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Old 11-17-2017, 09:26 AM   #2221
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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Serve and Be Served

Read: Philippians 4:10–19 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 5–7; Hebrews 12

You were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. Philippians 4:10

Marilyn had been ill for many weeks, and many people had encouraged her through this difficult time. How will I ever repay all their kindnesses? she worried. Then one day she read the words of a written prayer: “Pray that [others] will develop humility, allowing them not only to serve, but also to be served.” Marilyn suddenly realized there was no need to balance any scale, but just to be thankful and allow others to experience the joy of serving.

In Philippians 4, the apostle Paul expressed his gratitude for all those who shared “in [his] troubles” (v. 14). He depended on people to support him as he preached and taught the gospel. He understood that the gifts provided for him when he was in need were simply an extension of people’s love for God: “[Your gifts] are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (v. 18).

Dear Lord, thank You for caring for us through Your people. May we graciously give and receive help.
It may not be easy to be the one on the receiving end—especially if you’ve usually been the first one to help other people. But with humility, we can allow God to gently care for us by a variety of means when we need help.

Paul wrote, “My God will meet all your needs” (v. 19). It was something he had learned during a life of trials. God is faithful and His provision for us has no limits.

Dear Lord, thank You for caring for us through Your people. May we graciously give and receive help.

Receive love. Give love. Repeat.

By Cindy Hess Kasper | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Paul was a tentmaker by trade and often worked to support himself while he ministered to people in various cities (see Acts 18:3). However, at times Paul relied on the giving and generosity of others (see Phil 4:14–16). He also encouraged generosity among the churches, calling on members of the global body of Christ to meet each other’s needs (see 1 Cor. 16:1–4).

Many times God provides for us through the giving of others. Reflect on how God has provided for you or used you to meet the needs of others.

J.R. Hudberg
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:39 AM   #2222
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Helicopter Seeds

Read: John 12:23–33 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 16–17; James 3

Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

When our children were young, they loved trying to catch the “helicopter seeds” that fell from our neighbor’s silver maple trees. Each seed resembles a wing. In late spring they twirl to the ground like a helicopter’s rotor blades. The seeds’ purpose is not to fly, but to fall to earth and grow into trees.

Before Jesus was crucified, He told His followers, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. . . . [U]nless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:23–24).

Lord Jesus, we are amazed by Your love. Give us grace to serve You today as we long to do.
While Jesus’s disciples wanted Him to be honored as the Messiah, He came to give His life so we could be forgiven and transformed through faith in Him. As Jesus’s followers, we hear His words, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (vv. 25–26).

Helicopter seeds can point us to the miracle of Jesus, the Savior, who died that we might live for Him.

Lord Jesus, we are amazed by Your love. Give us grace to serve You today as we long to do.

Jesus calls us to give our lives in serving Him.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Our passage today occurs shortly after Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On that day Jesus rode into town on a donkey’s colt as a large crowd, who had traveled to the city to celebrate the Passover, threw palm branches on the road before Him shouting, “ ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (John 12:12–15). Though Jesus came as a king, He knew that the people cheering Him on were expecting a savior to free them from Rome, not a savior who would suffer for their sins. He was the kernel of wheat who must die so His kingdom could grow (v. 24).
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Old 11-22-2017, 10:21 AM   #2223
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Make a Joyful Noise

Read: Psalm 98 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 18–19; James 4

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music. Psalm 98:4

Back when I was searching for a church to attend regularly, a friend invited me to a service at her church. The worship leaders led the congregation in a song I particularly loved. So I sang with gusto, remembering my college choir director’s advice to “Project!”

After the song, my friend’s husband turned to me and said, “You really sang loud.” This remark was not intended as a compliment! After that, I self-consciously monitored my singing, making sure I sang softer than those around me and always wondering if the people around me judged my singing.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music. Psalm 98:4
But one Sunday, I noticed the singing of a woman in the pew beside me. She seemed to sing with adoration, without a trace of self-consciousness. Her worship reminded me of the enthusiastic, spontaneous worship that David demonstrated in his life. In Psalm 98, in fact, David suggests that “all the earth” should “burst into jubilant song” in worship (v. 4).

Verse one of Psalm 98 tells us why we should worship joyfully, reminding us that “[God] has done marvelous things.” Throughout the psalm, David recounts these marvelous things: God’s faithfulness and justice to all nations, His mercy, and salvation. Dwelling on who God is and what He’s done can fill our hearts with praise.

What “marvelous things” has God done in your life? Thanksgiving is the perfect time to recall His wondrous works and give God thanks. Lift your voice and sing!

Lord, thank You for who You are and for what You’ve done.

Worship takes the focus off us and places it where it belongs—on God.

By Linda Washington | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Psalm 98 is jubilant in its invitation to praise God. In verses 4–6, the psalmist exalts God as King. He enlists the harp, trumpets, and horn to accompany the human voices lifted in praise and adoration of the sovereign King. In verses 7–9, God is praised for being the righteous Judge. Marvelous word pictures are used to magnify His justice. The fullness of the sea is to roar, the rivers are to clap their hands, and the mountains are to be joyful together. Voice, instruments, and nature join in to praise God. We too can enter into this same spirit by joyfully worshiping the Lord for His mighty power and holy character.

Today ponder how you can worship God who is both our Creator and righteous Judge.

Dennis Fisher
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Old 11-27-2017, 10:00 AM   #2224
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Knowing Better

Read: 2 Kings 22:1–4, 8–13 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 30–32; 1 Peter 4

When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 2 Kings 22:11

When we brought our adoptive son home from overseas, I was eager to shower him with love and provide what he had lacked over the preceding months, especially quality food, since he had a nutritional deficit. But despite our best efforts, including consulting specialists, he grew very little. After nearly three years, we learned he had some severe food intolerances. After removing those items from his diet, he grew five inches in just a few months. While I grieved at how long I’d unwittingly fed him foods that impaired his growth, I rejoiced at this surge in his health!

I suspect Josiah felt similarly when the Book of the Law was discovered after having been lost in the temple for years. Just as I grieved having unintentionally hindered my son’s growth, Josiah grieved having ignorantly missed God’s fullest and best intentions for His people (2 Kings 22:11). Although he is commended for doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord (v. 2), he learned better how to honor God after finding the Law. With his newfound knowledge, he led the people to worship again as God had instructed them (23:22–23).

God gives us a new start.
As we learn through the Bible how to honor Him, we may grieve the ways we’ve fallen short of God’s will for us. Yet we can be comforted that He heals and restores us, and leads us gently into deeper understanding.

Thank You, God, for showing me how to live in a way that pleases You. I’m sorry for the ways I’ve not done that in the past. Help me to honor and obey You now.

God gives us a new start.
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Old 11-28-2017, 09:51 AM   #2225
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Our Powerful God

Read: Amos 4:12–13 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 33–34; 1 Peter 5

[He] who creates the wind, . . . the Lord God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:13

One day by the seaside, I delighted in watching some kite surfers as they bounced along the water, moved by the force of the wind. When one came to shore, I asked him if the experience was as difficult as it looked. “No,” he said, “It’s actually easier than regular surfing because you harness the power of the wind.”

Afterward as I walked by the sea, thinking about the wind’s ability not only to propel the surfers but also to whip my hair into my face, I paused to wonder at our God the Creator. As we see in the Old Testament book of Amos, He who “forms the mountains” and “creates the wind” can turn “dawn to darkness” (v. 13).

God through His love created the world. Praise Him!
Through this prophet, the Lord reminded His people of His power as He called them back to Himself. Because they had not obeyed Him, He said He would reveal Himself to them (v. 13). Although we see His judgment here, we know from elsewhere in the Bible of His sacrificial love in sending His Son to save us (see John 3:16).

The power of the wind on this breezy day in the South of England reminded me of the sheer immensity of the Lord. If you feel the wind today, why not stop and ponder our all-powerful God?

Father, thank You for Your power and love. Help us to daily rely on You.

God through His love created the world. Praise Him!

By Amy Boucher Pye | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

The Bible uses many metaphors to describe God and His work in our lives: For example, God is a “shepherd” (Ps. 23:1; Isa. 40:11), a “rock” (Gen. 49:24), a “consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24), and a “spring of living water” (Jer. 2:13). But at the dawn of creation, God was likened to a powerful wind. Genesis 1:2 says “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” The Hebrew word rendered “Spirit” in this verse means “wind.” We can’t see the wind, but we can feel the coolness of a gentle breeze and witness the raw power of a violent tornado uprooting trees and destroying everything in its path. The wind pictures for us God’s invisible presence, His sovereign will, His awesome power, and His mysterious ways. Jesus spoke of this same power of the Spirit of God at work in transforming our lives: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

As you reflect on our powerful God, how does your heart respond?

Sim Kay Tee
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Old 11-29-2017, 11:49 AM   #2226
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The Power of Empathy

Read: Hebrews 2:14–18; 13:1–3 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 35–36; 2 Peter 1

Remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison. Hebrews 13:3

Put on the R70i Age Suit and you immediately feel forty years older as you experience impaired vision, hearing loss, and reduced mobility. The Age Suit was designed to help caregivers better understand their patients. Wall Street Journalcorrespondent Geoffrey Fowler wore one and wrote, “The unforgettable, and at times distressing, experience shed light not just on aging, but also how virtual reality equipment can teach empathy and shape our perceptions of the world around us.”

Empathy is the power to understand and share the feelings of another. During a time of severe persecution against the followers of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews urged fellow believers to “continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (13:3).

Jesus calls us to stand with others as if we were in their place.
This is exactly what our Savior has done for us. Jesus was made like us, “fully human in every way . . . that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (2:17–18).

Christ the Lord, who became like us, calls us to stand with others “as if [we] were together with them” during their time of need.

Lord Jesus, we marvel at Your willingness to share our flesh and blood in order to purchase our salvation. Give us grace to stand with others who are in need today.

Jesus calls us to stand with others as if we were in their place.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Hebrews 2:17–18 tell us that Jesus had to take all human suffering and sin upon Himself to both understand and heal humanity. But is it possible for each of us to truly empathize and help believers who are suffering? Hebrews suggests “yes,” noting that the church is the family of God (2:10–14; 13:1). In a loving family, emotional ties are so strong that when another family member suffers, everyone suffers right with them (13:3). Similarly, Paul argues that because believers are united in Christ as one body through His Spirit, when anyone suffers, everyone is affected (1 Cor. 12:26). Yet the church’s uniquely powerful love should also be extended to “strangers” outside the church (Heb. 13:2), for each believer was loved by God while still an outsider (Rom. 5:8).

How does strengthening relationships within the church enable more effective outreach to those outside the faith?

Monica Brands
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Old 11-30-2017, 09:45 AM   #2227
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Imperfect, Yet Loved

Read: Luke 7:36–50 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 37–39; 2 Peter 2

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

In Japan, food products are immaculately prepared and packaged. Not only must they taste good but they must look good too. Often I wonder if I am purchasing the food or the packaging! Because of the Japanese emphasis on good quality, products with slight defects are often discarded. However, in recent years wakeari products have gained popularity. Wakeari means “there is a reason” in Japanese. These products are not thrown away but are sold at a cheap price “for a reason”—for example, a crack in a rice cracker.

My friend who lives in Japan tells me that wakeari is also a catchphrase for people who are obviously less than perfect.

Broken people are made whole by God’s love.
Jesus loves all people—including the wakeari who society casts aside. When a woman who had lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at a Pharisee’s house, she went there and knelt behind Jesus at His feet, weeping (Luke 7:37–38). The Pharisee labeled her “a sinner” (v. 39), but Jesus accepted her. He spoke gently to her, assuring her that her sins were forgiven (v. 48).

Jesus loves imperfect, wakeari people—which includes you and me. And the greatest demonstration of His love for us is that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). As recipients of His love, may we be conduits of His love to the flawed people around us so they too may know that they can receive God’s love despite their imperfections.

I know I’m not perfect, Lord, so help me not to be hypocritical and pretend I have it all together. Open my heart to others in acceptance and love so that they might know Jesus’s concern for them.

Broken people are made whole by God’s love.
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Old 12-01-2017, 11:47 AM   #2228
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The Last Will Be First

Read: Mark 9:33–37 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 40–41; 2 Peter 3

Those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:12

Recently I was among the last in line to board a large passenger jet with unassigned seating. I located a middle seat beside the wing, but the only spot for my bag was the overhead compartment by the very last row. This meant I had to wait for everyone to leave before I could go back and retrieve it.

I laughed as I settled into my seat and a thought occurred to me that seemed to be from the Lord: “It really won’t hurt you to wait. It will actually do you good.” So I resolved to enjoy the extra time, helping other passengers lower their luggage after we landed and assisting a flight attendant with cleaning. By the time I was able to retrieve my bag, I laughed again when someone thought I worked for the airline.

We serve Him best by serving others.
That day’s experience made me ponder Jesus’s words to His disciples: “Anyone who wants to be first, must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

I waited because I had to, but in Jesus’s “upside down” kingdom, there’s a place of honor for those who voluntarily set themselves aside to attend to others’ needs.

Jesus came into our hurried, me-first world not “to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). We serve Him best by serving others. The lower we bend, the closer we are to Him.

Loving Lord, help me to follow You into the needs of others and serve You there.

Jesus’s kingdom is upside-down.

By James Banks | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Mark 9 is an action-packed chapter in our second gospel account. The chapter opens with the transfiguration of Jesus (vv. 1–13), where Peter, James, and John witness the glory of Christ and the voice of the Father while seeing Moses and Elijah join Jesus on the mountain to discuss His coming death and resurrection. Then, after descending the mountain and entering the valley below, the Lord of light is confronted by the power of darkness—from which He rescues a demon-possessed boy (vv. 14–29). After Jesus reminds the disciples of His coming death and resurrection (vv. 3–32), the disciples argue about which of them will have the highest place in the kingdom. This discussion of greatness initiates Jesus’s call to servanthood. After hearing how their Master would sacrifice Himself for them, they must be reminded that they too were called to lay themselves down for the benefit of others.

Our natural inclination is to put self first. How might you intentionally look to serve someone today?

Bill Crowder
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Old 12-04-2017, 10:54 AM   #2229
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Christmas at MacPherson

Read: Luke 1:68–75 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 47–48; 1 John 3

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. Luke 1:68

About 230 families and individuals live at MacPherson Gardens, Block 72 in my neighborhood. Each person has his or her own life story. On the tenth floor resides an elderly woman whose children have grown up, gotten married, and moved out. She lives by herself now. Just a few doors away from her is a young couple with two kids—a boy and a girl. And a few floors below lives a young man serving in the army. He has been to church before; maybe he will visit again on Christmas Day. I met these people last Christmas when our church went caroling in the neighborhood to spread Christmas cheer.

Every Christmas—as on the first Christmas—there are many people who do not know that God has entered into our world as a baby whose name is Jesus (Luke 1:68; 2:21). Or they do not know the significance of that event—it is “good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (2:10). Yes, all people! Regardless of our nationality, culture, gender, or financial status, Jesus came to die for us and offer us complete forgiveness so that we can be reconciled with Him and enjoy His love, joy, peace, and hope. All people, from the woman next door to the colleagues we have lunch with, need to hear this wonderful news!

The good news of Jesus’s birth is a source of joy for all people.
On the first Christmas, the angels were the bearers of this joyous news. Today, God desires to work through us to take the story to others.

Lord, use me to touch the lives of others with the news of Your coming.




The good news of Jesus’s birth is a source of joy for all people.

By Poh Fang Chia | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

One of the great themes of Luke’s gospel record is that it continually affirms that the message of Jesus’s death and resurrection is for everyone—not just for Israel. Today’s devotional declares that Christ’s coming would “cause great joy for all the people” (2:10). This important message continues later in this chapter when Simeon says that salvation is prepared in the “sight of all nations” and that Israel’s Messiah is both “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (vv. 30–32). At the conclusion of Luke’s account, the risen Christ tells the two disciples on the Emmaus road that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (24:47). This message was not intended for Israel alone, nor are we to keep it to ourselves. The entire world is the object of God’s love.

For more on sharing your faith, see the Discovery Series booklet Truth with Love: Sharing the Story of Jesus.

Bill Crowder
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Old 12-05-2017, 11:18 AM   #2230
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Jesus Loves Maysel

Read: 1 John 4:7–16 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 1–2; 1 John 4

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us. 1 John 4:10

When my sister Maysel was little, she would sing a familiar song in her own way: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells Maysel.” This irritated me to no end! As one of her older, “wiser” sisters, I knew the words were “me so,” not “Maysel.” Yet she persisted in singing it her way.

Now I think my sister had it right all along. The Bible does indeed tell Maysel, and all of us, that Jesus loves us. Over and over again we read that truth. Take, for example, the writings of the apostle John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:7, 20). He tells us about God’s love in one of the best-known verses of the Bible: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Dear Lord, thank You for the assurance that You love us.
John reinforces that message of love in 1 John 4:10: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Just as John knew Jesus loved him, we too can have that same assurance: Jesus does love us. The Bible tells us so.

Dear Lord, thank You for the assurance that You love us. We are filled with gratitude that You love us so much that You died for us.

Jesus loves me! This I know.

By Alyson Kieda | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Do you wish you could believe God loves you? Or does the thought seem childish and self-centered?

John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), must have heard his Teacher say that only those who become like a little child would enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:2–4). John took those words personally, but didn’t apply them just to himself. He wrote about the Father who loves all of us (John 3:16; 1 John 4:14–16). With great maturity and childlike certainty he reminds us that believing God is loveand loves us personally is what gives us reason to love Him and one another.

Mart DeHaan
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Old 12-06-2017, 10:53 AM   #2231
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Trusting God Even If


Read: Daniel 3:13–25 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 3–4; 1 John 5

The God we serve is able to deliver us. Daniel 3:17

Due to an injury that occurred in 1992, I suffer from chronic pain in my upper back, shoulders, and neck. During the most excruciating and disheartening moments, it’s not always easy to trust or praise the Lord. But when my situation feels unbearable, God’s constant presence comforts me. He strengthens me and reassures me of His unchanging goodness, limitless power, and sustaining grace. And when I’m tempted to doubt my Lord, I’m encouraged by the determined faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They worshiped God and trusted He was with them, even when their situation seemed hopeless.

When King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into a blazing furnace if they didn’t turn away from the true God to worship his golden statue (Dan. 3:13–15), these three men displayed courageous and confident faith. They never doubted the Lord was worthy of their worship (v. 17), “even if” He didn’t rescue them from their current predicament (v. 18). And God didn’t leave them alone in their time of need; He joined and protected them in the furnace (vv. 24–25).

The God we serve is able to deliver us. Daniel 3:17
God doesn’t leave us alone either. He remains with us through trials that can feel as destructive as Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. Even if our suffering doesn’t end on this side of eternity, God is and always will be mighty, trustworthy, and good. We can rely on His constant and loving presence.

Lord, thank You for being with us, no matter what we’re going through.


Share this prayer from our Facebook page: Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

Faith relies on our Almighty God’s unchanging character, not on our circumstances.
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:30 AM   #2232
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First Things First

Read: 1 Timothy 4:12–16 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 5–7; 2 John

Watch your life and doctrine closely. 1 Timothy 4:16

When you travel by air, before the flight takes off an airline employee presents a safety briefing, which explains what to do if there is a loss of cabin pressure. Passengers are told that oxygen masks will drop from the compartment above and they are to put one on themselves before helping others. Why? Because before you can help anyone else, you need to be physically alert yourself.

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he stressed the importance of maintaining his own spiritual health before helping and serving others. He reminded Timothy of his many responsibilities as a pastor: There were false teachings to contend with (1 Tim. 4:1–5) and wrong doctrines to correct (vv. 6–8). But to discharge his duties well, what was most important was to “watch [his] life and doctrine closely [and] persevere in them” (v. 16). He needed to take care of his own relationship with the Lord first before he could attend to others.

Set an example ... in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
What Paul told Timothy applies to us too. Each day we encounter people who do not know the Lord. When we tank up on our spiritual oxygen first through time in God’s Word, prayer, and the enabling of the Holy Spirit, we keep our relationship right with God. Then we will be spiritually alert to help others.

Lord, open Your Word to me now. Let me breathe in its freshness before I go out to be Your light to the world.

A Christian’s life is the window through which others can see Jesus.

By C. P. Hia | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

The importance of our relationship with God is also a prominent theme in the Old Testament. As Moses passed the leadership of the Israelites over to Joshua, he reminded his protégé that he must keep a right relationship with God. Joshua was to study God’s Word, “to meditate on it day and night,” and “be careful to do everything written in it.” Only then would Joshua successfully lead his people into the Promised Land (Josh. 1:7–8). Four hundred years later, David gave similar advice to his son Solomon: “Learn to know [God] intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. . . . The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work” (1 Chron. 28:9–10 nlt). Heeding his father’s wise advice, Solomon humbly sought the Lord and succeeded in building the temple (1 Kings 3:3–15; 6:14, 38).

What steps can you take this week to strengthen your personal relationship with God?

For further study consider the free online course Spiritual Life Basics at christianuniversity.org/SLBASICS.

Sim Kay Tee
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Old 12-08-2017, 10:56 AM   #2233
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Unexpected Grace

Read: Acts 9:1–19 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 8–10; 3 John

In a vision, he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight. Acts 9:12

It was an early Saturday morning in my sophomore year of high school, and I was eager to get to my job at the local bowling lanes. The evening before, I had stayed late to mop the muddy tile floors because the janitor called in sick. I hadn’t bothered to tell the boss about the janitor so I could surprise him. After all, What could go wrong? I thought.

Plenty, as it turns out.

Most people know they’re messed up. Instead of lectures, they need a hope for redemption.
Stepping in the door, I saw inches of standing water, with bowling pins, rolls of toilet paper, and boxes of paper scoresheets bobbing on top. Then I realized what I had done: While doing the floors, I had left a large faucet running overnight! Incredibly, my boss greeted me with a huge hug and a big smile—“for trying,” he said.

Saul was actively punishing and harassing Christians (Acts 9:1–2) when he came face to face with Jesus on the road to Damascus (vv. 3–4). Jesus confronted the soon-to-be-called apostle Paul with his sinful actions. Blinded by the experience, Saul/Paul would need a Christian—Ananias—to restore his sight to him in an act of courage and grace (v. 17).

Both Saul and I received unexpected grace.

Most people know they’re messed up. Instead of lectures, they need a hope for redemption. Stern faces or sharp words can block their view of that hope. Like Ananias, or even my boss, followers of Jesus must become the face of grace in these life-changing encounters with others.

A Christian’s grace-filled actions can smooth someone’s path to the Savior’s presence.
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Old 12-11-2017, 11:52 AM   #2234
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It’s All a Gift!

Read: Ephesians 2:1–9 | Bible in a Year: Hosea 5–8; Revelation 2

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

London’s Café Rendezvous has nice lighting, comfortable couches, and the smell of coffee in the air. What it doesn’t have are prices. Originally started as a business by a local church, the café was transformed a year after it started. The managers felt that God was calling them to do something radical—make everything on the menu free. Today you can order a coffee, cake, or sandwich without cost. There isn’t even a donation jar. It’s all a gift.

I asked the manager why they were so generous. “We’re just trying to treat people the way God treats us,” he said. “God gives to us whether we thank him or not. He’s generous to us beyond our imaginations.”

Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. Rev.22:17
Jesus died to rescue us from our sins and reconcile us with God. He rose from the grave and is alive now. Because of this, every wrong thing we’ve done can be forgiven, and we can have new life today (Eph. 2:1–5). And one of the most amazing things about this is that it is all free. We can’t buy the new life Jesus offers. We can’t even donate toward the cost (vv. 8–9). It’s all a gift.

As the folks at Café Rendezvous serve their cakes and coffees, they give people a glimpse of God’s generosity. You and I are offered eternal life for free because Jesus has paid the bill.

Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17

Eternal life is a free gift ready to be received.

By Sheridan Voysey | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

What does the phrase “dead in your sins” mean? (Eph. 2:1). Dead means lifeless, powerless, inanimate. It means we were incapable of doing anything to change our situation. Sin refers to our rebellion against God. Humanity instinctively rejects God, and this rebellion is expressed through words, deeds, and attitudes.

The spiritually dead have no relationship with God. To be spiritually dead means we are completely cut off from Him and unable to reach out to Him. We cannot fix the things we’ve done that offended Him. We can’t apologize to God for rebelling against Him, for pretending He doesn’t exist, and for living as though we are God.

Any solution to our deadness must come from somewhere other than us. Through Jesus God took action to bring our spiritually dead hearts to life and restore us to a right relationship with Him. What amazing grace!

Adapted from Grace: Accepting God’s Gift to You by Constantine Campbell. Read more at discoveryseries.org/q0613.
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Old 12-12-2017, 12:32 PM   #2235
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The Cure for Anxiety

Read: Philippians 4:1–9 | Bible in a Year: Hosea 9–11; Revelation 3

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

We were excited about moving for my husband’s job. But the unknowns and challenges left me feeling anxious. Thoughts of sorting and packing up belongings. Looking for a place to live. My finding a new job too. Making my way around a new city, and getting settled. It was all . . . unsettling. As I thought about my “to-do” list, words written by the apostle Paul echoed in my mind: Don’t worry, but pray(Phil. 4:6–7).

If anyone could have been anxious about unknowns and challenges, it would have been Paul. He was shipwrecked. He was beaten. He was jailed. In his letter to the Philippian church, he encouraged his friends who also were facing unknowns, telling them, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (v. 6).

Paul’s words encourage me. Life is not without uncertainties—whether they come in the form of a major life transition, family issues, health scares, or financial trouble. What I continue to learn is that God cares. He invites us to let go of our fears of the unknown by giving them to Him. When we do, He, who knows all things, promises that His peace, “which transcends all understanding, will guard” our heart and mind in Christ Jesus (v. 7).

Dear God, what a blessing to know we do not have to be anxious about anything! Remind us that we can come to You and tell You about everything. Thank You for who You are and what You are doing in our lives.

God’s care for me eases my mind.

By Karen Wolfe | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Today’s reading from Philippians 4 speaks of the wonderful resource of prayer and how through prayer we can take our anxieties to the Lord and find His comfort and peace. But in the verses directly preceding Paul’s prayer reminders, he gives us additional reasons to replace anxiety with trust. He says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (v. 5). We have the promise of God’s nearness to calm our fears. In every situation, our God calls us to face life in His presence and provision.

Bill Crowder
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Old 12-13-2017, 12:50 PM   #2236
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It Isn’t Me

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:1–11 | Bible in a Year: Hosea 12–14; Revelation 4

I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Galatians 2:20

As one of the most celebrated orchestral conductors of the twentieth century, Arturo Toscanini is remembered for his desire to give credit to whom credit is due. In David Ewen’s Dictators of the Baton, the author describes how members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra rose to their feet and cheered Toscanini at the end of a rehearsal of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. When there was a lull in the ovation, and with tears in his eyes, Arturo’s broken voice could be heard exclaiming as he spoke: “It isn’t me . . . it’s Beethoven! . . . Toscanini is nothing.”

In the apostle Paul’s New Testament letters, he also refused to take credit for his spiritual insight and influence. He knew he was like a spiritual father and mother to many who had put their faith in Christ. He admitted he had worked hard and suffered much to encourage the faith, hope, and love of so many (1 Cor. 15:10). But he could not, in good conscience, accept the applause of those who were inspired by his faith, love, and insight.

Father in heaven, without You we would have nothing.
So for his readers’ sake, and for ours, Paul said, in effect, “It isn’t me, brothers and sisters. It’s Christ . . . Paul is nothing.” We are only messengers of the One who deserves our cheers.

Father in heaven, without You we would have nothing. Without Your grace we would be hopeless. Without the Spirit of Your Son we would be helpless. Please show us how to give You the honor You deserve.

Wise is the person who would rather give honor than receive it.



By Mart DeHaan | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Paul warned the Corinthian church not to be enamored by the charisma or eloquence of human teachers. He reproved the believers for exalting him and reminded them that he did not come to glorify himself (1 Cor. 2:1–5); it is the message of the cross that is important, not the messenger (v. 2). The Holy Spirit is the real Teacher who reveals, teaches, and illumines us to understand God’s Word (vv. 10–16).

Are you sometimes tempted with spiritual pride? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you point others to the One who deserves the glory.

Sim Kay Tee
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Old 12-14-2017, 12:16 PM   #2237
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With God’s Help

Read: Joshua 14:7–15 | Bible in a Year: Joel 1–3; Revelation 5

So here I am today, eighty-five years old! . . . I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Joshua 14:10–11

As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed more joint pain, especially when cold weather hits. Some days, I feel less like a conqueror and more like someone conquered by the challenges of becoming a senior citizen.

That’s why my hero is an older man named Caleb—the former spy sent by Moses to scout out Canaan, the Promised Land (Num. 13–14). After the other spies gave an unfavorable report, Caleb and Joshua were the only spies out of the twelve whom God favored to enter Canaan. Now, in Joshua 14, the time for Caleb to receive his portion of land had come. But there were enemies still to drive out. Not content to retire and leave the battle to the younger generation, Caleb declared, “You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said” (Josh. 14:12).

Father, thank You for giving me the strength to get through each day.
“The Lord helping me.” That’s the kind of mindset that kept Caleb battle-ready. He focused on God’s power, not his own, nor on his advanced age. God would help him do whatever needed to be done.

Most of us don’t think of taking on anything monumental when we reach a certain age. But we can still do great things for God, no matter how old we are. When Caleb-sized opportunities come our way, we don’t have to shy away from them. With the Lord helping us, we can conquer!

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me the strength to get through each day. Help me to do Your will.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

By Linda Washington | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Caleb had grown up in the slavery of Egypt. He’d seen God rescue His people from the grip of Pharaoh and provide for them for forty years in a hot and barren wilderness. He’d seen giantlike people make his fellow spies feel like insects (Num. 13:33), yet even in his old age he relied on God’s help to conquer the land.

Are you faced with an impossible situation? The same God who helped Caleb can help you too.

Mart DeHaan
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Old 12-15-2017, 02:14 PM   #2238
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More Than a Hero

Read: John 1:1–5, 9–14 | Bible in a Year: Amos 1–3; Revelation 6

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

As Star Wars fans around the world eagerly await the release of Episode 8, “The Last Jedi,” people continue to analyze the remarkable success of these films dating back to 1977. Frank Pallotta, media reporter for CNNMoney, said that Star Warsconnects with many who long for “a new hope and a force of good at a time when the world needs heroes.”

At the time of Jesus’s birth, the people of Israel were oppressed and longing for their long-promised Messiah. Many anticipated a hero to deliver them from Roman tyranny, but Jesus did not come as a political or military hero. Instead, He came as a baby to the town of Bethlehem. As a result, many missed who He was. The apostle John wrote, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11).

Lord Jesus, You are our Savior, and we praise You for coming to die that we might live.
More than a hero, Jesus came as our Savior. He was born to bring God’s light into the darkness and to give His life so that everyone who receives Him could be forgiven and freed from the power of sin. John called Him “the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (v. 14).

“To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (v. 12). Indeed, Jesus is the one true hope the world needs.

Lord Jesus, You are our Savior, and we praise You for coming to die that we might live.

At Bethlehem, God demonstrated that to love is to give.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Many times when we think of heroes we think of someone who “rescues.” This is especially true of Jesus, who is the greatest hero of all time. Paul wrote in Galatians 1:4 that Jesus is the One “who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Second Timothy 4:18 declares, “The Lord will rescue [us] from every evil attack, and will bring [us] safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” The greatest hero of all provides the greatest rescue of all—eternal life.

Who might you want to tell about your story of Jesus’s rescue?

Bill Crowder
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