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Daily Devotion

boldstardex

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“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15
WHERE TO BEGIN?
March 16, 2021
If you’re new to Bible study, it’s hard to know where to begin. In my opinion, it’s best not to begin at the beginning, but in the middle, with the story of Jesus. Oftentimes, I will suggest people start with the book of John. All of the Old Testament points to Jesus, so we can’t really understand the Old Testament until we first understand Jesus.
Now, this is where things can get a little confusing. Even though Jesus initiated the New Covenant (New Testament) when He was observing the Lord’s Supper the night before His crucifixion, the Old Covenant (Old Testament)- all 39 books- points to Him. When you read the Old Covenant, think B.C. – Before Christ. The first five books are called the Torah (books of Mosaic Law and the origin of man and Israel.) The next twelve are called the Historical books, telling about the history of ancient Israel. After that, you come to five books that are called Poetry – books like Job, and Psalms and Proverbs. Then you come to the 17 Prophets of the Old Covenant.
But with the New Covenant – think A.C. – After Christ. It introduces the life of Jesus in the four gospels and the beginning of the church in Acts. Then come tons of letters to early churches on what we believe as Christians and how we should live. And it ends with Revelation and the events around Jesus’ second coming and the end of this age.
It’s an incredible story – the story of God’s redemption of mankind through Jesus Christ. But here’s the key to understanding the depth and magnitude of this incredible story: start with Jesus and ask God to reveal the rest.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about HOW to study the Bible.
 

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March 18
Small Yet Mighty
Bible in a Year:

We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

Ephesians 2:10
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Ephesians 2:4–10
There are times late at night in North America’s harsh Sonoran Desert where one can hear a faint, high-pitched howl. But you probably wouldn’t suspect the source of the sound—the small yet mighty grasshopper mouse, howling at the moon to establish its territory.
This unique rodent (dubbed the “werewolf mouse”) is also carnivorous. In fact, it preys on creatures few would dare mess with, such as the scorpion. But the werewolf mouse is uniquely equipped for that particular battle. It not only has a resistance to scorpion venom but can even convert the toxins into a painkiller!
There’s something inspiring about the way this resilient little mouse seems custom-made to survive and even thrive in its harsh environment. As Paul explains in Ephesians 2:10, that kind of marvelous craftsmanship characterizes God’s designs for His people as well. Each of us is “God’s handiwork” in Jesus, uniquely equipped to contribute to His kingdom. No matter how God has gifted you, you have much to offer. As you embrace with confidence who He’s made you to be, you’ll be a living witness to the hope and joy of life in Him.
So as you face whatever feels most menacing in your own life, take courage. You may feel small, but through the gifting and empowerment of the Spirit, God can use you to do mighty things.
By: Monica La Rose
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Reflect & Pray
Is it easy or difficult for you to see yourself as God’s marvelous handiwork? Why? In what areas of your life might remembering this truth give you renewed confidence and courage?
God, thank You for the incredible way You’ve designed me to live with joy and purpose. Help me to believe, and find courage in, the truth of who I am in You.


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boldstardex

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“But the midwives feared God. They did not do as the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.” Exodus 1: 17
FACED WITH A DIFFICULT DECISION?
March 21, 2021
It was a power move made from a place of fear. Egypt’s Pharaoh felt threatened by the growing numbers of Hebrew slaves and decided a pre-emptive strike was necessary. So, he ordered the Hebrew midwives to carry out a means of population control – the death of all newborn baby boys.
Imagine being one of those midwives. As slaves, their people were already abused and mistreated at the hands of the Egyptians. They had zero power and the most powerful man on the face of the earth was commanding them to kill their own people’s innocent children. What would you do knowing that your own life was on the line? Courageously, the midwives stood up to Pharaoh by saying that the Hebrew women just gave birth too quickly. They couldn’t get there in time, therefore, the baby boys lived. Well, you can imagine how furious Pharaoh was to hear this loophole excuse. Yet, even at the risk of their own lives, the midwives chose to obey God rather than Pharaoh.
The midwives’ bold stance against Pharaoh’s command is a classic example of when and how to practice civil disobedience. Yes, the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 13 clearly calls the Christian to obey the government and the laws of the land. So when, if ever, are we to disobey? When the government begins to push us to break God’s law – that’s when we must make a choice: to obey the ruling authority of the day or obey God. The midwives chose God. With their lives on the line, they stood up for what they knew was right and God blessed them.
Maybe the situation you’re facing isn’t quite so life and death. Maybe you’re facing relational or professional pressure to take a short cut, to bend the rules, or to turn a blind eye to something that you know is wrong. The next time you’re forced to choose between worldly pressure and what’s right, remember the midwives’ courageous faith. Choose to obey God.
 

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March 23
The Reason to Rest
Bible in a Year:

What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 2:22
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Ecclesiastes 2:17–26
If you want to live longer, take a vacation! Forty years after a study of middle-aged, male executives who each had a risk of heart disease, researchers in Helsinki, Finland, followed up with their study participants. The scientists discovered something they hadn’t been looking for in their original findings: the death rate was lower among those who had taken time off for vacations.
Work is a necessary part of life—a part God appointed to us even before our relationship with Him was fractured in Genesis 3. Solomon wrote of the seeming meaninglessness of work experienced by those not working for God’s honor—recognizing its “anxious striving” and “grief and pain” (Ecclesiastes 2:22–23). Even when they’re not actively working, he says their “minds do not rest” because they’re thinking about what still needs to be done (v. 23).
We too might at times feel like we’re “chasing after the wind” (v. 17) and grow frustrated by our inability to “finish” our work. But when we remember that God is part of our labor—our purpose—we can both work hard and take time to rest. We can trust Him to be our Provider, for He’s the giver of all things. Solomon acknowledges that “without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (v. 25). Perhaps by reminding ourselves of that truth, we can work diligently for Him (Colossians 3:23) and also allow ourselves times of rest.
By: Kirsten Holmberg
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Reflect & Pray
How can you invite God into your labors? How might you allow Him to be your satisfaction even when your work isn’t “finished”?
God, You bring meaning and purpose to all my labors.
 

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“While Jesus was walking, He saw a man who had been blind since the time he was born. Jesus’ followers ask Him, ‘Teacher, why was this man born blind? Whose sin made it happen? Was it his own sin or that of his parents?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not any sin of this man or his parents that caused him to be blind. He was born blind so that he could be used to show what great things God can do.'” John 9: 1-3
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE? Pt 1
March 23, 2021
Why do bad things happen to good people? It’s just not fair. If we’re honest, most of us have wrestled with this question.
The disciples wondered the same thing. They knew that so much of the suffering and evil seen in this world is related to mankind’s decision to walk away from God – also known as original sin. From that moment on, sin entered the world and we’ve been experiencing the consequences ever since: war, racism, hatred, jealousy, violence, injustice, etc. So when the disciples came upon a beggar who was blind from birth, they assumed that someone’s sin must be to blame.
Like many of us today, the disciples were asking the wrong question. They were so focused on answering the question of WHY that they missed what Jesus saw – an opportunity. Rather than identifying who or what was to blame, Jesus saw an opportunity for God to move miraculously in the life of this man. It was an opportunity for God to reveal Himself by bringing good from a tough situation. It was an opportunity for God to be glorified.
If you continue to read the Apostle John’s account of this exchange in chapter 9, you’ll see that this was one of Jesus’ greatest miracles. Jesus not only healed this man physically but also spiritually. Talk about a life transformed! Where the disciples saw a theological case study, Jesus saw a man hurting and an opportunity for God to be glorified.
We, too, have the tendency to focus on the wrong question in times of suffering. The next time you’re tempted to ask, “WHY” change the question. Look for the opportunity by asking HOW? How can we minister, encourage, and care, in order to bring good out of a difficult situation – all the while displaying the transformative love of Christ?
 

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March 29
Facing the Battles with God
Bible in a Year:

In the Lord I take refuge.

Psalm 11:1
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 11
The heroic deeds of US Army soldier Desmond Doss are featured in the 2016 movie Hacksaw Ridge. While Doss’ convictions wouldn’t allow him to take human life, as an army medic he committed himself to preserving life even at the risk of his own. The citation read at Doss’ Medal of Honor ceremony on October 12, 1945, included these words: “Private First Class Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them one by one to the edge of the escarpment. . . . He unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer.”
In Psalm 11, David’s conviction that his refuge was in God compelled him to resist suggestions to flee rather than face his foes (vv. 2–3). Six simple words comprised his statement of faith: “In the Lord I take refuge” (v. 1). That well-rooted conviction would guide his conduct.
David’s words in verses 4–7 amplified God’s greatness. Yes, life can sometimes be like a battlefield, and hostile fire can send us scattering for cover when we’re bombarded with health challenges or financial, relational, and spiritual stresses. So, what should we do? Acknowledge that God is the king of the universe (v. 4); take delight in His amazing capacity to judge with precision (vv. 5–6); and rest in His delight in what’s right, fair, and equitable (v. 7). We can run swiftly to God for shelter!
By: Arthur Jackson
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Reflect & Pray
When have you experienced life’s hostile fire and been tempted to find shelter in something other than God? Can you recall times when God came to your rescue and your hope in Him was renewed?
Father, help me to see You more clearly than any force that opposes me and run to You for true safety and security.
 

boldstardex

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“Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” – John 14:5
I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE Part 3
March 29, 2021
In Part 1 of this series of devotions, you will remember that Jesus said, “I am the way…” and in doing so, upset a lot of people by His claim. In Part 2, we focused on Jesus’ claim to be the only way to heaven. Today, we see Thomas asked Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”
Now, before you get too hard on Thomas, I think he believed that Jesus was the way to the Heavenly Father. He just didn’t understand exactly how he would get to heaven. That is the big question for all of us. How do we find the road to heaven?
Most people feel like they’re going to get to heaven if they are good enough, religious enough, or moral enough. They think at least one of those deeds will do the trick. Unfortunately, the Bible clearly says if we sin one time, we’re not qualified for heaven. ONE time. In other words, we would have to be perfect to get to heaven with good deeds. It should come as no surprise that none of us make it that way. So how can we be sure that we know the way to heaven?
Think about it this way: It’s 1970 (before the age of the GPS) and you’re going to New York City for the first time. You have a meeting in downtown Manhattan. So, you stop and ask somebody for directions and they say, “Just go down about 3 blocks where you’ll see a service station, turn left and go a few blocks, and you’ll see a 60-story building, turn right and go about 5 or 6 blocks, and you’ll come to an intersection…” Well, by that time, your mind is confused, and then you realize you are lost.
But what if that person had said, “You haven’t been here before, have you? Come with me. I’ll take you there.” Now, you’ve got a big decision to make. “Can I trust this guy? Is he going to rob me? Is he going to lead me into trouble?” “Will he really lead me to where I need to go?” That’s the decision we have to make is whether or not we can trust in Jesus to get us to Heaven.
Obviously, the decision to trust Jesus is eternally more important than finding your way in Manhattan. Yet it’s a decision to believe He is trustworthy enough to follow Him with your life. Many of us have decided that Jesus is telling the truth and He is the way to heaven. So, what about you? Will you trust Him? That’s the big decision of life.
There’s more tomorrow in Part 4!
 

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March 31
Wisely Weeding
Bible in a Year:

Search me, God, and know my heart.

Psalm 139:23
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 139:1–6, 23–24
My grandchildren are running around my backyard. Playing games? No, pulling weeds. “Pulling them up by the roots!” the youngest says, showing me a hefty prize. Her delight as we tackled weeds that day was how much we enjoyed plucking the weedy roots—clearing away each pesky menace. Before the joy, however, came the choice to go after them.
Intentional weeding is also the first step in removing personal sin. Thus, David prayed: “Search me, God, and know my heart. . . . See if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139:23–24).
What a wise approach, to go after our sin by asking God to show it to us. He above all knows everything about us. “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me,” wrote the psalmist. “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar” (vv. 1–2).
“Such knowledge,” David added, “is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (v. 6). Even before a sin takes root, therefore, God can alert us to the danger. He knows our “landscape.” So when a sneaky sinful attitude tries to take root, He’s first to know and point it out.
“Where can I go from your Spirit,” wrote David. “Where can I flee from your presence?” (v. 7). May we closely follow our Savior to higher ground!
By: Patricia Raybon
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Reflect & Pray
When you ask God to search your heart, what personal wrongs do you discover? How does intentional “weeding” help rid you of a relentless sin?
Loving God, when You show me my personal sin, point me to Your plan to pull those weeds.
 

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April 5
Anchored in Truth
Bible in a Year:

I will drive him like a peg into a firm place.

Isaiah 22:23
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Isaiah 22:15–20, 22–25
My family lives in a nearly century-old house with a lot of character, including wonderfully textured plaster walls. A builder cautioned me that with these walls, to hang a picture I’d have to either drill the nail into a wood support or use a plaster anchor for support. Otherwise, I’d risk the picture crashing to the ground, leaving an ugly hole behind.
The prophet Isaiah used the imagery of a nail driven firmly into a wall to describe a minor biblical character named Eliakim. Unlike the corrupt official Shebna (Isaiah 22:15–19), as well as the people of Israel—who looked to themselves for strength (vv. 8–11)—Eliakim trusted in God. Prophesying Eliakim’s promotion to palace administrator for King Hezekiah, Isaiah wrote that Eliakim would be driven like a “peg into a firm place” (v. 23). Being securely anchored in God’s truth and grace would also allow Eliakim to be a support for his family and his people (vv. 22–24).
Yet Isaiah concluded this prophecy with a sobering reminder that no person can be the ultimate security for friends or family—we all fail (v. 25). The only completely trustworthy anchor for our lives is Jesus (Psalm 62:5–6; Matthew 7:24). As we care for others and share their burdens, may we also point them to Him, the anchor who will never fail.
By: Lisa M. Samra
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Reflect & Pray
How can you stay firmly anchored in God’s truth and grace? In what ways can you support those feeling weighed down by life’s burdens?
Dear Jesus, thank You for being my anchor. As Your child, I know that I’m firmly planted in You.
Read Navigating the Storms of Life at DiscoverySeries.org/HP061.
 

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“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
THE AFTER EASTER WEEKS
April 5, 2021
We traveled the unknown road leading up to Easter. We wept on Good Friday, pondered through Silent Saturday, and exuberantly rejoiced on Easter Sunday.
And now we live in the After Easter Weeks. Jesus walked and talked with His friends for over a month after His miraculous resurrection. With few exceptions, we are not privy to His words and actions. What we are sure of is that Jesus spoke two profound words which overflowed with both hope and challenge: wait and go. His disciples and friends needed to wait for the promised Holy Spirit power and then go to a hungry, broken world with the resurrection message.
It is no different for us. Through grace and by faith we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and we are commissioned to go. We live in the ‘After Easter-Weeks’ until He returns.
So now is the time to go and tell. Begin the journey on the road with Jesus right beside you. You will never be the same.
 

boldstardex

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Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise. ~ Luke 23:42-43
PARADISE
April 6, 2021
We have just celebrated Easter, where the Light of the world has risen indeed. But maybe, before we move on, we should think back to the cross for a minute.
Picture the scene: Soldiers are barking orders, onlookers are attempting to humiliate the dying men, women are crying, all while Jesus and two criminals struggle for every breath. Their pain and torture were unimaginable. Surely death was not far away.
For the criminals hanging on either side of Jesus, life was on its final countdown; justice had been served. It seemed that they were getting what they deserved in the eyes of those who enforce the law.
Amidst darkness and chaos, one criminal hurled insults at Jesus, while the other asked Jesus to remember him when He entered the Kingdom of God. What a different picture of faith and trust each criminal painted.
One of them somehow knew that all he had to do was ask humble himself and ask Jesus to remember him; and by doing so, he was allowed to enter Paradise when he breathed his last.
Think of it. Suddenly, he was absent from his earthly body and present with the Lord. Imagine his joy and thankfulness!
Jesus died for you, for me, for this thief on the cross – for the whole world. For those of us who place our trust in Jesus as our Savior, our lives on earth are just the beginning. One day we, too, will be absent from our earthly bodies and present with the Lord!
What would you do? Would you have asked Jesus to remember you when He came into His kingdom? Would you do it today? As long as you have breath, it’s never too late.
 

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April 12
Serving the Least
Bible in a Year:

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 25:40
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Matthew 25:31–40
His name is Spencer. But everybody calls him “Spence.” He was a state track champion in high school; then he went on to attend a prestigious university on a full academic scholarship. He lives now in one of America’s largest cities and is highly respected in the field of chemical engineering. But if you were to ask Spence his greatest achievements to date, he wouldn’t mention any of those things. He would excitedly tell you about the trips he makes to Nicaragua every few months to check in on the kids and teachers in the tutoring program he helped establish in one of the poorest areas of the country. And he’d tell you how enriched his life has been by serving them.
“The least of these.” It’s a phrase people use in a variety of ways, yet Jesus used it to describe those who, according to the world’s standards, have little or nothing to offer us in return for our service. They are the men and women and children the world often overlooks—if not forgets completely. Yet it’s exactly those people Jesus elevates to such a beautiful status by saying, “Whatever you did [for them], you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). You don’t have to have a degree from a prestigious university to understand Christ’s meaning: serving “the least” is the same as serving Him. All it really takes is a willing heart.
By: John Blase
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Reflect & Pray
Who comes to mind when you hear the phrase “the least of these”? What’s something you could do for them?
King Jesus, I’m afraid I make serving You harder than it is. Your words are clear—You call me to the least and the littlest, perhaps in Nicaragua or maybe in my neighborhood. Give me courage to serve.
 

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“One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home.”
Acts 16: 14- 15a
THE TRANSFORMATION OF LYDIA
April 12, 2021
Are you familiar with Lydia’s story? She’s not the most well-known name in the Bible, yet Lydia was a tremendous woman of both faith and influence. At a time when career women were rare, Lydia was a respected and successful businesswoman. She was also the first European believer and host of the first European church. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me.
A transplant to the region for work, Lydia was the equivalent of a manufacturer’s rep who specialized in purple fabric. Purple fabric was popular with the elite, the aristocratic class. This meant that Lydia was familiar with high society and was clearly very successful. Paul first met Lydia while she was praying with a group of women. Although not Jewish, Lydia was searching for God.
That’s when Paul began sharing the good news of the Gospel – that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, dying on the cross and rising again in three days. As Lydia listened, God opened up her heart, convicting her of the truth, and at that moment, she gave her life to God in faith. But her transformation didn’t end there; her entire household followed her example and became believers, forming the region’s first church in her home.
So what can we learn from Lydia, this successful and influential woman? Lydia leveraged her influence and success for God. She used her gifts and talents for God’s glory, impacting the lives of those around her. So what about you? How do you use your resources and influence? What is your motivation for your work? Ask God to show you how you can leverage your resources and influence for God’s glory – just like Lydia.
 

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April 14
Live Like It’s Morning
Bible in a Year:

The fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.

Ephesians 5:9
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Ephesians 5:1–9
When I have to travel across time zones by air, I try various remedies to avoid jet lag. I think I’ve tried them all! On one occasion, I decided to adjust my in-flight eating to the time zone where I was heading. Instead of eating dinner with the rest of the passengers, I kept watching a movie and tried to fall asleep. The hours of elective fasting were difficult, and the breakfast that came right before we landed left much to be desired. But living “out of sorts” with those around me worked. It jolted my body clock into a new time zone.
Paul knew that if believers in Jesus were to truly reflect Him in their lives, they would need to live out of step with the world around them. They “were once darkness” but now they were to live as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). And what might that look like? Paul goes on to fill out the picture: “The fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth” (v. 9).
Sleeping through dinner may have seemed foolish to the people on my flight, but even as it’s midnight in the world, as believers, we’re called to live like it’s morning. This may provoke scorn and opposition, but in Jesus we can “walk in the way of love,” following the example of the One who “love us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (v. 2).
By: Glenn Packiam
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Reflect & Pray
Where have your actions and choices lined up too closely with the world around you? What would the fruit of goodness, righteousness, and truth look like in your life?
Jesus, wake me up to the new day that has come in You. Fill me with Your power to live in a “different time zone.” Open my eyes to choose goodness, righteousness, and beauty.
To learn more about the characteristics of a believer in Jesus, visit ChristianUniversity.org/SF132.
 

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April 19
Quarantined by Fear
Bible in a Year:

Seek his kingdom.

Luke 12:31
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Luke 12:22–34
In 2020, an outbreak of the coronavirus left the world in fear. People were quarantined, countries were put under lockdown, flights and large events were canceled. Those living in areas with no known cases still feared they might get the virus. Graham Davey, an expert in anxiety, believes that negative news broadcasts are “likely to make you sadder and more anxious.” A meme that circulated on social media showed a man watching the news on TV, and he asked how to stop worrying. In response, another person in the room reached over and flipped off the TV, suggesting that the answer might be a shift in focus!
Luke 12 gives us some advice to help us stop worrying: “Seek his kingdom” (v. 31). We seek God’s kingdom when we focus on the promise that His followers have an inheritance in heaven. When we face difficulty, we can shift our focus and remember that God sees us and knows our needs (vv. 24–30).
Jesus encourages His disciples: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (v. 32). God enjoys blessing us! Let’s worship Him, knowing He cares for us more than the birds of the air and the flowers of the field (vv. 22–29). Even in difficult times, we can read the Scriptures, pray for God’s peace, and trust in our good and faithful God.
By: Julie Schwab
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Reflect & Pray
What’s causing you to fear today? What’s one thing you can do to seek God’s kingdom when you begin to worry?
Loving God, instead of living in fear or worry, help me to focus on Your care for me.
 

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April 20
Jesus’ Promise to You
Bible in a Year:

He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.

John 14:16
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
John 14:15–21, 25–27
Jason wailed as his parents handed him over to Amy. It was the two-year-old’s first time in the nursery while Mom and Dad attended the service—and he was not happy. Amy assured them he’d be fine. She tried to soothe him with toys and books, by rocking in a chair, walking around, standing still, and talking about what fun he could have. But everything was met with bigger tears and louder cries. Then she whispered five simple words in his ear: “I will stay with you.” Peace and comfort quickly came.
Jesus offered His friends similar words of comfort during the week of His crucifixion: “The Father . . . will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16–17). After His resurrection He gave them this promise: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus was soon to ascend to heaven, but He would send the Spirit to “stay” and live within His people.
We experience the Spirit’s comfort and peace when our tears flow. We receive His guidance when we’re wondering what to do (John 14:26). He opens our eyes to understand more of God (Ephesians 1:17–20), and He helps us in our weakness and prays for us (Romans 8:26–27).
He stays with us forever.
By: Anne Cetas
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Reflect & Pray
What do you need from the Holy Spirit today? How can knowing He’s always near help you?
How thankful I am that You remain always by my side, Jesus! I need You.
 

boldstardex

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Today's Devotional

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April 21
Difficult People
Bible in a Year:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Proverbs 15:1–7, 18
Lucy Worsley is a British historian and TV presenter. Like most people in the public eye, she sometimes receives nasty mail—in her case, over a mild speech impediment that makes her r’s sound like w’s. One person wrote this: “Lucy, I’ll be blunt: Please try harder to correct your lazy speech or remove r’s from your scripts—I couldn’t sit through your TV series because it made me so annoyed. Regards, Darren.”
For some people, an insensitive comment like this might trigger an equally rude reply. But here’s how Lucy responded: “Oh Darren, I think you’ve used the anonymity of the internet to say something you probably wouldn’t say to my face. Please reconsider your unkind words! Lucy.”
Lucy’s measured response worked. Darren apologized and vowed not to send anyone such an email again.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath,” Proverbs says, “but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1). While the hot-tempered person stirs things up, the patient person calms them down (v. 18). When we get a critical comment from a colleague, a snide remark from a family member, or a nasty reply from a stranger, we have a choice: to speak angry words that fuel the flames or gentle words that douse them.
May God help us to speak words that turn away wrath—and perhaps even help difficult people to change.
By: Sheridan Voysey
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Reflect & Pray
Think of a time you got defensive with someone. Why do you think you reacted that way? How could you respond differently in God’s power?
Loving God, give me the ability to respond to quarrelsome people with patient, gentle words.
 

boldstardex

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WHAT IS YOUR PRAYER MOTIVATION?
April 25, 2021
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. … When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.” Matthew 6: 1, 5
“Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others,” Jesus said in Matthew 6:1. In other words, check your motivation for why you are doing the good / kind/ generous things you do. The same goes for prayer. Throughout His ministry, Jesus spoke a lot about prayer and in Matthew chapter 6, He provided two examples of what prayer should NOT be about:

  1. Praying for the Wrong Reasons: Many religious leaders in Jesus’ day performed their prayers as actors on a stage – to be seen and applauded for their piety. It’s as if they were saying, Look at how spiritual I am! Look at how educated and righteous I am!
Jesus said there is a big difference between being a Godly person through actions done for God’s glory versus actions done seeking the approval of others. So what’s your motive? If you’re striving to “look” like the ideal Christian just for the sake of other’s approval, you need a motivation check.

  1. Praying Empty Prayers: Jesus was referring to the Gentiles, who didn’t know the one true God, when He spoke about praying empty prayers. Even Christians can fall into this trap. Instead of repeating words and phrases that sound “spiritual” in hopes of gaining God’s attention – pray honest and sincere prayers. It’s the content and the heart that God cares about.
So what’s your motivation when you pray? Do you pray simply to appear “spiritual” in group settings? Do you have words or phrases you repeat when your heart’s just not in it?

We’ve all gone through the motions: blessing a meal, a prayer before bed – it’s easy for our prayer-life to become routine. But Jesus says that prayer is about our hearts connecting with God’s. Maybe it’s time you started praying that God would help your heart better align with His, because that is what prayer is all about.

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boldstardex

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WALKING WITH INTEGRITY
April 26, 2021
“He who walks with integrity walks securely; the man who takes crooked paths will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9
Health professionals recommend that we walk 10,000 steps per day. It’s an ambitious goal and can be tough to accomplish with our jam-packed schedules. Most of us walk roughly 3,000-4,000 steps or about 1.5-2miles a day.

Whether we’re avid walkers or prefer a leisurely stroll, the Lord wants our steps saturated with integrity.

What is integrity?

Integrity is more than maintaining high moral standards or an impeccable degree of honesty. It is first and foremost about living an integrated life- a life that holistically revolves around a set of guiding values and principles.

For the Christ-follower, this means every area of life is centered around Jesus. Living with integrity means we recognize there is no division between sacred and secular, online and offline, or public and private. Life is not compartmentalized. Everything is linked and interconnected to our walk with Jesus.

Integrity is comprised of three, all-encompassing words – wherever, whatever, whenever.

Wherever we are,

Whatever we’re doing, and

Whenever we’re doing it…

…we are called to live with the utmost integrity.

Are you starting to feel the weight of Solomon’s words?

I am.

If we fail to heed his wise warning, we risk being “found out.” The Hebrew word, ‘yiwwadea,’ connotes something being made known that we’ve kept concealed. And as if the Lord is highlighting the forewarning, this is the only occurrence of the phrasing of this particular word in all of Scripture.

Maybe we need to pay extra attention?

Many who take “crooked paths” are never exposed. So, this isn’t a guarantee. But haven’t we’ve seen the truth of this proverb play out time and again?

My friends, the world is starved for individuals of genuine integrity.

I believe the world, maybe now more than ever before, needs to see Christian men/women rise up and exemplify irresistible integrity in all areas of life. We must demonstrate that Jesus has powerfully changed us from the inside out. So much so, that our ‘walk’ truly matches our ‘talk’ and every crevice of our character testifies to the veracity of what we say we believe.

No matter how daunting the pursuit may be, we must never cease striving for integrity. There is too much at stake.

Candidly, it’s humbling to write these words.

I’m aware of little compromises in my integrity. I bet you are, too.

We rejoice today, not because of our flawless performance, but because Jesus has walked the perfect path of integrity on our behalf.

Cling to Him. Confess and repent.

Regardless of past failures or present missteps, aim to walk with integrity once again.



Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, Right From The Heart Ministries

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boldstardex

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THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS JESUS
April 27, 2021
“He (Jesus) was handed over to die because of our sins, and He was raised to life to make us right with God.” Romans 4:25
Have you ever read parts of the Old Testament and thought that some of God’s commands and judgements seemed a bit – harsh? Take the story of Joshua conquering the Promised Land for example.

In Joshua chapter 6, we read God commanding the army of Israel to eliminate the people of Jericho – everyone except for Rahab, the prostitute, and her family because she had faith in the One True God of Israel.

For many Christians, this is a very disturbing command coming from the God of mercy and love that we read about in the New Testament. So how can we understand these harsh judgements written about in the ancient times?

The difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament is in the way God dealt with sin. You see, when God commanded the Israeli army to eliminate the people of Jericho, He was ridding the land of evil. He was dealing with the people’s sin. And sin, whether in the Old or New Testament, deserves death.

So how do we account for seemingly different responses to sin in the Old and New Testament?

The answer is Jesus. The New Testament is all about Jesus who paid the penalty for our sins. Jesus died on the cross – in our place, for our sins. You see, the consequence of sin is the same. It is always death. The difference is Jesus, taking our place. And when we choose to believe in Jesus Christ, God cleanses us of our past, our baggage, our mistakes, and our sins.

God is the same. His judgment of sin is the same – but thanks to Jesus, God gives us a way to be forgiven from our sins. Today, you can be sure that your past is forgiven, your life secure, and your eternity guaranteed – all because of Jesus. And it starts when you put your trust and faith in Him. What an incredible gift!

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