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Daily Devotion

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November 19
Valiant Actions
Bible in a Year:

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 10:14–15
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
John 10:7–18
John Harper had no idea what was about to unfold as he and his six-year-old daughter embarked on the Titanic. But one thing he knew: he loved Jesus and he was passionate that others know Him too. As soon as the ship hit an iceberg and water started pouring in, Harper, a widower, put his little girl on a lifeboat and headed into the chaos to save as many people as possible. As he distributed life jackets he reportedly shouted, “Let the women, children, and the unsaved into the lifeboats.” Until his last breath, Harper shared about Jesus with anyone who was around him. John willingly gave his life away so others could live.
There was One who laid down His life freely two thousand years ago so you and I can live not only in this life but for all eternity. Jesus didn’t just wake up one day and decide He would pay the penalty of death for humanity’s sin. This was His life’s mission. At one point when He was talking with the Jewish religious leaders He repeatedly acknowledged, “I lay down my life” (John 10:11, 15, 17, 18). He didn’t just say these words but lived them by actually dying a horrific death on the cross. He came so that the Pharisees, John Harper, and we “may have life, and have it to the full” (v. 10).
By: Estera Pirosca Escobar
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Reflect & Pray
How do you reveal that you truly love those around you? How can you show Jesus’ love to someone through your actions today?
Jesus, there aren’t words grand enough to thank You for demonstrating the greatest act of love there is. Thank You for giving Your life away so I might live. Help me to show Your love to others no matter how much it costs me.
 

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November 20
Turning from Conflict
Bible in a Year:

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

Ephesians 4:26
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Ephesians 4:26–32
In his graveside tribute to a famous Dutch scientist, Albert Einstein didn’t mention their scientific disputes. Instead, he recalled the “never-failing kindness” of Hendrik A. Lorentz, a beloved physicist known for his easy manner and fair treatment of others. “Everyone followed him gladly,” Einstein said, “for they felt he never set out to dominate but always simply to be of use.”
Lorentz inspired scientists to put aside political prejudice and work together, especially after World War I. “Even before the war was over,” Einstein said of his fellow Nobel Prize winner, “[Lorentz] devoted himself to the work of reconciliation.”
Working for reconciliation should be the goal of everyone in the church as well. True, some conflict is inevitable. Yet we must do our part to work for peaceful resolutions. Paul wrote, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26). To grow together, the apostle advised, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (v. 29).
Finally, said Paul, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (vv. 31–32). Turning from conflict whenever we are able helps build God’s church. In this, indeed, we honor Him.
By: Patricia Raybon
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Reflect & Pray
How can God help us deal with conflict? To honor Him and your church, what conflict should you let go?
Loving God, when I face conflict, remind my heart to turn my anger over to You.
 

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November 23
Space for Me
Bible in a Year:

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.

Mark 3:13
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Mark 3:13–19
He was an aging military veteran, rough-edged and given to even rougher language. One day a friend cared enough about him to inquire about his spiritual beliefs. The man’s dismissive response came quickly: “God doesn’t have space for someone like me.”
Perhaps that was just part of his “tough-guy” act, but his words couldn’t be further from the truth! God creates space especially for the rough, the guilt-ridden, and the excluded to belong and thrive in His community. This was obvious from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when He made some surprising choices for His disciples. First, He chose several fishermen from Galilee—the “wrong side of the tracks” from the perspective of those in Jerusalem. He also selected a tax collector, Matthew, whose profession included extorting from his oppressed countrymen. Then, for good measure, Jesus invited the “other” Simon—“the Zealot” (Mark 3:18).
We don’t know much about this Simon (he isn’t Simon Peter), but we do know about the Zealots. They hated traitors like Matthew, who got rich by collaborating with the despised Romans. Yet with divine irony, Jesus chose Simon along with Matthew, brought them together, and blended them into His team.
Don’t write anyone off as too “bad” for Jesus. After all, He said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). He has plenty of space for the tough cases—people like you and me.
By: Tim Gustafson
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Reflect & Pray
Who do you know that you think is unlikely to give their life to Jesus? How might you invite them to consider who Christ is and the space He has for them?
Dear Father, thank You that salvation is available to anyone who puts their faith in Jesus.


https://bit.ly/2wvRlQn
 

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November 24
Taught by Turkeys
Bible in a Year:

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Matthew 6:26
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Matthew 6:25–34
Do you know what a group of turkeys is called? It’s called a rafter. Why am I writing about turkeys? Because I’ve just returned from a weekend at a mountain cabin. Each day, I marveled at the train of turkeys parading past our porch.
I’d never turkey-watched before. They scratched fiercely with spectacular talons. Then they hunted and pecked at the ground. Eating, I assume. (Since this was my first turkey-observation time, I wasn’t 100 percent positive.) The scrawny scrubs in the area didn’t look like they could sustain anything. Yet here were these turkeys, a dozen of them, all of which looked delectably plump.
Watching those well-fed turkeys brought to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Jesus uses God’s provision for seemingly worthless birds to remind us of His care for us. If a bird’s life matters, how much more does ours? Jesus then contrasts fretting about our daily needs (vv. 27–31) with a life in which we “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (v. 33), one in which we’re confident of His rich provision for our needs. Because if God can care for that rafter of wild turkeys, He can certainly look after you and me.
By: Adam R. Holz






Reflect & Pray
Where have you seen God provide for something that you were worrying about? How might remembering and reflecting on His provision in the past help you not to be anxious in the future?
Father, sometimes I get scared. I worry. I struggle to trust. Thank You for Your care for me. Help me to remember Your provision in the past so I’m better able to trust You with future fears.
 

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“A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”’ – John 6: 18-20
WHEN LIFE HITS HARD
November 24, 2020
It’s the middle of the night, but you’re wide awake. The thunder is too loud. You walk over to the window. Lightning flashes and through the rain, you see a shadowy figure. Another flash and sure enough, there’s a man outside – this time just feet from the window. This sounds like a scene from a Hollywood horror film, but the disciples experienced this first-hand.
On a small boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, they were battling an incredible storm. No lights, no land nearby, when suddenly a man appeared a few yards from the boat. They were terrified! They thought He was a ghost. Then they recognized Jesus. As He boarded the boat, He spoke to the storm, and it stopped. They were stunned. This was no ordinary man.
We all face storms in life – from actual thunderstorms and natural disasters to countless personal trials and crises. It could be an extended illness in your life. Maybe the loss of a job and possibly the house. It could be a family falling apart. So many storms. How do we face them?
  1. We’re Not Alone. Even when we find ourselves battling the storms of life, don’t forget that Jesus is right there with us. You may not always feel the presence of God, but you can trust that He is going to walk with us through every storm.
  2. Jesus is All-Powerful. We are too quick to forget God when crises strike. We forget the miracles God has done in our past. Yet, Jesus always knows exactly what we’re experiencing. He’s bigger than even life’s biggest storms.
  3. All Storms End. Even when visibility is lost and we can’t see what’s next, we can trust that Jesus knows where we’re headed. You see, Jesus promises not only to walk with us through life’s storms but to get us where we need to go.
Life is hard. Difficulties are unavoidable. But as we walk with God, He promises to get us through even the darkest storms. What storms are you facing right now? Are you trying, like the disciples, to battle in your own strength? Maybe you feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Say to the Lord, “I’m done. Take control.” Allow Jesus to climb into the boat of your life and watch His presence begin to calm both the storm and your soul.
 

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November 27
Facing the Battle
Bible in a Year:

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

1 Chronicles 16:11
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Chronicles 16:1–11
Not long ago I met up with a group of friends. As I listened to the conversation, it seemed like everyone in the room was facing some significant battle. Two of us had parents fighting cancer, one had a child with an eating disorder, another friend was experiencing chronic pain, and another was facing major surgery. It seemed a lot for a bunch of people in their thirties and forties.
First Chronicles 16 recounts a key moment in Israel’s history when the ark of the covenant was brought into the City of David (Jerusalem). Samuel tells us it happened in a moment of peace between battles (2 Samuel 7:1). When the ark was in place, symbolizing God’s presence, David led the people in a song of praise (1 Chronicles 16:8–36). Together the nation sang of God’s wonder-working power, His promise-keeping ways, and His past protection (vv. 12–22). “Look to the Lord and his strength,” they cried out; “seek his face always” (v. 11). They’d need to, because more battles were coming.
Look to the Lord and His strength. Seek His face. That’s not bad advice to follow when illness, family concerns, and other battles confront us, because we haven’t been left to fight in our own waning energies. God is present; God is strong; He’s looked after us in the past and will do so again.
Our God will get us through.
By: Sheridan Voysey
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Reflect & Pray
What battle do you need God’s power to face right now? How can you hand your struggle to Him?
Wonder-working God, I hand over this battle to You. I trust in Your strength and Your promises.
 

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“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21
WHAT MAKES A WONDERFUL LIFE?
November 30, 2020
I’ve had the privilege of being with many people as they neared death. In all those instances, not once did I hear someone look back on their life and say, “You know, Bryant, I really wish I had made more money. If only I’d worked harder, I could’ve made a whole lot more money.” I’ve also never heard, “I wish I had accomplished more.” What people on their deathbed do say, often has something to do with relationship regret. “I wish I had done more for someone;” or “I wish I had spent more time with them.” “I wish I had focused more on the relationships that matter.”
Can you relate? For some, you’re remembering a loved one, gone too soon. If only you’d taken advantage of the time you had together. For others, you’re well aware of how important certain people are in your life. You’re thinking, “I know this. There’s nothing new here.” Well, hold on a second. While most everyone seems to understand this lesson intellectually, actually living it out proves to be much more difficult. We might “know” this in our heads, but are we living this out in our hearts?
The fact is, when people ask me to identify the ultimate meaning of life, I always respond the same way: relationships. Ultimate meaning is found in the relationships we have with those closest to us. Your most important relationship is, of course, with God, but your last moments on this earth will be so very empty if they are spent agonizing over failed relationships with family, friends, or those you may have wronged. So, who do you need to reach out to? Who do you need to prioritize? Don’t waste another moment. Act now to ensure that your last moments on earth aren’t full of relationship regret, but praising God for the life you’ve lived in anticipation of the glory of heaven that awaits.
 

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“So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: ‘Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed…’ When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at Him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, He said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’” – Luke 7:6-7,9
FAITH THAT PLEASES GOD
December 1, 2020
What kind of faith pleases God? What constitutes a belief in God that receives His approval? These words of Jesus from Luke 7 rest in the middle of a story about a Roman centurion asking Jesus to heal his servant. A centurion going to this much trouble for a servant demonstrates a great love for this man. One can imagine the feelings of grief and anxiety as someone he cares about is on the brink of death. But in seeking and finding Jesus, the centurion probably also possessed some hope. The passage doesn’t indicate whether or not the centurion came to a saving faith in Christ, but it definitely shows us a faith that Jesus highly regarded. It was a faith that believed Jesus possessed the power to heal his servant with a simple word.
On the other hand, contrast that kind of faith with a faith of which Jesus is critical. Throughout the Gospels, many Jews constantly asked Jesus to perform signs and wonders. Only after He had “performed” for them would they believe that He was the Christ. But, here we see a Gentile, not even ethnically a member of the Jewish people, who says to Jesus, “You don’t have to come to my house; you don’t have to physically touch my servant. You don’t have to perform any sign or wonder to get me to believe you can heal my servant. All you need to do is say the word, and I know he will be healed.”
That is biblical, commendable faith. The Bible is full of countless stories depicting the same kind of faith. Abram believed God, and it was his faith that received God’s favor (Genesis 15:6). The thief on the cross believed Jesus alone had the power to forgive him, and he was promised eternal life (Luke 23). The people of Israel marched around the fortified city of Jericho doing nothing but blowing trumpets – no swords, spears, or javelins – because the Lord told them to, and the walls come down (Joshua 6).
What kind of faith do you possess? Do you try to barter with God, “Lord, if you will only do this, then I will believe?” Or do you simply believe and wait for Him to act? Seek to possess faith like this centurion. Ask the Lord to give you a faith rooted in His character and Word rather than in what He can give you. This is the type of faith that pleases God.
 

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December 3
The Privilege of Prayer
Bible in a Year:

Give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees.

1 Chronicles 29:19
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Chronicles 29:11–19
Country artist Chris Stapleton’s deeply personal song, “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore,” was inspired by his own father’s prayers for him. The poignant lyrics reveal the reason his father’s prayers ended: not disillusionment or weariness, but his own death. Stapleton imagines that now, instead of speaking with Jesus in prayer, his dad is walking and talking face-to-face with Jesus.
Stapleton’s recollection of his father’s prayers for him brings to mind a biblical father’s prayer for his son. As King David’s life ebbed away, he made preparations for his son Solomon to take over as the next king of Israel.
After assembling the nation together to anoint Solomon, David led the people in prayer, as he’d done many times before. As David recounted God’s faithfulness to Israel, he prayed for the people to remain loyal to Him. Then he included a personal prayer specifically for his son, asking God to “give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees” (1 Chronicles 29:19).
We too have the remarkable privilege to faithfully pray for the people God has placed in our lives. Our example of faithfulness can make an indelible impact that will remain even after we’re gone. Just as God continued to work out the answers to David’s prayers for Solomon and Israel after he was gone, so too the impact of our prayers outlives us.
By: Lisa M. Samra
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Reflect & Pray
How have someone’s prayers made a significant impact on your life? How might you encourage others with your prayers?
Heavenly Father, I bring my loved ones before You and ask that You would work out Your plans in their lives.
Read Talking with My Father: Jesus Teaches on Prayer at DiscoverySeries.org/HP171.
 

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“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3
I DO BELIEVE – HELP MY UNBELIEF
December 3, 2020
Luke chapter 9 details a story of Jesus healing a little boy who was being tormented by a demon. The disciples had tried and failed to heal him, so you can probably imagine the desperation of the boy’s father. What follows is a powerful exchange between the father and Jesus: “All things are possible to him who believes,” Jesus says to this father. “I DO believe. Help my unbelief,” the father responds (Mark 9: 23-24, emphasis added).
I love this passage. I love the raw, vulnerability seen in the father’s expression of faith. So what’s happening here? Jesus is telling us that to be a follower of God is to recognize that ALL THINGS are possible for those who believe, for those who have faith. Does that mean that God answers every single prayer in the exact way that we imagined? No. Because He’s a loving Father, He’s not always going to give us exactly what we want. Does that mean that a person will be healed if we have enough faith? No, because that’s not how God works in His ultimate sovereign plan. And yet, Jesus says that ALL THINGS are possible for those who believe.
The father in this story showed up because he believed in the power of Jesus, and yet he wasn’t completely sure that anything would happen. The problem was so big. It was so overwhelming and his honesty at that moment with Jesus was so real. As Jesus said, God is always powerful, and yet it’s prayer, it’s faith that activates God’s mighty power.
So does God still heal and perform miracles? Does He answer prayers? Absolutely! And while our faith might waver between confidence and uncertainty, we can confidently go before God and pour out our hopes, fears, and disappointments. And when we face seasons of doubt, continue to show up and ask God to help our unbelief.
 

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December 7
Guilt Removed

See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away.

Isaiah 6:7
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Isaiah 6:1-7
For many years, Deepika carried a heavy burden of guilt over the way she had treated her younger sister when they were young. Although she had apologised to her sister who had forgiven her, she still felt guilty.
Isaiah 6:1-5 records how Isaiah saw a vision of God and was overcome by guilt over his sinfulness. But as the coal from the altar touched his lips, he heard the comforting words: “Your guilt is taken away” (v.7). The coals in the temple altar were often covered by the blood of recently-slaughtered lambs that foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus. When the Lamb of God died on the cross, our sin and guilt were transferred to Him (1 Peter 2:24).
We are guilty when we commit a crime or sin, for which we deserve condemnation. With this also comes the feeling of guilt. Even the most devout Christians struggle with this feeling when they do something wrong. Guilt can be healthy when it convicts us and leads us to repentance. But dwelling in guilt after we have been forgiven can take away our freedom. The beautiful truth of the gospel is that Christ removes our condemnation, so we can be totally free from the burden of guilt. Let’s rejoice that because of Jesus, we no longer need to feel guilty nor dwell in shame. We are forgiven!
By: Asiri Fernando
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Reflect & Pray
What are you feeling guilty about? If you’ve confessed and repented of your sin, how can you remind yourself that God has forgiven you through Jesus?
Jesus, give me the faith to believe that Your sacrifice on the cross has removed my sin, so I no longer need to feel guilty. Thank You for Your gift of forgiveness.
 

boldstardex

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“One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘What commandment is the foremost of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The foremost is, HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH. The second is this, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. There is no other commandment greater than these.'” – Mark 12:28-31
LIVING OUT “LOVE” THIS CHRISTMAS
December 8, 2020
Loving God means faith in action. If that’s the case, how do we live that out day-to-day? The answer is obedience.
Faith in action means obeying the commandments of God. That pretty much covers the first part of the scripture referenced above – to love God with everything we have. But today, we’re going to focus on the second commandment in the verse: “love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Yeah, right,” you might be thinking. “You’ve obviously never met MY neighbor.”
Well, first of all, let’s look at what the word “love” in this context actually means. It has nothing to do with feelings. It has nothing to do with emotions. This meaning of “love” doesn’t even have anything to do with liking another person. It’s a decision of the will.
But how can we love somebody we don’t even like? Trust me, it is possible; here’s how:

  • Treat them fairly.
  • Show them respect.
  • Be honest with them.
  • Keep your word.
  • Show them that in spite of your differences or their irritations, you still care about them as a person.
That’s what it means to love. It’s choosing to love people, even when you don’t always like them. It’s about showing the same love and grace that God showed each one of us when He sent His Son to save us from our sins. It was out of love that Christ was born – so that He could die on the cross for you and for me.
But that’s not all. How many of us really know our neighbors? I mean more than just the casual, “Hey!” when we’re getting into our cars on the way to work or grilling out in the yard. Loving your neighbor as yourself also means loving them enough to share this Good News of Jesus Christ with them. And what better time than Christmas to share the true reason for the season with your neighbor? Ask God for an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with one of your neighbors this year. You might just be surprised by the response.
Now, that is faith in action. That is living out LOVE this Christmas!
 
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“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. – Luke 1:38
DO YOU HAVE FAITH AS BOLD AS MARY?
December 9, 2020
Picture the scene: An angel had just informed Mary that she, a virgin, would soon be pregnant. But this would be no ordinary baby – she would be carrying the Son of God. This certainly isn’t the sort of news a woman hears every day. Especially in first-century Israel, Mary knew this meant facing the wrath and scorn of all her friends, family, and society in general. Don’t forget her fiancé; what would he think?
Facing the prospect of such harsh judgment and disapproval, Mary could have responded a number of ways. She could have run away. She could have had an abortion. And like many pregnant, unmarried women at that time, Mary could have taken her own life. But Mary chose a different path.
Folks, if ever you want to see a clear profession of faith, pay attention to her response: “I am willing to be a voluntary slave of the Lord. I am willing to be a servant of God. May what the word of God has said, may it come true!” What a brave woman! What incredible faith! Mary was truly the greatest woman to ever live.
This Christmas, take some time to reflect on the significance of Mary’s bold act of obedience and this Child who would become the Savior of the World. Do you believe it? Will you choose to follow the example of Mary and take that step of faith to believe what God’s Word says about her Son? I promise you’ll never truly experience Christmas until you do.
 

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December 11
Morning Mist
Bible in a Year:

I have swept away your offenses . . . like the morning mist.

Isaiah 44:22
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Isaiah 44:9–11, 21–23
One morning I visited a pond near my house. I sat on an overturned boat, thinking and watching a gentle west wind chase a layer of mist across the water’s surface. Wisps of fog circled and swirled. Mini “tornadoes” rose up and then exhausted themselves. Before long, the sunlight cut through the clouds and the mist disappeared.
This scene comforted me because I connected it with a verse I’d just read: “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist” (Isaiah 44:22). I visited the place hoping to distract myself from a series of sinful thoughts I’d been preoccupied with for days. Although I was confessing them, I began to wonder if God would forgive me when I repeated the same sin.
That morning, I knew the answer was yes. Through His prophet Isaiah, God showed grace to the Israelites when they struggled with the ongoing problem of idol worship. Although He told them to stop chasing false gods, God also invited them back to Himself, saying, “I have made you, you are my servant; . . . I will not forget you” (v. 21).
I don’t fully grasp forgiveness like that, but I do understand that God’s grace is the only thing that can dissolve our sin completely and heal us from it. I’m thankful His grace is endless and divine like He is, and that it’s available whenever we need it.
By: Jennifer Benson Schuldt
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Reflect & Pray
How is it possible to abuse God’s grace? What steps can you take to break free of sinful habits and experience His forgiveness?
Dear God, thank You for Your gracious presence in my life. I don’t want to live in habitual sin. Help me to feel the freedom that comes when I confess my sin and You erase it completely.
Read Grace: Accepting God’s Gift to You at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0613.
 

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December 14
Who You Are
Bible in a Year:

What is mankind that you are mindful of them?

Psalm 8:4
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 8
His name is Dnyan, and he considers himself a student of the world. And “this is a very big school,” he says of all the cities and towns he’s passed through. He began a four-year journey on his bicycle in 2016 to meet and learn from people. When there’s a language barrier, he finds that sometimes people can understand just by looking at each other. He also depends on a translation app on his phone to communicate. He doesn’t measure his journey in the miles he’s traveled or the sights he’s seen. Instead, he measures it in the people who’ve left an imprint on his heart: “Maybe I do not know your language, but I would like to find out who you are.”
It’s a very big world, yet God knows everything about it and the people in it—fully and completely. The psalmist David was in awe of God when he considered all the works of His hands: the making of the heavens, the moon, and the stars (Psalm 8:3). He wondered, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (v. 4).
God knows you more thoroughly than anyone else possibly can and He cares for you. We can only respond, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (vv. 1, 9).
By: Anne Cetas
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Reflect & Pray
How do you feel knowing that God knows all about you and loves you? What does believing this truth look like in your life today?
Dear God, it’s awesome to realize that You’re all-knowing about Your whole creation. I love You for knowing me personally too.


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December 15
Gentle Speech
Bible in a Year:

The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome.

2 Timothy 2:24
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
2 Timothy 2:22–26
I was on Facebook, arguing. Bad move. What made me think I was obligated to “correct” a stranger on a hot topic—especially a divisive one? The results were heated words, hurt feelings (on my part anyway), and a broken opportunity to witness well for Jesus. That’s the sum outcome of “internet anger.” It’s the term for the harsh words flung daily across the blogosphere. As one ethics expert explained, people wrongly conclude that rage “is how public ideas are talked about.”
Paul’s wise advice to Timothy gave the same caution. “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone” (2 Timothy 2:23–24).
Paul’s good counsel, written to Timothy from a Roman prison, was sent to prepare the young pastor for teaching God’s truth. The apostle’s advice is just as timely for us today, especially when the conversation turns to our faith. “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (v. 25).
Speaking kindly to others is part of this challenge, but not just for pastors. For all who love God and seek to tell others about Him, may we speak His truth in love. With every word, the Holy Spirit will help us.
By: Patricia Raybon
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Reflect & Pray
Why is it vital as a believer in Jesus to avoid arguing with others on the internet (and in other contexts)? When you’re led by the Holy Spirit, how does the tone of your comments—your heart—change?
Father God, when I’m speaking to others about Your truth—or other interests—indwell my heart and tongue with Your love.
Read Words Matter: Speaking with Wisdom in an Age of Outrage at DiscoverySeries.org/courses/words-matter.
 

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December 17
Fully Satisfied

I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Psalm 63:5
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 63:1-11
Many Filipino families celebrate special occasions like birthdays, weddings, town fiestas, and Christmas in a big way. On these occasions, family members sit around a table overflowing with the richest of foods. They exchange familiar stories, laugh at old jokes, and after everyone’s stomach is filled, the singing—often through videoke, also known as karaoke—begins. To many Filipinos, eating and singing can bring great satisfaction!
David wrote that he was fully satisfied with the richest of foods in Psalm 63. Imagine what foods were served to a king like David at every meal! But, David was not in the comforts of his palace when he wrote this Psalm. He was in a desert, hiding from his son Absalom. David was hungry, thirsty, and weary. He faced an uncertain future where he might lose his wealth, power, and family.
It was in this context that what truly mattered to David became clear. He didn’t thirst for wine but for God (v.1). His appetite for food was superseded by his desire to be fully satisfied in the LORD. To him, the love of God is better than life (v.3). Are you facing troubles or threats to your health, finances, or relationships? Like David, we can trust God, no matter our circumstances. Because our God is better than life, we can turn our hearts to Him with songs of joy.
By: Yna S. Reyes ( ゲスト寄稿者 )
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Reflect & Pray
When was the last time you took pleasure in God’s presence as with the richest of foods? What was that like?
Dear Lord, satisfy my heart with Your love that I may praise You with my lips and my life, no matter my present circumstances.
 

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“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” – 1 John 3:8
CHRISTMAS AS AN ACT OF WAR
December 17, 2020
There is something in the hearts of little boys that loves to play “war.” NERF Guns. 1st person shooter video games. As a kid of the 80s, I had a small arsenal of plastic guns and several pairs of camo pants. I looked like a miniature Rambo without the muscles. I spent hours in the backyard pretending to fight off the forces of evil.
The Bible tells us that the war between good and evil is anything but child’s play. We live in the midst of a cosmic struggle between Almighty God and Satan. If you think the devil isn’t real, then he has you right where he wants you. Plus, you’re overlooking a critical aspect of the Christmas story.
John wants us to see Christmas from a different perspective. He tells us that the Incarnation, Jesus taking on flesh was an assault on the works of the devil. What are the works of the devil? The verse above indicates that the devil has been working his evil since the beginning.
The devil’s purpose is to be in rebellion against God. He is a liar and a deceiver. Ever since the Garden of Eden, he’s tried to enlist men and women in his insurrection against God. He continuously seeks to entice us to sin, entangle us in bondage, and blind us to the beauties of God’ssaving grace. His ultimate goal is for us to suffer spiritual death, eternally separated from our Heavenly Father.
In light of the strategies of our adversary, former White House aid and author, Charles Colson, likens Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem to an “invasion,” similar to D-Day during WWII. However, rather than sending an army of angelic warriors, God humbled Himself and became a helpless baby in a manger. He established a beachhead in Bethlehem. This was His initial step in securing a victory against the devil. The manger led to the cross and the cross led to the empty tomb. Those who trust in Jesus experience new life and are forever free from the penalty and power of sin. Hallelujah!
The “D-Day” of Christmas occurred over 2000 years ago. In reality, Jesus has “destroyed” the works of the devil. The word “destroy” means to render inoperative or to rob of power. We war against an enemy who, in the end, is already defeated.
On the other hand, sometimes it seems the devil’s power is anything but inoperative. We look around the world and see evil, injustice, and brokenness. Even when we look within, we have to admit that we still wrestle against sin. The battle rages on, doesn’t it?
As you find yourself in the skirmishes of good vs. evil, let me give you 3 suggestions this Christmas:
  • Celebrate Jesus for coming.
  • Cling to Jesus and seek to walk away from rebellious sin. In doing this, we show the devil and a watching world that we belong to Jesus.
  • Anticipate the victorious, second-coming of Jesus. On that day, the war will be over!

Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director of RFTH
 

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December 23
No Glitz, Just Glory
Bible in a Year:

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

Psalm 63:3
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Isaiah 53:1–9
Looking at the handmade Christmas ornaments my son, Xavier, crafted over the years and the annual mismatched baubles Grandma had sent him, I couldn’t figure out why I was not content with our decorations. I’d always valued the creativity and memories each ornament represented. So, why did the allure of the retail stores’ holiday displays tempt me to desire a tree adorned with perfectly matched bulbs, shimmering orbs, and satin ribbons?
As I began to turn away from our humble decor, I glimpsed a red, heart-shaped ornament with a simple phrase scripted on it—Jesus, My Savior. How could I have forgotten that my family and my hope in Christ are the reasons I love celebrating Christmas? Our simple tree looked nothing like the trees in the storefronts, but the love behind every decoration made it beautiful.
Like our modest tree, the Messiah didn’t meet the world’s expectations in any way (Isaiah 53:2). Jesus “was despised and rejected” (v. 3). Yet, in an amazing display of love, He still chose to be “pierced for our transgressions” (v. 5). He endured punishment, so we could enjoy peace (v. 5). Nothing is more beautiful than that.
With renewed gratitude for our imperfect decorations and our perfect Savior, I stopped longing for glitz and praised God for His glorious love. Sparkling adornments could never match the beauty of His sacrificial gift—Jesus.
By: Xochitl Dixon
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Reflect & Pray
How can you make praising Jesus part of your Christmas celebration? What does His sacrifice on the cross mean to you?
Loving God, please help me see the beautiful love reflected through the magnitude of Your sacrifice.


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“And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” – Luke 2:12 NKJV
THE SWADDLE SIGNIFICANCE
December 25, 2020
I love studying history. To me, it’s always interesting to see how current events are remembered throughout time. What is highlighted? What lessons are learned looking back? What is nearly forgotten? When we read the story of Jesus’ birth – over 2000 years after the fact – it strikes me that the world’s most powerful ruler at the time is but a footnote in the story: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world” (Luke 2: 1). That’s it – one verse, for the most powerful emperor in the history of the Roman Empire.
Have you ever thought about that? This little, Jewish baby who was born in a cave in the little town of Bethlehem – seemingly nothing special to mark the event or place – yet it’s the very story of Jesus’ birth that is still retold, remembered, and celebrated around the world so many years later. That’s amazing!
A few years ago, my wife Anne and I were in Bethlehem when we noticed some sheep and a shepherd on the hillside. Our guide told us that it was custom that the firstborn, male lamb was swaddled in cloth and placed in a manger as it was examined for blemishes. Why, you ask? So that only those “without blemish” would be raised or set aside to be sacrificed in the temple.
Now, think about the parallel to Jesus’ birth: it was even foretold to the shepherds that they would find Mary’s firstborn son was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. This had to stun them, this baby – the sacrificial lamb? Yes, He would be sacrificing His life on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin. Jesus was set apart at birth, in the same way as a sacrificial lamb, in order to ultimately fulfill the calling God had placed on His life – the redemption of all of mankind!
Isn’t that pretty incredible? I love how no matter how familiar we may be with a passage of Scripture, there’s always more to discover. As you reflect on the story of Jesus’ birth this Christmas, ask God for a fresh appreciation and awe of the start of God’s atoning mission to redeem mankind through Jesus Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. And it all began with a special baby, “wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
Merry Christmas from all of us here at RFTH!
 
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