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Friday, December 30, 2016

Time Alone With God

So here we are on the last 2 days of 2016 in the month of December it's FRIDAY! YES! before we enter into a whole New Year which will be 2017 but before we do let's take a moment to truly reflect on ALL the things that God brought us through in 2016 with these words of wisdom. Read: Matthew 14:13–23 Bible in a Year: Zechariah 13–14; Revelation 21 [Jesus] went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.—Matthew 14:23 It was a busy morning in the church room where I was helping. Nearly a dozen little children were chattering and playing. There was so much activity that the room became warm and I propped the door open. One little boy saw this as his chance to escape so when he thought no one was looking, he tiptoed out the door. Hot on his trail, I wasn’t surprised that he was headed straight for his daddy’s arms. The little boy did what we need to do when life becomes busy and overwhelming—he slipped away to be with his father. Jesus looked for opportunities to spend time with His heavenly Father in prayer. Some might say this was how He coped with the demands that depleted His human energy. According to the gospel of Matthew, Jesus was headed to a solitary place when a crowd of people followed Him. Noticing their needs, Jesus miraculously healed and fed them. After that, however, He “went up on a mountainside by himself to pray” (v. 23). Jesus repeatedly helped multitudes of people, yet He didn’t allow Himself to become haggard and hurried. He nurtured His connection with God through prayer. How is it with you? Will you take time alone with God to experience His strength and fulfillment? —Jennifer Benson Schuldt Where are you finding greater fulfillment—in meeting the demands of life or in cultivating your relationship with your Creator? When we draw near to God our minds are refreshed and our strength is renewed! INSIGHT: The theme of rest is at the heart of the Jewish faith. For example, one of the central practices of Judaism is Shabbat (Sabbath rest). In the first century, however, many Jewish leaders were requiring extra faith practices so burdensome that Jesus openly challenged them regarding the damage they were doing to the lives of the people (see Matt. 23:2-4). The weighty tasks of religious duty had robbed people of the relational rest God desired. That may be why Jesus spoke some of the most comforting words of His public ministry: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (11:28). Bill Crowder

Monday, December 26, 2016

On Time

So here we are starting the New Week after Celebrating Two Holidays which were Christmas and Hanukkah as we take a moment to reflect on what we have just celebrate which was the Joy of Jesus and The Festival of Lights now lets turn our attention to these words of wisdom. Read: Luke 2:25–38 Bible in a Year: Haggai 1–2; Revelation 17 When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son.—Galatians 4:4 Sometimes I joke that I’m going to write a book titled On Time. Those who know me smile because they know I am often late. I rationalize that my lateness is due to optimism, not to lack of trying. I optimistically cling to the faulty belief that “this time” I will be able to get more done in less time than ever before. But I can’t, and I don’t, so I end up having to apologize yet again for my failure to show up on time. In contrast, God is always on time. We may think He’s late, but He’s not. Throughout Scripture we read about people becoming impatient with God’s timing. The Israelites waited and waited for the promised Messiah. Some gave up hope. But Simeon and Anna did not. They were in the temple daily praying and waiting (Luke 2:25-26, 37). And their faith was rewarded. They got to see the infant Jesus when Mary and Joseph brought Him to be dedicated (vv. 27-32, 38). When we become discouraged because God doesn’t respond according to our timetable, Christmas reminds us that “when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son . . . that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Gal. 4:4-5). God’s timing is always perfect, and it is worth the wait. —Julie Ackerman Link Heavenly Father, I confess that I become impatient and discouraged, wanting answers to prayer in my own time and on my schedule. Help me to wait patiently for Your timing in all things. God’s timing is always right—wait patiently for Him. INSIGHT: The story of Simeon, Anna, and the baby Jesus at the temple is found only in Luke’s gospel. Some scholars believe that much of this unique material could have come from Luke’s personal interaction with Mary the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:1-2). Dennis Moles

Friday, December 23, 2016

What Can I Give Him?

It's the end of the week we have made it to FRIDAY! As we head into the Christmas celebration lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Psalm 103:1–18 Bible in a Year: Nahum 1–3; Revelation 14 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.—Psalm 103:2 One year, those responsible for decorating their church for Christmas decided to use the theme of “Christmas lists.” Instead of decorating with the usual shiny gold and silver ornaments, they gave each person a red or green tag. On one side they were to write down the gift they would like from Jesus, and on the other they were to list the gift they would give to the One whose birth they were celebrating. If you were to do this, what gift would you ask for and what would you offer? The Bible gives us lots of ideas. God promises to supply all our needs, so we might ask for a new job, help with financial problems, physical healing for ourselves or others, or a restored relationship. We might be wondering what our spiritual gift is that equips us for God’s service. Many of these are listed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. Or we might long to show more of the fruit of the Holy Spirit: to be more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind and good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled (Gal. 5:22-23). The most important gift we can ever receive is God’s gift of His Son, our Savior, and with Him forgiveness, restoration, and the promise of spiritual life that begins now and lasts forever. And the most important gift we can ever give is to give Jesus our heart. —Marion Stroud You overwhelm me with Your gifts, Lord. In return, I want to give You the very best present that I can. Please show me what You want most from me. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. Yet what can I give Him—give Him my heart. Christina G. Rossetti INSIGHT: In Psalm 103, David praises God for His tender mercies and steadfast love (vv. 4, 8, 11, 17). David did not want to forget the many blessings God had given him (v. 2)—forgiveness and healing (v. 3), deliverance (v. 4), provision and renewal (v. 5), and protection (v. 6). This psalm reminds us of who God is (vv. 7-9, 13, 19), what He has done with our sins (vv. 10-12), and who we are (vv. 14-16). In response, we “praise the Lord” (vv. 20-22). Sim Kay Tee

Monday, December 19, 2016

Enemy Love

As we start this New Week let's take a moment to reflect on what the true meaning of Christmas means to ALL of as we prepare to spend quality time with Family and Friends here are some words of wisdom Read: Jonah 3:10–4:11 Bible in a Year: Jonah 1–4; Revelation 10 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?—Luke 6:32 When war broke out in 1950, fifteen-year-old Kim Chin-Kyung joined the South Korean army to defend his homeland. He soon found, however, that he wasn’t ready for the horrors of combat. As young friends died around him, he begged God for his life and promised that, if allowed to live, he would learn to love his enemies. Sixty-five years later, Dr. Kim reflected on that answered prayer. Through decades of caring for orphans and assisting in the education of North Korean and Chinese young people, he has won many friends among those he once regarded as enemies. Today he shuns political labels. Instead he calls himself a loveist as an expression of his faith in Jesus. The prophet Jonah left a different kind of legacy. Even a dramatic rescue from the belly of a big fish didn’t transform his heart. Although he eventually obeyed God, Jonah said he’d rather die than watch the Lord show mercy to his enemies (Jonah 4:1-2, 8). We can only guess as to whether Jonah ever learned to care for the people of Nineveh. Instead we are left to wonder about ourselves. Will we settle for his attitude toward those we fear and hate? Or will we ask God for the ability to love our enemies as He has shown mercy to us? —Mart DeHaan Father in heaven, like Your reluctant prophet, we are inclined to love only those who love us. Yet You loved us even when we cared only for ourselves. Please give us the grace to be more like Jesus than Jonah. Love conquers all.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Another Side of Comfort

The week has come to an end it's FRIDAY! Hope these words of wisdom helps you get through the rest of the day. Read: Jeremiah 7:1–11 Bible in a Year: Amos 4–6; Revelation 7 Hear the word of the Lord.—Jeremiah 7:2 The theme for our adult camp was “Comfort My People.” Speaker after speaker spoke words of assurance. But the last speaker drastically changed the tone. He chose Jeremiah 7:1-11 and the topic “Wake Up from Slumber.” Without mincing words and yet with love, he challenged us to wake up and turn away from our sins. “Don’t hide behind the grace of God and continue to live in secret sin,” he exhorted, like the prophet Jeremiah. “We boast, ‘I am a Christian; God loves me; I fear no evil,’ yet we do all kinds of evil.” We knew he cared about us, yet we shifted uncomfortably in our seats and listened to our own Jeremiah declare, “God is loving, but He is also a consuming fire! (see Heb. 12:29). He will never condone sin!” Jeremiah of old quizzed the people, “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury . . . follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, ‘We are safe’—safe to do all these detestable things?” (7:9-10). This speaker’s brand of “Comfort My People” was another side of God’s comfort. Like a bitter herb that heals malaria, his words were spiritually curative. When we hear hard words, instead of walking away, may we respond to their healing effect. —Lawrence Darmani Heavenly Father, You love us too much to let us continue defying Your instructions. Your correction is never to harm us but only to heal us. You are the God of all comfort. God’s discipline is designed to make us like His Son. INSIGHT: The idea of loving correction is a consistent message of the Scriptures. God portrays Himself to us as a loving parent, a father who wants to protect and provide the very best for His children. This is seen in the way God dealt with Israel in the wilderness wanderings. This imagery is seen in the New Testament as well. In Hebrews 12:4-6, the Scriptures make it clear that divine discipline is not an expression of punishment or vengeance. It is the loving Father correcting our wrong behavior so that we can live wisely with and for Him. Bill Crowder

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Money

As we start out the New Week in this 3rd week of December let's take head to these words of wisdom Read: Matthew 6:24–34 Bible in a Year: Hosea 9–11; Revelation 3 You cannot serve both God and money.—Matthew 6:24 Early in my career while doing work that I saw as more of a mission than a job, another company offered me a position that would give a significant increase in pay. Our family could surely have benefited financially from such a move. There was one problem. I hadn’t been looking for another job because I loved my current role, which was growing into a calling. But the money . . . I called my father, then in his seventies, and explained the situation. Though his once-sharp mind had been slowed by strokes and the strain of years, his answer was crisp and clear: “Don’t even think about the money. What would you do?” In an instant, my mind was made up. The money would have been my only reason for leaving the job I loved! Thanks, Dad. Jesus devoted a substantial section of His Sermon on the Mount to money and our fondness for it. He taught us to pray not for an accumulation of riches but for “our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). He warned against storing up treasures on earth and pointed to the birds and flowers as evidence that God cares deeply about His creation (vv. 19-31). “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,” Jesus said, “and all these things will be given to you as well” (v. 33). Money matters. But money shouldn’t rule our decision-making process. Tough times and big decisions are opportunities to grow our faith in new ways. Our heavenly Father cares for us. —Tim Gustafson Never confuse temptation with opportunity. INSIGHT: One of the most remarkable aspects of today’s reading is the harmony our Lord maintains between a heavenly perspective and the practical issues of daily life. He uses examples in nature to show how our heavenly Father tenderly cares for animal and plant life. Since we are of far more value than they are, Christ counsels us to trust Him to care for us one day at a time (v. 34). Dennis Fisher

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Gift of Encouragement

It's the end of the week it's FRIDAY! here are some words of wisdom to help us reflect on the fullness of Gods goodness Read: Acts 4:32–37; 9:26–27 Bible in a Year: Daniel 11–12; Jude Joseph . . . whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.—Acts 4:36–37 An old Merle Haggard song, “If We Make It Through December,” tells the story of a man laid off from his factory job with no money to buy Christmas gifts for his little girl. Although December is supposed to be a happy time of year, his life seems dark and cold. Discouragement is not unique to December, but it can be amplified then. Our expectations may be higher, our sadness deeper. A little encouragement can go a long way. Joseph, a man from Cyprus, was among the early followers of Jesus. The apostles called him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” We meet him in Acts 4:36-37 when he sold a piece of property and donated the money to help other believers in need. Later, we read that the disciples were afraid of Saul (Acts 9:26). “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles” (v. 27). Saul, later called Paul, had formerly been trying to kill the believers, but Barnabas defended him as a man transformed by Christ. All around us are people longing to be encouraged. A timely word, a phone call, or a prayer can bolster their faith in Jesus. The generosity and support of Barnabas demonstrate what it means to be a son or daughter of encouragement. That may be the greatest gift we can give to others this Christmas. —David McCasland Thank You, Lord, for the gift of encouragement. May we encourage others as they have encouraged us. Encouragement may be the greatest gift we give this Christmas. INSIGHT: When Saul of Tarsus met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he was transformed into an apostle of Christ. Needless to say, the Christian community was fearful and skeptical about Paul’s apparent change of spiritual loyalties. It is in this context that Barnabas provided a wonderful service of bridge-building. Barnabas was central to Paul’s acceptance by supporting Paul’s conversion story and accepting him as a brother in Christ. Here we see Barnabas showing a spirit of generosity and encouragement. How can you plan to be a blessing to others through an intentional act of encouragement? Dennis Fisher

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Lights

So here we are in the 12 month of the New Year starting the New Week off with these words of wisdom Read: John 8:12–20 Bible in a Year: Daniel 1–2; 1 John 4 I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.—John 8:12 Each year for several weeks around Christmas, Singapore’s tourist belt, Orchard Road, is transformed into a wonderland of lights and colors. This light-up is designed to attract tourists to spend their money at the many stores along the street during this “golden month of business.” Shoppers come to enjoy the festivities, listen to choirs sing familiar Christmas carols, and watch performers entertain. The first Christmas “light-up” ever was not created by electrical cables, glitter, and neon lights but by “the glory of the Lord [that] shone around” (Luke 2:9). No tourists saw it, just a few simple shepherds out in their field. And it was followed by an unexpected rendition of “Glory to God in the Highest” by an angelic choir (v. 14). The shepherds went to Bethlehem to see if what the angels said was true (v. 15). After they had confirmed it, they could not keep to themselves what they had heard and seen. “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child” (v. 17). Many of us have heard the Christmas story often. This Christmas, why not share the good news with others that Christ—“the light of the world”—has come (John 8:12). —C. P. Hia Lord, help me this Christmas to reflect the light of Your presence and goodness to others. Read more of the Christmas story in God of the Stable at discoveryseries.org/hp145. The gift of God’s love in us can bring light to any darkness. INSIGHT: The gospel records fall into two categories: the Synoptic gospels and the gospel of John. The “Synoptics” (which means “with a common view”) are Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Although they offer varying details to help them tell the story of Jesus in a unique way, they still have a common perspective because they often tell the same stories. John’s gospel is very distinct from the synoptics, with 92 percent unique material. One distinctive of John’s gospel is the emphasis on the themes of light and truth. John expresses the reality that Jesus is the embodiment of truth and light. Bill Crowder

Friday, December 2, 2016

Make IBDvisible for Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week

Here is our CCFA Last Newsletter for December 2016 issue as we are Celebrating Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week. Letter from our President & CEO It's difficult to adequately describe how debilitating Crohn's and colitis can be. The symptoms and complications that patients experience are, for the most part, invisible to the average eye. On their exterior, patients often don't look sick, even though on the inside they're suffering. That's why people refer to Crohn's and colitis as invisible illnesses. Today marks the start of the fifth Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week. Over the next seven days, we will be sharing resources, stories, images and more to help make IBDvisible. Each day will focus on a specific topic—such as pain, fatigue, complications and mental health—in an effort to make visible the reality of living with IBD. There are a variety of ways that you can get involved to help make IBDvisible. Visit our website to see all of the different options, and read about a few of the opportunities below. Sincerely, Michael Osso President & CEO Larry Nance, Jr.'s Story It's hard to imagine there was ever a time when Los Angeles Lakers power forward Larry Nance, Jr. didn't play sports. However, in the years before he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, Nance suffered from debilitating fatigue, which prevented him from doing anything—including practicing or playing sports. Read Nance's inspiring story about how he coped with the fatigue, and how he has blossomed as an NBA rookie in spite of this debilitating symptom. READ MORE ► Make the Call Today! We are dedicating TODAY, the first day of Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week, to IBD advocacy. You can be an advocate by participating in our National Call-In Day. Take a few minutes to call your legislators, share your IBD story with them, and encourage them to join the Congressional Crohn's & Colitis Caucus. LEARN MORE ► Let's Chat about IBD We're hosting several social media chats during Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week about different IBD topics — we hope you can join us for one! Twitter chat with Mike McCready, Pearl Jam's lead guitarist and Crohn's patient, TODAY from 5-6 p.m. EST. Tweet your questions using #IBDvisible. Facebook Live video chat about IBD and advocacy TONIGHT (December 1) from 8-9 p.m. EST Twitter Chat about mental health and IBD on December 5 from 8-9 p.m. EST. Tweet your questions using #IBDvisible. Twitter chat with Olympic gold medalist Kathleen Baker on December 7 from 2-3 p.m. EST. Tweet your questions using #IBDvisible. JOIN THE CHAT ► Join the Holiday Gift Match Your tax-deductible donation will be matched, up to $500K—and have 2X the impact on fighting IBD. Want a Quick, Easy Way to be #IBDvisible? Add our Twibbon to your social media profile picture in honor of Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week! All it takes is a few minutes, and a couple of clicks, to support our campaign. LEARN MORE ► Join Our Thunderclap Another easy way to spread the #IBDvisible message this week is through Thunderclap. Simply "donate" a Facebook message, tweet, or Tumblr post—and on December 7, all of the messages will be sent out at the same time, creating a social media "flash mob." Sign up here! LEARN MORE ► Share Your Story We want to hear about your relationship with IBD and how you're being #IBDvisible during Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week. Tell us your story—and you might see it featured on our website in the future! LEARN MORE ► Walk to Win! Take Steps is giving away an Apple Watch or Samsung smartwatch to one lucky Take Steps participant. Register for your local walk and donate $50 by the end of Awareness Week to be entered to win. Get all the details at www.cctakesteps.org/smartwatch. LEARN MORE ► Have You Seen Our Updated Advocacy Site? Check out our updates to CCFA's advocacy website, including new action alerts for 2017 and more information to help you communicate with your legislators. LEARN MORE ► December Webinar On Wednesday, December 14 at 8 p.m. EST, we'll discuss the latest advancements in IBD with gastroenterologists Dr. Eugene Yen from NorthShore University Health System and Dr. Robert McCabe from the University of Minnesota. Sign up today! SIGN UP TODAY ► CCFA provides a comprehensive database of studies, clinical trials, and other research opportunities on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Here are a few of the recently added studies: A Phase 3 Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of Vedolizumab Subcutaneous as Maintenance Therapy in Patients With Moderately to Severely Active Crohn's Disease Who Achieved Clinical Response Following Open-Label Vedolizumab Intravenous Therapy An Open-Label, Multicenter, Postmarketing, Milk-Only Lactation Study to Assess Concentration of Vedolizumab in Breast Milk of Lactating Women With Active Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn's Disease Who Are Receiving Vedolizumab Therapeutically Deciding whether to participate in a clinical trial is an important personal decision, best made with a full understanding of the drug development process and a participant's role. 7​33 Th​ird Av​en​ue, Sui​te 51​0, Ne​w Y​ork,​ N​Y 10​01​7 www.ccfa.org | 8​00-​93​2-​2​423

Quiet Conversations

So here we are in the 12 month of the New BOY! How time has flown we are ALL getting ready to head into a whole New Year but before we do let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom in this 12 month of the New Year which is December Read: Psalm 116:5–9 Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 42–44; 1 John 1 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.—Psalm 103:2 Do you ever talk to yourself? Sometimes when I’m working on a project—usually under the hood of a car—I find it helpful to think aloud, working through my options on the best way to make the repair. If someone catches me in my “conversation” it can be a little embarrassing—even though talking to ourselves is something most of us do every day. The psalmists often talked to themselves in the Psalms. The author of Psalm 116 is no exception. In verse 7 he writes, “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” Reminding himself of God’s kindness and faithfulness in the past is a practical comfort and help to him in the present. We see “conversations” like this frequently in the Psalms. In Psalm 103:1 David tells himself, “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” And in Psalm 62:5 he affirms, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” It’s good to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness and the hope we have in Him. We can follow the example of the psalmist and spend some time naming the many ways God has been good to us. As we do, we’ll be encouraged. The same God who has been faithful in the past will continue His love for us in the future. —James Banks Dear Lord, please help me to stay in touch with Your heart today by reminding myself of Your faithfulness and love. Reminding ourselves about God’s goodness can keep us filled with His peace. INSIGHT: From this marvelous passage of Scripture, we can see the truth that bringing the God of the Bible into our daily experience alters our perspective. His grace and truth is available in our ever-changing circumstances. Even in our most difficult life circumstances, He is present and available to deliver us. Although our heart may endure trauma, it can still find a place to rest through looking at the past faithfulness of God. Fear of death, emotional anguish, and the struggle for daily direction all find their remedy in the faithful care of the living God who made us. Life for God’s children should be spelled with a capital L since He energizes, directs, and protects us. Dennis Fisher