritual leader; the person must also be gifted and called by the Holy Spirit to lead in the church and to be a model of spiritual...

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May 08 | Building a Leader:The Right Experiences (Peter)

Stan Carder is a dear brother in Christ and one of the pastors on our church staff. Before coming to Grace Church he pastored a church in Montana. While there, he was riding one night in a truck that was involved in a very serious accident. Stan suffered a broken neck and other major injuries....

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May 09 | Building a Leader:The Right Lessons (Peter)

We have seen that God uses our experiences to mold us into more effective Christians and leaders. Using Peter as our example, let’s briefly look at five lessons we can learn from our experiences—submission, restraint, humility, sacrifice, and love.

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May 10 | Building a Leader:The Right Results (Peter)

God makes leaders by taking people with the right raw material, putting them through the right experiences, and teaching them the right lessons. That’s how He trained Peter, and the results were astonishing.

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May 11 | Leading Others to Christ (Andrew)

Andrew was Peter’s brother and a native of Bethsaida of Galilee. From the very start we see him leading people to Christ—beginning with his own brother.

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May 12 | Playing Second Fiddle (Andrew)

It’s been said that no one likes playing second fiddle, but that wasn’t Andrew’s perspective at all. Growing up in the shadow of an aggressive, outspoken brother like Peter would be a challenge for anyone. Even in the Biblical record Andrew is known as “Simon Peter’s brother”

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May 13 | Being Zealous for the Lord(James, son of Zebedee)

Like Peter and Andrew, James and John were fishermen. One day as Jesus walked the shores of the Sea of Galilee, He saw them in a boat with their father Zebedee and some hired servants. When Jesus called them to follow Him, they immediately left the boat and went with Him (Mark 1:19-20).

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May 14 | Tempering Zeal with Sensitivity(James, son of Zebedee)

There’s the story of a Norwegian pastor whose motto was “All or nothing!” His life and preaching were stern, strong, powerful, uncompromising, and utterly insensitive. Reportedly the people in his church didn’t care much for him because he didn’t care much for them. In his zeal and ambition to advance the Kingdom and uphold God’s...

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May 15 | Speaking the Truth in Love (John)

Some people picture John as overly sentimental and egotistical, lying with his head on Jesus’ shoulder and constantly referring to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” But that’s not an accurate characterization of this “Son of thunder”! He loved Jesus deeply and was amazed that Jesus loved him—especially after he wanted to burn up...

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May 16 | Friendship Evangelism (Philip)

Philip was probably a fisherman who was acquainted with Peter, Andrew, James, John, Nathanael, and Thomas prior to their all becoming disciples. We first meet him in John 1:43-46, which says, “The next day [after Jesus encountered Peter and Andrew], He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip, and Jesus said to...

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May 17 | Overcoming Pessimism (Philip)

It’s been said that an optimist sees a glass half full, while a pessimist sees it half empty. An optimist sees opportunities; a pessimist sees obstacles. In one sense Philip was an optimist. He recognized Jesus as the Messiah and immediately saw an opportunity to share his discovery with Nathanael. In another sense, Philip was...

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May 18 | Avoiding Prejudice (Bartholomew)

Prejudice is an uncalled-for generalization based on feelings of superiority. It is an ugly sin that has fueled hatred and conflicts for centuries, dividing entire nations and bringing untold misery. But prejudice is most damning when it blinds people to God’s Word. The prophet Jonah was so prejudiced against the Assyrians, he refused to go...

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May 19 | Searching for Truth (Bartholomew)

Despite Nathanael’s prejudice, Jesus knew he was an honest, sincere Jewish believer in whom there was no religious hypocrisy or deceit (John 1:47). He truly sought after God and looked forward to the Messiah’s coming.

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May 20 | Desiring Christ’s Presence (Thomas)

When you think of Thomas, you probably think of a doubter. But if you look beyond his doubt, you’ll see he was characterized by something that should mark every true believer—an intense desire to be with Christ.

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May 21 | Beyond Doubt to Hope (Thomas)

When Jesus was crucified, Thomas was shattered. He loved Jesus deeply and wanted always to be with Him. He’d even been willing to die with Him, but now his greatest fear had been realized: Jesus was gone.

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May 22 | A Traitor Turns to Christ (Matthew)

I remember reading a notice in a local newspaper announcing the opening of a new evangelical church in our community. It gave the date and time of the first services, then added, “Our special guest star will be . . .” and named a popular Christian celebrity. In its attempt to appeal to unbelievers or...

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May 23 | Marveling at God’s Forgiveness (Matthew)

Matthew describes himself as “Matthew the tax-gatherer” (Matt. 10:3). He is the only apostle whose name is associated here with an occupation. Apparently Matthew never forgot what he had been saved from and never lost his sense of awe and unworthiness over Christ’s forgiveness.

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May 24 | Saluting an Unknown Soldier(James, son of Alphaeus)

Like most Christians, James the son of Alphaeus is an unknown and unsung soldier of the cross. His distinguishing characteristic is obscurity. Nothing he did or said is recorded in Scripture—only his name.

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May 25 | Living Courageously (Thaddaeus)

Thaddaeus was a man of many identities. In the King James translation of Matthew 10:3 he is called “Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus.” He is also called “Judas the son of James” (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13) and “Judas (not Iscariot)” (John 14:22).

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May 26 | Receiving Christ’s Word (Thaddaeus)

Radio signals are fascinating. At any given moment every room in your house is filled with voices, music, and numerous other sounds; yet you can’t hear them unless your radio is tuned to their frequency. That’s a modern parallel to a spiritual truth Jesus taught in John 14:21: “He who has My commandments, and keeps...

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May 27 | From Terrorism to Discipleship(Simon the Zealot)

During the time between the Old and New Testaments, a fiery revolutionary named Judas Maccabaeus led the Jewish people in a revolt against Greek influences on their nation and religion. The spirit of that movement was captured in this statement from the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees: “Be ye zealous for the law and give...

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May 28 | Jesus Purposely Selects a Traitor(Judas Iscariot)

At one time the little town of Kerioth was a relatively obscure Judean town, but all that changed when it produced the most hated man who ever lived—Judas Iscariot.

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May 29 | The Characteristics of Hypocrisy(Judas Iscariot)

On a recent trip to New Zealand I learned that sheepherders there use specially trained, castrated male sheep to lead other sheep from holding areas into the slaughtering room. Those male sheep are appropriately called “Judas sheep.” That illustrates the commonness with which we associate Judas with deception and death.

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May 30 | Learning from Judas (Judas Iscariot)

Judas is history’s greatest human tragedy. He had opportunities and privileges known only to the other disciples, but he turned from them to pursue a course of destruction. Yet even from his foolishness we can learn some important lessons.

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May 31 | Making Worthless Things Valuable

The story is told of a great concert violinist who wanted to prove a point, so he rented a music hall and announced that he would play a concert on a $20,000 violin. On concert night the music hall was filled to capacity with music lovers anxious to hear such an expensive instrument played. The...

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