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Monday, August 14, 2017

Love for Children

As we enter into the 3rd week of August an the start of a New Week let's take a moment to just reflect on the Goodness of God as we reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Matthew 18:1–10 Bible in a Year: Psalms 89–90; Romans 14 Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.—Matthew 19:14 nlt Thomas Barnado entered the London Hospital medical school in 1865, dreaming of life as a medical missionary in China. Barnado soon discovered a desperate need in his own front yard—the many homeless children living and dying on the streets of London. Barnado determined to do something about this horrendous situation. Developing homes for destitute children in London’s east end, Barnado rescued some 60,000 boys and girls from poverty and possible early death. Theologian and pastor John Stott said, “Today we might call him the patron saint of street kids.” Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children” (Matt. 19:14 nlt). Imagine the surprise the crowds—and Jesus’s own disciples—must have felt at this declaration. In the ancient world, children had little value and were largely relegated to the margins of life. Yet Jesus welcomed, blessed, and valued children. James, a New Testament writer, challenged Christ-followers saying, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans . . . in their troubles” (James 1:27 nlt). Today, like those first-century orphans, children of every social strata, ethnicity, and family environment are at risk due to neglect, human trafficking, abuse, drugs, and more. How can we honor the Father who loves us by showing His care for these little ones Jesus welcomes? —Bill Crowder See the book A Cup of Cold Water in His Name: 60 Ways to Care for the Needy by Lorie Newman at dhp.org/jd007.html. Be an expression of the love of Jesus. INSIGHT: Speaking into a context where social status was central, Jesus made the revolutionary claim that true greatness is found through being humble like children (Matt. 18:3-4), who had no status on their own. He further declared that harming a child is a grave sin (vv. 6, 10). His is a kingdom dedicated to uplifting and cherishing the vulnerable (v. 5). Monica Brands

Friday, August 11, 2017

If Only . . .

The end of the week is here we have made it to FRIDAY! Let's continue to give Thanks to God for allowing us to see another week with these words of wisdom Read: John 11:21–35 Bible in a Year: Psalms 81–83; Romans 11:19–36 Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.—John 11:32 As we exited the parking lot, my husband slowed the car to wait for a young woman riding her bike. When Tom nodded to indicate she could go first, she smiled, waved, and rode on. Moments later, the driver from a parked SUV threw his door open, knocking the young bicyclist to the pavement. Her legs bleeding, she cried as she examined her bent-up bike. Later, we reflected on the accident: If only we had made her wait . . . If only the driver had looked before opening his door. If only . . . Difficulties catch us up in a cycle of second-guessing ourselves. If only I had known my child was with teens who were drinking . . . If only we had found the cancer earlier . . . When unexpected trouble comes, we sometimes question the goodness of God. We may even feel the despair that Martha and Mary experienced when their brother died. Oh, if Jesus had only come when He first found out that Lazarus was sick! (John 11:21, 32). Like Martha and Mary, we don’t always understand why hard things happen to us. But we can rest in the knowledge that God is working out His purposes for a greater good. In every circumstance, we can trust the wisdom of our faithful and loving God. —Cindy Hess Kasper Father, You have carried me through hard circumstances before. Thank You for teaching me to trust Your heart of love even when I don’t understand what You are doing in my life. For encouragement read, Why? Seeing God in Our Pain at discoveryseries.org/cb151. To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust Him in the dark—that is faith. Charles Haddon Spurgeon INSIGHT: Jesus’s absence is what greatly troubled Mary and Martha. They cried, “Lord, . . . if you had been here” (John 11:21, 32). But God has promised, “Never will I leave you” (Heb. 13:5). We may not understand why hard things happen, but in confident trust we can say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid” (v. 6). Sim Kay Tee

Monday, August 7, 2017

Life to the Full

The weekend has come to and end and we are gearing up for a New Week as we start this New Week let keep in mind to be Thankful for ALL things with these words of wisdom. Read: Mark 10:28–31; John 10:9–10 Bible in a Year: Psalms 72–73; Romans 9:1–15 I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.—John 10:10 When I stopped by to visit my sister’s family, my nephews eagerly showed me their new chore system, a set of Choropoly boards. Each colorful electronic board keeps track of their chores. A job well done means the kids can hit a green button, which adds points to their “spending” account. A misdeed like leaving the back door open results in a fine being deducted from the total. Since a high-points total leads to exciting rewards such as computer time—and misdeeds deduct from that total—my nephews are now unusually motivated to do their work and to keep the door closed! The ingenious system had me joking that I wished I had such an exciting motivational tool! But of course God has given us motivation. Rather than simply commanding obedience, Jesus has promised that a life of following Him, while costly, is also a life of abundance, “life . . . to the full” (John 10:10). Experiencing life in His kingdom is worth “one hundred times” the cost—now and eternally (Mark 10:29–30). We can rejoice in the fact that we serve a generous God, One who does not reward and punish as we deserve. He generously accepts our weakest efforts—even welcoming and rewarding latecomers to His kingdom as generously as old-timers (see Matt. 20:1–16). In light of this reality, let us joyfully serve Him today. —Monica Brands Lord, help us to remember there is great meaning in following You and that it is all so worth it. Following Jesus is the way to a rich and satisfying life. INSIGHT: The young man in Mark 10 believed he had earned a place in heaven by trusting in his good works and wealth (Mark 10:17-20). Jesus corrected him and told him to give up his material wealth and to follow Him in order to have “treasure in heaven” (v. 21), but this young man was not willing to do this. When Peter bellowed, “We have left everything to follow you!” (v. 28), he was considering what it had cost him and his brother Andrew to follow Jesus. Peter and Andrew were at work when Jesus called them and “at once they left their nets and followed him” (1:17-18). Likewise brothers James and John left their father and their fishing trade (vv. 19-20). Jesus said, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39). This life, abundant and eternal, is to know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). How has making the choice to follow Jesus changed your life? Sim Kay Tee

Friday, August 4, 2017

Training for Life

Here we are in the 8th month of the New Year at the end of the week it's FRIDAY! I hope these words of wisdom help you reflect on how truly God has been good in your life Read: Psalm 66:8–12 Bible in a Year: Psalms 66–67; Romans 7 For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.—Psalm 66:10 My training for the long-distance race was going badly, and the latest run was particularly disappointing. I walked half the time and even had to sit down at one point. It felt like I had failed a mini-test. Then I remembered that this was the whole point of training. It was not a test to pass, nor was there a grade I had to achieve. Rather, it was something I simply had to go through, again and again, to improve my endurance. Perhaps you feel bad about a trial you are facing. God allows us to undergo these times of testing to toughen our spiritual muscles and endurance. He teaches us to rely on Him, and purifies us to be holy, so that we become more like Christ. No wonder the psalmist could praise God for refining the Israelites through fire and water (Ps. 66:10–12) as they suffered in slavery and exile. God not only preserved them and brought them to a place of great abundance, but also purified them in the process. As we go through testing, we can rely on God for strength and perseverance. He is refining us through our toughest moments. —Leslie Koh Lord, I know that You allow me to go through trials so that I will be strengthened and purified. Teach me to keep relying on You for Your strength to endure. Faith-testing times can be faith-strengthening times. INSIGHT: Echoing the confident sentiment of Psalm 66:10, an Old Testament man named Job said, “When [God] has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Job was in financial ruin, his ten children had died, and he was afflicted with a painful disease (1:13-19; 2:7). In the midst of these trials, he sought to understand why he had to suffer so much. His three friends believed his suffering was God’s punishment for his sins (4:7-9; 8:4-7). But Job rejected their accusations and sought an answer from God (23:1-5). God seemed absent (vv. 8-9), yet in a moment of raw faith, Job expressed his intuitive conviction that God was testing him to prove the purity of his character. Job entrusted himself to God’s ways and drew strength from His Word (vv. 10-12). In a similar way, God tests us to show the quality of our faith (Prov. 17:3; Isa. 48:10; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:1-13). How has testing helped to refine your faith? What encouragement from Psalm 66 helps you remain faithful in the midst of testing? Sim Kay Tee

Monday, July 31, 2017

A “New Man”

Today is the last day of July as we start this New Week heading into the 8th month of the New Year which will be August lets STOP a take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Colossians 1:3–14 Bible in a Year: Psalms 54–56; Romans 3 Continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.—Colossians 1:23 As a group of teenagers visited a home for the elderly in Montego Bay, Jamaica, one young woman noticed a lonely looking man at the end of the room. He appeared to have little left in this world but a bed to sleep on—a bed from which he could not move because of his disability. The teen began right away to share the story of God’s love for us and read some Bible passages to him. “As I shared with him,” she would say later, “I started to feel his eagerness to hear more.” Responding to his interest, she explained the wonder of Jesus’s sacrificial death for us. “It was hard for this man, who had no hope and no family,” she recalled, “to understand that Someone he’s never met would love him enough to die on the cross for his sins.” She told him more about Jesus—and then about the promise of heaven (including a new body) for all who believe. He asked her, “Will you dance with me up there?” She saw him begin to imagine himself free of his worn-out body and crippling limitations. When he said he wanted to trust Jesus as his Savior, she helped him pray a prayer of forgiveness and faith. When she asked him if she could get a picture with him, he replied, “If you help me sit up. I’m a new man.” Praise God for the life-changing, hope-giving, available-to-all gospel of Jesus Christ! It offers new life for all who trust Him (Col. 1:5, 23). —Dave Branon Lord, thank You for the new life we have in Jesus Christ. Help us to share the hope of that new life with others so they can be made new as well. Jesus offers new life. INSIGHT: Colossae, the destination of the letter to the Colossian church, was a city in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). It was a city of some significance commercially in the first century because of its location on a main trade route east from Ephesus. We are not told in the New Testament how this church was founded, but in this letter Paul writes to encourage and instruct the believers there as if it were one of the churches he himself had founded. Bill Crowder

Friday, July 28, 2017

Forgiven!

Here we are at the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! MAN! can't believe that there is just only 2 more days left in this month and then we will be heading into the 8th month of the New Year which will be August but let me NOT get ahead of myself let me stay in the moment with these words of wisdom Read: 1 John 1:1–10 Bible in a Year: Psalms 46–48; Acts 28 I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant.—Psalm 119:176 My friend Norm Cook sometimes had a surprise for his family when he arrived home from work. He would walk through the front door, and shout, “You’re forgiven!” It wasn’t that family members had wronged him and needed his forgiveness. He was reminding them that though they doubtless had sinned throughout the day, they were by God’s grace fully forgiven. The apostle John supplies this note about grace: “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin [no inclination to sin], we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7-9). To “walk in the light” is a metaphor for following Jesus. Imitating Jesus with the Spirit’s help, John insists, is the sign that we have joined with the apostles in the fellowship of faith. We are authentic Christians. But, he continues, let’s not be deceived: We will make wrong choices at times. Nevertheless, grace is given in full measure: We can take what forgiveness we need. Not perfect; just forgiven by Jesus! That’s the good word for today. —David H. Roper Lord, I know I’m not even close to being perfect. That’s why I need You and Your cleansing in my life. I’m lost without You. Monitor your heart daily to avoid wandering from God’s wisdom. INSIGHT: In this passage we see how confession can restore our connection with God. We are assured that even when we make wrong choices, God will offer grace and forgiveness to the truly repentant.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Building Community

So here we are in the last week of July as we start this New week take a moment too just reflect on just this month alone of ALL the ups and downs and ins and outs and consider yourself Thankful that we are still here to make the BEST of this life with these words of wisdom. Read: Ephesians 2:19–3:11 Bible in a Year: Psalms 35–36; Acts 25 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. —Ephesians 3:6 “Community” is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives, says Henri Nouwen. Often we surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, which forms a club or a clique, not a community. Anyone can form a club; it takes grace, shared vision, and hard work to form a community. The Christian church was the first institution in history to bring together on equal footing Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and free. The apostle Paul waxed eloquent on this “mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God.” By forming a community out of diverse members, Paul said, we have the opportunity to capture the attention of the world and even the supernatural world beyond (Eph. 3:9-10). In some ways the church has sadly failed in this assignment. Still, church is the one place I visit that brings together generations: infants still held in their mothers’ arms, children who squirm and giggle at all the wrong times, responsible adults who know how to act appropriately at all times, and those who may drift asleep if the preacher drones on too long. If we want the community experience God is offering to us, we have reason to seek a congregation of people “not like us.” —Philip Yancey Lord, remind us that the church is Your work, and You have brought us together for Your good purposes. Help us extend grace to others. The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. G. K. Chesterton