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Monday, October 30, 2017

Unraveling the Mysteries

With only two day's left in this last month of October before we head into the 11th month of the New Year as we start this New Week let us take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Psalm 119:97–104 Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 20–21; 2 Timothy 4 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.—Psalm 119:104 I have always enjoyed the wit and insight of Peanuts creator, Charles Schulz. One of my favorite cartoons drawn by him appeared in a book about young people in the church. It shows a young man holding a Bible as he tells a friend on the phone, “I think I’ve made one of the first steps toward unraveling the mysteries of the Old Testament . . . I’m starting to read it!” (Teen-Ager Is Not a Disease). Psalm 119 overflows with the writer’s hunger to understand and experience the power of God’s Word each day. “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (v. 97). This eager pursuit leads to growing wisdom, understanding, and obedience to the Lord (vv. 98–100). The Bible doesn’t contain a magic formula for “unraveling the mysteries” in its pages. The process is more than mental and requires a response to what we read. While some passages may remain puzzling to us, we can embrace those truths we clearly understand, and say to the Lord, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path” (vv. 103–104). A wonderful journey of discovery awaits us in God’s Word. —David C. McCasland Lord, thank You for the Bible, which gives us wisdom and understanding to follow Your pathway of life today. A commitment to read and follow God’s Word begins a daily journey of discovering His love and power. INSIGHT: Psalm 119 is well known as the longest chapter in the Bible. It is an acrostic psalm where each section begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This psalm praises the goodness and value of God’s law. The law is a reflection of God’s character; as we look at the law, we learn about Him. As you spend time studying God’s Word this week, reflect on what you learn about the character of God. J.R. Hudberg

Friday, October 27, 2017

God Provides

The week has come to an end we have made it to FRIDAY! with only 2 more day left in the month before we head into the 11th month of the New Year which will be November but before we do lets just STOP and take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom. Read: Deuteronomy 24:19–22 Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 12–14; 2 Timothy 1 Those who work their land will have abundant food.—Proverbs 12:11 Outside my office window, the squirrels are in a race against winter to bury their acorns in a safe, accessible place. Their commotion amuses me. An entire herd of deer can go through our back yard and not make a sound, but one squirrel sounds like an invasion. The two creatures are different in another way as well. Deer do not prepare for winter. When the snow comes they eat whatever they can find along the way (including ornamental shrubs in our yard). But squirrels would starve if they followed that example. They would be unable to find suitable food. The deer and the squirrel represent ways that God cares for us. He enables us to work and save for the future, and He meets our need when resources are scarce. As the wisdom literature teaches, God gives us seasons of plenty so that we can prepare for seasons of need (Prov. 12:11). And as Psalm 23 says, the Lord leads us through perilous places to pleasant pastures. Another way that God provides is by instructing those with plenty to share with those in need (Deut. 24:19). So when it comes to provision, the message of the Bible is this: Work while we can, save what we can, share what we can, and trust God to meet our needs. —Julie Ackerman Link Thank You, Lord, for the promise that You will meet our needs. Help us not to fear or doubt. We’re grateful that You’re watching over us and that our cries for help reach Your ear. Our needs will never exhaust God’s supply. INSIGHT: How does God provide for us? What if the source of our help comes from someone of another religion or from someone who claims no belief in God? Is their kindness still from God? Think about the children of Israel. Who helped them in their escape from Egypt? Yes, it was God and Moses. But Moses tells us that the Spirit of God prompted the Egyptian neighbors to fill the arms of the Jewish slaves with gold, silver, and clothing for their journey (Ex. 12:35-36). Looking back on that day of great escape, in Deuteronomy 24 God reminds His people of two things. To help them identify with those in need, He wanted Israel to remember that their ancestors were once impoverished slaves. The second reminder grew out of the first. The Lord reminded His people that just as they had been helped in their escape from bondage, now it was their turn. As God had met their needs through the hands of others, so it was their turn to help others in a way that gives hands and faces to the heart of our provider God. Mart DeHaan

Monday, October 23, 2017

Brother to Brother

So here we are entering into the fourth week of October almost getting ready to wrap up the 10 month of the New Year as we start this New Week lets take a moment to reflect on the GREATNESS of God and ALL that he has done for us with these words of wisdom. Read: Genesis 33:1–11 Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 1–2; 1 Timothy 3 A new command I give you: Love one another.—John 13:34 My brother and I, less than a year apart in age, were quite “competitive” growing up (translation: we fought!). Dad understood. He had brothers. Mom? Not so much. Our story could have fit in the book of Genesis, which might well be subtitled A Brief History of Sibling Rivalry. Cain and Abel (Gen. 4); Isaac and Ishmael (21:8–10); Joseph and everyone not named Benjamin (ch. 37). But for brother-to-brother animosity, it’s hard to beat Jacob and Esau. Esau’s twin brother had cheated him twice, so he wanted to kill Jacob (27:41). Decades later Jacob and Esau would reconcile (ch. 33). But the rivalry continued on in their descendants, who became the nations of Edom and Israel. When the people of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, Edom met them with threats and an army (Num. 20:14–21). Much later, as Jerusalem’s citizens fled invading forces, Edom slaughtered the refugees (Obad. 1:10–14). Happily for us, the Bible contains not just the sad account of our brokenness but the story of God’s redemption as well. Jesus changed everything, telling His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another” (John 13:34). Then He showed us what that means by dying for us. As my brother and I got older, we became close. That’s the thing with God. When we respond to the forgiveness He offers, His grace can transform our sibling rivalries into brotherly love. —Tim Gustafson Lord, we invite You to transform our relationships with Your healing love. Sibling rivalry is natural. God’s love is supernatural. INSIGHT: Over twenty “one another” statements in the New Testament call us to focus on the needs of others. We are challenged to love, pray for, serve, comfort, and forgive one another. This week, will you watch for ways to extend love and grace to others through His Spirit? Bill Crowder

Friday, October 20, 2017

When Beauty Never Ends

It's the end of a Long work and school week as we come to the end of the third week of October YES! it's FRIDAY! lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Psalm 27:1–4 Bible in a Year: Isaiah 59–61; 2 Thessalonians 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.—Psalm 63:3 I love looking at the Grand Canyon. Whenever I stand at the canyon rim I see new brushstrokes of God’s handiwork that take my breath away. Even though it’s just a (very large) “hole” in the ground, the Grand Canyon causes me to reflect on heaven. A very honest twelve-year-old asked me once, “Won’t heaven be boring? Don’t you think we’ll get tired of praising God all the time?” But if a “hole in the ground” can be so overwhelmingly beautiful we can’t stop looking at it, we can only imagine the joy of one day seeing the very Source of beauty—our loving Creator—in all of the pristine wonder of the new creation. David expressed this longing when he wrote, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord” (Ps. 27:4). There’s nothing more beautiful than the presence of God, which draws near to us on this earth as we seek Him by faith, looking forward to seeing Him face to face. On that day we’ll never tire of praising our amazing Lord, because we will never come to an end of fresh, new discoveries of His exquisite goodness and the wonders of the works of His hands. Every moment in His presence will bring a breathtaking revelation of His beauty and His love. —James Banks Beautiful Savior, please help me to seek You every day and to live even now in Your presence and Your love. We were created to enjoy God forever. INSIGHT: God is worthy of our faith, hope, and confidence; His power and presence are the foundation of many of the Old Testament stories. But sometimes life makes us question what we know. It’s hard to see these truths about God when life is hard. That’s when we need to view our experience through the lens of Scripture. David does just that in Psalm 27. Despite having been anointed king by Samuel, he is living as a vagrant and fugitive. Even though he is on the run and enemy armies are pursuing him (vv. 2-3), he is confident in the Lord (v. 3). It is just then—when David’s immediate experience suggests hopelessness—that he rests in the power and protection of the Lord. Turning his eyes away from his circumstances and toward the Lord bolstered David’s confidence. His one desire was not to be vindicated in front of his enemies, but to be in the presence of the Lord (v. 4). Turning to the Lord is what gave him confidence in the day of trouble (v. 5). Where does your experience need to be understood through the lens of Scripture? What truth about God do you need to be reminded of today? J.R. Hudberg

Monday, October 16, 2017

Room 5020

As we enter into the 3rd week of the month of October lets take some time to reflect on these words of wisdom as we start this brand New Week with Read: Genesis 50:15–20 Bible in a Year: Isaiah 47–49; 1 Thessalonians 4 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.—Genesis 50:20 Jay Bufton turned his hospital room into a lighthouse. The fifty-two-year-old husband, father, high school teacher, and coach was dying of cancer, but his room—Room 5020—became a beacon of hope for friends, family, and hospital workers. Because of his joyful attitude and strong faith, nurses wanted to be assigned to Jay. Some even came to see him during off-hours. Even as his once-athletic body was wasting away, he greeted anyone and everyone with a smile and encouragement. One friend said, “Every time I visited Jay he was upbeat, positive, and filled with hope. He was, even while looking cancer and death in the face, living out his faith.” At Jay’s funeral, one speaker noted that Room 5020 had a special meaning. He pointed to Genesis 50:20, in which Joseph says that although his brothers sold him into slavery, God turned the tables and accomplished something good: “the saving of many lives.” Cancer invaded Jay’s life, but by recognizing God’s hand at work Jay could say that “God intended it for good.” That’s why Jay could use even the ravages of cancer as an open door to tell others about Jesus. What a legacy of unwavering trust in our Savior even as death was knocking at the door! What a testimony of confidence in our good and trustworthy God! —Dave Branon Lord, difficult things come into our lives so often. Please help us to trust You enough to see that nothing is beyond Your control. Help us to tell of Your love even in the tough times. By God’s grace, we can have our best witness in the worst of times. INSIGHT: While Joseph’s story had a spectacularly happy ending, it did not come overnight. When Joseph became the primary character in the Genesis narrative, he was only seventeen years old (Gen. 37:2). After about ten years as a slave in the household of Potiphar (captain of the bodyguard, a high official in Pharaoh’s court), he had risen to a position of great trust, managing Potiphar’s household properties and affairs. However, after Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him, Joseph was imprisoned for two years (41:1). When he was set free and assigned the post of vice-chancellor of Egypt, he was thirty years old (41:46). But there were seven years of plenty followed by two years of famine (45:6) before he came face-to-face with his brothers. That means that from the time he was sold into slavery to the time of family reconciliation, twenty-two years had transpired! How does the story of Joseph help you to realize there is no circumstance beyond God’s control? For further reading see Joseph: Overcoming Life’s Challenges at discoveryseries.org/q0715. Bill Crowder

Friday, October 13, 2017

A New Name

Thank God we have made it to the end of the week YES! it's FRIDAY! lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: John 1:35–42 Bible in a Year: Isaiah 41–42; 1 Thessalonians 1 Jesus looked at him, and said, . . . “You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).—John 1:42 In the article “Leading by Naming,” Mark Labberton wrote about the power of a name. He said: “I can still feel the impact of a musical friend who one day called me ‘musical.’ No one had ever called me that. I didn’t really play an instrument. I was no soloist. Yet . . . I instantly felt known and loved. . . . [He] noticed, validated, and appreciated something deeply true about me.” Perhaps this is what Simon felt when Jesus renamed him. After Andrew was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, he immediately found his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus (John 1:41–42). Jesus peered into his soul and validated and appreciated something deeply true about Simon. Yes, Jesus saw the failure and impetuous nature that would get him into trouble. But more than that He saw the potential of Simon to become a leader in the church. Jesus named him Cephas—Aramaic for Peter—a rock (John 1:42; see Matt. 16:18). And so it is with us. God sees our pride, anger, and lack of love for others, but He also knows who we are in Christ. He calls us justified and reconciled (Rom. 5:9–10); forgiven, holy, and beloved (Col. 2:13; 3:12); chosen and faithful (Rev. 17:14). Remember how God sees you and seek to let that define who you are. —Marvin Williams Lord, thank You for knowing me fully, yet loving me like no other. Help me to see others through Your eyes. No one can steal your identity in Christ. INSIGHT: Renaming people was common in the Scriptures, for a name described something about the person. In Genesis 17:5-15 Abram is renamed Abraham. Abram, which means “exalted father,” became Abraham, “father of multitudes.” Abraham’s grandson Jacob, whose name means “heel-grabber” and “schemer,” was renamed Israel, “prince of God.” The despondent Naomi asked her neighbors to no longer call her Naomi (delightful), but Mara (bitterness) because of the hard life she had experienced (Ruth 1:20). In the New Testament, a Christ-follower named Joseph was called Barnabas by the apostles (Acts 4:36). Barnabas means “son of encouragement,” which perfectly captured this man’s interactions with other believers and with the church. What name would describe you as a follower of Christ? Bill Crowder

Monday, October 9, 2017

From Worms to War

So here we are JUMP! starting a New Week as we start this New Week lets take to heart these words of wisdom to help encourage us for what lays ahead with Read: Judges 6:11–16, 36–40 Bible in a Year: Isaiah 32–33; Colossians 1 The Lord said to [Gideon], “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” —Judges 6:23 It was ten-year-old Cleo’s first time fishing, and as he looked into the container of bait he seemed hesitant to get started. Finally he said to my husband, “Help me, I-S-O-W!” When my husband asked him what the problem was, Cleo responded, “I-S-O-W! I’m scared of worms!” His fear had made him unable to act. Fear can paralyze grown men too. Gideon must’ve been afraid when the angel of the Lord came to him as he was threshing wheat in secret, hiding from his Midianite enemies (Judg. 6:11). The angel told him he had been chosen by God to lead His people in battle (vv. 12–14). Gideon’s response? “Pardon me, my lord, . . . but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (v. 15). After being assured of the Lord’s presence, Gideon still seemed fearful and asked for signs that God would use him to save Israel as He promised (vv. 36–40). And God responded to Gideon’s requests. The Israelites were successful in battle and then enjoyed peace for forty years. We all have fears of various kinds—from worms to wars. Gideon’s story teaches us that we can be confident of this: If God asks us to do something, He’ll give us the strength and power to do it. —Anne Cetas Lord, thank You for the assurance that You are with us. To take the fear out of living, put your faith in the living God.

Friday, October 6, 2017

If I Knew Then . . .

So here we are at the end of the week YES! It is FRIDAY! I am so Thankful that we have made it to FRIDAY! lets just take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom. Read: 1 Peter 1:3–9 Bible in a Year: Isaiah 26–27; Philippians 2 In his great mercy [God] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.—1 Peter 1:3 On the way to work, I listened to the song “Dear Younger Me,” which asks: If you could go back, knowing what you know now, what would you tell your younger self? As I listened, I thought about the bits of wisdom I might give my younger, less-wise self. Most of us have thought about how we might do things differently—if only we could do it all over again. But the song illustrates that even though we have regrets from our past, all our experiences have shaped who we are. We can’t change the consequences of our choices or sin. Praise God we don’t have to carry the mistakes around with us. Because of what Jesus has done! “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”! (1 Peter 1:3). If we turn to Him in faith and sorrow for our sins, He will forgive us. On that day we’re made brand new and begin the process of being spiritually transformed (2 Cor. 5:17). It doesn’t matter what we’ve done (or haven’t done), we are forgiven because of what He’s done. We can move forward, making the most of today and anticipating a future with Him. In Christ, we’re free! —Alyson Kieda Dear Lord, I’m so thankful that through You we can be free of the burdens of the past—the mistakes, the pain, the sins—that hang so heavy. We don’t need to carry around regret or shame. We can leave them with You. For further study, read Live Free at discoveryseries.org/q0214. Leave your heavy burdens with God. INSIGHT: Imagine meeting Jesus face to face—after knowingly denying ever knowing Him. Would we tell Him we haven’t been able to forgive ourselves? Would He know our heart and understand? During the Last Supper, Peter couldn’t imagine he would deny Jesus once—let alone three times (John 13:37-38). But then the unthinkable happened (Matt. 26:69-75). Later, however, Jesus gave Peter three opportunities to express love to the One who so mercifully forgave him (John 21:15-18). In that love and forgiveness Peter found a way forward. We too can move forward from the sins of our past through the love and forgiveness of Christ. Mart DeHaan

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Perfect Prayer Partner

Welcome to the 10th month of the New Year we have entered into a New month and a New Season as we starts this New Week in the month of October lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom. Read: Romans 8:31–34 Bible in a Year: Isaiah 14–16; Ephesians 5:1–16 [Jesus] is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.—Romans 8:34 Few sounds are as beautiful as hearing someone who loves you praying for you. When you hear a friend pray for you with compassion and God-given insight, it’s a little like heaven touching earth. How good it is to know that because of God’s kindness to us our prayers can also touch heaven. Sometimes when we pray we may struggle with words and feelings of inadequacy, but Jesus taught His followers that we “should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). God’s Word shows us that one of the reasons we can do this is that Jesus Himself “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34). We never pray alone, because Jesus is praying for us. He hears us as we pray, and speaks to the Father on our behalf. We don’t have to worry about the eloquence of our words, because no one understands us like Jesus. He helps us in every way, presenting our needs before God. He also knows when the answers we ask for would not be good for us, handling every request or concern with perfect wisdom and love. Jesus is the perfect prayer partner—the friend who intercedes for us with immeasurable kindness. His prayers for us are beautiful beyond words, and should encourage us to always pray with thankfulness. —James Banks Thank You, Lord Jesus, for interceding for me with love. Help me to love and serve You with my prayers today. Visit us at ourdailybread.org/PrayerChangesThings for more resources on prayer. There’s no greater privilege than praying with Jesus. INSIGHT: From its opening affirmation to its closing declaration, Romans 8 is a powerhouse of encouragement for the follower of Christ. Today’s devotional highlights the reminder that Jesus Himself intercedes for us as we pray (v. 34). But there is even more help for us. Verse 26 tells us, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Imagine—the Son and the Spirit help us as we pray. What great reassurance that gives! Do you struggle with your prayers? Knowing that divine help is available encourages us to keep praying—even when we aren’t sure how. Bill Crowder