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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.

LOVING ALL
Posted:Feb 16, 2018 3:54 am
Last Updated:Feb 17, 2018 8:57 pm
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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.
1 comment
FOLLOWING WHERE HE LEADS
Posted:Feb 15, 2018 7:12 am
Last Updated:Feb 16, 2018 3:54 am
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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.
1 comment
THE ADVANCE TEAM
Posted:Feb 14, 2018 3:59 am
Last Updated:Feb 15, 2018 7:12 am
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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.
2 Comments
TRUST ME
Posted:Feb 12, 2018 4:48 am
Last Updated:Feb 17, 2018 8:57 pm
53 Views
Read: 1 Kings 17.7–16

Bible in a Year: Leviticus 13; Matthew 26:26–50

Do not worry about tomorrow. Matthew 6:34

After graduation from college, I had a low-paying job. Money was tight, and sometimes I didn’t even have enough for my next meal. I learned to trust God for my daily provision.

It reminded me of the prophet Elijah’s experience. During his prophetic ministry, he learned to trust God to meet his daily needs. Shortly after Elijah pronounced God’s judgment of a drought in Israel, God sent him to a deserted place, Kerith Ravine, where He used the ravens to bring Elijah his daily meals and refresh him with water from the brook (1 Kings 17:1–4).

God supplies all our needs—one day at a time.
But a drought occurred. The brook shrank to a tiny stream, and slowly became a mere trickle. It was only when the brook had dried up that God said: “Go at once to Zarephath . . . . I have directed a widow there to supply you with food” (v. 9). Zarephath was in Phoenicia, whose inhabitants were enemies of the Israelites. Would anyone offer Elijah shelter? And would a poor widow have food to share?

Most of us would rather God provided in abundance long before our resources were depleted rather than just enough for each day. But our loving Father whispers, Trust Me. Just as He used ravens and a widow to provide for Elijah, nothing is impossible for Him. We can count on His love and power to meet our daily needs.

Faithful Father, thank You for knowing exactly what we need before we even ask. Help us to trust You for our daily needs.

God supplies all our needs—one day at a time.
2 Comments
UNLIKELY FRIENDS
Posted:Feb 9, 2018 6:39 am
Last Updated:Feb 12, 2018 4:49 am
89 Views
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.
2 Comments
THE PROBLEM WITH PRIDE
Posted:Feb 8, 2018 4:13 am
Last Updated:Feb 17, 2018 8:57 pm
93 Views
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.
1 comment
A BLANKET FOR EVERYONE
Posted:Feb 7, 2018 5:55 am
Last Updated:Feb 8, 2018 4:13 am
107 Views
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 Peanuts comic 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.
2 Comments
PRAISING THROUGH PROBLEMS
Posted:Feb 6, 2018 5:34 am
Last Updated:Feb 7, 2018 6:04 am
131 Views
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.

I
Even at our lowest point, we can lift our eyes to the Lord.
5 Comments
LISTENING TO HIS VOICE
Posted:Feb 5, 2018 1:35 am
Last Updated:Feb 7, 2018 6:01 am
117 Views
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

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.
1 comment
STEPPING INTO OPPORTUNITY
Posted:Feb 2, 2018 5:35 am
Last Updated:Feb 5, 2018 1:35 am
152 Views
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.
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