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Old 02-24-2018, 04:20 AM   #2281
Ann8284

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This wonderful forum thread is very detailed and good written. I think that your post will attract more visitors to this place. Have a nice day!
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Old 02-26-2018, 10:01 AM   #2282
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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Fearless Giving
Read: Malachi 3:8–12 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 15–16; Mark 6:1–29



Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Malachi 3:10

When my son Xavier was six years old, a friend brought her toddler to visit and Xavier wanted to give him a few toys. I delighted in our little giver’s generosity, until he offered a stuffed animal my husband had searched several stores in different cities to find. Recognizing the high-demand toy, my friend tried to politely decline. Still, Xavier placed his gift into her son’s hands and said, “My daddy gives me lots of toys to share.”

Though I’d like to say Xavier learned his confident giving from me, I’ve often withheld my resources from God and others. But when I remember that my heavenly Father gives me everything I have and need, it’s easier to share.

Fearless giving to God and others reveals our trust in the Lord’s promises and provision.
In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to trust Him by giving a portion of all He had supplied to the Levite priests, who would in turn help others in need. When the people refused, the prophet Malachi said they were robbing the Lord (Malachi 3:8–9). But if they gave willingly, showing they trusted the Lord’s promised provision and protection (vv. 10–11), others would recognize them as God’s blessed people (v. 12).

Whether we’re managing our finances, our schedules, or the gifts God entrusted to us, giving can be an act of worship. Giving freely and fearlessly can show our confidence in the care of our loving Father—the ultimate generous Giver.

Lord, please help us live with full confidence in Your faithful provision, so we can give freely and fearlessly to You and others.

Fearless giving to God and others reveals our trust in the Lord’s promises and provision.

By Xochitl Dixon | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
The command to give a tithe (one-tenth) of one’s income to God was central in ancient Israel (Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 12:5–6; 2 Chronicles 31:4–5). In Israel’s God-ruled government, the tithe helped to provide for the Levitical tribe, which offered sacrifices to the Lord and assisted in temple work (Numbers 18:21, 26), as well as provide for the poor. Today’s passage gives us a stirring warning about the neglect of giving to God, calling it robbery (Malachi 3:8–9).

When Christ came, He fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic law (see Galatians 3:10–13), and there is no longer a required tithe. Instead, believers are encouraged to regularly give to the Lord in proportion to their income and with an attitude of generosity (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:6–7). Giving is an act of worship and generous giving can show our confidence in the God of grace.

In what ways can you worship God this week through your generosity?

For further study see odb.org/2013/11/08/the-blessing-of-giving.
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Old 02-27-2018, 10:50 AM   #2283
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The Release of Fear

Read: Mark 6:45–53 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 17–19; Mark 6:30–56


Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid. Mark 6:50

Our bodies react to our feelings of dread and fear. A weight in the pit of our stomachs, along with our hearts pounding as we gulp for breath, signal our sense of anxiety. Our physical nature keeps us from ignoring these feelings of unease.

The disciples felt shockwaves of fear one night after Jesus had performed the miracle of feeding more than five thousand people. The Lord had sent them ahead to Bethsaida so He could be alone to pray. During the night, they were rowing against the wind when suddenly they saw Him walking on the water. Thinking He was a ghost, they were terrified (Mark 6:49–50).

Lord release me from my fears and give me Your peace.
But Jesus reassured them, telling them not to be afraid and to take courage. As He entered their vessel, the wind died down and they made it to the shore. I imagine that their feelings of dread calmed as they embraced the peace He bestowed.

When we’re feeling breathless with anxiety, we can rest assured in Jesus’s power. Whether He calms our waves or strengthens us to face them, He will give us the gift of His peace that “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). And as He releases us from our fears, our spirits and our bodies can return to a state of rest.

Lord Jesus Christ, help me when the dread seems to cling to me. Release me from my fears and give me Your peace.

The Lord releases us from fear.

By Amy Boucher Pye | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
When we read today’s story, we may wonder why these sturdy fishermen would be afraid of a “ghost” (Mark 6:49). But put yourself in their shoes. The disciples did see someone walking on the water—and they knew that was not possible. We may not fear the same things they feared, but we all have fears. Just like the disciples, we need the assurance of Jesus’s words: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (v. 50). The Lord who fed the multitude with a few loaves and fishes is the same one who walked on water. The disciples did not need to fear because they knew who Jesus was and what He could do. Jesus was essentially saying, “Don’t be afraid! You know me.”

What are you afraid of today? What do you need to remember about Jesus that can help you trust Him?

J.R. Hudberg
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Old 02-28-2018, 09:46 AM   #2284
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Lost but Found

Read: Luke 15:1–9 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 20–22; Mark 7:1–13

Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. Luke 15:6

When we discovered that my mother-in-law had gone missing while shopping with a relative, my wife and I were frantic. Mom suffered from memory loss and confusion, and there was no telling what she might do. Would she wander the area, or hop onto any bus thinking it would take her home? Worst-case scenarios spun through our minds as we began to search for her, crying out to God, “Please find her.”

Hours later, my mother-in-law was spotted stumbling along a road, miles away. How God blessed us in being able to find her. Several months later, He blessed her: at eighty years of age, my mother-in-law turned to Jesus Christ for salvation.

Lord, You search for us and find us. Thank You for making us Your own.
Jesus, comparing humans to lost sheep, gives us this illustration: “Suppose [a shepherd] has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, . . . he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep” (Luke 15:4–6).

Shepherds counted their sheep to make sure every one was accounted for. In the same way, Jesus, who likens himself to that shepherd, values each of us, young and old. When we’re wandering in life, searching, wondering about our purpose, it’s never too late to turn to Christ. God wants us to experience His love and blessings.

Lord, You search for us and find us. Thank You for making us Your own.

Amazing grace! . . . I once was lost, but now am found. John Newton

By Leslie Koh | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
In the Bible the word shepherd not only applies to the occupation of shepherd (Genesis 29:3; 46:32) but is also used to indicate a leader (2 Samuel 5:2; 2 Chronicles 18:16; Jeremiah 3:15) or spiritual overseer (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2). Being a shepherd of sheep required bravery, steadfast watchfulness, and tender care. Sheep are helpless without a shepherd and need guidance to food and water as well as protection from the elements and wild beasts (1 Samuel 17:34–36; Psalm 23; Luke 2:8).

Leading people is far more difficult! Thankfully Jesus is the Good Shepherd who cares for us so much that He “[lay] down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11–14). He is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9) and rejoices over each lost person who repents and is found (Luke 15:3–7).

Have you received the salvation offered by Jesus, the Good Shepherd?

Alyson Kieda
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Old 03-01-2018, 03:17 PM   #2285
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We Won’t Break

Read: Matthew 6:25–34 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 23–25; Mark 7:14–37


Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27

As a native Californian and lover of all things sunny, I shy away from all things cold. I do, however, enjoy beautiful photos of snow. So I couldn’t help but smile when my friend from Illinois shared a winter picture of a sapling outside her window. Admiration turned to sadness when I noticed its bare, knotted branches bowing under the heavy fringe of sparkling icicles.

How long could those bending boughs endure before breaking under their icy burdens? The heaviness threatening to crack the tree’s limbs reminded me of my shoulders, hunched beneath the weight of worries.

We never have to worry, Lord, because You never fail to meet our deepest needs.
After Jesus affirms that the greatest treasures are not earthly or temporary, He encourages us to release our anxious thoughts. The Creator and Sustainer of the universe loves and provides for His children, so we don’t have to waste our precious time worrying. God knows our needs and will care for us (Matthew 6:19–32).

He also knows we’ll be tempted to succumb to worry. He tells us to come to Him first, trust His presence and provision in the present, and live by faith one day at a time (vv. 33–34).

In this life, we’ll face overwhelming troubles and uncertainties that can make our shoulders droop. We may temporarily bend under the weight of worrying. But when we trust God, we won’t break.

Thanks for assuring us that we never have to worry, Lord, because You never fail to meet our deepest needs.

Worry won’t break us when we trust the Giver of all good things.



By Xochitl Dixon | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
We see God’s loving care and provision for His people throughout the Bible. A quick look at the Psalms confirms it. In Psalm 23, we read: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (v. 4). And Psalm 55:22 tells us to “cast [our] cares on the Lord and he will sustain [us].” Likewise, Psalm 91 assures us that God is our refuge and even commands His angels to guard us (vv. 9–11). “He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (95:7).

What concern can you entrust to Him?
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Old 03-02-2018, 08:55 AM   #2286
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Phone Zone
Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 26–27; Mark 8:1–21

Pray continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

One of the benefits of cell phones is that we now have virtually unlimited access to others. As a result, many people talk on the phone or text even while driving—sometimes resulting in terrible car crashes. To avoid such disasters, many areas of the world have made distracted driving illegal. In the United States, highway signs are popping up to remind drivers of special cell phone zones where they can pull off the road to safely talk and text to their heart’s delight.

While it is a good idea to restrict mobile phone communication for drivers, there is another kind of communication that has no restrictions: prayer. God invites us to call on Him whether we are coming, going, or sitting still. In the New Testament, Paul’s words advise each person who wants to communicate with God to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Paul brackets this divine open-door policy by encouraging us to “rejoice always” (v. 16) and to “give thanks in all circumstances” (v. 18). God calls us to joy and thanksgiving—expressions of faith in God through Christ anchored in continual prayer.

God is available for a quick cry or for a lengthy conversation.
God is available for our quick cry or for a lengthy conversation. He welcomes us into a relationship with Him, a constant and endless sharing of our joys and gratitude, needs, questions, and concerns (Hebrews 4:15–16). We are always in the prayer zone.

I’m grateful, Lord, that You want to hear from me. I need You today.

Access to God’s throne is always open.

By Bill Crowder | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
As in today’s text, we find helpful teaching on prayer in Luke 18:1–8. The parable of the persistent widow contrasts the widow’s plight and a believer’s privilege. In this parable, the widow perseveres in getting an unjust judge to give her the justice she needs.

Like the widow, we’re desperately helpless. But unlike the widow, who is a stranger to the judge, we’re God's beloved children (Romans 8:16). The widow went to a court of law claiming man’s laws, but we approach the throne of grace claiming God’s promises (Hebrews 4:14–16). The callous judge didn’t care, but our heavenly Father cares deeply for us (1 Peter 5:7). She didn’t have easy access to the judge, but we have unhindered “access to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence” to talk with our Father and to ask for His help any time (Ephesians 3:12 nlt).

How does knowing we can talk with God “face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11) encourage you in your prayers?

K. T. Sim
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Old 03-05-2018, 08:22 AM   #2287
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Grass or Grace

Read: Genesis 13:1–18 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 34–36; Mark 9:30–50


Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan. Genesis 13:11

My friend Archie came home from vacation to find his neighbor had erected a wooden fence five feet inside his property line. Several weeks went by during which Archie tried to work with his neighbor to remove the fence. He offered to help and to split the cost of the work, but to no avail. Archie could have appealed to civil authorities, but he chose to forgo that right in this instance and allow the fence to stand—to show his neighbor something of the grace of God.

“Archie is a wimp!” you say. No, he was man of towering strength, but he chose grace over a patch of grass.

Lord, help me to show Your love and grace to others.
I think of Abraham and Lot, who fell into conflict because their flocks and herds overwhelmed the land. “Quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and the Perizzites [the unbelieving community] were also living in the land at that time” (Genesis 13:7). Lot chose the best of the land and lost everything in the end. Abraham took what was left over and gained the promised land (vv. 12–17).

We do have rights and we can claim them, especially when other’s rights are involved. And sometimes we should insist on them. Paul did when the Sanhedrin acted unlawfully (see Acts 23:1–3). But we can choose to set them aside to show the world a better way. This is what the Bible calls “meekness”—not weakness. Strength under God’s control.

Dear Lord, I am prone to look out for myself. Give me wisdom to know when giving up my rights would best demonstrate Your love and grace to others.

My life helps paint my neighbor’s picture of God.
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:20 AM   #2288
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Like a Little Child

Read: Mark 10:13–16 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 1–2; Mark 10:1–31

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them. Mark 10:14

The little girl moved joyfully and gracefully to the music of praise. She was the only one in the aisle but that didn’t keep her from spinning and waving her arms and lifting her feet to the music. Her mother, a smile on her lips, didn’t try to stop her.

My heart lifted as I watched, and I longed to join her—but didn’t. I’d long ago lost the unselfconscious expression of joy and wonder of my childhood. Even though we are meant to grow and mature and put childish ways behind us, we were never meant to lose the joy and wonder, especially in our relationship with God.

How can you be more like a child in the presence of Jesus?
When Jesus lived on Earth, He welcomed little children to Him and often referred to them in His teaching (Matthew 11:25; 18:3; 21:16). On one occasion, He rebuked His disciples for attempting to keep parents from bringing their children to Him for a blessing, saying, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). Jesus was referring to the childlike characteristics that ready us to receive Christ—joy and wonder, but also simplicity, dependence, trust, and humility.

Childlike wonder and joy (and more) open our hearts to be more receptive to Him. He is waiting for us to run into His arms.

Abba (Daddy), Father, help us to be more childlike in our relationship with You. We long to be filled with wonder at all You have done.

Faith shines brightest in a childlike heart.

By Alyson Kieda | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
The wonder of what we see in Mark 10:13–16 becomes more stunning when we understand the connection with what follows in Mark’s gospel. One phrase that links the two sections is “the kingdom of God”—the rule of God in our hearts (see Mark 10:14–15). God’s kingdom (which includes eternal life) is the possession of those who are childlike in their dependence on God. They are the ones who are welcomed by Jesus (v. 16).

On the other hand, we see a full-grown man running unhindered to Jesus, but he ends up leaving Him “because he had great wealth” (v. 22). Three times the phrase “the kingdom of God” is used in verses 17–27. “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (v. 23); “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (vv. 24–25, emphasis added). Simple, childlike trust in Jesus is better than “adultlike” independence and trust in lesser things.

How can you be more like a child in the presence of Jesus?
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Old 03-07-2018, 09:34 AM   #2289
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Goodbye for Now

Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 3–4; Mark 10:32–52

You do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13

My granddaughter Allyssa and I have a regular routine we go through when we say goodbye. We wrap our arms around each other and begin to loudly wail with dramatic sobs for about twenty seconds. Then we step back and casually say, “See ya,” and turn away. Despite our silly practice, we always expect that we will see each other again—soon.

But sometimes the pain of separation from those we care about can be difficult. When the apostle Paul said farewell to the elders from Ephesus, “They all wept as they embraced him . . . . What grieved them most was [Paul’s] statement that they would never see his face again” (Acts 20:37–38).

Jesus offers eternal hope.
The deepest sorrow, however, comes when we are parted by death and say goodbye for the last time in this life. That separation seems unthinkable. We mourn. We weep. How can we face the heartbreak of never again embracing the ones we have loved?

Still . . . we do not grieve like those who have no hope. Paul writes of a future reunion for those who “believe that Jesus died and rose again” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). He declares: “The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel,” and those who have died, along with those who are still alive, will be united with our Lord. What a reunion!

And—best of all—we will be forever with Jesus. That’s an eternal hope.

Thank You, Lord, for the assurance that this world is not all we have but that a blessed eternity awaits all who trust in You.

At death, God’s people don’t say “goodbye,” but “we’ll see you later.”

By Cindy Hess Kasper | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
The Bible speaks of hope as a robust confidence in the purposes and power of God. First Peter 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Our hope is rooted in Christ’s conquering of death on our behalf. Romans 15:4 adds, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

The encouragement of the Scriptures gives us hope as we see how God faithfully deals with His children. He is “the God of hope” (v. 13), who encourages us to trust Him with whatever we might face. And He is our hope as we look forward to our future reunion with loved ones who have gone before us.

For more on biblical hope, get the free download of the Discovery Series booklet Hope: Choosing Faith Instead of Fear at discoveryseries.org/q0733.

Bill Crowder
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Old 03-08-2018, 09:56 AM   #2290
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Age-Old Wisdom

Read: 1 Kings 12:1–7, 12–17 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 5–7; Mark 11:1–18
Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? Job 12:12

In 2010, a newspaper in Singapore published a special report that contained life lessons gleaned from eight senior citizens. It opened with these words: “While aging brings challenges to mind and body, it can also lead to an expansion in other realms. There is an abundance of emotional and social knowledge; qualities which scientists are beginning to define as wisdom . . . the wisdom of elders.”

Indeed, wise older people have much to teach us about life. But in the Bible, we meet a newly crowned king who failed to recognize this.

God's love is meant to be shared.
King Solomon had just died, and in 1 Kings 12:3, we read that “the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam” with a petition. They asked the new king to lighten the harsh labor and heavy taxes his father Solomon had demanded of them. In return, they would loyally serve Rehoboam.

At first the young king consulted the elders (v. 6). But he rejected their advice and accepted the foolish counsel of the young men who had grown up with him (v. 8). He made the burden on the people even greater! His rashness cost him most of his kingdom.

All of us need the counsel that comes with years of experience, especially from those who have walked with God and listened well to His counsel. Think of the accumulated wisdom God has given them! They have much to share with us about the Lord. Let’s seek them out and give a listening ear to their wisdom.

To avoid the mistakes of youth, draw from the wisdom of age.

By Poh Fang Chia | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Rehoboam was free to listen to whichever advice he chose, but his decision not to listen to the wisdom of his elders resulted in the division of the nation of Israel into two different kingdoms.

Are you facing a decision? Seek out the counsel of wise, mature believers.
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Old 03-09-2018, 09:23 AM   #2291
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Direct Instructions
Read: 1 Kings 13:11–22 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 8–10; Mark 11:19–33

“I have been told by the word of the Lord.” 1 Kings 13:17

My second child was eager to sleep in a “big-girl bed” in her sister’s room. Each night I tucked Britta under the covers, issuing strict instructions to stay in bed, warning her I’d return her to the crib if she didn’t. Night after night, I found her in the hallway and had to escort my discouraged darling back to her crib. Years later I learned her customarily-sweet older sister wasn’t excited about having a roommate and repeatedly told Britta that she’d heard me calling for her. Britta heeded her sister’s words, went to look for me, and thus landed herself back in the crib.

Listening to the wrong voice can have consequences for us all. When God sent a man to Bethel to speak on His behalf, He gave explicit instructions for him to not eat or drink while there, nor return home by the same route (1 Kings 13:9). When King Jeroboam invited him to share a meal, the prophet declined, following God’s command. When an older prophet extended an invitation to dine, the man initially declined, but relented and ate when his elder deceived him, saying an angel told him it was okay. Just as I wanted Britta to enjoy her “big-girl bed,” I imagine God was saddened the man didn’t heed His instructions.

God's words are the ones that matter most.
We can trust God completely. His words are our path to life; we are wise to listen and obey.

Thank You, Lord, for speaking to me through Your Word. Help me to tune my ears to Your voice and obey.

God’s words are the ones that matter most.
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Old 03-12-2018, 08:40 AM   #2292
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Three-Lettered Faith

Read: Habakkuk 3:17–19 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 17–19; Mark 13:1–20


Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:18

With a tendency toward pessimism, I quickly jump to negative conclusions about how situations in my life will play out. If I’m thwarted in my efforts on a work project, I’m easily convinced none of my other projects will be successful either, and—even though utterly unrelated—I will probably never be able to touch my toes comfortably. And, woe is me, I’m an awful mother who can’t do anything right. Defeat in one area unnecessarily affects my feelings in many.

It’s easy for me to imagine how the prophet Habakkuk might have reacted to what God showed him. He had great cause for despair after having seen the coming troubles for God’s people; long and arduous years lay ahead. Things really did look dismal: no fruit, no meat, and no creature comforts. His words lure me into a pessimistic bed of hopelessness until he jars me awake again with a small three-letter word: yet. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord” (Habakkuk 3:18). Despite all the hardships he anticipated, Habakkuk found cause for rejoicing simply because of who God is.

Lord, You are the reason for all my joy.
While we might be prone to exaggerate our problems, Habakkuk truly faced some extreme hardships. If he could summon praise for God in those moments, perhaps we can too. When we’re bogged down in the depths of despair, we can look to God who lifts us up.

Lord, You are the reason for all my joy. Help me to fix my eyes on You when my circumstances are painful and hard.

God is our cause for joy in the midst of despair.

By Kirsten Holmberg | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
We don’t know much about the prophet Habakkuk. Not even his father, tribe, or hometown is provided. Yet he is believed to be a temple musician-prophet because he had his own stringed instruments (see Habakkuk 3:19). He was likely a contemporary of the prophets Nahum, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah. He prophesied in a period of violence and political chaos that began in the context of Assyria’s upheaval, continued during the Babylonian victory over Jerusalem (597 bc), and ended in Babylon’s fall to the Persians (539 bc).

He would have felt the impact of the death of good King Josiah, who had brought Judah back to God for a short time. Before and after Josiah’s reign, Judah had turned away from God and been characterized by moral and spiritual decay that included the worship of other gods. No wonder Habakkuk was in despair! In his little book he questions (complains to) God out of his burdened heart, and God answers. In the end, the prophet has a deeper understanding of God’s justice.

When has God given you joy in the midst of pain?
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Old 03-13-2018, 08:33 AM   #2293
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Pulling Together

Read: Hebrews 10:19–25 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 20–22; Mark 13:21–37

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

Why do more than five million people a year pay money to run several miles over an obstacle course where they must ascend vertical walls, slog through mud, and climb up inside a vertical pipe with water pouring down on them? Some see it as a personal challenge to push their limit of endurance or conquer their fears. For others, the attraction is teamwork where competitors help and support each other. One person called it “a no-judgment zone” where people who are strangers will reach out to help each other finish the race (Stephanie Kanowitz, The Washington Post).

The Bible urges us to pursue teamwork as a model of living out our faith in Jesus. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25).

Father, give us eyes to see and strength to help.
Our goal is not to “finish first” in the race of faith, but to reach out in tangible ways of encouragement by setting an example and lending a helping hand along the way.

The day will come when we complete our life on earth. Until then, let’s spur each other on, be ready to help, and keep pulling together every day.

Father in heaven, give us eyes to see and strength to help each other in the race of faith today.

We run together in the race of faith.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
A good example of teamwork is found in Nehemiah 3. Forty-two teams of workers—thirty-eight named individuals and hundreds more unnamed—worked together to rebuild Jerusalem’s broken walls. The high priest and fellow priests did not consider manual labor beneath them. They took the lead and set the example for the people (vv. 1, 28). Rulers, nobles, and city officials who could have ordered their servants to do the manual work, labored alongside the common people (vv. 9, 12, 17, 19). Craftsmen—goldsmiths and perfume makers who normally did artisan work—roughed it out under the hot sun (vv. 8, 31–32). Men and women worked side by side to accomplish their work (v. 12). The word next (used twenty-six times in Nehemiah 3) gives us a picture of commitment, cooperation, harmony, and unity. Each group of workers knew where to work, understood their tasks, and expeditiously completed them.

How does the teamwork of the temple workers, along with the admonition of Hebrews 10:25 to encourage each other, help you pursue teamwork in your service for Christ?
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Old 03-14-2018, 10:36 AM   #2294
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Giving the Gift of Prayer


Read: Romans 8:28–34 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 23–25; Mark 14:1–26

You help us by your prayers. 2 Corinthians 1:11

“I didn’t realize what a gift prayer was until my brother was sick and you all prayed for him. I cannot tell you what a comfort your prayers were!”

Laura had tears in her eyes as she thanked me for the prayers of the people in our church for her brother, who was facing a cancer diagnosis. She continued, “Your prayers have strengthened him in this difficult time and have been an encouragement to our entire family.”

Prayer is a gift to be shared.
One of the best ways to love others is to pray for them. Jesus is our ultimate example in this. The New Testament tells us about Jesus praying for others on many occasions, and even shows us that He continues to come to the Father on our behalf. Romans 8:34 says that He “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Even after showing such selfless love at the cross, the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ continues to express His care for us by praying for us at this very moment.

All around us are people who need us to follow Jesus’s example and love them with our prayers, inviting God’s help and intervention in their lives. We can ask God to help us pray for them, and He will! May our loving Lord strengthen us to generously give the gift of our prayers for others today.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for praying for me. Help me to serve You and others through faithfully praying today.


Submit your prayer request and pray for others at YourDailyBread.org.

Prayer is a gift to be shared.

By James Banks | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Both the Spirit and the Son are interceding (praying) for us. The Spirit helps us when we don’t know how to pray, praying for us according to the will of God (Romans 8:26–27). Likewise the Son is interceding for us from “the right hand of God” (v. 34). How wonderful to know that two of the three members of the Trinity are praying for us!

But what about the Father? It is the Father who calls us to be part of His family (vv. 29–30). It is out of His love for us that He sent His Son to die for our sins and then raised Him to life so that we would one day be glorified and given all things (vv. 32–33). It is in the love of God that the Spirit and the Son pray for us.

Since God’s love motivates prayers on our behalf, to whom can you show love by praying for them?

J.R. Hudberg
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Old 03-15-2018, 09:23 AM   #2295
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Revealed to Be Healed


Read: Psalm 25:1–11 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 26–27; Mark 14:27–53

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4

As a boy, I watched my father plow fields that had never been cultivated. On the first pass the plowshare would turn up large rocks that he hauled away. Then, he would plow the field again, and then again, to further break up the soil. With each pass the plow turned up other, smaller rocks that he cast aside. The process continued, requiring many passes through the field.

Growth in grace can look like a similar process. When we first become believers, some “big” sins may be exposed. We confess them to God and accept His forgiveness. But as the years pass by, and as God’s Word passes through us and sinks into our innermost being, the Holy Spirit brings other sins to the surface. Sins of the spirit once thought to be mere peccadilloes—small, seemingly unimportant offenses—are revealed as ugly, ruinous attitudes and actions. Sins like pride, self-pity, complaining, pettiness, prejudice, spite, self-serving indulgence.

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4
God reveals each sin so He can cast it aside. He reveals to heal. When harmful hidden attitudes come to the surface, we can pray as the psalmist David did, “For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great” (Psalm 25:11).

Humbling exposure, though painful, is good for the soul. It’s one of the ways in which He “instructs sinners in his ways.” He “guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (vv. 8–9).

Thank You, Lord, that You remember us according to Your love. Instruct us and guide us. Teach us to live as those who have been forgiven much.

Jesus takes us as we are and makes us what we should be.

By David H. Roper | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
God’s desire to cleanse us of our sins should be matched by our desire for that cleansing. In Psalm 139 David reflects, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (vv. 23–24). His prayer expresses a longing for the cleansing and restoration that can only come from God. John echoes that invitation in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” And Jesus Himself stands ready to help. John wrote, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). What a great promise!

Is unconfessed sin hindering your relationship with the Father? He stands ready to forgive!
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Old 03-19-2018, 09:07 AM   #2296
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The Art of a Grateful Heart



Read: Psalm 118:1–14, 26–29 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 1–3; Mark 16
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1

On our wedding day, Martie and I gladly vowed to be faithful “in good times as well as in bad, in sickness as well as in health, for richer or for poorer.” In a way it may seem strange to include vows about the bleak reality of bad times, sickness, and poverty on a cheerful wedding day. But it underscores the fact that life often has “bad” times.

So what are we to do when we face life’s inevitable difficulties? Paul urges us on behalf of Christ to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As difficult as that may sound, there is good reason why God encourages us to embrace a spirit of gratitude. Gratitude is grounded in the truth that our Lord “is good” and “his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1). He is present with us and strengthens us in the midst of trouble (Hebrews 13:5–6), and He lovingly uses our trials to grow our character into His likeness (Romans 5:3–4).

God, teach me to have a grateful heart.
When life hits us with hard times, choosing to be grateful focuses our attention on the goodness of God and gives us the strength to make it through our struggles. With the psalmist, we can sing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:29).

Lord, I realize that focusing on my troubles causes me to forget that even in the midst of trials You are good. Teach me the art of a grateful heart.

Thanksgiving is a virtue that grows through practice.

By Joe Stowell | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
The writer of Psalm 118 knew about the struggles of living in a fallen world. Even when surrounded by enemies, the psalmist’s confidence in the Lord remained strong (vv. 8–9, 13–14, 28). Note the opening and closing verses. Despite the dangers he faced, the psalmist begins and ends by choosing to praise God: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Are you in the midst of a trial? Meditate on the Lord’s goodness and His enduring love.
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Old 03-20-2018, 08:30 AM   #2297
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A Good Season


Read: Ecclesiastes 3:1–11 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 4–6; Luke 1:1–20

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Today is the first day of spring in the northern half of the world. If you live in Australia, it’s the first day of autumn—the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere. Today, the sun shines directly on the equator, and the hours of daylight and nighttime are nearly equal around the world.

New seasons are important for many people. Some count down the day because of what they hope the new season will bring. Perhaps you’ve been marking off a calendar for spring in Wisconsin to signal the end of another winter. Or maybe you live in Melbourne, and you can’t wait for autumn to bring relief from the Australian sun.

Give thanks to God for His greatness, His help, and His companionship.
We also go through seasons of life that don’t have to do with the weather. The author of Ecclesiastes told us there is a season for every activity under the sun—a time appointed by God during which we live our lives (3:1–11).

Moses spoke of a new season in his life after he led the people of Israel through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 31:2), and he had to give up his leadership role to Joshua. And Paul faced a lonely season while he was under house arrest in Rome—asking for visitors but realizing that God was “at my side” (2 Timothy 4:17).

Regardless of the season of life, let’s give thanks to God for His greatness, His help, and His companionship.

Thank You, Father, for the promise of Your care during this season of my life. You have allowed this circumstance for a good reason. Help me to use this time appointed by You in a way that deepens my trust in You.

Every season brings a reason to rejoice.

By Dave Branon | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Many believe King Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes because the author refers to himself as the “son of David, king in Jerusalem” (1:1) and “king over Israel in Jerusalem” (v. 12) who had more wisdom and possessions “than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before [him]” (v. 16; 2:7). The book’s purpose seems clear: “It defends the life of faith in a generous God by pointing to the grimness of the alternative” (Michael Easton, Ecclesiastes). Ecclesiastes underscores the necessity and desirability of following God in a fallen and frustrating world today (12:1)—no matter our season in life. “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments” (v. 13).

What has helped you to understand the wisdom of following God in various seasons of your life?
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Old 03-21-2018, 08:50 AM   #2298
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Walking on Water


Read: Matthew 14:25–33 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 7–9; Luke 1:21–38

Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

During an especially cold winter, I ventured out to Lake Michigan, the fifth largest lake in the world, to see it frozen over. Bundled up on the beach where I usually enjoy soaking up the sun, the view was breathtaking. The water was actually frozen in waves creating an icy masterpiece.

Because the water was frozen solid next to the shore, I had the opportunity to “walk on water.” Even with the knowledge that the ice was thick enough to support me, I took the first few steps tentatively. I was fearful the ice wouldn’t continue to hold me. As I cautiously explored this unfamiliar terrain, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus calling Peter out of the boat onto the Sea of Galilee.

Dear Lord, thank You for the assurance that You are always with us.
When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, their response was also fear. But Jesus responded, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:26–27). Peter was able to overcome his fear and step out onto the water because he knew Jesus was present. When his courageous steps faltered because of the wind and waves, Peter cried out to Jesus. Jesus was still there, near enough to simply reach out His hand to rescue him.

If you are facing a situation today where Jesus is calling you to do something that may seem as impossible as walking on water, take courage. The one who calls you will be present with you.

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

When we call out to God, He hears.

By Lisa Samra | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
The fact that Jesus Christ walked on water carries with it a powerful message about His deity. In John’s gospel Christ refers to Himself as the great “I am” (John 6:35, 48; 8:12, 58; 9:5; 10:9, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). Biblical theologians see these “I am” statements as clear references to the divine name revealed to Moses at the burning bush. When Moses asked God by what name He should be called, He answered: “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you’ ” (Exodus 3:14).

When we feel like we are in the storm of an impossible situation, we can take courage that Christ—the Creator of the world—is present with us and in control.

For further study on the deity of Christ, see Is Jesus God? at discoveryseries.org/q0205.

Dennis Fisher
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Old 03-22-2018, 08:33 AM   #2299
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Passing on the Legacy


Read: Psalm 79:8–13 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 10–12; Luke 1:39–56

Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise. Psalm 79:13

My phone beeped, indicating an incoming text. My daughter wanted my grandmother’s recipe for Peppermint Ice Cream Pie. As I thumbed through the yellowed cards in my aged recipe box, my eyes spotted the unique handwriting of my grandmother—and several jotted notes in the small cursive of my mother. It occurred to me that with my daughter’s request, Peppermint Ice Cream Pie would make its entrance into a fourth generation within my family.

I wondered, What other family heirlooms might be handed down generation to generation? What about choices regarding faith? Besides the pie, would the faith of my grandmother—and my own—play out in the lives of my daughter and her offspring?

Sharing and living out our faith is the best way to leave a legacy.
In Psalm 79, the psalmist bemoans a wayward Israel, which has lost its faith moorings. He begs God to rescue His people from the ungodly and to restore Jerusalem to safety. This done, he promises a restored—and ongoing—commitment to God’s ways. “Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise” (v. 13).

I eagerly shared the recipe, knowing my grandmother’s dessert legacy would enjoy a new layer in our family. And I prayed sincerely for the most lasting hand-me-down of all: the influence of our family’s faith on one generation to the next.

What is your family passing down to the next generation? Share with us on Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

Sharing and living out our faith is the best way to leave a legacy.

By Elisa Morgan | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
The prayer of Psalm 79 for God to restore His people was voiced in the context of great loss—perhaps when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 587 bc. Although the psalmist recognized that much of Israel’s suffering was caused by their sin, he pleaded for God to restore anyway—because of how it would look to unbelieving nations if Israel seemed abandoned by Him.

This idea—that God can be expected to be faithful even when His people are not—is pervasive throughout Scripture. Prayers often plead with God to consider that even ifsuffering seems deserved, human suffering and death does not bring Him glory the same way His gracious restoration does (see Psalm 30:9). And God confirmed this truth, pleading with His people to return to Him and assuring them that because He is “God, and not a man” (Hosea 11:9), He could be trusted to be merciful.

As dark as our sin can be, God’s grace is deeper still. Do you feel unworthy of God’s forgiveness? Turn to Him anyway, and experience the joy of new life (Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Our sin does not prevent God from bringing hope, restoration, and an ongoing legacy of faith.

Monica Brands
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Old 03-23-2018, 09:41 AM   #2300
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A Double Promise


Read: Isaiah 25:1–9 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 13–15; Luke 1:57–80

In perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1

Since she suffered with cancer several years ago, Ruth has been unable to eat, drink, or even swallow properly. She has also lost a lot of her physical strength, and numerous operations and treatments have left her a shadow of what she used to be.

Yet Ruth is still able to praise God; her faith remains strong, and her joy is infectious. She relies on God daily, and holds on to the hope that she will recover fully one day. She prays for healing and is confident that God will answer—sooner or later. What an awesome faith!

In perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1
Ruth explained that what keeps her faith strong is the secure knowledge that God will not only fulfill His promises in His time, but will also sustain her until that happens. This was the same hope that God’s people had as they waited for Him to complete His plans (Isaiah 25:1), deliver them from their enemies (v. 2), wipe away their tears, remove their disgrace, and “swallow up death forever” (v. 8).

In the meantime, God gave His people refuge and shelter (v. 4) as they waited. He comforted them in their ordeals, gave them strength to endure, and gave them assurance that He was there with them.

This is the double promise we have—the hope of deliverance one day, plus the provision of His comfort, strength, and shelter throughout our lives.

Thank You, Lord, for Your wonderful gift of hope. You have promised to save me and to walk with me every day of my life.

Trusting God’s faithfulness can dispel our fearfulness.

By Leslie Koh | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Are the hopes we have for ourselves and others realistic? Isaiah and the people he loved were living under conditions of social violence, economic injustices, and a looming Assyrian invasion. Yet God gave him a confidence that enabled him to look beyond conditions of inequality, insecurity, and disgrace. For the weak, the troubled, and the dying, he wrote as if the plans and promises of God are something worth living, waiting, and even dying for (Isaiah 2:1–5; 66:20).
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