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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.

Bring Your Boats
Posted:Oct 19, 2018 5:09 am
Last Updated:Oct 19, 2018 10:44 am
6 Views
Read: Proverbs 3:21–31

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 56–58; 2 Thessalonians 2

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27

Hurricane Harvey brought catastrophic flooding to eastern Texas in 2017. The onslaught of rain stranded thousands of people in their homes, unable to escape the floodwaters. In what was dubbed the “Texas Navy,” many private citizens brought boats from other parts of the state and nation to help evacuate stranded people.

The actions of these valiant, generous men and women call to mind the encouragement of Proverbs 3:27, which instructs us to help others whenever we are able. They had the power to act on behalf of those in need by bringing their boats. And so they did. Their actions demonstrate a willingness to use whatever resources they had at their disposal for the benefit of others.

We may not always feel adequate for the task at hand; often we become paralyzed by thinking we don’t have the skills, experience, resources, or time to help others. In such instances, we’re quick to sideline ourselves, discounting what we do have that might be of assistance to someone else. The Texas Navy couldn’t stop the floodwaters from rising, nor could they legislate government aid. But they used what they had within their power—their boats—to come alongside the deep needs of their fellow man. May we all bring our “boats”—whatever they may be—to take the people in our paths to higher ground.

Lord, all that I have is from You. Help me to always use what You’ve given me to help others.

God provides for His people through His people.
1 comment
A Piercing Thorn
Posted:Oct 18, 2018 3:47 am
Last Updated:Oct 19, 2018 10:44 am
15 Views
Read: Isaiah 53:1–6

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 53–55; 2 Thessalonians 1

But he was pierced for our transgressions . . . and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

The thorn pricked my index finger, drawing blood. I hollered and then groaned, drawing back my hand instinctively. But I shouldn’t have been surprised: trying to prune a thorny bush without gardening gloves was a recipe for exactly what just happened.

The pain throbbing in my finger—and the blood flowing from it—demanded attention. And as I searched for a bandage, I found myself unexpectedly thinking about my Savior. After all, soldiers forced Jesus to don an entire crown of thorns (John 19:1–3). If one thorn hurt this much, I thought, how much agony would an entire crown of them inflict? And that’s just a small portion of the physical pain He suffered. A whip flogged His back. Nails penetrated His wrists and ankles.

But Jesus endured spiritual pain too. Verse 5 of Isaiah 53 tells us, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him.” The “peace” Isaiah talks about here is another way of talking about forgiveness. Jesus allowed Himself to be pierced—by nails, by a crown of thorns—to bring us spiritual peace with God. His sacrifice, His willingness to die on our behalf, paved the way to make a relationship with the Father possible. And He did it, Scripture tells us, for me, for you.

Father, I can’t imagine the pain Your Son endured to wash away my sin. Thank You for sending Him for me, to be pierced for my sins that I might have a relationship with You.

Jesus allowed Himself to be pierced to bring us spiritual peace with God.
1 comment
The Prayer and the Chain Saw
Posted:Oct 17, 2018 5:47 am
Last Updated:Oct 18, 2018 3:49 am
34 Views
Read: Nehemiah 1

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 50–52; 1 Thessalonians 5

Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant. Nehemiah 1:11

I respect my Aunt Gladys’s intrepid spirit, even if that very spirit concerns me sometimes. The source of my concern came in the form of news she shared in an email: “I cut down a walnut tree yesterday.”

You must understand that my chainsaw-wielding aunt is seventy-six years old! The tree had grown up behind her garage. When the roots threatened to burst through the concrete, she knew it had to go. But she did tell us, “I always pray before I tackle a job like that.”

While serving as butler to the king of Persia during the time of Israel’s exile, Nehemiah heard news concerning the people who had returned to Jerusalem. Some work needed to be done. “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:3). The broken walls left them vulnerable to attack by enemies. Nehemiah had compassion for his people and wanted to get involved. But prayer came first, especially since a new king had written a letter to stop the building efforts in Jerusalem (see Ezra 4). Nehemiah prayed for his people (Nehemiah 1:5–10), and then asked God for help before requesting permission from the king to leave (v. 11).

Is prayer your response? It’s always the best way to face any task or trial in life.

Father, Your Holy Spirit reminds us to pray first. Today, we commit to doing so as Your Spirit prompts us.

Make prayer a first priority, instead of a last resort.
3 Comments
Terrible and Beautiful Things
Posted:Oct 16, 2018 5:11 am
Last Updated:Oct 19, 2018 10:44 am
51 Views
Read: Psalm 57

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 47–49; 1 Thessalonians 4

Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. Psalm 57:8

Fear can leave us frozen. We know all the reasons to be afraid—everything that’s hurt us in the past, everything that could easily do so again. So sometimes we’re stuck—unable to go back; too afraid to move forward. I just can’t do it. I’m not smart enough, strong enough, or brave enough to handle being hurt like that again.

I’m captivated by how author Frederick Buechner describes God’s grace: like a gentle voice that says, “Here is the world. Terrible and beautiful things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you.”

Terrible things will happen. In our world, hurting people hurt other people, often terribly. Like the psalmist David, we carry our own stories of when evil surrounded us, when, like “ravenous beasts,” others wounded us (Psalm 57:4). And so we grieve; we cry out (vv. 1–2).

But because God is with us, beautiful things can happen too. As we run to Him with our hurts and fears, we find ourselves carried by a love far greater than anyone’s power to harm us (vv. 1–3), a love so deep it fills the skies (v. 10). Even when disaster rages around us, His love is a solid refuge where our hearts find healing (vv. 1, 7). Until one day we’ll find ourselves awakening to renewed courage, ready to greet the day with a song of His faithfulness (vv. 8–10).

Healer and Redeemer, thank You for holding us and healing us with Your endless love. Help us find in Your love the courage to follow You and share Your love with those around us.

God’s love and beauty make us brave.
4 Comments
Trust Him First
Posted:Oct 15, 2018 5:19 am
Last Updated:Oct 19, 2018 10:44 am
46 Views
Read: Isaiah 46:3–13

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 45–46; 1 Thessalonians 3

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Psalm 68:19 nlt

“Don’t let go, Dad!”

“I won’t. I’ve got you. I promise.”

I was a little boy terrified of the water, but my dad wanted me to learn to swim. He would purposefully take me away from the side of the pool into a depth that was over my head, where he was my only support. Then he would teach me to relax and float.

It wasn’t just a swimming lesson; it was a lesson in trust. I knew my father loved me and would never let me be harmed intentionally, but I was also afraid. I would cling tightly to his neck until he reassured me all would be well. Eventually his patience and kindness won out, and I began to swim. But I had to trust him first.

When I feel “over my head” in a difficulty, I sometimes think back on those moments. They help me call to mind the Lord’s reassurance to His people: “Even to your old age . . . I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:4).

We may not always be able to feel God’s arms beneath us, but the Lord has promised that He will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5). As we rest in His care and promises, He helps us learn to trust in His faithfulness. He lifts us above our worries to discover new peace in Him.

Abba, Father, I praise You for carrying me through life. Please give me faith to trust that You are always with me.

God carries us to new places of grace as we trust in Him.
1 comment
Ask the Animals
Posted:Oct 14, 2018 3:56 am
Last Updated:Oct 14, 2018 3:57 am
54 Views
Read: Job 12.7–10

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 43–44; 1 Thessalonians 2

Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you. Job 12.7

Our grandkids, enraptured, got a close-up look at a rescued bald eagle. They were even allowed to touch him. As the zoo volunteer told about the powerful bird perched on her arm, I was surprised to learn this male had a wingspan of about six and one-half feet, yet because of its hollow bones it weighed only about eight pounds.

This reminded me of the majestic eagle I had seen soaring above a lake, ready to swoop down and snatch its prey in its talons. And I pictured in my mind another big bird—the spindly legged blue heron I had spied standing motionless on the edge of a pond. It was poised to dart its long beak into the water. They’re just two among the nearly 10,000 species of birds that can direct our thoughts to our Creator.

In the book of Job, Job’s friends are debating the reasons for his suffering and ask, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God?” (see 11:5–9). In response Job declares, “Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you” (Job 12.7). animals testify to the truth that God designed, cares for, and controls His creation: “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (v. 10).

Since God cares for birds (Matthew 6:26; 10:29), we can be assured He loves and cares for you and me, even when we don’t understand our circumstances. Look around and learn of Him.

God’s world teaches us about Him.
2 Comments
He Carried Our Burden
Posted:Oct 13, 2018 5:37 am
Last Updated:Oct 13, 2018 5:39 am
57 Views
Read: 1 Peter 1:18–25

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 41–42; 1 Thessalonians 1

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

It’s not unusual for utility bills to be surprisingly high. But Kieran Healy of North Carolina received a water bill that would make your heart stop. The notification said that he owed 100 million dollars! Confident he hadn’t used that much water the previous month, Healy jokingly asked if he could pay the bill in installments.

Owing a 100-million-dollar debt would be an overwhelming burden, but that pales in comparison to the real—and immeasurable—burden sin causes us to carry. Attempting to carry the burden and consequences of our own sins ultimately leaves us feeling tired and riddled with guilt and shame. The truth is we are incapable of carrying this load.

And we were never meant to. As Peter reminded believers, only Jesus, the sinless Son of God, could carry the heavy burden of our sin and its weighty consequences (1 Peter 2:24). In His death on the cross, Jesus took all our wrongdoing on Himself and offered us His forgiveness. Because He carried our burden, we don’t have to suffer the punishment we deserve.

Instead of living in fear or guilt, the “empty way of life handed down to” us (1:18, we can enjoy a new life of love and freedom (vv. 22–23).

Lord, sometimes our guilt and shame can feel so heavy. Help us to release our past and its pain to You and experience Your peace, knowing You have carried it all and have set us free.

Jesus carried the burden of our sin so He could give us the blessing of life.
1 comment
Safe in His Arms
Posted:Oct 12, 2018 5:08 am
Last Updated:Oct 13, 2018 5:39 am
67 Views
Read: Isaiah 40:9–11

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 39–40; Colossians 4

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. Isaiah 40:11

The weather outside was threatening, and the alert on my cell phone warned about the possibility of flash floods. An unusual number of cars were parked in my neighborhood as parents and others gathered to pick up children at the school bus drop-off point. By the time the bus arrived, it had started to rain. That’s when I observed a woman exit her car and retrieve an umbrella from the trunk. She walked towards a little girl and made sure the child was shielded from the rain until they returned to the vehicle. What a beautiful “real time” picture of parental, protective care that reminded me of the care of our heavenly Father.

The prophet Isaiah forecast punishment for disobedience followed by brighter days for God’s people (Isaiah 40:1–8. The heavenly dispatch from the mountain (v. 9) assured the Israelites of God’s mighty presence and tender care. The good news, then and now, is that because of God’s power and ruling authority, anxious hearts need not fear (vv. 9–10). Included in the announcement was news about the Lord’s protection, the kind of protection shepherds provide (v. 11): vulnerable young sheep would find safety in the Shepherd’s arms; nursing ewes would be led gently.

In a world where circumstances aren’t always easy, such images of safety and care compel us to look confidently to the Lord. Those who trust wholeheartedly in the Lord find security and renewed strength in Him (v. 31).

Father, in a world where we are sometimes threatened, we are comforted because of Your gracious care for us—in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The good news is that God cares for us!
1 comment
Stories of Jesus
Posted:Oct 11, 2018 4:24 am
Last Updated:Oct 19, 2018 10:44 am
67 Views
Read: 1 John 1:1–4; John 21:24–25

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 37–38; Colossians 3

Jesus did many other things as well. John 21:25

As a girl I loved to visit my small local library. One day, looking at the bookshelves holding the young adult section, I reasoned I could probably read every book. In my enthusiasm I forgot one important fact—new books were regularly added to the shelves. Although I gave it a valiant effort, there were simply too many books.

New books continue to fill more and more bookshelves. The apostle John likely would be amazed with the availability of books today since his five New Testament books, the gospel of John; 1, 2, and 3 John; and Revelation, were handwritten on parchment scrolls.

John wrote those books because he felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to give Christians an eyewitness account of Jesus’s life and ministry (1 John 1:1–4).
But John’s writings contained only a small fraction of all that Jesus did and taught during His ministry. In fact, John said if everything Jesus did were written down “the whole world could not contain the books that would be written”
(John 21:25 ).

John’s claim remains true today. Despite all the books that have been written about Jesus, the libraries of the world still cannot contain every story of His love and grace. We can also celebrate that we have our own personal stories to share and rejoice that we will be proclaiming them forever! (Psalm 89:1).

To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry. Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky. F.M. Lehman

Let your life tell the story of Christ’s love and grace.
1 comment
Singing to the Firing Squad
Posted:Oct 10, 2018 6:11 am
Last Updated:Oct 11, 2018 4:25 am
77 Views
Read: Mark 14:16–26

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 34–36; Colossians 2

I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” Psalm 116:10

Two men convicted of drug trafficking had been on death row for a decade. While in prison, they learned of God’s love for them in Jesus, and their lives were transformed. When it came time for them to face the firing squad, they faced their executioners reciting the Lord’s Prayer and singing “Amazing Grace.” Because of their faith in God, through the power of the Spirit they were able to face death with incredible courage.

They followed the example of faith set by their Savior, Jesus. When Jesus knew that His death was imminent, He spent part of the evening singing with friends. It’s remarkable that He could sing under such circumstances, but what’s even more remarkable is what He sang. On that night, Jesus and His friends had a Passover meal, which always ends with a series of Psalms known as the Hallel, Psalms 113–118. Facing death, that night Jesus sang about the “cords of death” entangling Him (Psalm 116:3). Yet He praised God’s faithful love (117:2) and thanked Him for salvation (118:14). Surely these Psalms comforted Jesus on the night before His crucifixion.

Jesus’s trust in God was so great that even as He approached His own death—a death He had done nothing to deserve!—He chose to sing of God’s love. Because of Jesus, we too can have confidence that whatever we face, God is with us.

God, strengthen our faith in You so that when we face trials, or even approach death, we can sing with confidence about Your love.

How sweet is the sound of God’s amazing grace!
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