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Old 06-23-2017, 12:18 PM   #2141
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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Playing in Concert

Read: Romans 12:3–8 | Bible in a Year: Esther 9–10; Acts 7:1–21

So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. Romans 12:5–6

During our granddaughter’s school band concert, I was impressed by how well this group of 11- and 12-year-olds played together. If each of them had wanted to be a solo performer, they could not have achieved individually what the band did collectively. The woodwinds, brass, and percussion sections all played their parts and the result was beautiful music!

To the followers of Jesus in Rome, Paul wrote, “In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Rom. 12:5–6). Among the gifts Paul mentioned are prophecy, service, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership, and mercy (vv. 7–8). Each gift is to be exercised freely for the good of all (1 Cor. 12:7).

Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
One definition of in concert is “agreement in design or plan; combined action; harmony or accord.” That’s the Lord’s plan for us as His children through faith in Jesus Christ. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (v. 10). The goal is cooperation, not competition.

In a sense, we are “on stage” before a watching and listening world every day. There are no soloists in God’s concert band, but every instrument is essential. The music is best when we each play our part in unity with others.

Lord, You are the Conductor of our lives. We want to play Your song of love and grace in concert with Your children today.

There are no soloists in God’s orchestra.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
There are five listings of spiritual gifts in the New Testament: Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:7–11; 12:28–30; Ephesians 4:9–11; and 1 Peter 4:11. In each of these lists the emphasis is not on how many different types of gifts there are, but on how we are to use them in a loving way that promotes unity in the church, builds up the spiritual maturity of the believers, and brings glory to the Lord. To achieve this, Paul tells us not to think too highly or too lowly of ourselves (Rom. 12:3). We are to use our spiritual giftedness in humility (v. 3) and embrace diversity in the body of Christ with sincere love (v. 9) and mutual respect (v. 10).

How has God gifted you? How can you use your spiritual gifts to promote unity and harmony in the church?
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Old 06-23-2017, 12:37 PM   #2142
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Thanks again for posting these.
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Old 06-26-2017, 08:45 AM   #2143
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Very Good!

Read: Genesis 1:24–31 | Bible in a Year: Job 5–7; Acts 8:1–25

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! Genesis 1:31 nlt

Some days seem to have a theme running through them. Recently I had one of those days. Our pastor began his sermon on Genesis 1 with two minutes of breathtaking, time-lapse photography of blossoming flowers. Then, at home, a scroll through social media revealed numerous posts of flowers. Later on a walk in the woods, the wildflowers of spring surrounded us—trilliums, marsh marigolds, and wild iris.

God created flowers and every other variety of vegetation (and dry ground to grow in), on the third day of creation. And twice on that day, God pronounced it “good” (Gen. 1:10, 12). On only one other day of creation—the sixth—did God make that double pronouncement of “good” (vv. 25, 31). In fact, on this day when He created humans and His masterpiece was complete, He looked over all He had made and “saw that it was very good!” (nlt).

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! Genesis 1:31 nlt
In the creation story, we see a Creator God who delighted in His creation—and seemed to take joy in the very act of creating. Why else design a world with such colorful and amazing variety? And He saved the best for last when He “created mankind in his own image” (v. 27). As His image-bearers we are blessed and inspired by His beautiful handiwork.

Dear Creator God, thank You for creating the world in all its beauty for our enjoyment—and Yours. Thank You too for making us in Your image so that we would be inspired to create.

All creation bears God’s autograph.

By Alyson Kieda | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
Do we sometimes get lost in thinking about all that is wrong with the world? When we do, remember how the God of creation asked a man named Job to consider what the wonder of all nature is saying to us about His goodness and wisdom (Job 38:1–42:6).
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Old 06-27-2017, 09:17 AM   #2144
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Five-Finger Prayers

Read: James 5:13–18 | Bible in a Year: Job 8–10; Acts 8:26–40

Pray for each other. James 5:16

Prayer is a conversation with God, not a formula. Yet sometimes we might need to use a “method” to freshen up our prayer time. We can pray the Psalms or other Scriptures (such as The Lord’s Prayer), or use the ACTS method (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). I recently came across this “Five-Finger Prayer” to use as a guide when praying for others:

• When you fold your hands, the thumb is nearest you. So begin by praying for those closest to you—your loved ones (Phil. 1:3–5).

Father, give me the wisdom to know how to pray for others.
• The index finger is the pointer. Pray for those who teach—Bible teachers and preachers, and those who teach children (1 Thess. 5:25).

• The next finger is the tallest. It reminds you to pray for those in authority over you—national and local leaders, and your supervisor at work (1 Tim. 2:1–2).

• The fourth finger is usually the weakest. Pray for those who are in trouble or who are suffering (James 5:13–16).

• Then comes your little finger. It reminds you of your smallness in relation to God’s greatness. Ask Him to supply your needs (Phil. 4:6, 19).

Whatever method you use, just talk with your Father. He wants to hear what’s on your heart.

Father, give me the wisdom to know how to pray for others.




It’s not the words we pray that matter; it’s the condition of our heart.



By Anne Cetas | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
In today’s reading we see how believers can enrich their fellowship with God through intercession and praise. Prayer is a vital lifeline of conversation with the living God who made us and provided for our redemption. In James 5:13–18 we read how we are urged to use prayer in all the seasons of our lives. When we are blessed, we can offer an expression of thanksgiving and praise. When we or others are physically ill, we can offer intercession for healing. In times of temptation and struggle, prayers for victory are a priority. Elijah is an example of someone who had the same needs and weaknesses that we do; yet his prayers to God resulted in the rain stopping for three and a half years and then starting again.

What can you have a conversation with God about today?
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Old 06-28-2017, 08:04 AM   #2145
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Unfinished Works

Read: Romans 7:14–25 | Bible in a Year: Job 11–13; Acts 9:1–21

Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24–25

At his death, the great artist Michelangelo left many unfinished projects. But four of his sculptures were never meant to be completed. The Bearded Slave, the Atlas Slave, the Awakening Slave, and the Young Slave, though they appear unfinished, are just as Michelangelo intended them to be. The artist wanted to show what it might feel like to be forever enslaved.

Rather than sculpting figures in chains, Michelangelo made figures stuck in the very marble out of which they are carved. Bodies emerge from the stone, but not completely. Muscles flex, but the figures are never able to free themselves.

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25
My empathy with the slave sculptures is immediate. Their plight is not unlike my struggle with sin. I am unable to free myself: like the sculptures I am stuck, “a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Rom 7:23). No matter how hard I try, I cannot change myself. But thanks be to God, you and I will not remain unfinished works. We won’t be complete until heaven, but in the meantime as we welcome the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, He changes us. God promises to finish the good work He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6).

God, thank You that You make us new creatures through the work of Your Son Jesus Christ, freeing us from our slavery to sin.

He is the potter; we are the clay.

By Amy Peterson | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
The war between the good we want to do and the bad we end up doing is a struggle for all Christ-followers. Paul places this tension as being between his “inner man” (his renewed heart and Holy Spirit-guided conscience) and the “flesh” (the fallen nature that still is drawn to sin). The good news is that someday we will be renewed in mind and body—free from the temptation to sin and the impact of our sinful choices.
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Old 06-29-2017, 11:17 AM   #2146
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Faith in Action

Read: James 2:14–26 | Bible in a Year: Job 14–16; Acts 9:22–43

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. James 2:18

As a friend drove to the grocery store, she noticed a woman walking along the side of the road and felt she should turn the car around and offer her a ride. When she did, she was saddened to hear that the woman didn’t have money for the bus so was walking home many miles in the hot and humid weather. Not only was she making the long journey home, but she had also walked several hours that morning to arrive at work by 4 a.m.

By offering a ride, my friend put into practice in a modern setting James’s instruction for Christians to live out their faith with their deeds: “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (v. 17). He was concerned that the church take care of the widows and the orphans (James 1:27), and he also wanted them to rely not on empty words but to act on their faith with deeds of love.

Lord, may I never forget the sacrifice that gives me life.
We are saved by faith, not works, but we live out our faith by loving others and caring for their needs. May we, like my friend who offered the ride, keep our eyes open for those who might need our help as we walk together in this journey of life.

Lord Jesus Christ, You did the ultimate deed by dying on the cross for me. May I never forget the sacrifice that gives me life.

We live out our faith through our good deeds.

By Amy Boucher Pye | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
Good works are the byproduct of our faith. James deals with the evidence essential to show the world that our faith is genuine. He wrote, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds” (2:18). Authentic trust in God will always manifest itself in loving and caring for others.

How can you demonstrate your faith in Christ to someone today?
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:58 AM   #2147
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Time to Flourish

Read: Luke 13:1–9 | Bible in a Year: Job 17–19; Acts 10:1–23

“Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.” Luke 13:8

Last spring I decided to cut down the rose bush by our back door. In the three years we’d lived in our home, it hadn’t produced many flowers, and its ugly, fruitless branches were now creeping in all directions.

But life got busy, and my gardening plan got delayed. It was just as well—only a few weeks later that rose bush burst into bloom like I’d never seen before. Hundreds of big white flowers, rich in perfume, hung over the back door, flowed into our yard, and showered the ground with beautiful petals.

God's patience is good news for all of us.
My rose bush’s revival reminded me of Jesus’s parable of the fig tree in Luke 13:6–9. In Israel, it was customary to give fig trees three years to produce fruit. If they didn’t, they were cut down so the soil could be better used. In Jesus’s story, a gardener asks his boss to give one particular tree a fourth year to produce. In context (vv. 1–5), the parable implies this: The Israelites hadn’t lived as they should, and God could justly judge them. But God is patient and had given extra time for them to turn to Him, be forgiven, and bloom.

God wants all people to flourish and has given extra time so that they can. Whether we are still journeying toward faith or are praying for unbelieving family and friends, His patience is good news for all of us.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5).

God has given the world extra time to respond to His offer of forgiveness.



By Sheridan Voysey | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
Right before the words of today’s passage, Jesus described how His coming causes division between those who accept Jesus and the new reality He brings and those who reject Him (Luke 12:49–56). Words like these could have led some to interpret tragedies like lives lost in a collapsed tower (13:4) as God’s judgment. But Jesus rejected this way of thinking (v. 5), teaching that we should not condemn others, but instead look at ourselves. The parable of the barren fig tree (vv. 6–9) illustrates that although God is merciful and has given the world extra time to turn to Him (v. 9), a choice to live in Him must be made. That’s the only way to live fruitfully.

How can you, instead of condemning others, focus more deeply on your response to Christ?
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Old 07-05-2017, 08:29 AM   #2148
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Could I Say That?

Read: Genesis 45:1–11 | Bible in a Year: Job 30–31; Acts 13:26–52

It was not you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:8

“The perception of favoritism is one of the biggest factors in sibling rivalry,” said Dr. Barbara Howard, a developmental behavioral pediatrician (“When Parents Have a Favorite Child” nytimes.com). An example would be the Old Testament character Joseph, who was his father’s favorite son, which made his older brothers furious (Gen. 37:3–4). So they sold Joseph to merchants traveling to Egypt and made it appear that a wild animal had killed him (37:12–36). His dreams had been shattered and his future appeared hopeless.

Yet, along Joseph’s journey of life, he chose to be true to his God and rely on Him even when it seemed to make his situation worse. After being falsely accused by his employer’s wife and imprisoned for something he didn’t do, Joseph struggled with the injustice of his situation but kept trusting the Lord.

In the darkest hours of life, only through the eyes of faith can we see the loving hand of God.
Years later his brothers came to Egypt to buy grain during a famine and were terrified to discover that their despised younger brother was now the Prime Minister. But Joseph told them, “Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you . . . . It was not you who sent me here, but God” (45:5, 8).

Joseph’s kind words cause me to wonder if I would be ready for revenge. Or would I be gracious because my heart had confidence in the Lord?

Dear Father, give us the faith to trust You today and the ability to see Your hand of good along our road of life.

In the darkest hours of life, only through the eyes of faith can we see the loving hand of God.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
We struggle with the pain others cause us. Why is it so hard to let go of these wounds? How can the example of Jesus, who was wounded for us, help us to find a healthier way to deal with our hurts?
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Old 07-06-2017, 09:26 AM   #2149
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Going First

Read: 1 John 4:7–21 | Bible in a Year: Job 32–33; Acts 14

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

We worked patiently to help our son heal and adjust to his new life with our family. Trauma from his early days in an orphanage was fueling some negative behaviors. While I had enormous compassion for the hardships he experienced in his early days, I felt myself begin to withdraw from him emotionally because of those behaviors. Ashamed, I shared my struggle with his therapist. Her gentle reply hit home: “He needs you to go first . . . to show him he’s worthy of love before he’ll be able to act like it.”

John pushes the recipients of his letter to an incredible depth of love, citing God’s love as both the source and the reason for loving one another (1 John 4:7, 11). I admit I often fail to show such love to others, whether strangers, friends, or my own children. Yet John’s words spark in me renewed desire and ability to do so: God went first. He sent His Son to demonstrate the fullness of His love for each of us. I’m so thankful He doesn’t respond as we all are prone to do by withdrawing His heart from us.

God loved us first so we can love others.
Though our sinful actions don’t invite God’s love, He is unwavering in offering it to us (Rom. 5:8). His “go-first” love compels us to love one another in response to, and as a reflection of, that love.

Thank You, Lord, for loving me in spite of my sin. Help me to “go first” in loving others.

God loved us first so we can love others.

By Kirsten Holmberg | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
Have you found it’s easier to make up after an argument if the other person makes the first move? Maybe they don’t even apologize, but you see in their eyes and hear in their voice that they care about you. If Jesus went first and showed us His love, can we now make that first move and show love to someone else? Mart DeHaan
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Old 07-10-2017, 09:42 AM   #2150
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Getting Away with It

Read: Genesis 4:1–12 | Bible in a Year: Job 41–42; Acts 16:22–40

By faith Abel still speaks. Hebrews 11:4

In June 2004, at a Vancouver art gallery, Canadian cross-country skier Beckie Scott received an Olympic gold medal. That’s interesting, because the Winter Olympics had been held in 2002—in Utah. Scott had won bronze behind two athletes who were disqualified months later when it was learned they had used banned substances.

It’s good that Scott eventually received her gold, but gone forever is the moment when she should have stood on the podium to hear her country’s national anthem. That injustice couldn’t be remedied.

God cares deeply about justice, about righting wrongs, and about defending the powerless.
Injustice of any kind disturbs us, and surely there are far greater wrongs than being denied a hard-won medal. The story of Cain and Abel shows an ultimate act of injustice (Gen. 4:8). And at first glance, it might look like Cain got away with murdering his brother. After all, he lived a long, full life, eventually building a city (v. 17).

But God Himself confronted Cain. “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground,” He said (v. 10). The New Testament later recorded Cain as an example to avoid (1 John 3:12; Jude 1:11). But of Abel we read, “By faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead” (Heb. 11:4).

God cares deeply about justice, about righting wrongs, and about defending the powerless. In the end, no one gets away with any act of injustice. Nor does God leave unrewarded our work done in faith for Him.

Father, as Your Son taught us to pray, we ask that Your kingdom will come, Your will be done to change this broken world. Thank You for redeeming us.

Sin will not ultimately be judged by the way we see it, but by the way God sees it.

By Tim Gustafson | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
For more about suffering and injustice, read 10 Reasons to Believe in a God Who Allows Suffering at discoveryseries.org/ten-reasons/in-a-god-who-allows-suffering.
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:29 AM   #2151
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Giving in to Jesus

Read: James 4:6–10 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 1–3; Acts 17:1–15

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11

They call it “The Devil’s Footprint.” It’s a foot-shaped impression in the granite on a hill beside a church in Ipswich, Massachusetts. According to local legend the “footprint” happened one fall day in 1740, when the evangelist George Whitefield preached so powerfully that the devil leaped from the church steeple, landing on the rock on his way out of town.

Though it’s only a legend, the story calls to mind an encouraging truth from God’s Word. James 4:7 reminds us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

The prayer of the feeblest saint . . . is a terror to Satan. —Oswald Chambers
God has given us the strength we need to stand against our adversary and the temptations in our lives. The Bible tells us that “sin shall no longer be your master” (Rom. 6:14) because of God’s loving grace to us through Jesus Christ. As we run to Jesus when temptation comes, He enables us to stand in His strength. Nothing we face in this life can overcome Him, because He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33).

As we submit ourselves to our Savior, yielding our wills to Him in the moment and walking in obedience to God’s Word, He is helping us. When we give in to Him instead of giving in to temptation, He is able to fight our battles. In Him we can overcome.

Lord Jesus, I give my will to You today. Help me to stay close to You in every moment, and to love You by obeying You.

The prayer of the feeblest saint . . . is a terror to Satan. Oswald Chambers

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

By James Banks | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
James’s emphasis on resisting temptation fits within his broader teaching regarding the behavior of believers. For James, being “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (1:22 nkjv) is central to being a believer, which echoes Jesus’s words that true faith is confirmed by obedience (Luke 6:49; 11:28).

In today’s text, James helps believers understand one way how to live with integrity—through humility. James 4:6, a reference to Proverbs 3:34, fits within many Jewish wisdom texts emphasizing the relationship between humility and godly living. Humility allows us to submit naturally to God and His plan (v. 8). Submitting to God means we are “friends” with Him, instead of the world (v. 4). When we are friends with God, we naturally live according to His kingdom and values, not the world’s (3:15, 17). As we live and walk humbly with our God (see Micah 6:8), He lifts us up (James 4:10), draws near to us (v. 8), and makes the devil powerless.

Does it surprise you to think of humility and fellowship with God as essential for resisting temptation? How can we learn to make these virtues part of our Christian lives? Monica Brands
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Old 07-12-2017, 08:51 AM   #2152
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Approaching God
Read: Hebrews 4:14–16 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 4–6; Acts 17:16–34

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. Psalm 73:28

A woman desiring to pray grabbed an empty chair and knelt before it. In tears, she said, “My dear heavenly Father, please sit down here; you and I need to talk!” Then, looking directly at the vacant chair, she prayed. She demonstrated confidence in approaching the Lord; she imagined He was sitting on the chair and believed He was listening to her petition.

A time with God is an important moment when we engage the Almighty. God comes near to us as we draw near to Him in a mutual involvement (James 4:8). He has assured us, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). Our heavenly Father is always waiting for us to come to Him, always ready to listen to us.

God is everywhere, is available every time, and listens always.
There are times when we struggle to pray because we feel tired, sleepy, sick, and weak. But Jesus sympathizes with us when we are weak or face temptations (Heb. 4:15). Therefore we can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (v. 16).

Lord, thank You that I can pray to You in all places at all times. Put the desire to come near to You in my heart. I want to learn to come to You in faith and in confidence.


For help in your prayer time, read In His Presence at discoveryseries.org/q0718.

God is everywhere, is available every time, and listens always.

By Lawrence Darmani | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
How different is our relationship to God from that of Old Testament Israel! At Sinai, the people trembled at God’s presence and were afraid to be near Him (Ex. 19:16). Israel followed this pattern throughout their relationship with their covenant God, requiring the people to go to Him through human priests who stood as intermediaries between God and the people. All of that changed through Jesus. He came to make it possible for us to come directly to God (John 14:6), giving us access to God through our faith in Him (Rom. 5:1–2). Through Jesus we become children of God who now have a family relationship with the perfect Father (John 1:12). And, to strengthen this relationship, Jesus now acts as our High Priest (Heb. 2:17; 4:15; 7:25), interceding and mediating on our behalf (1 Tim. 2:5). Based on our new standing as children of God, and resting in Jesus’s perfect intercession, we can boldly approach the Creator of the universe—and call Him Father!

Spend some time reflecting on these encouraging Scriptures, and then thank the Father that, through Jesus, He has made a way for us to come directly to Him with the needs and joys of our lives. Bill Crowder
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Old 07-13-2017, 10:19 AM   #2153
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Intimate Details
Read: Psalm 139:1–18 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 7–9; Acts 18

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:2

The universe is astonishingly grand. Right now the moon is spinning around us at nearly 2,300 miles an hour. Our Earth is spinning around the sun at 66,000 miles an hour. Our sun is one of 200 billion other stars and trillions more planets in our galaxy, and that galaxy is just one of 100 billion others hurtling through space. Astounding!

In comparison to this vast cosmos, our little Earth is no bigger than a pebble, and our individual lives no greater than a grain of sand. Yet according to Scripture, the God of the galaxies attends to each microscopic one of us in intimate detail. He saw us before we existed (Ps. 139:13–16); He watches us as we go about our days and listens for our every thought (vv. 1–6).

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:2
It can be hard to believe this sometimes. This tiny “pebble” has big problems like war and famine, and we can question God’s care in times of personal suffering. But when King David wrote Psalm 139 he was in the midst of crisis himself (vv. 19–20). And when Jesus said God counts each hair on our heads (Matt. 10:30), He was living in an age of crucifixion. Biblical talk of God’s caring attention isn’t a naïve wish. It is real-world truth.

The One who keeps the galaxies spinning knows us intimately. That can help us get through the worst of times.

Father God, Your eye is on me as much as it is on the stars in the sky. Thank You for Your love, Your care, Your attention.

The God of the cosmos cares for us intimately.
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:18 AM   #2154
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The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5:19

Isn’t it endearing to see a child mimicking his parents? How often we’ve seen the young boy in a car seat, gripping his imaginary steering wheel intently while keeping a close eye on the driver to see what Daddy does next.

I remember doing the same thing when I was young. Nothing gave me greater pleasure than doing exactly what my dad did—and I’m sure he got an even bigger kick watching me copy his actions.

Jesus, thank You for showing us the way to the Father.
I would like to think God felt the same way when He saw His dearest Son doing exactly what the Father did—reaching out to the lost, helping the needy, and healing the sick. Jesus said, "the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 5:19).

We too are called to do the same—to “follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love” (Eph. 5:1–2). As we continue growing to be more like Jesus, may we seek to love like the Father loves, forgive like He forgives, care like He cares, and live in ways that please Him. It is a delight to copy His actions, in the power of the Spirit, knowing that our reward is the affectionate, tender smile of a loving Father.

Jesus, thank You for showing us the way to the Father. Help us to be more and more like You and the Father each day.


Our Daily Bread welcomes writer Leslie Koh! Meet Leslie and all our authors at odb.org/all-authors.

The Father gave us the Spirit to make us like the Son.

By Leslie Koh | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
The theme of following God appears throughout all of Scripture. In the Old Testament, Moses warned the Israelites not to live like the Canaanites when they entered the Promised Land: “Do not follow their practices” (Lev. 18:3) or “imitate the detestable ways of the nations there” (Deut. 18:9). Instead they were to obey and follow God’s laws (Lev. 18:4, 26–30). They were His chosen people. “The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples . . . to be his people, his treasured possession” (Deut. 7:6–7; 14:2; 26:18).

In the New Testament, the apostle Peter says that believers in Christ are also “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9). Therefore, we are to imitate God: “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1:15). We are to live radically different from the world, to “be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48), to “be merciful, just as [our] Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36), to love as God loves (Eph. 5:1–2).

As we reflect on the challenge to imitate God, we can ask, If I am not following God’s example, who am I imitating? Sim Kay Tee
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Old 07-18-2017, 09:47 AM   #2155
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Beyond Labels

Read: Romans 5:1–11 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 20–22; Acts 21:1–17

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

A church in my city has a unique welcome card that captures the love and grace of God for everyone. It says, “If You Are A . . . saint, sinner, loser, winner”—followed by many other terms used to describe struggling people—“alcoholic, hypocrite, cheater, fearful, misfit . . . . You are welcome here.” One of the pastors told me, “We read the card aloud together in our worship services every Sunday.”

How often we accept labels and allow them to define who we are. And how easily we assign them to others. But God’s grace defies labels because it is rooted in His love, not in our self-perception. Whether we see ourselves as wonderful or terrible, capable or helpless, we can receive eternal life as a gift from Him. The apostle Paul reminded the followers of Jesus in Rome that “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing love in Jesus.
The Lord does not require us to change by our own power. Instead He invites us to come as we are to find hope, healing, and freedom in Him. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (v. 8). The Lord is ready and willing to receive us just as we are.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing love in Jesus.

God’s forgiveness defies our labels of failure or pride.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
The biblical solution for those who feel alienated from God because of their sin is clearly addressed in today’s reading. Paul tells us that the sinner can be reconciledto a holy God because of the sacrifice of Christ the Righteous One on the cross. Now our sins can be transferred to Him in exchange for His righteousness. Our Lord is ready to receive us just as we are.

Have you trusted Christ to forgive your sin and give you the gift of eternal life? Dennis Fisher
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Old 07-19-2017, 10:10 AM   #2156
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Mightier than All

Read: Psalm 93 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 23–25; Acts 21:18–40

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength. Psalm 93:1

Iguazu Falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina, is a spectacular waterfall system of 275 falls along 2.7 km (1.67 miles) of the Iguazu River. Etched on a wall on the Brazilian side of the Falls are the words of Psalm 93:4, “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” (rsv). Below it are these words, “God is always greater than all of our troubles.”

The writer of Psalm 93, who penned its words during the time that kings reigned, knew that God is the ultimate King over all. “The Lord reigns,” he wrote. “Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity” (vv. 1–2). No matter how high the floods or waves, the Lord remains greater than them all.

Lord, I know that You are powerful and greater than any trouble that might come my way.
The roar of a waterfall is truly majestic, but it is quite a different matter to be in the water hurtling toward the falls. That may be the situation you are in today. Physical, financial, or relational problems loom ever larger and you feel like you are about to go over the falls. In such situations, the Christian has Someone to turn to. He is the Lord, “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20) for He is greater than all our troubles.

Lord, I know that You are powerful and greater than any trouble that might come my way. I trust You to carry me through.

Never measure God’s unlimited power by your limited expectations.

By C. P. Hia | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
Are there areas in your life that feel out of control? If so, you’re in good company. So many of the psalms were inspired by desperate feelings of fear and confusion. Yet they ended up as songs of hope in the God who has promised to never leave us or forsake us. But who is this God? The author of Psalm 93 identifies Him as the Lord (Yahweh). By contrast to legendary gods of war, fertility, weather, travel, or the hunt, He is the God who created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 2:4).

Consider the implications of such a Creator. Use the measure of modern astronomy. What kind of God speaks into existence billions of galaxies filled with trillions of suns far greater than our own? Yet even the cosmos is not the measure of His greatness. According to the New Testament (John 1:1–3, 14), the God of the Bible is the Lord who, in Jesus, showed that He is greater than our troubles by bearing our sins of indifference, neglect, and contempt. In the weakness of His crucifixion and by the power of His resurrection, He showed that even His love for us is greater than our sin. Mart DeHaan
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Old 07-20-2017, 08:33 AM   #2157
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A Time for Everything

Read: Ecclesiastes 3:1–14 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 26–28; Acts 22

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

While flying recently, I watched a mother and her children a few rows ahead of me. While the toddler played contentedly, the mother gazed into the eyes of her newborn, smiling at him and stroking his cheek. He stared back with a wide-eyed wonderment. I enjoyed the moment with a touch of wistfulness, thinking of my own children at that age and the season that has passed me by.

I reflected, however, about King Solomon’s words in the book of Ecclesiastes about “every activity under the heavens” (v. 1). He addresses through a series of opposites how there is a “time for everything” (v. 1): “a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot” (v. 2). Perhaps King Solomon in these verses despairs at what he sees as a meaningless cycle of life. But he also acknowledges the role of God in each season, that our work is a “gift of God” (v. 13) and that “everything God does will endure forever” (v. 14).

The Lord promises to be with us in every season of our life.
We may remember times in our lives with longing, like me thinking of my children as babies. We know, however, that the Lord promises to be with us in every season of our life (Isa. 41:10). We can count on His presence and find that our purpose is in walking with Him.

Lord God, You lead me through the seasons, and whether I’m laughing or crying I know You are with me. May I reach out to someone with Your love today.

God gives us the seasons of our lives.

By Amy Boucher Pye | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
The writer of Ecclesiastes lists fourteen pairs of “times” we may find ourselves in throughout our lives. But following this list is a question, “What do workers gain from their toil?” (3:9). The answer is quite encouraging. From our toil we gain satisfaction, and that is a gift from God (v. 13). Thank God for the season of life you are now in. Thank Him for the satisfaction of work. J.R. Hudberg
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Old 07-21-2017, 08:49 AM   #2158
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Dressed Up

Read: Romans 13:11–14 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 29–30; Acts 23:1–15

Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 13:14

In her book Wearing God, author Lauren Winner says our clothes can silently communicate to others who we are. What we wear may indicate career, community or identity, moods, or social status. Think of a T-shirt with a slogan, a business suit, a uniform, or greasy jeans and what they might reveal. She writes, “The idea that, as with a garment, Christians might wordlessly speak something of Jesus—is appealing.”

According to Paul, we can similarly wordlessly represent Christ. Romans 13:14 tells us to “clothe [ourselves] with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” What does this mean? When we become Christians, we take on Christ’s identity. We’re “children of God through faith” (Gal. 3:26–27). That’s our status. Yet each day we need to clothe ourselves in His character. We do this by striving to live for and to be more like Jesus, growing in godliness, love, and obedience and turning our back on the sins that once enslaved us.

Dear Lord, grow us in godliness, love, joy, and patience.
This growth in Christ is a result of the Holy Spirit working in us and our desire to be closer to Him through study of the Word, prayer, and time spent in fellowship with other Christians (John 14:26). When others look at our words and attitudes, what statement are we making about Christ?

Dear Lord, we want to be a reflection of You. Help us to look more like You each day. Grow us in godliness, love, joy, and patience.

When others see us, may what they see speak well of the Savior.

By Alyson Kieda | See Other Authors
INSIGHT:
What does a well-dressed follower of Christ look like? Starting with verse 11 of Romans 13, Paul builds his case. Maybe he has a smile in his eyes as he thinks, “Hey, wake up you sleepy heads. It’s time to get up. Come on now. Wake up. The night’s about over. The sun’s coming up. It’s time to dress for the day rather than for the night” (see vv. 11–12).

At this point can you hear the emotion in Paul’s voice? Something like, “Come on now, I’m not kidding. Do you really want to be seen as a follower of Jesus dressed like that? Please now, ‘Do this’ for Jesus’s sake” (v. 11). Do what? He replies: “For you, I’ll say it again. Please, don’t hide who you are in Christ by wrapping yourself in self-centered desire. Clothe yourself in the ways of Jesus. Find in Him an honest concern for everyone who comes into your lives. Give yourselves and everyone you come in contact with a chance to see that a new day is dawning. It’s time to love others as Christ has loved us” (see vv. 8–12).

For further study on Romans and other New Testament books, check out this free resource at christianuniversity.org/NT109. Mart DeHaan
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Old 07-24-2017, 09:23 AM   #2159
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Building Community

Read: Ephesians 2:19–3:11 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 35–36; Acts 25

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 3:6

“Community” is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives, says Henri Nouwen. Often we surround ourselves with the people we mostwant to live with, which forms a club or a clique, not a community. Anyone can form a club; it takes grace, shared vision, and hard work to form a community.

The Christian church was the first institution in history to bring together on equal footing Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and free. The apostle Paul waxed eloquent on this “mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God.” By forming a community out of diverse members, Paul said, we have the opportunity to capture the attention of the world and even the supernatural world beyond (Eph. 3:9–10).

"'Community' is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives." —Henri Nouwen
In some ways the church has sadly failed in this assignment. Still, church is the one place I visit that brings together generations: infants still held in their mothers’ arms, children who squirm and giggle at all the wrong times, responsible adults who know how to act appropriately at all times, and those who may drift asleep if the preacher drones on too long.

If we want the community experience God is offering to us, we have reason to seek a congregation of people “not like us.”

Lord, remind us that the church is Your work, and You have brought us together for Your good purposes. Help us extend grace to others.

The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. G. K. Chesterton
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