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Friday, September 22, 2017

Sweet and Sour

So here we are at the end of the third week of September as we wrap up the end of the week as we start the First Day of Autumn on this FRIDAY! let's truly take some time to be Thankful and reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Job 2:1–10 Bible in a Year: Ecclesiastes 10–12; Galatians 1 Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?—Job 2:10 When our toddler first bit into a lemon wedge, he wrinkled his nose, stuck out his tongue, and squeezed his eyes shut. “Sow-wah,” he said (sour). I chuckled as I reached for the piece of fruit, intending to toss it into the trash. “No!” Xavier scampered across the kitchen to get away from me. “Moe-wah!” (more). His lips puckered with every juice-squirting bite. I winced when he finally handed me the rind and walked away. My taste buds accurately reflect my partiality to the sweet moments in life. My preference for avoiding all things bitter reminds me of Job’s wife, who seems to have shared my aversion to the sourness of suffering. Job surely didn’t delight in hardship or trouble, yet he honored God through heart-wrenching circumstances (Job 1:1–22). When painful sores afflicted Job’s body, he endured the agony (2:7–8). His wife told him to give up on God (v. 9), but Job responded by trusting the Lord through suffering and afflictions (v. 10). It’s natural to prefer avoiding the bitter bites in life. We can even be tempted to lash out at God when we’re hurting. But the Lord uses trials, teaching us how to trust Him, depend on Him, and surrender to Him as He enables us to persevere through difficult times. And like Job, we don’t have to enjoy suffering to learn to savor the unexpected sweetness of sour moments—the divine strengthening of our faith. —Xochitl Dixon Thank You for assuring us that suffering is never wasted when we place our confidence in who You are, what You’ve done, and what You’re capable of doing. God uses suffering to strengthen our faith. INSIGHT: In the ancient story of Job, we see a devout follower of God whose life has been laid bare by financial, family, and physical suffering. The book of Job asks the perennial question, “Why do the righteous suffer?” Job’s ordeals test his devotion to his Redeemer and Provider. Clearly the book shows how God uses suffering to strengthen believers’ faith and refine their character. Job declares, “But [God] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Has God used a trial in your life to refine your character and strengthen your faith? Dennis Fisher

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Team Challenge:From Pearl Jam to IBD Activist

Here is a Story from Mike McCready who was lead guitarist of the 90's hit band Pearl Jam. As lead guitarist for Pearl Jam, Mike McCready is truly a rock star. However, as an IBD patient, he has days where he can barely get out of bed, let alone think about performing in front of sold out crowds. Mike was 21-years-old when he was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). He had just moved to Los Angeles hoping to make it big with his band, Shadow, when he began experiencing debilitating stomach pain and urgency. Over the past three decades, Mike has been extremely open about his disease journey. It hasn’t been easy- he’s had accidents during performances, been on numerous medications, coped with the stress of traveling, and much more. But throughout it all, he found one constant- the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Mike has been a national spokesperson for the Foundation for years, hosting annual fundraisers, and sharing his story through the media. Mike is truly an inspiration for all patients living with these debilitating digestive diseases, and proof that having IBD doesn’t have to prevent you from achieving your dreams. He and his wife Ashley have participated in Team Challenge several times, including this past summer at the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon. Mike was invited to share his story as our honored speaker at the Inspirational pasta party the night before the big race. Check out his truly inspiring speech. Mike McCready of Pearl Jam speaks about life with IBD

Monday, September 18, 2017

Watch the Conductor

As we enter into the fourth week of September lets start the New Week out taking time to reflect on these words of wisdom to help strengthen us for the remainder of the week that is ahead of us Read: Hebrews 12:1–3 Bible in a Year: Proverbs 30–31; 2 Corinthians 11:1–15 Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.—Hebrews 12:1–2 World-renowned violinist, Joshua Bell, has an unusual way of leading the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, a forty-four-member chamber orchestra. Instead of waving a baton he directs while playing his Stradivarius with the other violinists. Bell told Colorado Public Radio, “Even while I’m playing I can give them all kinds of direction and signals that I think only they would understand at this point. They know by every little dip in my violin, or raise in my eyebrow, or the way I draw the bow. They know the sound I’m looking for from the entire orchestra.” Just as the orchestra members watch Joshua Bell, the Bible instructs us to keep our eyes on Jesus our Lord. After listing many heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, the writer says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1–2). Jesus promised, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Because He is, we have the amazing privilege of keeping our eyes on Him while He conducts the music of our lives. —David C. McCasland Lord, our eyes look to You this day so we may follow Your direction and live in harmony with You. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus our Savior as He directs our lives. INSIGHT: Have you ever walked away from a parent, teacher, coach, or military officer you thought was being too hard on you? The men and women of faith listed in Hebrews 11 must have wondered at times whether their God was asking more of them than they could possibly give. Yet through doubt, personal failure, and unfulfilled dreams, the Bible gives all of them honorable mention—as witnesses to the faith that has been entrusted to us. Now it’s our turn. When we face fears, we have the opportunity to follow the One who asks us to trust Him in a way that lifts us above own natural inclinations. This is a moment to remember the lingering witness of Jesus’s own disciples who so often heard the words, “Don’t be afraid.” From the stories of those who have gone before us, we are reminded that it was on a road of faith that Jesus and His witnesses suffered to bring others to God. Jesus invites us to experience for ourselves the honor of being witnesses to His faithfulness even when we struggle to trust Him. Mart DeHaan

Friday, September 15, 2017

What’s Your Father’s Name?

As we have come to the end of the third week of September YES! it's FRIDAY! and head into the weekend lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: John 8:39–47 Bible in a Year: Proverbs 22–24; 2 Corinthians 8 To those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.—John 1:12 When I went to buy a cell phone in the Middle East, I was asked the typical questions: name, nationality, address. But then as the clerk was filling out the form, he asked, “What’s your father’s name?” That question surprised me, and I wondered why it was important. Knowing my father’s name would not be important in my culture, but here it was necessary in order to establish my identity. In some cultures, ancestry is important. The Israelites believed in the importance of ancestry too. They were proud of their patriarch Abraham, and they thought being part of Abraham’s clan made them God’s children. Their human ancestry was connected, in their opinion, to their spiritual family. Hundreds of years later when Jesus was talking with the Jews, He pointed out that this was not so. They could say Abraham was their earthly ancestor, but if they didn’t love Him—the One sent by the Father—they were not part of God’s family. The same applies today. We don’t choose our human family, but we can decide the spiritual family we belong to. If we believe in Jesus’s name, God gives us the right to become His children (John 1:12). Who is your spiritual Father? Have you decided to follow Jesus? Let this be the day you trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and become part of God’s family. —Keila Ochoa Dear Lord, You are my heavenly and eternal Father. Thank You for Jesus, my Savior. God is our Eternal Father. INSIGHT: The Israelites of Jesus’s day had many Old Testament heroes, but three soared above the rest. David was the great king who established the city of Jerusalem and stabilized the kingdom. Moses was the leader who was given the law of God. He was God’s instrument of deliverance and led the Israelites to the threshold of the land of promise. But their most ancient hero was Abraham—the father of the faithful and the man whose faith was counted to him as righteousness. Jesus, however, surpasses this great heritage, for through Him we become children of God Himself. Bill Crowder

Monday, September 11, 2017

The One Who Understands

So we have approach the 3rd week of September as we start this New Week lets take a moment to reflect on the week ahead but let's also take a moment to Remember September 11th 16 years ago Today the Nation was jolted by what happened to the Two Twin Towers the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. Read: John 1:1–18 Bible in a Year: Proverbs 10–12; 2 Corinthians 4 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.—John 1:14 John Babler is the chaplain for the police and fire departments in his Texas community. During a twenty-two-week sabbatical from his job, he attended police academy training so that he could better understand the situations law enforcement officers face. Through spending time with the other cadets and learning about the intense challenges of the profession, Babler gained a new sense of humility and empathy. In the future, he hopes to be more effective as he counsels police officers who struggle with emotional stress, fatigue, and loss. We know that God understands the situations we face because He made us and sees everything that happens to us. We also know He understands because He has been to earth and experienced life as a human being. He “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” as the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14). Jesus’s earthly life included a wide range of difficulty. He felt the searing heat of the sun, the pain of an empty stomach, and the uncertainty of homelessness. Emotionally, He endured the tension of disagreements, the burn of betrayal, and the ongoing threat of violence. Jesus experienced the joys of friendship and family love, as well as the worst problems that we face here on earth. He provides hope. He is the Wonderful Counselor who patiently listens to our concerns with insight and care (Isa. 9:6). He is the One who can say, “I’ve been through that. I understand.” —Jennifer Benson Schuldt Dear Lord, thank You for caring enough to humble Yourself and come to earth as a human being. God understands the struggles we face.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Carried Through

Made it to the end of the second week of September it's FRIDAY! as we take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Psalm 30:1–12 Bible in a Year: Proverbs 3–5; 2 Corinthians 1 Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.—Psalm 30:5 I recently stumbled across some of my journals from college and couldn’t resist taking time to reread them. Reading the entries, I realized I didn’t feel about myself then the same as I do today. My struggles with loneliness and doubts about my faith felt overwhelming at the time, but looking back now I can clearly see how God has carried me to a better place. Seeing how God gently brought me through those days reminded me that what feels overwhelming today will one day be part of a greater story of His healing love. Psalm 30 is a celebration psalm that similarly looks back with amazement and gratitude on God’s powerful restoration: from sickness to healing, from threat of death to life, from feeling God’s judgment to enjoying His favor, from mourning to joy (vv. 2–3,11). The psalm is attributed to David, to whom we owe some of the most pain-filled laments in Scripture. But David also experienced restoration so incredible he was able to confess, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (v. 5). Despite all the pain he had endured, David discovered something even greater—God’s powerful hand of healing. If you are hurting today and need encouragement, recall those times in your past when God carried you through to a place of healing. Pray for trust that He will do so again. —Monica Brands Lord, when our struggles feel bigger than what we can handle, help us to find comfort and strength in how You’ve carried us before. God is lovingly working toward restoration and joy in and through the pain of our lives. INSIGHT: For encouragement as you face the difficulties of life, read When the Going Gets Tough at discoveryseries.org/hp072.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Stepping into Strength

As we gather together to start the New Week Off with Family and Friends as we Celebrate this Holiday which we call Labor Day lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom. Read: 1 Chronicles 16:11–18, 28–36 Bible in a Year: Psalms 143–145; 1 Corinthians 14:21–40 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.—Colossians 4:2 “Will we see any snakes?” Allan, a young boy in our neighborhood, asked that question as we started on a hike by the river near our home. “We never have before,” I answered, “but we might! So let’s ask God to keep us safe.” We paused, prayed together, and kept walking. Several minutes later my wife, Cari, suddenly took a quick step backward, narrowly avoiding a poisonous copperhead partially coiled on the path ahead. We waited as the snake left the trail, giving it a wide berth. Then we paused and thanked God nothing had happened. I believe that through Allan’s question, God had prepared us for the encounter, and our prayer was part of His providential care. Our brush with danger that evening brings to mind the importance of David’s words: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chron. 16:11). This advice was part of a psalm celebrating the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. It recounts God’s faithfulness to His people in their struggles throughout history, reminding them to always praise Him and “cry out” to Him (v. 35). What does it mean to “seek [God’s] face”? It means we turn our hearts toward Him in even the most mundane moments. Sometimes our prayers are answered differently than our asking, but God is faithful come what may. Our Good Shepherd will direct our paths and keeps us in His mercy, strength, and love. May we declare our dependence on Him. —James Banks Prayer imparts the power to walk and not faint. Oswald Chambers Read more from Oswald Chambers at utmost.org. INSIGHT: Recall an occasion when you sought “God’s face,” when you “look[ed] to the Lord and his strength” (1 Chron. 16:11). What caused you to call and depend on God? How did the Lord respond to you? Sim Kay Tee