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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.

Whatever the Cost
Posted:Sep 14, 2019 5:16 am
Last Updated:Sep 15, 2019 1:21 am
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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
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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
48 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
61 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
64 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
72 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.
1 comment
Walking Backward
Posted:Sep 7, 2019 7:45 am
Last Updated:Sep 7, 2019 10:12 am
85 Views
Bible in a Year :

Proverbs 1–2; 1 Corinthians
Rather, [Jesus] made himself nothing.

Philippians 2.7

Philippians 2:1–
I stumbled upon footage from a British newsreel crew who filmed six-year-old Flannery O’Connor on her family farm in 32. Flannery, who would go on to become an acclaimed US writer, caught the crew’s curiosity because she’d taught a chicken to walk backward. Apart from the novelty of the feat, I thought this glimpse of history was a perfect metaphor. Flannery, due to both her literary sensibilities and her spiritual convictions, spent her thirty-nine years definitely walking backward—thinking and writing in a counter-cultural way. Publishers and readers were entirely baffled how her biblical themes ran counter to the religious views they expected.

A life runs counter to the norm is inevitable for those who would truly imitate Jesus. Philippians tells us Jesus, though His “very nature” was God, didn’t move in the predictable ways we would expect (2:6). He didn’t use His power “to his own advantage,” but “rather, he made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant” (vv. 6–7). Christ, the Lord of creation, surrendered to death for the sake of love. He didn’t seize prestige but embraced humility. He didn’t grab power but relinquished control. Jesus, in essence, walked backward—counter to the power-driven ways of the world.

Scripture tells us to do the same (v. 5). Like Jesus, we serve rather than dominate. We move toward humility rather than prominence. We give rather than take. In Jesus’s power, we walk backward.

Reflect & Pray
How has Jesus demonstrated a way of walking backward in the world? Where is God calling you to live out Christ’s humble example?

The only way to healing and goodness, the only way to move forward, is to join Jesus in walking backward.
1 comment
I Will
Posted:Sep 6, 2019 4:55 am
Last Updated:Sep 15, 2019 1:21 am
90 Views
I Will
Bible in a Year :

Psalms 148–150; 1 Corinthians 15:29–58
Love your neighbor as yourself.

Leviticus 19.18

Leviticus 19.9–18
Shirley settled into her recliner after a long day. She looked out the window and noticed an older couple struggling to move a section of old fence left in a yard and labeled “free.” Shirley grabbed her husband, and they headed out the door to help. The four of them wrestled the fence onto a dolly and pushed it up the city street and around the corner to the couple’s home—laughing all the way at the spectacle they must be. As they returned to get a second section of fence, the woman asked Shirley, “You be my friend?” “Yes, I will,” she replied. Shirley later learned that her new Vietnamese friend knew little English and was lonely because her grown had moved hours away.

In Leviticus, God reminded the Israelites that they knew how it felt to be strangers (19:34) and how to treat others (vv. 9–18. God had set them apart to be His own nation, and in return they were to bless their “neighbors” by loving them as themselves. Jesus, the greatest blessing from God to the nations, later restated His Father’s words and extended them to us all: “Love the Lord your God . . . . Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39).

Through Christ’s Spirit living in us, we can love God and others because He loved us first (Galatians 5:22–23; 1 John 4:19). Can we say with Shirley,
“Yes, I will”?

Reflect & Pray
How have you been cared for by someone when you felt alone? Who can you reach out to this week to show the love of Jesus?

Loving God, thank You for the love You’ve shown me. Please, Holy Spirit, love others through me so that You might be glorified.
1 comment
The Last Word
Posted:Sep 5, 2019 3:41 am
Last Updated:Sep 5, 2019 9:15 am
107 Views
Bible in a Year :

Psalms 146–147; 1 Corinthians 15:1–28
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Corinthians 15:19

1 Corinthians 15:12–19
Her name was Saralyn, and I sort of had a crush on her back in our school days. She had the most wonderful laugh. I’m not sure whether she knew about my crush, but I suspect she did. After graduation I lost track of her. Our lives went in different directions as lives often do.

I keep up with my graduating class in some online forums, and I was intensely sad when I heard that Saralyn died. I found myself wondering about the direction her life had taken over the years. This is happening more and more the older I grow, this experience of losing friends and family. But many of us tend to avoid talking about it.

While we still sorrow, the hope the apostle Paul talks about is that death doesn’t have the final say (1 Corinthians 15:54–55). There is something that follows, another word: resurrection. Paul grounds that hope in the reality of the resurrection of Christ (v. 12), and says “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (v. 14). If our hope as believers is limited to this world only, that’s just a pity (v. 19).

We will one day see those again who have “fallen asleep in Christ” (v. 18—grandparents and parents, friends and neighbors, or perhaps even old schoolyard crushes.

Death doesn’t get the last word. Resurrection does.

Reflect & Pray
What does Christ’s resurrection mean to you? How might you express your faith and point someone to the hope of the resurrection?

Jesus, may the power of Your resurrection become more and more evident in my life. May it be clear in my words and actions, especially as I interact with those who do not know You.
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