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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.

Posted:Mar 22, 2018 4:24 am
Last Updated:Mar 22, 2018 4:46 pm
Read: Psalm 79:8–13 |

Bible in a Year: Joshua 10–12; Luke 1:39–56

Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise. Psalm 79:13

My phone beeped, indicating an incoming text. My daughter wanted my grandmother’s recipe for Peppermint Ice Cream Pie. As I thumbed through the yellowed cards in my aged recipe box, my eyes spotted the unique handwriting of my grandmother—and several jotted notes in the small cursive of my mother. It occurred to me that with my daughter’s request, Peppermint Ice Cream Pie would make its entrance into a fourth generation within my family.

I wondered, What other family heirlooms might be handed down generation to generation? What about choices regarding faith? Besides the pie, would the faith of my grandmother—and my own—play out in the lives of my daughter and her offspring?

Sharing and living out our faith is the best way to leave a legacy.
In Psalm 79, the psalmist bemoans a wayward Israel, which has lost its faith moorings. He begs God to rescue His people from the ungodly and to restore Jerusalem to safety. This done, he promises a restored—and ongoing—commitment to God’s ways. “Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise” (v. 13).

I eagerly shared the recipe, knowing my grandmother’s dessert legacy would enjoy a new layer in our family. And I prayed sincerely for the most lasting hand-me-down of all: the influence of our family’s faith on one generation to the next.

Sharing and living out our faith is the best way to leave a legacy.
Posted:Mar 21, 2018 1:44 am
Last Updated:Mar 22, 2018 4:46 pm
Read: Matthew 14:25–33

Bible in a Year: Joshua 7–9; Luke 1:21–38

Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Matthew 14:27

During an especially cold winter, I ventured out to Lake Michigan, the fifth largest lake in the world, to see it frozen over. Bundled up on the beach where I usually enjoy soaking up the sun, the view was breathtaking. The water was actually frozen in waves creating an icy masterpiece.

Because the water was frozen solid next to the shore, I had the opportunity to “walk on water.” Even with the knowledge that the ice was thick enough to support me, I took the first few steps tentatively. I was fearful the ice wouldn’t continue to hold me. As I cautiously explored this unfamiliar terrain, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus calling Peter out of the boat onto the Sea of Galilee.

Dear Lord, thank You for the assurance that You are always with us.
When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, their response was also fear. But Jesus responded, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:26–27). Peter was able to overcome his fear and step out onto the water because he knew Jesus was present. When his courageous steps faltered because of the wind and waves, Peter cried out to Jesus. Jesus was still there, near enough to simply reach out His hand to rescue him.

If you are facing a situation today where Jesus is calling you to do something that may seem as impossible as walking on water, take courage. The one who calls you will be present with you.

Dear Lord, thank You for the assurance that You are always with us.

When we call out to God, He hears.
Posted:Mar 20, 2018 5:50 am
Last Updated:Mar 21, 2018 1:45 am
Read: Ecclesiastes 3:1–11

Bible in a Year: Joshua 4–6; Luke 1:1–20

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Today is the first day of spring in the northern half of the world. If you live in Australia, it’s the first day of autumn—the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere. Today, the sun shines directly on the equator, and the hours of daylight and nighttime are nearly equal around the world.

New seasons are important for many people. Some count down the day because of what they hope the new season will bring. Perhaps you’ve been marking off a calendar for spring in Wisconsin to signal the end of another winter. Or maybe you live in Melbourne, and you can’t wait for autumn to bring relief from the Australian sun.

Give thanks to God for His greatness, His help, and His companionship.
We also go through seasons of life that don’t have to do with the weather. The author of Ecclesiastes told us there is a season for every activity under the sun—a time appointed by God during which we live our lives (3:1–11).

Moses spoke of a new season in his life after he led the people of Israel through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 31:2), and he had to give up his leadership role to Joshua. And Paul faced a lonely season while he was under house arrest in Rome—asking for visitors but realizing that God was “at my side” (2 Timothy 4:17).

Regardless of the season of life, let’s give thanks to God for His greatness, His help, and His companionship.

Thank You, Father, for the promise of Your care during this season of my life. You have allowed this circumstance for a good reason. Help me to use this time appointed by You in a way that deepens my trust in You.

Every season brings a reason to rejoice.
1 comment
Posted:Mar 19, 2018 4:48 am
Last Updated:Mar 20, 2018 5:51 am
ead: Psalm 118:1–14, 26–29

Bible in a Year: Joshua 1–3; Mark 16

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1

On our wedding day, Martie and I gladly vowed to be faithful “in good times as well as in bad, in sickness as well as in health, for richer or for poorer.” In a way it may seem strange to include vows about the bleak reality of bad times, sickness, and poverty on a cheerful wedding day. But it underscores the fact that life often has “bad” times.

So what are we to do when we face life’s inevitable difficulties? Paul urges us on behalf of Christ to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18. As difficult as that may sound, there is good reason why God encourages us to embrace a spirit of gratitude. Gratitude is grounded in the truth that our Lord “is good” and “his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1). He is present with us and strengthens us in the midst of trouble (Hebrews 13:5–6), and He lovingly uses our trials to grow our character into His likeness (Romans 5:3–4).

God, teach me to have a grateful heart.
When life hits us with hard times, choosing to be grateful focuses our attention on the goodness of God and gives us the strength to make it through our struggles. With the psalmist, we can sing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:29).

Lord, I realize that focusing on my troubles causes me to forget that even in the midst of trials You are good. Teach me the art of a grateful heart.

Thanksgiving is a virtue that grows through practice.
1 comment
Posted:Mar 16, 2018 5:47 am
Last Updated:Mar 19, 2018 4:49 am
ead: Job 38:1–18

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 28–29; Mark 14:54–72

For from him and through him and for him are all things. Romans 11:36

Some of us are inclined to look at the world and see only what’s wrong. DeWitt Jones is a National Geographic photographer who has used his profession to celebrate what’s right about the world. He waits and watches until a shaft of light or turn of perspective suddenly reveals a wonder that had been there all along. He uses his camera to find beauty in the most common faces of people and nature.

If anyone had reason to focus on the wrongs of the world, Job did. After losing all that had given him joy, even his friends became his accusers. Together their voices taunted him for not admitting that he was suffering for sins he was hiding. When Job cried out to the heavens for help, God remained silent.

All creation points to God.
Finally, from within the chaos of a whirlwind and the darkness of a storm, God asked Job to consider wonders of nature that reflect a wisdom and power far beyond our own (Job 38:2–4).

Would He now ask us? What about something as natural as the ways of a dog, cat, fluttering leaf, or blade of grass? Could a shaft of light, or a turn of perspective, reveal—even in our pain—the mind and heart of a Creator who has been with us and for us all along?

Father in heaven, we’ve spent too much time thinking only about what is wrong and broken with our world. Please help us to see evidence of Your presence in the wonder of what only You could have done.

In the faces of nature there are wonders that never cease.
Posted:Mar 15, 2018 4:47 am
Last Updated:Mar 16, 2018 5:47 am
Read: Psalm 25:1–11

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 26–27; Mark 14:27–53

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4

As a boy, I watched my father plow fields that had never been cultivated. On the first pass the plowshare would turn up large rocks that he hauled away. Then, he would plow the field again, and then again, to further break up the soil. With each pass the plow turned up other, smaller rocks that he cast aside. The process continued, requiring many passes through the field.

Growth in grace can look like a similar process. When we first become believers, some “big” sins may be exposed. We confess them to God and accept His forgiveness. But as the years pass by, and as God’s Word passes through us and sinks into our innermost being, the Holy Spirit brings other sins to the surface. Sins of the spirit once thought to be mere peccadilloes—small, seemingly unimportant offenses—are revealed as ugly, ruinous attitudes and actions. Sins like pride, self-pity, complaining, pettiness, prejudice, spite, self-serving indulgence.

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4
God reveals each sin so He can cast it aside. He reveals to heal. When harmful hidden attitudes come to the surface, we can pray as the psalmist David did, “For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great”
(Psalm 25:11).

Humbling exposure, though painful, is good for the soul. It’s one of the ways in which He “instructs sinners in his ways.” He “guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (vv. 8–9).

Thank You, Lord, that You remember us according to Your love. Instruct us and guide us. Teach us to live as those who have been forgiven much.

Jesus takes us as we are and makes us what we should be.
Posted:Mar 14, 2018 4:48 am
Last Updated:Mar 15, 2018 4:47 am
Read: Romans 8:28–34

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 23–25; Mark 14:1–26

You help us by your prayers. 2 Corinthians 1:11

“I didn’t realize what a gift prayer was until my brother was sick and you all prayed for him. I cannot tell you what a comfort your prayers were!”

Laura had tears in her eyes as she thanked me for the prayers of the people in our church for her brother, who was facing a cancer diagnosis. She continued, “Your prayers have strengthened him in this difficult time and have been an encouragement to our entire family.”

Prayer is a gift to be shared.
One of the best ways to love others is to pray for them. Jesus is our ultimate example in this. The New Testament tells us about Jesus praying for others on many occasions, and even shows us that He continues to come to the Father on our behalf. Romans 8:34 says that He “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Even after showing such selfless love at the cross, the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ continues to express His care for us by praying for us at this very moment.

All around us are people who need us to follow Jesus’s example and love them with our prayers, inviting God’s help and intervention in their lives. We can ask God to help us pray for them, and He will! May our loving Lord strengthen us to generously give the gift of our prayers for others today.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for praying for me. Help me to serve You and others through faithfully praying today.

Prayer is a gift to be shared.
1 comment
Posted:Mar 13, 2018 5:36 am
Last Updated:Mar 14, 2018 4:49 am
Read: Hebrews 10:19–25

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 20–22; Mark 13:21–37

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

Why do more than five million people a year pay money to run several miles over an obstacle course where they must ascend vertical walls, slog through mud, and climb up inside a vertical pipe with water pouring down on them? Some see it as a personal challenge to push their limit of endurance or conquer their fears. For others, the attraction is teamwork where competitors help and support each other. One person called it “a no-judgment zone” where people who are strangers will reach out to help each other finish the race .

The Bible urges us to pursue teamwork as a model of living out our faith in Jesus. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25).

Father, give us eyes to see and strength to help.
Our goal is not to “finish first” in the race of faith, but to reach out in tangible ways of encouragement by setting an example and lending a helping hand along the way.

The day will come when we complete our life on earth. Until then, let’s spur each other on, be ready to help, and keep pulling together every day.

Father in heaven, give us eyes to see and strength to help each other in the race of faith today.

We run together in the race of faith.
1 comment
Posted:Mar 12, 2018 5:50 am
Last Updated:Mar 22, 2018 4:46 pm
ead: Habakkuk 3:17–19

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 17–19; Mark 13:1–20

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:18

With a tendency toward pessimism, I quickly jump to negative conclusions about how situations in my life will play out. If I’m thwarted in my efforts on a work project, I’m easily convinced none of my other projects will be successful either, and—even though utterly unrelated—I will probably never be able to touch my toes comfortably. And, woe is me, I’m an awful mother who can’t do anything right. Defeat in one area unnecessarily affects my feelings in many.

It’s easy for me to imagine how the prophet Habakkuk might have reacted to what God showed him. He had great cause for despair after having seen the coming troubles for God’s people; long and arduous years lay ahead. Things really did look dismal: no fruit, no meat, and no creature comforts. His words lure me into a pessimistic bed of hopelessness until he jars me awake again with a small three-letter word: yet. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord” (Habakkuk 3:18. Despite all the hardships he anticipated, Habakkuk found cause for rejoicing simply because of who God is.

Lord, You are the reason for all my joy.
While we might be prone to exaggerate our problems, Habakkuk truly faced some extreme hardships. If he could summon praise for God in those moments, perhaps we can too. When we’re bogged down in the depths of despair, we can look to God who lifts us up.

Lord, You are the reason for all my joy. Help me to fix my eyes on You when my circumstances are painful and hard.

God is our cause for joy in the midst of despair.
1 comment
Posted:Mar 9, 2018 4:27 am
Last Updated:Mar 22, 2018 4:46 pm
Read: 1 Kings 13:11–22

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 8–10; Mark 11:19–33

“I have been told by the word of the Lord.” 1 Kings 13:17

My second child was eager to sleep in a “big-girl bed” in her sister’s room. Each night I tucked Britta under the covers, issuing strict instructions to stay in bed, warning her I’d return her to the crib if she didn’t. Night after night, I found her in the hallway and had to escort my discouraged darling back to her crib. Years later I learned her customarily-sweet older sister wasn’t excited about having a roommate and repeatedly told Britta that she’d heard me calling for her. Britta heeded her sister’s words, went to look for me, and thus landed herself back in the crib.

Listening to the wrong voice can have consequences for us all. When God sent a man to Bethel to speak on His behalf, He gave explicit instructions for him to not eat or drink while there, nor return home by the same route (1 Kings 13:9). When King Jeroboam invited him to share a meal, the prophet declined, following God’s command. When an older prophet extended an invitation to dine, the man initially declined, but relented and ate when his elder deceived him, saying an angel told him it was okay. Just as I wanted Britta to enjoy her “big-girl bed,” I imagine God was saddened the man didn’t heed His instructions.

God's words are the ones that matter most.
We can trust God completely. His words are our path to life; we are wise to listen and obey.

Thank You, Lord, for speaking to me through Your Word. Help me to tune my ears to Your voice and obey.

God’s words are the ones that matter most.

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