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Old 04-23-2020, 08:32 AM   #2501
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
Title: Too Much Time
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The Saddest GooseBible in a Year:2 Samuel 16–18Luke 17:20–37Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.Ecclesiastes 4:12COMMENTJOURNALSHAREGIVEToday's Scripture & Insight:Ecclesiastes 4:9–12Why is there a football in the parking lot?*I wondered. But as I got closer, I realized the greyish lump wasn’t a football: it was a*goose—the saddest Canada goose I’d ever seen.Geese often congregate on the lawn near my workplace in the spring and fall. But today there was only one, its neck arced back and its head tucked beneath a wing.*Where are your buddies?*I thought. Poor thing was all alone. It looked so lonely, I wanted to give it a hug. (Note: don’t try this.)I’ve rarely seen a goose completely alone like my lonesome feathered friend. Geese are notably communal, flying in a V-formation to deflect the wind. They’re made to be together.As human beings, we were created for community too (see*Genesis 2:18). And in*Ecclesiastes 4:10, Solomon describes how vulnerable we are when we’re alone: “Pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” There’s strength in numbers, he added, for “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (v. 12).This is just as true for us spiritually as it is physically. God never intended for us to “fly” alone, vulnerably isolated. We need relationships with each other for encouragement, refreshment, and growth (see also*1 Corinthians 12:21).*During these extraordinary days, due to the Covid-19 virus many of us have needed to practice physical distancing to help contain the disease. But how we look forward to the time we can meet face-to-face with our local church families again!Together, we can stand firm when life’s headwinds gust our way.*Together.By:**Adam R. Holz
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Old 04-24-2020, 08:32 AM   #2502
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
Title: Too Much Time
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Divinely AlignedBible in a Year:2 Samuel 19–20Luke 18:1–23Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!Romans 11:33Today's Scripture & Insight:Romans 11:33–36I was deeply troubled and woke in the night to pace the floor and pray. Frankly, my attitude was not one of prayerful submission to God, but one of questioning and anger. Finding no release, I sat and stared out a large window at the night sky. I was unexpectedly drawn to focus on Orion’s Belt—those three perfectly arranged stars often visible on clear nights. I knew just enough about astronomy to understand that those three stars were hundreds of light years apart.I realized the closer I could be to those stars, the less they would appear to be aligned. Yet from my distant perspective, they looked carefully configured in the heavens. At that moment, I realized I was too close to my life to see what God sees. In His big picture, everything is in perfect alignment.The apostle Paul, as he completes a summary of the ultimate purposes of God, breaks into a hymn of praise (Romans 11:33–36). His words lift our gaze to our sovereign God, whose ways are beyond our limited ability to understand or trace (v. 33). Yet the One who holds all things together in the heavens and on earth is intimately and lovingly involved with every detail of our lives (Matthew 6:25–34;*Colossians 1:16).Even when things seem confusing, God’s divine plans are unfolding for our good and for God’s honor and glory.By:**Evan Morgan
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Old 05-01-2020, 08:06 AM   #2503
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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Living in the BranchesBible in a Year:1 Kings 10–11Luke 21:20–38Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.Ephesians 3:17*nlt
Today's Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 4:14–24As I shared with my counselor my roller-coaster of emotions after a stress-filled week, she listened thoughtfully. Then she invited me to look out the window at the trees, lush with autumnal oranges and golds, the branches swaying in the wind.Pointing out that the*trunks*weren’t moving at all in the wind, my counselor explained, “We’re a bit like that. When life is blowing at us from every direction, of course our emotions will go up and down and all around. But sometimes we live as if we only have*branches. Our goal is to help you find your own*trunk. That way, even when life is pulling from all sides, you won’t be*living*in your branches. You’ll still be secure and stable.”It’s an image that’s stuck with me, and it’s similar to the image Paul offered new believers in Ephesians. Reminding them of God’s incredible gift—a new life of tremendous purpose and value (Ephesians 2:6–10), Paul shared his longing that they’d become deeply “rooted and established” in Christ’s love (3:17), no longer “blown here and there by every wind of teaching” (4:14).*On our own, it’s easy to feel insecure and fragile, pummeled by our fears and insecurities. But as we grow in our true identity in Christ (vv. 22–24), we can experience deep peace with God and each other (v. 3), nourished and sustained by Christ’s power and beauty (vv. 15–16).By:**Monica La Rose
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Old 05-04-2020, 08:23 AM   #2504
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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EclipseBible in a Year:1 Kings 16–18Luke 22:47–71I will restore David’s fallen shelter—I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins—and will rebuild it as it used to be.Amos 9:11Today's Scripture & Insight:Amos 8:9–12; 9:11–12I was prepared with eye protection, an ideal viewing location, and homemade moon pie desserts. Along with millions of people in the US, my family watched the rare occurrence of a total solar eclipse—the moon covering the entire disk of the sun.*The eclipse caused an unusual darkness to come over the typically bright summer afternoon. Although for us this eclipse was a fun celebration and a reminder of God’s incredible power over creation (Psalm 135:6–7), throughout history darkness during the day has been seen as abnormal and foreboding (Exodus 10:21;*Matthew 27:45), a sign that everything is not as it should be.*This is what darkness signified for Amos, a prophet during the time of the divided monarchy in ancient Israel. Amos warned the Northern Kingdom that destruction would come if they continued to turn away from God. As a sign, God would “make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight” (Amos 8:9).*But God’s ultimate desire and purpose was—and is—to make all things right. Even when the people were taken into exile, God promised to one day bring a remnant back to Jerusalem and “repair its broken walls and restore its ruins” (9:11).*Even when life is at its darkest, like Israel, we can find comfort in knowing God is at work to bring light and hope back—to*all*people (Acts 15:14–18).By:**Lisa M. Samra
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Old 05-05-2020, 08:25 AM   #2505
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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Strength for the JourneyBible in a Year:1 Kings 19–20Luke 23:1–25All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”*1 Kings 19:5Today's Scripture & Insight:1 Kings 19:1–9One summer, I faced what seemed an impossible task—a big writing project with a looming deadline. Having spent day after day on my own, endeavoring to get the words onto the page, I felt exhausted and discouraged, and I wanted to give up. A wise friend asked me, “When’s the last time you felt refreshed? Maybe you need to allow yourself to rest and to enjoy a good meal.”I knew immediately that she was right. Her advice made me think of Elijah and the terrifying message he received from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:2)—although, of course, my writing project wasn’t anywhere near the cosmic scale of the prophet’s experience. After Elijah triumphed over the false prophets on Mount Carmel, Jezebel sent word that she would capture and kill him, and he despaired, longing to die. But then he enjoyed a good sleep and was twice visited by an angel who gave him food to eat. After God renewed his physical strength, he was able to continue with his journey.When the “journey is too much” for us (v. 7), we might need to rest and enjoy a healthy and satisfying meal. For when we are exhausted or hungry, we can easily succumb to disappointment or fear. But when God meets our physical needs through His resources, as much as possible in this fallen world, we can take the next step in serving Him.By:**Amy Boucher Pye
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Old 05-06-2020, 08:33 AM   #2506
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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Impossible ForgivenessBible in a Year:1 Kings 21–22Luke 23:26–56Father, forgive them.Luke 23:34Today's Scripture & Insight:Luke 23:32–43Liberators found the following prayer crumpled among the remains of the Ravensbruck concentration camp where Nazis exterminated nearly 50,000 women:*O Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill, but also those of ill will. But do not remember the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember the fruits we brought thanks to this suffering—our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.I can’t imagine the fear and pain inflicted on the terrorized woman who wrote this prayer. I can’t imagine what kind of inexplicable grace these words required of her. She did the unthinkable: she sought God’s forgiveness for her oppressors.This prayer echoes Christ’s prayer. After being wrongly accused, mocked, beaten, and humiliated before the people, Jesus was “crucified . . . along with [two] criminals” (Luke 23:33). Hanging, with mutilated body and gasping for breath, from a rough-hewn cross, I would expect Jesus to pronounce judgment on His tormentors, to seek retribution or divine justice. However, Jesus uttered a prayer contradicting every human impulse: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (v. 34).The forgiveness Jesus offers seems impossible, but He offers it to us. In His divine grace, impossible forgiveness spills free.By:**Winn Collier
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Old 05-13-2020, 09:01 AM   #2507
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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Photobombing JesusBible in a Year:2 Kings 17–18John 3:19–36He must become greater; I must become less.John 3:30Today's Scripture & Insight:John 3:26–36When my pastor asked our class a difficult question about the life of Jesus, my hand shot up. I had just read the story, so I knew this one. And I wanted the others in the room to know that I knew it too. After all, I’m a Bible teacher. How embarrassing it would be to be stumped in front of them! Now I was embarrassed by my fear of embarrassment. So I lowered my hand.*Am I this insecure?John the Baptist shows a better way. When his disciples complained that people were beginning to leave him and follow Jesus, John said he was glad to hear it. He was merely the messenger. “I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him. . . . He must become greater; I must become less” (3:28–30). John realized the point of his existence was Jesus. He is “the one who comes from heaven” and “is above all” (v. 31)—the divine Son who gave His life for us. He must receive all the glory and fame.Any attention drawn to ourselves distracts from God. And since He is our only Savior and the only hope for the world, any credit we steal from Him ends up hurting us.Let’s resolve to step out of the picture—to stop photobombing Jesus. It’s best for Him, for the world, and for us.By:**Mike Wittmer
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:56 AM   #2508
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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The Gift of PeaceBible in a Year:1 Chronicles 4–6John 6:1–21You may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation.Luke 2:29–30Today's Scripture & Insight:Luke 2:25–35“I believe in Jesus and He is my Savior, and I have no fear of death,” said Barbara Bush, the wife of former US President George H. W. Bush, to her son before she died. This incredible and confident statement suggests a strong and deep-rooted faith. She experienced God’s gift of peace that comes from knowing Jesus, even when faced with death.Simeon, a resident of Jerusalem during the first century, also experienced profound peace because of Jesus. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Simeon went to the temple when Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to be circumcised as required by the law for a newborn boy. Although not much is known about Simeon, from Luke’s description one can tell he was a special man of God, just and devout, waiting faithfully for the coming Messiah, and “the Holy Spirit was on him” (Luke 2:25). Yet Simeon did not experience*shalom*(peace), a deep sense of completeness, until he saw Jesus.While holding Jesus in his arms, Simeon broke into a song of praise, expressing full satisfaction in God: “You may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations” (vv. 29–31). He had peace because he foresaw the future hope of the whole world.As we celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the promised Savior, may we rejoice in God’s gift of peace.By:**Estera Pirosca Escobar
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Old 05-20-2020, 08:03 AM   #2509
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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The Smiling JesusBible in a Year:1 Chronicles 10–12John 6:45–71God . . . has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.Hebrews 1:9Today's Scripture & Insight:Hebrews 1:8–12If you were to play the part of Jesus in a movie, how would you approach the role? That was the challenge faced by Bruce Marchiano, who played Jesus in the 1993 Visual Bible movie*Matthew. Knowing that millions of viewers would draw conclusions about Jesus based on his work, the weight of getting Christ “right” felt overwhelming. He fell to his knees in prayer and begged Jesus for—well, for*Jesus.Bruce gained insight from the first chapter of Hebrews, where the writer tells us how God the Father set the Son apart by anointing Him “with the oil of joy” (1:9). This kind of joy is one of celebration—a gladness of connection to the Father expressed wholeheartedly. Such joy ruled in Jesus’ heart throughout His life. As*Hebrews 12:2describes it, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Taking his cue from this scriptural expression, Bruce offered a uniquely joy-filled portrayal of his Savior. As a result, he became known as “the smiling Jesus.”*We too can dare to fall to our knees and “beg Jesus for Jesus.” May He so fill us with His character that people around us see the expression of His love in us!By:**Elisa Morgan
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Old Yesterday, 08:17 AM   #2510
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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Sweeter Than HoneyBible in a Year:1 Chronicles 28–29John 9:24–41Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.Proverbs 16:24Today's Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 16:1–2, 21–24His topic was racial tension. Yet the speaker remained calm and collected. Standing on stage before a large audience, he spoke boldly—but with grace, humility, kindness, and even humor. Soon the tense audience visibly relaxed, laughing along with the speaker about the dilemma they all faced: how to resolve their hot issue, but cool down their feelings and words. Yes, how to tackle a sour topic with sweet grace.King Solomon advised this same approach for all of us: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). In this way, “The hearts of the wise make . . . their lips promote instruction” (v. 23).Why would a powerful king like Solomon devote time to addressing how we speak? Because words can destroy. During Solomon’s time, kings relied on messengers for information about their nations, and calm and reliable messengers were highly valued. They used prudent words and reasoned tongues, not overreacting or speaking harshly, no matter the issue.We all can benefit by gracing our opinions and thoughts with godly and prudent sweetness. In Solomon’s words, “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the*Lord*comes the proper answer of the tongue” (v. 1).By:**Patricia Raybon
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