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Old 01-26-2018, 01:42 PM   #2261
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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Holy, Holy, Holy

Read: Revelation 4 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 14–15; Matthew 17

Day and night they never stop saying: “ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8

“Time flies when you’re having fun.” This cliché has no basis in fact, but experience makes it seem true.

When life is pleasant, time passes all too quickly. Give me a task that I enjoy, or a person whose company I love, and time seems irrelevant.

“ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8
My experience of this “reality” has given me a new understanding of the scene described in Revelation 4. In the past, when I considered the four living creatures seated around God’s throne who keep repeating the same few words, I thought, What a boring existence!

I don’t think that anymore. I think about the scenes they have witnessed with their many eyes (v. 8). I consider the view they have from their position around God’s throne (v. 6). I think of how amazed they are at God’s wise and loving involvement with wayward earthlings. Then I think, What better response could there be? What else is there to say but, “Holy, holy, holy”?

Is it boring to say the same words over and over? Not when you’re in the presence of the one you love. Not when you’re doing exactly what you were designed to do.

Like the four creatures, we were designed to glorify God. Our lives will never be boring if we’re focusing our attention on Him and fulfilling that purpose.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity! Reginald Heber


The author of this article, Julie, is now worshiping her Lord in heaven.

A heart in tune with God can’t help but sing His praise.
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Old 01-29-2018, 03:20 PM   #2262
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Like a Little Child

Read: Matthew 18:1–5; 19:13–14 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 21–22; Matthew 19

Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

One evening many years ago, after saying a goodnight prayer with our two-year-old daughter, my wife was surprised by a question. “Mommy, where is Jesus?”

Luann replied, “Jesus is in heaven and He’s everywhere, right here with us. And He can be in your heart if you ask Him to come in.”

Our faith in Jesus is to be like that of a trusting child.
“I want Jesus to be in my heart.”

“One of these days you can ask Him.”

“I want to ask Him to be in my heart now.”

So our little girl said, “Jesus, please come into my heart and be with me.” And that started her faith journey with Him.

When Jesus’s disciples asked Him who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, He called a little child to come and join them (Matthew 18:1–2). “Unless you change and become like little children,” Jesus said, “you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. . . . And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (vv. 3–5).

Through the eyes of Jesus we can see a trusting child as our example of faith. And we are told to welcome all who open their hearts to Him. “Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (19:14).

Lord Jesus, thank You for calling us to follow You with the confident faith of a child.


Help the children in your life come to know Jesus. Introduce them to Our Daily Bread for Kids at ourdailybreadforkids.org.

Our faith in Jesus is to be like that of a trusting child.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Jesus likens greatness to childlikeness. Anyone coming to Him must come in childlike dependency, expectancy, receptivity, and humility (Matthew 18:2–4). While on earth, Jesus lovingly embraced His disciples as “my children” (John 13:33), and the apostle John affectionately addressed us as “dear children” (1 John 2:1, 12, 18, 28). Used negatively, however, children or “infants” denote weak or immature believers (1 Corinthians 3:1–3; Ephesians 4:13–14; Hebrews 5:13). “Don’t be childish,” Paul warned us (1 Corinthians 14:20 nlt). Christians are to be childlike, not childish (1 Corinthians 13:11).

When have you needed to trust Christ with childlike faith?
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Old 01-30-2018, 12:21 PM   #2263
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Able and Available

Read: Psalm 46 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 23–24; Matthew 20:1–16


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

My husband was at work when I received news about my mom’s cancer diagnosis. I left him a message and reached out to friends and family. None were available. Covering my face with trembling hands, I sobbed. “Help me, Lord.” A resulting assurance that God was with me comforted me through those moments when I felt utterly alone.

I thanked the Lord when my husband came home and support from friends and family trickled in. Still, the calming awareness of God’s presence I sensed in those first few hours of lonely grieving affirmed that God is readily and faithfully available wherever and whenever I need help.

God is always able and available to help us.
In Psalm 46, the psalmist proclaims God is our sanctuary, strength, and steadfast supporter (v. 1). When it feels as if we’re surrounded by chaos or everything we thought was stable crashes down around us, we don’t have to fear (vv. 2–3). God doesn’t falter (vv. 4–7). His power is evident and effective (vv. 8–9). Our eternal Sustainer gives us confidence in His unchanging character (v. 10). The Lord, our secure stronghold, remains with us forever (v. 11).

God created His followers to prayerfully support and encourage one another. But He also affirms He is always able and available. When we call on God, we can trust Him to keep His promises to provide for us. He will comfort us through His people as well as through His personal presence.

Lord, thank You for assuring us You’re always accessible because You’re always with us.

God is always able and available to help us.

By Xochitl Dixon | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Being a member of the kingdom of God brings a sense of personal security. In Psalm 46, God’s sovereignty is eloquently compared to a mighty fortress against which the waters of chaos and death can do no harm (vv. 1–3). This brings a response of worship in a troubled world (vv. 4–9). What relief it is to follow the admonition “Be still, and know that I am God,” for God “will be exalted among the nations, [He] will be exalted in the earth” (v. 11). God’s power and presence give an inner stability to the believer that nothing else can. Our righteous God of grace is ready and available wherever and whenever we need help.

How does this passage bring a sense of calm to your situation?

For further study read Navigating the Storms of Life at discoveryseries.org/hp061.

Dennis Fisher
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Old 01-31-2018, 11:07 AM   #2264
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White as Snow

Read: Isaiah 1:16–20 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 25–26; Matthew 20:17–34

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Isaiah 1:18

Last December, my family and I went to the mountains. We had lived in a tropical climate all our lives, so it was the first time we could see snow in all its magnificence. As we contemplated the white mantle covering the fields, my husband quoted Isaiah, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

After asking about the meaning of scarlet, our three-year-old daughter asked, “Is the color red bad?” She knows sins are things God dislikes, but this verse is not talking about colors. The prophet was describing the bright red dye obtained from the eggs of a small insect. Clothes would be double-dyed in this bright red so the color became fixed. Neither rain nor washing would remove it. Sin is like that. No human effort can take it away. It’s rooted in the heart.

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Isaiah 1:18
Only God can cleanse a heart from sin. And as we looked at the mountains, we admired the pure whiteness that scrubbing and bleaching a piece of cloth dyed in scarlet red can’t achieve. When we follow Peter’s teaching, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19), God forgives us and gives us a new life. Only through Jesus’s sacrifice can we receive what no one else can give—a pure heart. What a wonderful gift!

Father, thank You for forgiving our sins and wiping them clean.

When God forgives, He purifies us too.

By Keila Ochoa | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Sometimes we believe that once we’ve gone down a certain path in our lives, there’s no turning back. And, obviously, if it’s too late to go back, we think we might as well keep going that way. It’s easy to think this way about sin. We may believe we’ll always suffer for our sin, that nothing can heal us from its effects. If we believe this, we may sink even deeper into patterns of destructive behavior, thinking it’s too late to come back to a life of joy and peace with God.

In Isaiah 1:16–20, it’s as if God, through the prophet Isaiah, tells His people Israel, “You can go back.” The Israelites were suffering terribly because of their sin (vv. 4–5), but Isaiah pleaded with them to repent, promising them that if they turned from their sin and lived justly (vv. 16–17), God would cleanse and restore them, no matter how impossibly deep the stain of their transgression (v. 18). God makes truly new beginnings possible, not just once, but every day. His forgiving love is “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22–23).

How does God’s promise of new beginnings give you hope today?
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Old 02-01-2018, 02:41 PM   #2265
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National Treasure

Read: Matthew 21:12–16 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 27–28; Matthew 21:1–22


Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Matthew 21:9

When an advertiser altered a photo of Michelangelo’s famous marble sculpture of the biblical hero David, Italy’s government and gallery officials objected. Picturing David with a military rifle slung over his shoulder (instead of his slingshot) would be a violation—“like taking a hammer to it or worse,” a cultural official said.

In first-century Jerusalem, David was remembered as the shepherd-songwriter and soldier-king of Israel’s fondest memories and greatest hopes. Prophets foretold that David’s descendant would finally defeat the enemies of Israel. So, centuries later, when crowds welcomed Jesus as the Son of David (Matthew 21:6–9), they were expecting Him to lead the revolt that would overthrow their Roman occupiers. Instead Jesus knocked over the tables of temple money-changers to restore His Father’s house as a house of prayer for all nations. Israel’s leaders were furious. This wasn’t the kind of Messiah and Son of David they were looking for. So without realizing what they were doing, they called for Roman executioners to take a hammer to the hands and feet of the true glory of Israel.

Jesus shows that God is always better than our expectations.
Instead of stopping them, Jesus let Himself be lifted up on a cross of shame—defaced and disgraced. Only by resurrection would it be known that the true Son of David had defeated His enemies with love and enlisted the children of all nations to spread the word.

Father in heaven, it’s hard to admit. But it’s true. We get so confused. We try to protect the images we love more than the love You consider priceless.

Jesus shows that God is always better than our expectations.

By Mart DeHaan | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Establishing Jesus as the Son of David is critical to Matthew’s gospel account. He begins his gospel by saying, “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham.” This description traces Jesus’s lineage through Joseph back to David and beyond. Additionally, in Matthew’s gospel Jesus is called the Son of David by two blind men (9:27), a Canaanite woman (15:22), and two more blind men (20:30–31). Since the theme of Matthew’s gospel is that Jesus is the King of the Jews and Matthew’s primary audience was the Jewish people, it was important for Jesus to be identified as the Son of David and heir to David’s throne. Jesus’s royal identity makes it all the more tragic that the response of the mob at His cross mockedHim as King of the Jews (27:29, 42) instead of placing their trust in Him.

What is your response to Jesus?

For further study, see the Discovery Series booklet Is Jesus God? The Answer Mattersat discoveryseries.org/q0205.
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Old 02-02-2018, 09:22 AM   #2266
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Stepping Into Opportunity

Read: Colossians 4:2–6 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 29–30; Matthew 21:23–46


Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:5

Like lots of people, I struggle to get enough exercise. So I recently got something to motivate myself to move: a pedometer that counts steps. It’s a simple thing. But it’s amazing how much difference this gadget makes in my motivation. Instead of grumbling when I have to get off the couch, I see it as an opportunity to get a few more steps. Mundane tasks, like getting one of my kids a cup of water, become opportunities that help me work toward a larger goal. In that sense, my pedometer has changed my perspective and my motivation. Now I look to get extra steps in whenever possible.

I wonder if our Christian life isn’t a bit like that. There are opportunities to love and serve and interact with people every day, as Paul exhorts in Colossians 4:5. But am I always aware of those moments? Am I paying attention to opportunities to be an encourager in seemingly mundane interactions? God is at work in the lives of every person I relate to, from my family and coworkers to a clerk at the grocery store. Each interaction offers a chance for me to pay attention to what God might be doing—even if it’s something as seemingly “small” as kindly asking a server at a restaurant how she’s doing.

Lord, please help us to become people who notice the needs of others.
Who knows how God might work in those moments when we’re alert to the opportunities He sends our way.

Lord, there are so many opportunities to love, listen, and serve those around us each day. Please help us to become people who notice the needs of others.

Take every opportunity to serve someone.

By Adam Holz | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Paul’s normal pattern for writing letters to churches is well evidenced in this epistle to the Colossians. That pattern calls for the first half of the book to be primarily theological in nature, with the remainder providing practical application of that doctrinal teaching. The first two chapters of Colossians describe the relationship between Christ, the head of the church; and the church, the body of Christ. Chapters 3–4 then give the practical outworking of those realities. In today’s Scripture reading, we find clear counsel on how to live and function as the church body. This includes the need for intercessory prayer (vv. 2–3) and the importance of personal testimony, which includes graciously using the opportunities God gives us (vv. 5–6). This is wise counsel that is still needed today.

Bill Crowder
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Old 02-05-2018, 10:07 AM   #2267
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Listening to His Voice

Read: John 10:25–30 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 36–38; Matthew 23:1–22


My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27 nkjv

I’m hard of hearing—“deaf in one ear and can’t hear out of the other,” as my father used to say. So I wear a set of hearing aids.

Most of the time the devices work well, except in environments where there’s a lot of surrounding noise. In those settings, my hearing aids pick up every voice in the room and I cannot hear the person in front of me.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27
So it is with our culture: a cacophony of sounds can drown out God’s quiet voice. “Where shall the Word be found, where will the Word resound?” poet T.S. Eliot asks. “Not here, there is not enough silence.”

Fortunately, my hearing aids have a setting that cuts out the surrounding sounds and enables me to hear only the voices I want to hear. In the same way, despite the voices around us, if we quiet our souls and listen, we will hear God’s “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11–12 nkjv).

He speaks to us every day, summoning us in our restlessness and our longing. He calls to us in our deepest sorrow and in the incompleteness and dissatisfaction of our greatest joys.

But primarily God speaks to us in His Word (1 Thessalonians 2:13). As you pick up His book and read it, you too will hear His voice. He loves you more than you can ever know, and He wants you to hear what He has to say.

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us Your Word. Help me to listen to Your voice as I spend time alone with You.

God speaks through His Word when we take time to listen.

By David H. Roper | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Throughout the Scriptures, God used a variety of ways to speak to people. Sometimes, God spoke audibly (Abraham, Moses). Sometimes, He communicated by way of dreams (Joseph, Nebuchadnezzar). At other times, God gave His message through prophets (Samuel, Ezekiel). Occasionally, God even sent His message by way of angels, which means “messengers,” as He did with Mary and Joseph.

No wonder the writer of the letter to the Hebrews said, “God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways” (1:1). However, God’s greatest means of expressing His heart to people was His Son, as verse 2 states: “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” That explains why John opened his gospel by describing Jesus as the Word (the Logos) who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Jesus—the living Word—is God’s ultimate message of love to us! And He is revealed to us in the Scriptures—the written Word.

For more on Jesus as the living Word, check out the conversations from Discover the Word at discovertheword.org/the-living-word.
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Old 02-06-2018, 10:43 AM   #2268
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Praising Through Problems

Read: Job 1:13–22 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 39–40; Matthew 23:23–39

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? Job 2:10

“It’s cancer.” I wanted to be strong when Mom said those words to me. But I burst into tears. You never want to hear those words even one time. But this was Mom’s third bout with cancer. After a routine mammogram and biopsy, Mom learned that she had a malignant tumor under her arm.

Though Mom was the one with bad news, she had to comfort me. Her response was eye-opening for me: “I know God is always good to me. He’s always faithful.” Even as she faced a difficult surgery, followed up by radiation treatments, Mom was assured of God’s presence and faithfulness.

God is still present, still good. He will help us through hard times.
How like Job. Job lost his children, his wealth, and his health. But after hearing the news, Job 1:20 tells us “he fell to the ground in worship.” When advised to curse God, he said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (2:10). What a radical initial response. Though Job later complained, ultimately he accepted that God had never changed. Job knew that God was still with him and that He still cared.

For most of us, praise is not our first response to difficulties. Sometimes the pain of our circumstances is so overwhelming, we lash out in fear or anger. But watching Mom’s response reminded me that God is still present, still good. He will help us through hard times.

Lord, prepare me for the times when praise is most difficult to utter.


Is someone hurting? See this special edition of Our Daily Bread: Hope and Strength in Times of Illness at odb.org/hopeandstrength.

Even at our lowest point, we can lift our eyes to the Lord.

By Linda Washington | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
When we suffer we often ask why? But this might not be the best question. When Job’s friends tried to explain away Job's pain, they angered God (42:7). A better question is Who do we turn to? Job never received an explanation for his pain, but he found that seeing God was answer enough (v. 5).

How has God shown His presence in your pain?
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Old 02-07-2018, 09:53 AM   #2269
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A Blanket for Everyone
Read: John 18:15–27 | Bible in a Year: Leviticus 1–3; Matthew 24:1–28
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Linus Van Pelt, better known as simply “Linus,” was a mainstay in the Peanutscomic strip. Witty and wise, yet insecure, Linus constantly carried a security blanket. We can identify. We have our fears and insecurities too.

The disciple Peter knew something about fear. When Jesus was arrested, Peter displayed courage by following the Lord into the courtyard of the high priest. But then he began to show his fear by lying to protect his identity (John 18:15–26). He spoke disgraceful words that denied his Lord. But Jesus never stopped loving Peter and ultimately restored him (see John 21:15–19).

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Peter’s emphasis on love in 1 Peter 4:8 came from one who had experienced the deep love of Jesus. And he, in turn, stressed the importance of love in our relationships with the words “above all.” The intensity of the verse continues with the encouragement to “love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

Have you ever needed that kind of “blanket”? I have! After saying or doing something I later regretted, I have felt the chilly draft of guilt and shame. I have needed to be “covered” in the manner that Jesus covered disgraced, shame-filled people in the Gospels.

To followers of Jesus, love is a blanket to be graciously and courageously given away for the comfort and reclamation of others. As recipients of such great love, let us be givers of the same.

Father, Your love, in and through Jesus, has rescued us time and time again. Help me to be an instrument of Your saving love for others.

God loves you and me—let’s love each other.

By Arthur Jackson | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
We may wonder how Peter could deny his Lord (John 18:15–27). One reason was that Peter’s security was shaken. He had just seen Jesus beaten, falsely accused, and mocked; and now feared for his own life. He was also spiritually weak. Just hours before, Jesus had warned Peter that he would betray Him (13:31–38). Yet when Jesus led His disciples to the garden and urged them to watch and pray, Peter and the others slept. Despite Peter’s denial, Jesus forgave him and restored him (John 21:15–19).

Alyson Kieda
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Old 02-08-2018, 10:02 AM   #2270
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The Problem with Pride


Read: Proverbs 16:16–22 | Bible in a Year: Leviticus 4–5; Matthew 24:29–51

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

People who achieve an extraordinary level of fame or reputation while they are still alive are often called “a legend in their own time.” A friend who played professional baseball says he met many people in the world of sports who were only “a legend in their own mind.” Pride has a way of distorting how we see ourselves while humility offers a realistic perspective.

The writer of Proverbs said, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18). Viewing ourselves in the mirror of self-importance reflects a distorted image. Self-elevation positions us for a fall.

Lord Jesus, may we honor You in all we do and say.
The antidote to the poison of arrogance is true humility that comes from God. “Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud” (v. 19).

Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26–28).

There is nothing wrong with receiving accolades for achievement and success. The challenge is to stay focused on the One who calls us to follow Him saying, “for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (11:29).

Lord Jesus, give us Your humility as we interact with others today. May we honor You in all we do and say.

True humility comes from God.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
The account of King Nebuchadnezzar is an example of how pride can lead to a fall. The prophet Daniel reminded him that God had given him “dominion and power and might and glory” (Daniel 2:37). Nebuchadnezzar initially acknowledged Yahweh was “the God of gods and Lord of kings” (v. 47), but pride got the better of him when he ordered everyone to worship a ninety-foot-tall gold statue of himself (3:1–6). Ignoring God’s warning, he persisted in his pride and said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built . . . by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (4:30). Just as he was boasting about this, he was suddenly struck down by an illness, believed to be boanthropy, a rare mental disorder where a person believes he is a cow or ox (vv. 31–33). After seven years, God restored Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity. Then he humbly confessed, “Now I . . . praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven. . . . Those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (v. 37). The arrogant king learned that “when pride comes, then comes disgrace” (Proverbs 11:2) and “pride brings a person low” (29:23).

When have you seen pride lead to disgrace?

K. T. Sim
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Old 02-09-2018, 11:40 AM   #2271
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Unlikely Friends

Read: Isaiah 11:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Leviticus 6–7; Matthew 25:1–30


The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together. Isaiah 11:6

My Facebook friends often post endearing videos of unlikely animal friendships, such as a recent video I watched of an inseparable pup and pig, another of a deer and cat, and yet another of an orangutan mothering several tiger cubs.

When I view such heartwarmingly unusual friendships, it reminds me of the description of the garden of Eden. In this setting, Adam and Eve lived in harmony with God and each other. And because God gave them plants for food, I imagine even the animals lived peacefully together (Genesis 1:30). But this idyllic scene was disrupted when Adam and Eve sinned (3:21–23). Now in both human relationships and the creation, we see constant struggle and conflict.

God can help us to restore broken relationships.
Yet the prophet Isaiah reassures us that one day, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together” (11:6). Many interpret that future day as when Jesus comes again to reign. When He returns, there will be no more divisions and “no more death . . . or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). On that renewed earth, creation will be restored to its former harmony and people of every tribe, nation, and language will join together to worship God (7:9–10; 22:1–5).

Until then, God can help us to restore broken relationships and to develop new, unlikely friendships.

Dear Father, help us to break down barriers and to seek to befriend others; and as we do, enable us to be bearers of the gospel of peace.

One day God will restore the world to perfect peace.

By Alyson Kieda | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Do you long for a day when animals will no longer prey on one another and people will not be bullied? In the days of Isaiah, Assyria was the “Goliath” that made Jewish hearts melt in fear. The prophet Isaiah foresaw a future time when the Messiah will rule and man and beast will live in peace (Isaiah 2:1–4; 11:6–9).

For further study, consider the free course on the book of Isaiah at christianuniversity.org/courses/the-book-of-isaiah/.
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Old 02-13-2018, 10:12 AM   #2272
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A Blessing Bowl

Read: Romans 1:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Leviticus 14; Matthew 26:51–75


I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3

The familiar bing of an arriving email caught my attention while I wrote at my computer. Usually I try to resist the temptation to check every email but the subject line was too enticing: “You are a blessing.”

Eagerly, I opened it to discover a faraway friend telling me she was praying for my family. Each week, she displays one Christmas card photo in her kitchen table “Blessing Bowl” and prays for that family. She wrote, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3) and then highlighted our efforts to share God’s love with others—our “partnership” in the gospel.

Who can you thank today?
Through my friend’s intentional gesture, the apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians came trickling into my inbox, creating the same joy in my heart I suspect readers received from his first-century thank-you note. It seems Paul made it a habit to speak his gratitude to those who worked alongside him. A similar phrase opens many of his letters: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world” (Romans 1:8).

In the first century, Paul blessed his co-laborers with a thank-you note of prayerfulness. In the twenty-first century, my friend used a Blessing Bowl to bring joy into my day. How might we thank those who serve in the mission of God with us today?

Father, help us to intentionally bless those who serve alongside us.

Who can you thank today?

By Elisa Morgan | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Paul’s letter to the Romans is generally considered his most intensely theological letter. Yet it opens and closes with great warmth, revealing an unexpected affection. The opening shows this personal touch through gratitude, and the final chapter displays Paul’s care for the Romans in words of greetings—personally expressing his heart for more than twenty-five different people. Included in the list are ministry leaders (Priscilla, Aquila; 16:3), prisoners (Andronicus, Junia; v. 7), and both men and women—all considered fellow workers in the gospel. In the fellowship of the gospel, there is much to be thankful for, much to celebrate, and many co-laborers whom we can encourage with our gratitude.

For more on spiritual service, download the booklet The Heart of Effective Ministry at discoveryseries.org/q0910.
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Old 02-13-2018, 10:13 AM   #2273
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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A Blessing Bowl

Read: Romans 1:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Leviticus 14; Matthew 26:51–75


I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3

The familiar bing of an arriving email caught my attention while I wrote at my computer. Usually I try to resist the temptation to check every email but the subject line was too enticing: “You are a blessing.”

Eagerly, I opened it to discover a faraway friend telling me she was praying for my family. Each week, she displays one Christmas card photo in her kitchen table “Blessing Bowl” and prays for that family. She wrote, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3) and then highlighted our efforts to share God’s love with others—our “partnership” in the gospel.

Who can you thank today?
Through my friend’s intentional gesture, the apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians came trickling into my inbox, creating the same joy in my heart I suspect readers received from his first-century thank-you note. It seems Paul made it a habit to speak his gratitude to those who worked alongside him. A similar phrase opens many of his letters: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world” (Romans 1:8).

In the first century, Paul blessed his co-laborers with a thank-you note of prayerfulness. In the twenty-first century, my friend used a Blessing Bowl to bring joy into my day. How might we thank those who serve in the mission of God with us today?

Father, help us to intentionally bless those who serve alongside us.

Who can you thank today?

By Elisa Morgan | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Paul’s letter to the Romans is generally considered his most intensely theological letter. Yet it opens and closes with great warmth, revealing an unexpected affection. The opening shows this personal touch through gratitude, and the final chapter displays Paul’s care for the Romans in words of greetings—personally expressing his heart for more than twenty-five different people. Included in the list are ministry leaders (Priscilla, Aquila; 16:3), prisoners (Andronicus, Junia; v. 7), and both men and women—all considered fellow workers in the gospel. In the fellowship of the gospel, there is much to be thankful for, much to celebrate, and many co-laborers whom we can encourage with our gratitude.

For more on spiritual service, download the booklet The Heart of Effective Ministry at discoveryseries.org/q0910.
__________________
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Old 02-14-2018, 09:54 AM   #2274
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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The Advance Team

Read: John 14:1–14 | Bible in a Year: Leviticus 15–16; Matthew 27:1–26

My Father’s house has many rooms; . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you. John 14:2

A friend recently prepared to relocate to a city more than 1,000 miles from her current hometown. She and her husband divided the labor of moving to accommodate a short timeline. He secured new living arrangements, while she packed their belongings. I was astounded by her ability to move without previewing the area or participating in the house hunt, and asked how she could do so. She acknowledged the challenge but said she knew she could trust her husband because of his attention to her preferences and needs over their years together.

In the upper room, Jesus spoke with His disciples of His coming betrayal and death. The darkest hours of Jesus’s earthly life, and that of the disciples as well, lay ahead. He comforted them with the assurance that He would prepare a place for them in heaven, just as my friend’s husband prepared a new home for their family. When the disciples questioned Jesus, He pointed them to their mutual history and the miracles they’d witnessed Him perform. Though they would grieve Jesus’s death and absence, He reminded them He could be counted on to do as He’d said.

We can trust God to lead us through difficult times.
Even in the midst of our own dark hours, we can trust Him to lead us forward to a place of goodness. As we walk with Him, we too will learn to trust increasingly in His faithfulness.

Help me, Lord, to lean on You when my life feels uncertain and hard. You are trustworthy and good.

We can trust God to lead us through difficult times.
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Old 02-15-2018, 09:33 AM   #2275
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Following Where He Leads

Read: 1 Kings 19:19–21 | Bible in a Year: Leviticus 17–18; Matthew 27:27–50


Then [Elisha] set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. 1 Kings 19:21

As a child, I looked forward to our church’s Sunday evening services. They were exciting. Sunday night often meant we got to hear from missionaries and other guest speakers. Their messages inspired me because of their willingness to leave family and friends—and at times, homes, possessions, and careers—to go off to strange, unfamiliar, and sometimes dangerous places to serve God.

Like those missionaries, Elisha left many things behind to follow God (1 Kings 19:19–21). Before God called him into service through Elijah, we don’t know much about Elisha—except that he was a farmer. When the prophet Elijah met him in the field where he was plowing, he threw his cloak over Elisha’s shoulders (the symbol of his role as prophet) and called him to follow. With only a request to kiss his mother and father goodbye, Elisha immediately sacrificed his oxen, burned his plowing equipment, said good-bye to his parents—and followed Elijah.

God wants all of us to follow Him.
Though not many of us are called to leave family and friends behind to serve God as fulltime missionaries, God wants all of us to follow Him and to “live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to [us], just as God has called [us]” (1 Corinthians 7:17). As I’ve often experienced, serving God can be thrilling and challenging no matter where we are—even if we never leave home.

Dear Lord, equip us to be Your missionaries wherever You have placed us—near or far, at home or abroad.

God will show us how to serve Him wherever we are.

By Alyson Kieda | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Elisha followed Elijah in ministry to his generation, and that pattern was not unique. In the final moments of the exodus, Moses—the leader and lawgiver of Israel—was succeeded by Joshua, who had been at his side for forty years. Centuries later, Jesus would follow John the Baptist (the second “Elijah” of Malachi 4:5 and Matthew 11:14) in proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. These patterns of forerunners and followers are tied together by one of the most significant indicators in Scripture—names. The names of the three who followed Moses, Elijah, and John in ministry—Joshua, Elisha, and Jesus—all mean the same thing: “the Lord saves.” Throughout the years, this has been the confidence of the people of God. God saves us by His grace and then empowers us by His Spirit to follow Him and serve others where He places us.

Where has God called you to serve?

Bill Crowder
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Old 02-16-2018, 11:20 AM   #2276
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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Loving All

Read: Leviticus 19:33–34 | Bible in a Year: Leviticus 19–20; Matthew 27:51–66


The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself. Leviticus 19:34

I worship in a church located in a large, open field—a rare commodity on the island of Singapore (we’re just twenty-five miles long and fifteen miles wide). Some time back, people from abroad who work in my country started gathering on the church property for a picnic every Sunday.

This evoked a range of responses from fellow churchgoers. Some fretted about the mess the visitors would leave behind. But others saw this as a divine opportunity to extend hospitality to a wonderful group of strangers—without even leaving the church grounds!

May we have God’s heart to love others as ourselves.
The Israelites must have faced similar issues in their time. After they settled in their new land, they had to grapple with how to relate to other peoples. But God expressly commanded them to treat foreigners like their own kind, and to love them as themselves (Leviticus 19:34). Many of His laws made special mention of foreigners: they were not to be mistreated or oppressed, and they were to be loved and helped (Exodus 23:9; Deuteronomy 10:19). Centuries later, Jesus would command us to do the same: to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).

May we have God’s heart to love others as ourselves, remembering that we too are sojourners on this earth. Yet we have been loved as God’s people, treated as His own.

Father, You have made each and every one of us in Your likeness. May we love those from elsewhere and seek to reach out to them with Your love.

Embracing God’s love for us is the key to loving others.

By Leslie Koh | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
The story of Ruth (a Moabitess) offers a moving illustration of “loving the foreigner.” The pagan nation of Moab was situated just east of the Dead Sea. The Moabites were descended from Moab, the son of Lot (Genesis 19:37). During the exodus and throughout the reigns of Saul and David, the Moabites were frequently at war with Israel.

In the time of the judges, Naomi and Elimelek and their sons settled in Moab to escape a famine in Israel (Ruth 1). During their stay, Elimelek died, the sons married Moabite women (Ruth and Orpah), and then the sons also died. With no one to care for them, Naomi and Ruth left Moab and returned to Bethlehem, where Ruth was a foreigner (who may have been despised because of her heritage).

When they arrived, “the barley harvest was beginning” (v. 22). As a widow, Ruth was allowed to gather the leftover grain after the harvesters had gone through. “As it turned out,” she ended in the field of Boaz, a relative of Elimelek’s (2:3). But it was no coincidence. Boaz’s kindness resulted in Ruth and his place in the ancestry of King David (and Jesus) (Matthew 1:5–16).

What would it look like for you to extend kindness to a stranger?

Alyson Kieda
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