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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.

More than Water
Posted:Sep 17, 2019 4:19 am
Last Updated:Sep 17, 2019 6:4 am
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Bible in a Year :

Proverbs 27–29; 2 Corinthians 10
All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Galatians 3:27

Galatians 3:23–29
One of my earliest childhood memories of church was a pastor walking down the aisle, challenging us to “remember the waters of our baptism.” Remember the waters? I asked myself. How can you remember water? He then proceeded to splash everyone with water, which as a young both delighted and confused me.

Why should we think about baptism? When a person is baptized, there’s so much more to it than water. Baptism symbolizes how through faith in Jesus, we’ve become “clothed” with Him (Galatians 3:27). Or in other words, it’s celebrating that we belong to Him and that He lives in and through us.

As if that weren’t significant enough, the passage tells us that if we’ve been clothed with Christ our identity is found in Him. We’re the very of God (v. 26). As such, we’ve been made right with God by faith—not by following Old Testament law (vv. 23–25). We’re not divided against one another by gender, culture, and status. We’re set free and brought into unity through Christ and are now His own (v. 29).

So there are very good reasons to remember baptism and all it represents. We aren’t simply focusing on the act itself but that we belong to Jesus and have become of God. Our identity, future, and spiritual freedom are found in Him.

Reflect & Pray
What does it mean for you to be clothed with Christ and to belong to Him? What are ways in which you can regularly celebrate and remember the meaning of baptism?

God, help me to never forget that through Jesus I am a of God!
1 comment
Don’t Feed the Trolls
Posted:Sep 16, 2019 4:19 am
Last Updated:Sep 17, 2019 4:20 am
42 Views
Bible in a Year :

Proverbs 25–26; 2 Corinthians 9
Make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace.

Colossians 4:5–6

Proverbs 26:4–
Ever heard the expression, “Don’t feed the trolls”? “Trolls” refers to a new problem in today’s digital world—online users repeatedly post intentionally inflammatory and hurtful comments on news or social media discussion boards. But ignoring such comments—not “feeding” the trolls—makes it harder for them to derail a conversation.

Of course, it’s nothing new to encounter people aren’t genuinely interested in productive conversation. “Don’t feed the trolls” could almost be a modern equivalent of Proverbs 26:4, which warns that arguing with an arrogant, unreceptive person risks stooping to their level.

And yet . . . even the most seemingly stubborn person is also a priceless image-bearer of God. If we’re quick to dismiss others, we may be the ones in danger of being arrogant and becoming unreceptive to God’s grace (see Matthew 5:22).

That might, in part, explain why Proverbs 26:5 offers the exact opposite guideline. Because it takes humble, prayerful dependence on God to discern how best to show others love in each situation (see Colossians 4:5–6). Sometimes we speak up; other times, it’s best to be silent.

May we find peace in knowing that the God drew us near while we were still in hardened opposition to Him (Romans 5:6) is powerfully at work in each person’s heart.

Reflect & Pray
How have you witnessed very different approaches being used by God to touch others? How can you better speak the truth in love?

Loving God, help me share Your love with others around me.
2 Comments
Unity
Posted:Sep 15, 2019 4:20 am
Last Updated:Sep 15, 2019 4:22 pm
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Bible in a Year :

Proverbs 22–24; 2 Corinthians 8
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:3

Ephesians 4:1–6
In 1722 a small group of Moravian Christians, who lived in what is now the Czech Republic, found refuge from persecution on the estate of a generous German count. Within four years, more than 300 people came. But instead of an ideal community for persecuted refugees, the settlement became filled with discord. Different perspectives on Christianity brought division. What they did next may seem like a small choice, but it launched an incredible revival: They began to focus on what they agreed on rather than on what they disagreed on. The result was unity.

The apostle Paul strongly encouraged the believers in the church in Ephesus to live in unity. Sin would always bring trouble, selfish desires, and conflict in relationships. But as those who were made “alive with Christ” the Ephesians were called to live out their new identity in practical ways (Ephesians 5:2). Primarily, they were to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (4:3).

This unity isn’t just simple camaraderie achieved through human strength. We are to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (v. 2). From a human perspective, it’s impossible to act in this way. We can’t reach unity through our own power but through God’s perfect power “that is at work within us” (3:20).

Reflect & Pray
How are you experiencing division or unity in your community of faith? What efforts can you make in God’s strength to keep the unity of the Spirit?

Father, You who are over all and through all and in all, live among us in such a way that unity will be present.
1 comment
Whatever the Cost
Posted:Sep 14, 2019 5:16 am
Last Updated:Sep 17, 2019 6:4 am
46 Views
Bible in a Year :

Proverbs 19–21; 2 Corinthians 7
They would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear.

John 12:42

John 12:37–43
The film Paul, Apostle of Christ takes an unflinching look at persecution in the early days of the church. Even the movie’s minor characters reveal how dangerous it was to follow Jesus. Consider these roles listed in the credits: Beaten Woman; Beaten Man; Christian Victims 1, 2, and 3.

Identifying with Christ often came at a high cost. And in much of the world, it’s still dangerous to follow Jesus. Many in the church today can relate to that kind of persecution. Some of us, however, may feel “persecuted” prematurely—outraged any time our faith is mocked or we suspect we were passed over for a promotion because of our beliefs.

Obviously, there’s a colossal difference between sacrificing social status and sacrificing our lives. Realistically, though, self-interest, financial stability, and social acceptance have always been intense human motivators. We see this in the actions of some of Jesus’s earliest converts. The apostle John reports that, mere days before Jesus’s crucifixion, although most Israelites were still rejecting Him (John 12:37), many “even among the leaders believed” (v. 42). However, “They would not openly acknowledge their faith . . . for they loved human praise more than praise from God” (vv. 42–43).

Today we still face societal pressures (and worse) to keep our faith in Christ hidden. Whatever the cost, let’s stand together as a people who seek God’s approval more than human praise.

Reflect & Pray
We might be tempted to judge the early believers who hid their faith, but are we any different? Are there times we choose to be quiet so we can hide our identification with Jesus?

Jesus, I want to be a close friend of Yours.
1 comment
Whatever We Do
Posted:Sep 13, 2019 4:32 am
Last Updated:Sep 13, 2019 6:20 pm
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Bible in a Year :

Proverbs 16–18; 2 Corinthians 6
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3

Proverbs 16:1–9
In Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis confessed he came to Christianity at the age of thirty-three, “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape.” Despite Lewis’s own personal resistance, his shortcomings, and the obstacles he faced, the Lord transformed him into a courageous and creative defender of the faith. Lewis proclaimed God’s truth and love through writing powerful essays and novels that are still being read, studied, and shared more than fifty-five years after his death. His life reflected his belief that a person is “never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”

As we make plans and follow dreams, God can purify our motives and empower us to devote whatever we do to Him (Proverbs 16:1–3). From the most ordinary tasks to the greatest challenges, we can live for the glory of our almighty Maker, who “works out everything to its proper end” (v. 4). Every action, every word, and every thought can become an expression of heartfelt worship, a sacrificial gift to honor our Lord, as He watches over us (v. 7).

God can’t be limited by our limitations, our reservations, or our tendencies to settle or dream small. As we choose to live for Him—dedicated to and dependent on Him—He will bring about His plans for us. Whatever we do can be done with Him, for Him, and only because of Him.

Reflect & Pray
How can Proverbs 16:3 help you be more confident in the use of your gifts? What steps can you take to honor God as you follow a dream He’s placed on your heart?

God, thank You for reminding us that no jobs are too small and no dreams are too big in Your great kingdom.
1 comment
Tongue Tamers
Posted:Sep 12, 2019 2:20 am
Last Updated:Sep 13, 2019 9:40 am
87 Views
Bible in a Year :

Proverbs –; 2 Corinthians 5
Do not let any unwholesome talk come of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.

Ephesians 4:29

James 3:1–6
In West with the Night, author Beryl Markham detailed her work with Camciscan, a feisty stallion she was tasked with taming. She’d met her match with Camciscan. No matter what strategy she employed, she could never fully tame the proud stallion, chalking up only one victory over his stubborn will.

How many of us feel this way in the battle to tame our tongues? While James compares the tongue to the bit in a ’s mouth or a ship’s rudder (James 3:3–5), he also laments, “Out of the mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (v. ).

So, how can we win the battle over the tongue? The apostle Paul offers tongue-taming advice. The first involves speaking only the truth (Ephesians 4:25). This is not a license to be painfully blunt, however. Paul follows up with “do not let any unwholesome talk come of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up” (v. 29). We can also take out the trash: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (v. 31). Is this easy? Not if we attempt to do it on our own. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit helps us as we rely on Him.

As Markham learned, consistency with Camciscan was needed in the battle of wills. Such is the case in the taming of the tongue.

Reflect & Pray
What do you find most challenging in taming your tongue? What practical steps can you take to win the battle in the coming week?

Jesus, I need You to help me be mindful of the words I use.
3 Comments
Better Than Ever
Posted:Sep 11, 2019 3:13 am
Last Updated:Sep 12, 2019 2:22 am
86 Views
Bible in a Year :

Proverbs 10–12; 2 Corinthians 4
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16

2 Corinthians 4:16–5:9
The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a spectacular building. Its architecture is spellbinding, and its stained-glass windows and beautiful interior features are breathtaking. But after centuries of towering over the Paris landscape, it needed renovation—which had begun when a devastating fire caused extensive damage to the glorious old building.

So the people who love this eight-century-old landmark are coming to its rescue. More than a billion dollars has been raised to restore the building. The stone structure must be shored up. The damaged interior and its prized artifacts need to be repaired. The effort is worthwhile, though, because for many this ancient cathedral stands as a symbol of hope.

What’s true of buildings is also true of us. Our bodies, like this old church, will eventually look a bit worse for wear! But as the apostle Paul explains, there’s good news: while we might gradually lose the physical vibrancy of youth, the core of who we are—our spiritual being—can be continually renewed and growing (2 Corinthians 4:16).

As “we make it our goal to please [the Lord]” (5:9), relying on the Holy Spirit to fill and transform us (3:18; Ephesians 5:18, our spiritual growth need never stop—no matter what our “building” looks like.

Reflect & Pray
Where have you seen the Spirit renewing your spiritual being? How does the knowledge that our spiritual growth never stops inspire you?

God, thank You for Your Spirit renewing and transforming us. Please continue to give us the strength and courage to rest in You.
1 comment
I Will Fear No Evil
Posted:Sep 10, 2019 4:18 am
Last Updated:Sep 11, 2019 3:13 am
98 Views
Bible in a Year :

Proverbs 8–9; 2 Corinthians 3
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Psalm 23:4

Psalm 23
In 1957, Melba Pattillo Beals was selected to be one of the “Little Rock Nine,” a group of nine African American students who first integrated the previously all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. In her 2018 memoir, I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith under Fire, Beals gives a heartbreaking account of the injustices and harassment she struggled to face courageously every day as a fifteen-year-old student.

But she also wrote about her deep faith in God. In her darkest moments, when fear almost overwhelmed her, Beals repeated the familiar Bible verses she had learned at an early age from her grandmother. As she recited them, she was reminded of God’s presence with her, and Scripture gave her courage to endure.

Beals frequently recited Psalm 23, finding comfort in confessing, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (v. 4). Her grandmother’s encouragement would ring through her ears as well, reassuring her that God “is as close as your skin, and you have only to call on Him for help.”

Although our particular situations may vary, we will all likely endure difficult struggles and overwhelming circumstances that could easily cause us to give in to fear. In those moments, may your heart find encouragement in the truth that God’s powerful presence is always with us.

Reflect & Pray
When have you felt God’s presence in a fearful situation? How is it comforting to know that God is always with you?

Father, when circumstances cause me to fear, help me to remember that You are near, and to find courage in the power of Your presence.
1 comment
When We Know Who Wins
Posted:Sep 9, 2019 6:21 am
Last Updated:Sep 9, 2019 10:16 am
101 Views
Bible in a Year :

Proverbs 6–7; 2 Corinthians 2
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

Revelation 21:4

Revelation 21:1–5
My supervisor is a huge fan of a certain college basketball team. This year, they won the national championship, so another coworker texted him congratulations. The only problem was my boss hadn’t yet had a chance watch the final game! He was frustrated, he said, knowing the outcome beforehand. But, he admitted, at least when he watched the game he wasn’t nervous when the score stayed close the end. He knew who won!

We never really know what tomorrow will hold. Some days can feel mundane and tedious, while other days are filled with joy. Still other times, life can be grueling, agonizing even, for long periods of time.

But despite life’s unpredictable ups and downs, we can still be securely grounded in God’s peace. Because, like my supervisor, we know the end of the story. We know who “wins.”

Revelation, the Bible’s final book, lifts the curtain on that spectacular finale. After the final defeat of death and evil (20:10, 14), John describes a beautiful victory scene (21:1–3) where God makes His home with His people (v. 3) and wipes “every tear from their eyes” in a world with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (v. 4).

On difficult days, we can cling to this promise. No more loss or weeping. No more what-ifs or broken hearts. Instead, we’ll spend eternity together with our Savior. What a glorious celebration that will be!

Reflect & Pray
How can the hope of heaven give you strength? How might your favorite “happily ever after” story echo Revelation 21?

One day God will soothe every hurt, heal every wound, and wipe away every tear.
1 comment
Blue Lines
Posted:Sep 8, 2019 4:51 am
Last Updated:Sep 8, 2019 12:48 pm
108 Views
Bible in a Year :

Proverbs 3–5; 2 Corinthians 1
I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.

Proverbs 4:

Proverbs 4:10–27
Downhill skiing racecourses are often marked swaths of blue paint sprayed across the white, snowy surface. The crude arcs might be a visual distraction for spectators but prove to be vital to both the success and safety of the competitors. The paint serves as a guide for the racers to visualize the fastest line to the bottom of the hill. Additionally, the contrast of the paint against the snow offers racers depth perception, which is critical to their safety when traveling at such of speed.

Solomon begs his sons to seek wisdom in hopes of keeping them safe on the racecourse of life. Like the blue lines, wisdom, he says, will “lead [them] along straight paths” and keep them from stumbling (Proverbs 4:–). His deepest hope as a father is for his sons to enjoy a rich life, free from the damaging effects of living apart from the wisdom of God.

God, as our loving Father, offers us “blue-line” guidance in the Bible. While He’s given us the freedom to “ski” wherever we like, the wisdom He offers in the Scriptures, like racecourse markers, are “life to those who find them” (v. 22). When we turn from evil and walk instead with Him, our path will be lit with His righteousness, keeping our feet from stumbling and guiding us onward each day (vv. , .

Reflect & Pray
How has reflecting on the wisdom of God kept you from stumbling? In what ways are you becoming more like Jesus?

God, thank You for Your Word. to hold fast to the wisdom You offer. To learn more about how to get the most out of your Bible study time, visit christianuniversity.org/SF106.
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