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Old 10-11-2018, 08:40 AM   #2421
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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Stories of Jesus

Read: 1 John 1:1–4; John 21:24–25 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 37–38; Colossians 3

Jesus did many other things as well. John 21:25

As a girl I loved to visit my small local library. One day, looking at the bookshelves holding the young adult section, I reasoned I could probably read every book. In my enthusiasm I forgot one important fact—new books were regularly added to the shelves. Although I gave it a valiant effort, there were simply too many books.

New books continue to fill more and more bookshelves. The apostle John likely would be amazed with the availability of books today since his five New Testament books, the gospel of John; 1, 2, and 3 John; and Revelation, were handwritten on parchment scrolls.

John wrote those books because he felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to give Christians an eyewitness account of Jesus’s life and ministry (1 John 1:1–4). But John’s writings contained only a small fraction of all that Jesus did and taught during His ministry. In fact, John said if everything Jesus did were written down “the whole world could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25 nlt).

John’s claim remains true today. Despite all the books that have been written about Jesus, the libraries of the world still cannot contain every story of His love and grace. We can also celebrate that we have our own personal stories to share and rejoice that we will be proclaiming them forever! (Psalm 89:1).

To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry. Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky. F.M. Lehman

Let your life tell the story of Christ’s love and grace.

By Lisa Samra | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Although the Scriptures don’t contain every story about Jesus (in fact John twice admits that he has only recorded a portion of Jesus’s life and ministry—see John 20:30 and 21:25), we have the significant parts. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we have the whole story of Jesus that is necessary for our salvation.

But what about those things that aren’t written down in John’s gospel? There have been attempts to fill the holes. Should John’s admission that “Jesus performed many other miraculous signs” (20:30) make us insecure? Should we try to “fill in the blanks”? Not at all. When John first tells us that what he recorded is only a part of Jesus’s story, he gives us full confidence that what we have is enough: “These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:31).

How can you thank God today that His story is even bigger than we know?

For more on who Jesus is, see Life of Christ at christianuniversity.org/NT111.

J.R. Hudberg
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:09 AM   #2422
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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Safe in His Arms

Read: Isaiah 40:9–11 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 39–40; Colossians 4

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. Isaiah 40:11

The weather outside was threatening, and the alert on my cell phone warned about the possibility of flash floods. An unusual number of cars were parked in my neighborhood as parents and others gathered to pick up children at the school bus drop-off point. By the time the bus arrived, it had started to rain. That’s when I observed a woman exit her car and retrieve an umbrella from the trunk. She walked towards a little girl and made sure the child was shielded from the rain until they returned to the vehicle. What a beautiful “real time” picture of parental, protective care that reminded me of the care of our heavenly Father.

The prophet Isaiah forecast punishment for disobedience followed by brighter days for God’s people (Isaiah 40:1–8). The heavenly dispatch from the mountain (v. 9) assured the Israelites of God’s mighty presence and tender care. The good news, then and now, is that because of God’s power and ruling authority, anxious hearts need not fear (vv. 9–10). Included in the announcement was news about the Lord’s protection, the kind of protection shepherds provide (v. 11): vulnerable young sheep would find safety in the Shepherd’s arms; nursing ewes would be led gently.

In a world where circumstances aren’t always easy, such images of safety and care compel us to look confidently to the Lord. Those who trust wholeheartedly in the Lord find security and renewed strength in Him (v. 31).

Father, in a world where we are sometimes threatened, we are comforted because of Your gracious care for us—in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The good news is that God cares for us!

By Arthur Jackson | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
We also see the shepherd imagery in the New Testament when Jesus is described as our Good Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11) and “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep” (vv. 14–15). Just as a shepherd watched over, provided for, and protected his sheep against danger and death and even pursued them when lost (Psalm 23:1–3; Luke 15:4), Jesus laid down His life for our sins and then rose again so that we would have the opportunity to live forever with Him (John 3:16). By doing so, He freed all who receive Him as Savior from the clutches of our enemy, Satan, and from eternal misery. And in this life, our Shepherd leads and guides us along the way. We need not fear, for He is with us (Psalm 23:4). He loves us and knows us (John 10:14–15).

In what area of your life do you need the comfort of the Good Shepherd?

Alyson Kieda
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Old 10-15-2018, 10:11 AM   #2423
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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Trust Him First

Read: Isaiah 46:3–13 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 45–46; 1 Thessalonians 3

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Psalm 68:19 nlt

“Don’t let go, Dad!”

“I won’t. I’ve got you. I promise.”

I was a little boy terrified of the water, but my dad wanted me to learn to swim. He would purposefully take me away from the side of the pool into a depth that was over my head, where he was my only support. Then he would teach me to relax and float.

It wasn’t just a swimming lesson; it was a lesson in trust. I knew my father loved me and would never let me be harmed intentionally, but I was also afraid. I would cling tightly to his neck until he reassured me all would be well. Eventually his patience and kindness won out, and I began to swim. But I had to trust him first.

When I feel “over my head” in a difficulty, I sometimes think back on those moments. They help me call to mind the Lord’s reassurance to His people: “Even to your old age . . . I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:4).

We may not always be able to feel God’s arms beneath us, but the Lord has promised that He will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5). As we rest in His care and promises, He helps us learn to trust in His faithfulness. He lifts us above our worries to discover new peace in Him.

Abba, Father, I praise You for carrying me through life. Please give me faith to trust that You are always with me.

God carries us to new places of grace as we trust in Him.
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Old 10-16-2018, 10:06 AM   #2424
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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Terrible and Beautiful Things

Read: Psalm 57 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 47–49; 1 Thessalonians 4

Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. Psalm 57:8

Fear can leave us frozen. We know all the reasons to be afraid—everything that’s hurt us in the past, everything that could easily do so again. So sometimes we’re stuck—unable to go back; too afraid to move forward. I just can’t do it. I’m not smart enough, strong enough, or brave enough to handle being hurt like that again.

I’m captivated by how author Frederick Buechner describes God’s grace: like a gentle voice that says, “Here is the world. Terrible and beautiful things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you.”

Terrible things will happen. In our world, hurting people hurt other people, often terribly. Like the psalmist David, we carry our own stories of when evil surrounded us, when, like “ravenous beasts,” others wounded us (Psalm 57:4). And so we grieve; we cry out (vv. 1–2).

But because God is with us, beautiful things can happen too. As we run to Him with our hurts and fears, we find ourselves carried by a love far greater than anyone’s power to harm us (vv. 1–3), a love so deep it fills the skies (v. 10). Even when disaster rages around us, His love is a solid refuge where our hearts find healing (vv. 1, 7). Until one day we’ll find ourselves awakening to renewed courage, ready to greet the day with a song of His faithfulness (vv. 8–10).

Healer and Redeemer, thank You for holding us and healing us with Your endless love. Help us find in Your love the courage to follow You and share Your love with those around us.

God’s love and beauty make us brave.

By Monica Brands | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
In the book of Psalms, superscriptions often precede the actual text. These notes shed light on the individual or group designated to lead the composition, the author, or the situation that inspired the lyrics. The superscription for Psalm 57 tells us David wrote this psalm “when he had fled from Saul into the cave.” Scripture records two times when David found refuge from Saul in a cave (1 Samuel 22 and 24). While there is uncertainty as to which of these two incidents is in view here, the truth of the psalm is crystal clear—the fearful, the anxious, the fleeing can find ultimate safety in the Lord (Psalm 57:1).

When was the last time a difficult situation caused you to call out to “God Most High”? (v. 2).

Arthur Jackson
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Old 10-17-2018, 10:23 AM   #2425
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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The Prayer and the Chain Saw

Read: Nehemiah 1 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 50–52; 1 Thessalonians 5
Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant. Nehemiah 1:11

I respect my Aunt Gladys’s intrepid spirit, even if that very spirit concerns me sometimes. The source of my concern came in the form of news she shared in an email: “I cut down a walnut tree yesterday.”

You must understand that my chainsaw-wielding aunt is seventy-six years old! The tree had grown up behind her garage. When the roots threatened to burst through the concrete, she knew it had to go. But she did tell us, “I always pray before I tackle a job like that.”

While serving as butler to the king of Persia during the time of Israel’s exile, Nehemiah heard news concerning the people who had returned to Jerusalem. Some work needed to be done. “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:3). The broken walls left them vulnerable to attack by enemies. Nehemiah had compassion for his people and wanted to get involved. But prayer came first, especially since a new king had written a letter to stop the building efforts in Jerusalem (see Ezra 4). Nehemiah prayed for his people (Nehemiah 1:5–10), and then asked God for help before requesting permission from the king to leave (v. 11).

Is prayer your response? It’s always the best way to face any task or trial in life.

Father, Your Holy Spirit reminds us to pray first. Today, we commit to doing so as Your Spirit prompts us.

Make prayer a first priority, instead of a last resort.
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Old 10-19-2018, 10:01 AM   #2426
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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Bring Your Boats
Read: Proverbs 3:21–31 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 56–58; 2 Thessalonians 2

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27

Hurricane Harvey brought catastrophic flooding to eastern Texas in 2017. The onslaught of rain stranded thousands of people in their homes, unable to escape the floodwaters. In what was dubbed the “Texas Navy,” many private citizens brought boats from other parts of the state and nation to help evacuate stranded people.

The actions of these valiant, generous men and women call to mind the encouragement of Proverbs 3:27, which instructs us to help others whenever we are able. They had the power to act on behalf of those in need by bringing their boats. And so they did. Their actions demonstrate a willingness to use whatever resources they had at their disposal for the benefit of others.

We may not always feel adequate for the task at hand; often we become paralyzed by thinking we don’t have the skills, experience, resources, or time to help others. In such instances, we’re quick to sideline ourselves, discounting what we do have that might be of assistance to someone else. The Texas Navy couldn’t stop the floodwaters from rising, nor could they legislate government aid. But they used what they had within their power—their boats—to come alongside the deep needs of their fellow man. May we all bring our “boats”—whatever they may be—to take the people in our paths to higher ground.

Lord, all that I have is from You. Help me to always use what You’ve given me to help others.

God provides for His people through His people.

By Kirsten Holmberg | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Helping others by doing good when it’s in our power to act (Proverbs 3:27–28) is also the focus of Paul’s instructions to believers. Encouraging us to live meaningful and purposeful lives before a watching, non-believing world, Paul tells us to “be very careful, then, how [we] live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:15–16). Careful living means we are to live godly lives as “children of light” pleasing to the Lord (vv. 8, 10). Paul expects “those who have trusted in God [to] devote themselves to doing what is good” (Titus 3:8). We are to adopt a never-give-up attitude when it comes to serving others: “Let us not become weary in doing good . . . . As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9–10).

What can you do this week to serve someone?

K. T. Sim
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Old Yesterday, 10:08 AM   #2427
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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Treasure in a Pumpkin

Read: 2 Corinthians 4:7–18 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 65–66; 1 Timothy 2

We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

As a young mother, I was determined to document my daughter’s first year of life. Each month, I took photos of her to illustrate how she had changed and grown. In one of my favorite pictures, she is gleefully sitting in the belly of a hollowed-out pumpkin I purchased from a local farmer. There she sat, the delight of my heart, contained in an overgrown squash. The pumpkin withered in the ensuing weeks, but my daughter continued to grow and thrive.

The way Paul describes knowing the truth of who Jesus is reminds me of that photo. He likens the knowledge of Jesus in our heart to a treasure stored in a clay pot. Remembering what Jesus did for us gives us the courage and strength to persevere through struggles in spite of being “hard pressed on every side” (2 Corinthians 4:8). Because of God’s power in our lives, when we are “struck down, but not destroyed,” we reveal the life of Jesus (v. 9).

Like the pumpkin that withered, we may feel the wear and tear of our trials. But the joy of Jesus in us can continue to grow in spite of those challenges. Our knowledge of Him—His power at work in our lives—is the treasure stored in our frail clay bodies. We can flourish in the face of hardship because of His power at work within us.

Dear Father, thank You for putting Your truth into my heart and life. Help me to bear up under the challenges I face with Your power. May others see Your work in my life and come to know You too.

God’s power is at work within us.

By Kirsten Holmberg | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
As with Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the epistle of James encourages those who are facing trials. “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete” (James 1:2–4). Those who persevere will receive strength for today and “the crown of life” (v. 12)—eternal life—tomorrow.

How have you experienced the joy of Christ in the midst of trials?

Alyson Kieda
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Old Today, 10:30 AM   #2428
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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Choosing the Trail

Read: Matthew 7:13–14 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 1–2; 1 Timothy 3

Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:14

I have a beautiful autumn photograph of a young man on horseback in the Colorado mountains as he contemplates which trail ahead to follow. It reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” In it, Frost ponders two pathways that lie before him. Both are equally inviting, but he doubts he will return to this place again, and he must choose one. Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), the Lord told His listeners, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (7:13–14).

On our journey through life, we face many choices about which road to travel. Many pathways seem promising and attractive but only one is the pathway of life. Jesus calls us to travel the road of discipleship and obedience to God’s Word—to follow Him instead of the crowd.

As we ponder the road ahead, may God give us wisdom and courage to follow His way—the road of life. It will make all the difference for us and those we love!

Lord, as we go through this day, give us eyes to see the narrow road that leads to life and the courage to follow it.

Choose to walk the road of life with Jesus.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Life is all about choices—and their consequences. As author Robert Louis Stevenson put it, “Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.” We see this throughout the Scriptures as our first parents hid from God in the ancient garden (Genesis 3:8), Moses was forbidden to enter the promised land (Deuteronomy 32:52), David was confronted by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12), and after denying his Lord, Peter wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). By the same token, Moses counseled the Israelites to choose the things of life (Deuteronomy 30:19), and Solomon warned those who do not choose to fear the Lord (Proverbs 1:28–29). Why is this so important? In Psalm 25:12, David sang, “Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.” When the wisdom of God guides us in our choices, we have less reason to fear the consequences those choices might bring.

For more on choices and their consequences, check out the Discovery Series booklet Eve and Rahab: Learning to Make Better Choices at discoveryseries.org/hp031.

Bill Crowder
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