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Monday, May 29, 2017

Let Honor Meet Honor

As we start this last New week of May on this Memorial Day Holiday lets take a Moment to reflect on these words of wisdom as we remember those that have severed and fought for our Freedom Read: Matthew 6:1–6 Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 7–9; John 11:1–29 Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.—Matthew 6:1 I’ve always been impressed by the solemn, magnificent simplicity of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at The carefully choreographed event is a moving tribute to soldiers whose names—and sacrifice—are “known but to God.” Equally moving are the private moments of steady pacing when the crowds are gone: back and forth, hour after hour, day by day, in even the worst weather. In September 2003, Hurricane Isabel was bearing down on Washington, DC, and the guards were told they could seek shelter during the worst of the storm. Surprising almost no one, the guards refused! They unselfishly stood their post to honor their fallen comrades even in the face of a hurricane. Underlying Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 6:1-6, I believe, is His desire for us to live with an unrelenting, selfless devotion to Him. The Bible calls us to good deeds and holy living, but these are to be acts of worship and obedience (vv. 4-6), not orchestrated acts for self-glorification (v. 2). The apostle Paul endorses this whole-life faithfulness when he pleads with us to make our bodies “a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1). May our private and public moments speak of our devotion and wholehearted commitment to You, Lord. —Randy Kilgore Grant me the strength this day, O Lord, to persevere, to return honor to Your name where I am serving. My desire is to give myself in selfless devotion because of Your love for me. The more we serve Christ, the less we will serve self. INSIGHT: In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), Jesus issues a warning about showcased religiosity and hypocrisy (6:1-8). After His strong caution against it, He gives us the proper motivation. Our reason to share with open hands, to raise our hands in prayer, and to fold them before an empty plate is both stated and implied. When we do these things, we do them out of love for the Father, the source of all good things, knowing He will bless our efforts. The approval of the Father is better than any praise we may receive from friends and neighbors. It is the reward from Him that we should truly and deeply desire. J.R. Hudberg

Friday, May 26, 2017

Navigating Rough Waters

Made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! as we prepare for this long Holiday weekend let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: 1 Chronicles 28:9–20 Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 28–29; John 9:24–41 Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.—1 Chronicles 28:20 I was enjoying the start of my first whitewater rafting experience—until I heard the roar of the rapids up ahead. My emotions were flooded with feelings of uncertainty, fear, and insecurity at the same time. Riding through the whitewater was a first-rate, white-knuckle experience! And then, suddenly, it was over. The guide in the back of the raft had navigated us through. I was safe—at least until the next set of rapids. Transitions in our lives can be like whitewater experiences. The inevitable leaps from one season of life to the next—college to career, changing jobs, living with parents to living alone or with a spouse, career to retirement, youth to old age—are all marked by uncertainty and insecurity. In one of the most significant transitions recorded in Old Testament history, Solomon assumed the throne from his father David. I’m sure he was filled with uncertainty about the future. His father’s advice? “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. . . . For the Lord God, my God, is with you” (1 Chron. 28:20). We’ll have our fair share of tough transitions in life. But with God in our raft we’re not alone. Keeping our eyes on the One who is navigating the rapids brings joy and security. He’s taken lots of others through before. —Joe Stowell God guides us through the rapids of change. INSIGHT: King David had desired to build God’s temple (1 Chron. 17:1), but God told him he could not because of the blood he had shed as a warrior (28:3). Instead, the privilege and responsibility for this project would fall upon the shoulders of David’s son Solomon. It is understandable that Solomon would be apprehensive about assuming this role. But his father admonished him to trust in God and do the work. Indeed, God was faithful as Solomon built the temple and took his father’s place as king. Are you facing a transition? Reflect on God’s faithfulness and ask Him for strength to carry you through. Dennis Fisher

Monday, May 22, 2017

Blink and Think of God

The weekend has come to an end and we are starting the New week with these words of wisdom Read: Deuteronomy 32:1–12 Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 16–18; John 7:28–53 He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.—Deuteronomy 32:10 “God is like an eyelid,” my friend Ryley said, and I blinked in surprise. What could she mean by that? “Tell me more,” I replied. Together, we had been studying surprising pictures of God in the Bible, things like God as a laboring mother (Isa. 42:14) or as a beekeeper (7:18), but this one was new to me. Ryley pointed me to Deuteronomy 32, where Moses praises the way God takes care of His people. Verse 10 says that God shields and protects His people, guarding them “as the apple of his eye.” But the word we translate apple, Ryley told me, literally means pupil. And what encircles and guards the pupil? The eyelid, of course! God is like the eyelid, which instinctively protects the tender eye. The eyelid guards the eye from danger, and by blinking helps remove dirt or dust. It keeps sweat out of the eye. It lubricates the eyeball, keeping it healthy. It closes, allowing rest. As I considered the picture of God as an eyelid, I couldn’t help but thank God for the many metaphors He’s given us to help us understand His love for us. When we close our eyes at night and open them in the morning, we can think of God, and praise Him for His tender protection and care for us. —Amy Peterson Thank You, God, for using surprising metaphors to help us understand You better. Thanks for guarding us just as the eyelid guards the eye. When you blink, remember to thank God for His protection. INSIGHT: Jesus Himself verifies the truth of God’s protection when He tells us not to worry about our lives: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. . . . You are worth more than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 12:1-6). In what situation do you need to remember that God protects and provides? How can you remind yourself and others of our worth in God’s eyes? J.R. Hudberg

Friday, May 19, 2017

Prepare the Child

As we prepare to close out this week let's take a moment to be Thankful that we have made it to the end of the week YES! it's FRIDAY! with these words of wisdom Read: Psalm 78:1–8 Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 7–9; John 6:22–44 We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.—Psalm 78:4 A phrase on many parenting websites says, “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.” Instead of trying to remove all obstacles and pave the way for the children in our life, we should instead equip them to deal with the difficulties they encounter on the road ahead. The psalmist wrote, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes . . . , which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children” (Ps. 78:4-6). The goal is that “they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands” (v. 7). Think of the powerful spiritual impact others had on us through what they said and how they lived. Their conversation and demonstration captured our attention and kindled a fire in us to follow Jesus just as they did. It’s a wonderful privilege and responsibility to share God’s Word and His plan for our lives with the next generation and the generations to come. No matter what lies ahead on their road through life, we want them to be prepared and equipped to face it in the strength of the Lord. —David McCasland Father in heaven, we seek Your wisdom and guidance to prepare the children we know and love to walk with You in faith. Through conversation and demonstration, help prepare children to follow the Lord on the road ahead. INSIGHT: Psalm 78 is an “historical psalm” (a psalm full of historical facts). Other historical psalms are Psalm 105-107, 114, 135, and 136. In Psalm 78 Asaph recounts key events covering 450 years of history, reminding the Jews that God has commanded them to teach their children and children’s children about Him so that future generations will love and worship Him (vv. 5-8). In His covenant with Abraham, God said Abraham was chosen for this same purpose: “so that [Abraham] will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord” (Gen. 18:19). Deuteronomy also emphasizes that parents have been entrusted with the sacred duty and divine privilege of teaching their children about God (4:9; 6:6-9; 11:19-21). Look for opportunities this week to talk with your children, grandchildren, or others in your life about God and His Word. Sim Kay Tee

Monday, May 15, 2017

Forever Flowers

As we start this 3rd New Week in the Month of May lets take a moment to reflect on the Goodness of God with these words of wisdom Read: Isaiah 40:1–8 Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 22–23; John 4:31–54 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.—Isaiah 40:8 As a toddler, my son Xavier enjoyed giving me flowers. I appreciated every freshly picked weed or store-bought blossom he purchased with his dad. I treasured each gift until it wilted and had to be thrown away. One day, Xavier gave me a beautiful bouquet of artificial flowers. He grinned as he arranged the silk white calla lily, yellow sunflower, and purple hydrangea in a glass vase. “Look, Mommy,” he said. “They’ll last forever. That’s how much I love you.” Since then, my boy has grown into a young man. Those silk petals have frayed. The colors have faded. Still, the Forever Flowers remind me of his adoration. And there is something else it brings to mind—one thing that truly stands forever—the limitless and lasting love of God, as revealed in His infallible and enduring Word (Isa. 40:8). As the Israelites faced continual trials, Isaiah comforted them with confidence in God’s enduring words (40:1). He proclaimed that God paid the debt caused by the Israelites’ sin (v. 2), securing their hope in the coming Messiah (vv. 3-5). They trusted the prophet because his focus remained on God rather than their circumstances. In a world filled with uncertainties and affliction, the opinions of man and even our own feelings are ever-shifting and as limited as our mortality (vv. 6-7). Still, we can trust God’s unchanging love and character as revealed through His constant and eternally true Word. —Xochitl Dixon God affirms His love through His dependable and unchanging Word, which endures now and forevermore. INSIGHT: The Bible has changed lives in each generation that has read it. The apostle Paul told us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). This means that the inspired words did not come merely from human authors but from the Holy Spirit of God who guided what they wrote. As Peter told us, “Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The word that translates as our English phrase “carried along” actually refers to the wind blowing along a sailing ship. Scripture could not have been written without the gracious guidance of a Divine Author, the Holy Spirit. How does knowing that all Scripture is inspired by God—who does not change—comfort you? Dennis Fisher

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Advocate

Made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! but before we head into the weekend lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: John 16:7–15 Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 15–16; John 3:1–18 When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.—John 16:13 As I boarded the airplane to study in a city a thousand miles from home, I felt nervous and alone. But during the flight, I remembered how Jesus promised His disciples the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’s friends must have felt bewildered when He told them, “It is for your good that I am going away” (John 16:7). How could they who witnessed His miracles and learned from His teaching be better off without Him? But Jesus told them that if He left, then the Advocate—the Holy Spirit—would come. Jesus, nearing His last hours on earth, shared with His disciples (in John 14-17, today known as the “Farewell Discourse”) to help them understand His death and ascension. Central in this conversation was the coming Holy Spirit, an advocate who would be with them (14:16-17), teaching (15:15), testifying (v. 26), and guiding them (16:13). We who have accepted God’s offer of new life have been given this gift of His Spirit living within us. From Him we receive so much: He convicts us of our sins and helps us to repent. He brings us comfort when we ache, strength to bear hardships, wisdom to understand God’s teaching, hope and faith to believe, love to share. We can rejoice that Jesus sent us the Advocate. —Amy Boucher Pye Heavenly Father, You sent Your Son to save us and Your Spirit to comfort and convict us. May we bring You glory as we thank You for Your goodness and love. The Holy Spirit fills Jesus’s followers. INSIGHT: When Jesus comforts His disciples before His impending crucifixion and eventual ascension (going back to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father), Jesus says He must go away so the Holy Spirit will come. The disciples didn’t know the Holy Spirit, so how would His coming comfort them? Jesus offers the answer. The Spirit will continue what Jesus started. He will bring conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He will speak to the disciples not simply on behalf of Jesus, but He will speak to them the very words Jesus speaks (John 16:13-15). The Spirit would be with them in a way that Jesus couldn’t be. No matter where each of them went, together or separately, the Spirit—and therefore Jesus Himself—would be with them. For more on the Holy Spirit read Filled with the Spirit at discoveryseries.org/q0301. J.R. Hudberg

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Burden of Waiting

As we are starting this New Week OFF! with these words of wisdom take a moment just to reflect on ALL that God has done for you with these words of encouragement Read: Psalm 90 Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 4–6; Luke 24:36–53 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.—Psalm 90:12 Over the last few years, two members of my family have faced life-threatening diagnoses. For me, the hardest part of supporting them through their treatments has been the constant uncertainty. I am always desperate for a definitive word from a doctor, but things are rarely that straightforward. Instead of being given clarity, we are often asked to wait. It’s hard to bear the burden of uncertainty, always wondering what the next test will reveal. Will we have weeks, months, years, or decades before death separates us? But regardless of disease and diagnosis, each of us will die one day—things like cancer just bring our mortality to the forefront instead of letting it hide in the recesses of our minds. Faced with sobering reminders of our mortality, I find myself praying words that Moses once prayed. Psalm 90 tells us that though our lives are like grass that withers and fades (vv. 5-6), we have an eternal home with God (v. 1). Like Moses, we can ask God to teach us to number our days so we can make wise decisions (v. 12), and to make our brief lives fruitful by making what we do for Him count (v. 17). Ultimately, the psalm reminds us that our hope is not in a doctor’s diagnosis, but in a God who is “from everlasting to everlasting.” —Amy Peterson How can we best spend the time we’ve been given? Share your thoughts with us at odb.org. We can face the reality of our own mortality because we trust in God.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Ministry of Memory

The week has come to an end It's FRIDAY! YES! here are some words of wisdom to help us reflect on ALL that GOD has done for us Read: Jeremiah 29:4–14 Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 19–20; Luke 23:1–25 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”—Jeremiah 29:11 Our experiences of loss and disappointment may leave us feeling angry, guilty, and confused. Whether our choices have closed some doors that will never reopen or, through no fault of our own, tragedy has invaded our lives, the result is often what Oswald Chambers called “the unfathomable sadness of ‘the might have been.’ ” We may try to suppress the painful memory, but discover we can’t. Chambers reminds us that the Lord is still active in our lives. “Never be afraid when God brings back the past,” he said. “Let memory have its way. It is a minister of God with its rebuke and chastisement and sorrow. God will turn the ‘might have been’ into a wonderful [place of growth] for the future.” In Old Testament days when God sent the people of Israel into exile in Babylon, He told them to serve Him in that foreign land and grow in faith until He brought them back to their home. “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (Jer. 29:11). God urged them not to ignore or be trapped by events of the past but instead to focus on Him and look ahead. The Lord’s forgiveness can transform the memory of our sorrow into confidence in His everlasting love. —David McCasland Father, thank You for Your plans for us, and for the future that awaits us in Your love. For more insight from Oswald Chambers, visit utmost.org. God can use our deepest disappointments to nurture our faith in Him. INSIGHT: What is one past sorrow that you find great difficulty in letting go? How does God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11-14 comfort and encourage you as you turn your pain over to the Lord? Sim Kay Tee

Monday, May 1, 2017

Questions for God

Welcome to the 5th month of the New Year YES! we are starting this New Week of in the month of May as we JUMP start this New week with these words of wisdom be Grateful to enter into a New Month in a New Year Read: Judges 6:11–16, 24 Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 10–11; Luke 21:20–38 Go with the strength you have . . . . I will be with you. nlt—Judges 6:14, 16 What would you do if the Lord showed up in the middle of your workday with a message? This happened to Gideon, one of the ancient Israelites. “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’ ” Gideon could have responded with a wordless nod and gulp, but instead he said, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judg. 6:12-13 nlt). Gideon wanted to know why it seemed as if God had abandoned His people. God didn’t answer that question. After Gideon had endured seven years of enemy attacks, starvation, and hiding in caves, God didn’t explain why He never intervened. God could have revealed Israel’s past sin as the reason, but instead He gave Gideon hope for the future. God said, “Go with the strength you have . . . . I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites” (vv.14, 16 nlt). Do you ever wonder why God has allowed suffering in your life? Instead of answering that specific question, God may satisfy you with His nearness today and remind you that you can rely on His strength when you feel weak. When Gideon finally believed that God was with him and would help him, he built an altar and called it “The Lord Is Peace” (v. 24). There is peace in knowing that whatever we do and wherever we go, we go with God who promised never to leave or forsake His followers. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt For help, read Why? Seeing God in Our Pain at discoveryseries.org/cb151. What could be better than getting answers to our why questions? Trusting a good and powerful God. INSIGHT: Today’s text provides some insight into how we should view situations for which we feel inadequate. Gideon did not feel prepared to go into battle against the Midianites who were oppressing Israel. Responding to Gideon’s understandable concern, God sent the angel of the Lord to encourage him. He said that Gideon should “go in the strength” he had (Judg. 6:14), but he also said, “I will be with you” (v. 16). When God calls us to take on a difficult task, we can rely on His strength and power to help us accomplish it.Are you facing a situation for which you feel inadequate? Ask God for His strength to help you. J.R. Hudberg