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Old 04-26-2017, 08:59 AM   #2101
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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Someone to Touch

Read: Luke 5:12–16 | Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 23–24; Luke 19:1–27

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. Luke 5:13

Commuters on a Canadian Metro train witnessed a heart-moving conclusion to a tense moment. They watched as a 70-year old woman gently reached out and offered her hand to a young man whose loud voice and disturbing words were scaring other passengers. The lady’s kindness calmed the man who sank to the floor of the train with tears in his eyes. He said, “Thanks, Grandma,” stood up, and walked away. The woman later admitted to being afraid. But she said, “I’m a mother and he needed someone to touch.” While better judgment might have given her reason to keep her distance, she took a risk of love.

Jesus understands such compassion. He didn’t side with the fears of unnerved onlookers when a desperate man, full of leprosy, showed up begging to be healed. Neither was He helpless as other religious leaders were—men who could only have condemned the man for bringing his leprosy into the village (Lev. 13:45–46). Instead, Jesus reached out to someone who probably hadn’t been touched by anyone for years, and healed him.

Please help us to see ourselves in the merciful eyes of Your Son.
Thankfully, for that man and for us, Jesus came to offer what no law could ever offer—the touch of His hand and heart.

Father in heaven, please help us to see ourselves and one another in that desperate man—and in the merciful eyes of Your Son who reached out and touched him.

No one is too troubled or unclean to be touched by Jesus.

INSIGHT:
The healing of this leper would have had great significance to the people. Leprosy was a major problem in first-century Israel, with clear processes outlined for diagnosis and response to the disease (Lev. 13:38–39). It would be reasonable to ask: Why did the person go to the priest instead of going to a doctor? To the people of Israel, leprosy was not simply a fatal physical illness. Leprosy was seen as divine judgment for sin—a physical disease with spiritual roots. Since the cause of the disease was considered spiritual, the priest diagnosed the illness and, if the person was stricken with leprosy, prescribed the appropriate verdict: Isolation from family, home, community, and the corporate religious life of the nation. Not only did the Rabbi from Nazareth cleanse the man of his disease, but also by touching him He welcomed him back into the community.

Jesus still welcomes outcasts today. Whom can you welcome in today?
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PHILIPPIANS 4:13
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Old 04-27-2017, 08:30 AM   #2102
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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Learning the Language

Read: Acts 17:22–32 | Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 1–2; Luke 19:28–48
As I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Acts 17:23

I stood before the gathering at a small Jamaican church and said in my best local dialect, “Wah Gwan, Jamaica?” The reaction was better than I expected, as smiles and applause greeted me.

In reality, all I had said was the standard greeting, “What’s going on?” in Patois [pa-twa], but to their ears I was saying, “I care enough to speak your language.” Of course I did not yet know enough Patois to continue, but a door had been opened.

Before you tell others about Christ, let them see how much you care.
When the apostle Paul stood before the people of Athens, he let them know that he knew their culture. He told them that he had noticed their altar to “an unknown god,” and he quoted one of their poets. Of course, not everyone believed Paul’s message about Jesus’s resurrection, but some said, “We want to hear you again on this subject” (Acts 17:32).

As we interact with others about Jesus and the salvation He offers, the lessons of Scripture show us to invest ourselves in others—to learn their language, as it were—as a way to open the door to telling them the good news (see also 1 Cor. 9:20–23).

As we find out “Wah Gwan?” in others’ lives, it will be easier to share what God has done in ours.

Show us, Lord, what is important to others. Help us to think of their interests first, and allow opportunities to speak about the love of Jesus.

Before you tell others about Christ, let them see how much you care.
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Old 04-28-2017, 10:30 AM   #2103
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An Alternative to Anger

Read: Proverbs 20:1–15 | Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 3–5; Luke 20:1–26

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife. Proverbs 20:3

One morning in Perth, Australia, Fionn Mulholland discovered his car was missing. That’s when he realized he had mistakenly parked in a restricted zone and his car had been towed away. After considering the situation—even the $600 towing and parking fine—Mulholland was frustrated, but he decided not to be angry with the person he would work with to retrieve his car. Instead of venting his feelings, Mulholland wrote a humorous poem about the situation and read it to the worker he met at the tow yard. The worker liked the poem, and a possible ugly confrontation never took place.

The book of Proverbs teaches, “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife” (20:3). Strife is that friction that either simmers under the surface or explodes in the open between people who disagree about something.

Dear God, give me self-control through the power of Your Holy Spirit.
God has given us the resources to live peacefully with other people. His Word assures us that it’s possible to feel anger without letting it boil over into rage (Eph. 4:26). His Spirit enables us to override the sparks of fury that prompt us to do and say things to strike out at people who upset us. And God has given us His example to follow when we feel provoked (1 Peter 2:23). He is compassionate, gracious, and slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Ps. 86:15).

Dear God, Please help me to manage my anger in a way that does not lead me into sin. Give me self-control through the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Be slow to anger.

INSIGHT:
The Scriptures have a lot to say about controlling our anger. King David knew well enough the potential evil waiting to be unleashed when we don’t master our anger. He warned, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm” (Ps. 4:4; 37:8 nlt). May God help us follow this wise instruction when anger comes calling.

Can you think of a situation where you could have better controlled your anger? What should you have done? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you respond to situations in a way that honors Him.
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Old 05-01-2017, 08:15 AM   #2104
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Questions for God

Read: Judges 6:11–16, 24 | Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 10–11; Luke 21:20–38

Go with the strength you have . . . . I will be with you. nlt Judges 6:14, 16

What would you do if the Lord showed up in the middle of your workday with a message? This happened to Gideon, one of the ancient Israelites. “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’ ” Gideon could have responded with a wordless nod and gulp, but instead he said, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judg. 6:12–13 nlt). Gideon wanted to know why it seemed as if God had abandoned His people.

God didn’t answer that question. After Gideon had endured seven years of enemy attacks, starvation, and hiding in caves, God didn’t explain why He never intervened. God could have revealed Israel’s past sin as the reason, but instead He gave Gideon hope for the future. God said, “Go with the strength you have . . . . I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites” (vv.14, 16 nlt).

Lord, I am reaching out to You for the peace I need.
Do you ever wonder why God has allowed suffering in your life? Instead of answering that specific question, God may satisfy you with His nearness today and remind you that you can rely on His strength when you feel weak. When Gideon finally believed that God was with him and would help him, he built an altar and called it “The Lord Is Peace” (v. 24).

There is peace in knowing that whatever we do and wherever we go, we go with God who promised never to leave or forsake His followers.

For help, read Why? Seeing God in Our Pain at discoveryseries.org/cb151.

What could be better than getting answers to our why questions? Trusting a good and powerful God.

INSIGHT:
Today’s text provides some insight into how we should view situations for which we feel inadequate. Gideon did not feel prepared to go into battle against the Midianites who were oppressing Israel. Responding to Gideon’s understandable concern, God sent the angel of the Lord to encourage him. He said that Gideon should “go in the strength” he had (Judg. 6:14), but he also said, “I will be with you” (v. 16). When God calls us to take on a difficult task, we can rely on His strength and power to help us accomplish it.

Are you facing a situation for which you feel inadequate? Ask God for His strength to help you.
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Old 05-02-2017, 08:49 AM   #2105
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Just a Touch

Read: Matthew 8:1–4 | Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 12–13; Luke 22:1–20

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. Matthew 8:3

Kiley leaped at the chance to go to a remote area of East Africa to assist a medical mission, yet she felt uneasy. She didn’t have any medical experience. Still, she could provide basic care.

While there, she met a woman with a horrible but treatable disease. The woman’s distorted leg repulsed her, but Kiley knew she had to do something. As she cleaned and bandaged the leg, her patient began crying. Concerned, Kiley asked if she was hurting her. “No,” she replied. “It’s the first time anyone has touched me in nine years.”

Lord, we want to show the fearless love You showed when You walked this earth.
Leprosy is another disease that can render its victims repulsive to others, and ancient Jewish culture had strict guidelines to prevent its spread: “They must live alone,” the law declared. “They must live outside the camp” (Lev. 13:46).

That’s why it’s so remarkable that a leper approached Jesus to say, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” (Matt. 8:2). “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ ” (v. 3).

In touching a lonely woman’s diseased leg, Kiley began to show the fearless, bridge-building love of Jesus. A single touch made a difference.

Lord, we want to show the fearless love You showed when You walked this earth.

What difference might we make if we overcome our fears and trust God to use us?

Share with other readers at Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

INSIGHT:
Do you wonder what it would feel like to be an “untouchable”? Or do you know all too well what it means to be avoided like the plague, either from your own experience or through the pain of someone you love? If you’ve felt the sting of exclusion, then you probably can feel empathy for the leper who reached out to Jesus. Until that day, this man would have had to live on the outside of normal relationships and society. According to ancient ceremonial rules, “Those who suffer from a serious skin disease must . . . cover their mouth and call out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as the serious disease lasts, they . . . must live in isolation in their place outside the camp” (Lev. 13:45–46 nlt).

Such social isolation, however, wasn’t the worst part. In first-century Israel, lepers were regarded as rejected by God. So imagine what it must have meant when Jesus reached out to a desperate person who probably hadn’t felt a human touch for years. Every time Jesus performed a miracle of healing, He gave credibility to His words and showed hopeless, suffering, and even untouchable people that God knew and loved them. Mart DeHaan
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Old 05-03-2017, 12:43 PM   #2106
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Alone in Space

Read: Genesis 28:10–17 | Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 14–15; Luke 22:21–46

Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. Genesis 28:16

Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden knew what it felt like to be on the far side of the moon. For three days back in 1971, he flew alone in his command module, Endeavor, while two crewmates worked thousands of miles below on the surface of the moon. His only companions were the stars overhead that he remembers as being so thick they seemed to wrap him in a sheet of light.

As the sun went down on the Old Testament character Jacob’s first night away from home, he too was profoundly alone, but for a different reason. He was on the run from his older brother—who wanted to kill him for stealing the family blessing normally given to the firstborn son. Yet on falling asleep, Jacob had a dream of a staircase joining heaven and earth. As he watched angels ascending and descending, he heard the voice of God promising to be with him and to bless the whole earth through his children. When Jacob woke he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (Gen. 28:16).

Father, the glory of Your unseen presence and goodness is far greater than we can imagine.
Jacob had isolated himself because of his deceit. Yet as real as his failures, and as dark as the night, he was in the presence of the One whose plans are always better and more far-reaching than our own. Heaven is closer than we think, and the “God of Jacob” is with us.

Father, thank You for using the story of Jacob to show us that the glory of Your unseen presence and goodness is far greater than we could imagine.

God is nearer than we think.

INSIGHT:
The Scriptures teach us that saving faith must be a personal faith; the faith of our parents will not save us. But it is interesting that in today’s passage God introduces Himself to Jacob by pointing to his ancestors. It is not Jacob’s lineage that is important, but that the God he had heard about from his ancestors was the same God who would now be with him. Jacob could have confidence that God would be with him because He had been with Abraham and Isaac.

What stories of God’s faithfulness from your past or from the lives of your family bring encouragement that God does not change and will always be with you?
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Old 05-04-2017, 08:34 AM   #2107
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Five-Minute Rule

Read: Psalm 102:1–17 | Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 16–18; Luke 22:47–71

He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. Psalm 102:17

I read about a five-minute rule that a mother had for her children. They had to be ready for school and gather together five minutes before it was time to leave each day.

They would gather around Mom, and she would pray for each one by name, asking for the Lord’s blessing on their day. Then she’d give them a kiss and off they’d run. Even neighborhood kids would be included in the prayer circle if they happened to stop by. One of the children said many years later that she learned from this experience how crucial prayer is to her day.

God cares for you and wants to hear from you.
The writer of Psalm 102 knew the importance of prayer. This psalm is labeled, “A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord.” He cried out, “Hear my prayer, Lord; . . . when I call, answer me quickly” (vv. 1–2). God looks down “from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he [views] the earth” (v. 19).

God cares for you and wants to hear from you. Whether you follow the five-minute rule asking for blessings on the day, or need to spend more time crying out to Him in deep distress, talk to the Lord each day. Your example may have a big impact on your family or someone close to you.

Teach me to be aware of Your presence, Lord, and to talk to You freely and often.


Read Jesus' Blueprint for Prayer at discoveryseries.org/hj891.

Prayer is an acknowledgment of our need for God.

INSIGHT:
Our Father welcomes us into His presence in prayer, but we also have the encouraging record of Jesus Himself praying for us! As the Teacher moved ever closer to the cross, Jesus prayed for His followers who walked with Him and all (including us) who would later come to Him (John 17:20). And when we pray, the Holy Spirit helps us align our prayers with the Father’s purposes (Rom. 8:26–27).
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Old 05-05-2017, 08:46 AM   #2108
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The Ministry of Memory


Read: Jeremiah 29:4–14 | Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 19–20; Luke 23:1–25

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Our experiences of loss and disappointment may leave us feeling angry, guilty, and confused. Whether our choices have closed some doors that will never reopen or, through no fault of our own, tragedy has invaded our lives, the result is often what Oswald Chambers called “the unfathomable sadness of ‘the might have been.’ ” We may try to suppress the painful memory, but discover we can’t.

Chambers reminds us that the Lord is still active in our lives. “Never be afraid when God brings back the past,” he said. “Let memory have its way. It is a minister of God with its rebuke and chastisement and sorrow. God will turn the ‘might have been’ into a wonderful [place of growth] for the future.”

The Lord’s forgiveness can transform our sorrow into confidence in His everlasting love.
In Old Testament days when God sent the people of Israel into exile in Babylon, He told them to serve Him in that foreign land and grow in faith until He brought them back to their home. “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (Jer. 29:11).

God urged them not to ignore or be trapped by events of the past but instead to focus on Him and look ahead. The Lord’s forgiveness can transform the memory of our sorrow into confidence in His everlasting love.

Father, thank You for Your plans for us, and for the future that awaits us in Your love.


For more insight from Oswald Chambers, visit utmost.org.

God can use our deepest disappointments to nurture our faith in Him.

INSIGHT:
What is one past sorrow that you find great difficulty in letting go? How does God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11–14 comfort and encourage you as you turn your pain over to the Lord?
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Old 05-08-2017, 08:25 AM   #2109
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The Burden of Waiting

Read: Psalm 90 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 4–6; Luke 24:36–53

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Over the last few years, two members of my family have faced life-threatening diagnoses. For me, the hardest part of supporting them through their treatments has been the constant uncertainty. I am always desperate for a definitive word from a doctor, but things are rarely that straightforward. Instead of being given clarity, we are often asked to wait.

It’s hard to bear the burden of uncertainty, always wondering what the next test will reveal. Will we have weeks, months, years, or decades before death separates us? But regardless of disease and diagnosis, each of us will die one day—things like cancer just bring our mortality to the forefront instead of letting it hide in the recesses of our minds.

How can we best spend the time we’ve been given?
Faced with sobering reminders of our mortality, I find myself praying words that Moses once prayed. Psalm 90 tells us that though our lives are like grass that withers and fades (vv. 5–6), we have an eternal home with God (v. 1). Like Moses, we can ask God to teach us to number our days so we can make wise decisions (v. 12), and to make our brief lives fruitful by making what we do for Him count (v. 17). Ultimately, the psalm reminds us that our hope is not in a doctor’s diagnosis, but in a God who is “from everlasting to everlasting.”

How can we best spend the time we’ve been given?


Share your thoughts with us at odb.org.




We can face the reality of our own mortality because we trust in God.
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Old 05-09-2017, 08:46 AM   #2110
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Too Good Not to Share

Read: John 1:6–14 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 7–9; John 1:1–28
[John] came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. John 1:7

During court proceedings, witnesses are more than onlookers or spectators. They are active participants who help determine the outcome of a case. The same is true of our witness for Christ. We are to be active participants in a matter of absolute importance—the truth of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

When John the Baptist came to tell people about Jesus, the light of the world, he did so by declaring his knowledge of Jesus. And John the disciple, who recorded the events, testified of his experience with Jesus: “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The apostle Paul would elaborate on this idea as he told young Timothy, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2).

We can be active witnesses, telling others about the reality of Jesus in our lives.
All Christians have been summoned before the courtroom of the world. The Bible says we are not mere spectators but active participants. We testify to the truth about Jesus’s death and resurrection. John the Baptist was the voice of one calling in the desert. Our voices can be heard in our workplace, neighborhood, church, and among our family and friends. We can be active witnesses, telling them about the reality of Jesus in our lives.

Do our actions enable us to witness for Jesus?
In what creative ways might we witness today?

The gospel is too good not to share.



INSIGHT:
The Bible uses various metaphors to describe the believer’s role as a witness for Christ (John 15:5; 2 Cor. 3:1–3; 5:20; 1 Peter 2:5, 9). In one of His teachings, Jesus used two common household items—salt and light—to emphasize the positive influence a Christian ought to have on the community he lives in (Matt. 5:13–16). Salt is a preservative, a flavor-enhancer, and a thirst stimulant. A lamp is intended to illuminate the darkness. The light too serves as signage, giving information and direction to a destination. Therefore, the light must be placed in a conspicuous position to attract and to be effective. Bible teacher Henry Morris says we are “expected to bring the salt of preservation and joy to a bland, tasteless, and otherwise decaying world, and the light of salvation to a dark, sinful world.”
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:10 AM   #2111
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Singing with Violet

Read: Philippians 1:21–26 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 13–14; John 2

I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Philippians 1:23–24

An elderly woman named Violet sat on her bed in a Jamaican infirmary and smiled as some teenagers stopped to visit with her. The hot, sticky, midday air came into her little group home unabated, but she didn’t complain. Instead, she began wracking her mind for a song to sing. Then a huge smile appeared and she sang, “I am running, skipping, jumping, praising the Lord!” As she sang, she swung her arms back and forth as if she were running. Tears came to those around her, for Violet had no legs. She was singing because, she said, “Jesus loves me—and in heaven I will have legs to run with.”

Violet’s joy and hopeful anticipation of heaven give new vibrancy to Paul’s words in Philippians 1 when he referred to life-and-death issues. “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me,” he said. “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (vv. 22–23).

When God gives us a new beginning, we find a joy that’s never ending.
Each of us faces tough times that may cause us to long for the promise of heavenly relief. But as Violet showed us joy despite her current circumstances, we too can keep “running, skipping, praising the Lord”—both for the abundant life He gives us here and for the ultimate joy that awaits us.

Lord, when times are tough, help me to find joy. Help us to live in the tough times of this world with happiness while looking ahead to something “better by far.”







When God gives us a new beginning, we find a joy that’s never ending.

INSIGHT:
Paul’s mixed feelings about life didn’t seem to be rooted in a moment of crisis or despair. Ever since his encounter with the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus he’d found a different understanding of what it means to live with purpose and to die with gain. Before he met Christ, his goal had been to inflict pain and suffering on followers of Jesus. But then he learned what it meant to consider it an honor to accept whatever it took to help others discover the mercy and kindness he’d found in Jesus.

Describing the love that he now wanted others to know for themselves, Paul wrote, “I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more” (Phil. 1:8–9). Now—whether in life or death—Paul believed he couldn’t lose.
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Old 05-12-2017, 08:16 AM   #2112
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The Advocate
Read: John 16:7–15 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 15–16; John 3:1–18

When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. John 16:13

As I boarded the airplane to study in a city a thousand miles from home, I felt nervous and alone. But during the flight, I remembered how Jesus promised His disciples the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’s friends must have felt bewildered when He told them, “It is for your good that I am going away” (John 16:7). How could they who witnessed His miracles and learned from His teaching be better off without Him? But Jesus told them that if He left, then the Advocate—the Holy Spirit—would come.

We who have accepted God’s offer of new life have been given this gift of His Spirit living within us.
Jesus, nearing His last hours on earth, shared with His disciples (in John 14–17, today known as the "Farewell Discourse") to help them understand His death and ascension. Central in this conversation was the coming Holy Spirit, an advocate who would be with them (14:16–17), teaching (15:15), testifying (v. 26), and guiding them (16:13).

We who have accepted God’s offer of new life have been given this gift of His Spirit living within us. From Him we receive so much: He convicts us of our sins and helps us to repent. He brings us comfort when we ache, strength to bear hardships, wisdom to understand God’s teaching, hope and faith to believe, love to share.

We can rejoice that Jesus sent us the Advocate.

Heavenly Father, You sent Your Son to save us and Your Spirit to comfort and convict us. May we bring You glory as we thank You for Your goodness and love.




The Holy Spirit fills Jesus’s followers.

INSIGHT:
When Jesus comforts His disciples before His impending crucifixion and eventual ascension (going back to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father), Jesus says He must go away so the Holy Spirit will come. The disciples didn't know the Holy Spirit, so how would His coming comfort them? Jesus offers the answer. The Spirit will continue what Jesus started. He will bring conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He will speak to the disciples not simply on behalf of Jesus, but He will speak to them the very words Jesus speaks (John 16:13–15). The Spirit would be with them in a way that Jesus couldn’t be. No matter where each of them went, together or separately, the Spirit—and therefore Jesus Himself—would be with them.
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Old 05-15-2017, 08:42 AM   #2113
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Forever Flowers

Read: Isaiah 40:1–8 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 22–23; John 4:31–54

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. Isaiah 40:8

As a toddler, my son Xavier enjoyed giving me flowers. I appreciated every freshly picked weed or store-bought blossom he purchased with his dad. I treasured each gift until it wilted and had to be thrown away.

One day, Xavier gave me a beautiful bouquet of artificial flowers. He grinned as he arranged the silk white calla lily, yellow sunflower, and purple hydrangea in a glass vase. “Look, Mommy,” he said. “They’ll last forever. That’s how much I love you.”

We can trust God’s unchanging love.
Since then, my boy has grown into a young man. Those silk petals have frayed. The colors have faded. Still, the Forever Flowers remind me of his adoration. And there is something else it brings to mind—one thing that truly stands forever—the limitless and lasting love of God, as revealed in His infallible and enduring Word (Isa. 40:8).

As the Israelites faced continual trials, Isaiah comforted them with confidence in God’s enduring words (40:1). He proclaimed that God paid the debt caused by the Israelites’ sin (v. 2), securing their hope in the coming Messiah (vv. 3–5). They trusted the prophet because his focus remained on God rather than their circumstances.

In a world filled with uncertainties and affliction, the opinions of man and even our own feelings are ever-shifting and as limited as our mortality (vv. 6–7). Still, we can trust God’s unchanging love and character as revealed through His constant and eternally true Word.






God affirms His love through His dependable and unchanging Word, which endures now and forevermore.

INSIGHT:
The Bible has changed lives in each generation that has read it. The apostle Paul told us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). This means that the inspired words did not come merely from human authors but from the Holy Spirit of God who guided what they wrote. As Peter told us, “Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The word that translates as our English phrase “carried along” actually refers to the wind blowing along a sailing ship. Scripture could not have been written without the gracious guidance of a Divine Author, the Holy Spirit.

How does knowing that all Scripture is inspired by God—who does not change—comfort you?
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Old 05-16-2017, 02:20 PM   #2114
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Being a True Friend

Read: Genesis 14:17–24 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 24–25; John 5:1–24

Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. Genesis 14:18

Poet Samuel Foss wrote, “Let me live by the side of the road and be a friend to man” (“The House by the Side of the Road”). That’s what I want to be—a friend of people. I want to stand by the way, waiting for weary travelers. To look for those who have been battered and wronged by others, who carry the burden of a wounded and disillusioned heart. To nourish and refresh them with an encouraging word and send them on their way. I may not be able to “fix” them or their problems, but I can leave them with a blessing.

Melchizedek, both the king of Salem and a priest, blessed Abram when he was returning weary from battle (Gen. 14). A “blessing” is more than a polite response to a sneeze. We bless others when we bring them to the One who is the source of blessing. Melchizedek blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (v. 19).

Jesus, teach us to be a friend of people as You are with us.
We can bless others by praying with them; we can take them with us to the throne of grace to find help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). We may not be able to change their circumstances, but we can show them God. That’s what a true friend does.

Jesus, teach us to be a friend of people as You are with us. Give us eyes to see others and their needs and to take the time to listen. Help us to take them to You, the source of life.




A big part of loving is listening.

INSIGHT:
A benediction is a prayer that asks for God’s blessing. In this passage, Melchizedek, priest-king of Jerusalem, blessed Abraham with a benediction, attributing Abraham’s victory to the power of God (vv. 19–20). In many churches the pastor often closes the worship service by reciting the words of Numbers 6:24–26 as a prayer of blessing, assuring the congregation of God’s presence, pardon, protection, and peace. The biblical writers underscored this privilege of blessing others when throughout their letters they sprinkled prayers of blessing upon their readers (see Rom. 15:13; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Thess. 3:11–13; 2 Thess. 2:16–17; Heb. 13:20–21; Jude 1:24–25).

This week, why not use one of the biblical benedictions as a prayer of blessing for a loved one.
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Old 05-18-2017, 11:23 AM   #2115
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Clothed by God

Read: Zechariah 3 | Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 4–6; John 6:1–21

See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you. Zechariah 3:4

When my kids were toddlers, they would play outside in our sodden English garden and quickly become covered in mud and dirt. For their good and the good of my floor, I’d remove their clothes at the door and wrap them in towels before sticking them in the bath. They’d soon move from dirty to clean with the addition of soap, water, and hugs.

In a vision given to Zechariah, we see Joshua, a high priest, covered in rags that represent sin and wrongdoing (Zech. 3:3). But the Lord makes him clean, removing his filthy clothes and covering him in rich garments (3:5). The new turban and robe signify that the Lord has taken his sins from him.

Lord Jesus, through Your saving death on the cross we can find acceptance and love.
We too can receive God’s cleansing as we become free of our wrongdoing through the saving work of Jesus. As a result of His death on the cross, we can have the mud and sins that cling to us washed away as we receive the robes of God’s sons and daughters. No longer are we defined by what we’ve done wrong (whether lying, gossiping, stealing, coveting, or other), but we can claim the names God gives to those He loves—restored, renewed, cleansed, free.

Ask God to remove any filthy rags you’re wearing so you too can put on the wardrobe He has reserved for you.

Lord Jesus, through Your saving death on the cross we can find acceptance and love. May we receive this gift for Your glory.

Who can wash away my sin? Jesus!

INSIGHT:
In today’s passage Satan is not rebuked because he has no grounds to accuse Joshua. Satan is rebuked because Joshua’s current condition (dressed in dirty clothes—symbolic of judgment and sin) was not his final condition. God changed his situation by clothing him with clean garments, symbolic of God’s righteousness.
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Old 05-19-2017, 08:36 AM   #2116
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Prepare the Child
Read: Psalm 78:1–8 | Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 7–9; John 6:22–44

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4

A phrase on many parenting websites says, “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.” Instead of trying to remove all obstacles and pave the way for the children in our life, we should instead equip them to deal with the difficulties they encounter on the road ahead.

The psalmist wrote, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes . . . , which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children” (Ps. 78:4–6). The goal is that “they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands” (v. 7).

It’s a wonderful privilege to share God’s Word and His plan for our lives with the next generation.
Think of the powerful spiritual impact others had on us through what they said and how they lived. Their conversation and demonstration captured our attention and kindled a fire in us to follow Jesus just as they did.

It’s a wonderful privilege and responsibility to share God’s Word and His plan for our lives with the next generation and the generations to come. No matter what lies ahead on their road through life, we want them to be prepared and equipped to face it in the strength of the Lord.

Father in heaven, we seek Your wisdom and guidance to prepare the children we know and love to walk with You in faith.




Through conversation and demonstration, help prepare children to follow the Lord on the road ahead.

INSIGHT:
Psalm 78 is an “historical psalm” (a psalm full of historical facts). Other historical psalms are Psalm 105–107, 114, 135, and 136. In Psalm 78 Asaph recounts key events covering 450 years of history, reminding the Jews that God has commanded them to teach their children and children’s children about Him so that future generations will love and worship Him (vv. 5–8). In His covenant with Abraham, God said Abraham was chosen for this same purpose: “so that [Abraham] will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord” (Gen. 18:19). Deuteronomy also emphasizes that parents have been entrusted with the sacred duty and divine privilege of teaching their children about God (4:9; 6:6–9; 11:19–21).

Look for opportunities this week to talk with your children, grandchildren, or others in your life about God and His Word.
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Old Today, 09:03 AM   #2117
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Blink and Think of God

Read: Deuteronomy 32:1–12 | Bible in a Year: 1 Chronicles 16–18; John 7:28–53

He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye. Deuteronomy 32:10

“God is like an eyelid,” my friend Ryley said, and I blinked in surprise. What could she mean by that?

“Tell me more,” I replied. Together, we had been studying surprising pictures of God in the Bible, things like God as a laboring mother (Isa. 42:14) or as a beekeeper (7:18), but this one was new to me. Ryley pointed me to Deuteronomy 32, where Moses praises the way God takes care of His people. Verse 10 says that God shields and protects His people, guarding them “as the apple of his eye.”

God shields and protects His people.
But the word we translate apple, Ryley told me, literally means pupil. And what encircles and guards the pupil? The eyelid, of course! God is like the eyelid, which instinctively protects the tender eye. The eyelid guards the eye from danger, and by blinking helps remove dirt or dust. It keeps sweat out of the eye. It lubricates the eyeball, keeping it healthy. It closes, allowing rest.

As I considered the picture of God as an eyelid, I couldn’t help but thank God for the many metaphors He’s given us to help us understand His love for us. When we close our eyes at night and open them in the morning, we can think of God, and praise Him for His tender protection and care for us.

Thank You, God, for using surprising metaphors to help us understand You better. Thanks for guarding us just as the eyelid guards the eye.

When you blink, remember to thank God for His protection.

INSIGHT:
Jesus Himself verifies the truth of God’s protection when He tells us not to worry about our lives: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. . . . You are worth more than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29–31; Luke 12:1–6).

In what situation do you need to remember that God protects and provides? How can you remind yourself and others of our worth in God’s eyes?
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