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The Word For Life.

If we meet and you forget me, you have lost nothing:
but if you meet JESUS CHRIST and forget Him,
you have lost everything.

Terrible and Beautiful Things
Posted:Oct 16, 2018 5:11 am
Last Updated:Oct 16, 2018 4:38 pm
14 Views
Read: Psalm 57

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s love and beauty make us brave.
3 Comments
Trust Him First
Posted:Oct 15, 2018 5:19 am
Last Updated:Oct 16, 2018 4:38 pm
18 Views
Read: Isaiah 46:3–13

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

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

“Don’t let go, Dad!”

“I won’t. I’ve got you. I promise.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The good news is that God cares for us!
1 comment
Stories of Jesus
Posted:Oct 11, 2018 4:24 am
Last Updated:Oct 16, 2018 4:38 pm
41 Views
Read: 1 John 1:1–4; John 21:24–25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How sweet is the sound of God’s amazing grace!
1 comment
Much More Than Words
Posted:Oct 9, 2018 2:43 pm
Last Updated:Oct 16, 2018 4:38 pm
57 Views
Read: Romans 8:22–30

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 32–33; Colossians 1

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. Romans 8:26

At a dedication ceremony during which a Bible translated into a local African language was presented, the area chief was presented with his own copy. In appreciation, he lifted the Bible to the skies and exclaimed, “Now we know God understands our language! We can read the Bible in our own native mother-tongue.”

No matter our language, our heavenly Father understands it. But often we feel unable to express our deepest longings to Him. The apostle Paul encourages us to pray regardless of how we feel. Paul speaks of our suffering world and our own pain: “The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8:22), and he compares that to the Holy Spirit’s work on our behalf. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness,” he writes. “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (v. 26).

God’s Holy Spirit knows us intimately. He knows our longings, our heart-language, and our unspoken words, and He helps us in our communication with God. His Spirit draws us to be transformed into the image of God the Son (v. 29).

Our heavenly Father understands our language and speaks to us through His Word. When we think our prayers are weak or too short, His Holy Spirit helps us by speaking through us to the Father. He yearns for us to talk with Him in prayer.

Thank You, Lord, for understanding my language and innermost longings. When my prayers are weak and dry, bear me up through Your Spirit.

When we feel weak in our prayers, God’s Spirit helps us in ways we can’t imagine.
2 Comments
Our Singing Father
Posted:Oct 8, 2018 7:34 am
Last Updated:Oct 16, 2018 4:38 pm
63 Views
Read: Zephaniah 3:14–20

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 30–31; Philippians 4

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

No one told me before my wife and I had children how important singing would be. My children are now six, eight, and ten. But all three had problems sleeping early on. Each night, my wife and I took turns rocking our little ones, praying they’d nod off quickly. I spent hundreds of hours rocking them, desperately crooning lullabies to (hopefully!) speed up the process. But as I sang over our children night after night, something amazing happened: It deepened my bond of love and delight for them in ways I had never dreamed.

Did you know Scripture describes our heavenly Father singing over His children too? Just as I sought to soothe my children with song, so Zephaniah concludes with a portrait of our heavenly Father singing over His people: “He will take great delight in you; in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing” (3:17).

Much of Zephaniah’s prophetic book warns of a coming time of judgment for those who’d rejected God. Yet that’s not where it ends. Zephaniah concludes not with judgment but with a description of God not only rescuing His people from all their suffering (vv. 19–20) but also tenderly loving and rejoicing over them with song (v. 17).

Our God is not only a “Mighty Warrior who saves” and restores (v. 17) but a loving Father who tenderly sings songs of love over us.

Father, help us to embrace Your tender love and “hear” the songs You sing.

Our heavenly Father delights in His children like a parent singing to a newborn baby.
2 Comments
Twinkle
Posted:Oct 6, 2018 5:33 am
Last Updated:Oct 7, 2018 11:29 am
86 Views
Read: Philippians 2:14–16

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 26–27; Philippians 2

Shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:15–16

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is an English lullaby. Its lyrics, originally a poem by Jane Taylor, capture the wonder of God’s universe where stars hang “up above the world so high.” In the rarely published later stanzas, the star acts as a guide: “As your bright and tiny spark lights the traveler in the dark.”

In Philippians, Paul challenges believers in Philippi to be blameless and pure as they “shine . . . like stars in the sky” while offering the good news of the gospel to all around them (2:15–16). We wonder how we can shine like stars. We often feel inadequate and struggle to think our “light” is bright enough to make a difference. But stars don’t try to be stars. They just are. Light changes our world. And it changes us. God brought physical light into our world (Genesis 1:3); and through Jesus, God brings spiritual light into our lives
(John 1:1–4).

We who have God’s light in us are to shine in such a way that those around us see light and are drawn to its source. As effortlessly as a star hanging in the night sky, our light makes a difference because of what it is: Light! When we simply shine, we follow Paul’s directive to “hold firmly to the word of life” in a world in deep darkness, and we draw others to the source of our hope: Jesus.

Dear God, may Your light shine out of the very cracks of our beings as we hold out the Word of life to others.

Jesus brings light into our life.
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