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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.

THE SECRET OF PEACE
Posted:Apr 23, 2018 5:48 am
Last Updated:Apr 23, 2018 1:28 pm
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Read: 2 Thessalonians 3:16–18

Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 16–18; Luke 17:20–37

The Lord of peace himself give you peace. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Grace is a very special lady. One word comes to mind when I think of her: peace. The quiet and restful expression on her face has seldom changed in the six months I have known her, even though her husband was diagnosed with a rare disease and then hospitalized.

When I asked Grace the secret of her peace, she said, “It’s not a secret, it’s a person. It’s Jesus in me. There is no other way I can explain the quietness I feel in the midst of this storm.”

To trust in Jesus is peace.
The secret of peace is our relationship to Jesus Christ. He is our peace. When Jesus is our Savior and Lord, and as we become more like Him, peace becomes real. Things like sickness, financial difficulties, or danger may be present, but peace reassures us that God holds our lives in His hands (Daniel 5:23), and we can trust that things will work together for good.

Have we experienced this peace that goes beyond logic and understanding? Do we have the inner confidence that God is in control? My wish for all of us today echoes the words of the apostle Paul: “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace.” And may we feel this peace “at all times and in every way” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).

Dear Lord, please give us Your peace at all times and in every situation.

To trust in Jesus is peace.
1 comment
GOD IN THE DETAILS
Posted:Apr 22, 2018 6:06 am
Last Updated:Apr 23, 2018 5:49 am
42 Views
Read: Matthew 10:29–31

Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 14–15; Luke 17:1–19

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9

When my “chocolate” Labrador retriever puppy was three months old, I took him to the veterinarian’s office for his shots and checkup. As our vet carefully looked him over, she noticed a small white marking in his fur on his left hind paw. She smiled and said to him, “That’s where God held you when He dipped you in chocolate.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. But she had unintentionally made a meaningful point about the deep and personal interest God takes in His creation.

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9
Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:30 that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” God is so great that He is able to take infinite interest in the most intimate details of our lives. There is nothing so small that it escapes His notice, and there is no concern too trivial to bring before Him. He simply cares that much.

God not only created us; He sustains and keeps us through every moment. It’s sometimes said that “the devil is in the details.” But it’s better by far to understand that God is in them, watching over even the things that escape our notice. How comforting it is to know that our perfectly wise and caring heavenly Father holds us—along with all of creation—in His strong and loving hands.

Loving Lord, I praise You for the wonder of Your creation. Help me to reflect Your compassion by taking care of what You’ve made.

God attends to our every need.
1 comment
THE ART OF FORGIVENESS
Posted:Apr 20, 2018 4:20 am
Last Updated:Apr 21, 2018 9:31 am
62 Views
Read: Luke 15:11–24

Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 9–11; Luke 15:11–32

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

One afternoon I spent two hours at an art exhibit—The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness—in which all of the pieces were focused on Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11–31). I found Edward Riojas’s painting The Prodigal Son especially powerful. The painting portrays the once wayward son returning home, wearing rags and walking with his head down. With a land of death behind him, he steps onto a pathway where his father is already running toward him. At the bottom of the painting are Jesus’s words, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion” (v. 20 kjv).

I was deeply moved by realizing once more how God’s unchanging love has altered my life. When I walked away from Him, He didn’t turn His back, but kept looking, watching, and waiting. His love is undeserved yet unchanging; often ignored yet never withdrawn.

We all are guilty, yet our heavenly Father reaches out to welcome us.
We all are guilty, yet our heavenly Father reaches out to welcome us, just as the father in this story embraced his wayward son. “Let’s have a feast and celebrate,” the father told the servants. “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (vv. 23–24).

The Lord still rejoices over those who return to Him today—and that’s worth celebrating!

Father, as we receive Your love and forgiveness, may we also extend it to others in Your name.

God’s love for us is undeserved yet unchanging.
4 Comments
HURRY NOT
Posted:Apr 19, 2018 4:39 am
Last Updated:Apr 20, 2018 10:40 am
63 Views
Read: Isaiah 26:1–4

Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 6–8; Luke 15:1–10

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry.” When two friends repeated that adage by the wise Dallas Willard to me, I knew I needed to consider it. Where was I spinning my wheels, wasting time and energy? More important, where was I rushing ahead and not looking to God for guidance and help? In the weeks and months that followed, I remembered those words and reoriented myself back to the Lord and His wisdom. I reminded myself to trust in Him, rather than leaning on my own ways.

After all, rushing around frantically seems to be the opposite of the “perfect peace” the prophet Isaiah speaks of. The Lord gives this gift to “those whose minds are steadfast,” because they trust in Him (v. 3). And He is worthy of being trusted today, tomorrow, and forever, for “the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal” (v. 4). Trusting God with our minds fixed on Him is the antidote to a hurried life.

Lord God, You give the peace that passes all understanding.
How about us? Do we sense that we’re hurried or even hasty? Maybe, in contrast, we often experience a sense of peace. Or perhaps we’re somewhere in between the two extremes.

Wherever we may be, I pray today that we’ll be able to put aside any hurry as we trust the Lord, who will never fail us and who gives us His peace.

Lord God, You give the peace that passes all understanding, which is a gift I don’t want to take for granted. Thank You.

God’s peace helps us not to hurry.
2 Comments
JUDGING ORIGINS
Posted:Apr 18, 2018 9:05 am
Last Updated:Apr 19, 2018 4:40 am
74 Views
Read: Judges 11:1–8, 2

Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 3–5; Luke 14:25–35

The Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. Judges 11:2

“Where are you from?” We often use that question to get to know some better. But for many of us, the answer is complicated. Sometimes we don’t want to share all the details.

In the book of Judges, Jephthah might not have wanted to answer that question at all. His half-brothers had chased him out of his hometown of Gilead for his “questionable” origins. “You are the son of another woman,” they declared (Judges 11:2). The text says starkly, “His mother was a prostitute” (v. 1).

God uses those who listen to His calling and respond in faith. How might He use you?
But Jephthah was a natural leader, and when a hostile tribe picked a fight with Gilead, the people who had sent him packing suddenly wanted him back. “Be our commander,” they said (v. 6). Jephthah asked, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house?” (v. 7). After getting assurances that things would be different, he agreed to lead them. The ripture tells us, “Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah” (v. 2). Through faith, he led them to a great victory. The New Testament mentions him in its list of heroes of the faith (Hebrews 11:32).

God so often seems to choose the unlikeliest people to do His work, doesn’t He? It doesn’t matter where we’re from, how we got here, or what we’ve d. What matters is that we respond in faith to His love.

Lord, we take great comfort knowing that You don’t show favoritism based on where we’re from. Our heritage is found in You. Thank You for adopting us into Your family.

Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 1:30
2 Comments
LEARNING TO KNOW GOD
Posted:Apr 17, 2018 5:04 am
Last Updated:Apr 17, 2018 10:14 am
87 Views
Read: John 6:16–21

Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 1–2; Luke 14:1–24

But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” John 6:20

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. I dreamed about getting married, getting pregnant, and holding my baby in my arms for the first time. When I finally got married, my husband and I never even considered waiting to expand our family. But with each negative pregnancy test, we realized we were struggling with infertility. Months of doctors’ visits, tests, and tears followed. We were in the middle of a storm. Infertility was a bitter pill to swallow and left me wondering about God’s goodness and faithfulness.

When I reflect on our journey, I think about the story of the disciples caught in the storm on the sea in John 6. As they struggled against the waves in the dark of the storm, Jesus unexpectedly came to them walking on the stormy waves. He calmed them with His presence, saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (v. 20).

What fears do you need to place in the all-powerful hands of Jesus?
Like the disciples, my husband and I had no idea what was coming in our storm; but we found comfort as we learned to know God more deeply as the One who is always faithful and true. Although we would not have the child we had dreamed of, we learned that in all our struggles we can experience the power of His calming presence. Because He is there powerfully working in our lives, we need not be anxious.

Dear Lord, thank You that I do not have to face the storms in this life without You. Thank You for Your calming presence and power carrying me through whatever I face.

We can experience God’s powerful presence even in the storms of our lives.
3 Comments
JUST A SECOND
Posted:Apr 16, 2018 3:14 am
Last Updated:Apr 16, 2018 8:38 am
82 Views
Read: Psalm 39:4–6

Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 30–31; Luke 13:23–35

How fleeting my life is. Psalm 39:4

Scientists are pretty fussy about time. At the end of 2016, the folks at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland added an extra second to the year. So if you felt that year dragged on a bit longer than normal, you were right.

Why did they do that? Because the rotation of the earth slows down over time, the years get just a tiny bit longer. When scientists track manmade objects launched into space, they must have accuracy down to the millisecond. This is “to make sure our collision avoidance programs are accurate,” according to one scientist.

Lord, help us to use our time wisely for Your honor and glory.
For most of us, a second gained or lost doesn’t make much difference. Yet according to Scripture, our time and how we use it is important. For instance, Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 7:29 that “time is short.” The time we have to do God’s work is limited, so we must use it wisely. He urged us to “[make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16 esv).

This doesn’t mean we have to count each second as do the scientists, but when we consider the fleeting nature of life (Psalm 39:4), we can be reminded of the importance of using our time wisely.

Lord, thank You for each moment You give us. May we strive to honor You with this gift by using our time wisely for Your honor and glory.

Don’t just spend time—invest it.
1 comment
REASON TO SING
Posted:Apr 15, 2018 8:36 am
Last Updated:Apr 16, 2018 3:06 pm
91 Views
Read: Psalm 98

Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 27–29; Luke 13:1–22

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. Psalm 98:1

When I was thirteen, my school required students to take four exploratory courses, including home economics, art, choir, and woodworking. On my first day in choir, the instructor called each student to the piano individually to hear their voices and place them in the room according to their vocal range. During my turn at the piano, I sang the notes she played multiple times, but wasn’t directed to a section in the room. Instead, after repeated tries, she sent me to the counseling office to find a different class to take. From that moment on, I felt I shouldn’t sing at all, that my voice shouldn’t be heard in song.

I carried that thought with me for more than a decade until I read Psalm 98 as a young adult. The writer opens with an invitation to “sing to the Lord”
(Psalm 98:1). The reason offered has nothing to do with the quality of our voices; He delights in all His children’s songs of thanksgiving and praise. Instead, we are invited to sing because God “has done marvelous things” (v. 1).

Take a moment to joyfully praise the Lord for all He has done.
The psalmist points out two wonderful reasons to joyfully praise God in song and in attitude: His saving work in our lives and His ongoing faithfulness toward us. In God’s choir, we each have a place to sing of the marvelous things He has done.

Lord, You have done great things in my life. Even if my voice isn’t one that would be heard on stage, I want to join the choir in thanking You for the amazing things You’ve done.

God loves to hear the voices of His children.
2 Comments
WHEN ONE HURTS, ALL HURST
Posted:Apr 13, 2018 2:41 am
Last Updated:Apr 16, 2018 3:07 pm
115 Views
Read: 1 Corinthians 12:14–26

Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 22–24; Luke 12:1–31

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26

When a coworker called in sick due to extreme pain, everyone at the office was concerned. After a trip to the hospital and a day of bed rest, he returned to work and showed us the source of that pain—a kidney stone. He’d asked his doctor to give him the stone as a souvenir. Looking at that stone, I winced in sympathy, remembering the gallstone I had passed years ago. The pain had been excruciating.

Isn’t it interesting that something so small can cause a whole body so much agony? But in a way, that’s what the apostle Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 12:26: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” Throughout chapter 12, Paul used the metaphor of a body to describe Christians around the world. When Paul said, “God has put the body together” (v. 24), he was referring to the entire body of Christ—all Christians. We all have different gifts and roles. But since we’re all part of the same body, if one person hurts, we all hurt. When a fellow Christian faces persecution, grief, or trials, we hurt as if we’re experiencing that pain.

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corint
My coworker’s pain drove him to get the help his body needed. In the body of Christ, someone’s pain ignites our compassion and moves us toward action. We might pray, offer a word of encouragement, or do whatever it takes to aid the healing process. That’s how the body works together.

Lord, please give peace to those who are persecuted or in pain. Your family is my family too.

We’re in this together.
3 Comments
FAITH, LOVE AND HOPE
Posted:Apr 12, 2018 5:25 am
Last Updated:Apr 24, 2018 3:19 am
106 Views
Read: 1 Thessalonians 1:1–3

Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 19–21; Luke 11:29–54

We always thank God for all of you. 1 Thessalonians 1:2

For ten years, my Aunt Kathy cared for her father (my grandfather) in her home. She cooked and cleaned for him when he was independent, and then took on the role of nurse when his health declined.

Her service is one modern example of the words of Paul who wrote to the Thessalonians that he thanked God for “your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Be encouraged as you do the work God has called you to do.
My aunt served in faith and love. Her daily, consistent care was the result of her belief that God called her to this important work. Her labor was borne out of love for God and her father.

She also endured in hope. My grandfather was a very kind man, but it was difficult to watch him decline. She gave up time with family and friends, and limited travel to care for him. She was able to endure because of the hope that God would strengthen her each day, along with the hope of heaven that awaited my grandfather.

Whether it is caring for a relative, helping a neighbor, or volunteering your time, be encouraged as you do the work God has called you to do. Your labor can be a powerful testimony of faith, hope, and love.

Lord, may I this day have eyes to see others’ needs, direction from You on any ways I might help, and the Spirit’s power to obey. May I live out the faith, love, and hope You’ve given to me.

The glory of life is to love, not to be loved; to give, not to get; to serve, not to be served.
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