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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.

PLAYING IN CONCERT
Posted:Jun 23, 2017 4:36 am
Last Updated:Jun 23, 2017 4:37 am
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Read: Romans 12:3–8

Bible in a Year: Esther 9–10; Acts 7:1–21

So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
Romans 12:5–6

During our granddaughter’s school band concert, I was impressed by how well this group of 11- and 12-year-olds played together. If each of them had wanted to be a solo performer, they could not have achieved individually what the band did collectively. The woodwinds, brass, and percussion sections all played their parts and the result was beautiful music!

To the followers of Jesus in Rome, Paul wrote, “In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Rom. 12:5–6). Among the gifts Paul mentioned are prophecy, service, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership, and mercy (vv. 7–8. Each gift is to be exercised freely for the good of all (1 Cor. 12.7.

Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

One definition of in concert is “agreement in design or plan; combined action; harmony or accord.” That’s the Lord’s plan for us as His children through faith in Jesus Christ. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (v. 10). The goal is cooperation, not competition.

In a sense, we are “on stage” before a watching and listening world every day. There are no soloists in God’s concert band, but every instrument is essential. The music is best when we each play our part in unity with others.
Lord, You are the Conductor of our lives. We want to play Your song of love and grace in concert with Your children today.

There are no soloists in God’s orchestra.

1 comment
SILENCE
Posted:Jun 22, 2017 3:18 am
Last Updated:Jun 22, 2017 3:18 am
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Read: Habakkuk 1:1–4; 2:20

Bible in a Year: Esther 6–8; Acts 6

How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Habakkuk 1:2

Skittish chickens scattered as relief trucks clattered past the weathered huts of the village. Barefoot children stared. Traffic on this rain-ravaged “road” was rare.

Suddenly, a walled mansion loomed into view of the convoy. It was the mayor’s house—although he didn’t live in it. His people lacked basic necessities, while he lounged in luxury in a distant city.

Nothing is beyond God's control and timing.

Such unfairness angers us. It angered God’s prophet too. When Habakkuk saw rampant oppression he asked, “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Hab. 1:2). But God had noticed, and He said, “Woe to him who piles up stolen goods . . . who builds his house by unjust gain!” (2:6, 9). Judgment was coming!

We welcome God’s judgment of others, but there’s a pivot point in Habakkuk that gives us pause: “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (2:20). All the earth. The oppressed along with oppressors. Sometimes the appropriate response to God’s seeming silence is . . . silence!

Why silence? Because we easily overlook our own spiritual poverty. Silence allows us to recognize our sinfulness in the presence of a holy God.

Habakkuk learned to trust God, and we can too. We don’t know all His ways, but we do know that He is good. Nothing is beyond His control and timing.
Lord, when trouble comes we can pray like Habakkuk, “We have heard of your fame; we stand in awe of your deeds. Repeat them in our day; in our time make them known” (Hab. 3:2).

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. Proverbs 29.7

2 Comments
SHARING A CUP OF COMFORT
Posted:Jun 21, 2017 5:11 am
Last Updated:Jun 21, 2017 5:12 am
59 Views
Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3–11

Bible in a Year: Esther 3–5; Acts 5:22–42

Our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1.7

A friend mailed me some of her homemade pottery. Upon opening the box, I discovered the precious items had been damaged during their journey. One of the cups had shattered into a few large pieces, a jumble of shards, and clumps of clay dust. After my husband glued the broken mess back together, I displayed the beautifully blemished cup on a shelf.

Like that pieced-together pottery, I have scars that prove I can still stand strong after the difficult times God’s brought me through. That cup of comfort reminds me that sharing how the Lord has worked in and through my life can help others during their times of suffering.

We can be comforted in knowing that the Lord redeems our trials for His glory.

The apostle Paul praises God because He is the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). The Lord uses our trials and sufferings to make us more like Him. His comfort in our troubles equips us to encourage others as we share what He did for us during our time of need (v. 4).

As we reflect on Christ’s suffering, we can be inspired to persevere in the midst of our own pain, trusting that God uses our experiences to strengthen us and others toward patient endurance (vv. 5–7). Like Paul, we can be comforted in knowing that the Lord redeems our trials for His glory. We can share His cups of comfort and bring reassuring hope to the hurting.
Lord, thank You for using us to provide comfort, encouragement, and hope to others who are suffering. We praise You for all You’ve done, are doing, and will continue to do to comfort us through our own afflictions.

God comforts others as we share how He comforted us.

2 Comments
REASON TO SMILE
Posted:Jun 20, 2017 4:53 am
Last Updated:Jun 20, 2017 4:54 am
79 Views
Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:9–28

Bible in a Year: Esther 1–2; Acts 5:1–21

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

In the workplace, words of encouragement matter. How employees talk to one another has a bearing on customer satisfaction, company profits, and co-worker appreciation. Studies show that members of the most effective work groups give one another six times more affirmation than disapproval, disagreement, or sarcasm. Least productive teams tend to use almost three negative comments for every helpful word.

Paul learned by experience about the value of words in shaping relationships and outcomes. Before meeting Christ on the road to Damascus, his words and actions terrorized followers of Jesus. But by the time he wrote his letter to the Thessalonians, he had become a great encourager because of God’s work in his heart. Now by his own example he urged his readers to cheer one another on. While being careful to avoid flattery, he showed how to affirm others and reflect the Spirit of Christ.

Encouraging one another is a way of helping one another get a taste of the patience and goodness of God.

In the process, Paul reminded his readers where encouragement comes from. He saw that entrusting ourselves to God, who loved us enough to die for us, gives us reason to comfort, forgive, inspire, and lovingly challenge one another
(1 Thess. 5:10–11).

Paul shows us that encouraging one another is a way of helping one another get a taste of the patience and goodness of God.
Father in heaven, please help us to give others a small taste of the mercy and kindness You are forever offering us.

What could be better than working to bring out the best in one another?

2 Comments
DRIVEN BY GOD
Posted:Jun 19, 2017 5:26 am
Last Updated:Jun 19, 2017 5:26 am
93 Views
Read: 1 Kings 8.54–63

Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 12–13; Acts 4:23–37

May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him. 1 Kings 8.58

A few months ago I received an email inviting me to join a community of
“driven people.” I decided to look up the word driven, and I learned that a driven person is someone highly motivated to succeed and who will work hard to achieve his goals.

Is it good to be a driven person? There is a test that never fails: “Do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Many times we do things for self-glory. After the flood in Noah’s day, a group of people decided to build a tower in order to “make a name” for themselves (Gen. 11:4). They wanted to be famous and avoid being scattered all over the world. Because they were not doing it for God's glory, though, they were erroneously driven.

Father, give me the desire to obey You and do everything for Your glory.

In contrast, when King Solomon dedicated the ark of the covenant and the newly constructed temple, he said, “I have built the temple for the Name of the Lord”
(1 Kings 8.20). Then he prayed, “May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands” v. 58.

When our greatest desire is to bring glory to God and walk in obedience, we become driven people who seek to love and serve Jesus in the power of the Spirit. Let our prayer echo Solomon’s. May our “hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands” (v. 61).
Father, give me the desire to obey You and do everything for Your glory.

Do everything for the glory of God.

1 comment
MADE ALIVE
Posted:Jun 16, 2017 4:03 am
Last Updated:Jun 16, 2017 4:03 am
134 Views
Read: Ephesians 2:1–10

Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 4–6; Acts 2:22–47

You were dead in your transgressions and sins. Ephesians 2:1

As a young man, my dad was traveling with a group of friends to an out-of-town sporting event when the tires of their car slipped on the rain-soaked roads. They had an accident—a bad accident. One of his friends was paralyzed and another was killed. My dad was declared dead and taken to the morgue. His shocked and grief-stricken parents came to identify him. But my dad revived from what turned out to be a deep coma. Their mourning turned to joy.

In Ephesians 2, the apostle Paul reminds us that apart from Christ we are “dead in [our] transgressions and sins” (v. 1). But because of His great love for us, “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (vv. 4–5). Through Christ we have been brought from death to life.

Thank You, Father, for love that conquers sin, life that conquers death, and grace that has conquered my heart

So in every sense, we all owe our life to the Father in heaven. Through His great love, He has made it possible for those of us who were dead in sin to have life and purpose through His Son.
Thank You, Father, for love that conquers sin, life that conquers death, and grace that has conquered my heart. May my life be a sweet aroma of praise to You.

We owed a debt we could not pay, but Jesus paid the debt He did not owe.

1 comment
THE BOND OF PEACE
Posted:Jun 15, 2017 5:52 am
Last Updated:Jun 15, 2017 5:53 am
147 Views
Read: Ephesians 4:1–6

Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 1–3; Acts 2:1–21

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3

After I confronted my friend by email over a matter on which we had differed, she didn’t respond. Had I overstepped? I didn’t want to worsen the situation by pestering her, but neither did I want to leave things unresolved before she went on a trip overseas. As she popped into my mind throughout the following days, I prayed for her, unsure of the way forward. Then one morning I went for a walk in our local park and saw her, pain etched on her face as she glimpsed me. “Thank You, Lord, that I can talk to her,” I breathed as I approached her with a welcoming smile. We talked openly and were able to resolve matters.

Sometimes when hurt or silence intrudes on our relationships, mending them seems out of our control. But as the apostle Paul says in his letter to the church at Ephesus, we are called to work for peace and unity through God’s Spirit, donning the garments of gentleness, humility, and patience as we seek God’s healing in our relationships. The Lord yearns for us to be united, and through His Spirit He can bring His people together—even unexpectedly when we go walking in the park.

God desires unity among believers.
Have you experienced an unexpected encounter that revealed God working in a situation? How might you work toward peace and unity today?

God desires unity among believers.

1 comment
Rhythms Of Grace
Posted:Jun 14, 2017 4:57 am
Last Updated:Jun 14, 2017 4:57 am
190 Views
Read: Matthew 11:25–30

Bible in a Year: Ezra 9–10; Acts 1

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

A friend and his wife, now in their early nineties and married for sixty-six years, wrote their family history for their children, grandchildren, and generations to come. The final chapter, “A Letter from Mom and Dad,” contains important life-lessons they’ve learned. One caused me to pause and take inventory of my own life: “If you find that Christianity exhausts you, draining you of your energy, then you are practicing religion rather than enjoying a relationship with Jesus Christ. Your walk with the Lord will not make you weary; it will invigorate you, restore your strength, and energize your life” (Matt. 11:28–29).

Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Jesus’s invitation in this passage begins, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? . . . Walk with me and work with me. . . . Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (The Message).

Lord Jesus, I come to You today to exchange my frenzied work for Your pathway of grace.

When I think that serving God is all up to me, I’ve begun working for Him instead of walking with Him. There is a vital difference. If I’m not walking with Christ, my spirit becomes dry and brittle. People are annoyances, not fellow humans created in God’s image. Nothing seems right.

When I sense that I’m practicing religion instead of enjoying a relationship with Jesus, it’s time to lay the burden down and walk with Him in His “unforced rhythms of grace.”
Lord Jesus, I come to You today to exchange my frenzied work for Your pathway of grace.

Jesus wants us to walk with Him.


1 comment
CONSIDER THE CLOUDS
Posted:Jun 13, 2017 5:41 am
Last Updated:Jun 13, 2017 5:42 am
188 Views
Read: Job 37:1–16

Bible in a Year: Ezra 6–8; John 21

Do you know how the clouds hang poised? Job 37:16

One day many years ago my boys and I were lying on our backs in the yard watching the clouds drift by. “Dad,” one asked, “why do clouds float?” “Well, son,” I began, intending to give him the benefit of my vast knowledge, but then I lapsed into silence. “I don’t know,” I admitted, “but I’ll find out for you.”

The answer, I discovered, is that condensed moisture, descending by gravity, meets warmer temperatures rising from the land. That moisture then changes into vapor and ascends back into the air. That’s a natural explanation for the phenomenon.

We are amazed at You, wonderful Creator, as we look at Your world. We praise you!

But natural explanations are not final answers. Clouds float because God in His wisdom has ordered the natural laws in such a way that they reveal the “wonders of him who has perfect knowledge” (Job 37:16). Clouds then can be thought of as a symbol—an outward and visible sign of God’s goodness and grace in creation.

So someday when you’re taking some time to see what images you can imagine in the clouds, remember this: The One who made all things beautiful makes the clouds float through the air. He does so to call us to wonder and adoration. The heavens—even the cumulus, stratus, and cirrus clouds—declare the glory of God.
We are amazed at You, wonderful Creator, as we look at Your world. You deserve all the praise our hearts can give and so much more!

Creation is filled with signs that point to the Creator.

1 comment
NOTHING IS USELESS
Posted:Jun 12, 2017 4:04 am
Last Updated:Jun 12, 2017 4:05 am
212 Views
Read: 1 Corinthians 15:42–58

Bible in a Year: Ezra 3–5; John 20

Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58

In my third year battling discouragement and depression caused by limited mobility and chronic pain, I confided to a friend, “My body’s falling apart. I feel like I have nothing of value to offer God or anyone else.”

Her hand rested on mine. “Would you say it doesn’t make a difference when I greet you with a smile or listen to you? Would you tell me it’s worthless when I pray for you or offer a kind word?”

Do what you can with what you have and leave the results to God.

I settled into my recliner. “Of course not.”

She frowned. “Then why are you telling yourself those lies? You do all those things for me and for others.”

I thanked God for reminding me that nothing we do for Him is useless.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul assures us that our bodies may be weak now but they will be “raised in power” (v. 43). Because God promises we’ll be resurrected through Christ, we can trust Him to use every offering, every small effort done for Him, to make a difference in His kingdom (v. 58.

Even when we’re physically limited, a smile, a word of encouragement, a prayer, or a display of faith during our trial can be used to minister to the diverse and interdependent body of Christ. When we serve the Lord, no job or act of love is too menial to matter.
Jesus, thank You for valuing us and using us to build up others.

Do what you can with what you have and leave the results to God.


1 comment

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