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Monday, September 17, 2018

Legacies of Love

So here we are in third week of September getting ready to start a New Week sometime it's GREAT to take a moment just to reflect on where you have been and where you are going take a look at these words of wisdom I hope it helps you gain a sense of awareness of the true Joys of Love Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 READ 2 TIMOTHY 1:1–5 I was paging through my great-grandmother’s Bible when a treasure fell into my lap. On a small scrap of paper, in a young child’s handwriting, were the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:3-4 kjv). Scribbled beside those verses in wobbly cursive was my mother’s signature. My great-grandmother had a habit of teaching her grandchildren to write out Scripture verses so they would learn them and take them to heart. But the story behind this verse brought tears to my eyes. My grandfather died when my mother was very young, and her little brother (my uncle) died just weeks later. It was in that tragic season that my great-grandmother pointed my mother to Jesus and the comfort only He can give. Paul wrote Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5). Faith isn’t inherited, but it is shared. Timothy’s mother and grandmother shared their faith with him, and he believed. When we encourage those close to us to have hope in Jesus, we offer them a legacy of love. Through a simple note, my mother left evidence of my great-grandmother’s love for her Savior and her family. Oh, to share Him with those who come after us! By James Banks REFLECT & PRAY When we share our faith, we share the greatest treasure of all. Thank You for those who shared Your love with me, Father. Please help me to point others to Your salvation today. SCRIPTURE INSIGHT The family language used in 2 Timothy 1:1-5 is hard to miss. In addition to the reference to “God the Father” (v. 2), other family terms are used. Paul refers to Timothy as “my dear son” (v. 2). The word translated “son” can refer to literal or spiritual offspring, the latter being the case here. Paul was a “spiritual father” who had invested in Timothy’s ministerial training and development. The family term in verse 3 is the word “ancestors,” and it refers to those from whom Paul had inherited a legacy of faith. Paul had spiritual roots (see Acts 22:1-3; 23:6; Philippians 3:5-7). Timothy’s connection to his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother Lois was not just biological. His “sincere faith” had been nurtured by these godly women. Because of the influence of these family members, Paul could write in 2 Timothy 3:14-15: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” What kind of spiritual roots are you leaving for those who will follow you? Arthur Jackson

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Ultimate Satisfaction

YES! We have made it to the end of the week OMG! YES! It's FRIDAY! as we are gearing up for the weekend lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom to help us know that God is still with us no matter what we are facing or going through in life with Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Isaiah 55:1 READ ISAIAH 55:1-7 As we distributed snacks for children at a Bible School program, we noticed a little boy who devoured his snack. Then he also ate the leftovers of the children at his table. Even after I gave him a bag of popcorn, he still wasn’t satisfied. As leaders, we were concerned as to why this little boy was so hungry. It occurred to me that we can be like that boy when it comes to our emotions. We look for ways to satisfy our deepest longings, but we never find what fully satisfies us. The prophet Isaiah invites those who are hungry and thirsty to “come, buy and eat” (Isaiah 55:1). But then he asks, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (v. 2). Isaiah is talking about more than just physical hunger here. God can satisfy our spiritual and emotional hunger through the promise of His presence. The “everlasting covenant” in verse 3 is a reminder of a promise God made to David in 2 Samuel 7:8-16. Through David’s family line, a Savior would come to reconnect people to God. Later, in John 6:35 and 7:37, Jesus extended the same invitation Isaiah gave, thus identifying Himself as the Savior foretold by Isaiah and other prophets. Hungry? God invites you to come and be filled in His presence. By Linda Washington REFLECT & PRAY Only God will satisfy our spiritual hunger. Father, I long to know You more. Only You can satisfy my deepest desires. SCRIPTURE INSIGHT Jesus’s invitation in John 7:37 echoes the call of Isaiah 55:1-7. The setting is the Feast of Tabernacles, and one of the daily rituals of the feast was designed to point to the exodus of Israel from Egypt. On each of the seven days of the feast, the priest would perform a ritual by bringing a pitcher of water to the altar and pouring it out—a reminder of God’s provision of water in the wilderness. In John 7, it’s the last day of the feast, and it appears that at the moment when the priest is pouring out the water, Jesus declares, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (v. 37). Water satisfies. It quenches thirst. It meets our deepest needs—and Jesus declares Himself to be the source of that ultimate satisfaction. In what things might you be pursuing satisfaction other than in Christ? Bill Crowder

Monday, September 10, 2018

How to Stand Firm

The weekend has come to an end and we are Jump starting the New Week in the second week of September as we take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom let these words penetrate your Soul to help you get through the rest of the week with To him who is able to keep you from stumbling. Jude 1:24 READ JUDE 1:24–25 It was a cold, icy winter’s day, and my mind was focused on getting from my warm vehicle to a warm building. The next thing I knew I was on the ground, my knees turned inward and my lower legs turned outward. Nothing was broken, but I was in pain. The pain would get worse as time went by and it would be weeks before I was whole again. Who among us hasn’t taken a spill of some sort? Wouldn’t it be nice to have something or someone to keep us on our feet all the time? While there are no guarantees of surefootedness in the physical sense, there is One who stands ready to assist us in our quest to honor Christ in this life and prepare us to stand joyfully before Him in the next. Every day we face temptations (and even false teachings) that seek to divert us, confuse us, and entangle us. Yet, it’s not ultimately through our own efforts that we remain on our feet as we walk in this world. How assuring to know that when we hold our peace when tempted to speak angrily, to opt for honesty over deceit, to choose love over hate, or to select truth over error—we experience God’s power to keep us standing (Jude 1:24). And when we appear approved before God when Christ returns, the praise that we offer now for His sustaining grace will echo throughout eternity (v. 25). By Arthur Jackson REFLECT & PRAY Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne. Edward Mote Father, thank You for Your constant care for our souls. SCRIPTURE INSIGHT Assertiveness training often includes guidelines for approaching conflict. Instead of being reactive, we are taught to calmly articulate our viewpoint while showing respect to the other person, even if they are behaving badly. In his letter to believers, Jude offers similar insights into how to respond to harmful influences, but offers a far more profound foundation. Responding to false teachers (Jude 1:4), Jude pulled no punches when it came to describing their behavior. He described them as people who lied (v. 10) and selfishly manipulated others (v. 16), concluding they were not living from the Spirit (v. 19). But after exposing the false teachers’ dangerous character, Jude didn’t suggest the believers respond by aggressively fighting against them. He suggested, instead, that they focus on their own spiritual growth. Instead of being reactive or returning evil for evil, as they grew deep roots in God’s love (vv. 20-21), they could more naturally rely on the Spirit’s leading for how to best respond (vv. 22-23). But in every situation, they could remain unshaken, anchored in the rock-solid truth of God’s love, power, and beautiful future for them (v. 24). Monica Brands

Friday, September 7, 2018

Unchanging Love

WOW! The end of the week is already here YES! it is FRIDAY! As we take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom to guide us into ALL truth with our Heavenly Father take this time to let it soak in with The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17 READ PSALM 103:13–22 When I was in high school I played on the varsity tennis team. I spent many hours of my teenage years trying to improve my skills on four concrete courts located just two blocks from my home. The last time I visited that city, one of the first things I did was drive to the tennis courts, hoping to watch others play and reminisce for a moment. But the old courts, so familiar to my memory, were nowhere to be seen. In their place was a vacant field, inhabited only by an occasional weed waving silently in the breeze. That afternoon remains in my mind as a stark reminder of the brevity of life. One of the places where I expended some of my best youthful strength no longer existed! Reflecting on that experience later brought me to this truth, expressed by an aging King David: “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him” (Psalm 103:15-17). We grow older and the world around us may change, but God’s love doesn’t. He can always be trusted to take care of those who turn to Him. By James Banks REFLECT & PRAY In our changing world, we can always depend on our unchanging God. Faithful Father, thank You for Your love that never changes! Help me to love You by serving You faithfully today. SCRIPTURE INSIGHT In the middle of Psalm 103 a potentially dark subtheme surfaces: life passes by all too quickly (vv. 15-16). As David poetically responds to this sobering awareness, we might well expect his song to become one of resignation or despondency. Yet the psalm remains joyful from beginning to end. Is David in denial? No! He frames the psalm, and his whole life, with praise to God, beginning and ending with this phrase: “Praise the Lord, my soul” (vv. 1, 22). The truth of God’s goodness provides the platform from which David’s whole life becomes a song of triumph. Our awareness that life is fleeting need not cause us to panic or sink into despair. Rather, it can remind us that our life is in God. We find joy and meaning in singing His praises. As seasons change and we sense life’s transience, what questions come to mind? Do those big questions cause us to reevaluate our priorities? Are we finding joy and fulfillment in relationship with our Creator? Tim Gustafson

Monday, September 3, 2018

Finding the Way Home

What a way to jump start the New Week on this Labor Day Wishing everyone a HAPPY LABOR DAY!as we take this time to Celebrate with Family and Friends when you get a chance to take a moment to just reflect on these words of wisdom to serve those that God placed into your life to guide them to a place of peace and light in there own lives with these words of wisdom Finding the Way Home [God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4 READ 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3–1 Sometimes this journey through life can be so difficult that we’re simply overwhelmed, and it seems there’s no end to the darkness. During such a time in our own family’s life, my wife emerged one morning from her quiet time with a new lesson learned. “I think God wants us not to forget in the light what we’re learning in this darkness.” Paul writes this same thought to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 1), after describing the terrible difficulties he and his team endured in Asia. Paul wants the Corinthians to understand how God can redeem even our darkest moments. We’re comforted, he says, so we may learn how to comfort others (v. 4). Paul and his team were learning things from God during their trials that they could use to comfort and advise the Corinthians when they faced similar difficulties. And God does that for us as well, if we’re willing to listen. He will redeem our trials by teaching us how to use what we’ve learned in them to minister to others. Are you in the darkness now? Be encouraged by Paul’s words and experience. Trust that God is right now directing your steps and that He’s also stamping His truths on your heart so you can share them with others who are in similar circumstances. You’ve been there before, and you know the way home. By Randy Kilgore REFLECT & PRAY Never forget in the light what you learn in the darkness. Father, help those who are hurting today so they may see and know Your loving presence in their darkest hours. SCRIPTURE INSIGHT The Greek word for comfort (paraklesis) means “to come alongside and help.” Jesus is called our parakletos (advocate) in 1 John 2:1. The Holy Spirit is another advocate or comforter (John 14:16-17). Paul asserts that God is “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). The triune Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is there with us in our pain. By saying God is the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (vv. 2-3), Paul reminds us that coming alongside to help each other is a family duty and privilege (v. 4). To whom can you be a parakletos—a comforter—this coming week? K. T. Sim

Friday, August 31, 2018

Call for Help

So here we are we are at the end of August getting ready to head into the 9th month of the New Year YES! September is just a day away I hope that the end of the week has brought you into a reflective moment YES! Be Thankful that you have made it to the end of the week OMG! YES! It's FRIDAY! I am going to leave yow with these words of wisdom to meditate on Read: Acts 2:14–21 Bible in a Year: Psalms 132–134; 1 Corinthians 11:17–34 Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.—Acts 2:21 After five deaths and fifty-one injuries in elevator accidents in 2016, New York City launched an ad campaign to educate people on how to stay calm and be safe. The worst cases were people who tried to save themselves when something went wrong. The best plan of action, authorities say, is simply, “Ring, relax, and wait.” New York building authorities made a commitment to respond promptly to protect people from injury and extract them from their predicament. In the book of Acts, Peter preached a sermon that addressed the error of trying to save ourselves. Luke, who wrote the book, records some remarkable events in which believers in Christ were speaking in languages they did not know (Acts 2:1-12). Peter got up to explain to his Jewish brothers and sisters that what they were witnessing was the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy (Joel 2:28-32)—the outpouring of the Spirit and a day of salvation. The blessing of the Holy Spirit was now visibly seen in those who called on Jesus for rescue from sin and its effects. Then Peter told them how this salvation is available for anyone (v. 21). Our access to God comes not through keeping the Law but through trusting Jesus as Lord and Messiah. If we are trapped in sin, we cannot save ourselves. Our only hope for being rescued is acknowledging and trusting Jesus as Lord and Messiah. —Marvin Williams Have you called on Jesus to rescue you from your sin? Rescue comes to those who call on Jesus for help. INSIGHT: Luke records the coming of the Holy Spirit in wonderfully descriptive language. For the disciples, the entire three years of walking with Jesus would have been astounding, but the last two months prior to the day of Pentecost would have been especially intense: the trial, the crucifixion, hiding in fear, the resurrection, the ascension. And it all led to the coming of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the gospel. Luke doesn’t record the reactions of the disciples, but imagine being in their sandals. As you are together with your closest friends, you hear the sound of wind—inside the house! What appears to be fire descends on you. Even with everything you have seen, the temptation to flinch would have been great. God’s presence was both terrifying and empowering. But it’s this fire that sparks the first gospel message, the message of salvation in Jesus. J.R. Hudberg

Monday, August 27, 2018

Serve Continually

WOW! I can't believe we are starting the New Week Off in the last week of August be fore we step over into the 9th month of the New Year which is September MAN! Time is moving but let's NOT get ahead of ourselves let's stay in the moment and reflect on these words of wisdom to help get us through the rest of the week with Read: Daniel 6:10–22 Bible in a Year: Psalms 120–122; 1 Corinthians 9 Has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you?—Daniel 6:20 When educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom, researching how to develop talent in young people, examined the childhoods of 120 elite performers—athletes, artists, scholars—he found that all of them had one thing in common: they had practiced intensively for long periods of time. Bloom’s research suggests that growing in any area of our lives requires discipline. In our walk with God, too, cultivating the spiritual discipline of regularly spending time with Him is one way we can grow in our trust in Him. Daniel is a good example of someone who prioritized a disciplined walk with God. As a young person, Daniel started making careful and wise decisions (1:8). He also was committed to praying regularly, “giving thanks to God” (6:10). His frequent seeking of God resulted in a life in which his faith was easily recognized by those around him. In fact, King Darius described Daniel as a “servant of the living God” (v. 20) and twice described him as a person who served God “continually” (vv. 16, 20). Like Daniel, we desperately need God. How good to know that God works in us so that we long to spend time with Him! (Philippians 2:13). So let us come every day before God, trusting that our time with Him will result in a love that will overflow more and more and in a growing knowledge and understanding of our Savior (1:9-11). —Keila Ochoa Father, I thank You for the privilege of serving You. Help me to spend regular time with You in order to grow in my knowledge of You. Time with God transforms us.

Friday, August 24, 2018

We Would See Jesus

We are getting ready to wrap up the 8th month of the New Year which is August WOW! Time is moving so FAST but before we wrap up the month of August the week has come to an end YES! It's FRIDAY! Take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: John 12:20–26 Bible in a Year: Psalms 116–118; 1 Corinthians 7:1–19 They came to Philip . . . with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”—John 12:21 As I looked down at the pulpit where I was sharing prayers at a funeral, I glimpsed a brass plaque bearing words from John 12:21: “Sir, we would see Jesus” (kjv). Yes, I thought, how fitting to consider how we saw Jesus in the woman we were celebrating with tears and smiles. Although she faced challenges and disappointments in her life, she never gave up her faith in Christ. And because God’s Spirit lived in her, we could see Jesus. John’s gospel recounts how after Jesus rode into Jerusalem (see John 12:12-16), some Greeks approached Philip, one of the disciples, asking, “Sir, . . . we would like to see Jesus” (v. 21). They were probably curious about Jesus’s healings and miracles, but as they weren’t Jewish, they weren’t allowed into the inner courts of the temple. When their request was passed along to Jesus, He announced that His hour had come to be glorified (v. 23). And by that, He meant that He would die for the sins of many. He would fulfill His mission to reach not only the Jews but the Gentiles (the “Greeks” in verse 20), and now they would see Jesus. After Jesus died, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in His followers (14:16-17). Thus as we love and serve Jesus, we see Him active in our lives. And, amazingly, those around us too can see Jesus! —Amy Boucher Pye Lord Jesus Christ, I am humbled and amazed that You would come and live in me. Help me to share this amazing gift with those I meet today. We can see Jesus in the lives of His followers. INSIGHT: At first glance, it might appear that Jesus brushes off the Greeks who requested to see Him. But characteristically, His indirect reply points to a far more profound reality. Jesus is explaining the significance of what will happen to Him later that week. First He says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23), a reference to His death and resurrection for the salvation of the world—including the Greeks. Then He uses the metaphor of wheat to describe Himself and His mission. William Hendriksen points out the significance of the kernel of wheat in the context of the approaching Passover celebration. The seed must die before it can grow into a wheat stalk, producing many more seeds that will be made into bread—bread that will be eaten at Passover. Jesus (the Bread of Life) would have to die to produce “many seeds” (v. 24). And anyone who wants to serve Jesus must hate their life in this world (v. 25)—in other words, die to self. Am I willing to die to self in order to serve the One who died for me? Will I do what is necessary to “see Jesus”? Tim Gustafson

Monday, August 20, 2018

In Progress or Completed?

Here we are starting the New Week Off in the Third week of August and Welcome back to the First Day of School for the majority of us being a Colleges Student it can get hectic around this time as we enter a New Chapter and a New Season in our Lives let's reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Hebrews 10:5–14 Bible in a Year: Psalms 105–106; 1 Corinthians 3 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.—Hebrews 10:14 It’s satisfying to finish a job. Each month, for instance, one of my job responsibilities gets moved from one category to another, from “In Progress” to “Completed.” I love clicking that “Completed” button. But last month when I clicked it, I thought, If only I could overcome rough spots in my faith so easily! It can seem like the Christian life is always in progress, never completed. Then I remembered Hebrews 10:14. It describes how Christ’s sacrifice redeems us totally. So in one important sense, that “completed button” has been pressed for us. Jesus’s death did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves: He made us acceptable in God’s eyes when we place our faith in Him. It is finished, as Jesus Himself said (John 19:30). Paradoxically, even though His sacrifice is complete and total, we spend the rest of our lives living into that spiritual reality—“being made holy,” as Hebrews’ author writes. The fact that Jesus has finished something that’s still being worked out in our lives is hard to understand. When I’m struggling spiritually, it’s encouraging to remember that Jesus’s sacrifice for me—and for you—is complete . . . even if our living it out in this life is still a work in progress. Nothing can stop His intended end from being achieved eventually: being transformed into His likeness (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). —Adam Holz Jesus, thank You for giving Your life for us. Help us trust You as we grow into followers whose lives look more and more like Yours, knowing that You are the one who makes us complete. God is at work to make us who He intends us to be. INSIGHT: The words “It’s finished!” can mean different things to different people. For the student, they might mean, “I’m finally graduating!” For the Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus, these words could mean they had succeeded in killing Jesus (John 11:53). For the Roman soldiers, it could describe the death penalty they had successfully carried out (19:16-18). For the disciples, these words could mean that their hopes of the Messiah delivering them from Roman bondage were dashed (Luke 24:19-21). But when Jesus uttered, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He was declaring He had completed the work the Father gave Him to do (17:4)—to be “an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). For more about the death and resurrection of Jesus, check out our free online course at christianuniversity.org/CA206. K. T. Sim

Friday, August 17, 2018

Jesus Reached Out

So another week has come to an end YES! It's FRIDAY! as we begin to reflect on this past week we had to over come some adversity weather it was starting college classes, work or whatever the case may be we ALL were in our emotions so take the time to FORGIVE yourself and reflect n these words of wisdom to guide you into ALL TRUTH with Read: Matthew 14:22–33 Bible in a Year: Psalms 97–99; Romans 16 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.—Matthew 14:31 Sometimes life gets busy—classes are hard, work is exhausting, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and a coffee date is on the day’s schedule. It gets to the point where I force myself to read the Bible for a few minutes a day and tell myself I’ll spend more time with God next week. But it doesn’t take long before I’m distracted, drowning in the day’s tasks, and forget to ask God for help of any kind. When Peter was walking on water toward Jesus, he quickly became distracted by the wind and waves. Like me, he began to sink (Matthew 14:29-30). But as soon as Peter cried out, “immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him” (vv. 30-31). I often feel as if I have to make it up to God after being so busy and distracted that I lose sight of Him. But that’s not how God works. As soon as we turn to Him for help, Jesus reaches out without hesitation. When we’re unsettled by the chaos of life, it’s easy to forget that God is standing in the middle of the storm with us. Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt?” (v. 31). No matter what we’re going through, He is there. He is here. Next to us at that moment, in this moment, ready to reach out and rescue us. —Julie Schwab Lord, help me to turn to You in the midst of my busyness and life’s distractions. Thank You for always being here, ready to catch me. God is waiting for us to turn to Him so He can reach out and help. INSIGHT: The fear-filled disciples who saw Jesus walking on the lake cried out, “It’s a ghost!” (Matthew 14:26). But then they worshipfully acknowledged, “Truly you are the Son of God” (v. 33). In between the collective voices of the disciples, we hear the voices of Jesus and Peter. Following the words of Jesus in verse 27, Peter spoke, “Lord, if it’s you . . . tell me to come to you on the water” (v. 28). At first glance it’s easy to interpret Peter’s “if” as implying uncertainty. An alternate rendering of the word if is since. Given Peter’s actions, it seems to me that this translation makes sense. When Jesus is the one directing us, doubt can yield to confidence. Arthur Jackson

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Gift of Time

We have start the New Week Off in the third week of August so let's continue to be Thankful for God's Grace and Mercy has we journey throughout this week YES! I know it get challenging but continue to put your TRUST in GOD with these words of wisdom Read: Luke 6:37–38 Bible in a Year: Psalms 87–88; Romans 13 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.—Proverbs 11:25 I headed into the post office in a big hurry. I had a number of things on my to-do list, but as I entered I was frustrated to find a long line backing up all the way to the door. “Hurry up and wait,” I muttered, glancing at my watch. My hand was still on the door when an elderly stranger approached me. “I can’t get this copier to work,” he said, pointing to the machine behind us. “It took my money and I don’t know what to do.” Immediately I knew what God wanted me to do. I stepped out of line and was able to fix the problem in ten minutes. The man thanked me and then left. As I turned to get back in line, it was gone. I walked straight to the service counter. My experience that day reminds me of Jesus’s words: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). My wait seemed shorter because God interrupted my hurry. By turning my eyes to others’ needs and helping me give of my time, He gave me a gift. It’s a lesson I hope to remember, next time I look at my watch. —James Banks Heavenly Father, all of the time I have is in Your hands, a gift from You. Please show me how to use it to bring glory and honor to You. Sometimes our to-do list needs to wait. INSIGHT: Time is a precious commodity that we can waste, spend, or invest. Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). In a sense, nothing more clearly requires—or displays—a heart of wisdom than the way we use our time. This may be why Jesus—pressed by the crowds, confronted by the needs around Him, and threatened by the religious establishment—is never described in the Gospels as being in a hurry. Instead, He saw time as having a part in the Father’s purposes. At the wedding feast in Galilee, He said to His mother, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). As He drew ever closer to the cross, however, He saw that time coming to culmination. In John 12:27 He affirmed, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” Living wisely is rooted in understanding that our loving Father has a purpose behind our seconds, minutes, hours, and days. Bill Crowder

Friday, August 10, 2018

A Hopeful Lament

Here we are at the end of another week YES! It is FRIDAY! so let take the time and the moment to just reflect on the Goodness of God with these words of wisdom Read: Lamentations 3:49–58 Bible in a Year: Psalms 79–80; Romans 11:1–18 I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit.—Lamentations 3:55 To visit Clifton Heritage National Park in Nassau, Bahamas, is to revisit a tragic era in history. Where the land meets the water, stone steps lead up a cliff. Slaves brought to the Bahamas by ship in the eighteenth century would ascend these steps, often leaving family behind and entering a life of inhumane treatment. At the top, there is a memorial to those slaves. Cedar trees have been carved into the shapes of women looking out to sea toward the homeland and family members they’ve lost. Each sculpture is scarred with marks of the slave captain’s whip. These sculptures of women mourning what they’ve lost remind me of the importance of recognizing the injustices and broken systems in the world, and lamenting them. Lamenting does not mean that we are without hope; rather, it’s a way of being honest with God. It should be a familiar posture for Christians; about forty percent of the Psalms are psalms of lament, and in the book of Lamentations, God’s people cry out to Him after their city has been destroyed by invaders (3:55). Lament is a legitimate response to the reality of suffering, and it engages God in the context of pain and trouble. Ultimately, lament is hopeful: when we lament what is not right, we call ourselves and others to be active in seeking change. And that’s why the sculpture garden in Nassau has been named “Genesis”—the place of lament is recognized as the place of new beginnings. —Amy Peterson We can trust God to bring something new out of our seasons of lament. INSIGHT: The prophet Jeremiah had prophesied for over forty years to a disobedient, disbelieving Judah (627-580 bc). Now in five emotionally charged “funeral laments” he writes as an eyewitness, lamenting the destruction and devastation of Jerusalem, the temple, and the people as they are forcefully exiled to Babylon. He includes the reasons why God would use the Babylonians to discipline His idolatrous people (Lamentations 1:5-8; see 1 Kings 9:6-9; Jeremiah 2:11-13, 18:15-17). For two years the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem. Jeremiah witnessed the uncensored horrors of war (2 Kings 25:1-4; Jeremiah 52:12-27; Lamentations 2:20; 4:10). But he also wrote of hope in the midst of despair (3:21-33) and of the restoration that would come (5:19-22). Jeremiah reminded the Jewish people that the Lord, who has judged Judah rightly for her sins, is the Lord of hope (3:21, 24-25), compassion (v. 22), faithfulness (v. 23), and salvation (v. 26). Jeremiah calls the people to repent and to trust in the goodness of God (vv. 25-26; 5:21). “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation,” says the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 7:10). How has this been true in your own life? K. T. Sim

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Joy of Giving

So here we are in the second week of August as we start this New Week take a moment to reflect on these word of wisdom to uide you throughout the rest of the week with Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12–24 Bible in a Year: Psalms 70–71; Romans 8:22–39 Encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.—1 Thessalonians 5:14 It was a dreary week. I had been feeling lethargic and listless, although I couldn’t figure out why. Near the end of the week, I found out that an aunt had kidney failure. I knew I had to visit her—but to be honest, I felt like postponing the visit. Still, I made my way to her place, where we had dinner, chatted, and prayed together. An hour later, I left her home feeling upbeat for the first time in days. Focusing on someone else rather than myself had somehow improved my mood. Psychologists have found that the act of giving can produce satisfaction, which comes when the giver sees the recipient’s gratitude. Some experts even believe that humans are wired to be generous! Perhaps that’s why Paul, when encouraging the church in Thessalonica to build up their faith community, urged them to “help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Earlier, he had also cited Jesus’s words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). While this was said in the context of giving financially, it applies as well to the giving of time and effort. When we give, we get an insight into how God feels. We understand why He’s so delighted to give us His love, and we share in His joy and the satisfaction of blessing others. I think I’ll be visiting my aunt again soon. —Leslie Koh Father, You have made me to give to others just as You have given to me. Teach me to give so that I can truly reflect Your character and be more like You today. The giver is the greatest recipient. INSIGHT: Do you ever feel that you’re always on the giving end? Or do you feel you’re always taking and receiving—with nothing to offer others but your own neediness? Take another look at Paul’s words to the Thessalonians. See if you can hear the wisdom of someone who knows there’s a time to give and a time to receive. If you sense that you’re receiving more than your fair share of help, does Paul give you any idea about what you have to give even while receiving? Can you see that in acknowledging graciously the hard work of those who are caring for you, God can actually use you to encourage them? If you seem to be giving to the point of exhaustion, see if you can hear any gentle wisdom here for yourself. Mart DeHaan

Friday, August 3, 2018

To My Dear Friend

We have step out of the seventh month of the New Year which was July now we are moving forward and have entered into the Eighth month of the new year Welcome to August as we have come to the end of the week lets take a moment to reflect on a New Season and a New Chapter that we are going to begin with these words of wisdom Read: 3 John Bible in a Year: Psalms 63–65; Romans 6 The elder, to my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.—3 John 1 What the apostle John did for his friend Gaius in the first century is a dying art in the twenty-first century. John wrote him a letter. One writer for the New York Times, Catherine Field, said, “Letter-writing is among our most ancient of arts. Think of letters and the mind falls on Paul of Tarsus,” for example. And we can add the apostle John. In his letter to Gaius, John included hopes for good health of body and soul, an encouraging word about Gaius’s faithfulness, and a note about his love for the church. John also spoke of a problem in the church, which he promised to address individually later. And he wrote of the value of doing good things for God’s glory. All in all, it was an encouraging and challenging letter to his friend. Digital communication may mean letter-writing on paper is fading away, but this shouldn’t stop us from encouraging others. Paul wrote letters of encouragement on parchment; we can encourage others in a variety of ways. The key is not the way we encourage others, but that we take a moment to let others know we care for them in Jesus’s name! Think of the encouragement Gaius experienced when he opened John’s letter. Could we similarly shine God’s love on our friends with a thoughtful note or an uplifting call? —Dave Branon Lord, help us know how to encourage others who need a spiritual boost from us. Encouraging words bring hope to the human spirit.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Overcoming Challenges

The weekend has come to an end and with only two days left in July before we step in to the Next chapter and the next season of our lives take a moment to just reflect on ALL that has transpired this whole month of July so as we start this New Week take these words of wisdom to heart with Read: Nehemiah 6:1–9, 15 Bible in a Year: Psalms 51–53; Romans 2 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.—Nehemiah 6:15 We gathered monthly to hold one another accountable to our individual goals. My friend Mary wanted to reupholster the seats of her dining room chairs before the year’s end. At our November meeting she wittily reported her progress from October: “It took ten months and two hours to recover my chairs.” After months of not being able to obtain the materials required, or find the quiet hours away from her demanding job and her toddler’s needs, the project took merely two hours of committed work to finish. The Lord called Nehemiah to a far greater project: to bring restoration to Jerusalem after its walls had lain in ruin for 150 years (Nehemiah 2:3-5, 12). As he led the people in the labor, they experienced mockery, attacks, distraction, and temptation to sin (4:3, 8; 6:10-12). Yet God equipped them to stand firm—resolute in their efforts—completing a daunting task in just fifty-two days. Overcoming such challenges requires much more than a personal desire or goal; Nehemiah was driven by an understanding that God appointed him to the task. His sense of purpose invigorated the people to follow his leadership despite incredible opposition. When God charges us with a task—whether to repair a relationship or share what He’s done in our lives—He gives us whatever skills and strength are necessary to continue in our effort to do what He’s asked, no matter what challenges come our way. —Kirsten Holmberg Lord, please equip me with Your strength to persevere and finish the tasks You’ve given me. May my labors bring You glory. God equips us to overcome obstacles and complete the tasks He’s given us to do. INSIGHT: What kinds of challenges have you faced? How has God helped you to overcome them? For further study on the book of Nehemiah, see christianuniversity.org/OT220.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Lavish Expressions of Love

So here we are wrapping up the fourth week of July YES! We have made it to the end of the week it's FRIDAY! lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom on how to be more generous as followers of Christ with Read: 2 Corinthians 9:6–15 Bible in a Year: Psalms 43–45; Acts 27:27–44 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.—2 Corinthians 9:11 On our wedding anniversary, my husband, Alan, gives me a large bouquet of fresh flowers. When he lost his job during a corporate restructure, I didn’t expect this extravagant display of devotion to continue. But on our nineteenth anniversary, the color-splashed blossoms greeted me from their spot on our dining room table. Because he valued continuing this annual tradition, Alan saved some money each month to ensure he’d have enough for this personal show of affection. My husband’s careful planning exhibited exuberant generosity, similar to what Paul encouraged when he addressed the Corinthian believers. The apostle complimented the church for their intentional and enthusiastic offerings (2 Corinthians 9:2, 5), reminding them that God delights in generous and cheerful givers (vv. 6-7). After all, no one gives more than our loving Provider, who’s always ready to supply all we need (vv. 8-10). We can be generous in all kinds of giving, caring for one another because the Lord meets all of our material, emotional, and spiritual needs (v. 11). As we give, we can express our gratitude for all God has given us. We can even motivate others to praise the Lord and give from all God has given them (vv. 12-13). Openhanded giving, a lavish expression of love and gratitude, can demonstrate our confidence in God’s provision for all His people. —Xochitl Dixon Lord, please help us trust Your abundant love and generosity, so we can give to others as You so faithfully give to us. Generous giving displays courageous confidence in God’s loving and faithful provision. INSIGHT: Paul reminds us that God provides for us so we can bless others (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). He quotes Psalm 112:9 to encourage generosity: “[The righteous] share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever” (nlt). In what ways can you practice cheerful, generous giving this week? K. T. Sim

Monday, July 23, 2018

Watchful Care

So we have started the New Week Off in the last week of July before we enter into the eighth month of the New Year which is August WOW! time is moving BUT lets not get ahead of ourselves lets take some time to reflect on these words of wisdom to help us get through the rest of the week with Read: Jeremiah 23:20–24 Bible in a Year: Psalms 33–34; Acts 24 “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.—Jeremiah 23:24 Before he raced out the door to school, I asked my son if he had brushed his teeth. Asking again, I reminded him of the importance of telling the truth. Unmoved by my gentle admonishment, he half-jokingly informed me that what I really needed was a security camera in the bathroom. Then I could check for myself if he had brushed his teeth and he wouldn’t be tempted to lie. While the presence of a security camera may help remind us to follow the rules, there are still places we can go unnoticed or ways we can avoid being seen. Although we may evade or trick a security camera, we fool ourselves if we think we are ever outside the gaze of God. God asks, “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” (Jeremiah 23:24). There is both an encouragement and a warning in His question. The warning is that we cannot hide from God. We can’t outrun or fool Him. Everything we do is visible to Him. The encouragement is that there is no place on earth or in the heavens where we are outside the watchful care of our heavenly Father. Even when we feel alone, God is with us. No matter where we go today, may the awareness of that truth encourage us to choose obedience to His Word and receive comfort—He watches over us. —Lisa Samra Lord Jesus, thank You that there is nowhere I can go that is outside of Your loving gaze. Knowing You see me, help me to honor You with my words and actions. We are never outside the watchful care of our heavenly Father. INSIGHT: The rich theme of God’s constant care for us we see in today’s text is also seen in the psalms. David, threatened by powerful enemies, found great comfort and strength in knowing that God knew everything about him (Psalm 139:1-6). He marveled that the omniscient, omnipotent God was always present with him. Acknowledging there was no place where he was outside of God’s provision and protection, David affirmed: “I can never get away from your presence!” (v. 7 nlt). When we realize the all-powerful God—who knows all about us—is constantly with us, it will impact how we live (vv. 23-24). The writer of Hebrews says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (4:13). Therefore, let’s be quick to run to Him for refuge for “the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). Are you hemmed in by life’s trials and troubles? Refresh yourself with knowing that God knows and He cares. K. T. Sim

Friday, July 20, 2018

Home Sweet Home

We are wrapping up the third week of July YES! We have made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! as we prepare are selves for the weekend let's take a moment to reflect on the Goodness of God with these words of wisdom Read: John 14:1–14 Bible in a Year: Psalms 26–28; Acts 22 I am going there to prepare a place for you.—John 14:2 “Why do we have to leave our home and move?” my son asked. It’s difficult to explain what a home is, especially to a five-year-old. We were leaving a house, but not our home, in the sense that home is where our loved ones are. It’s the place where we long to return after a long trip or after a full day’s work. When Jesus was in the upper room just hours before He died, He told His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1). The disciples were uncertain of their future because Jesus had predicted His death. But Jesus reassured them of His presence and reminded them they would see Him again. He told them, “My Father’s house has many rooms . . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you” (v. 2). He could have used other words to describe heaven. However, He chose words that describe not an uncomfortable or unfamiliar place but a place where Jesus, our loved One, would be. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” We can thank God for the “pleasant inns” in life, but let’s remember that our real home is in heaven where we “will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). —Keila Ochoa Dear Lord, I thank You for heaven, my eternal home. Read more about the life to come at discoveryseries.org/q1205. We look forward to being with the Lord forever.

Monday, July 16, 2018

No Co-Signer Required

We are in the third week of July as we start this New Week lets take a moment to truly reflect on Gods grace and mercy and how it has helped us get through life's challenges but with these words of wisdom it helps us go even deeper with our Heavenly Father Read: Hebrews 6:13–20 Bible in a Year: Psalms 16–17; Acts 20:1–16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said.—Hebrews 6:16 When a person without a long history of paying his or her bills on time wants to obtain a loan to purchase a home or car, lenders are often reluctant to take the financial risk. Without a track record, that person’s promise to repay what he borrows is insufficient for the bank. The would-be borrower usually resorts to finding someone who does have a history of making good on their debts, asking them to put their name on the loan too. The co-signer’s promise assures the lender the loan will be repaid. When someone makes a promise to us—whether for financial, marital, or other reasons—we expect them to keep it. We want to know that God will keep His promises too. When He promised Abraham that He would bless him and give him “many descendants” (Hebrews 6:14; see Genesis 22:17), Abraham took God at His word. As the Creator of all that exists, there is no one greater than He; only God could guarantee His own promise. Abraham had to wait for the birth of his son (Hebrews 6:15) (and never saw how innumerable his offspring would grow to be), but God proved faithful to His promise. When He promises to be with us always (13:5), to hold us securely (John 10:29), and to comfort us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), we too can trust Him to be true to His word. —Kirsten Holmberg Lord, thank You for being so trustworthy. I need no other promises but Your word. Help me to trust You more and more each day. God’s promises are sure. INSIGHT: In Hebrews 6:19, the metaphor of an anchor is used to describe the believer’s secure hope. This metaphor was a common one in Greco-Roman literature and was used to describe a person’s security and hope based on their good character. But the author of Hebrews does not describe the believer’s “anchor”—their hope (6:11-12)—as based on their own character. Instead, the author says our hope is found “behind the curtain” (v. 19)—alluding to the “holy of holies” in the temple. In the past, this was the primary place where God’s people could fully experience God’s presence. Only the high priest could enter, and only once a year. But now Jesus, the One both fully God and fully human, is our priest, the One who gives access to God. Because He has conquered sin and death, our rock-solid hope is anchored in Him. Through Christ we experience the very presence and power of God (v. 20). Monica Brands

Friday, July 13, 2018

He Knows Us

So here we are we have made it through another week YES! it is FRIDAY! with that in mind let's take a minute to rejoice that we have made it through to the end of the week with these words of wisdom Read: Psalm 139:1–14 Bible in a Year: Psalms 7–9; Acts 18 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise.—Psalm 139:1-2 Did God know about me as I drove at night on a 100-mile journey to my village? Given the condition I was in, the answer was not simple. My temperature ran high and my head ached. I prayed, “Lord, I know you are with me, but I’m in pain!” Tired and weak, I parked by the road near a small village. Ten minutes later, I heard a voice. “Hello! Do you need any help?” It was a man with his companions from the community. Their presence felt good. When they told me the name of their village, Naa mi n’yala (meaning, “The King knows about me!”), I was amazed. I had passed this community dozens of times without stopping. This time, the Lord used its name to remind me that, indeed, He, the King, was with me while I was alone on that road in my ailing condition. Encouraged, I pressed on toward the nearest clinic. God knows us thoroughly as we go about our everyday chores, at different locations and situations, no matter our condition (Psalm 139:1-4, 7-12). He does not abandon us or forget us; nor is He so busy that He neglects us. Even when we are in trouble or in difficult circumstances—“darkness” and “night” (vv. 11-12)—we are not hidden from His presence. This truth gives us such hope and assurance that we can praise the Lord who has carefully created us and leads us through life (v. 14). —Lawrence Darmani Thank You, Lord, that You always know where I am and how I am doing. You know me inside and out. I’m thankful I can count on You to care. No matter where we are, God knows about us. INSIGHT: In Psalm 139 David marvels at the Creator God. In these verses the poet-king reflects on God’s omniscience (vv. 1-6), omnipresence (vv. 7-12), and omnipotence (vv. 13-18)—clearly marking God out as distinct and above the creation He has made. This is the God who has welcomed us into relationship with Himself—and that invitation is based on His complete knowledge of who we are and how we have failed. His total awareness of our brokenness makes it all the more amazing that He desires for us to know Him. Bill Crowder

Monday, July 9, 2018

Be Still, My Soul!

So here we are in the second week of July as we start this New Week let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom with Read: Psalm 131 Bible in a Year: Job 38–40; Acts 16:1–21 I have calmed and quieted myself.—Psalm 131:2 Picture a parent poised lovingly over a child, finger gently placed in front of nose and lips softly speaking the words—“hush,” “shhhh.” The demeanor and simple words are meant to comfort and quiet anxious little ones in the midst of disappointment, discomfort, or pain. Scenes like this are universal and timeless and most of us have been on the giving or receiving end of such loving expressions. When I ponder Psalm 131:2, this is the picture that comes to mind. The language and flow of this psalm suggest that the writer, David, had experienced something that provoked serious reflection. Have you experienced a disappointment, defeat, or failure that prompted thoughtful, reflective prayer? What do you do when you are humbled by life’s circumstances? When you fail a test or lose a job or experience the end of a relationship? David poured out his heart to the Lord and in the process did a bit of honest soul-searching and inventory (Psalm 131:1). In making peace with his circumstances, he found contentment like that of a young child who was satisfied with simply being with his or her mother (v. 2). Life’s circumstances change and sometimes we are humbled. Yet we can be hopeful and content knowing that there is One who has promised to never leave or forsake us. We can trust Him fully. —Arthur Jackson Father, when things change in my life, help me not to be anxious but to trust You and find contentment in You alone. Read more: Cultivating a Heart of Contentment at discoveryseries.org/hp052. Contentment is found in Christ alone. INSIGHT: The theme of Psalm 131 is rest or spiritual contentment. Verse 2 says, “I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” This idea of rest connects to the preceding song (Psalm 130) whose theme is forgiveness. Psalm 130:4 affirms, “But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” It is forgiveness that gives us true, lasting rest because it brings us into relationship with the God who made us. This was voiced beautifully by the church father Augustine who said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Bill Crowder

Friday, July 6, 2018

Hidden Beauty

The week has come to and end YES! It's FRIDAY! after coming off the hills from celebrating 4th Of July Holiday with Family and Friends lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: 1 Samuel 16:1–7 Bible in a Year: Job 32–33; Acts 14 People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.—1 Samuel 16:7 Our children needed a little coaxing to believe that it was worth putting on snorkeling gear to peer beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea off the shore of the island of Tobago. But after they dove in, they resurfaced ecstatic, “There are thousands of fish of all different kinds! It’s so beautiful! I’ve never seen such colorful fish!” Because the surface of the water looked similar to freshwater lakes near our home, our children could have missed the beauty hidden just below the surface. When the prophet Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king, Samuel saw the oldest son, Eliab, and was impressed by his appearance. The prophet thought he had found the right man, but the Lord rejected Eliab. God reminded Samuel that He “does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). So Samuel asked if there were more sons. The youngest boy wasn’t present but caring for the family’s sheep. This son, David, was summoned and the Lord directed Samuel to anoint him. Often we look at people only on a surface level and don’t always take the time to see their inner, sometimes hidden, beauty. We don’t always value what God values. But if we take the time to peer beneath the surface, we may find great treasure. —Lisa Samra Heavenly Father, thank You for not valuing people based on outward appearances but instead by looking at our hearts. Help me to take the time to see beyond simply what my eyes can see in order to discover true and lasting beauty. God can help me to see the inner beauty in others. INSIGHT: Who taught you how to think about yourself and others? Long before Samuel looked for a king among the sons of Jesse, God was teaching His children to see below the surface of our skin. From the days of Eden, He has been showing people like us that what happens in our hearts is more important than our outward appearance. How has God’s interaction with the men and women of the Bible helped you to think about yourself and Him? Mart DeHaan

Monday, July 2, 2018

Living Out Loud

Welcome! to the seventh month of the New Year YES! It's official we have made it into the month of July as we start this New Week in a New Season let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: 1 Peter 3:8–16 Bible in a Year: Job 22–24; Acts 11 In your hearts revere Christ as Lord.—1 Peter 3:15 While staying at a hotel in Austin, Texas, I noticed a card lying on the desk in my room. It said: Welcome Our prayer is that your stay here will be restful and that your travels will be fruitful. May the Lord bless you and keep you, and make His face shine upon you. This card from the company that manages the hotel made me want to know more, so I accessed their website and read about their culture, strength, and values. In a winsome way, they seek to pursue excellence and live out their faith in the workplace. Their philosophy reminded me of Peter’s words to the followers of Jesus scattered throughout Asia Minor. He encouraged them to demonstrate their faith in Christ in the society where they lived. Even as they faced threats and persecution, Peter told them not to be afraid, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). A friend of mine calls this “living a lifestyle that demands an explanation.” No matter where we live or work, may we in God’s strength live out our faith today—always ready to reply gently and respectfully to everyone who asks the reason for our hope. —David C. McCasland May our lives cause others to ask the reason we have hope. INSIGHT: When we think of Peter, we often think of young Peter—his rash denials of Christ (John 18:17, 25, 27), his jumping out of the boat to walk on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14:22-31), or his cutting off a servant’s ear in the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:10). Yet aged Peter—mature Peter—is a much different man who wrote letters to encourage believers in Jesus. The man who called down a curse on himself as he denied Christ (Matthew 26:73-75) now writes that believers should be prepared to give an answer for their hope—something he was once unwilling to do. Such is the difference the Spirit makes in our lives. How has the Spirit been transforming you and helping you to live out your faith? J.R. Hudberg

Friday, June 29, 2018

Pictures of Love

So here we are it's FRIDAY! The last day of June we have made it to the end of the week and the end of June getting ready to head into the seventh month of the New Year which is July WOW! Boy How time is flying but let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom while we enjoy the last day of June with Read: 2 John 1:1–6 Bible in a Year: Job 14–16; Acts 9:22–43 I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.—2 John 1:5 My children and I have started a new daily practice. Every night at bedtime, we gather colored pencils and light a candle. Asking God to light our way, we get out our journals and draw or write answers to two questions: When did I show love today? and When did I withhold love today? Loving our neighbors has been an important part of the Christian life “from the beginning” (2 John 1:5). That’s what John writes in his second letter to his congregation, asking them to love one another in obedience to God (2 John 1:5-6). Love is one of John’s favorite topics throughout his letters. He says that practicing real love is one way to know that we “belong to the truth,” that we’re living in God’s presence (1 John 3:18-19). When my kids and I reflect, we find that in our lives love takes shape in simple actions: sharing an umbrella, encouraging someone who is sad, or cooking a favorite meal. The moments when we’re withholding love are equally practical: we gossip, refuse to share, or satisfy our own desires without thinking of others’ needs. Paying attention each night helps us be more aware each day, more tuned in to what the Spirit might be showing us as we walk through our lives. With the Spirit’s help, we’re learning to walk in love (2 John 1:6). —Amy Peterson Lord, let us not love just in words, but in actions and in truth. Teach us to be obedient to Your call to love. How can I show love today? INSIGHT: Love is a prominent theme in the apostle John’s writings. In today’s reading (2 John 1:1-6) John writes: “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us” (v. 4). Just as caring parents delight in the development of the gifts and character of their children, John had a father’s pride in those who walked in love. It is interesting to contemplate what John means by “walk in love” (v. 6). The Greek word translated “walk” can also mean a consistency one exhibits in speech, attitudes, and behavior. It’s clear that we’re being told to make sure the words we say, the attitudes we have toward others, and our general behavior be characterized by sensitivity and generosity. Of course, the ultimate example of love is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (1 John 4:10). We love others because Christ first loved us. Dennis Fisher

Monday, June 25, 2018

Saying Grace

As we start the New Week in the last week of June before we head into seventh month of the New Year which is July but I don't want to get ahead of myself I want to stay in the moment and reflect on Gods Goodness with these words of wisdom Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.—Colossians 3:17
For many years, I’ve enjoyed the writings of British author G. K. Chesterton. His humor and insight often cause me to chuckle and then pause for more serious contemplation. For example, he wrote, “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the play and the opera, and grace before the concert and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing; and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” It’s good for us to thank the Lord before every meal, but it shouldn’t stop there. The apostle Paul saw every activity, every endeavor as something for which we should thank God and that we should do for His glory. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). Recreation, occupation, and education are all avenues through which we can honor the Lord and express our gratefulness to Him. Paul also encouraged the believers in Colossae to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (v. 15). The best place to “say grace” is anywhere and anytime we want to give thanks to the Lord and honor Him. —David C. McCasland Thank You for Your gift of life eternal. May we acknowledge and honor You throughout this day. In all we do, let’s give thanks to God and honor Him. INSIGHT: Could anything make whatever we do better? When the apostle Paul wrote to readers in Colossae, he described an alternative to any and all attitudes that are harmful to us and others (Colossians 3:5-10). In his letter to the Philippians he uses the word whatever as he describes his personal accomplishments. Whatever he once considered gained, he now considers loss for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7). For reasons he never expected, he found a way to move on to something better than his own efforts to be seen as a good, moral, and religious person. Many of us know the story behind Paul’s change. After an unforeseen encounter with the resurrected Christ (Acts 9:1-6), he thought differently about anything and everything. Seeing the failure of his own efforts, he learned to live by the grace of God. By relying on the presence of Jesus, Paul discovered the means by which any of us can live with divine help and thankfulness in anything and everything worth doing. What will we face today that will give us a chance to see and say “grace” in whatever we encounter? Mart DeHaan

Friday, June 22, 2018

Fellowship with Jesus

We have made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! we have also just step into another Season on Yesterday we step into the First Day Of Summer so Welcome into the Second Day Of Summer now that we have enter into this New Season we have also enter into a New Chapter of our lives with these words of wisdom Read: Philippians 3:7–14 Bible in a Year: Esther 6–8; Acts 6 I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.—Philippians 3:8 I’ll never forget the time I had the privilege of sitting next to Billy Graham at a dinner. I was honored but also somewhat nervous about what would be appropriate to say. I thought it would be an interesting conversation starter to ask what he loved most about his years of ministry. Then I awkwardly started to suggest possible answers. Was it knowing presidents, kings, and queens? Or preaching the gospel to millions of people around the world? Before I had finished offering suggestions, Rev. Graham stopped me. Without hesitation he said, “It has been my fellowship with Jesus. To sense His presence, to glean His wisdom, to have Him guide and direct me—that has been my greatest joy.” I was instantly convicted and challenged. Convicted because I’m not sure that his answer would have been my answer, and challenged because I wanted it to be. That’s what Paul had in mind when he counted his greatest achievements to be of no worth compared to the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). Think of how rich life would be if Jesus and our fellowship with Him was our highest pursuit. —Joe Stowell Lord, forgive me for chasing after things that matter far less than my fellowship with You. Thank You that You stand ready to enrich my life with Your presence and power. To remain faithful where God has placed you, give Christ first place in your heart. INSIGHT: The apostle Paul’s passion to know Christ and to make Him known to others should guide our lives as well. In Philippians 3:1-14, we see how growing in our knowledge of Christ is mixed with both joy and pain: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings” (v. 10). Jesus told us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). As we grow in our relationship with Christ we can expect both joy and suffering. How has both joy and suffering deepened your fellowship with Christ? Dennis Fisher

Monday, June 18, 2018

Blessing in the Mess

The weekend has come to the end we are in the third week of June as we start this New Week lets take a moment to reflect on the week ahead with these words of wisdom Read: Genesis 28:10–22 Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 10–11; Acts 4:1–22 He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.—Philippians 1:6 I got myself into this mess, so I’d better get myself out, I sometimes find myself thinking. Although I believe in a God of grace, I’m still prone to act as if His help is available only when I deserve it. God’s first encounter with Jacob is a beautiful illustration of how untrue this is. Jacob had spent a lifetime trying to alter his destiny. He’d been born second at a time when firstborn sons typically received their father’s blessing—believed to guarantee future prosperity. So Jacob decided to do whatever it would take to get his father’s blessing anyway. Eventually, he succeeded—through deceit—obtaining the blessing intended for his brother (Genesis 27:19-29). But the price was a divided family, as Jacob fled from his furious brother (vv. 41-43). As night descended (28:11), Jacob must have felt as far from a life of blessing as ever. But it was there, leaving behind a trail of deception, that Jacob met God. God showed him he didn’t need desperate schemes to be blessed; he already was. His destiny—a purpose far greater than material prosperity (v. 14)—was held securely by the One who would never leave him (v. 15). It was a lesson Jacob would spend his whole life learning. And so will we. No matter how many regrets we carry or how distant God seems, He is still there—gently guiding us out of our mess into His blessing. —Monica Brands Lord, so often we feel trapped by our mistakes, thinking there’s no future left for us. Remind us that you are the God of Jacob, the God who will never give up on Your purposes for us. God never gives up on His love and purposes for our lives.

Friday, June 15, 2018

“Lovable!”

The week has come to an end YES! We have made it to FRIDAY! As we prepare ourselves to Celebrate Father's Day let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Jeremiah 31:1–6 Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 1–3; Acts 2:1–21 I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.—Jeremiah 31:3 “Lovable!” That exclamation came from my daughter as she got ready one morning. I didn’t know what she meant. Then she tapped her shirt, a hand-me-down from a cousin. Across the front was that word: “Lovable.” I gave her a big hug, and she smiled with pure joy. “You are lovable!” I echoed. Her smile grew even bigger, if that was possible, as she skipped away, repeating the word over and over again. I’m hardly a perfect father. But that moment was perfect. In that spontaneous, beautiful interaction, I glimpsed in my girl’s radiant face what receiving unconditional love looked like: It was a portrait of delight. She knew the word on her shirt corresponded completely with how her daddy felt about her. How many of us know in our hearts that we are loved by a Father whose affection for us is limitless? Sometimes we struggle with this truth. The Israelites did. They wondered if their trials meant God no longer loved them. But in Jeremiah 31:3, the prophet reminds them of what God said in the past: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” We too long for such unconditional love. Yet the wounds, disappointments, and mistakes we experience can make us feel anything but lovable. But God opens His arms—the arms of a perfect Father—and invites us to experience and rest in His love. —Adam Holz Lord, hard things in our lives can tempt us to believe we are unlovable. But You say otherwise. Please help us to receive the life-transforming gift of Your everlasting love for us. No one loves us like our Father. INSIGHT: Much of the book of Jeremiah deals with the prophet’s anguished appeal for God’s people to turn back to Him. Those pleas were ignored, making judgment inevitable. But God’s love is relentless, and in chapters 30-31 Jeremiah gives hope to the remnant who would live through the coming invasion. “The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness,” God said (31:2). This “favor” would show up in ways the scattered survivors likely thought no longer possible. What the invading horde destroyed, God would rebuild, causing the people to “take up [their] timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful” (v. 4). Their farmers would plant fruitful vineyards (v. 5). No longer would watchmen cry out in warning, but would instead call the people to Zion (Jerusalem) for worship (v. 6). When we begin to understand the scope of God’s love, we can accept His correction and learn from it. As we embrace His everlasting love, we find that God’s discipline is for our good and is proof that we are His children (see Hebrews 12:5-7). Do you see God as our gentle and loving heavenly Father? In what ways have you sensed His loving correction? Tim Gustafson

Monday, June 11, 2018

Advice from My Father

So has we start the New Week in the second week of June just take a moment to reflect on How God Grace and Mercy has substance you through the ups and downs of life even when you begin to reflect on some of the decision you have made weather it be right or wrong, How has the Father God come through for you on so many occasion here are some words of wisdom to help guide you through the rest of the week with Read: Proverbs 3:1–7 Bible in a Year: Ezra 1–2; John 19:23–42 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.—Proverbs 3:5 After being laid off from an editorial job, I prayed, asking for God to help me find a new one. But when weeks went by and nothing came of my attempts at networking and filling out applications, I began to pout. “Don’t You know how important it is that I have a job?” I asked God, my arms folded in protest at my seemingly unanswered prayer. When I talked to my father, who had often reminded me about believing God’s promises, about my job situation, he said, “I want you to get to the point where you trust what God says.” My father’s advice reminds me of Proverbs 3, which includes wise advice from a parent to a beloved child. This familiar passage was especially applicable to my situation: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). To “make . . . paths straight” means God will guide us toward His goals for our growth. His ultimate goal is that I become more like Him. This does not mean that the paths He chooses will be easy. But I can choose to trust that His direction and timing are ultimately for my good. Are you waiting on God for an answer? Choose to draw near to Him and trust that He will guide you. —Linda Washington Lord, thank You for guiding and caring for us every step of the way. Help us to trust in You daily. Your Father in heaven knows what’s best for you. INSIGHT: The first nine chapters of Proverbs don’t follow the same format (pithy sayings; poetry couplets) that the rest of the book follows. The beginning chapters are a father’s encouragement to his son. The father tells his son of the benefits of wisdom, of its ability to make life more pleasant and fulfilling. Wisdom and folly are personified and invite the young man to pursue them. But why is this important? It seems obvious that wisdom is better than folly, so why go to such lengths to convince a child of the need to pursue wisdom? The answer is experiential. You see, folly is the easier of the two, the more natural. As we read chapters 10-31, we see what the better choice is. But folly is far simpler to choose—it seems hardwired into us. Whether it’s a harsh word, a selfish action, or self-indulgence, folly is always ready to embrace us. That’s why the father takes such time to encourage his son to pursue wisdom. Wisdom isn’t restricted to big decisions, however; we need it for every action we take and every word we speak. How can we pursue wisdom today? J.R. Hudberg

Friday, June 8, 2018

Faces

The week has come to an end YES! we have made it to FRIDAY! as we take a moment to reflect over this week have a moment of Gratitude to have made it through this rough week with these words of wisdom Read: Galatians 5:22–26 Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 30–31; John 18:1–18 We all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory.—2 Corinthians 3:18 When our granddaughter Sarah was very young, she explained to me what happens when you die: “Only your face goes to heaven, not your body. You get a new body, but keep the same face.” Sarah’s concept of our eternal state was a child’s understanding, of course, but she did grasp an essential truth. In a sense, our faces are a visible reflection of the invisible soul. My mother used to say that an angry look might someday freeze on my face. She was wiser than she knew. A worried brow, an angry set to our mouths, a sly look in our eyes may reveal a miserable soul. On the other hand, kind eyes, a gentle look, a warm and welcoming smile—despite wrinkles, blemishes, and other disfigurements—become the marks of inner transformation. We can’t do much about the faces we were born with, but we can do something about the kind of person we’re growing into. We can pray for humility, patience, kindness, tolerance, gratefulness, forgiveness, peace, and love (Galatians 5:22-26). By God’s grace, and in His time, may you and I grow toward an inner resemblance to our Lord, a likeness reflected in a kind, old face. Thus, as English poet John Donne (1572-1631) said, age becomes “loveliest at the latest day.” —David H. Roper Lord Jesus, I want to be more like You each day. Help me to cooperate with the work You want to do in my heart. There’s nothing like the beauty of a loving heart. INSIGHT: Policemen, firemen, doctors, and nurses put on clothes that distinctively identify them. What about the Christian? What distinguishes us as followers of Jesus? Paul tells us to “clothe [ourselves] with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). Earlier in Romans Paul says, God “predestined [us] to be conformed to the image of his Son” (8:29). It was God’s intention when He saved us that we would become like His Son. Our spiritual transformation is a process, however (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Holy Spirit works in us to increasingly make us more like Christ (1 John 3:2). To be like Jesus is “to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:24 nlt). Our transformation will only be fully completed at the second coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:49-53). As you reflect on your spiritual transformation since coming to Jesus, in what areas have you seen growth? Can others say, “I can see Christ in you”? K. T. Sim

Monday, June 4, 2018

Open My Eyes

The weekend has come to an end let's just start this New week with these words of wisdom to help guide us through the rest of this week with Read: John 14:23–31 Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 21–22; John 14 The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things.—John 14:26 The first time I went to the gorgeous Chora Church in Istanbul, I was able to figure out some Bible stories from the Byzantine frescos and mosaics on the ceiling. But there was much I missed. The second time, however, I had a guide. He pointed to all the details I had previously missed, and suddenly everything made perfect sense! The first aisle, for instance, depicted the life of Jesus as recorded in the gospel of Luke. Sometimes when we read the Bible we understand the basic stories, but what about the connections—those details that weave Scripture into the one perfect story? We have Bible commentaries and study tools, yes, but we also need a guide—someone to open our eyes and help us see the wonders of God’s written revelation. Our guide is the Holy Spirit who teaches us “all things” (John 14:26). Paul wrote that He explains “spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words” (1 Corinthians 2:13). How wonderful to have the Author of the Book to show us the wonders of it! God has not only given us His written Word and His revelation but He also helps us to understand it and learn from it. So let us pray with the psalmist, saying, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18). —Keila Ochoa Dear Lord, as I read Your Word, open my eyes that I may discover the wonders of Your revelation. Study more at basics.christianuniversity.org/courses/SF105. We need God in order to understand Scripture. INSIGHT: Did you do connect-the-dot puzzles as a child? When Jesus spoke in John 14:23-31 about giving His Spirit to show His disciples all they needed to know, they couldn’t yet see the picture. What He said about love, obedience, and the Spirit who would help them put it all together were still just words. Imagine what it was like to be one of Jesus’s disciples for whom what He was saying was such a mystery and a puzzle on that Passover night. Then the Spirit came and began to reveal truth. Think about how the Spirit is now, through the Scriptures, connecting the dots for you. Mart DeHaan

Friday, June 1, 2018

Stop

So here we are it's the end of the week YES! it is FRIDAY! we have step over into the 6th month of the New Year WELCOME to the month of June with these words of wisdom Read: Psalm 46 Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 15–16; John 12:27–50 Be still, and know that I am God.—Psalm 46:10 My friend and I sat in the sand, near the ever-rhythmic ocean. As the sun sank in the distance, wave after wave curled, paused and then rippled toward our extended toes, stopping just short each time. “I love the ocean,” she smiled. “It moves so I don’t have to.” What a thought! So many of us struggle to stop. We do, do, do and go, go, go, somehow afraid that if we cease our efforts we will cease to be. Or that by stopping we will expose ourselves to the ever-present realities we work to keep at bay. In Psalm 46:8-9, God flexes His omnipotent muscles, putting His power on display. “Come and see what the Lord has done . . . . He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.” God is a busy God, who works to create calm within the chaos of our days. And then in verse 10 we read, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Of course it’s possible to know God while running here and there. But the psalmist’s invitation to cease striving beckons us into a different kind of knowing. A knowing that we can stop—and still be—because God never stops. A knowing that it is God’s power that gives us ultimate value, protection, and peace. —Elisa Morgan Dear God, help me to find my rest in You. We rest well when we’re in the loving arms and perfect will of God. INSIGHT: Psalm 46 has been a source of encouragement to many over the years—including reformer Martin Luther. In fact, he based the classic hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” on this psalm. During times of struggle “when terribly discouraged, he would turn to his co-worker, Philipp Melanchthon, and say, ‘Come, Philipp, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm’” (Ligonier Ministries, Luther and the Psalms: His Solace and Strength). This mighty fortress describes the God of strength who is our refuge. And He is also the God who calls us to find our rest in Him. In the New Testament, Jesus personalized that rest when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In the midst of the cares and despairs of life, we can stop, be still, and find refuge in God. Bill Crowder