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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

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Last Call

As we start this New Week out on this Memorial Day lets take a moment to truly reflect on these words of wisdom as we remember those who have fallen on this Memorial Day Read: 2 Samuel 1:17–27 Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 4–6; John 10:24–42 How the mighty have fallen!—2 Samuel 1:27 After serving his country for two decades as a helicopter pilot, James returned home to serve his community as a teacher. But he missed helicopters, so he took a job flying medical evacuations for a local hospital. He flew until late in his life. Now it was time to say goodbye to him. As friends, family, and uniformed co-workers stood vigil at the cemetery, a colleague called in one last mission over the radio. Soon the distinctive sound of rotors beating the air could be heard. A helicopter circled over the memorial garden, hovered briefly to pay its respects, then headed back to the hospital. Not even the military personnel who were present could hold back the tears. When King Saul and his son Jonathan were killed in battle, David wrote an elegy for the ages called “the lament of the bow” (2 Samuel 1:18). “A gazelle lies slain on your heights,” he sang. “How the mighty have fallen!” (v. 19). Jonathan was David’s closest friend and brother-in-arms. And although David and Saul had been enemies, David honored them both. “Weep for Saul,” he wrote. “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother” (vv. 24, 26). Even the best goodbyes are oh-so-difficult. But for those who trust in the Lord, the memory is much more sweet than bitter, for it is never forever. How good it is when we can honor those who have served others! —Tim Gustafson Lord, we thank You for those who serve their communities as First Responders. We humbly ask You for their safety. We honor the Creator when we honor the memory of those who honored Him. INSIGHT: Second Samuel 1:19-27 combines personal and communal grief. Jonathan’s death was not just a loss for David personally, but along with Jonathan’s father, King Saul, a loss to the entire nation (vv. 19, 17). Although Saul had tried to kill David, David invited the nation to grieve the loss of their king (v. 24). How can mourning with a community, instead of alone, bring greater healing during grief? Monica Brands

Friday, May 25, 2018

Accidental Wisdom

Made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! Take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom as we prepare to enter into the weekend after going through a long hectic work week with Read: Philippians 4:4–9 Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 25–27; John 9:1–23 Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable . . . think about such things.—Philippians 4:8 A few years ago, a woman shared with me a story about finding her preteen son watching news coverage of a violent event. Instinctively, she reached for the remote and changed the channel. “You don’t need to be watching that stuff,” she told him rather abruptly. An argument followed, and eventually she shared that he needed to fill his mind with “whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely . . .” (Philippians 4:8). After dinner, she and her husband were watching the news when suddenly their five-year-old daughter burst in and turned off the television. “You don’t need to be watching that stuff,” she declared in her best “mom” voice. “Now, think about those Bible things!” As adults, we can better absorb and process the news than our children. Still, the couple’s daughter was both amusing and wise when she echoed her mother’s earlier instructions. Even well-adjusted adults can be affected by a steady diet of the darker side of life. Meditating on the kind of things Paul lists in Philippians 4:8 is a powerful antidote to the gloom that sometimes settles on us as we see the condition of our world. Making careful decisions about what fills our minds is an excellent way to honor God and guard our hearts as well. —Randy Kilgore Father, open our eyes today to what’s beautiful. Teach us to meditate on You. What we let into our minds shapes the state of our souls. INSIGHT: The virtuous life described in Philippians 4:8 is to be the believer’s focus. What is “true” refers to basing one’s life on reality according to God’s Word. “Noble” means honest or worthy of respect. “Right” corresponds to a moral sense of what is fair. “Pure” indicates a character that is not polluted by sin. “Lovely” means expressing love toward others in relationships. Finally, “admirable” carries with it the idea of a positive reputation and reliable Christian character. What are some specific ways you can display these virtues this week? For further reading, see Kingdom Living: Embracing the Virtues of the King at discoveryseries.org/hp091. Dennis Fisher

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Prayer of Forgiveness

We have enter into the last week of May BOY! time is flying as we start this New Week before we head into 6th month of the New Year which is June but lets NOT rush it lets savior the last week's of May with these words of wisdom Read: Luke 6:27–36 Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 13–15; John 7:1–27 Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.—Luke 6:27-28 In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to integrate an all-white public elementary school in the American South. Every day for months, federal marshals escorted Ruby past a mob of angry parents shouting curses, threats, and insults at her. Safely inside, she sat in a classroom alone with Barbara Henry, the only teacher willing to instruct her while parents kept their children from attending school with Ruby. Noted child psychologist Robert Coles met with Ruby for several months to help her cope with the fear and stress she experienced. He was amazed by the prayer Ruby said every day as she walked to school and back home. “Please, God, forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing” (see Luke 23:34). The words of Jesus spoken from the cross were stronger than the hatred and insults hurled at Him. In the most agonizing hours of His life, our Lord demonstrated the radical response He taught His followers: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you . . . . Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:27-28, 36). This remarkable approach is possible only as we consider the powerful love Jesus has given us—love stronger than even the deepest hatred. Ruby Bridges helped show us the way. —David C. McCasland Father, You have so graciously forgiven us. Help us today to forgive others who have wronged us. Bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you. INSIGHT: Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive [someone] who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). In that day, if you forgave a person three times, you were considered magnanimous. So Peter must have thought he was a super saint to forgive an offender seven times. Jesus corrected him, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (v. 22). Jesus is saying that when it comes to forgiving another, you can’t keep score. We never reach a limit when we can say we have forgiven enough. Although forgiveness doesn’t excuse an offense, we can choose to “be kind and compassionate to one another, [forgive] each other, just as in Christ God forgave [us]” (Ephesians 4:32). Is there someone who needs your forgiveness today, yet again? K. T. Sim

Friday, May 18, 2018

Overflowing

We have made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! Let's just take a moment to be Thankful that we have lived through another week with these words of wisdom Read: Romans 15:4–13 Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 4–6; John 6:1–21 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.—Romans 15:13 “No! No! No! NO!” I screamed. It didn’t help. Not one bit. My brilliant solution for our plugged problem—flushing again—accomplished exactly the opposite of what I’d intended. I knew I had made a mistake the second I pushed the lever down. And I stood helplessly as water overflowed. How many times have our kids tried to pour milk and misjudged the process, with white liquid flowing everywhere. Or maybe we failed to remember that a two-liter bottle of soda just rolled around in the trunk . . . with explosively startling results. No, spills are almost never a good thing. But there might be one exception. The apostle Paul uses that image of overflowing to describe a people so full of God’s Spirit that what naturally spills out of them is hope (Romans 15:13). I love that picture of being filled to the brim with joy, peace, and faith because of His powerful presence in our lives. So much so, in fact, that we can’t help but exude and express winsome confidence in our heavenly Father. That might be during the beautiful, sunny seasons of our lives. Or when the proverbial cup of our lives gets jostled. Either way, what sloshes out over the top is life-giving hope to those around us who are “drenched” by it. —Adam Holz Lord, spills happen in life. But when they do, help us to be so full of Your Spirit that what pours out of us is the kind of hope that others can’t help but notice and be blessed by. The Father gave us the Spirit to make us like the Son. INSIGHT: Hope is a central theme in Romans. Testing results in hope (5:4), we are saved in hope (8:24), we are to be joyful in hope (12:12), we draw hope from the Scriptures in the trials of life (15:4), and our lives can overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (15:13). For more on hope, listen to the Discover the Word series Hope: The Missing Ingredient at discovertheword.org/series/hope-the-missing-ingredient. Bill Crowder

Monday, May 14, 2018

Not What It Seems

The weekend has come an gone an we are starting a New Week with ALL of it's ups and downs twist and turns lets continue to keep are eyes focus on Christ with these words of wisdom to guide us through the ups and downs of life Read: 2 Kings 19:29–37 Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 19–21; John 4:1–30 Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.—1 John 4:1 “Listen!” my wife said to me over the phone. “There’s a monkey in our yard!” She held up the phone so I could hear. And yes, it sounded just like a monkey. Which is weird, because the nearest wild monkey was 2,000 miles away. Later, my father-in-law burst our bubble. “That’s a barred owl,” he explained. Reality was not what it had seemed. When King Sennacherib’s armies had Judah’s King Hezekiah trapped inside Jerusalem’s walls, the Assyrians thought victory was theirs. Reality proved different. Although the Assyrian field commander used smooth words and pretended to speak for God, the Lord had His hand on His people. “Have I come to attack and destroy this place without word from the Lord?” the commander asked (2 Kings 18:25). As he tried to entice Jerusalem to surrender, he even said, “Choose life and not death!” (v. 32). That sounds like something God would say. But the prophet Isaiah told the Israelites the true words of the Lord. “[Sennacherib] will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here,” God said. “I will defend this city and save it” (19:32-34; Isaiah 37:35). That very night “the angel of the Lord” destroyed the Assyrians (v. 35). From time to time, we’ll encounter smooth-talking people who “advise” us while denying God’s power. That isn’t God’s voice. He speaks to us through His Word. He guides us with His Spirit. His hand is on those who follow Him, and He will never abandon us. —Tim Gustafson Teach us to discern Your voice, Lord. God is always trustworthy. INSIGHT: For further study on discerning truth from error, read Dangers of False Teachers at discoveryseries.org/q0909.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Persevering with Peace

We have made it through another week YES! It's FRIDAY! as we head into the weekend lets take a moment to reflect on ALL that God has brought us through just this week alone with these words of wisdom Read: Psalm 3 Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 13–14; John 2 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.—Psalm 3:5 As I continue trusting God through my struggles with chronic pain, even the simplest setback can feel like a fierce enemy attacker. Problem One jabs me from the right. Problem Two shoves me from behind. Problem Three punches me square in the nose. During these times, when my strength wanes and immediate relief evades me, running and hiding can seem like a good idea. But since I can’t escape my pain, change my circumstances, or ignore my emotions, I’m learning slowly to rely on God to carry me through. When I need encouragement, comfort, and courage, I prayerfully read through the songs of the psalmists, who honestly bring their situations to God. In one of my favorite psalms, King David flees from Absalom, his son who wanted to kill him and take his kingdom. Though David lamented his painful situation (Psalm 3:1-2), he trusted God’s protection and expected Him to answer his prayers (vv. 3-4). The king didn’t lose sleep worrying or fearing what could happen, because he trusted God to sustain and save him (vv. 5-8). Physical and emotional pain can often feel like aggressive adversaries. We may be tempted to give up or wish we could escape when we’re weary and can’t see the end of our current battle. But, like David, we can learn to trust that God will hold us up and help us rest in His constant and loving presence. —Xochitl Dixon Lord, thanks for giving us rest in the peace of Your constant presence and assuring us of the victory You’ve already won. God offers us peace as He holds us up and carries us through every trial. INSIGHT: In addition to the Psalms, the New Testament has a lot to say about perseverance through trials. The book of Acts tells the account of the apostle Peter who was preparing to stand trial after being unjustly imprisoned by King Herod for eight days. Undoubtedly he would be executed. But Peter didn’t lose any sleep over his impending death. In fact “the night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep” (Acts 12:6 nlt). Peter experienced peace—peace that can come only through trusting God—because the church was earnestly praying for him (vv. 5, 12). The apostle Paul wrote about tranquility in his letter to the Philippians: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). When we can’t sleep because we’re troubled by the trials of life, instead of counting sheep we can talk to our Good Shepherd. Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27). What worries keep you awake at night? Ask God to help you find the peace you need. K. T. Sim

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Fingerprint of God

Now that we have officially started in the 5th month of the New Year in the second week of May let's start this New week Off with a Celebration take a moment to just rejoice in the fact that God has been so GOOD to you with these words of wisdom to help guide you through this week with Read: Ephesians 2:1–10 Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 1–3; Luke 24:1–35 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.—Ephesians 2:10 Lygon Stevens loved to climb mountains with her brother Nick. They were experienced climbers and both had summitted Mt. McKinley (Denali), the highest point in North America. Then, in January 2008, they were swept off a Colorado mountain by an avalanche, injuring Nick and killing twenty-year-old Lygon. When Nick later discovered his sister’s journal in one of her satchels, he was deeply comforted by its contents. It was filled with reflections, prayers, and praise to God as seen in this entry: “I am a work of art, signed by God. But He’s not done; in fact, He has just begun. . . . I have on me the fingerprint of God. Never will there ever be another person like me. . . . I have a job to do in this life that no other can do.” Although Lygon is no longer physically present on earth, through the legacy of her life and her journal she inspires and challenges those she left behind. Because we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), each person is a “work of art, signed by God.” As the apostle Paul says, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Praise God that He uses each of us, in His own time and way, to help others. —Dennis Fisher How would You like to use me, Lord? I am open and willing. Each person is a unique expression of God’s loving design. INSIGHT: Genesis 1:26-27 says we were created in God’s image. Similarly, Genesis 5:1 and James 3:9 tell us we were made in His “likeness.” What does it mean to be made in God’s image? We were created with characteristics that set us apart from other creatures. We have the capacity to reason, to make moral choices, and to be in relationship with others. We also have the capacity to do good works, and Jesus set the precedent: He “went around doing good” (Acts 10:38). Ephesians 2:10 tells us we were not only created “to do good works” but “God prepared in advance” the good works we would do. Our task is to stay near to God (Hebrews 10:22), be alert for opportunities, and rely on the Spirit for strength and help. Alyson Kieda

Friday, May 4, 2018

Before the Beginning

So here we are the week has come to an end we have finished the week in the 5th month of the New Year Welcome to May so has we take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom also take a moment to be Thankful for ALL that God has brought you through take these words of wisdom to Heart and reflect on How truly God has been good to You with Read: Matthew 3:13–17 Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 16–18; Luke 22:47–71 You loved me before the creation of the world.—John 17:24 “But if God has no beginning and no end, and has always existed, what was He doing before He created us? How did He spend His time?” Some precocious Sunday school student always asks this question when we talk about God’s eternal nature. I used to respond that this was a bit of a mystery. But recently I learned that the Bible gives us an answer to this question. When Jesus prays to His Father in John 17, He says “Father, . . . you loved me before the creation of the world” (v. 24). This is God as revealed to us by Jesus: Before the world was ever created, God was a trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)—all loving each other and being loved. When Jesus was baptized, God sent His Spirit in the form of a dove and said, “This is my Son, whom I love” (Matthew 3:17). The most foundational aspect of God’s identity is this outgoing, life-giving love. What a lovely and encouraging truth this is about our God! The mutual, outgoing love expressed by each member of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is key to understanding the nature of God. What was God doing before the beginning of time? What He always does: He was loving because He is love (1 John 4:8). —Amy Peterson God, thank You for Your overflowing, self-giving love. We are created in the image of a God who is loving and relational. INSIGHT: Love has always defined God; it is at the core of everything He does, now and in eternity. But today’s text urges us to think about an aspect of God’s love we might not typically consider. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit spend eternity in a perfect relationship—giving and receiving love. It’s important to remember that genuine love not only gives love but also receives it. It wouldn’t be loving of the Father not to accept the love of the Son and the Spirit. It’s easy to say we love someone and to show it with what we do for them, but part of loving them is receiving their expressions of love too. That takes humility and trust. Do you need to receive the love of someone else today? Or do you need to receive the love of God again and remember the reason we love Him is because He first loved us. J.R. Hudberg

Monday, April 30, 2018

Breaking the Chains

So here we are on the last day of April before we head into the 5th month of the New Year which is May but let's just way we have made it to the end of a long week YES! it's FRIDAY so take a minute to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Ephesians 1:3–14 Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 8–9; Luke 21:1–19 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.—Ephesians 1:7 We found our visit to Christ Church Cathedral in Stone Town, Zanzibar, deeply moving, for it sits on the site of what was formerly the largest slave market in East Africa. The designers of this cathedral wanted to show through a physical symbol how the gospel breaks the chains of slavery. No longer would the location be a place of evil deeds and horrible atrocities, but of God’s embodied grace. Those who built the cathedral wanted to express how Jesus’s death on the cross provides freedom from sin—that which the apostle Paul speaks of in his letter to the church at Ephesus: “In him we have redemption through his blood” (Ephesians 1:7). Here the word redemption points to the Old Testament’s notion of the marketplace, with someone buying back a person or item. Jesus buys back a person from a life of slavery to sin and wrongdoing. In Paul’s opening words in this letter (vv. 3-14), he bubbles over with joy at the thought of his freedom in Christ. He points, in layer after layer of praise, to God’s work of grace for us through Jesus’s death, which sets us free from the cords of sin. No longer do we need to be slaves to sin, for we are set free to live for God and His glory. —Amy Boucher Pye Lord God, through the death of Your Son, You have given us life forever. Help me to share this gift of grace with someone today. Jesus redeems us from the slavery of sin. INSIGHT: For more on being set free from sin through faith in Christ, read Grace: Accepting God’s Gift to You at discoveryseries.org/q0613.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Wisdom’s Call

The week has come to an end we have made it to FRIDAY! YES! FRIDAY! with only a couple of more days until we step into the 5th month of the New Year which is May, but lets NOT get ahead of ourselves lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom that has helped us get through the week with Read: Proverbs 8:10–21 Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 1–2; Luke 19:28–48 Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.—Proverbs 8:11 Malcolm Muggeridge, the noted British journalist and social critic, came to faith in Christ at the age of sixty. On his seventy-fifth birthday he offered twenty-five insightful observations about life. One said, “I never met a rich man who was happy, but I have only very occasionally met a poor man who did not want to become a rich man.” Most of us would agree that money can’t make us happy, but we might like to have more so we can be sure. King Solomon’s net worth has been estimated at more than two trillion US dollars. Although he was very wealthy, he knew that money had great limitations. Proverbs 8 is based on his experience and offers “Wisdom’s Call” to all people. “I raise my voice to all mankind. . . . My mouth speaks what is true” (vv. 4-7). “Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (vv. 10-11). Wisdom says, “My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me and making their treasuries full” (vv. 19-21). These are true riches indeed! —David C. McCasland Lord, thank You for the riches of Your wisdom that guide our steps today. God offers the true riches of wisdom to all who seek and follow Him. INSIGHT: In the Old Testament the word most often translated “wisdom” (hokmah) refers to persons having an exceptional degree of “skill” in a given area—a speaker’s use of words or a composer’s skill in putting notes together to make music, for example. In Exodus 31:6 the skill of a craftsman is the focus. In Proverbs the dominant word for wisdom is also hokmah. Wisdom in Proverbs is not simply one who possesses a masterful mind. It’s also a matter of the heart; it’s a moral quality. Wise persons are those who fear the Lord and subsequently make choices that honor God, oneself, and others. The wise person is one who is skilled in godly living. Wisdom (a feminine noun) is personified as a woman (see Proverbs 9). Her virtues are many and she pursues and rewards those who pursue her (3:13-18). How attentive to the riches of wisdom are you in this season of your life? For more on wisdom in the book of Proverbs, check out this free course at christianuniversity.org/OT507. Arthur Jackson

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Secret of Peace

We are almost in the home stretch as we start this New Week April is getting ready to wrap up we are in the last week of April so lets make the most of it before we head into the 5th month of the New Year which is May so take your time to reflect on these true words of wisdom to help you get through the rough and tough times that happen in the course of a day, a week and sometime a month but take the time to basket in the Peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with Read: 2 Thessalonians 3:16–18 Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 16–18; Luke 17:20–37 The Lord of peace himself give you peace.—2 Thessalonians 3:16 Grace is a very special lady. One word comes to mind when I think of her: peace. The quiet and restful expression on her face has seldom changed in the six months I have known her, even though her husband was diagnosed with a rare disease and then hospitalized. When I asked Grace the secret of her peace, she said, “It’s not a secret, it’s a person. It’s Jesus in me. There is no other way I can explain the quietness I feel in the midst of this storm.” The secret of peace is our relationship to Jesus Christ. He is our peace. When Jesus is our Savior and Lord, and as we become more like Him, peace becomes real. Things like sickness, financial difficulties, or danger may be present, but peace reassures us that God holds our lives in His hands (Daniel 5:23), and we can trust that things will work together for good. Have we experienced this peace that goes beyond logic and understanding? Do we have the inner confidence that God is in control? My wish for all of us today echoes the words of the apostle Paul: “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace.” And may we feel this peace “at all times and in every way” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). —Keila Ochoa Dear Lord, please give us Your peace at all times and in every situation. To trust in Jesus is peace. INSIGHT: Paul, Silas, and Timothy were the first to share the gospel in Thessalonica. The response to the gospel of free grace in Christ was remarkably positive (Acts 17:1-4), but—as is often the case—the positive response to the gospel was accompanied by opposition and persecution (Acts 17:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2:2). Thus Paul was forced to leave the city of Thessalonica sooner than he had hoped (Acts 17:9-10). His concern for the new congregation there motivated him to write two inspired letters to that young church. As he completed his second letter, Paul stressed the peace that only Jesus Christ can offer (2 Thessalonians 3:16). The apostle was no stranger to trials, yet his confidence that everything would work out in God’s sovereignty gave him a deep, abiding peace that he wanted other believers to experience. The Prince of Peace is the source of the believer’s spiritual rest. For further study on experiencing peace in the midst of trials see Navigating the Storms of Life at discoveryseries.org/hp061. Dennis Fisher

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Art of Forgiveness

The week has come to an end YES! It's FRIDAY as we take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom just know that we are winding down to the end of April I almost can't believe it that we are going to be entering into the 5th month of the New Year which will be May BUT lets not get ahead of ourselves lets stay in the moment with Read: Luke 15:11–24 Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 9–11; Luke 15:11–32 While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.—Luke 15:20 One afternoon I spent two hours at an art exhibit—The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness—in which all of the pieces were focused on Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11-31). I found Edward Riojas’s painting The Prodigal Son especially powerful. The painting portrays the once wayward son returning home, wearing rags and walking with his head down. With a land of death behind him, he steps onto a pathway where his father is already running toward him. At the bottom of the painting are Jesus’s words, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion” (v. 20 kjv). I was deeply moved by realizing once more how God’s unchanging love has altered my life. When I walked away from Him, He didn’t turn His back, but kept looking, watching, and waiting. His love is undeserved yet unchanging; often ignored yet never withdrawn. We all are guilty, yet our heavenly Father reaches out to welcome us, just as the father in this story embraced his wayward son. “Let’s have a feast and celebrate,” the father told the servants. “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (vv. 23-24). The Lord still rejoices over those who return to Him today—and that’s worth celebrating! —David C. McCasland Father, as we receive Your love and forgiveness, may we also extend it to others in Your name. God’s love for us is undeserved yet unchanging.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Just a Second

The weekend has come and gone and we are starting the New Week with these encouraging words to help us get through the remainder of this week with Read: Psalm 39:4–6 Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 30–31; Luke 13:23–35 How fleeting my life is.—Psalm 39:4 Scientists are pretty fussy about time. At the end of 2016, the folks at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland added an extra second to the year. So if you felt that year dragged on a bit longer than normal, you were right. Why did they do that? Because the rotation of the earth slows down over time, the years get just a tiny bit longer. When scientists track manmade objects launched into space, they must have accuracy down to the millisecond. This is “to make sure our collision avoidance programs are accurate,” according to one scientist. For most of us, a second gained or lost doesn’t make much difference. Yet according to Scripture, our time and how we use it is important. For instance, Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 7:29 that “time is short.” The time we have to do God’s work is limited, so we must use it wisely. He urged us to “[make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16 esv). This doesn’t mean we have to count each second as do the scientists, but when we consider the fleeting nature of life (Psalm 39:4), we can be reminded of the importance of using our time wisely. —Dave Branon Lord, thank You for each moment You give us. May we strive to honor You with this gift by using our time wisely for Your honor and glory. Don’t just spend time—invest it. INSIGHT: Can you think of a time in your life that served as a wake-up call? David wrote Psalm 39 recalling such a moment. Although he doesn’t describe the circumstances that roused him from a sleeplike existence, his song tells us how he came to sense the importance of the moments given to us. At first, he’s troubled by those who seem to have no moral conscience. Sensing foolishness and danger in their presence, he decides not to speak—maybe so he won’t be like them or so that his words cannot be used against him (39:1-2). But in self-imposed silence, David has a more troubling thought. He too has been living without wisdom. Time is getting away from him. He’s lost the joy and wonder of life. Realizing his own inclination to think life is found in the material things we accumulate, he calls out for help (vv. 3-6). Recalling what he has already learned about the Source of joy and hope, he sees how reliant he is on the eternal God to help him see more than the momentary distraction of passing wealth (vv. 7-13). Could this be a good time to see ourselves in David’s song? Mart DeHaan

Friday, April 13, 2018

When One Hurts, All Hurt

So the week has come to an end we have made it to FRIDAY! with these words of wisdom to help remind us of the obstacles we face through the week Read: 1 Corinthians 12:14–26 Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 22–24; Luke 12:1–31 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.—1 Corinthians 12:26 When a coworker called in sick due to extreme pain, everyone at the office was concerned. After a trip to the hospital and a day of bed rest, he returned to work and showed us the source of that pain—a kidney stone. He’d asked his doctor to give him the stone as a souvenir. Looking at that stone, I winced in sympathy, remembering the gallstone I had passed years ago. The pain had been excruciating. Isn’t it interesting that something so small can cause a whole body so much agony? But in a way, that’s what the apostle Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 12:26: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” Throughout chapter 12, Paul used the metaphor of a body to describe Christians around the world. When Paul said, “God has put the body together” (v. 24), he was referring to the entire body of Christ—all Christians. We all have different gifts and roles. But since we’re all part of the same body, if one person hurts, we all hurt. When a fellow Christian faces persecution, grief, or trials, we hurt as if we’re experiencing that pain. My coworker’s pain drove him to get the help his body needed. In the body of Christ, someone’s pain ignites our compassion and moves us toward action. We might pray, offer a word of encouragement, or do whatever it takes to aid the healing process. That’s how the body works together. —Linda Washington Lord, please give peace to those who are persecuted or in pain. Your family is my family too. We’re in this together. INSIGHT: Paul often uses the metaphor of the body to represent the church (see Romans 12:3-5; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:12-13; Colossians 1:18; 2:19). In today’s passage he makes the observation that we’re not only to share each other’s pain but also to rejoice in the blessings other believers receive. Surprisingly we may find that more difficult. Do you find it easier to share in others’ pain or in their joy?

Monday, April 9, 2018

Leaving a Legacy

The weekend has come an gone we are starting the New Week Off with these words of wisdom to help us get through the difficulties that come our way and BOY! do those difficulties arise in our lives but with Gods word we our always Over comers with Read: Isaiah 49:14–16 Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 13–14; Luke 10:1–24 A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.—Malachi 3:16 Some years ago our sons and I spent a week on an abandoned backcountry ranch on the Salmon River, Idaho’s “River of No Return.” One day, exploring the ranch, I came across an ancient grave with a wooden marker. Whatever inscription the marker may have borne had long since been weathered away. Someone lived and died—now was forgotten. The gravesite seemed tragic to me. After we got home I spent several hours reading about the history of the old ranch and that area, but could find no information about the person buried there. They say that the best among us is remembered for 100 years or so. The rest of us are soon forgotten. The memory of past generations, like our markers, soon fades away. Yet our legacy has been passed on through the family of God. How we’ve loved God and others in our lifetime lives on. Malachi 3:16-17 tells us, “a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. ‘They will be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession’ ” (nasb). Paul said of David that he “served God’s purpose in his own generation” and departed (Acts 13:36). Like him, may we love the Lord and serve Him in our generation and leave the remembering to Him. “They will be Mine,” says the Lord. —David H. Roper May I be faithful to You today, Lord, as I spend my time loving others with Your love. Help me to trust You with the legacy I’m leaving behind. Living for the Lord leaves a lasting legacy. INSIGHT: Throughout Scripture, we gather a picture of how to leave behind a godly legacy. Psalm 78:4 reminds us to “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7 declares: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” When we wholeheartedly love the Lord and others, live an obedient life that is pleasing to Him, and tell our family and others about the many wonders God has done throughout history and in our lives, we leave behind a legacy that can impact the next generation and the next and the next. What legacy will you leave? Alyson Kieda

Friday, April 6, 2018

Comfort Shared

It's about that time YES! it's FRIDAY! We have made it to the end of the week with these words of wisdom to help encourage you along the way Read: 2 Corinthians 1:1–10 Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 4–6; Luke 9:1–17 Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.—John 20:21 “God sent you to me tonight!” Those were the parting words from the woman standing in front of me as we exited our flight to Chicago. She had sat across the aisle from me, where I learned she was headed home after several flights in a round-trip that day. “Do you mind if I ask why you had such a quick turnaround?” I inquired. She glanced downward: “I just put my daughter in rehab for drug abuse today.” In the moments that followed I gently shared the story of my son’s struggle with heroin addiction and how Jesus had set him free. As she listened, a smile broke through her tears. After the plane landed we prayed together before parting, asking God to break her daughter’s chains. Later that evening I thought of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” All around us are people who need to be encouraged with the comfort only God can give. He wants us to reach out to them with tenderhearted compassion, to share the love He has shared with us. May God send us to those who need His comfort today! —James Banks I praise You for Your compassion for us at the cross, Lord! Help me to comfort others with Your kindness and love today. Watch Geoff Banks’ story at ourdailybread.org/story/geoff. God’s kindness meets our deepest need. INSIGHT: We honor the “God of all comfort” (v. 3) when we offer compassion to others. Who needs comfort? Ecclesiastes 4:1 says, “I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter.” Scripture reminds us that from the victim to the oppressor, everyone needs the comfort God offers. For further study, check out the free course Soul Care Foundations I at Christianuniversity.org/CC201. Bill Crowder

Monday, April 2, 2018

Anonymous Kindness

Welcome to the fourth month of the New Year YES! It's April What a way to jump start a New Week in a New month as we come Off the hills of Resurrection Sunday which was yesterday lets start the New Week Off reflecting on these words of Read: Matthew 6:1–4 Bible in a Year: Judges 16–18; Luke 7:1–30
When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.—Matthew 6:3 When I first graduated from college, I found myself needing to adopt a strict grocery budget—twenty-five dollars a week, to be exact. One day, while entering the checkout line, I suspected the groceries I’d selected cost slightly more than my remaining money. “Just stop when we reach twenty dollars,” I told the cashier, and I was able to purchase everything I’d selected but a bag of peppers. As I was about to drive home, a man stopped by my car. “Here’s your peppers, ma’am,” he said, handing the bag to me. Before I had time to thank him, he was already walking away. Remembering the simple goodness of this act of kindness still warms my heart and brings to mind Jesus’s words in Matthew 6. Criticizing those who made a show of giving to the needy (v. 2), Jesus taught His disciples a different way. Instead of making giving all about them and their generosity, He urged that giving should be done so secretly it’s like their left hand isn’t even aware their right is giving (v. 3)! As one person’s anonymous kindness reminded me, giving should never be about us. We give only because of what our generous God has so lavishly given us (2 Corinthians 9:6-11). As we give quietly and generously, we reflect who He is—and God receives the thanksgiving only He deserves (v. 11). —Monica Brands Have you ever been the recipient of anonymous kindness? Share your story at Facebook.com/ourdailybread. Giving quietly and generously reflects God’s generosity. INSIGHT: Today’s article describes acts of giving motivated by humility and kindness. There is no greater example of kindness and generosity than our God. Paul wrote that God’s kindness was at the heart of our rescue: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us” (Titus 3:4-5). Peter challenged to spiritual growth those who had “tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:3 NASB). And Paul wrote to the Romans: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 NASB). Paul made it clear that God’s kindness is behind the call to repent—to change our minds about our sin and our need of God’s forgiveness. When we are generous to others, we model the generosity and kindness our loving God has shown to us. Bill Crowder

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Via Dolorosa

On this Good Friday we have made it to the end of the week with only one more day before we head in to the fourth month of the New Year which is April, but lets not get ahead of ourselves lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Hebrews 10:1–10 Bible in a Year: Judges 9–10; Luke 5:17–39 We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.—Hebrews 10:10 During Holy Week, we remember the final days before Jesus’s crucifixion. The road Jesus traveled to the cross through the streets of Jerusalem is known today as the Via Dolorosa, the way of sorrows. But the writer of Hebrews viewed the path Jesus took as more than just a path of sorrows. The way of suffering that Jesus willingly walked to Golgotha made a “new and living way” into the presence of God for us (Hebrews 10:20). For centuries the Jewish people had sought to come into God’s presence through animal sacrifices and by seeking to keep the law. But the law was “only a shadow of the good things that are coming,” for “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (vv. 1, 4). Jesus’s journey down the Via Dolorosa led to His death and resurrection. Because of His sacrifice, we can be made holy when we trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sins. Even though we aren’t able to keep the law perfectly, we can draw near to God without fear, fully confident that we are welcomed and loved (vv. 10, 22). Christ’s way of sorrow opened for us a new and living way to God. —Amy Peterson Jesus, thank You for walking the way of sorrow and making a way for us to be reconciled to God. Christ’s sacrifice was what God desired and what our sin required. INSIGHT: In Romans 3:9-23 Paul describes how we are all sinners. Because of our sins we deserve God’s wrath (1:18). But God showed us how much He loved us by giving His Son to be the “sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood” (3:25). We are all “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (v. 24). Even though we still sin, we are justified, reconciled, and sanctified. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, we can live holy lives. K. T. Sim

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Point of Being Alive

So here we are starting the New Week Off In the last week of March before we step over into the 4th month of the New Year which will be April so take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom has you go through the remainder of your week Read: Luke 12:22–34 Bible in a Year: Joshua 22–24; Luke 3 Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.—Luke 12:15 Lately, as I’ve been skimming financial advice books, I’ve noticed an interesting trend. While almost all such books have good advice, many imply that the primary reason to cut costs is to live like millionaires later. But one book offered a refreshingly different perspective, arguing that living simply is essential for a rich life. If you need more or fancier stuff to feel joy, the book suggested, “You’re missing the point of being alive.” Those insightful words brought to mind Jesus’s response when a man asked Him to urge his brother to divide an inheritance with him. Instead of sympathizing, Jesus dismissed him abruptly before warning sternly about “all kinds of greed”—because “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:14-15). He then described a wealthy person’s plans to store his crops and enjoy a luxurious lifestyle—the first-century version of retirement planning—with a blistering conclusion. His wealth did him no good, since he died that night (vv. 16-20). Although we are responsible to use our resources wisely, Jesus’s words remind us to check our motivation. Our hearts should be focused on pursuing God’s kingdom—knowing Him and serving others—not on securing our own futures (vv. 29-31). As we live for Him and freely share with others, we can fully enjoy a rich life with Him now—in the kingdom that gives meaning to all of life (vv. 32-34). —Monica Brands Lord, thank You for all You’ve so generously provided. Teach us how to enjoy what You’ve given and to share it with others. Help us to rest in You. We don’t need to wait to enjoy a rich life in God’s kingdom. INSIGHT: God already lovingly rules. Yet in a fallen world, believers also pray for His kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10), for evil to be gone forever. How do we live in that tension? Instead of living in fear of loss, Jesus taught His followers to live as if God’s kingdom was already here in full. Worrying is powerless, but courageously seeking Him leads to priceless, eternal riches (Luke 12:31-34). Monica Brands

Friday, March 23, 2018

A Double Promise

It's the end of the week has we take a moment to reflect on this past week lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom to keep us encourage Read: Isaiah 25:1–9 Bible in a Year: Joshua 13–15; Luke 1:57–80 In perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.—Isaiah 25:1 Since she suffered with cancer several years ago, Ruth has been unable to eat, drink, or even swallow properly. She has also lost a lot of her physical strength, and numerous operations and treatments have left her a shadow of what she used to be. Yet Ruth is still able to praise God; her faith remains strong, and her joy is infectious. She relies on God daily, and holds on to the hope that she will recover fully one day. She prays for healing and is confident that God will answer—sooner or later. What an awesome faith! Ruth explained that what keeps her faith strong is the secure knowledge that God will not only fulfill His promises in His time, but will also sustain her until that happens. This was the same hope that God’s people had as they waited for Him to complete His plans (Isaiah 25:1), deliver them from their enemies (v. 2), wipe away their tears, remove their disgrace, and “swallow up death forever” (v. 8). In the meantime, God gave His people refuge and shelter (v. 4) as they waited. He comforted them in their ordeals, gave them strength to endure, and gave them assurance that He was there with them. This is the double promise we have—the hope of deliverance one day, plus the provision of His comfort, strength, and shelter throughout our lives. —Leslie Koh Thank You, Lord, for Your wonderful gift of hope. You have promised to save me and to walk with me every day of my life. Trusting God’s faithfulness can dispel our fearfulness. INSIGHT: Are the hopes we have for ourselves and others realistic? Isaiah and the people he loved were living under conditions of social violence, economic injustices, and a looming Assyrian invasion. Yet God gave him a confidence that enabled him to look beyond conditions of inequality, insecurity, and disgrace. For the weak, the troubled, and the dying, he wrote as if the plans and promises of God are something worth living, waiting, and even dying for (Isaiah 2:1-5; 66:20). Mart DeHaan

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Art of a Grateful Heart

The weekend has come to an end and we are starting the new week off with only 1 more week to go before we head into the fourth month of the New Year which is April WOW! time is moving so fast but lets just take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Psalm 118:1–14, 26–29 Bible in a Year: Joshua 1–3; Mark 16 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.—Psalm 118:1 On our wedding day, Martie and I gladly vowed to be faithful “in good times as well as in bad, in sickness as well as in health, for richer or for poorer.” In a way it may seem strange to include vows about the bleak reality of bad times, sickness, and poverty on a cheerful wedding day. But it underscores the fact that life often has “bad” times. So what are we to do when we face life’s inevitable difficulties? Paul urges us on behalf of Christ to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As difficult as that may sound, there is good reason why God encourages us to embrace a spirit of gratitude. Gratitude is grounded in the truth that our Lord “is good” and “his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1). He is present with us and strengthens us in the midst of trouble (Hebrews 13:5-6), and He lovingly uses our trials to grow our character into His likeness (Romans 5:3-4). When life hits us with hard times, choosing to be grateful focuses our attention on the goodness of God and gives us the strength to make it through our struggles. With the psalmist, we can sing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:29). —Joe Stowell Lord, I realize that focusing on my troubles causes me to forget that even in the midst of trials You are good. Teach me the art of a grateful heart. Thanksgiving is a virtue that grows through practice. INSIGHT: The writer of Psalm 118 knew about the struggles of living in a fallen world. Even when surrounded by enemies, the psalmist’s confidence in the Lord remained strong (vv. 8-9, 13-14, 28). Note the opening and closing verses. Despite the dangers he faced, the psalmist begins and ends by choosing to praise God: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Are you in the midst of a trial? Meditate on the Lord’s goodness and His enduring love. J.R. Hudberg

Friday, March 16, 2018

Wonders in Focus

Wrapping up the end of the week YES! we have made it to FRIDAY! with the words of wisdom so you can take a moment to reflect on Read: Job 38:1–18 Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 28–29; Mark 14:54–72 For from him and through him and for him are all things.—Romans 11:36 Some of us are inclined to look at the world and see only what’s wrong. DeWitt Jones is a National Geographic photographer who has used his profession to celebrate what’s right about the world. He waits and watches until a shaft of light or turn of perspective suddenly reveals a wonder that had been there all along. He uses his camera to find beauty in the most common faces of people and nature. If anyone had reason to focus on the wrongs of the world, Job did. After losing all that had given him joy, even his friends became his accusers. Together their voices taunted him for not admitting that he was suffering for sins he was hiding. When Job cried out to the heavens for help, God remained silent. Finally, from within the chaos of a whirlwind and the darkness of a storm, God asked Job to consider wonders of nature that reflect a wisdom and power far beyond our own (Job 38:2-4). Would He now ask us? What about something as natural as the ways of a dog, cat, fluttering leaf, or blade of grass? Could a shaft of light, or a turn of perspective, reveal—even in our pain—the mind and heart of a Creator who has been with us and for us all along? —Mart DeHaan Father in heaven, we’ve spent too much time thinking only about what is wrong and broken with our world. Please help us to see evidence of Your presence in the wonder of what only You could have done. In the faces of nature there are wonders that never cease. INSIGHT: Job had heard many “answers” to the problem of his pain, but he wanted to hear from the Lord. When he did, God asked Job a series of questions that revealed His infinite superiority. And His questions pointed to the wonders of creation. All creation points to God. A key way He speaks to us is through that creation. How refreshing to commune with our Lord as we enjoy His handiwork! Tim Gustafson

Monday, March 12, 2018

Three-Lettered Faith

Just coming off a restful Spring Break starting the New Week refresh with these words of wisdom to help us power through this week with Read: Habakkuk 3:17–19 Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 17–19; Mark 13:1–20 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be joyful in God my Savior.—Habakkuk 3:18 With a tendency toward pessimism, I quickly jump to negative conclusions about how situations in my life will play out. If I’m thwarted in my efforts on a work project, I’m easily convinced none of my other projects will be successful either, and—even though utterly unrelated—I will probably never be able to touch my toes comfortably. And, woe is me, I’m an awful mother who can’t do anything right. Defeat in one area unnecessarily affects my feelings in many. It’s easy for me to imagine how the prophet Habakkuk might have reacted to what God showed him. He had great cause for despair after having seen the coming troubles for God’s people; long and arduous years lay ahead. Things really did look dismal: no fruit, no meat, and no creature comforts. His words lure me into a pessimistic bed of hopelessness until he jars me awake again with a small three-letter word: yet. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord” (Habakkuk 3:18). Despite all the hardships he anticipated, Habakkuk found cause for rejoicing simply because of who God is. While we might be prone to exaggerate our problems, Habakkuk truly faced some extreme hardships. If he could summon praise for God in those moments, perhaps we can too. When we’re bogged down in the depths of despair, we can look to God who lifts us up. —Kirsten Holmberg Lord, You are the reason for all my joy. Help me to fix my eyes on You when my circumstances are painful and hard. God is our cause for joy in the midst of despair. INSIGHT: We don’t know much about the prophet Habakkuk. Not even his father, tribe, or hometown is provided. Yet he is believed to be a temple musician-prophet because he had his own stringed instruments (see Habakkuk 3:19). He was likely a contemporary of the prophets Nahum, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah. He prophesied in a period of violence and political chaos that began in the context of Assyria’s upheaval, continued during the Babylonian victory over Jerusalem (597 bc), and ended in Babylon’s fall to the Persians (539 bc). He would have felt the impact of the death of good King Josiah, who had brought Judah back to God for a short time. Before and after Josiah’s reign, Judah had turned away from God and been characterized by moral and spiritual decay that included the worship of other gods. No wonder Habakkuk was in despair! In his little book he questions (complains to) God out of his burdened heart, and God answers. In the end, the prophet has a deeper understanding of God’s justice. When has God given you joy in the midst of pain?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Phone Zone

So here we are we have step into the 3rd month of the New Year Welcome to March YES! we have also made it to the end of the week OMG! It is FRIDAY! Let's just STOP and take a minute to reflect on ALL God's Grace and Mercy as we reflect on these words of wisdom Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24 Bible in a Year: Numbers 26–27; Mark 8:1–21 Pray continually.—1 Thessalonians 5:17 One of the benefits of cell phones is that we now have virtually unlimited access to others. As a result, many people talk on the phone or text even while driving—sometimes resulting in terrible car crashes. To avoid such disasters, many areas of the world have made distracted driving illegal. In the United States, highway signs are popping up to remind drivers of special cell phone zones where they can pull off the road to safely talk and text to their heart’s delight. While it is a good idea to restrict mobile phone communication for drivers, there is another kind of communication that has no restrictions: prayer. God invites us to call on Him whether we are coming, going, or sitting still. In the New Testament, Paul’s words advise each person who wants to communicate with God to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Paul brackets this divine open-door policy by encouraging us to “rejoice always” (v. 16) and to “give thanks in all circumstances” (v. 18). God calls us to joy and thanksgiving—expressions of faith in God through Christ anchored in continual prayer. God is available for our quick cry or for a lengthy conversation. He welcomes us into a relationship with Him, a constant and endless sharing of our joys and gratitude, needs, questions, and concerns (Hebrews 4:15-16). We are always in the prayer zone. —Bill Crowder I’m grateful, Lord, that You want to hear from me. I need You today. Access to God’s throne is always open. INSIGHT: As in today’s text, we find helpful teaching on prayer in Luke 18:1-8. The parable of the persistent widow contrasts the widow’s plight and a believer’s privilege. In this parable, the widow perseveres in getting an unjust judge to give her the justice she needs. Like the widow, we’re desperately helpless. But unlike the widow, who is a stranger to the judge, we’re God’s beloved children (Romans 8:16). The widow went to a court of law claiming man’s laws, but we approach the throne of grace claiming God’s promises (Hebrews 4:14-16). The callous judge didn’t care, but our heavenly Father cares deeply for us (1 Peter 5:7). She didn’t have easy access to the judge, but we have unhindered “access to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence” to talk with our Father and to ask for His help any time (Ephesians 3:12 nlt). How does knowing we can talk with God “face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11) encourage you in your prayers? K. T. Sim

Monday, February 26, 2018

Fearless Giving

As we start this New Week Off in the last week of February take a moment to just reflect on ALL the things that God has brought you through just this week alone so let's take a look at these words of wisdom Read: Malachi 3:8–12 Bible in a Year: Numbers 15–16; Mark 6:1–29 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.—Malachi 3:10 When my son Xavier was six years old, a friend brought her toddler to visit and Xavier wanted to give him a few toys. I delighted in our little giver’s generosity, until he offered a stuffed animal my husband had searched several stores in different cities to find. Recognizing the high-demand toy, my friend tried to politely decline. Still, Xavier placed his gift into her son’s hands and said, “My daddy gives me lots of toys to share.” Though I’d like to say Xavier learned his confident giving from me, I’ve often withheld my resources from God and others. But when I remember that my heavenly Father gives me everything I have and need, it’s easier to share. In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to trust Him by giving a portion of all He had supplied to the Levite priests, who would in turn help others in need. When the people refused, the prophet Malachi said they were robbing the Lord (Malachi 3:8-9). But if they gave willingly, showing they trusted the Lord’s promised provision and protection (vv. 10-11), others would recognize them as God’s blessed people (v. 12). Whether we’re managing our finances, our schedules, or the gifts God entrusted to us, giving can be an act of worship. Giving freely and fearlessly can show our confidence in the care of our loving Father—the ultimate generous Giver. —Xochitl Dixon Lord, please help us live with full confidence in Your faithful provision, so we can give freely and fearlessly to You and others. Fearless giving to God and others reveals our trust in the Lord’s promises and provision. INSIGHT: The command to give a tithe (one-tenth) of one’s income to God was central in ancient Israel (Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 12:5-6; 2 Chronicles 31:4-5). In Israel’s God-ruled government, the tithe helped to provide for the Levitical tribe, which offered sacrifices to the Lord and assisted in temple work (Numbers 18:21, 26), as well as provide for the poor. Today’s passage gives us a stirring warning about the neglect of giving to God, calling it robbery (Malachi 3:8-9). When Christ came, He fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic law (see Galatians 3:10-13), and there is no longer a required tithe. Instead, believers are encouraged to regularly give to the Lord in proportion to their income and with an attitude of generosity (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Giving is an act of worship and generous giving can show our confidence in the God of grace. In what ways can you worship God this week through your generosity? For further study see odb.org/2013/11/08/the-blessing-of-giving. Dennis Fisher

Friday, February 23, 2018

Mercy over Judgment

So we have finished the third week of February with only one more week in this month before we head into the third month of the New Year which will be March MAN! time is moving so fast YES! It is FRIDAY so let's just take a moment to reflect on these word of wisdom Read: James 2:1–13 Bible in a Year: Numbers 7–8; Mark 4:21–41 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.—James 2:12 When my children were squabbling and came to me to tattle on one another, I took each child aside separately to hear their account of the problem. Since both were guilty, at the end of our chat I asked them each what they felt would be an appropriate, fair consequence for their sibling’s actions. Both suggested swift punishment for the other. To their surprise, I instead gave them each the consequence they had intended for their sibling. Suddenly, each child lamented how “unfair” the sentence seemed now that it was visited upon them—despite having deemed it appropriate when it was intended for the other. My kids had shown the kind of “judgment without mercy” that God warns against (James 2:13). James reminds us that instead of showing favoritism to the wealthy, or even to one’s self, God desires that we love others as we love ourselves (v. 8). Instead of using others for selfish gain, or disregarding anyone whose position doesn’t benefit us, James instructs us to act as people who know how much we’ve been given and forgiven—and to extend that mercy to others. God has given generously of His mercy. In all our dealings with others, let’s remember the mercy He’s shown us and extend it to others. —Kirsten Holmberg Lord, I’m grateful for the great mercy You’ve shown me. Help me to offer similar mercy to others as a measure of my gratitude to You. God’s mercy prompts us to be merciful. INSIGHT: Growing up under Roman oppression and the religious legalism of Israel’s rulers, James valued mercy and forgiveness, which was the fruit of his relationship with Christ. For further study on mercy and forgiveness, see “Forgiven Debt” at ourdailyjourney.org/2017/05/12/forgiven-debt. Bill Crowder