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Old 09-07-2017, 10:50 AM   #2181
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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The Ministry of Mourning

Read: Acts 7:54–8:2 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 1–2; 1 Corinthians 16

Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. Acts 8:2

In 2002, a few months after my sister Martha and her husband, Jim, died in an accident, a friend invited me to a “Growing Through Grief” workshop at our church. I reluctantly agreed to attend the first session but had no intention of going back. To my surprise, I discovered a caring community of people trying to come to grips with a significant loss in their lives by seeking the help of God and others. It drew me back week after week as I worked toward acceptance and peace through the process of sharing our grief together.

Like the sudden loss of a loved one or friend, the death of Stephen, a dynamic witness for Jesus, brought shock and sorrow to those in the early church (Acts 7:57–60). In the face of persecution, “Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him” (8:2). These men of faith did two things together: They buried Stephen, an act of finality and loss. And they mourned deeply for him, a shared expression of their sorrow.

Father in heaven, help us to grow together in Your healing love.
As followers of Jesus, we need not mourn our losses alone. In sincerity and love we can reach out to others who are hurting, and in humility we can accept the concern of those who stand beside us.

As we grieve together, we can grow in understanding and in the peace that is ours through Jesus Christ, who knows our deepest sorrow.

Father in heaven, help us to “mourn with those who mourn” and grow together in Your healing love.


Read Life After Loss at discoveryseries.org/cb131.

The ministry of mourning with others helps bring healing to our hearts.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Stephen was part of a group of men, known to be full of wisdom and the Spirit, selected to work together to meet the needs of others in the church. This text raises some interesting questions. Was Stephen alone in front of the members of the Sanhedrin? Where was the rest of the group? Where were they when he was being stoned?

While those who mourned and buried Stephen had the physical shoulders of others to cry on, Stephen wasn’t alone either—he was comforted and supported by Jesus Himself: “ ‘Look,’ [Stephen] said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’ ” (7:56). Stephen was granted a vision of Jesus at the moment of his greatest need of support.

Jesus will never leave us alone and we have the privilege of being Jesus to those around us. Who needs your support today?
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Old 09-08-2017, 11:22 AM   #2182
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Carried Through

Read: Psalm 30:1–12 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 3–5; 2 Corinthians 1

Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

I recently stumbled across some of my journals from college and couldn’t resist taking time to reread them. Reading the entries, I realized I didn’t feel about myself then the same as I do today. My struggles with loneliness and doubts about my faith felt overwhelming at the time, but looking back now I can clearly see how God has carried me to a better place. Seeing how God gently brought me through those days reminded me that what feels overwhelming today will one day be part of a greater story of His healing love.

Psalm 30 is a celebration psalm that similarly looks back with amazement and gratitude on God’s powerful restoration: from sickness to healing, from threat of death to life, from feeling God’s judgment to enjoying His favor, from mourning to joy (vv. 2–3,11).

Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5
The psalm is attributed to David, to whom we owe some of the most pain-filled laments in Scripture. But David also experienced restoration so incredible he was able to confess, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (v. 5). Despite all the pain he had endured, David discovered something even greater—God’s powerful hand of healing.

If you are hurting today and need encouragement, recall those times in your past when God carried you through to a place of healing. Pray for trust that He will do so again.

Lord, when our struggles feel bigger than what we can handle, help us to find comfort and strength in how You’ve carried us before.

God is lovingly working toward restoration and joy in and through the pain of our lives.
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Old 09-11-2017, 11:14 AM   #2183
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The One Who Understands

Read: John 1:1–18 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 10–12; 2 Corinthians 4

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14

John Babler is the chaplain for the police and fire departments in his Texas community. During a twenty-two-week sabbatical from his job, he attended police academy training so that he could better understand the situations law enforcement officers face. Through spending time with the other cadets and learning about the intense challenges of the profession, Babler gained a new sense of humility and empathy. In the future, he hopes to be more effective as he counsels police officers who struggle with emotional stress, fatigue, and loss.

We know that God understands the situations we face because He made us and sees everything that happens to us. We also know He understands because He has been to earth and experienced life as a human being. He “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” as the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14).

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14
Jesus’s earthly life included a wide range of difficulty. He felt the searing heat of the sun, the pain of an empty stomach, and the uncertainty of homelessness. Emotionally, He endured the tension of disagreements, the burn of betrayal, and the ongoing threat of violence.

Jesus experienced the joys of friendship and family love, as well as the worst problems that we face here on earth. He provides hope. He is the Wonderful Counselor who patiently listens to our concerns with insight and care (Isa. 9:6). He is the One who can say, “I’ve been through that. I understand.”

Dear Lord, thank You for caring enough to humble Yourself and come to earth as a human being.

God understands the struggles we face.
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Old 09-12-2017, 09:49 AM   #2184
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Taking the First Step

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:11–21 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 13–15; 2 Corinthians 5

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19

Tham Dashu sensed something was missing in his life. So he started going to church—the same church his daughter attended. But they never went together. In earlier days, he had offended her, which drove a wedge between them. So, Tham would slip in when the singing started and leave promptly after the service ended.

Church members shared the gospel story with him, but Tham always politely rejected their invitation to put his faith in Jesus. Still, he kept coming to church.

Our willingness to seek reconciliation with others shows God’s heart to them.
One day Tham fell gravely ill. His daughter plucked up the courage and wrote him a letter. She shared how Christ had changed her life, and she sought reconciliation with her dad. That night, Tham put his faith in Jesus and the family was reconciled. A few days later, Tham died and entered into the presence of Jesus—at peace with God and his loved ones.

The apostle Paul wrote that we are to “try to persuade others” about the truth of God’s love and forgiveness (2 Cor. 5:11). He said that it is “Christ’s love [that] compels us” to carry out His work of reconciliation (v. 14).

Our willingness to forgive may help others realize that God desires to reconcile us to Himself (v. 19). Would you lean on God’s strength to show them His love today?

Is there someone you need to try to reconcile with? What practical first step can you take today?

Our willingness to seek reconciliation with others shows God’s heart to them.

By Poh Fang Chia | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

The “ministry of reconciliation” Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 5:18 is the story of the gospel. We were alienated from God, but in His mercy and grace He reached out to us. In sending Jesus, the Father extended the greatest offer of peace in human history—the Prince of Peace Himself.
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Old 09-13-2017, 12:33 PM   #2185
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Stay Awhile

Read: Hebrews 11:8–13 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 16–18; 2 Corinthians 6

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. Hebrews 11:13

During a discussion of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, a teenager said he prefers his stories in books rather than movies. When asked why, the young man replied, “With a book, I can stay there as long as I want.” There is something to be said for the power of lingering in a book, especially the Bible, and “inhabiting” the stories there.

Hebrews 11, often called “the faith chapter” of the Bible, mentions nineteen people by name. Each one traveled a road of difficulty and doubt, yet chose to obey God. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth” (v. 13).

Father in heaven, thank You for Your written Word.
How easy it is to rush through our Bible reading without pondering the people and events in the text. Our self-imposed time schedule robs us of going deeper into God’s truth and His plan for our lives. Yet, when we are willing to stay awhile, we find ourselves caught up in the real-life dramas of people like us who chose to stake their lives on God’s faithfulness.

When we open God’s Word, it’s good to recall that we can stay as long as we want.

Father in heaven, thank You for Your written Word and the examples of people who lived by faith. Help us to follow You as they did.


Linger in God’s Word and you'll find stories of faith.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Hebrews 11 provides examples of how authentic faith leads to a changed life. Belief and action produce acts of courage and perseverance. As we ponder the deep and impressive faith our spiritual ancestors demonstrated through their actions, it encourages us to follow in their footsteps. The examples of those who have preceded us—those who lived as “foreigners and strangers on earth” (v. 13)—help us to fix our eyes on Jesus (12:2).

As you reflect on today’s reading, how are you inspired in your walk with Christ?

J.R. Hudberg
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Old 09-15-2017, 12:03 PM   #2186
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What’s Your Father’s Name?

Read: John 8:39–47 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 22–24; 2 Corinthians 8

To those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

When I went to buy a cell phone in the Middle East, I was asked the typical questions: name, nationality, address. But then as the clerk was filling out the form, he asked, “What’s your father’s name?” That question surprised me, and I wondered why it was important. Knowing my father’s name would not be important in my culture, but here it was necessary in order to establish my identity. In some cultures, ancestry is important.

The Israelites believed in the importance of ancestry too. They were proud of their patriarch Abraham, and they thought being part of Abraham's clan made them God's children. Their human ancestry was connected, in their opinion, to their spiritual family.

God is our Eternal Father.
Hundreds of years later when Jesus was talking with the Jews, He pointed out that this was not so. They could say Abraham was their earthly ancestor, but if they didn’t love Him—the One sent by the Father—they were not part of God’s family.

The same applies today. We don't choose our human family, but we can decide the spiritual family we belong to. If we believe in Jesus’s name, God gives us the right to become His children (John 1:12).

Who is your spiritual Father? Have you decided to follow Jesus? Let this be the day you trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and become part of God’s family.

Dear Lord, You are my heavenly and eternal Father. Thank You for Jesus, my Savior.

God is our Eternal Father.

By Keila Ochoa | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

The Israelites of Jesus’s day had many Old Testament heroes, but three soared above the rest. David was the great king who established the city of Jerusalem and stabilized the kingdom. Moses was the leader who was given the law of God. He was God’s instrument of deliverance and led the Israelites to the threshold of the land of promise. But their most ancient hero was Abraham—the father of the faithful and the man whose faith was counted to him as righteousness. Jesus, however, surpasses this great heritage, for through Him we become children of God Himself.

Bill Crowder
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Old 09-18-2017, 11:30 AM   #2187
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Watch the Conductor

Read: Hebrews 12:1–3 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 30–31; 2 Corinthians 11:1–15

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1–2

World-renowned violinist, Joshua Bell, has an unusual way of leading the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, a forty-four-member chamber orchestra. Instead of waving a baton he directs while playing his Stradivarius with the other violinists. Bell told Colorado Public Radio, “Even while I’m playing I can give them all kinds of direction and signals that I think only they would understand at this point. They know by every little dip in my violin, or raise in my eyebrow, or the way I draw the bow. They know the sound I’m looking for from the entire orchestra.”

Just as the orchestra members watch Joshua Bell, the Bible instructs us to keep our eyes on Jesus our Lord. After listing many heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, the writer says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1–2).

Let us keep our eyes on Jesus our Savior as He directs our lives.
Jesus promised, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Because He is, we have the amazing privilege of keeping our eyes on Him while He conducts the music of our lives.

Lord, our eyes look to You this day so we may follow Your direction and live in harmony with You.

Let us keep our eyes on Jesus our Savior as He directs our lives.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Have you ever walked away from a parent, teacher, coach, or military officer you thought was being too hard on you?

The men and women of faith listed in Hebrews 11 must have wondered at times whether their God was asking more of them than they could possibly give. Yet through doubt, personal failure, and unfulfilled dreams, the Bible gives all of them honorable mention—as witnesses to the faith that has been entrusted to us.

Now it’s our turn. When we face fears, we have the opportunity to follow the One who asks us to trust Him in a way that lifts us above own natural inclinations. This is a moment to remember the lingering witness of Jesus’s own disciples who so often heard the words, “Don’t be afraid.” From the stories of those who have gone before us, we are reminded that it was on a road of faith that Jesus and His witnesses suffered to bring others to God.

Jesus invites us to experience for ourselves the honor of being witnesses to His faithfulness even when we struggle to trust Him.

Mart DeHaan
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:00 AM   #2188
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The Best Portion of All

Read: Psalm 73:21–28 | Bible in a Year: Ecclesiastes 1–3; 2 Corinthians 11:16–33

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Philippians 4:12

“His piece is bigger than mine!”

When I was a boy my brothers and I would sometimes bicker about the size of the piece of homemade pie mom served us. One day Dad observed our antics with a lifted eyebrow, and smiled at Mom as he lifted his plate: “Please just give me a piece as big as your heart.” My brothers and I watched in stunned silence as Mom laughed and offered him the largest portion of all.

When we are His, He is ours, forever.
If we focus on others’ possessions, jealousy too often results. Yet God’s Word lifts our eyes to something of far greater worth than earthly possessions. The psalmist writes, “You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart” (Ps. 119:57–58). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the writer conveyed the truth that nothing matters more than closeness to God.

What better portion could we have than our loving and limitless Creator? Nothing on earth can compare with Him, and nothing can take Him away from us. Human longing is an expansive void; one may have “everything” in the world and still be miserable. But when God is our source of happiness, we are truly content. There’s a space within us only God can fill. He alone can give us the peace that matches our hearts.

Loving Lord, thank You that nothing and no one can meet my every need like You can.

When we are His, He is ours, forever.

You have made us for yourself, Lord. Our hearts are restless until they can find rest in You. Augustine of Hippo

By James Banks | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

In Philippians 4:12, the key verse for today, the apostle Paul says he’s learned the secret of being content. Yet for Paul, life wasn’t easy—especially life as an evangelist. In another letter written by him, Paul lists the many trials he faced: five times he was brutally whipped, three times beaten with rods, and once pelted with stones. He was in danger at sea and on land, was imprisoned several times, and often went without sleep or food (see 2 Cor. 11:23–27). How could Paul be content in such difficult circumstances? What was his “secret”? He wrote, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13). Because of the strength God gave him, Paul could be content “whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (v. 12).

Do you struggle with contentment? Ask God to give you the strength to be content in your situation.

Alyson Kieda
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Old 09-20-2017, 11:39 AM   #2189
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Let’s Finish the Race

Read: Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 | Bible in a Year: Ecclesiastes 4–6; 2 Corinthians 12

Two are better than one . . . . If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:9–10

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, two athletes in the 5,000-meter race caught the world’s attention. About 3,200 meters into the race, New Zealander Nikki Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino collided and fell. Abbey was quickly up on her feet, but stopped to help Nikki. Moments after the two athletes had started running again, Abbey began faltering, her right leg injured as a result of the fall. It was now Nikki’s turn to stop and encourage her fellow athlete to finish the race. When Abbey eventually stumbled across the finish line, Nikki was waiting to embrace her. What a beautiful picture of mutual encouragement!

It reminds me of a passage in the Bible: “Two are better than one . . . . If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Eccl. 4:9–10). As runners in a spiritual race, we need one another—perhaps even more so, for we are not racing in competition with each other but as members of the same team. There’ll be moments where we falter and need someone to pick us up; at other times, someone may need our encouragement through our prayers or presence.

The spiritual race is not to be run alone.
The spiritual race is not to be run alone. Is God leading you to be a Nikki or Abbey in someone’s life? Respond to His prompting today, and let’s finish the race!

Dear Lord, thank You for the encouragement of fellow believers to help me on my journey. Help me to look for ways to encourage others.

We need each other to get where God wants us to go.

By Poh Fang Chia | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Ecclesiastes is a very unusual book. For much of this inspired text, life is examined without God in the picture (1:2). Although the book concludes with moral admonitions (see 12:1–8), the majority of the book has almost a secular feel to it. Yet because King Solomon the Wise is its author, remarkable principles of life surface. Today’s reading blesses the reader with insights on the benefits of meaningful relationships. The journey of life is not to be walked alone but benefits from mutual support of another.

Can you recall a time when God used someone to help you carry your load?

Dennis Fisher
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Old 09-22-2017, 10:27 AM   #2190
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Sweet and Sour

Read: Job 2:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Ecclesiastes 10–12; Galatians 1



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Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? Job 2:10

When our toddler first bit into a lemon wedge, he wrinkled his nose, stuck out his tongue, and squeezed his eyes shut. “Sow-wah,” he said (sour).

I chuckled as I reached for the piece of fruit, intending to toss it into the trash.

The Lord uses trials to teach us how to trust Him
“No!” Xavier scampered across the kitchen to get away from me. “Moe-wah!” (more). His lips puckered with every juice-squirting bite. I winced when he finally handed me the rind and walked away.

My taste buds accurately reflect my partiality to the sweet moments in life. My preference for avoiding all things bitter reminds me of Job’s wife, who seems to have shared my aversion to the sourness of suffering.

Job surely didn’t delight in hardship or trouble, yet he honored God through heart-wrenching circumstances (Job 1:1–22). When painful sores afflicted Job’s body, he endured the agony (2:7–8). His wife told him to give up on God (v. 9), but Job responded by trusting the Lord through suffering and afflictions (v. 10).

It’s natural to prefer avoiding the bitter bites in life. We can even be tempted to lash out at God when we’re hurting. But the Lord uses trials, teaching us how to trust Him, depend on Him, and surrender to Him as He enables us to persevere through difficult times. And like Job, we don’t have to enjoy suffering to learn to savor the unexpected sweetness of sour moments—the divine strengthening of our faith.

Thank You for assuring us that suffering is never wasted when we place our confidence in who You are, what You’ve done, and what You’re capable of doing.

God uses suffering to strengthen our faith.

By Xochitl Dixon | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

In the ancient story of Job, we see a devout follower of God whose life has been laid bare by financial, family, and physical suffering. The book of Job asks the perennial question, “Why do the righteous suffer?” Job’s ordeals test his devotion to his Redeemer and Provider. Clearly the book shows how God uses suffering to strengthen believers’ faith and refine their character. Job declares, “But [God] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

Has God used a trial in your life to refine your character and strengthen your faith?

Dennis Fisher
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Old 09-26-2017, 01:54 PM   #2191
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From Empty to Full

Read: 2 Kings 4:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 1–2; Galatians 5

When all the jars were full . . . the oil stopped flowing. 2 Kings 4:6

A popular children’s book tells the story of a poor, country boy who took off his cap to honor the king. An identical hat appeared instantly in its place on his head, inciting the king’s anger for what appeared to be disrespect. Bartholomew removed hat after hat while being escorted to the palace for punishment. Each time, a new one appeared in its place. The hats grew increasingly fancy, bearing precious jewels and feather plumes. The 500th hat was the envy of King Derwin, who pardoned Bartholomew and purchased the hat for 500 pieces of gold. At last, Bartholomew’s head was bare; he walked home with freedom and money to support his family.

A widow came to Elisha in financial distress, fearing her children would be sold into slavery to pay her debts (2 Kings 4). She had no assets other than a jar of oil. God multiplied that oil to fill enough borrowed jars to settle the debts plus care for their daily needs (v. 7).

Thank You, Lord, for paying my debt through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
God provided financially for the widow in much the same way He provides salvation for me. I am bankrupted by sin, but Jesus paid my debt—and offers me eternal life as well! Without Jesus, we are each like the poor, country boy with no means to pay our King for our offenses against Him. God miraculously supplies the extravagant ransom for us, and ensures that those who trust in Him will have life abundant forever.

Thank You, Lord, for paying my debt through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I had nothing; You paid it all for me.

Jesus’s sacrifice pays for our spiritual debt.

By Kirsten Holmberg | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

In today’s account of the never-ending oil, the woman and her sons follow the prophet’s instructions without question. They were in need and knew God could provide. Many of us may wish we had that kind of faith—faith that doesn’t doubt or question.

Some background to their inspiring faith helps put this story in context. Verse 1 tells us that the widow’s husband had been a member of “the company of the prophets”—a group of men who had remained faithful to the true God in a time of paganism. They had also seen God do miraculous things through Elisha, so they knew nothing was impossible. Their faith was the logical conclusion of their experience and gave them the confidence to obey.

God often provides in ways we don’t expect. Is there a situation you need to trust God for today?

J.R. Hudberg
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:03 AM   #2192
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Clothes for the Climate


Read: Colossians 3:8–17 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 3–4; Galatians 6

Over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14

While removing the price tag from an item of winter clothing I had purchased, I smiled at these words on the back: “WARNING: This innovative product will make you want to go outdoors and stay there.” When properly clothed for the climate, a person can survive and even thrive in harsh and changing weather conditions.

The same principle is true in our spiritual lives. As followers of Jesus, our all-weather spiritual wardrobe has been prescribed by the Lord in His Word, the Bible. “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. . . . Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:12–13 emphasis added).

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Col. 3:13
These garments that God provides—such as kindness, humility, and gentleness—allow us to meet hostility and criticism with patience, forgiveness, and love. They give us staying power in the storms of life.

When we face adverse conditions at home, school, or work, the “clothing” God tells us to wear protects us and enables us to make a positive difference. “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (v. 14).

Dressing according to God’s guidelines doesn’t change the weather—it equips the wearer.

Heavenly Father, help me to put on Your garment of love so that I am prepared for whatever life brings me today.

Kindness is the oil that takes the friction out of life.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

What does it take to dress for spiritual success? When writing to followers of Jesus in Colossae, the apostle Paul may have been influenced by the regional clothing industry. The city (in an area of modern-day Turkey) was famous for their beautiful dark-red wool cloth (colossinum).

What we do know, however, is that Paul’s allusion to being clothed in Christ is more important than a regional textile industry or global custom. In behalf of Jesus, Paul urged them—and us—to clothe ourselves in the kind of love that does far more than call attention to ourselves. It is a caring that binds all goodness together in the eye-catching unity of Christ.

Mart DeHaan
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:39 AM   #2193
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The Day I Couldn’t Pray

Read: Romans 8:22–26 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 5–6; Ephesians 1

The Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

In November 2015, I learned I needed open-heart surgery. Surprised and a little shaken, I was naturally drawn to think about the possibility of death. Were there relationships I needed to mend? Were there financial matters I needed to attend to for my family? Was there work that could be done ahead of time? And what about work that couldn’t wait; who should I hand that off to? It was a time to both act and pray.

Except I couldn’t do either.

God never leaves the voices of His children unheard.
My body was so weary and my mind so fatigued that even the simplest of tasks seemed beyond my strength. Perhaps most surprising, when I tried to pray, my thoughts would drift to the discomfort, or the shallow breathing caused by the damaged heart made me fall asleep. It was frustrating. I couldn’t work and I couldn’t even ask God to let me live so I could spend more time with my family!

The inability to pray troubled me most. But as with all other human needs, the Creator knew this was happening to me. I would eventually recall He made two preparations for such occurrences: the prayer of the Spirit for us when we can’t pray (Rom. 8:26), and the prayer of others on our behalf (James 5:16; Gal. 6:2).

What a comfort it was to know that the Holy Spirit was even then raising my concerns before the Father. What a gift also to hear from friends and family as they prayed for me. Then came another surprise: As my friends and family asked me what to pray for, it became clear that my answers to them were also being heard by God as prayers. What a gift it is in a time of uncertainty to be reminded God hears our heart even when we think we can’t call out to Him.

God never leaves the voices of His children unheard.

By Randy Kilgore | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Anyone who has traveled to a foreign country can understand the value of a good translator. Someone who is familiar with our language and that of the country we are visiting knows how to choose just the right words to communicate clearly.

Have you ever been in a situation so perplexing you didn’t know the right words to use when you prayed? Because of our limited perspective and the distraction of our sinful inclinations we can sometimes struggle with prayer. Yet God the Holy Spirit is our intercessor. He groans with our concerns as He Himself makes our prayers conform to the will of God. It’s a comfort that the Holy Spirit knows our own limitations and weaknesses and translates our requests to God in conformity with His will.

In what ways does understanding the intercession of the Holy Spirit comfort you when you find it hard to pray?

Dennis Fisher
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Old 09-29-2017, 09:46 AM   #2194
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Fresh Faith

Read: John 20:24–29 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 7–8; Ephesians 2

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

When our son was struggling with heroin addiction, if you had told me God would one day use our experience to encourage other families who face these kinds of battles, I would have had trouble believing it. God has a way of bringing good out of difficult circumstances that isn’t always easy to see when you are going through them.

The apostle Thomas also didn’t expect God to bring good out of the greatest challenge of his faith—Jesus’s crucifixion. Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus came to them after the resurrection, and in his deep grief he insisted, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were . . . I will not believe” (John 20:25). But later, when Jesus appeared to all the disciples together, out of the dust of Thomas’s doubts God’s Spirit would inspire a striking statement of faith. When Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28), he was grasping the truth that Jesus was actually God in the flesh, standing right in front of him. It was a bold confession of faith that would encourage and inspire believers in every century that followed.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
Our God is able to inspire fresh faith in our hearts, even in moments when we least expect it. We can always look forward to His faithfulness. Nothing is too hard for Him!

Thank You, Lord, that Your love is stronger than our greatest difficulties—even our worst doubts or fears!

God can change our doubts into bold statements of faith.

By James Banks | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Though God may seem silent or even out of sight, He is never absent (Heb. 13:5). He is sovereignly working out things for our good; nothing is ever wasted in the hands of our God (see Rom. 8:28). In 1 Corinthians 10:13 the apostle Paul assures us that God will most certainly work things out for us: “The [trials] in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the [trials] to be more than you can stand. [God] will show you a way out so that you can endure” (nlt). When going through the difficulties of life, let us in faith see “him who is invisible” because “he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 11:27; 10:23).

For further reflection, read 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:24, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, and 2 Timothy 2:13. Allow the faithful God to embrace you and give you fresh faith.



Sim Kay Tee
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Old 10-02-2017, 11:04 AM   #2195
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The Perfect Prayer Partner

Read: Romans 8:31–34 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 14–16; Ephesians 5:1–16

[Jesus] is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34

Few sounds are as beautiful as hearing someone who loves you praying for you. When you hear a friend pray for you with compassion and God-given insight, it’s a little like heaven touching earth.

How good it is to know that because of God’s kindness to us our prayers can also touch heaven. Sometimes when we pray we may struggle with words and feelings of inadequacy, but Jesus taught His followers that we “should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). God’s Word shows us that one of the reasons we can do this is that Jesus Himself “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34).

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for interceding for me with love. Help me to love and serve You with my prayers today.
We never pray alone, because Jesus is praying for us. He hears us as we pray, and speaks to the Father on our behalf. We don’t have to worry about the eloquence of our words, because no one understands us like Jesus. He helps us in every way, presenting our needs before God. He also knows when the answers we ask for would not be good for us, handling every request or concern with perfect wisdom and love.

Jesus is the perfect prayer partner—the friend who intercedes for us with immeasurable kindness. His prayers for us are beautiful beyond words, and should encourage us to always pray with thankfulness.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for interceding for me with love. Help me to love and serve You with my prayers today.


Visit us at ourdailybread.org/PrayerChangesThings for more resources on prayer.

There’s no greater privilege than praying with Jesus.

By James Banks | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

From its opening affirmation to its closing declaration, Romans 8 is a powerhouse of encouragement for the follower of Christ. Today’s devotional highlights the reminder that Jesus Himself intercedes for us as we pray (v. 34). But there is even more help for us. Verse 26 tells us, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Imagine—the Son andthe Spirit help us as we pray. What great reassurance that gives!

Do you struggle with your prayers? Knowing that divine help is available encourages us to keep praying—even when we aren’t sure how.

Bill Crowder
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Old 10-03-2017, 10:14 AM   #2196
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Conceived in Crisis

Read: Psalm 57 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 17–19; Ephesians 5:17–33

I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1

Marc recalls a moment from his childhood when his father called the family together. Their car had broken down, and the family would run out of money by the end of the month. Marc’s dad paused and prayed. Then he asked the family to expect God’s answer.

Today Marc recalls how God’s help arrived in surprising ways. A friend repaired their car; unexpected checks arrived; food showed up at the door. Praising God came easily. But the family’s gratitude had been forged in a crisis.

Your next crisis is your next opportunity to trust our unfailing God.
Psalm 57 has long provided rich inspiration for worship songs. When David declared, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens” (v. 11), we might imagine him gazing up at a magnificent Middle Eastern night sky or perhaps singing in a tabernacle worship service. But in reality David, fearful for his life, was hiding in a cave.

“I am in the midst of lions,” David said in the psalm. These “ravenous beasts” were “men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords” (v. 4). David’s praise was conceived in crisis. Although he was cornered by enemies who wanted him dead, David could write these amazing words: “My heart, O God, is steadfast . . . . I will sing and make music” (v. 7).

Whatever crisis we face today, we can run to God for help. Then, we can praise Him as we wait expectantly, confident in His infinitely creative care for us.

Share with others on Facebook.com/ourdailybread about when God delivered you from a crisis.

Your next crisis is your next opportunity to trust our unfailing God.

By Tim Gustafson | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Scripture often uses the image of wings to speak of God’s strength and protection. The image of a chick hiding under the wings of its mother helps us understand the refuge that David seeks in God (Ps. 57). When chicks take refuge under the hen’s wings, they are not simply sheltered but are completely hidden—totally covered in the feathers of their mother, out of sight and out of the way of danger. Whatever danger comes must come to the parent first. Like David, we can “take refuge in the shadow of [God’s] wings” (v. 1).

How does this image encourage you to trust God during your trials?

J.R. Hudberg
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Old 10-04-2017, 05:04 PM   #2197
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Divine Interruptions

Read: Luke 18:35–43 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 20–22; Ephesians 6

Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Luke 18:40–41

Experts agree that a staggering amount of time is consumed each day by interruptions. Whether at work or at home, a phone call or an unexpected visit can easily deflect us from what we feel is our main purpose.

Not many of us like disruptions in our daily lives, especially when they cause inconvenience or a change of plans. But Jesus treated what appeared to be interruptions in a far different way. Time after time in the Gospels, we see the Lord stop what He is doing to help a person in need.

Jesus, fill us with Your wisdom and compassion.
While Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem where He would be crucified, a blind man begging by the side of the road called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:35–38). Some in the crowd told him to be quiet, but he kept calling out to Jesus. Jesus stopped and asked the man, “‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you’ ” (vv. 41–42).

When our plans are interrupted by someone who genuinely needs help, we can ask the Lord for wisdom in how to respond with compassion. What we call an interruption may be a divine appointment the Lord has scheduled for that day.

Lord Jesus, fill us with Your wisdom and compassion that we may respond as You did to people in need.

Interruptions can be opportunities to serve.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

In Acts 8 we read of another divine interruption. Philip had a fruitful ministry in Samaria (Acts 8:4–25), so he may have wondered why God would tell him to leave and take “the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” (v. 26). In obedience, Philip took the road few used. But God had sovereignly arranged for Philip to meet with an Ethiopian—a Gentile who himself had embarked on a long journey as he earnestly sought after God (v. 27). Philip made contact with the Ethiopian just as he was reading a prophecy about Jesus (vv. 28–34). The man believed in Christ, and Philip baptized him on the spot (vv. 36–38). Imagine how Philip must have felt when he realized he had been sent out on a divine assignment of leading a person to faith in Christ! Philip being on the road less traveled was no accident; he was there by divine leading.

What might the Lord be prompting you to do today?

Sim Kay Tee
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Old 10-05-2017, 10:12 AM   #2198
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Hovering Over Us

Read: Deuteronomy 32:7–12 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 23–25; Philippians 1

He shielded him and cared for him . . . like an eagle that . . . hovers over its young. Deuteronomy 32:10–11

Betty’s daughter arrived home from an overseas trip, feeling unwell. When her pain became unbearable, Betty and her husband took her to the emergency room. The doctors and nurses set to work, and after a few hours one of the nurses said to Betty, “She’s going to be okay! We’re going to take good care of her and get her healed up.” In that moment, Betty felt peace and love flood over her. She realized that while she hovered over her daughter anxiously, the Lord is the perfect parent who nurtures His children, comforting us in difficult times.

In the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord reminded His people how, when they were wandering in the desert, He cared for them as a loving parent who hovers over its young. He never left them, but was like an eagle “that spreads its wings” to catch its children and “carries them aloft” (32:11). He wanted them to remember that although they experienced hardship and strife in the desert, He didn’t abandon them.

We can take comfort and courage in this reminder that our God will never leave us.
We too may face challenges of many kinds, but we can take comfort and courage in this reminder that our God will never leave us. When we feel that we are falling, the Lord like an eagle will spread His wings to catch us (v. 11) as He brings us peace.

Father God, Your love as a parent is greater than anything I can imagine. May my confidence rest in You, and may I share Your love with others.

Our God hovers over us with love.

By Amy Boucher Pye | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Deuteronomy comes from the Greek word deuteronomion (“second law”). Much of the content of the book of Deuteronomy is a retelling of the giving of the law to Israel recorded in the book of Exodus. This could be misleading, however, because Deuteronomy is more than just legal code. The first giving of the law marked Israel entering into a covenant relationship with God as His people, but this retelling prepared them for their entrance into the long-awaited land of promise. It reminded the Israelites of their covenant relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and was a reaffirmation of God’s covenant love for them—despite their repeated failures during the wilderness wanderings. God’s faithful, abiding love remained His response to His people. That same love continues today, and His perfect love never fails.

In your times of struggle, do you find it easy to question God’s love? How does God’s faithfulness to Israel encourage you to trust in His faithfulness to you?

Bill Crowder
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Old 10-06-2017, 11:40 AM   #2199
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If I Knew Then . . .

Read: 1 Peter 1:3–9 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 26–27; Philippians 2

In his great mercy [God] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3

On the way to work, I listened to the song “Dear Younger Me,” which asks: If you could go back, knowing what you know now, what would you tell your younger self? As I listened, I thought about the bits of wisdom I might give my younger, less-wise self. Most of us have thought about how we might do things differently—if only we could do it all over again.

But the song illustrates that even though we have regrets from our past, all our experiences have shaped who we are. We can’t change the consequences of our choices or sin. Praise God we don’t have to carry the mistakes around with us. Because of what Jesus has done! “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”! (1 Peter 1:3).

We are forgiven because of what He’s done.
If we turn to Him in faith and sorrow for our sins, He will forgive us. On that day we’re made brand new and begin the process of being spiritually transformed (2 Cor. 5:17). It doesn’t matter what we’ve done (or haven’t done), we are forgiven because of what He’s done. We can move forward, making the most of today and anticipating a future with Him. In Christ, we’re free!

Dear Lord, I’m so thankful that through You we can be free of the burdens of the past—the mistakes, the pain, the sins—that hang so heavy. We don’t need to carry around regret or shame. We can leave them with You.


For further study, read Live Free.

Leave your heavy burdens with God.

By Alyson Kieda | See Other Authors
INSIGHT

Imagine meeting Jesus face to face—after knowingly denying ever knowing Him. Would we tell Him we haven’t been able to forgive ourselves? Would He know our heart and understand?

During the Last Supper, Peter couldn’t imagine he would deny Jesus once—let alone three times (John 13:37–38). But then the unthinkable happened (Matt. 26:69–75). Later, however, Jesus gave Peter three opportunities to express love to the One who so mercifully forgave him (John 21:15–18).

In that love and forgiveness Peter found a way forward. We too can move forward from the sins of our past through the love and forgiveness of Christ.

Mart DeHaan
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Old 10-09-2017, 12:59 PM   #2200
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From Worms to War

Read: Judges 6:11–16, 36–40 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 32–33; Colossians 1

The Lord said to [Gideon], “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
Judges 6:23

It was ten-year-old Cleo’s first time fishing, and as he looked into the container of bait he seemed hesitant to get started. Finally he said to my husband, “Help me, I-S-O-W!” When my husband asked him what the problem was, Cleo responded, “I-S-O-W! I’m scared of worms!” His fear had made him unable to act.

Fear can paralyze grown men too. Gideon must’ve been afraid when the angel of the Lord came to him as he was threshing wheat in secret, hiding from his Midianite enemies (Judg. 6:11). The angel told him he had been chosen by God to lead His people in battle (vv. 12–14).

Put your faith in the living God.
Gideon’s response? “Pardon me, my lord, . . . but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (v. 15). After being assured of the Lord’s presence, Gideon still seemed fearful and asked for signs that God would use him to save Israel as He promised (vv. 36–40). And God responded to Gideon’s requests. The Israelites were successful in battle and then enjoyed peace for forty years.

We all have fears of various kinds—from worms to wars. Gideon’s story teaches us that we can be confident of this: If God asks us to do something, He’ll give us the strength and power to do it.

Lord, thank You for the assurance that You are with us.

To take the fear out of living, put your faith in the living God.
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