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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.

No Co-Signer Required
Posted:Jul 16, 2018 5:01 am
Last Updated:Jul 16, 2018 6:04 pm
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Read: Hebrews 6:13–20

Bible in a Year: Psalms 16–17; Acts 20:1–16

People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said. Hebrews 6:16

When a person without a long history of paying his or her bills on time wants to obtain a loan to purchase a home or car, lenders are often reluctant to take the financial risk. Without a track record, that person’s promise to repay what he borrows is insufficient for the bank. The would-be borrower usually resorts to finding someone who does have a history of making good on their debts, asking them to put their name on the loan too. The co-signer’s promise assures the lender the loan will be repaid.

When someone makes a promise to us—whether for financial, marital, or other reasons—we expect them to keep it. We want to know that God will keep His promises too. When He promised Abraham that He would bless him and give him “many descendants” (Hebrews 6:14; see Genesis 22:17), Abraham took God at His word. As the Creator of all that exists, there is no one greater than He; only God could guarantee His own promise.

Abraham had to wait for the birth of his son (Hebrews 6:15) (and never saw how innumerable his offspring would grow to be), but God proved faithful to His promise. When He promises to be with us always (13:5), to hold us securely (John 10:29), and to comfort us (2 Corinthians 1:3–4), we too can trust Him to be true to His word.

Lord, thank You for being so trustworthy. I need no other promises but Your word. Help me to trust You more and more each day.

God’s promises are sure.
1 comment
Hiding Our Hurts
Posted:Jul 14, 2018 6:42 am
Last Updated:Jul 15, 2018 11:38 am
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Read: Hebrews 4:12–13

Bible in a Year: Psalms 10–12; Acts 19:1–20

The word of God . . . judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

I was guest-speaking in a local church and my topic was an honest story about presenting our brokenness before God and receiving the healing He wants to give. Before closing in prayer, the pastor stood in the center aisle, looked deeply into the eyes of his gathered congregants, and said, “As your pastor I have the privilege of seeing you midweek and hearing your heart-breaking stories of brokenness. Then in our weekend worship services, I have the pain of watching you hide your hurt away.”

My heart ached at the hidden hurts God came to heal. The writer of Hebrews describes the Word of God as alive and active. Many have understood this “word” to be the Bible, but it’s even more than that. Jesus is the living Word of God. He evaluates our thoughts and attitudes—and loves us still.

Jesus died to give us access to God’s presence, all the time. And while we all know it’s not wise to share everything with everyone, we also know that God intends His church be a place where we can live unapologetically as broken and forgiven followers of Christ. It’s to be a place where we “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).

What are you hiding from others today? And how are you trying to hide from God as well? God sees us through Jesus. And He still loves us. Will we let Him?

Who will you prayerfully consider letting help you carry your burdens?

God sees us with the eyes of a Father.
1 comment
He Knows Us
Posted:Jul 13, 2018 3:46 am
Last Updated:Jul 14, 2018 6:42 am
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Read: Psalm 139:1–14

Bible in a Year: Psalms 7–9; Acts 18

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise. Psalm 139:1–2

Did God know about me as I drove at night on a 100-mile journey to my village? Given the condition I was in, the answer was not simple. My temperature ran high and my head ached. I prayed, “Lord, I know you are with me, but I’m in pain!”

Tired and weak, I parked by the road near a small village. Ten minutes later, I heard a voice. “Hello! Do you need any help?” It was a man with his companions from the community. Their presence felt good. When they told me the name of their village, Naa mi n’yala (meaning, “The King knows about me!”), I was amazed. I had passed this community dozens of times without stopping. This time, the Lord used its name to remind me that, indeed, He, the King, was with me while I was alone on that road in my ailing condition. Encouraged, I pressed on toward the nearest clinic.

God knows us thoroughly as we go about our everyday chores, at different locations and situations, no matter our condition (Psalm 139:1–4, 7–12). He does not abandon us or forget us; nor is He so busy that He neglects us. Even when we are in trouble or in difficult circumstances—“darkness” and “night”
(vv. 11–12)—we are not hidden from His presence. This truth gives us such hope and assurance that we can praise the Lord who has carefully created us and leads us through life (v. 14).

Thank You, Lord, that You always know where I am and how I am doing. You know me inside and out. I’m thankful I can count on You to care.

No matter where we are, God knows about us.
1 comment
An Anchor When We’re Afraid
Posted:Jul 12, 2018 1:48 am
Last Updated:Jul 13, 2018 3:46 am
51 Views
Read: Isaiah 51:12–16

Bible in a Year: Psalms 4–6; Acts 17:16–34

I, even I, am he who comforts you. Isaiah 51:12

Are you a worrier? I am. I wrestle with anxiety almost daily. I worry about big things. I worry about small things. Sometimes, it seems like I worry about everything. Once in my teens, I called the police when my parents were four hours late getting home.

Scripture repeatedly tells us not to be afraid. Because of God’s goodness and power, and because He sent Jesus to die for us and His Holy Spirit to guide us, our fears don’t have to rule our lives. We may well face hard things, but God has promised to be with us through it all.

One passage that has helped me profoundly in fearful moments is Isaiah 51:12–16. Here, God reminded His people, who had endured tremendous suffering, that He was still with them, and that His comforting presence is the ultimate reality. No matter how bad things may seem: “I, even I, am he who comforts you,” He told them through the prophet Isaiah (v. 12).

I love that promise. Those eight words have been an emotion-steadying anchor for my soul. I’ve clung to this promise repeatedly when life has felt overwhelming, when my own “constant terror” (v. 13) has felt oppressive. Through this passage, God reminds me to lift my eyes from my fears and in faith and dependence to look to the One who “stretches out the heavens”
(v. 13)—the One who promises to comfort us.

Lord, sometimes the struggles we face in life seem so big. But You are bigger. Help us to cling to Your promise of comfort in fearful moments and to experience Your loving provision as we trust You.

God’s comforting presence is more powerful than our fears.
2 Comments
Strangers Welcome Strangers
Posted:Jul 11, 2018 3:26 am
Last Updated:Jul 17, 2018 12:53 am
47 Views
Read: Leviticus 19:1–9, 33–34

Bible in a Year: Psalms 1–3; Acts 17:1–15

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. . . . Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Leviticus 19:33–34

When my husband and I moved to Seattle to be near his sister, we didn’t know where we would live or work. A local church helped us find a place: a rental house with many bedrooms. We could live in one bedroom, and rent the others to international students. For the next three years, we were strangers welcoming strangers: sharing our home and meals with people from all over the world. We and our housemates also welcomed dozens of international students into our home every Friday night for Bible study.

God’s people know what it means to be far from home. For several hundred years, the Israelites were literal foreigners—and slaves—in Egypt. In Leviticus 19, alongside familiar instructions like “Respect your mother and father” and “Do not steal” (vv. 3, 11), God reminded His people to empathetically care for foreigners, because they knew what it was like to be foreigners and afraid
(vv. 33–34).

While not all of us as followers of God today have experienced literal exile, we all know how it feels to be “foreigners” on earth (1 Peter 2:11)—people who feel like outsiders because our ultimate allegiance is to a heavenly kingdom. We are called to create a community of hospitality—strangers welcoming strangers into God’s family. The hospitable welcome my husband and I experienced in Seattle taught us to extend welcome to others—and this is at the heart of being the family of God (Romans 12:13).

To whom can I show hospitality?
1 comment
God of the Depths
Posted:Jul 10, 2018 5:01 am
Last Updated:Jul 11, 2018 3:54 pm
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Read: Job 41:12–34

Bible in a Year: Job 41–42; Acts 16:22–40

There is the sea, vast and spacious, . . . and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. Psalm 104:25–26

“When you go to the deep sea, every time you take a sample, you’ll find a new species,” says marine biologist Ward Appeltans. In one recent year, scientists identified 1,451 new types of undersea life. We simply don’t know the half of what’s down there.

In Job 38–40, God reviewed His creation for Job’s benefit. In three poetic chapters, God highlighted the wonders of weather, the vastness of the cosmos, and the variety of creatures in their habitats. These are things we can observe. Then God spoke of the mysterious Leviathan—for an entire chapter. Leviathan is a creature like no other, with harpoon-deflecting armor (Job 41.7, 13), graceful power (v. 12), and “fearsome teeth” (v. 14). “Flames stream from its mouth . . . smoke pours from its nostrils” (vv. 19–20). “Nothing on earth is its equal” (v. 33).

Okay, so God talks about a huge creature we haven’t seen. Is that the point of Job 41

No! Job 41 broadens our understanding of God’s surprising character. The psalmist expanded on this when he wrote, “There is the sea, vast and spacious, . . . and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there” (Psalm 104:25–26). After the terrifying description in Job, we learn that God created a playpen for this most fearsome of all creatures. Leviathan frolics.

We have the present to explore the ocean. We’ll have eternity to explore the wonders of our magnificent, mysterious, playful God.

Our exploration of creation teaches us about the Creator.
1 comment
Be Still, My Soul!
Posted:Jul 9, 2018 4:40 am
Last Updated:Jul 10, 2018 9:37 am
52 Views
Read: Psalm 131

Bible in a Year: Job 38–40; Acts 16:1–21

I have calmed and quieted myself. Psalm 131:2

Picture a parent poised lovingly over a child, finger gently placed in front of nose and lips softly speaking the words—“hush,” “shhhh.” The demeanor and simple words are meant to comfort and quiet anxious little ones in the midst of disappointment, discomfort, or pain. Scenes like this are universal and timeless and most of us have been on the giving or receiving end of such loving expressions. When I ponder Psalm 131:2, this is the picture that comes to mind.

The language and flow of this psalm suggest that the writer, David, had experienced something that provoked serious reflection. Have you experienced a disappointment, defeat, or failure that prompted thoughtful, reflective prayer? What do you do when you are humbled by life’s circumstances? When you fail a test or lose a job or experience the end of a relationship? David poured out his heart to the Lord and in the process did a bit of honest soul-searching and inventory (Psalm 131:1). In making peace with his circumstances, he found contentment like that of a young child who was satisfied with simply being with his or her mother (v. 2).

Life’s circumstances change and sometimes we are humbled. Yet we can be hopeful and content knowing that there is One who has promised to never leave or forsake us. We can trust Him fully.

Father, when things change in my life, help me not to be anxious but to trust You and find contentment in You alone.

Contentment is found in Christ alone.
1 comment
Declaring Dependence
Posted:Jul 7, 2018 7:13 am
Last Updated:Jul 8, 2018 1:31 pm
64 Views
Read: John 5:16–23

Bible in a Year: Job 34–35; Acts 15:1–21

Apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Laura’s mom was battling cancer. One morning Laura prayed for her with a friend. Her friend, who had been disabled for years by cerebral palsy, prayed: “Lord, you do everything for me. Please do everything for Laura’s mother.”

Laura was deeply moved by her friend’s “declaration of dependence” on God. Reflecting on the moment, she said, “How often do I acknowledge my need for God in everything? It’s something I should do every day!”

During His days on earth Jesus demonstrated continual dependence on His heavenly Father. One might think that because Jesus is God in a human body, He would have the best of all reasons to be self-sufficient. But when the religious authorities asked Him to give a reason for “working” on a legally ordained day of rest because He healed someone on the Sabbath, He responded, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing” (John 5:19). Jesus declared His dependence as well!

Jesus’s reliance on the Father sets the ultimate example of what it means to live in relationship with God. Every moment we draw breath is a gift from God, and He wants our lives to be filled with His strength. When we live to love and serve Him through our moment-by-moment prayer and reliance on His Word, we are declaring our dependence on Him.

I need You for everything, Lord! Help me to live to serve You. I praise You for being my Savior and my strength!

Prayerlessness is our declaration of independence from God.
1 comment
Hidden Beauty
Posted:Jul 6, 2018 6:44 am
Last Updated:Jul 6, 2018 6:45 am
74 Views
Read: 1 Samuel 16:1–7

Bible in a Year: Job 32–33; Acts 14

People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16.7

Our children needed a little coaxing to believe that it was worth putting on snorkeling gear to peer beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea off the shore of the island of Tobago. But after they dove in, they resurfaced ecstatic, “There are thousands of fish of all different kinds! It’s so beautiful! I’ve never seen such colorful fish!”

Because the surface of the water looked similar to freshwater lakes near our home, our children could have missed the beauty hidden just below the surface.

When the prophet Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king, Samuel saw the oldest son, Eliab, and was impressed by his appearance. The prophet thought he had found the right man, but the Lord rejected Eliab. God reminded Samuel that He “does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16.7.

So Samuel asked if there were more sons. The youngest boy wasn’t present but caring for the family’s sheep. This son, David, was summoned and the Lord directed Samuel to anoint him.

Often we look at people only on a surface level and don’t always take the time to see their inner, sometimes hidden, beauty. We don’t always value what God values. But if we take the time to peer beneath the surface, we may find great treasure.

Heavenly Father, thank You for not valuing people based on outward appearances but instead by looking at our hearts. Help me to take the time to see beyond simply what my eyes can see in order to discover true and lasting beauty.

God can help me to see the inner beauty in others.
1 comment
God’s Great Creation
Posted:Jul 5, 2018 3:13 am
Last Updated:Jul 5, 2018 3:13 am
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Read: Psalm 104:1–6, 10–23

Bible in a Year: Job 30–31; Acts 13:26–52

The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.
Psalm 104:12

On a recent visit with some of our grandchildren, we enjoyed watching a web cam that focused on an eagle family in Florida. Every day we would check in on the mom, the dad, and the baby as they went about their daily routine in their nest high off the ground. Each day the parent birds would keep a constant, protective vigil over the eaglet, bringing it fish from a nearby river for nourishment.

This little eagle family depicts for us one image the psalmist gave us of God’s magnificent creation in Psalm 104—an array of creation images, of scenes from the work of God’s creative hand.

We see the majesty of God’s creation as it relates to the universe (vv. 2–4).

We experience the creation of the earth itself—waters, mountains, valleys
(vv. 5–9).

We enjoy the glory of God’s gift of animals, birds, and crops (vv. 10–18.

We marvel at the cycles God created in our world—morning/night, darkness/light, work/rest (vv. 19–23).

What a glorious world God has fashioned with His hands for our enjoyment—and for His glory! “Praise the Lord, my soul!” (v. 1). Each one of us can say thank You to God for all He has given us to appreciate and enjoy.

Praise God! Praise You, Lord, for the wonder of the earth You created.

The beauty of creation reflects the beauty of our Creator.
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