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Monday, October 22, 2018

Treasure in a Pumpkin

So here we are starting the New Week in the last week of October before we head in to the 11th month of new year which is November MAN-O-MAN time is moving with only two more months until 2019 take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom as you continue through the rest of 2018 before we ALL step into 2019 We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 READ 2 CORINTHIANS 4:7–18 As a young mother, I was determined to document my daughter’s first year of life. Each month, I took photos of her to illustrate how she had changed and grown. In one of my favorite pictures, she is gleefully sitting in the belly of a hollowed-out pumpkin I purchased from a local farmer. There she sat, the delight of my heart, contained in an overgrown squash. The pumpkin withered in the ensuing weeks, but my daughter continued to grow and thrive. The way Paul describes knowing the truth of who Jesus is reminds me of that photo. He likens the knowledge of Jesus in our heart to a treasure stored in a clay pot. Remembering what Jesus did for us gives us the courage and strength to persevere through struggles in spite of being “hard pressed on every side” (2 Corinthians 4:8). Because of God’s power in our lives, when we are “struck down, but not destroyed,” we reveal the life of Jesus (v. 9). Like the pumpkin that withered, we may feel the wear and tear of our trials. But the joy of Jesus in us can continue to grow in spite of those challenges. Our knowledge of Him—His power at work in our lives—is the treasure stored in our frail clay bodies. We can flourish in the face of hardship because of His power at work within us. By Kirsten Holmberg REFLECT & PRAY God’s power is at work within us. Dear Father, thank You for putting Your truth into my heart and life. Help me to bear up under the challenges I face with Your power. May others see Your work in my life and come to know You too. INSIGHT As with Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the epistle of James encourages those who are facing trials. “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete” (James 1:2-4). Those who persevere will receive strength for today and “the crown of life” (v. 12)—eternal life—tomorrow. How have you experienced the joy of Christ in the midst of trials? Alyson Kieda

Friday, October 19, 2018

Bring Your Boats

So the week has come to an end YES! It's FRIDAY! take a moment to just reflect on all that has been going in your life as you begin to reflect know that God has been with you every step of the with these words of wisdom Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27 READ PROVERBS 3:21–31 Hurricane Harvey brought catastrophic flooding to eastern Texas in 2017. The onslaught of rain stranded thousands of people in their homes, unable to escape the floodwaters. In what was dubbed the “Texas Navy,” many private citizens brought boats from other parts of the state and nation to help evacuate stranded people. The actions of these valiant, generous men and women call to mind the encouragement of Proverbs 3:27, which instructs us to help others whenever we are able. They had the power to act on behalf of those in need by bringing their boats. And so they did. Their actions demonstrate a willingness to use whatever resources they had at their disposal for the benefit of others. We may not always feel adequate for the task at hand; often we become paralyzed by thinking we don’t have the skills, experience, resources, or time to help others. In such instances, we’re quick to sideline ourselves, discounting what we do have that might be of assistance to someone else. The Texas Navy couldn’t stop the floodwaters from rising, nor could they legislate government aid. But they used what they had within their power—their boats—to come alongside the deep needs of their fellow man. May we all bring our “boats”—whatever they may be—to take the people in our paths to higher ground. By Kirsten Holmberg REFLECT & PRAY God provides for His people through His people. Lord, all that I have is from You. Help me to always use what You’ve given me to help others. INSIGHT Helping others by doing good when it’s in our power to act (Proverbs 3:27-28) is also the focus of Paul’s instructions to believers. Encouraging us to live meaningful and purposeful lives before a watching, non-believing world, Paul tells us to “be very careful, then, how [we] live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:15-16). Careful living means we are to live godly lives as “children of light” pleasing to the Lord (vv. 8, 10). Paul expects “those who have trusted in God [to] devote themselves to doing what is good” (Titus 3:8). We are to adopt a never-give-up attitude when it comes to serving others: “Let us not become weary in doing good . . . . As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10). What can you do this week to serve someone? K. T. Sim

Monday, October 15, 2018

Trust Him First

The weekend has come to and end and we are jump starting and heading into the third week of October MAN! time is moving by so FAST as we take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom to help strengthen us for the journey that is head of us with Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Psalm 68:19 READ ISAIAH 46:3–13 “Don’t let go, Dad!” “I won’t. I’ve got you. I promise.” I was a little boy terrified of the water, but my dad wanted me to learn to swim. He would purposefully take me away from the side of the pool into a depth that was over my head, where he was my only support. Then he would teach me to relax and float. It wasn’t just a swimming lesson; it was a lesson in trust. I knew my father loved me and would never let me be harmed intentionally, but I was also afraid. I would cling tightly to his neck until he reassured me all would be well. Eventually his patience and kindness won out, and I began to swim. But I had to trust him first. When I feel “over my head” in a difficulty, I sometimes think back on those moments. They help me call to mind the Lord’s reassurance to His people: “Even to your old age . . . I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:4). We may not always be able to feel God’s arms beneath us, but the Lord has promised that He will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5). As we rest in His care and promises, He helps us learn to trust in His faithfulness. He lifts us above our worries to discover new peace in Him. By James Banks REFLECT & PRAY God carries us to new places of grace as we trust in Him. Abba, Father, I praise You for carrying me through life. Please give me faith to trust that You are always with me. INSIGHT For further reading on trust in God during difficult times, see the free booklet Anchors in the Storm at

Friday, October 12, 2018

Safe in His Arms

We have made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! so take a moment to just bask in the beauty of our Heavenly Father as we reflect on these words of wisdom Safe in His Arms He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. Isaiah 40:11 READ ISAIAH 40:9–11 The weather outside was threatening, and the alert on my cell phone warned about the possibility of flash floods. An unusual number of cars were parked in my neighborhood as parents and others gathered to pick up children at the school bus drop-off point. By the time the bus arrived, it had started to rain. That’s when I observed a woman exit her car and retrieve an umbrella from the trunk. She walked towards a little girl and made sure the child was shielded from the rain until they returned to the vehicle. What a beautiful “real time” picture of parental, protective care that reminded me of the care of our heavenly Father. The prophet Isaiah forecast punishment for disobedience followed by brighter days for God’s people (Isaiah 40:1-8). The heavenly dispatch from the mountain (v. 9) assured the Israelites of God’s mighty presence and tender care. The good news, then and now, is that because of God’s power and ruling authority, anxious hearts need not fear (vv. 9-10). Included in the announcement was news about the Lord’s protection, the kind of protection shepherds provide (v. 11): vulnerable young sheep would find safety in the Shepherd’s arms; nursing ewes would be led gently. In a world where circumstances aren’t always easy, such images of safety and care compel us to look confidently to the Lord. Those who trust wholeheartedly in the Lord find security and renewed strength in Him (v. 31). By Arthur Jackson REFLECT & PRAY The good news is that God cares for us! Father, in a world where we are sometimes threatened, we are comforted because of Your gracious care for us—in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. INSIGHT We also see the shepherd imagery in the New Testament when Jesus is described as our Good Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11) and “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep” (vv. 14-15). Just as a shepherd watched over, provided for, and protected his sheep against danger and death and even pursued them when lost (Psalm 23:1-3; Luke 15:4), Jesus laid down His life for our sins and then rose again so that we would have the opportunity to live forever with Him (John 3:16). By doing so, He freed all who receive Him as Savior from the clutches of our enemy, Satan, and from eternal misery. And in this life, our Shepherd leads and guides us along the way. We need not fear, for He is with us (Psalm 23:4). He loves us and knows us (John 10:14-15). In what area of your life do you need the comfort of the Good Shepherd? Alyson Kieda

Monday, October 8, 2018

Our Singing Father

The weekend has come to and end and we are gearing up to start a New Week has we start this New Week take a moment to reflect on the Goodness of God and ALL that he has brought you through with these words of wisdom to guide you along your journey The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 READ ZEPHANIAH 3:14–20 No one told me before my wife and I had children how important singing would be. My children are now six, eight, and ten. But all three had problems sleeping early on. Each night, my wife and I took turns rocking our little ones, praying they’d nod off quickly. I spent hundreds of hours rocking them, desperately crooning lullabies to (hopefully!) speed up the process. But as I sang over our children night after night, something amazing happened: It deepened my bond of love and delight for them in ways I had never dreamed. Did you know Scripture describes our heavenly Father singing over His children too? Just as I sought to soothe my children with song, so Zephaniah concludes with a portrait of our heavenly Father singing over His people: “He will take great delight in you; in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing” (3:17). Much of Zephaniah’s prophetic book warns of a coming time of judgment for those who’d rejected God. Yet that’s not where it ends. Zephaniah concludes not with judgment but with a description of God not only rescuing His people from all their suffering (vv. 19-20) but also tenderly loving and rejoicing over them with song (v. 17). Our God is not only a “Mighty Warrior who saves” and restores (v. 17) but a loving Father who tenderly sings songs of love over us. By Adam Holz REFLECT & PRAY Our heavenly Father delights in His children like a parent singing to a newborn baby. Father, help us to embrace Your tender love and “hear” the songs You sing. INSIGHT The singing heart of God (Zephaniah 3:17) is but one of the many ways He expresses His love and care for us. Of course, we readily acknowledge that He rescues us and provides for us. We also know He made us and empowers us to live for Him in this world. But that is only the beginning. In Luke 15 we find that, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God rejoices over our rescue and return to Him. Additionally, He comforts us in our seasons of trial (2 Corinthians 1:3-8). Beyond that, He mourns with us in our pain—even to the point of valuing our tears (Psalm 56:8). In these and countless other ways, our God continually expresses the depth of His love and concern for His children. How have you experienced that care in the different seasons of your own life? Bill Crowder

Friday, October 5, 2018

Better Than Ever

The week has come to an end YES! It's FRIDAY! as we take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom let's open our hearts to the LOVE that our Heavenly Father gives to us no matter what we experience or go through in life Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:12 READ PSALM 51:9–13 The story is told of a group of salmon fishermen who gathered in a Scottish inn after a long day of fishing. As one was describing a catch to his friends, his arm swept across the table and knocked a glass against the wall, shattering it and leaving a stain on the white plaster surface. The man apologized to the innkeeper and offered to pay for the damage, but there was nothing he could do; the wall was ruined. A man seated nearby said, “Don’t worry.” Rising, he took a painting implement from his pocket and began to sketch around the ugly stain. Slowly there emerged the head of a magnificent stag. The man was Sir E. H. Landseer, Scotland’s foremost animal artist. David, Israel’s illustrious king who penned Psalm 51, brought shame on himself and his nation by his sins. He committed adultery with the wife of one of his friends and engineered the death of that friend—both deeds worthy of death. It would seem his life was ruined. But he pled with God: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (v. 12). Like David we have shameful acts in our past and the memories that accompany them, recollections that taunt us in the middle of the night. There’s so much we wish we could undo or redo. There is a grace that not only forgives sin but also uses it to make us better than before. God wastes nothing. By David H. Roper REFLECT & PRAY God has both an all-seeing eye and all-forgiving heart. Lord, I’ve failed You again. Please forgive me again. Change me. Turn me around. Teach me to follow Your ways. INSIGHT David wrote Psalm 51 in repentance for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba; his deliberate actions that led to the death of her husband, Uriah; and ultimately his sin against God (v. 4). Psalm 32, also penned by David, is similar in that here too he writes from his own experience on the pain of unconfessed sin and of the blessing of repentance. Even as Christians we will sin—and sometimes again and again. At such times, if we stubbornly refuse to confess our sins, we feel the effects of the sin eating away at us spiritually, mentally, and physically (vv. 3-4). Why? Not because we’ve lost our salvation, but because we’ve driven a wedge between us and our holy God. When we come to God in sorrow for our sins and receive His forgiveness, the “joy of [our] salvation”—the joy of being in an intimate relationship with God—is restored (51:12; see 32:1-2). In both psalms, David illustrates that confession and repentance lead to God’s forgiveness, which leads to a restored relationship, which leads to great joy—and enables us to sing! (32:11). When have you experienced restored joy after confession? Alyson Kieda

Monday, October 1, 2018

For Our Friends

As we start this New Week we have step into the 10th month of the New Year Welcome to October! I hope these words of wisdom Help you get through the rest of the week with My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12 READ JOHN 15:5–17 In Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, a cantankerous man who often quotes the Bible to criticize others is memorably described as “the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to rake [apply] the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbours.” It’s a funny line; and it may even bring particular people to mind. But aren’t we all a bit like this—prone to condemn others’ failures while excusing our own? In Scripture some people amazingly did the exact opposite; they were willing to give up God’s promises for them and even be cursed if it would save others. Consider Moses, who said he’d rather be blotted out of God’s book than see the Israelites unforgiven (Exodus 32:32). Or Paul, who said he’d choose to be “cut off from Christ” if it meant his people would find Him (Romans 9:3). As self-righteous as we naturally are, Scripture highlights those who love others more than themselves. Because ultimately such love points to Jesus. “Greater love has no one than this,” Jesus taught, than “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Even before we knew Him, Jesus loved us “to the end” (13:1)—choosing death to give us life. Now we are invited into the family of God, to love and be loved like this (15:9-12). And as we pour into others Christ’s unimaginable love, the world will catch a glimpse of Him. By Monica Brands REFLECT & PRAY When we love Christ, we love others. Lord, thank You for showing us what it means to love. Help us to love like You. INSIGHT The important idea of love for one another found in John 15:12-14 is rooted in one of Jesus’s most enduring teaching images—the vine and the branches (vv. 1-8). Our life so completely flows from being connected to Christ that everything we do, including our ability to love one another, is drawn from His life and power. Bill Crowder