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Friday, December 14, 2018

Heaven’s Love Song

We have come to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! as we take this time to reflect on the Goodness of God and ALL that he has done for us with these words of wisdom We love him because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 READ REVELATION 5:1–13 In 1936, songwriter Billy Hill released a popular hit song titled “The Glory of Love.” Before long a nation was singing about the joy of doing even little things out of love for one another. Fifty years later, lyricist Peter Cetera wrote a more romantic song with a similar title. He imagined two people living forever, knowing together they did it all—for the glory of love. Revelation, the last book in the Bible, describes a new love song that will someday lift the voices of everyone in heaven and earth (Revelation 5:9, 13). The music begins, however, in a minor key of mourning. John, our narrator, cries, seeing no answer to all that has gone wrong with the world (vv. 3-4). But his mood brightens and the music builds to a crescendo (vv. 12-13) as John learns the real glory and story of love. Soon he hears all creation praising the powerful Lion-King of Judah (v. 5), who has won the hearts of His subjects by lovingly sacrificing Himself, like a Lamb, for our rescue (v. 13). In the most moving lyrics ever sung, we see why even simple acts of kindness rise on the wings of a song. The glory we sing about reflects the heart of our God. We sing about Him because He gave us our song. By Mart DeHaan REFLECT & PRAY In what ways can you thank God today through simple acts of kindness? Father, please help us to see that even the smallest acts of love and kindness can remind us of Your love for us. INSIGHT A repeated word in today’s passage is worthy (vv. 2, 4, 9, 12), which is used to describe Jesus. But what does worthy mean? While a dictionary definition is helpful, the passage itself defines it. First, Jesus is worthy because He has triumphed (v. 5) and can therefore open the scroll and break the seals. But John goes on to describe how He has triumphed. Jesus is worthy because He has triumphed by being slain and purchasing people with His blood (v. 9). J.R. Hudberg

Monday, December 10, 2018

“The Lord’s”

The weekend has come to an end and we jump-starting a New week with these words of wisdom to help us get through the rest of this week take a moment to reflect on just how AWESOME! God is in your life with these words The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:16 READ ISAIAH 44:1–5 It doesn’t take much to notice that getting “inked” is very popular these days. Some tattoos are so small that one barely notices them. Others—from athletes to actors to everyday people—have opted to cover much of their bodies with multicolored inks, words, and designs. The trend seems like it’s here to stay, a trend that netted $3 billion in revenue in 2014—and an additional $66 million for tattoo removal. Regardless of how you may feel about tattoos, Isaiah 44 speaks metaphorically about people writing something on their hands: “The Lord’s” (v. 5). This “self-tattoo” is the climax of an entire paragraph that speaks of the Lord’s care for those He had chosen (v. 1). They could count on His help (v. 2); their land and descendants were marked for blessing (v. 3). Two simple, powerful words, “The Lord’s,” affirmed that God’s people knew they were His possession and that He would take care of them. Those who come to God through faith in Jesus Christ can confidently say of themselves, “The Lord’s!” We are His people, His sheep, His offspring, His inheritance, His dwelling. These are the things we cling to in the varied seasons of life. While we may have no external mark or tattoo, we can take heart that we have the witness of God’s Spirit in our hearts that we belong to Him (see Romans 8:16-17). By Arthur Jackson REFLECT & PRAY How can the truth that you belong to God impact how you live? Father, the expressions of Your love and care are all around me and Your Spirit lives within me. Thank You! INSIGHT Isaiah was the most prolific of the writing prophets, but the great size of his book is eclipsed in importance by its content. Commentator John Gill wrote: “He should rather be called an evangelist than a prophet . . . certain it is that no one writes so fully and clearly of the person, offices, grace, and kingdom of Christ; of his incarnation and birth of a virgin; of his sufferings and death, and the glory that should follow, as [Isaiah] does.” Isaiah’s focus on Messiah and His mission was vital to preparing the way for Christ’s coming, for it provided Israel with critical identifiers of Christ and certain hope in His promised victory. For more on Isaiah, check out Knowing God Through Isaiah at discoveryseries.org/sb151. Bill Crowder

Friday, December 7, 2018

God’s Hidden Hand

YES! We have made it to the end of the week it's FRIDAY! as we take a look back at where you have brought us from let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom to guide us All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16 READ PSALM 139:13–18 My friend was adopted by a missionary couple from the United States and grew up in Ghana. After his family moved back to the US, he began college but had to drop out. Later, he signed on with the military, which eventually helped him pay for college and took him all over the world. Through it all, God was at work, preparing him for a special role. Today, he writes and edits Christian literature that ministers to an international audience. His wife also has an interesting story. She failed her chemistry exams during her first year of college due to the strong medication she had to take for epilepsy. After some careful deliberation, she switched from studying science to studying American Sign Language, which had a more manageable workload. Reflecting on that experience, she says, “God was redirecting my life for a greater purpose.” Today, she is making His life-changing Word accessible to the hearing-impaired. Do you sometimes wonder where God is leading you? Psalm 139:16 acknowledges God’s sovereign hand in our lives: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” We don’t know how God will use the circumstances of our life, but we can rest in the knowledge that God knows everything about us and is directing our footsteps. Though His sovereign hand may seem hidden, He’s never absent. By Poh Fang Chia REFLECT & PRAY What steps can you take to discern God’s leading or to act on His call for your life? Dear Lord, help me to trust You even when I don’t understand. INSIGHT David wrote Psalm 139 to worship God, but he also gave us a primer in theology proper—the study of the person of God. He does this by focusing on three of God’s character qualities, what theologians call “attributes.” In verse 1, David points out God’s omniscience—that He is all-knowing: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” He then moves to God’s omnipresence—that God is everywhere present at once: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (v. 7). Then the psalmist moves to God’s omnipotence—that there is no limit to His power—which is evidenced in how He forms us: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (v. 13). For more on Psalm 139, listen to the Discover the Word programs “Search Me” at discovertheword.org/series/search-me-2/. Bill Crowder

Monday, December 3, 2018

Thanks for Being You!

WOW! I can't believe it We are starting the new week out in the 12th month of the New Year Welcome to December as we take the time to reflect over 2018 with a true heart of Thankfulness let's take the remainder of this month to focus ourselves more into what God has in store for us in 2019 with these words of wisdom Enter his gates with thanksgiving. Psalm 100:4 READ PSALM 100 When I served as my mom’s live-in caregiver at a cancer center, I got to know Lori, another caregiver who lived down the hallway from us with her husband, Frank. I would chat, laugh, vent, cry, and pray with Lori in the shared living areas. We enjoyed supporting each other as we cared for our loved ones. One day, I missed the free shuttle that took residents to buy groceries. Lori offered to drive me to the store later that evening. With grateful tears, I accepted her offer. “Thanks for being you,” I said. I truly appreciated her for who she was as a person, not just for what she did for me as a friend. Psalm 100 demonstrates an appreciation of God for who He is, not simply for all He does. The psalmist invites “all the earth” (v. 1) to “worship the Lord with gladness” (v. 2), being confident in knowing “the Lord is God” (v. 3). Our Maker invites us into His presence to “give thanks to him and praise his name” (v. 4). Yes, the Lord remains worthy of our ongoing thankfulness because He “is good,” His “love endures forever,” and His “faithfulness continues through all generations” (v. 5). God will always be the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and our intimately loving Father. He deserves our genuine joy-filled gratitude. By Xochitl Dixon REFLECT & PRAY Who can you share God’s love with today? Lord, thanks for being You! INSIGHT Psalm 100 echoes the words of Psalm 95. Both begin with an appeal to shout for joy and together call for a resounding celebration in song to the God of gods, Yahweh. This personal name of Israel’s God is translated in English versions as Lord. But beyond their similarities, the two songs tell a different story. While Psalm 95 attempts to rouse a nation that has lost its joy (vv. 7-11), Psalm 100 invites the whole earth to erupt in shouts of praise and songs of mirth. At least fourteen times the songwriter of Psalm 100 points to this God of gods by name or pronoun. With every line the psalmist invites people of all nations to enter into the presence of One who is infinitely more to be praised than was seen in the lagging joy of His dearly loved and chosen people. Mart DeHaan

Friday, November 30, 2018

Honoring God with Thanks

So here we are we have made it to the end of the week on the last day of November before we head into the 12th month of the New Year which is December YES! we are getting ready to close out 2018 but before we do take a moment to reflect on ALL that has transpired throughout 2018 Thank God for ALL that he has done in your life how he has carried you throughout seen an unseen dangers with these words of wisdom Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:15 READ PSALM 50:8–15 The doctor wasn’t frowning, despite talking to my husband about his recent cancer diagnosis. Smiling, she offered a suggestion: start each day by giving thanks. “For at least three things,” the doctor said. Dan agreed, knowing that gratitude opens our hearts to find encouragement in God’s goodness. Thus, Dan starts each day with words of praise. Thank You, God, for a good night’s sleep. For my clean bed. For sunshine. For breakfast on the table. For a smile on my lips. Each word is heartfelt. But could it sound trivial? Does our praise in life’s small details matter to Almighty God? In Psalm 50, David’s chief musician, Asaph, offers a clear answer. God has “no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens” (v. 9). Instead of these once-formal Israelite sacrifices of gratitude, God wants His people to give Him our hearts and lives in gratitude (vv. 14, 23). As my husband experienced, whole-hearted gratitude helps our spirits flourish. Then when we call on the Lord “in the day of trouble,” He will “deliver” us (v. 15). Does this mean Dan will be healed, spiritually and physically, during his two-year treatment? Or not until after this lifetime? We don’t know. But for now, Dan delights in showing God he’s grateful for His love, and for who God is: Redeemer. Healer. Friend. And friends delight to hear these beautiful words: Thank You. By Patricia Raybon REFLECT & PRAY My gratitude to God is great to Him. What verses bring you comfort in trials? Share at Facebook.com/ourdailybread. INSIGHT The legal language and setting in Psalm 50 are hard to miss. A universal summons is issued by God (v. 1) and the purpose of the gathering is clear—the judgment of His people (v. 4). In a manner reminiscent of the giving of the Law (Exodus 19:16-19), the Lord makes His grand entry (Psalm 50:2-3) as the righteous and just judge (v. 6). However, “judge” is not His only role; He is also witness (v. 7) and plaintiff (v. 8). Two groups of defendants enter the Lord’s courtroom and the Judge has indictments that match the transgressions of each group. The Lord’s charges against the first group (vv. 7-15) concerned their worship. Though a formal worship system was in place, the kind of worship the Lord desired was missing. Spiritual worship that included “thanksgiving” mattered to the Lord more than the flesh and blood of animals. The charges against the second group (vv. 16-23) concerned their hypocrisy. Though they were able to recite words that came from God, their actions demonstrated their hearts were far from Him (vv. 17-21). As with the first group, the Lord’s corrective included the reminder that “thank offerings” really matter to Him (v. 23). Arthur Jackson

Friday, November 23, 2018

A Mother’s Love

As we are coming to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY but still in the attitude and Celebratory Thanksgiving mood lets take a moment to reflect and truly give Thanks to God for ALL he doing in our lives with these words of wisdom. Hope everyone Thanksgiving was filled with LOVE, JOY, PEACE LAUGHTER, and BLESSINGS He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. Psalm 91:15 READ PSALM 91:1–6 When Sue’s parents divorced when she was young, the legal tussle over her custody and other matters resulted in her being sent to a children’s home for a while. Bullied by bigger kids, she felt lonely and abandoned. Her mother visited only once a month, and she hardly saw her father. It was only years later, however, that her mother told her that while the home’s rules prevented her from visiting more often, she had stood at the fence every single day, hoping to catch a glimpse of her daughter. “Sometimes,” she said, “I would just watch you playing in the garden, just to check if you were okay.” When Sue shared this story, it gave me a glimpse of God’s love. Sometimes we may feel abandoned and alone in our struggles. How comforting it is to know that God is in fact watching over us all the time! (Psalm 33:18). Even though we can’t see Him, He is there. Like a loving parent, His eyes and His heart are constantly on us wherever we go. Yet, unlike Sue’s mom, He can act on our behalf at any time. Psalm 91 describes God delivering, protecting, and lifting up His children. He is more than a refuge and a shelter. As we navigate the dark valleys of life, we can take comfort in the knowledge that the all-powerful Lord is watching over us and is active in our lives. “I will answer [you],” He declares. “I will be with [you] in trouble, I will deliver [you]” (v. 15). By Leslie Koh REFLECT & PRAY Our heavenly Father is ever near. Lord, thank You for the assurance that we’re always under Your watchful care. INSIGHT Psalm 91 celebrates the safety and security of those who trust in God, who have made the Lord (the Most High) their refuge, fortress, and dwelling place (vv. 2, 9). The psalmist affirms that our God is powerful and faithful and therefore trustworthy (vv. 1-8). He also testifies of God’s protection and deliverance in a dangerous and destructive world (vv. 9-16). In the New Testament, Satan misquoted verses 11-12 to tempt Jesus to test God’s protection by jumping from the top of the temple (Matthew 4:6). In response, Jesus says that God’s promise is for those who love and obey Him (Psalm 91:14-15) and not for those who presume upon God’s grace (Matthew 4:7). K. T. Sim

Monday, November 19, 2018

Hard Conversations

The weekend has come to an end and we are starting a New Week as we are gearing up to spend time with Family and Friends this Thanksgiving let's take a moment to truly be Thankful for ALL that God has done in our lives with these words of wisdom If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 READ 1 SAMUEL 25:21–35 I once drove fifty miles to have a hard conversation with a remote staff person. I had received a report from another employee that suggested he was misrepresenting our company, and I was concerned for our reputation. I felt nudged to offer an opinion that might change his choices. In 1 Samuel 25, an unlikely person took great personal risk to confront a future king of Israel who was about to make a disastrous choice. Abigail was married to Nabal, whose character matched the meaning of his name (“fool”) (vv. 3, 25). Nabal had refused to pay David and his troops the customary wage for protecting his livestock (vv. 10-11). Hearing that David planned a murderous revenge on her household, and knowing her foolish husband wouldn’t listen to reason, Abigail prepared a peace offering, rode to meet David, and persuaded him to reconsider (vv. 18-31). How did Abigail accomplish this? After sending ahead donkeys loaded with food to satisfy David and his men and settle the debt, she spoke truth to David. She wisely reminded David of God’s call on his life. If he resisted his desire for revenge, when God made him king, he wouldn’t “have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed” (v. 31). You might also know someone dangerously close to a mistake that could harm others and compromise their own future effectiveness for God. Like Abigail, might God be calling you to a hard conversation? By Elisa Morgan REFLECT & PRAY Sometimes following God means difficult conversations. Dear God, please help me know when to lovingly confront others.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Thanks for Who God Is

Another week has come an gone YES! We have made it to the end of the week it's FRIDAY! with the weekend around the corner take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Let us come before him with thanksgiving . . . for the Lord is the great God. Psalm 95:2-3 READ PSALM 95:1–7 Among the thousands of sentiments printed on greeting cards, perhaps one of the most touching is this simple statement: “Thanks for being you.” If you receive that card, you know that someone cares for you not because you did something spectacular for that person but because you’re appreciated for your essence. I wonder if this kind of sentiment might indicate for us one of the best ways to say “thank you” to God. Sure, there are times when God intervenes in our lives in a tangible way, and we say something like, “Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to get that job.” But most often, we can simply say, “Thank You, God, for being who You are.” That’s what’s behind verses like 1 Chronicles 16:34: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Thank You, God, for who You are—good and loving. And Psalm 7:17: “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness.” Thank You, God, for who You are—the holy One. And “Let us come before him with thanksgiving . . . for the Lord is the great God” (Psalm 95:2-3). Thank You, God, for who You are—the Almighty God of the universe. Who God is. That’s reason enough for us to stop what we’re doing and praise and thank Him. Thank You, God, for just being You! By Dave Branon REFLECT & PRAY There are countless reasons to thank God, including for who He is! Thank You, dear God, for being who You are—the Almighty God who loves us and welcomes our love in return. Thank You for everything that makes You magnificent. We stand in awe of You as we praise You with word and song. INSIGHT In Psalm 95, the psalmist is transfixed by the wonder of the Creator and Redeemer he loves. God is the “Rock of our salvation”; nothing can remove the sure foundation His love has laid out for us (v. 1). Even though the psalmist knows there’s only one God, because of the polytheistic culture in which he lives he exclaims that his God is far above any other objects of worship (v. 3). The wonder of the Creator drives the psalmist to invite all believers to bow down in adoration and to realize that like sheep we are under a loving Shepherd’s care. How can you praise the Lord for His marvelous creation and infinite love? Dennis Fisher

Monday, November 12, 2018

Who’s Driving?

So as we start the New Week Off in the third week of November it's always good to just stop a take a moment to just be Thankful to God for ALL that he did in your life with these words of wisdom Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 READ ROMANS 6:1–14 My neighbor Tim has a figurine on his dashboard of a “wild thing” based on Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. Not long ago Tim was following me through traffic and made some abrupt moves to keep up. When we arrived, I asked, “Was that the ‘wild thing’ driving?” The following Sunday I forgot my sermon notes at home. I “flew” out of the church to retrieve them, passing Tim along the way. When we met later, he joked, “Was that the wild thing driving?” We laughed, but his point hit home—I should have paid attention to the speed limit. When the Bible describes what it means to live in a relationship with God, it encourages us to “offer every part of [ourselves]” to Him (Romans 6:13). I took Tim’s response to me that day as a gentle reminder from God to yield my “lead foot,” because I am to give all of myself to Him out of love. The question of “who’s driving?” applies to all of life. Do we let the “wild things” of our old sin nature drive us—like worry, fear, or self-will—or do we yield to God’s loving Spirit and the grace that helps us grow? Giving in to God is good for us. Scripture says that God’s wisdom takes us down “pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17). Better to follow where He leads. By James Banks REFLECT & PRAY What God requires He also inspires. Loving Lord, thank You for the grace You give us to obey You, and the peace You give us as we stay near. INSIGHT Paul dismisses the notion that God’s grace permits us to do whatever we want. In fact, he finds the idea preposterous (Romans 6:2). God’s grace frees us to choose life in Him. That’s why Paul says, “Offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness” (v. 13). Today, what do I need to offer to God? Tim Gustafson

Friday, November 9, 2018

What We Can Do

YES! We have made it to the end of the week yep it's FRIDAY! Just take a moment a begin to reflect on the GREATNESS of God and all of the wonderful things he is doing in you and through you with these words of wisdom In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5 READ PHILIPPIANS 2:1–11 Even though confined to his bed, 92-year-old Morrie Boogaart knit hats for the homeless in Michigan. He had reportedly made more than 8,000 hats in fifteen years. Instead of focusing on his health or limitations, Mr. Boogaart looked beyond himself and did what he could to place the needs of others above his own. He declared that his work made him feel good and gave him a purpose. He said, “I’m going to do this until I go home to the Lord”—which happened in February 2018. Though most recipients of his hats won’t know his story or how much he sacrificed to create each cap, Morrie’s simple act of persevering love is now inspiring people across the world. We too can look past our struggles, place others before ourselves, and imitate our loving and compassionate Savior, Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:1-5). God in the flesh—the King of Kings—took on the “very nature of a servant” in genuine humility (vv. 6-7). Giving His life—the ultimate sacrifice—He took our place on the cross (v. 8). Jesus gave everything for us . . . all for the glory of God the Father (vv. 9-11). As believers in Jesus, it’s our privilege to show love and demonstrate concern for others through acts of kindness. Even if we don’t think we have much to offer, we can adopt the attitude of servanthood. We can actively seek opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives by simply doing what we can. By Xochitl Dixon REFLECT & PRAY We can model Christ’s love by doing what we can to serve others. How do you enjoy serving others? Share at Facebook.com/ourdailybread. INSIGHT Before pointing to Christ Jesus—the supreme example of humility and selfless service-Paul exhorts believers to humbly serve the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-5). Previously Paul had instructed believers about the responsibilities of their heavenly citizenship (1:27). Gospel-worthy living finds expression in the context of worldly opposition (vv. 28-30) and among believers who share the blessings of a common spiritual union (2:1). Arthur Jackson

Monday, November 5, 2018

Wisdom’s Source

The weekend has come to the end and we are starting the new week with these words of wisdom take a moment to reflect Give your servant a discerning heart. 1 Kings 3:9 READ 1 KINGS 3:16–28 A man filed a lawsuit against a woman, claiming she had his dog. In court, the woman said her dog couldn’t be his and told the judge where she had purchased it. The real owner’s identity was revealed when the judge released the animal in the courtroom. Tail wagging, it immediately ran to the man! Solomon, a judge in ancient Israel needed to settle a somewhat similar issue. Two women each claimed to be the mother of the same baby boy. After considering both arguments, he requested a sword to divide the infant in half. The real mother begged Solomon to give the baby to the other woman, choosing to save her son’s life even if she could not have him (1 Kings 3:26). Solomon gave the baby to her. Wisdom is necessary as we decide what’s fair and moral, right and wrong. If we truly value wisdom, we can ask God for a discerning heart, like Solomon did (v. 9). God may answer our request by helping us balance our needs and desires with the interests of others. He may also help us weigh short-term benefits against long-term (sometimes eternal) gains so we can honor Him in how we live. Our God is not only a perfectly wise judge, but He is also a personal counselor who is willing to give us godly wisdom in great amounts (James 1:5). By Jennifer Benson Schuldt REFLECT & PRAY Need wisdom? Seek it from the Source who alone can provide it—God. I worship You, God, as the true source of wisdom. Please show me how to make choices that bring honor to Your name.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Catching Foxes

Welcome to the 11th month of the New Year YES! It's November as we are wrapping up the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY pause a take a minute to just reflect on the Goodness of God with these words of wisdom Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards. Song of Solomon 2:15 READ SONG OF SOLOMON 2:14–17 While talking on the phone with a friend who lives by the seaside, I expressed delight at hearing seagulls squawking. “Vile creatures,” she responded, for to her they’re a daily menace. As a Londoner, I feel the same way about foxes. I find them not cute animals but roaming creatures that leave smelly messes in their wake. Foxes appear in the love poetry of the Song of Solomon, an Old Testament book that reveals the love between a husband and wife and, some commentators believe, between God and His people. The bride warns about little foxes, asking her bridegroom to catch them (2:15). For foxes, hungry for the vineyard’s grapes, could tear the tender plants apart. As the bride looks forward to their married life together, she doesn’t want vermin disturbing their covenant of love. How can “foxes” disturb our relationship with God? For me, when I say “yes” to too many requests, I can become overwhelmed and unpleasant. Or when I witness relational conflict, I can be tempted to despair or anger. As I ask the Lord to limit the effect of these “foxes”—those I’ve let in through an open gate or those that have snuck in—I gain in trust of and love for God as I sense His loving presence and direction. How about you? How can you seek God’s help from anything keeping you from Him? By Amy Boucher Pye REFLECT & PRAY God can guard our relationship with Him. Lord God, You are powerful and You are good. Please protect my relationship with You, keeping out anything that would take my eyes off You. INSIGHT Although the author is not specifically named, Song of Songs is traditionally attributed to Solomon, who is mentioned in 1:1, 5; 3:7, 9, 11; 8:11, 12 and who is referred to as “King Solomon” in 3:9-11. Therefore, this book is also called “The Song of Solomon.” Solomon composed 1,005 songs (1 Kings 4:32), but this song is deemed to be “the best”—hence the appropriate title “Solomon’s Song of Songs” (1:1). It is one of two biblical books (the other is Esther) where God isn’t mentioned explicitly. Some interpret Song of Songs as an allegory of Christ’s love for the church; others consider it to be a poem describing the romance and relationship of two passionate lovers. Rich in nature metaphors—“Your eyes are doves” (1:15); “My beloved is like a gazelle” (2:9); “The little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (v. 15)—the song celebrates sexual love and physical intimacy within the bonds of marriage (4:8-5:1). Together husband and wife wield out “the foxes” (2:15), removing anything that threatens their loving union or hurts the exclusivity of their marriage. K. T. Sim

Monday, October 29, 2018

Getting a Grip on Gratitude

We are wrapping up the month of October as we start this New Week with only a couple of more day left in the month of October be fore we head into the 11th month of the New Year which is November let's ALL take a moment to reflect on the word Gratitude for the remainder of this week with these words of wisdom Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them? Numbers 11:22 READ NUMBERS 11:1–11 The years of weariness caused by chronic pain and frustrations with my limited mobility had finally caught up with me. In my discontent, I became demanding and ungrateful. I began complaining about my husband’s caregiving skills. I griped about the way he cleaned the house. Even though he’s the best cook I know, I fussed about the lack of variety in our meals. When he finally shared that my grumbling hurt his feelings, I was resentful. He had no idea what I was going through. Eventually, God helped me see my wrongs, and I asked my husband and the Lord for forgiveness. Longing for different circumstances can lead to complaining, and even a form of relationship damaging self-centeredness. The Israelites were familiar with this dilemma. It seems they were never satisfied and always griping about God’s provision (Exodus 17:1-3). Even though the Lord cared for His people in the wilderness by sending them “bread from heaven” (16:4), they began craving other food (Numbers 11:4). Instead of rejoicing over the daily miracles of God’s faithful and loving care, the Israelites wanted something more, something better, something different, or even something they used to have (vv. 4-6). They took out their frustrations on Moses (vv. 10-14). Trusting God’s goodness and faithfulness can help us get a good grip on gratitude. Today we can thank Him for the countless ways He cares for us. By Xochitl Dixon REFLECT & PRAY Grateful praise satisfies us and pleases God. For more, read Cultivating a Heart of Contentment at discoveryseries.org/hp052. INSIGHT When we read about the anger of the Lord (Numbers 11:1, 10), it’s important to remember that His anger is not like our own. We’re inclined to lash out in fear, irritability, or a desire to get even. God’s anger is a consuming fire of love that burns in the conscience and results in consequences for those who turn their back on Him. What could give us more reason for gratitude than to know that “the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love”? (Psalm 145:8). Mart DeHaan

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Great Crescendo

YES! We have made it to the end of the week it's FRIDAY! As we take a moment to reflect on all that has transpired through out this week take a moment to just be Thankful for these words of wisdom The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14 READ 1 JOHN 4:14–21 My parents taught me to love all sorts of music—from country to classical. So my heart beat rapidly as I walked into the Moscow Conservatory, one of Russia’s great music halls, to hear the Moscow National Symphony. As the conductor drove the musicians through a masterful Tchaikovsky piece, themes developed that gradually built to a powerful crescendo—a profound and dramatic musical climax. It was a magical moment, and the audience stood to roar its approval. The Scriptures move toward the most powerful crescendo of history: the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the moments following Adam and Eve’s fall into sin in the garden of Eden, God promised that a Redeemer would come (Genesis 3:15), and throughout the Old Testament that theme moved forward. The promise rang out in the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:21), the hopes of the prophets (1 Peter 1:10), and the longings of the people of God. First John 4:14 confirms where that story had been going: “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” How? God accomplished His promised rescue of His broken world when Jesus died and rose again to forgive us and restore us to our Creator. And one day He will come again and restore His whole creation. As we remember what God’s Son has done for us, we celebrate the great crescendo of God’s grace and rescue for us and His world—Jesus! By Bill Crowder REFLECT & PRAY Celebrate the gift of Jesus! Father, Your Son has impacted Your world like nothing else. I’m grateful He has come for my rescue and will come again to restore Your world. INSIGHT First John 4:14 declares that Christ is the “Savior of the world.” Our response to His sacrificial death on the cross so we might be saved puts us in one of two categories: We’re either among “those who are perishing” or “[those] who are being saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18). The apostle Paul says the Greeks laughed at the ludicrousness of a dead man giving eternal life to others (vv. 22-23). But to all who believe in Jesus, the cross is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (v. 24). The Scriptures tell us, “This Good News about Christ . . . is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16 nlt), for “Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin” (1 Corinthians 1:30 nlt). K. T. Sim

Monday, October 22, 2018

Treasure in a Pumpkin

So here we are starting the New Week in the last week of October before we head in to the 11th month of new year which is November MAN-O-MAN time is moving with only two more months until 2019 take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom as you continue through the rest of 2018 before we ALL step into 2019 We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 READ 2 CORINTHIANS 4:7–18 As a young mother, I was determined to document my daughter’s first year of life. Each month, I took photos of her to illustrate how she had changed and grown. In one of my favorite pictures, she is gleefully sitting in the belly of a hollowed-out pumpkin I purchased from a local farmer. There she sat, the delight of my heart, contained in an overgrown squash. The pumpkin withered in the ensuing weeks, but my daughter continued to grow and thrive. The way Paul describes knowing the truth of who Jesus is reminds me of that photo. He likens the knowledge of Jesus in our heart to a treasure stored in a clay pot. Remembering what Jesus did for us gives us the courage and strength to persevere through struggles in spite of being “hard pressed on every side” (2 Corinthians 4:8). Because of God’s power in our lives, when we are “struck down, but not destroyed,” we reveal the life of Jesus (v. 9). Like the pumpkin that withered, we may feel the wear and tear of our trials. But the joy of Jesus in us can continue to grow in spite of those challenges. Our knowledge of Him—His power at work in our lives—is the treasure stored in our frail clay bodies. We can flourish in the face of hardship because of His power at work within us. By Kirsten Holmberg REFLECT & PRAY God’s power is at work within us. Dear Father, thank You for putting Your truth into my heart and life. Help me to bear up under the challenges I face with Your power. May others see Your work in my life and come to know You too. INSIGHT As with Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the epistle of James encourages those who are facing trials. “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete” (James 1:2-4). Those who persevere will receive strength for today and “the crown of life” (v. 12)—eternal life—tomorrow. How have you experienced the joy of Christ in the midst of trials? Alyson Kieda

Friday, October 19, 2018

Bring Your Boats

So the week has come to an end YES! It's FRIDAY! take a moment to just reflect on all that has been going in your life as you begin to reflect know that God has been with you every step of the with these words of wisdom Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27 READ PROVERBS 3:21–31 Hurricane Harvey brought catastrophic flooding to eastern Texas in 2017. The onslaught of rain stranded thousands of people in their homes, unable to escape the floodwaters. In what was dubbed the “Texas Navy,” many private citizens brought boats from other parts of the state and nation to help evacuate stranded people. The actions of these valiant, generous men and women call to mind the encouragement of Proverbs 3:27, which instructs us to help others whenever we are able. They had the power to act on behalf of those in need by bringing their boats. And so they did. Their actions demonstrate a willingness to use whatever resources they had at their disposal for the benefit of others. We may not always feel adequate for the task at hand; often we become paralyzed by thinking we don’t have the skills, experience, resources, or time to help others. In such instances, we’re quick to sideline ourselves, discounting what we do have that might be of assistance to someone else. The Texas Navy couldn’t stop the floodwaters from rising, nor could they legislate government aid. But they used what they had within their power—their boats—to come alongside the deep needs of their fellow man. May we all bring our “boats”—whatever they may be—to take the people in our paths to higher ground. By Kirsten Holmberg REFLECT & PRAY God provides for His people through His people. Lord, all that I have is from You. Help me to always use what You’ve given me to help others. INSIGHT Helping others by doing good when it’s in our power to act (Proverbs 3:27-28) is also the focus of Paul’s instructions to believers. Encouraging us to live meaningful and purposeful lives before a watching, non-believing world, Paul tells us to “be very careful, then, how [we] live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:15-16). Careful living means we are to live godly lives as “children of light” pleasing to the Lord (vv. 8, 10). Paul expects “those who have trusted in God [to] devote themselves to doing what is good” (Titus 3:8). We are to adopt a never-give-up attitude when it comes to serving others: “Let us not become weary in doing good . . . . As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10). What can you do this week to serve someone? K. T. Sim

Monday, October 15, 2018

Trust Him First

The weekend has come to and end and we are jump starting and heading into the third week of October MAN! time is moving by so FAST as we take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom to help strengthen us for the journey that is head of us with Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Psalm 68:19 READ ISAIAH 46:3–13 “Don’t let go, Dad!” “I won’t. I’ve got you. I promise.” I was a little boy terrified of the water, but my dad wanted me to learn to swim. He would purposefully take me away from the side of the pool into a depth that was over my head, where he was my only support. Then he would teach me to relax and float. It wasn’t just a swimming lesson; it was a lesson in trust. I knew my father loved me and would never let me be harmed intentionally, but I was also afraid. I would cling tightly to his neck until he reassured me all would be well. Eventually his patience and kindness won out, and I began to swim. But I had to trust him first. When I feel “over my head” in a difficulty, I sometimes think back on those moments. They help me call to mind the Lord’s reassurance to His people: “Even to your old age . . . I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:4). We may not always be able to feel God’s arms beneath us, but the Lord has promised that He will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5). As we rest in His care and promises, He helps us learn to trust in His faithfulness. He lifts us above our worries to discover new peace in Him. By James Banks REFLECT & PRAY God carries us to new places of grace as we trust in Him. Abba, Father, I praise You for carrying me through life. Please give me faith to trust that You are always with me. INSIGHT For further reading on trust in God during difficult times, see the free booklet Anchors in the Storm at discoveryseries.org/hp073.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Safe in His Arms

We have made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! so take a moment to just bask in the beauty of our Heavenly Father as we reflect on these words of wisdom Safe in His Arms He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. Isaiah 40:11 READ ISAIAH 40:9–11 The weather outside was threatening, and the alert on my cell phone warned about the possibility of flash floods. An unusual number of cars were parked in my neighborhood as parents and others gathered to pick up children at the school bus drop-off point. By the time the bus arrived, it had started to rain. That’s when I observed a woman exit her car and retrieve an umbrella from the trunk. She walked towards a little girl and made sure the child was shielded from the rain until they returned to the vehicle. What a beautiful “real time” picture of parental, protective care that reminded me of the care of our heavenly Father. The prophet Isaiah forecast punishment for disobedience followed by brighter days for God’s people (Isaiah 40:1-8). The heavenly dispatch from the mountain (v. 9) assured the Israelites of God’s mighty presence and tender care. The good news, then and now, is that because of God’s power and ruling authority, anxious hearts need not fear (vv. 9-10). Included in the announcement was news about the Lord’s protection, the kind of protection shepherds provide (v. 11): vulnerable young sheep would find safety in the Shepherd’s arms; nursing ewes would be led gently. In a world where circumstances aren’t always easy, such images of safety and care compel us to look confidently to the Lord. Those who trust wholeheartedly in the Lord find security and renewed strength in Him (v. 31). By Arthur Jackson REFLECT & PRAY The good news is that God cares for us! Father, in a world where we are sometimes threatened, we are comforted because of Your gracious care for us—in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. INSIGHT We also see the shepherd imagery in the New Testament when Jesus is described as our Good Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11) and “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep” (vv. 14-15). Just as a shepherd watched over, provided for, and protected his sheep against danger and death and even pursued them when lost (Psalm 23:1-3; Luke 15:4), Jesus laid down His life for our sins and then rose again so that we would have the opportunity to live forever with Him (John 3:16). By doing so, He freed all who receive Him as Savior from the clutches of our enemy, Satan, and from eternal misery. And in this life, our Shepherd leads and guides us along the way. We need not fear, for He is with us (Psalm 23:4). He loves us and knows us (John 10:14-15). In what area of your life do you need the comfort of the Good Shepherd? Alyson Kieda

Monday, October 8, 2018

Our Singing Father

The weekend has come to and end and we are gearing up to start a New Week has we start this New Week take a moment to reflect on the Goodness of God and ALL that he has brought you through with these words of wisdom to guide you along your journey The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 READ ZEPHANIAH 3:14–20 No one told me before my wife and I had children how important singing would be. My children are now six, eight, and ten. But all three had problems sleeping early on. Each night, my wife and I took turns rocking our little ones, praying they’d nod off quickly. I spent hundreds of hours rocking them, desperately crooning lullabies to (hopefully!) speed up the process. But as I sang over our children night after night, something amazing happened: It deepened my bond of love and delight for them in ways I had never dreamed. Did you know Scripture describes our heavenly Father singing over His children too? Just as I sought to soothe my children with song, so Zephaniah concludes with a portrait of our heavenly Father singing over His people: “He will take great delight in you; in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing” (3:17). Much of Zephaniah’s prophetic book warns of a coming time of judgment for those who’d rejected God. Yet that’s not where it ends. Zephaniah concludes not with judgment but with a description of God not only rescuing His people from all their suffering (vv. 19-20) but also tenderly loving and rejoicing over them with song (v. 17). Our God is not only a “Mighty Warrior who saves” and restores (v. 17) but a loving Father who tenderly sings songs of love over us. By Adam Holz REFLECT & PRAY Our heavenly Father delights in His children like a parent singing to a newborn baby. Father, help us to embrace Your tender love and “hear” the songs You sing. INSIGHT The singing heart of God (Zephaniah 3:17) is but one of the many ways He expresses His love and care for us. Of course, we readily acknowledge that He rescues us and provides for us. We also know He made us and empowers us to live for Him in this world. But that is only the beginning. In Luke 15 we find that, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God rejoices over our rescue and return to Him. Additionally, He comforts us in our seasons of trial (2 Corinthians 1:3-8). Beyond that, He mourns with us in our pain—even to the point of valuing our tears (Psalm 56:8). In these and countless other ways, our God continually expresses the depth of His love and concern for His children. How have you experienced that care in the different seasons of your own life? Bill Crowder

Friday, October 5, 2018

Better Than Ever

The week has come to an end YES! It's FRIDAY! as we take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom let's open our hearts to the LOVE that our Heavenly Father gives to us no matter what we experience or go through in life Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:12 READ PSALM 51:9–13 The story is told of a group of salmon fishermen who gathered in a Scottish inn after a long day of fishing. As one was describing a catch to his friends, his arm swept across the table and knocked a glass against the wall, shattering it and leaving a stain on the white plaster surface. The man apologized to the innkeeper and offered to pay for the damage, but there was nothing he could do; the wall was ruined. A man seated nearby said, “Don’t worry.” Rising, he took a painting implement from his pocket and began to sketch around the ugly stain. Slowly there emerged the head of a magnificent stag. The man was Sir E. H. Landseer, Scotland’s foremost animal artist. David, Israel’s illustrious king who penned Psalm 51, brought shame on himself and his nation by his sins. He committed adultery with the wife of one of his friends and engineered the death of that friend—both deeds worthy of death. It would seem his life was ruined. But he pled with God: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (v. 12). Like David we have shameful acts in our past and the memories that accompany them, recollections that taunt us in the middle of the night. There’s so much we wish we could undo or redo. There is a grace that not only forgives sin but also uses it to make us better than before. God wastes nothing. By David H. Roper REFLECT & PRAY God has both an all-seeing eye and all-forgiving heart. Lord, I’ve failed You again. Please forgive me again. Change me. Turn me around. Teach me to follow Your ways. INSIGHT David wrote Psalm 51 in repentance for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba; his deliberate actions that led to the death of her husband, Uriah; and ultimately his sin against God (v. 4). Psalm 32, also penned by David, is similar in that here too he writes from his own experience on the pain of unconfessed sin and of the blessing of repentance. Even as Christians we will sin—and sometimes again and again. At such times, if we stubbornly refuse to confess our sins, we feel the effects of the sin eating away at us spiritually, mentally, and physically (vv. 3-4). Why? Not because we’ve lost our salvation, but because we’ve driven a wedge between us and our holy God. When we come to God in sorrow for our sins and receive His forgiveness, the “joy of [our] salvation”—the joy of being in an intimate relationship with God—is restored (51:12; see 32:1-2). In both psalms, David illustrates that confession and repentance lead to God’s forgiveness, which leads to a restored relationship, which leads to great joy—and enables us to sing! (32:11). When have you experienced restored joy after confession? Alyson Kieda

Monday, October 1, 2018

For Our Friends

As we start this New Week we have step into the 10th month of the New Year Welcome to October! I hope these words of wisdom Help you get through the rest of the week with My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12 READ JOHN 15:5–17 In Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, a cantankerous man who often quotes the Bible to criticize others is memorably described as “the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to rake [apply] the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbours.” It’s a funny line; and it may even bring particular people to mind. But aren’t we all a bit like this—prone to condemn others’ failures while excusing our own? In Scripture some people amazingly did the exact opposite; they were willing to give up God’s promises for them and even be cursed if it would save others. Consider Moses, who said he’d rather be blotted out of God’s book than see the Israelites unforgiven (Exodus 32:32). Or Paul, who said he’d choose to be “cut off from Christ” if it meant his people would find Him (Romans 9:3). As self-righteous as we naturally are, Scripture highlights those who love others more than themselves. Because ultimately such love points to Jesus. “Greater love has no one than this,” Jesus taught, than “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Even before we knew Him, Jesus loved us “to the end” (13:1)—choosing death to give us life. Now we are invited into the family of God, to love and be loved like this (15:9-12). And as we pour into others Christ’s unimaginable love, the world will catch a glimpse of Him. By Monica Brands REFLECT & PRAY When we love Christ, we love others. Lord, thank You for showing us what it means to love. Help us to love like You. INSIGHT The important idea of love for one another found in John 15:12-14 is rooted in one of Jesus’s most enduring teaching images—the vine and the branches (vv. 1-8). Our life so completely flows from being connected to Christ that everything we do, including our ability to love one another, is drawn from His life and power. Bill Crowder

Friday, September 28, 2018

Asking God First

So here we are we have made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! with only a couple of more days to go in the month of September before we head into the 10th month of the New Year which is October take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom that will help you get through the rest of your day with Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 READ PSALM 37:3–7, 23–24 Early in our marriage, I struggled to figure out my wife’s preferences. Did she want a quiet dinner at home or a meal at a fancy restaurant? Was it okay for me to hang out with the guys, or did she expect me to keep the weekend free for her? Once, instead of guessing and deciding first, I asked her, “What do you want?” “I’m fine with either,” she replied with a warm smile. “I’m just happy you thought of me.” At times I’ve wanted desperately to know exactly what God wanted me to do—such as which job to take. Praying for guidance and reading the Bible didn’t reveal any specific answers. But one answer was clear: I was to trust in the Lord, take delight in Him, and commit my way to Him (Psalm 37:3-5). That’s when I realized that God usually gives us the freedom of choice—if we first seek to put His ways before our own. That means dropping choices that are plainly wrong or would not please Him. It might be something immoral, ungodly, or unhelpful toward our relationship with Him. If the remaining options please God, then we’re free to choose from them. Our loving Father wants to give us the desires of our hearts—hearts that take delight in Him (v. 4). By Leslie Koh REFLECT & PRAY Do your decisions please God? Teach me, O God, to put You first in everything I do. Show me how to take delight in You, that my heart will be transformed to be like Yours. SCRIPTURE INSIGHT A prayerful reading of Psalm 37 yields increased joy, assurance, and confidence in the Lord. After an opening exhortation to not be upset by the short-lived vitality and success of those who ignore the Lord (vv. 1-2), a series of commands follow that call for faithful dependence on Him (vv. 3-8). The remainder of the psalm includes commentary about the conduct of two kinds of people (the righteous and the wicked), who follow two different paths and end up at two different places (vv. 9-11, 20). In various ways, the wicked harass and prey upon the righteous (vv. 12-15, 32). But the righteous are not alone. The Lord—in whom they trust and delight and upon whom they wait—protects them, making them safe and secure and stable (vv. 16-17, 23-26, 32-33). The conclusion of the psalm speaks powerfully to those who place their faith in God. “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him” (vv. 39-40). Arthur Jackson

Monday, September 24, 2018

Walking God’s Way

WOW! We are starting the New Week Off in the last week of September before we head into the 10th month of the New Yes YES! we will be heading into October but before we do take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom to help you get through the rest of the week with Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 READ ISAIAH 30:15–21 “We’re going this way,” I said as I touched my son’s shoulder and redirected him through the crowd to follow his mom and sisters in front of us. I’d done this more often as the day wore on at the amusement park our family was visiting. He was getting tired and more easily distracted. Why can’t he just follow them? I wondered. Then it hit me: How often do I do exactly the same thing? How often do I veer from obediently walking with God, enchanted by the temptations to pursue what I want instead of seeking His ways? Think of Isaiah’s words from God for Israel: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’ ” (Isaiah 30:21). Earlier in that chapter, God had rebuked His people for their rebelliousness. But if they would trust His strength instead of their own ways (v. 15), He promised to show His graciousness and compassion (v. 18). One expression of God’s graciousness is His promise to guide us by His Spirit. That happens as we talk to Him about our desires and ask in prayer what He has for us. I’m thankful God patiently directs us, day-by-day, step-by-step, as we trust Him and listen for His voice. By Adam Holz REFLECT & PRAY God patiently directs us as we trust Him and listen for His voice. Father, You’ve promised to guide us through the ups and downs and decisions we face in life. Help us to trust and follow You, and to actively listen for Your guiding voice. SCRIPTURE INSIGHT In today’s passage, a resurgent militant Assyria threatened to conquer all of Israel. But instead of trusting God to deliver them, Judah turned to Egypt for help. God had explicitly prohibited Israelite kings from trusting in anything other than God for deliverance (Deuteronomy 17:16). Isaiah warned that it’s futile to trust Egypt instead of the Lord (Isaiah 30:1-19; 31:1). The psalmist also warned of the futility of putting our trust in something other than God: “No king is saved by the size of his army . . . . A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save” (Psalm 33:16-17). When have you placed your trust in something other than God? K. T. Sim

Friday, September 21, 2018

Unexpected Ways

OMG! YES! It's FRIDAY! I can't believe it as we begin to wrap up this week take the time to just reflect on the time spent sharing your time with your Heavenly Father with these words of wisdom Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. John 14:9 READ 1 KINGS 19:12 In 1986, five-year-old Levan Merritt fell twenty feet into the gorilla enclosure of England’s Jersey zoo. As parents and onlookers cried out for help, a full-grown male silverback, named Jambo, placed himself between the motionless boy and several other gorillas. Then he began to gently stroke the child’s back. When Levan began to cry, Jambo led the other gorillas into their own enclosure as zoo-keepers and an ambulance driver came to the rescue. More than thirty years later Levan still talks about Jambo the gentle giant—his guardian angel who had acted in a shockingly unexpected way, changing his perception of gorillas forever. Elijah may have expected God to act in certain ways, but the God of gods used a rock-shattering wind, a powerful earthquake, and raging fire to show His prophet how not to think of Him. Then He used a gentle whisper to show His heart and to express His presence (1 Kings 19:11-12). Elijah had seen God’s power before (18:38-39). But he didn’t fully understand the One who wants to be known as more than the greatest and most fearsome of gods (19:10, 14). Eventually, that quiet whisper found fullness of meaning in the powerful gentleness of Jesus, who said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Then He quietly allowed Himself to be nailed to a tree—an unexpected, compassionate act by the great God who loves us. By Mart DeHaan REFLECT & PRAY God won’t shout if we only need a whisper. Father in heaven, please help us to find courage in Your whisper—and in the ways of Your Son. Have mercy on us for not seeing beyond Your power to a love we’ve barely begun to know.

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