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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.

Bearing the Burden of Wrongs
Posted:Mar 22, 2019 5:38 am
Last Updated:Mar 23, 2019 1:54 am
17 Views
Bible in a Year:

Joshua 10–12; Luke 1:39–56
Do not repay evil with evil.

1 Peter 3:9

1 Peter 3:8-14
On January 30, 2018, almost thirty-eight years after his conviction, Malcolm Alexander walked out of prison a free man. DNA evidence cleared Alexander, who had steadfastly maintained his innocence amid a myriad of court proceedings that were tragically unjust. An incompetent defense attorney (later disbarred), shoddy evidence, and dubious investigative tactics all put an innocent man in prison for nearly four decades. When he was finally released, however, Alexander showed immense grace. “You cannot be angry,” he said. “There’s not enough time to be angry.”

Alexander’s words evidence a deep grace. If injustice robbed us of thirty-eight years of our lives and destroyed our reputations, we would likely be angry, furious. Though Alexander spent many long, heartbreaking years bearing the burden of wrongs inflicted upon him, he wasn’t undone by the evil. Rather than exerting his energy trying to get revenge, he exhibited the posture Peter instructs: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult” (1 Peter 3:9).

The Scriptures go a step further: rather than seeking vengeance, the apostle Peter tells us we are to bless (v. 9). We extend forgiveness, the hope of well-being, for those who have unjustly wronged us. Without excusing their evil actions, we can meet them with God’s scandalous mercy. On the cross, Jesus bore the burden of our wrongs, that we might receive grace and extend it to others—even those who have wronged us.

Today's Reflection
Without excusing their actions, how can you extend mercy to others who have wronged you? What will it mean for you to “bless” them?
2 Comments
Hand Made for You
Posted:Mar 21, 2019 6:02 am
Last Updated:Mar 22, 2019 1:51 pm
29 Views
Bible in a Year:

Joshua 7–9; Luke 1:21–38
We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus do good works, which God prepared in advance for us do.

Ephesians 2:

Ephesians 2:4-
My grandmother was a talented seamstress who won contests in her native Texas. Throughout my life, she celebrated hallmark occasions with a hand-sewn gift. A burgundy mohair sweater for my high school graduation. A turquoise quilt for my marriage. I’d fold over a corner of each custom-crafted item to discover her signature tag reading, “Hand made for you by Munna.” With every embroidered word, I sensed my grandmother’s love for me and received a powerful statement of her faith in my future.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians of their purpose in this world, describing them as “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (2. Here “handiwork” denotes a work of art or a masterpiece. Paul goes on describe that God’s handiwork in creating us would result in our handiwork of creating good works—or expressions of our restored relationship with Jesus—for His glory in our world. We can never be saved by our own good works, but when God hand makes us for His purposes, He can use us to bring others toward His great love.

With her head bowed over her needle, my Munna hand made items to communicate her love for me and her passion that I discover my purpose on this planet. And with His fingers shaping the details of our days, God stitches His love and purposes in our hearts that we might experience Him for ourselves and demonstrate His handiwork to others.

Today's Reflection
What has God created you to do? Who can you show His love to today?
2 Comments
From Wailing to Worship
Posted:Mar 20, 2019 5:52 am
Last Updated:Mar 21, 2019 6:03 am
98 Views
Bible in a Year:

Joshua 4–6; Luke 1:1–20
You turned my wailing into dancing; you . . . clothed me with joy.

Psalm 30:11

Psalm 30:1-12
Kim began battling breast cancer in 2013. Four days after her treatment ended, doctors diagnosed her with a progressive lung disease and gave her three to five years to live. She grieved, sobbing prayers as she processed her emotions before God for the first year. By the time I met Kim in 2015, she had surrendered her situation to Him and radiated contagious joy and peace. Though some days are still hard, God continues to transform her heart-wrenching suffering into a beautiful testimony of hope-filled praise as she encourages others.

Even when we’re in dire circumstances, God can turn our wailing into dancing. Though His healing won’t always look or feel like we’d hoped or expected, we can be confident in God’s ways (Psalm 30:1–3). No matter how tear-stained our path may be, we have countless reasons to praise Him (v. 4). We can rejoice in God, as He secures our confident faith (vv. 5–7). We can cry out for His mercy (vv. 8–10), celebrating the hope He’s brought to many weeping worshipers. Only God can transform wails of despair into vibrant joy that doesn’t depend on circumstances (vv. 11–12).

As our merciful God comforts us in our sorrow, He envelops us in peace and empowers us to extend compassion toward others and ourselves. Our loving and faithful Lord can and does turn our wailing into worship that can lead to heart-deep trust, praise, and maybe even joyful dancing.

Today's Reflection
What’s the source of true peace and joy? What does it mean for you to truly surrender your all to God?
1 comment
Marked by Momma
Posted:Mar 19, 2019 5:30 am
Last Updated:Mar 23, 2019 1:54 am
45 Views
Bible in a Year:

Joshua 1–3; Mark 16
Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.

2 Timothy 3:14

2 Timothy 1:3-7
Her name was long but her years were even longer. Madeline Harriet Orr Jackson Williams lived to be 101 years old, outliving two husbands. Both were preachers. Madeline was my grandmother, and we knew her as Momma. My siblings and I got to know her well; we lived in her home until her second husband whisked her away. Even then she was less than fifty miles away from us. Our grandmother was a hymn-singing, catechism-reciting, piano-playing, God-fearing woman, and my siblings and I have been marked by her faith.

According to 2 Timothy 1:3–7, Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice had a huge impact on his life. Their living and teaching were rooted in the soil of Scripture (v. 5; 2 Timothy 3:14–16) and eventually their faith blossomed in Timothy’s heart. His biblically based upbringing was not only foundational for his relationship with God, but it was also vital to his usefulness in the Lord’s service (1:6–7).

Today, as well as in Timothy’s time, God uses faithful women and men to mark future generations. Our prayers, words, actions, and service can be powerfully used by the Lord while we live and after we’re gone. That’s why my siblings and I still rehearse things that were passed on to us from Momma. My prayer is that Momma’s legacy will not stop with us.

Today's Reflection
How are you using your prayer, words, actions, and service to grow others in Jesus? What would you like your legacy to be?
2 Comments
Joy in Hard Places
Posted:Mar 18, 2019 3:48 am
Last Updated:Mar 18, 2019 10:03 am
50 Views
Bible in a Year:

Deuteronomy 32–34; Mark 15:26–47
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Habakkuk 3:18

Habakkuk 3:16-19
Whenever she was unable to take my phone call, my friend’s voicemail recording invited me to leave her a message. The recording cheerfully concluded, “Make it a great day!” As I reflected on her words, I realized that it’s not within our power to make every day “great”—some circumstances truly are devastating. But a closer look might reveal something redeeming and beautiful in my day, whether things are going well or poorly.

Habakkuk wasn’t experiencing easy circumstances. As a prophet, God had shown him coming days when none of the crops or livestock—on which God’s people depended—would be fruitful (3:17). It would take more than mere optimism to endure the coming hardships. As a people group, Israel would be in extreme poverty. Habakkuk experienced heart-pounding, lip-quivering, leg-trembling fear (v. 16).

Yet despite that, Habakkuk said he would “rejoice in the Lord” and “be joyful”
(v. 18. He proclaimed His hope in the God who provides the strength to walk in difficult places (v. 19).

Sometimes we go through seasons of deep pain and hardship. But no matter what we’ve lost, or wanted but never had, we can, like Habakkuk, rejoice in our relationship with a loving God. Even when it feels like we have nothing else, He will never fail or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). He, the One who “provide[s] for those who grieve,” is our ultimate reason for joy (Isaiah 61:3).

Today's Reflection
What about your relationship with Jesus brings you the greatest joy? How has He met you recently in a time of hardship or grief?
1 comment
Standing with Courage
Posted:Mar 17, 2019 5:56 am
Last Updated:Mar 17, 2019 10:58 am
64 Views
Bible in a Year:

Deuteronomy 30–31; Mark 15:1–25
Be strong and courageous. . . . Do not be afraid or terrified.

Deuteronomy 31:6, 8

Deuteronomy 31:1-8
While most German church leaders gave in to Hitler, theologian and pastor Martin Niemöller was among the brave souls who resisted Nazi evil. I read a story describing how in the 1970s a group of older Germans stood outside a large hotel while what appeared to be a younger man bustled about with the group’s luggage. Someone asked who the group was. “German pastors,” came the answer. “And the younger man?” “That’s Martin Niemöller—he’s eighty. But he has stayed young because he is unafraid.”

Niemöller wasn’t able to resist fear because he possessed some superhuman antifear gene, but because of God’s grace. In fact, he had once held anti-Semitic views. But he had repented and God restored him and helped him speak and live out the truth.

Moses encouraged the Israelites to resist fear and follow God in truth. When they’d become fearful after learning Moses would soon be taken from them, the leader had an unflinching word for them: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified . . . for the Lord your God goes with you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). There was no reason to tremble before an uncertain future because of one reason: God was with them.

Whatever darkness looms for you, whatever terrors bombard you—God is with you. By God’s mercy, may you face your fears with the knowledge that God “will never leave you nor forsake you” (vv. 6, 8.

Today's Reflection
What fears are you facing? How does God’s presence bring courage to your heart?
1 comment
Keep On Going
Posted:Mar 15, 2019 4:13 am
Last Updated:Mar 15, 2019 7:03 am
137 Views
Bible in a Year:

Deuteronomy 26–27; Mark 14:27–53
By faith [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger.

Hebrews 11:27

Exodus 10:21-29
Working in the corporate world allowed me to interact with many talented and levelheaded people. However, one project led by an out-of-town supervisor was an exception. Regardless of our team’s progress, this manager harshly criticized our work and demanded more effort during each weekly status phone call. These run-ins left me discouraged and fearful. At times, I wanted to quit.

It’s possible that Moses felt like quitting when he encountered Pharaoh during the plague of darkness. God had hurled eight other epic disasters at Egypt, and Pharaoh finally exploded, “[Moses,] get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die” (Exodus 10:28.

Despite this threat, Moses eventually was used by God to free the Israelites from Pharaoh’s control. “[By faith] Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27 ). Moses overcame Pharaoh by believing that God would keep His promise of deliverance (Exodus 3:17).

Today, we can rely on the promise that God is with us in every situation, supporting us through His Holy Spirit. He helps us resist the pressure of intimidation and wrong responses to it by granting us supernatural power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1.7). The Spirit provides the courage we need to keep going and to follow God’s leading in our lives.

Today's Reflection
What types of situations upset you? How can you rely on God?
1 comment
Life Beyond Compare
Posted:Mar 14, 2019 3:40 am
Last Updated:Mar 23, 2019 1:54 am
120 Views
Bible in a Year:

Deuteronomy 23–25; Mark :1–26
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.”

Genesis 29:35

Genesis 29:31-35
In a TV program, adults posed as school students to better understand the lives of teenagers. They discovered that social media plays a central role in how teens measure their self-worth. participant observed, “[The students’] self-value is attached to social media—it’s dependent on how many ‘likes’ they get on a photo.” This need for acceptance by others can drive people to extreme behavior online.

The longing for being accepted by others has always been there. In Genesis 29, Leah understandably yearns for the love of her husband Jacob. It’s reflected in the names of her first sons—all capturing her loneliness (vv. 31–34). But, sadly, there’s no indication that Jacob ever gave her the acceptance she craved.

With the birth of her fourth child, Leah turned to God instead of her husband, naming her fourth son Judah, which means, “praise” (v. 35). Leah, it seems, finally chose to find her significance in God. She became part of God’s salvation story: Judah was the ancestor of King David and, later, Jesus.

We can try to find our significance in many ways and things, but only in Jesus do we find our identity as children of God, co-heirs with Christ, and those who will dwell eternally with our heavenly Father. As Paul wrote, nothing in this world compares with the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ” (Philippians 3:8.

Today's Reflection
In what or whom have you been striving to gain your value and acceptance? How does faith in Jesus open the door to your true identity?
1 comment
Homeless by Choice
Posted:Mar 13, 2019 6:15 am
Last Updated:Mar 23, 2019 1:54 am
118 Views
Bible in a Year:

Deuteronomy 20–22; Mark 13:21–37
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 2:18

Hebrews 2:9-18
Keith Wasserman has chosen to be homeless for a few days every year since 1989 in order to grow in love and compassion. “I go to live on the streets to expand my perspective and understanding” of people who have no homes to live in, says Keith, executive director of Good Works, Inc.

I’m wondering whether Keith’s approach to become one with those he’s serving might be a small picture of what Jesus did for us. God Himself, the Creator of the universe, chose to confine Himself to the vulnerable state of a baby, to live as a human, to experience what we all experience, and to ultimately die at the hand of humans so that we can experience a relationship with God.

The writer of the book of Hebrews stated that Jesus “shared in [our] humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil” (2:14). Jesus was made lower than the angels, even though He’s their Creator (v. 9). He became human and died, even though He’s immortal. And He suffered for us, even though He’s the all-powerful God. Why would He do this? So that He could help us when we go through temptations and bring reconciliation between us and God (vv. 17–18.

May we experience His love today, knowing He understands our humanity and has already provided the way for us to be cleansed from our sins.

Today's Reflection
Have you come to Jesus and experienced His love and forgiveness? If yes, how does this reality affect your life today? If not, will you receive Him today?
1 comment
Expect Delays
Posted:Mar 12, 2019 6:01 am
Last Updated:Mar 13, 2019 6:15 am
163 Views
Bible in a Year:

Deuteronomy 17–19; Mark 13:1–20
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9
COMMENT

Proverbs 16:1-3
Are you kidding me? I was already late. But the road sign ahead instructed me to adjust my expectations: “Expect Delays,” it announced. Traffic was slowing down.

I had to laugh: I expect things to work on my ideal timeline; I don’t expect road construction.

On a spiritual level, few of us plan for crises that slow us down or reroute our lives. Yet, if I think about it, I can recall many times when circumstances redirected me—in big ways and small. Delays happen.

Solomon never saw a sign that said, “Expect Delays.” But in Proverbs 16, he does contrast our plans with God’s providential guidance. The Message paraphrases verse 1 as follows: “Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word.” Solomon restates that idea in verse 9, where he adds that even though we “plan [our] course . . . the Lord establishes [our] steps.” In other words, we have ideas about what’s supposed to happen, but sometimes God has another path for us.

How do I lose track of this spiritual truth? I make my plans, sometimes forgetting to ask Him what His plans are. I get frustrated when interruptions interfere.

But in place of that worrying, we could, as Solomon teaches, grow in simply trusting that God guides us, step-by-step, as we prayerfully seek Him, await His leading, and—yes—allow Him to continually redirect us.

Today's Reflection
How do you typically face unexpected delays and detours? When frustrations come, what will help you lean into God and trust Him more?
1 comment

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