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Daily Devotion

boldstardex

Moderator
Abby’s Prayer
Bible in a Year:

2 Chronicles 32–33; John 18:19–40


I urge . . . that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.



1 Timothy 2:1

Today's Scripture & Insight:
Ephesians 6:16-20
When Abby was a sophomore in high school, she and her mom heard a news story about a young man who’d been critically injured in a plane accident—an accident that took the lives of his father and stepmother. Although they didn’t know this person, Abby’s mom said, “We just need to pray for him and his family.” And they did.

Fast forward a few years, and one day Abby walked into a class at her university. A student offered her the seat next to him. That student was Austin Hatch, the plane crash victim Abby had prayed for. Soon they were dating, and in 2018 they were married.

“It’s crazy to think that I was praying for my future husband,” Abby said in an interview shortly before they were married. It can be easy to limit our prayers to our own personal needs and for those closest to us, without taking the time to pray for others. However, Paul, writing to the Christians at Ephesus, told them to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kind of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18). And 1 Timothy 2:1 tells us to pray “for all people,” including those in authority.

Let’s pray for others—even people we don’t know. It’s one of the ways we can “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).

By Dave Branon


Reflect & Pray
Who are the people—some you may not even know personally—who need your prayers today? How will you carve out some time to talk with God about their needs?

Jesus, open my heart to the needs of people around me—even those I don’t know. Take my heartfelt concern and intervene for them as only You can
 

boldstardex

Moderator
Destroying the Shroud
Bible in a Year:

Ezra 3–5; John 20


[God] will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples.



Isaiah 25:7

Today's Scripture & Insight:
Isaiah 25:1-9
A brutal car wreck devastated Mary Ann Franco. Though she survived, the injuries left her completely blind. “All I could see was blackness,” Franco explained. Twenty-one years later, she injured her back in a fall. After waking from surgery (which had nothing to do with her eyes), miraculously, her sight had returned! For the first time in more than two decades, Franco saw her daughter’s face. The neurosurgeon insisted there was no scientific explanation for her restored vision. The darkness that seemed so final gave way to beauty and light.

The Scriptures, as well as our experience, tell us that a shroud of ignorance and evil covers the world, blinding all of us to God’s love (Isaiah 25:7). Selfishness and greed, our self-sufficiency, our lust for power or image—all these compulsions obscure our vision, making us unable to clearly see the God who “in perfect faithfulness [has] done wonderful things” (v. 1).

One translation calls this blinding shroud a “cloud of gloom” (nlt). Left to ourselves, we experience only darkness, confusion, and despair. We often feel trapped—groping and stumbling, unable to see our way forward. Thankfully, Isaiah promises that God will ultimately “destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples” (v. 7).

God will not leave us hopeless. His radiant love removes whatever blinds us, surprising us with a beautiful vision of a good life and abundant grace.

By Winn Collier


Reflect & Pray
Where do you sense the darkness in your world? How do you imagine Jesus destroys that place?

God, the gloom is everywhere these days. It’s so difficult to see Your truth and love. Will You help me? I’m hopeless without You.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
"Without consultation, plans are frustrated. But, with many counselors they succeed." - Proverbs 15:22

GOOD LEADERS RECOGNIZE THEIR NEED FOR OTHERS
June 17, 2019

Back in the 1990’s, President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were often considered “soul mates.” As the first Baby Boomer leaders of their nations, they also had similar political philosophies. People marveled at how well these two charismatic leaders got along. But it’s also interesting to note that when George Bush succeeded President Clinton, Tony Blair reached out to him, as well. The two also seemed to get along splendidly and worked together quite well. Blair proved that he was not just a friend of the President, but really, a friend of the United States.

There was a similar relationship between Solomon and Hiram, the king of the Phoenicians. Solomon recognized that he needed others to help him fulfill his mission. He needed people with insight and resources he did not have. The Phoenicians were great ship builders and a great seafaring people. Hiram had been a friend of King David and when he heard that Solomon was the new king, he reached out to him and offered his assistance.

Solomon had enough humility as a leader to recognize that he not only needed people within his own nation, but people of other nations – people outside his place of responsibility.

Good leaders reach out to others, collecting wisdom and support from every source available. Remember, God’s Word tells us to seek wise counsel. It worked for Solomon and it will work for you.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
"I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places." - Ephesians 3:7-10

THE UNSTOPPABLE MISSION
June 22, 2019

I was sitting in a Rotary Club meeting. It was the late 1980s. The man that was giving the talk that day was from a new and very small division of BellSouth called BellSouth Mobility. And he held up a Seinfeld-sized cell phone and said, “Folks, it won’t be long before all of you have one of these.” Then he said something reallyoutrageous. “Not only that. It won’t be long before you’ll be using one of these more than your landlines, because we believe that we have an unstoppable mission to get one of these in every one of your hands.”

Many snickered that day and thought, “That will be a really long shot.” Yet, he was exactly right. Even though cell phones are not Seinfeld-sized, we would be hard pressed to find anyone reading this that doesn’t use a cell phone far more than a landline. It was really an unstoppable mission that has been fulfilled.

A little over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ gathered His remaining eleven specially chosen disciples. And He gave them an unstoppable mission of taking the good news of Jesus Christ to every people group on the face of the earth. Can’t you imagine how overwhelmed they were? (Getting the message to the whole world?) These eleven ordinary guys had never been out of Israel and He was giving them the charge to spread the good news of the Gospel to every people group on the face of the earth. Yet, Christ assured the disciples that His power would be their power and that He would be with the disciples every step of the way.

Jesus began an unstoppable mission that continues to this day as thousands of missionaries live all over the world, striving to fulfill Jesus’ commission. Yet, you don’t have to go to another country to be part of this effort to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. We have signs posted at the exits to our church parking lots that read, “You are now entering the mission field.” That means that our neighborhoods, our friends and families, co-workers, even people we might meet today are our mission field. The church’s unstoppable mission is to take the Good News to EVERYONE. It is the most important work on the face of the earth. So, followers of Jesus, it’s time to get started!
 

boldstardex

Moderator
As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses, 'Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us?.... It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!'” Exodus 14:10 – 11a,12b

WHAT TO KNOW WHEN STEPPING INTO THE UNKNOWN
July 5, 2019

Hind sight is 20/20. It’s always easier to look back at a situation with clarity – especially once we know the outcome. Like that time your company downsized and your job was suddenly gone. In the months following, you were consumed with fear and uncertainty. Only when looking back, could you see how the experience brought you closer to God, as you had no choice but to trust Him to provide. And He did – that unexpected job loss gave you the push you needed to pursue that career change in a new industry. But in the moment? Fear, panic, uncertainty… the future was anything but clear.

As Moses led the children of Israel from captivity in Egypt, they faced a similar situation. Would they trust God to lead them into the unknown or remain stuck in Egyptian captivity? Knowing the full story of how God miraculously provided and ultimately led them into the promised land, it’s hard to imagine anyone longing to remain in slavery. After all, they were abused, mistreated and had spent years crying out to God for help. But in the moment, all they could see was a powerful army behind them and the Red Sea before them. In their fear, the known pain and suffering at the hands of the Egyptians was more appealing than the unknown into which God was calling them to step.

Thankfully, Moses chose to trust God to provide a way. And the same God who demonstrated His power before Pharaoh in the form of ten plagues, split the sea so that the children of Israel could step into freedom. Knowing how the story ends, it’s difficult to imagine Moses succumbing to the fears of the people, but place yourself in Moses’ shoes. What courage it must have taken to move forward in faith!

We’ve all had moments in life when we’re confronted with a choice: step into the unknown or let fear keep you trapped. Where is God asking you to follow Him into the unknown? For the follower of Jesus, following God’s call into the unknown means trusting Him to fill the gap where your strength, abilities, and wisdom ends. Let God step in – because if God is asking you to move, He will make a way. You can be sure of that!


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boldstardex

Moderator
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

WALKING IN GRATITUDE WHEN LIFE HITS HARD
July 15, 2019

Can a person be truly thankful in times of suffering? Thank back on your past year. Very often there’s a mix of uplifting highs and frustrating lows. But perhaps your 2018 was more lows than highs: losing a loved one, a career or financial setback, a serious health crisis, or a relationship falling apart. Get hit by one or more of these challenges and walking in gratitude is probably not high on your list of priorities – but maybe it can be.

Gratitude is a God-given command for followers of Jesus (1 Thess. 5:18), but this doesn’t mean being thankful for a particular tragedy, suffering, or difficulty. It’s about shifting our focus from our current suffering and focusing on God. It’s about remembering WHO God is and WHAT He’s capable of, no matter how circumstances may appear. It’s remembering that when Jesus Christ went to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, He promised eternal life which means victory over suffering, sin, and even death itself – for those who put their trust in Him.

In other words, all our pains, disappointments, and sufferings are temporary – but our hope through Jesus is eternal.

Are you walking through a season of grief and suffering? Are you struggling to get back up after being hit by one difficulty after another? Take your eyes off the problem and look to God. Ask God for HIS strength and guidance to persevere. Because for the Jesus follower, even when everything that could go wrong does, the hope of Jesus never waivers. Hope and trust in Jesus is the key to being thankful!
 

boldstardex

Moderator
Precious
Bible in a Year :

Psalms 16–17; Acts 20:1–16


You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.



Psalm 16:2

Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 16:1–11
“My precious . . .” First portrayed in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, the image of the emaciated creature Gollum in his maniacal obsession with the “precious ring of power” has become an iconic one today—for greed, obsession, even insanity.

It’s also a troublingly relatable image. In his tormented love-hate relationship with both the ring and with himself, Gollum’s voice echoes the hunger in our own hearts. Whether it’s directed at one thing in particular, or just a vague longing for “more,” we’re sure that once we finally get our own “precious,” we’ll be satisfied. But instead, what we thought would make us whole leaves us feeling even emptier than before.

There’s a better way to live. As David expresses in Psalm 16, when the longings in our hearts threaten to send us on a desperate, futile quest for satisfaction (v. 4), we can remember to turn to God for refuge (v. 1), reminding ourselves that apart from Him we have nothing (v. 2).

And as our eyes stop looking for satisfaction “out there” to gaze instead on God’s beauty (v. 8), we find ourselves finally tasting true contentment—a life of basking in the “joy [of God’s] presence,” walking with Him each moment in “the way of life”—now and forever (v. 11 nlt).

By Monica Brands


Reflect & Pray
What’s the thing you often turn to for satisfaction when you lose sight of God? Who can be a source of support and love for you when you feel trapped in your addiction to “more”?

God, forgive me for thinking I can find what I need apart from You. Thank You for always being there even when I forget to look for You. Draw me to Your side to live in the joy of walking with You.
 

boldstardex

Moderator



Psalms 18–19; Acts 20:17–38


But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession.



2 Corinthians 2:14
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
2 Corinthians 2:14–17
In 2016 when the Chicago Cubs baseball team won the World Series for the first time in more than a century, some sources said that five million people lined the parade route and gathered at a downtown rally to celebrate the championship.

Victory parades are not a modern invention. A famous ancient parade was the Roman Triumph, in which victorious generals led a procession of their armies and captives through crowded streets.

Such parade imagery was likely in Paul’s mind when he wrote to the Corinthian church thanking God for leading believers “as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession” (2 Corinthians 2:14). I find it fascinating that in this imagery, followers of Christ are the captives. However, as believers we’re not forced to participate, but are willing “captives,” willingly part of the parade led by the victorious, resurrected Christ. As Christians, we celebrate that through Christ’s victory, He’s building His kingdom and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

When we talk about Jesus’s victory on the cross and the freedom it gives believers, we help spread the “aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14). And whether people find the aroma to be the pleasing reassurance of salvation or the odor of their defeat, this unseen but powerful fragrance is present everywhere we go.

As we follow Christ, we declare His resurrection victory, the victory that makes salvation available to the world.

By Lisa M. Samra


Reflect & Pray
What does Jesus’s victory on the cross mean to you? How are you living out the power of His resurrection?

Jesus is our victorious King.

For further study, see christianuniversity.org/NT109-06.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
PSALM 62:5





Psalms 20–22; Acts 21:1–17


Encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.



1 Thessalonians 5:14

Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Thessalonians 5:12–15
As I stopped my car at a red light, I saw the same man standing beside the road again. He held a cardboard sign: Need money for food. Anything helps. I looked away and sighed. Was I the kind of person who ignored the needy?

Some people pretend to have needs but are actually con artists. Others have legitimate needs but face difficulties overcoming destructive habits. Social workers tell us it’s better to give money to the aid ministries in our city. I swallowed hard and drove past. I felt bad, but I may have acted wisely.

God commands us to “warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). To do this well we must know who belongs in which category. If we warn a weak or disheartened person, we may break her spirit; if we help an idle person, we may encourage laziness. Consequently, we help best from up close, when we know the person well enough to know what he needs.

Has God burdened your heart to help someone? Great! Now the work begins. Don’t assume you know what that person needs. Ask her to share her story, and listen. Prayerfully give as seems wise and not merely to feel better. When we truly aim “to do what is good for each other,” we will more readily “be patient with everyone,” even when they stumble (vv. 14–15).

By Mike Wittmer


Reflect & Pray
When have others most helped you? What did you learn about how best to help others?

Father, help me to help wisely, and often.
 
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