Google+ Followers

Monday, January 29, 2018

Like a Little Child

So here we are starting the New Week Off in the last week of January as we prepare ourselves to enter into the Second month of the New Year let's NOT for get ALL that JESUS has done for us as we take a look a these words of wisdom Read: Matthew 18:1–5; 19:13–14 Bible in a Year: Exodus 21–22; Matthew 19 Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.—Matthew 18:3 One evening many years ago, after saying a goodnight prayer with our two-year-old daughter, my wife was surprised by a question. “Mommy, where is Jesus?” Luann replied, “Jesus is in heaven and He’s everywhere, right here with us. And He can be in your heart if you ask Him to come in.” “I want Jesus to be in my heart.” “One of these days you can ask Him.” “I want to ask Him to be in my heart now.” So our little girl said, “Jesus, please come into my heart and be with me.” And that started her faith journey with Him. When Jesus’s disciples asked Him who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, He called a little child to come and join them (Matthew 18:1-2). “Unless you change and become like little children,” Jesus said, “you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. . . . And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (vv. 3-5). Through the eyes of Jesus we can see a trusting child as our example of faith. And we are told to welcome all who open their hearts to Him. “Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (19:14). —David C. McCasland Lord Jesus, thank You for calling us to follow You with the confident faith of a child. Help the children in your life come to know Jesus. Introduce them to Our Daily Bread for Kids at Our faith in Jesus is to be like that of a trusting child. INSIGHT: Jesus likens greatness to childlikeness. Anyone coming to Him must come in childlike dependency, expectancy, receptivity, and humility (Matthew 18:2-4). While on earth, Jesus lovingly embraced His disciples as “my children” (John 13:33), and the apostle John affectionately addressed us as “dear children” (1 John 2:1, 12, 18, 28). Used negatively, however, children or “infants” denote weak or immature believers (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Ephesians 4:13-14; Hebrews 5:13). “Don’t be childish,” Paul warned us (1 Corinthians 14:20 nlt). Christians are to be childlike, not childish (1 Corinthians 13:11). When have you needed to trust Christ with childlike faith? Sim Kay Tee

Friday, January 26, 2018

Holy, Holy, Holy

So here we are we have made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY let's take a moment to reflect on ALL that we have been through this week with these words of wisdom Read: Revelation 4 Bible in a Year: Exodus 14–15; Matthew 17 Day and night they never stop saying: “ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”—Revelation 4:8 “Time flies when you’re having fun.” This cliché has no basis in fact, but experience makes it seem true. When life is pleasant, time passes all too quickly. Give me a task that I enjoy, or a person whose company I love, and time seems irrelevant. My experience of this “reality” has given me a new understanding of the scene described in Revelation 4. In the past, when I considered the four living creatures seated around God’s throne who keep repeating the same few words, I thought, What a boring existence! I don’t think that anymore. I think about the scenes they have witnessed with their many eyes (v. 8). I consider the view they have from their position around God’s throne (v. 6). I think of how amazed they are at God’s wise and loving involvement with wayward earthlings. Then I think, What better response could there be? What else is there to say but, “Holy, holy, holy”? Is it boring to say the same words over and over? Not when you’re in the presence of the one you love. Not when you’re doing exactly what you were designed to do. Like the four creatures, we were designed to glorify God. Our lives will never be boring if we’re focusing our attention on Him and fulfilling that purpose. —Julie Ackerman Link Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity! Reginald Heber The author of this article, Julie, is now worshiping her Lord in heaven. A heart in tune with God can’t help but sing His praise.

Monday, January 22, 2018

It’s in the Attitude

Here we are in the third week of the New Year YES! we are still in the month of January BUT we are getting ready to say Goodbye to the first month of the new year so as we start this New Week let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom. Read: James 1:1–12 Bible in a Year: Exodus 4–6; Matthew 14:22–36 Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds.—James 1:2 Regina drove home from work discouraged and tired. The day had started with tragic news in a text message from a friend, then spiraled downward in meetings with co-workers who refused to work with any of her ideas. As Regina was talking to the Lord, she thought it best to put the stress of the day aside and made a surprise visit with flowers to an elderly friend at a care center. Her spirits lifted as Maria shared how good the Lord was to her. She said, “I have my own bed and a chair, three meals a day, and help from the nurses here. And occasionally God sends a cardinal to my window just because He knows I love them and He loves me.” Attitude. Perspective. As the saying goes, “Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it.” The people James wrote to were scattered because of persecution, and he asked them to consider their perspective about difficulties. He challenged them with these words: “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). We are each on our own journey of learning to trust God with hard circumstances. The kind of joy-filled perspective James talked about comes as we learn to see that God can use struggles to produce maturity in our faith. —Anne Cetas Lord, please change my attitude about hard times. Bring about joy, perseverance, and maturity in me. God can bring times of growth out of our times of heartache. INSIGHT: When James says, “Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position” (1:9), he reflects the paradox of Jesus’s words in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” said Jesus, describing those who are spiritually humble, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). No one wants to suffer, but without testing, there is no perseverance. And without perseverance, there is no spiritual growth and the eternal reward that comes with it. How might you choose to respond when you find yourself in humble or difficult circumstances? Tim Gustafson

Friday, January 19, 2018

Motherhood and IBD Natalie Hayden's Story

Here is an Inspirational story from Natalie Hayden who shares her story about Pregnancy and dealing with IBD Natalie Hayden's Story Since the day I was diagnosed with Crohn’s in July 2005, the thought of motherhood seemed like a far-off reality. Through my patient journey, I’ve experienced countless hospitalizations, flareups, tests and maintenance medications. Each setback and time my body failed me, made me questions whether I would ever be able to bring a life into this world. On March 29, 2017 I did just that. My son Reid Hayden was born into this world full-term, perfectly healthy. In that moment, I realized that despite the difficulty of living with Crohn’s disease, that my body was still capable of creating a life. The timing leading up to my pregnancy was impeccable. I had bowel resection surgery in August 2015. A decade of disease (18 inches) was removed. From that point forward, I was given a “fresh start”. I truly felt pain-free for months on end. I was also newly engaged. With my wedding 10 months away—and with starting a family on my mind—I knew I was in a good position to embark on that journey with my husband. I underwent a colonoscopy two weeks before my wedding day to ensure there was no inflammation and that my disease was not flaring. I got the green light that I was in the clear and my husband and I got pregnant a month after our wedding day. Pregnancy for me truly helped calm my disease. There were so many moments where I would eat something or feel stressed, but not feel pain in my gut. Gone were the days of running to the bathroom. For the first time since 2005, I felt like a “normal” person. There’s a Florida Georgia Line song entitled, “H.O.L.Y” and one of the lyrics is “you’re the healing hands where it used to hurt.”…that was my song for my baby. When you’re pregnant with inflammatory bowel disease you have a team of specialists—your regular OB, high risk OB and your gastroenterologist. All my doctors told me it was imperative I stayed on my Humira and Lialda, along with a prescription prenatal vitamin, folic acid and calcium. While I’ll be the first to admit it’s mentally difficult to inject a biologic into your leg when you have a huge belly and feel the baby kicking—it gave me peace of mind knowing I was doing everything in my power to stay healthy and carry to term. You can’t have a healthy baby without a healthy mom. A couple days after coming home from the hospital with Reid, my unwelcome Crohn’s symptoms returned. Nothing to the point where I’ve needed to be hospitalized, but the thought of the disease looms over my head more so than before. My son is seven months old now, he’s thriving and doing incredible. He has yet to even have a cold. Some days it’s easier to take care of him than others. There are moments when I need to put the bottle down mid-feeding and make a mad dash for the bathroom. There are times I want to play on the floor as he does tummy time, but I struggle to find the energy. My goal is to stay out of the hospital until he’s old enough to walk in to visit me. He is my strength and my inspiration to stay strong when the going gets tough. When I give myself my injections I look at his sweet face and know I have so much for fight for. If you dream of being a mom, don’t let IBD hold you back. The key is going into the pregnancy in a remission-state, and not when you have active disease. Trust in yourself—you’ve endured so much. I had to laugh to myself during the labor and delivery classes when they asked who has had an IV…and I was the only one to raise my hand. You have perspective and know your body better than anyone else. Have faith in yourself and don’t let your disease restrain you from following your dreams, whatever they may be.

By the Spirit’s Power

YES! We have made it the end of the week it is FRIDAY! So let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom and ALL that God has brought us through this week with Read: Zechariah 4:1–7 Bible in a Year: Genesis 46–48; Matthew 13:1–30 What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground.—Zechariah 4:7 What do you do when there is a mountain in your way? The story of Dashrath Manjhi can inspire us. When his wife died because he was unable to get her to the hospital to receive urgent medical care, Manjhi did what seemed impossible. He spent twenty-two years chiseling a massive gap in a mountain so other villagers could get to the local hospital to receive the medical care they needed. Before he died, the government of India celebrated him for his achievement. Rebuilding the temple must have looked impossible to Zerubbabel, one of the leaders of Israel who returned from exile. The people were discouraged, faced opposition from their enemies, and lacked resources or a big army. But God sent Zechariah to remind Zerubbabel that the task would take something more powerful than military strength, individual power, or man-made resources. It would take the Spirit’s power (Zechariah 4:6). With the assurance of divine aid, Zerubbabel trusted that God would level any mountain of difficulty that stood in the way of rebuilding the temple and restoring the community (v. 7). What do we do when there is a “mountain” before us? We have two options: rely on our own strength or trust the Spirit’s power. When we trust His power, He will either level the mountain or give us the strength and endurance to climb over it. —Marvin Williams What challenges stand in your way? How will you trust the power of God’s Spirit in your life? Share it on Human power is inadequate to accomplish God’s purposes. INSIGHT: What keeps us from finishing the work entrusted to us? Eighteen years had passed since Cyrus, king of Persia, told Jewish captives of Babylon to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple of their God (Ezra 6:3,14). Now the prophet Zechariah urged completion. This temple, like the Messiah who would someday enter its courts, represented the heart of God for the world. Anything done for His honor—and for the good of others—is done in His Spirit. Mart DeHaan

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Power of Prayer

The weekend has come to an end and we are starting the New Week with these words of wisdom to help us maintain and get us through the remainder of the week let's take a look at these words of wisdom Read: 1 Samuel 7:7–14 Bible in a Year: Genesis 39–40; Matthew 11 Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us.—1 Samuel 7:8 One day, when I was deeply concerned about the welfare of one close to me, I found encouragement in part of the Old Testament story of Samuel, a wise leader of the Israelites. As I read how Samuel interceded for God’s people as they faced trouble, I strengthened my resolve to pray for the one I loved. The Israelites faced the threat of the Philistines, who had previously defeated them when God’s people didn’t trust in Him (see 1 Samuel 4). After repenting of their sins, they heard that the Philistines were about to attack. This time, however, they asked Samuel to continue praying for them (7:8), and the Lord answered clearly by throwing their enemy into confusion (v. 10). Though the Philistines may have been mightier than the Israelites, the Lord was the strongest of them all. When we ache over the challenges facing those we love, and fear the situation won’t change, we may be tempted to believe that the Lord will not act. But we should never underestimate the power of prayer, for our loving God hears our pleas. We don’t know how He will move in response to our petitions, but we know that as our Father He longs for us to embrace His love and to trust in His faithfulness. Do you have someone you can pray for today? —Amy Boucher Pye Father God, the way You hear and answer my prayers amazes me. Strengthen my faith, that I will always believe in Your goodness and love. Share your prayer request or pray for others at God hears us when we pray. INSIGHT: Samuel led his people to worship of the one true God (1 Samuel 7:1-6). Prayer was central to Samuel’s ministry (v. 9); in response to his intercession, God gave the nation victory over the Philistines (vv. 7-13). To commemorate this God-inspired victory, Samuel erected a remembrance stone he called Ebenezer, which means “stone of help.” It can also serve as a reminder to us not to underestimate the power of God to respond to our prayers! For further study see Let’s Pray at Dennis Fisher

Friday, January 12, 2018

Fitting In

We have made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! So let's just take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Malachi 3:13–18 Bible in a Year: Genesis 29–30; Matthew 9:1–17 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard.—Malachi 3:16 Lee is a diligent and reliable bank employee. Yet he often finds himself sticking out like a sore thumb for living out his faith. This reveals itself in practical ways, such as when he leaves the break room during an inappropriate conversation. At a Bible study, he shared with his friends, “I fear that I’m losing promotion opportunities for not fitting in.” Believers during the prophet Malachi’s time faced a similar challenge. They had returned from exile and the temple had been rebuilt, but there was skepticism about God’s plan for their future. Some of the Israelites were saying, “It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements . . . ? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it” (Malachi 3:14-15). How can we stand firm for God in a culture that tells us we will lose out if we don’t blend in? The faithful in Malachi’s time responded to that challenge by meeting with like-minded believers to encourage each other. Malachi shares this important detail with us: “The Lord listened and heard” (v. 16). God notices and cares for all who fear and honor Him. He doesn’t call us to “fit in” but to draw closer to Him each day as we encourage each other. Let’s stay faithful! —Poh Fang Chia Lord, help us to keep on encouraging one another to stay faithful to You in this faithless world. Our faith may be tested so that we may trust God’s faithfulness. INSIGHT: Malachi’s prophecy is a fitting conclusion to the Old Testament. (Malachi may not have been his actual name since it means “My messenger,” which is more a title than a name.) The prophecy challenges Israel’s condition following their return from exile and anticipates their coming Messiah. Chapters 1-2 give a series of rebukes for the waywardness of God’s people, leading to the declaration, “You have wearied the Lord with your words” (2:17). In response to Israel’s spiritual drifting, God reaches out with a promise for their rescue. Malachi 3:1 says, “ ‘I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the Lord Almighty.” That messenger was John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus—Israel’s long-hoped-for Messiah (Matthew 11:10). Even when we are faithless, our God is faithful! How does God’s faithfulness encourage you to be faithful? Check out the free online course “Haggai-Malachi: No Substitute for Obedience” at Bill Crowder

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Debt Eraser

So here we are starting the New Week OFF! with these words of wisdom to help us grasp a hold of 2018 and start the New Year refresh and motivated to obtain our goals in the Year of New Beginnings with these words Read: Psalm 103:1–12 Bible in a Year: Genesis 20–22; Matthew 6:19–34 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.—Psalm 103:12 I blinked back tears as I reviewed my medical bill. Considering my husband’s severe cut in salary after a lengthy unemployment, even paying half of the balance would require years of small monthly installments. I prayed before calling the doctor’s office to explain our situation and request a payment plan. After leaving me on hold for a short time, the receptionist informed me the doctor had zeroed out our account. I sobbed a thank you. The generous gift overwhelmed me with gratitude. Hanging up the phone, I praised God. I considered saving the bill, not as a reminder of what I used to owe but as a reminder of what God had done. My physician’s choice to pardon my debt brought to mind God’s choice to forgive the insurmountable debt of my sins. Scripture assures us God is “compassionate and gracious” and “abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8). He “does not treat us as our sins deserve” (v. 10). He removes our sins “as far as the east is from the west” (v. 12), when we repent and accept Christ as our Savior. His sacrifice erases the debt we once owed. Completely. Once forgiven, we aren’t defined by or limited by our past debt. In response to the Lord’s extravagant gift, we can acknowledge all He’s done. Offering our devoted worship and grateful affection, we can live for Him and share Him with others. —Xochitl Dixon Thank You for erasing our debt completely when we place our confidence in You, Lord. Our greatest debt, caused by sin, is erased by our greater God. INSIGHT: Psalm 103:13-14 is an example of the Bible’s characterization of God as a powerful, protective father (see Psalm 68:5; Isaiah 63:8). When Jesus came, He emphasized this idea, teaching His disciples to pray to God as Father (Matthew 6:9; 18:19). Remembering that God loves us like a father is a powerful reminder of His unconditional love. No matter how many mistakes their children make, good parents never stop loving them. And when children stray into danger, loving parents are willing to do anything to bring them safely home. Jesus taught us that God feels the same about us (see Luke 15:11-32). ​ When humankind walked away from Him, God was willing to pay the ultimate price to restore us into His family, enduring the weight of all our sin (Ephesians 1:7). Because of Jesus, believers need never doubt that they are God’s children (Romans 8:14-17). How does remembering that God is your Father encourage you? Monica Brands

Friday, January 5, 2018

Just Like My Father

Made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! Let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom in the New Year Read: 1 Peter 5:8–12 Bible in a Year: Genesis 13–15; Matthew 5:1–26 It is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”—1 Peter 1:16 My father’s dusty, heeled-over, cowboy boots rest on the floor of my study, daily reminders of the kind of man he was. Among other things, he raised and trained cutting horses—equine athletes that move like quicksilver. I loved to watch him at work, marveling that he could stay astride. As a boy, growing up, I wanted to be just like him. I’m in my eighties, and his boots are still too large for me to fill. My father’s in heaven now, but I have another Father to emulate. I want to be just like Him—filled with His goodness, fragrant with His love. I’m not there and never will be in this life; His boots are much too large for me to fill. But the apostle Peter said this: “The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ . . . will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10). He has the wisdom and power to do that, you know (v. 11). Our lack of likeness to our heavenly Father will not last forever. God has called us to share the beauty of character that is His. In this life we reflect Him poorly, but in heaven our sin and sorrow will be no more and we’ll reflect Him more fully! This is the “true grace of God” (v. 12). —David H. Roper Father God, we want to be just like You. Help us to grow more and more like You each day! Through the cross, believers are made perfect in His sight. INSIGHT: Not everyone has a father whose boots they wish to fill. Some of us don’t even know our father. But the Bible gives us real hope! We have a Father who welcomes us with open arms. And He tells us, “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We shouldn’t let that lofty challenge frighten us. Our loving Father gives us what we need to follow Him, even when we fail. Just look at Simon Peter’s life. Peter wrote to a church facing intense persecution, and he warned of a mortal enemy—the devil—who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (5:8). That imagery reminds us of Jesus’s warning to Peter before His crucifixion: “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus prayed for Peter. He prays for us too. Wherever we are today we can “turn back,” as Peter did, and find our Father’s welcome. What hinders you from enjoying God’s acceptance and love? Tim Gustafson

Monday, January 1, 2018

Beginning Again

We have turned the page today we start a New week in a New Year Welcome to 2018! Let's kick start this New Year with these words of wisdom to help prepare you for the Year that is going to be filled with AWESOMENESS! Let's begin with Read: Ezra 1:1–11 Bible in a Year: Genesis 1–3; Matthew 1 Everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.—Ezra 1:5 After Christmas festivities conclude at the end of December, my thoughts often turn to the coming year. While my children are out of school and our daily rhythms are slow, I reflect on where the last year has brought me and where I hope the next will take me. Those reflections sometimes come with pain and regret over the mistakes I’ve made. Yet the prospect of starting a new year fills me with hope and expectancy. I feel I have the opportunity to begin again with a fresh start, no matter what the last year held. My anticipation of a fresh start pales in comparison to the sense of hope the Israelites must have felt when Cyrus, the king of Persia, released them to return to their homeland in Judah after seventy long years of captivity in Babylon. The previous king, Nebuchadnezzar, had deported the Israelites from their homeland. But the Lord prompted Cyrus to send the captives home to Jerusalem to rebuild God’s temple (Ezra 1:2–3). Cyrus also returned to them treasures that had been taken from the temple. Their lives as God’s chosen people, in the land God had appointed to them, began afresh after a long season of hardship in Babylon as a consequence for their sin. No matter what lies in our past, when we confess our sin, God forgives us and gives us a fresh start. What great cause for hope! —Kirsten Holmberg What can you do to grow closer to God this year? Share your thoughts with us at God’s grace offers us fresh starts.