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Old 01-04-2017, 09:59 AM   #2021
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A Multiplied Love

Read: 1 John 4:20–5:5 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 10–12; Matthew 4

Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:21

When a woman in Karen’s church was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), things looked bad. This cruel disease affects nerves and muscles, eventually leading to paralysis. The family’s insurance wouldn’t cover home care, and the stricken woman’s husband couldn’t bear the thought of putting her in a nursing home.

As a nurse, Karen had the expertise to help and began going to the woman’s home to care for her. But she soon realized she couldn’t take care of her own family while meeting the needs of her friend, so she started teaching others in the church to help. As the disease ran its course over the next seven years, Karen trained thirty-one additional volunteers who surrounded that family with love, prayer, and practical assistance.

Ask God to show you how He wants you to use your gifts for His kingdom.
“Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister,” said John the disciple (1 John 4:21). Karen gives us a shining example of that kind of love. She had the skills, compassion, and vision to rally a church family around a hurting friend. Her love for one person in need became a multiplied love lived out by many.

How might God use your talents and abilities to serve others in need? Ask God to show you how He wants you to use your gifts for His kingdom.


To learn more, read God Is Love at discoveryseries.org/q0612.

Love your neighbor as yourself. —Jesus

INSIGHT:
In the gospel of John, Jesus told His disciples that love would be the identifying mark of His followers: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (13:35). He also told them: “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (15:10). The connection between these two verses is as simple as it is wonderful: Loving Jesus means keeping His commands, and His command is to love. In fact, John says we cannot do one if we do not do the other. They cannot be separated—we cannot love God in one way and fellow believers in another way. Rather, “Whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20).
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Old 01-05-2017, 10:40 AM   #2022
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Listening to God

Read: Genesis 3:8–17 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 13–15; Matthew 5:1–26

The Lord God called . . . “Where are you?” Genesis 3:9

My young son loves to hear my voice, except when I call his name loudly and sternly, followed by the question, “Where are you?” When I do that, I am usually calling for him because he has been into some mischief and is trying to hide from me. I want my son to listen to my voice because I’m concerned about his well-being and do not want him to get hurt.

Adam and Eve were used to hearing God’s voice in the garden. However, after they disobeyed Him by eating the forbidden fruit, they hid from Him when they heard Him calling, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9). They didn’t want to face God because they knew they had done something wrong—something He had told them not to do (v. 11).

Thank You, Lord, for Your love and care.
When God called for Adam and Eve and found them in the garden, His words did include correction and consequence (vv. 13–19). But God also showed them kindness and gave them hope for mankind in the promise of the Savior (v. 15).

God doesn’t have to look for us. He knows where we are and what we are trying to hide. But as a loving Father, He wants to speak to our hearts and bring us forgiveness and restoration. He longs for us to hear His voice—and to listen.

Thank You, Lord, for Your love and care. Thank You for sending Your Son, our Savior, to fulfill Your promise of forgiveness and restoration.

When God calls, we need to answer.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:36 AM   #2023
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Someone to Celebrate


Read: Matthew 2:1–12 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 16–17; Matthew 5:27–48

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Psalm 95:6

Many manger scenes depict the wise men, or magi, visiting Jesus in Bethlehem at the same time as the shepherds. But according to the gospel of Matthew, the only place in Scripture where their story is found, the magi showed up later. Jesus was no longer in the manger in a stable at the inn, but in a house. Matthew 2:11 tells us, “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

Realizing that the magi’s visit happened later than we may think provides a helpful reminder as we begin a new year. Jesus is always worthy of worship. When the holidays are past and we head back to life’s everyday routines, we still have Someone to celebrate.

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. Psalm 95:6
Jesus Christ is Immanuel, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23), in every season. He has promised to be with us “always” (28:20). Because He is always with us, we can worship Him in our hearts every day and trust that He will show Himself faithful in the years to come. Just as the magi sought Him, may we seek Him too and worship Him wherever we are.

Lord Jesus, just as the magi sought You and bowed before You as the coming King, help me to yield my will to You and to follow where You lead.

When we find Christ we offer our worship.

INSIGHT:
The magi were considered wise, not because they were people of great learning but because they searched for Jesus and—having found Him—they worshiped Him as God. That’s what wise people do. The wise are those who fear God and worship Him!
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Old 01-09-2017, 09:18 AM   #2024
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Old Yet New

Read: Revelation 21:1–5 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 23–24; Matthew 7

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new.” Revelation 21:5

In 2014, a sinkhole opened up under the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky, swallowing eight vintage, irreplaceable Chevrolet Corvette sports cars. The automobiles were severely damaged—some beyond repair.

One car in particular received a lot of attention. The one-millionth Corvette, which rolled off the assembly line in 1992, was the most valuable in the collection. What happened to that gem after it was pulled from the sinkhole is fascinating. Experts restored the car to mint condition, mainly by using and repairing its original parts. Although this little beauty was in horrible shape, it now looks as good as it did the day it was built.

The old and damaged was made new.

This is a great reminder of what God has in store for believers in Jesus. In Revelation 21:1, John spoke of seeing “a new heaven and a new earth.” Many biblical scholars see this “new” earth as a renovated earth, for their study of the word new here reveals that it means “fresh” or “restored” after the decay of the old has been wiped away. God will renovate what is corrupt on this earth and provide a fresh, yet familiar place where believers will live with Him.

What an amazing truth to contemplate: a new, refreshed, familiar, and beautiful earth. Imagine the majesty of God’s handiwork!

Lord, we thank You for this beautiful world we live in—but at the same time we anticipate greatly the new world You have in store for us. We praise You for Your love for us, revealed in Your amazing plans for our future.

Our Creator God makes everything new.

INSIGHT:
Those who have undergone a rebirth individually through believing in Christ (John 3:3–5; Titus 3:5) will participate in the future universal makeover of this planet (Matt. 19:28; Acts 3:21). Revelation 21:1–5 refers to three new items—“a new heaven and a new earth,” plus “the new Jerusalem” (v. 2). Christians can be part of that new world as “a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). A significant part of Revelation 21:1–5 involves an interlacing of previously announced truths and texts from the Old Testament. Isaiah 48:6 forecasted “new things,” which Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22 expand to “new heavens and a new earth.” What are you especially looking forward to being made new?
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Old 01-10-2017, 09:22 AM   #2025
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Random Acts of Kindness

Read: Ruth 2:8–13 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 25–26; Matthew 8:1–17

“Why have I found such favor [grace] in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” Ruth 2:10

Some say that the American writer Anne Herbert scribbled the phrase “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a placemat at a restaurant in 1982. The sentiment has since been popularized through film and literature and has become a part of our vocabulary.

The question is “Why?” Why should we show kindness? For those who follow Jesus, the answer is clear: To show the tender mercy and kindness of God.

Lord, what do You want me to do for another today? Lead me.
There’s an Old Testament example of that principle in the story of Ruth, the emigrant from Moab. She was a foreigner, living in a strange land whose language and culture she did not understand. Furthermore, she was desperately poor, utterly dependent on the charity of a people who took little notice of her.

There was one Israelite, however, who showed Ruth grace and spoke to her heart (Ruth 2:13). He allowed her to glean in his fields, but more than simple charity, he showed her by his compassion the tender mercy of God, the One under whose wings she could take refuge. She became Boaz’s bride, part of the family of God, and one in a line of ancestors that led to Jesus, who brought salvation to the world (see Matt. 1:1–16).

We never know what one act of kindness, done in Jesus’s name, will do.

Lord, what do You want me to do for another today? Lead me. And may that person see a glimmer of You.


Share your ideas of how you can show kindness in the name of Jesus today at Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

It’s never too soon to be kind.

INSIGHT:
The command to be kind to others is embedded in the Law that God gave to the Jews fresh out of Egypt. God told them, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:18). Today, Christ-followers are to “be kind and compassionate to one another” (Eph. 4:32). And the reasons we are to show kindness have not changed: It is because of who God is and what He has done for us. We are to “follow God’s example, . . . and walk in the way of love” (5:1–2).
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:21 AM   #2026
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Work Together

Read: Romans 8:28–30 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 27–28; Matthew 8:18–34

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

My wife makes an amazing pot roast dinner. She takes raw meat, along with raw sliced white and sweet potatoes, celery, mushrooms, carrots, and onions and throws them into the slow cooker. Six or seven hours later the aroma fills the house, and the first taste is a delight. It is always to my advantage to wait until the ingredients in the slow cooker work together to achieve something they could not achieve individually.

When Paul used the phrase “work together” in the context of suffering, he used the word from which we get our word synergy. He wrote, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). He wanted the Romans to know that God, who didn’t cause their suffering, would cause all their circumstances to cooperate with His divine plan—for their ultimate good. The good to which Paul referred was not the temporal blessings of health, wealth, admiration, or success, but being “conformed to the image of [God’s] Son” (v. 29).

May we wait patiently and confidently before our heavenly Father. He wants to make us like Jesus.
May we wait patiently and confidently because our heavenly Father is taking all the suffering, all the distress, all the evil, and causing them to work together for His glory and our spiritual good. He wants to make us like Jesus.

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 1:6, and 1 Peter 5:10. What encouragement did you find for tough times?

The growth we gain from waiting on God is often greater than the answer or result we desire.

INSIGHT:
“All things” (Rom. 8:28) is a phrase that treats the seemingly good and bad events of life as a whole. The idea is that there is a dynamic interaction between the good and bad to bring a desired outcome, though this positive outcome may not yet be visible. If we consider a young man nailed to a cross dying in agony, we might wonder if anything good could be found there. But if we understand that this is Jesus Christ atoning for the sins of those who love Him, we can see how even this terrible event worked together for good. God works for “the good” of those who are true believers in Jesus Christ. They demonstrate the authenticity of their faith because they respond back with love to the One who first loved them (1 John 4:19).
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Old 01-12-2017, 10:27 AM   #2027
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Nothing Hidden

Read: Hebrews 4:12–16 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 29–30; Matthew 9:1–17

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Hebrews 4:13

In 2015 an international research company stated that there were 245 million surveillance cameras installed worldwide, and the number was growing by 15 percent every year. In addition, multiplied millions of people with smartphones capture daily images ranging from birthday parties to bank robberies. Whether we applaud the increased security or denounce the diminished privacy, we live in a global, cameras-everywhere society.

The New Testament book of Hebrews says that in our relationship with God, we experience a far greater level of exposure and accountability than anything surveillance cameras may see. His Word, like a sharp, two-edged sword, penetrates to the deepest level of our being where it “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:12–13).

Nothing is hidden from God’s sight. Nothing is greater than God’s love.
Because Jesus our Savior experienced our weaknesses and temptations but did not sin, 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” (vv. 15–16). We don’t need to fear Him but can be assured we’ll find grace when we come to Him.

Nothing is hidden from God’s sight. Nothing is greater than God’s love. Nothing is stronger than God’s mercy and grace. Nothing is too hard for God’s power.


Discover how you can develop and maintain a meaningful prayer life. Read Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer at discoveryseries.org/hj891.

No part of our lives is hidden from God’s grace and power.

INSIGHT:
We can be thankful for the Scriptures and all they teach about the wisdom and heart of our Father. His ultimate expression of Himself, however, came in the person of Jesus, who lived in flesh on this earth and showed us all we could ever need to know about our God. Why is it important that God became flesh and lived among us? In Hebrews 4:15-16 how does it help to know we can approach God in “our time of need”?
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Old 01-13-2017, 09:33 AM   #2028
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Remember When

Read: Psalm 126 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 31–32; Matthew 9:18–38





The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3

Our son wrestled with drug addiction for seven years, and during that time my wife and I experienced many difficult days. As we prayed and waited for his recovery, we learned to celebrate small victories. If nothing bad happened in a twenty-four-hour period, we would tell each other, “Today was a good day.” That short sentence became a reminder to be thankful for God’s help with the smallest things.

Tucked away in Psalm 126:3 is an even better reminder of God’s tender mercies and what they ultimately mean for us: “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” What a great verse to take to heart as we remember Jesus’s compassion for us at the cross! The difficulties of any given day cannot change the truth that come what may, our Lord has already shown us unfathomable kindness, and “his love endures forever” (Ps. 136:1).

When we cannot see God’s hand, we can trust His heart.
When we have lived through a difficult circumstance and discovered that God was faithful, keeping that in mind helps greatly the next time life’s waters turn rough. We may not know how God will get us through our circumstances, but His kindness to us in the past helps us trust that He will.

Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end, our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend. Robert Grant

When we cannot see God’s hand, we can trust His heart.

INSIGHT:
Psalm 126 is a song of happiness on the other side of a broken heart. It celebrates the return of Jewish citizens to Jerusalem after seventy years of Babylonian exile. These lyrics are in striking contrast to Psalm 137 that recalls the tears of their years of captivity: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” (v. 1). Does either one of these two songs resonate with you today? Can you remember days when there seemed to be no way forward, until the sun of God’s provision dawned? Maybe the emotions of that moment can be seen in the joy of Psalm 126. Is there ever not a time to remember the God who is with us—to be trusted in our waiting and thanked in song when circumstances seem to shout of His goodness?
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Old 01-16-2017, 09:33 AM   #2029
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The Valley of Blessing

Read: 2 Chronicles 20:1,13–22 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 39–40; Matthew 11

If calamity comes . . . [we] will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us. 2 Chronicles 20:9

French artist Henri Matisse felt his work in the last years of his life best represented him. During that time he experimented with a new style, creating colorful, large-scale pictures with paper instead of paint. He decorated the walls of his room with these bright images. This was important to him because he had been diagnosed with cancer and was often confined to his bed.

Becoming ill, losing a job, or enduring heartbreak are examples of what some call “being in the valley,” where dread overshadows everything else. The people of Judah experienced this when they heard an invading army was approaching (2 Chron. 20:2–3). Their king prayed, “If calamity comes . . . [we] will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us” (v. 9). God responded, “Go out to face [your enemies] tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you” (v. 17).

“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 20:21
When Judah’s army arrived at the battlefield, their enemies had already destroyed each other. God’s people spent three days collecting the abandoned equipment, clothing, and valuables. Before leaving, they assembled to praise God and named the place “The Valley of Berakah,” which means “blessing.”

God walks with us through the lowest points in our lives. He can make it possible to discover blessings in the valleys.

Dear God, help me not to be afraid when I encounter difficulty. Help me to believe that Your goodness and love will follow me.


Looking for hope in the middle of difficult circumstances? Read Hope: Choosing Faith Instead of Fear at discoveryseries.org/q0733.

God is the master of turning burdens into blessings.
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Old 01-17-2017, 12:10 PM   #2030
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Finding Life

Read: John 14:5–14 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 41–42; Matthew 12:1–23

Because I live, you also will live. John 14:19

The words of Ravi’s father cut deep. “You’re a complete failure. You’re an embarrassment to the family.” Compared to his talented siblings, Ravi was viewed as a disgrace. He tried excelling in sports, and he did, but he still felt like a loser. He wondered, What is going to become of me? Am I a complete failure? Can I get out of life some way, painlessly? These thoughts haunted him, but he talked to no one. That simply wasn’t done in his culture. He had been taught to “keep your private heartache private; keep your collapsing world propped up.”

So Ravi struggled alone. Then while he was recovering in the hospital after a failed suicide attempt, a visitor brought him a Bible opened to John 14. His mother read these words of Jesus to Ravi: “Because I live, you also will live” (v. 19). This may be my only hope, he thought. A new way of living. Life as defined by the Author of life. So he prayed, “Jesus, if You are the one who gives life as it is meant to be, I want it.”

Transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to You alone.
Life can present despairing moments. But, like Ravi, we can find hope in Jesus who is “the way and the truth and the life” (v. 6). God longs to give us a rich and satisfying life.

Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner, and I need Your forgiveness. Thank You, Jesus, for dying for me and giving me eternal life. Transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to You alone.


Share this prayer from our Facebook page: Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

Only Jesus can give us new life.

INSIGHT:
On the eve of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, His preoccupation was not with the imminent pain that awaited Him but on the welfare of His disciples. After promising He was going away to prepare a dwelling place for them, Jesus told His followers He would come again to gather them to Himself. The foundation for such claims was Christ’s declaration that He is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He was able to comfort His disciples because of who and what He is. Jesus offers all who believe in Him the same hope of a new life.
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Old 01-18-2017, 09:34 AM   #2031
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Long Shadows

Read: Psalm 100 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 43–45; Matthew 12:24–50

The Lord is good and his love . . . continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

Several years ago, my wife and I stayed in a rustic bed-and-breakfast in the remote Yorkshire Dales of England. We were there with four other couples, all British, whom we had never met before. Sitting in the living room with our after-dinner coffees, the conversation turned to occupations with the question “What do you do?” At the time I was serving as the president of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and I assumed that no one there knew of MBI or its founder, D. L. Moody. When I mentioned the name of the school, their response was immediate and surprising. “Of Moody and Sankey . . . that Moody?” Another guest added, “We have a Sankey hymnal and our family often gathers around the piano to sing from it.” I was amazed! The evangelist Dwight Moody and his musician Ira Sankey had held meetings in the British Isles more than 120 years ago, and their influence was still being felt.

I left the room that night thinking of the ways our lives can cast long shadows of influence for God—a praying mother’s influence on her children, an encouraging coworker’s words, the support and challenge of a teacher or a mentor, the loving but corrective words of a friend. It’s a high privilege to play a role in the wonderful promise that “His love . . . continues through all generations” (Ps. 100:5).

Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Lord, help us to remember that while our lives are short, what we do for You now can have an impact long after we are home with You. Lead me today to invest in the lives of others.

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

INSIGHT:
Many scholars believe Psalm 100 was sung at Israel’s festivals and possibly in connection with a thank offering. It likely functioned as a liturgical conclusion to Psalms 96–99, which proclaim Yahweh’s kingship.

Each of the psalms in this section extols one attribute of God and then leads God’s people to worship Him in light of this attribute. Psalm 96 praises the Lord for His righteous judgment; He will not allow evil and injustice to reign forever. Psalm 97 praises God that He is sovereign, Psalm 98 praises Him for His salvation, and Psalm 99 for His holiness.

Together, Psalms 96–100 construct a movement of praise that culminates with a call for the whole earth to sing praise to God—the sovereign, holy, and righteous One who will judge the earth. How can you express praise today for God's faithfulness that will bear witness for future generations?
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Old Yesterday, 01:29 PM   #2032
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A Treasure to be Shared


Read: 2 Corinthians 4:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 46–48; Matthew 13:1–30

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

In March 1974, Chinese farmers were digging a well when they made a surprising discovery: Buried under the dry ground of central China was the Terracotta Army—life-size terracotta sculptures that dated back to the third century bc. In this extraordinary find were some 8,000 soldiers, 150 cavalry horses, and 130 chariots drawn by 520 horses. The Terracotta Army has become one of the most popular tourist sites in China, attracting over a million visitors annually. This amazing treasure lay hidden for centuries but is now being shared with the world.

The apostle Paul wrote that followers of Christ have a treasure inside them that is to be shared with the world: “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure" (2 Cor. 4:7 nlt). The treasure inside us is the message of Christ and His love.

Let others see your testimony as well as hear it.
This treasure is not to be hidden but is to be shared so that by God’s love and grace people of every nation can be welcomed into His family. May we, through His Spirit’s working, share that treasure with someone today.

The good news of Jesus is too wonderful to keep to myself, Father. May I live the gospel and share it with others throughout my journey with You, Lord.


Share your ideas with others about ways to be a light for Jesus. Go to Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

Let others see your testimony as well as hear it.

INSIGHT:
God’s story of redemption hinges on the incarnation—from the Latin wording that means “taking on flesh.” Incarnation simply means that God provided the perfect and final rescue for humans by becoming a human Himself. Jesus gave all who would follow Him the mission of carrying His message of life, hope, and rescue to the world. God has chosen to keep the treasure of the gospel, the light of Christ, in common vessels—His followers, the people of God. When we experience His power at work in our lives, we carry His kingdom message of grace, healing, newness, and love. We demonstrate the all-surpassing power of God to the world as He incarnates the treasure of Christ’s life in ours every day (v. 7).
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Old Today, 10:42 AM   #2033
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Breath of Life

Read: Genesis 2:4–8 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 49–50; Matthew 13:31–58

Then the Lord God . . . breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Genesis 2:7

On a cold and frosty morning, as my daughter and I walked to school, we enjoyed seeing our breath turn to vapor. We giggled at the various steamy clouds we could each produce. I received the moment as a gift, reveling in being with her and being alive.

Our breath, which is usually invisible, was seen in the cold air, and it made me think about the Source of our breath and life—the Lord our Creator. For He who formed Adam out of the dust of the ground, giving him the breath of life, also gives life to us and to every living creature (Gen. 2:7). All things come from Him—even our very breath, which we inhale without even thinking about.

Jesus, we praise You and stand in awe of You.
We may be tempted, living with today’s conveniences and technology, to forget our beginnings and that God is the one who gives us life. But when we pause to remember that God is our Creator, we can build an attitude of thankfulness into our daily routines. We can ask Him for help and acknowledge the gift of life with humble, thankful hearts. May our gratitude spill out and touch others, so that they also may give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness.

Dear heavenly Father, what an awesome and powerful God You are! You created life by Your very breath. We praise You and stand in awe of You. Thank You for Your creation.

Give thanks to God, our Creator, who gives us the breath of life.



INSIGHT:
Who hasn’t found themselves taking the unexplainable mysteries of life for granted? Who doesn’t obsess from time to time over what we don’t have, rather than treasuring the breath of life given to us by an all-wise God who has chosen to share His life and joy with us? According to the great story of the Bible, that’s why our Creator breathed His own life into a handful of earth. He wants to share His eternal existence, His love, His joy with us. That’s why He came to our rescue and offers us a restored relationship with Him through Jesus Christ—a life of forgiveness and hope.
__________________
1997 CTD2500 "CASPER"

PHILIPPIANS 4:13
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