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The Word For Life.

If we meet and you forget me, you have lost nothing:
but if you meet JESUS CHRIST and forget Him,
you have lost everything.

Thanks for Who God Is
Posted:Nov 16, 2018 6:33 am
Last Updated:Nov 17, 2018 5:21 am
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Read: Psalm 95:1–7

Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 3–4; Hebrews 11:20–40

Let us come before him with thanksgiving . . . for the Lord is the great God. Psalm 95:2–3

Among the thousands of sentiments printed on greeting cards, perhaps one of the most touching is this simple statement: “Thanks for being you.” If you receive that card, you know that someone cares for you not because you did something spectacular for that person but because you’re appreciated for your essence.

I wonder if this kind of sentiment might indicate for us one of the best ways to say “thank you” to God. Sure, there are times when God intervenes in our lives in a tangible way, and we say something like, “Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to get that job.” But most often, we can simply say, “Thank You, God, for being who You are.”

That’s what’s behind verses like 1 Chronicles 16:34: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Thank You, God, for who You are—good and loving. And Psalm 7:17: “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness.” Thank You, God, for who You are—the holy One. And “Let us come before him with thanksgiving . . . for the Lord is the great God”
(Psalm 95:2–3). Thank You, God, for who You are—the Almighty God of the universe.

Who God is. That’s reason enough for us to stop what we’re doing and praise and thank Him. Thank You, God, for just being You!

Thank You, dear God, for being who You are—the Almighty God who loves us and welcomes our love in return. Thank You for everything that makes You magnificent. We stand in awe of You as we praise You with word and song.

There are countless reasons to thank God, including for who He is!
1 comment
Dangerous Distractions
Posted:Nov 15, 2018 4:08 am
Last Updated:Nov 16, 2018 6:33 am
30 Views
Read: John 13:31–35

Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 1–2; Hebrews 11:1–19

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
John 13:35

Artist Sigismund Goetze shocked Victorian-era England with a painting entitled “Despised and Rejected of Men.” In it, he portrayed the suffering, condemned Jesus surrounded by people of Goetze’s own generation. They were so consumed by their own interests—business, romance, politics—that they were shockingly oblivious to the Savior’s sacrifice. Indifferent to Christ, the surrounding crowd, like the mob at the foot of Jesus’s cross, had no idea what—or who—they had missed.

In our day as well, believers and unbelievers alike can easily become distracted from the eternal. How can followers of Jesus cut through this fog of distraction with the truth of God’s great love? We can begin by loving one another as fellow children of God. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35

But real love doesn’t stop there. We extend that love by sharing the gospel in hopes of drawing people to the Savior. As Paul wrote, “We are . . . Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

In this way, the body of Christ can both reflect and project God’s love, the love we so desperately need, to both each other and to our world. May both efforts, empowered by His Spirit, be a part of cutting through the distractions that hinder us from seeing the wonder of God’s love in Jesus.

To a world living in the fog of distraction, we bring the light of the good news of Jesus.
1 comment
Bound to Encourage
Posted:Nov 14, 2018 11:23 am
Last Updated:Nov 15, 2018 4:09 am
82 Views
Read: Hebrews 10:19–25

Bible in a Year: Lamentations 3–5; Hebrews 10:19–39

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

The Steven Thompson Memorial Centipede is a cross-country meet unlike any other. Each seven-member team runs as a unit, holding a rope for the first two miles of a three-mile course. At the two-mile mark, the team drops the rope and finishes the race individually. Each person’s time is, therefore, a combination of the pace the team kept and his or her own speed.

This year, my daughter’s team opted for a strategy I had not previously seen: They put the fastest runner at the front and the slowest right behind her. She explained that their goal was for the strongest runner to be near enough to speak words of encouragement to the slowest runner.

Their plans depicted for me a passage from the book of Hebrews. The writer urges us to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” (Hebrews 10:23) as we “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (v. 24). There are certainly many ways of accomplishing this, but the author highlighted one: “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (v. 25). Gathering together with other believers as we’re able is a vital aspect of the life of faith.

The race of life can feel like more than we can handle at times, and we may be tempted to drop the rope in hopelessness. As we run together, let’s offer one another the encouragement to run strong!

Jesus, thank You for the hope You offer. Thank You for never discouraging us. Help us imitate You by encouraging each other today.

Encouragement is water to the soul.
2 Comments
Dumb Sheep, Good Shepherd
Posted:Nov 13, 2018 5:25 am
Last Updated:Nov 14, 2018 11:23 am
111 Views
Read: Ezekiel 34.7–16

Bible in a Year: Lamentations 1–2; Hebrews 10:1–18

As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. Ezekiel 34:12

My friend Chad spent a year as a shepherd in Wyoming. “Sheep are so dumb that they’ll only eat what is right in front of them,” he told me. “Even if they’ve eaten all the grass in front of them, they won’t turn to look for a fresh patch—they’ll just start eating dirt!”

We laughed, and I couldn’t help but think about how often the Bible compares humans to sheep. No wonder we need a shepherd! But since sheep are so dumb, not just any shepherd will do. Sheep need a shepherd who cares about them. When the prophet Ezekiel wrote to God’s people in exile, captives in Babylon, he compared them to sheep led by bad shepherds. Instead of caring for the flock, Israel’s leaders had exploited them, profiting from them (v. 3) and then leaving them for the wild animals to devour (v. 5).

But they were not without hope. God, the Good Shepherd, promised to rescue them from the leaders who exploited them. He promised to bring them home, put them in lush pastures, and give them rest. He would heal the injured and go after the lost (vv. 11–16). He would banish wild animals, so that His flock would be safe (v. 28.

Members of God’s flock are in need of tender care and direction. How blessed we are to have a Shepherd who is always leading us to green pastures! (v.14).

Am I listening for the voice of my Shepherd?
2 Comments
Who's driving?
Posted:Nov 12, 2018 4:57 am
Last Updated:Nov 13, 2018 5:25 am
103 Views
READ: Romans 6:1-14

The Bible in one year: Jeremiah 51 – 52; Hebrews 9

If we live by the spirit, we also walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).

My neighbor Tim has on the panel of his car a statuette of a "monster" based on the Precious children's book by Maurice Sendak, where the monsters live.

Recently, Tim was behind me in the traffic and made some abrupt maneuvers to keep close. When we arrived, I asked, "Is this How the monsters lead?"

The next Sunday, I forgot my sermon notes at home. So, "I flew out" of the church to fetch them, and I passed by Tim. Later, when we met, he said in a joke: "Is this how the monsters lead?" We laughed, but the comment shook me... I should have paid attention to the speed limit.

When the Bible describes what it means to live in relation to God, it encourages us to present our members to God (Romans 6:13). That day, I took Tim's comment as a kind reminder of God to lift "the foot of the accelerator," because for love, I owe everything to the Lord.

The question of "Who is the monster?" Applies to all life. Do we let things of the old nature control us or allow the spirit of God and His grace to help us grow?

It is better to go where the Lord guides us. Scripture says that the wisdom of God leads us through "pleasant roads, and all its paths [of] peace"
(Proverbs 3:17).

Lord, help me to obey you.
What God requires, he also generates.
2 Comments
His Presence
Posted:Nov 10, 2018 5:46 am
Last Updated:Nov 15, 2018 4:10 am
104 Views
Read: Exodus 3.7–

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 48–49; Hebrews 7

My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Exodus 33:

The anxious father and his teenage sat before the psychic. “How far is your traveling?” the psychic asked. “To the big city,” the man replied, “and he will be gone for a long time.” Handing the father a talisman (a kind of good-luck charm), he said, “This will protect him wherever he goes.”

I was that boy. However, that psychic and that talisman could do nothing for me. While in that city, I put my faith in Jesus. I threw away the talisman and clung to Christ. Having Jesus in my life guaranteed God’s presence.

Thirty years later, my father, now a believer, said to me as we rushed my brother to the hospital, “Let us first pray; the Spirit of God goes with you and will be with you all the way!” We had learned that God’s presence and power is our only security.

Moses learned a similar lesson. He had a challenging task from God—to lead the people out of bondage in Egypt and into the Promised Land (Exodus 3. But God assured him, “I will be with you” (v. ).

Our journey too is not without challenges, but we’re assured of God’s presence. As Jesus told His disciples, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

When the journey seems long and dreary, dear Lord, help me to remember that You are traveling with me.

There’s no need to fear where you’re going when Jesus is going with you.
2 Comments
What We Can Do
Posted:Nov 9, 2018 4:02 am
Last Updated:Nov 10, 2018 5:47 am
131 Views
Read: Philippians 2:1–11

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 46–47; Hebrews 6

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5

Even though confined to his bed, 92-year-old Morrie Boogaart knit hats for the homeless in Michigan. He had reportedly made more than 8,000 hats in fifteen years. Instead of focusing on his health or limitations, Mr. Boogaart looked beyond himself and did what he could to place the needs of others above his own. He declared that his work made him feel good and gave him a purpose. He said, “I’m going to do this until I go home to the Lord”—which happened in February 2018. Though most recipients of his hats won’t know his story or how much he sacrificed to create each cap, Morrie’s simple act of persevering love is now inspiring people across the world.

We too can look past our struggles, place others before ourselves, and imitate our loving and compassionate Savior, Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:1–5). God in the flesh—the King of Kings—took on the “very nature of a servant” in genuine humility (vv. 6–7. Giving His life—the ultimate sacrifice—He took our place on the cross (v. 8. Jesus gave everything for us . . . all for the glory of God the Father (vv. 9–11).

As believers in Jesus, it’s our privilege to show love and demonstrate concern for others through acts of kindness. Even if we don’t think we have much to offer, we can adopt the attitude of servanthood. We can actively seek opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives by simply doing what we can.

We can model Christ’s love by doing what we can to serve others.
1 comment
Fathers and Sons
Posted:Nov 8, 2018 4:17 am
Last Updated:Nov 9, 2018 6:01 pm
147 Views
Read: Ephesians 4:31–32

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 43–45; Hebrews 5

He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Malachi 4:6

My father was a good father, and, in most respects, I was a dutiful son. But I allowed my father to starve for the one thing I could have given him: myself.

He was a quiet man; I was equally silent. We often worked for hours side-by-side with scarcely a word passing between us. He never asked; I never told him my deepest desires and dreams, my hopes and fears.

In time I woke up to my reticence. Perhaps the perception came when my first son was born, or when, one by one, my sons went out into the world. Now I wish I had been more of a son to my father.

I think of all the things I could have told him. And all the things he could have told me. At his funeral I stood beside his casket, struggling to understand my emotions. “It’s too late, isn’t it?” my wife said quietly. “Exactly.”

My comfort lies in the fact that we’ll be able to set things right in heaven, for is that not where every tear will be wiped away? (Revelation 21:4).

For believers in Jesus, death is not the end of affection but the beginning of timeless existence in which there will be no more misunderstandings; relationships will be healed and love will grow forever. There, the hearts of sons will turn to their fathers and the hearts of fathers to their sons (Malachi 4:6).

Father, thank You for forgiving me and allowing me to experience a restored relationship with You. Help me to seek reconciliation in my broken relationships and deeper connections with others close to me even as I await the healing that will come in Your presence.

In God’s power and love, draw closer to others while there’s time.
3 Comments
I’m Sorry
Posted:Nov 7, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated:Nov 8, 2018 4:17 am
149 Views
Read: Colossians 3:12–17

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 40–42; Hebrews 4

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

In 2005, Collins falsified a report that resulted in McGee being thrown in prison for four years, and McGee vowed to find Collins when he got out and “hurt him.” McGee was eventually exonerated, but not before he lost everything. Meanwhile, Collins’s many falsified reports were uncovered, he lost his job, and he too spent time behind bars. But both men came to faith in Christ while in prison.

In 2015, the two discovered they were working together in the same faith-based company. Collins recalls, “I [told McGee], ‘Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I’m sorry.’” It was “pretty much what I needed to hear,” said McGee, who graciously forgave him. The men were able to reconcile because both had experienced the incomparable love and forgiveness of God, who empowers us to “forgive as the Lord forgave [us]” (Colossians 3:13).

Now the two are great friends. “We have this joint mission . . . of letting the world know that if you owe an apology to somebody, put your pride down and go apologize,” said Collins. “And if you’re holding something against somebody, let go of the bitterness because it’s like drinking poison and hoping it’s hurting them.”

God calls believers to live in peace and unity. If we have “a grievance against someone,” we can bring it to Him. He will help us to reconcile (vv. 13–15; Philippians 4:6–7).

Dear Father, thank You for forgiving us when we come to You in sorrow over our sins. Help us to receive Your forgiveness and to extend it to others.

Christ sets us free to forgive.
1 comment
Dad at the Dentist
Posted:Nov 6, 2018 3:47 am
Last Updated:Nov 17, 2018 7:36 am
150 Views
Read: Matthew 26:36–39

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 37–39; Hebrews 3

My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. Matthew 26:39

I didn’t expect a profound lesson about the Father’s heart at the dentist’s office—but I got one. I was there with my ten-year-old son. He had an adult tooth coming in under a baby tooth that hadn’t fallen out yet. It had to come out. There was no other way.

My son, in tears, pleaded with me: “Dad, isn’t there another way? Can’t we just wait and see? Please, Dad, I don’t want to have this tooth pulled!” It just about broke my heart, but I told him, “Son, it’s got to come out. I’m sorry. There’s no other way.” And I held his hand as he wriggled and writhed while the dentist removed that stubborn molar, tears in my eyes too. I couldn’t take his pain away; the best I could offer was to be present with him in it.

In that moment, I remembered Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, asking His Father for a different way. How it must have broken the Father’s heart to see His beloved Son in such agony! Yet there was no other way to save His people.

In our lives, we sometimes face unavoidable yet painful moments—just like my son did. But because of Jesus’s work for us through His Spirit, even in our darkest moments our loving heavenly Father is always present with us (Matthew 28:20).

Father, thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your beloved Son to save us, even though it must have broken Your heart to do so. In our times of joy or pain, thank You for Your Spirit holding and carrying us.

Our loving heavenly Father promises He is always present with us, even in our darkest moments.
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