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Daily Devotion

boldstardex

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Finding a Quiet Life
Bible in a Year:

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.

1 Thessalonians 4:11
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Thessalonians 4:9–12
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” We all heard that question as children and sometimes even as adults. The question is born in curiosity, and the answer is often heard as an indication of ambition. My answers morphed over the years, starting with a cowboy, then a truck driver, followed by a soldier, and I entered college set on becoming a doctor. However, I can’t recall one time that someone suggested or I consciously considered pursuing “a quiet life.”
Yet that’s exactly what Paul told the Thessalonians. First, he urged them to love one another and all of God’s family even more (1 Thessalonians 4:10). Then he gave them a general admonition that would cover whatever specific plow they put their hand to. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life” (v. 11). Now what did Paul mean by that exactly? He clarified: “You should mind your own business and work with your hands” so outsiders respect you and you’re not a burden on anyone (vv. 11–12). We don’t want to discourage children from pursuing their giftedness or passions but maybe we could encourage them that whatever they choose to do, they do with a quiet spirit.
Considering the world we live in, the words ambitious and quiet couldn’t seem further apart. But the Scriptures are always relevant, so perhaps we should consider what it might look like to begin living quieter.
By: John Blase
Reflect & Pray
How does Paul’s phrase—“mind your own business”—sit with you? Who comes to mind of someone who lives a quiet life that you might emulate?
Jesus, living a quiet life sounds so inviting, but I know it won’t come easily. I ask for the grace to mind my own business, not so I can close myself off from the world, but that I won’t add to the noise.
 

boldstardex

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When We Praise
Bible in a Year:

At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Acts 16:26
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Acts 16:25–34
When nine-year-old Willie was abducted from his front yard in 2014, he sang his favorite gospel song Every Praise over and over again. During the three-hour ordeal, Willie ignored the kidnapper’s repeated orders to keep silent as they drove around. Eventually, the kidnapper let Willie out of the car unharmed. Later, Willie described the encounter, saying that while he felt his fear give way to faith, the abductor seemed agitated by the song.
Willie’s response to his dire situation is reminiscent of the experience shared by Paul and Silas. After being flogged and thrown into jail, they reacted by “praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:25–26).
Upon witnessing this awesome demonstration of power, the jailer believed in the God of Paul and Silas, and his entire household was baptized along with him (vv. 27–34). Through the avenue of praise, both physical and spiritual chains were broken that night.
We may not always experience a visibly dramatic rescue like Paul and Silas, or like Willie. But we know that God responds to the praises of His people! When He moves, chains fall apart.
By: Remi Oyedele
Reflect & Pray
What lessons do you learn from the prayer session held by Paul and Silas? How can you apply these principles to the difficult circumstances you experience?
“[God], You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3 (nkjv)
 

boldstardex

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“All this I (Jesus) have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14: 26
HOW WILL YOU RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL?
October 22, 2019
No matter how long we listen to personal stories of life change and regularly attend church – the Gospel of Jesus Christ eventually requires a personal, individual response.
What is the Gospel? It means the “good news” and it is the central message of the Scriptures. It’s the story of Jesus. The Gospel is that Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins on the cross. He rose from the dead to conquer sin and death and to give us eternal life. Jesus came to offer us a relationship with Him, no matter our past sins and failures. That is the Gospel. And the Gospel ALWAYS calls for a response.
What should your response be? It means recognizing your sins and short comings in comparison to Christ. It’s acknowledging your need for a Savior. It means responding in repentant faith by recognizing that Christ is the only way to be saved from the penalty of your sin, which is death. It means believing that when Christ rose from the dead, He conquered sin and death and offers eternal life.
If you have never responded to the Gospel, you can today. It begins with repentant faith and complete surrender – by giving your life totally into Christ’s hands. It means choosing to follow Him. How do we follow Christ? That’s where the Scriptures come into play. The written Word of God is our guide to believing in and following Christ. It’s the timeless message of redemption, forgiveness and love – it’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So have you responded in faith? Are you ready to respond today?
 

boldstardex

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This Is Me
Bible in a Year:

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

James 3:10
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
James 3:7–12
The powerful song “This Is Me” is an unforgettable show tune featured in The Greatest Showman, the smash movie musical loosely based on the life of P. T. Barnum and his traveling circus. The lyrics, sung by characters in the film who’d suffered verbal taunts and abuse for failing to conform to societal norms, describe words as destructive bullets and knives that leave scars.
The song’s popularity points to how many people bear the invisible, but real, wounds caused by weaponized words.
James understood the potential danger of our words to cause destructive and long-lasting harm, calling the tongue “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). By using this surprisingly strong comparison, James emphasized the urgent need for believers to recognize the immense power of their words. Even more, he highlighted the inconsistency of praising God with one breath and then injuring people who are made in God’s image with the next (vv. 9–10).
The song “This Is Me” similarly challenges the truth of verbal attacks by insisting that we’re all glorious—a truth the Bible affirms. The Bible establishes the unique dignity and beauty of each human being, not because of outward appearance or anything we have done, but because we are each beautifully designed by God—His unique masterpieces (Psalm 139:14). And our words to each other and about each other have the power to reinforce that reassuring reality.
By: Lisa M. Samra
Reflect & Pray
Whose forgiveness might you need to seek for using damaging words? How might you encourage someone today?
Creator God, thank You for creating each of us. Help us to use our words both in praise of You and to encourage the people You expertly designed.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
Seeds of Grace
Bible in a Year:

The seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.

Mark 4:27
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Mark 4:26–29
For nearly four decades, a man in India has worked to bring a scorched, sandy wasteland back to life. Seeing how erosion and changing ecosystems had destroyed the river island he loved, he began to plant one tree at a time, bamboo then cotton. Now, lush forests and abundant wildlife fill more than 1,300 acres. However, the man insists the rebirth was not something he made happen. Acknowledging the amazing way the natural world is designed, he marvels at how seeds are carried to fertile ground by the wind. Birds and animals participate in sowing them as well, and rivers also contribute in helping plants and trees flourish.
Creation works in ways we can’t comprehend or control. According to Jesus, this same principle applies to the kingdom of God. “This is what the kingdom of God is like,” Jesus said. “A man scatters seed on the ground . . . the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how” (Mark 4:26–27). God brings life and healing into the world as pure gifts, without our manipulation. We do whatever God asks us of us, and then we watch life emerge. We know that everything flows from His grace.
It’s tempting to believe we’re responsible to change someone’s heart or ensure results for our faithful efforts. However, we need not live under that exhausting pressure. God makes all our seeds grow. It’s all grace.
By: Winn Collier
Reflect & Pray
When are you tempted to think it’s your job to make things happen or grow? Why is it vital for you to trust God’s grace rather than your own effort?
God continues to grow His kingdom by His grace.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
“God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12: 10b – 11
DISCIPLINE BRINGS HOLINESS
October 27, 2019
What is holiness? Holiness means to be set apart in character, spirit, values or priorities. It means to be more like God. Since God is holy and we are not, it’s natural that there will be tension as followers of Jesus struggle to grow, learn and mature in faith. The journey towards becoming more like God isn’t easy. For children of God, we will experience consequences and discipline when we veer off course. It’s part of the way God shapes us into holiness like Him.
The Bible compares God’s discipline to that of a loving, earthly father who disciplines his child in order to help him grow into a strong, independent, and wise adult. Even though this father loves his children dearly, he will not always rush to their rescue. Instead, he will love them by disciplining them and lovingly guiding them through life’s consequences. This is a father’s love.
In the same way, our Heavenly Father disciplines His children out of love. It’s not because He’s a mean Father, but because He loves us and wants the very best for our lives. Just like the prophet Jonah who tried to run from God and ended up three days in the belly of a fish before heading back on course.
When we run from God, we will be pursued. God will get our attention. And when we hit rock bottom and we’ve tried every other option – God will be right there, ready to love and guide us through the consequences of our actions. He just won’t quit shaping us into what He has created us to be – a child that is more and more like His Father.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
A Light in the Darkness
Bible in a Year:

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
John 1:5; 16:1–11, 33
In These Are the Generations, Mr. Bae describes God’s faithfulness and the power of the gospel to penetrate the darkness. His grandfather, parents, and his own family were all persecuted for sharing their faith in Christ. But an interesting thing happened when Mr. Bae was imprisoned for telling a friend about God: his faith grew. The same was true for his parents when they were sentenced to a concentration camp—they continued to share Christ’s love even there. Mr. Bae found the promise of John 1:5 to be true: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus warned His disciples about the trouble they’d face. They would be rejected by people who “will do such things because they have not known the Father or me” (16:3). But Jesus offered words of comfort: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (v. 33).
While many believers in Jesus haven’t experienced persecution on the level of that endured by the family of Mr. Bae, we can expect to face trouble. But we don’t have to give in to discouragement or resentment. We have a Helper—the Holy Spirit Jesus promised to send. We can turn to Him for guidance and comfort (v. 7). The power of God’s presence can hold us steady in dark times.
By: Linda Washington
Reflect & Pray
What trouble have you experienced as a believer in Christ or witnessed others experiencing? What is your first reaction during hard times?
Heavenly Father, please protect Your children who are experiencing persecution.
 

boldstardex

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Scar Stories
Bible in a Year:

See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.

John 20:27
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
John 20:24–29
The butterfly flitted in and out of my mother’s panda-faced pansies. As a child, I longed to catch it. I raced from our backyard into our kitchen and grabbed a glass jar, but on my hasty return, I tripped and hit the concrete patio hard. The jar smashed under my wrist and left an ugly slash that would require eighteen stitches to close. Today the scar crawls like a caterpillar across my wrist, telling the story of both wounding and healing.
When Jesus appeared to the disciples after His death, He brought His scars. John reports Thomas wanting to see “the nail marks in his hands” and Jesus inviting Thomas to “put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side” (John 20:25, 27). In order to demonstrate He was the same Jesus, He rose from the dead with the scars of His suffering still visible.
The scars of Jesus prove Him to be the Savior and tell the story of our salvation. The pierced marks through His hands and feet and the hollow in His side reveal a story of pain inflicted, endured, and then healed—for us. He did it so that we might be restored to Him and made whole.
Have you ever considered the story told by Christ’s scars?
By: Elisa Morgan
Reflect & Pray
How do the Savior’s scars promise healing for the wounds you’ve endured? What wounds will you bring to Him today?
Jesus, how I love the story Your scars tell to me—and to our world. May I learn to love You more and more through the story of Your scars.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
“He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.” – John 21: 7
REMEMBER YOUR ROOTS
November 4, 2019
Peter first surrendered his life to Jesus after Jesus performed a miracle from his very own boat. Peter had been unsuccessfully fishing all night, when Jesus showed up. Asking to use Peter’s boat as a floating pulpit, Jesus taught the crowd that had gathered along the shoreline. When He finished, Jesus asked Peter to cast out the nets. Now, of the two of them, Peter was the professional fisherman, and this was not the right time or way to go about it. But Peter gave in out of respect for “the preacher.”
Sure enough, they pulled in so many fish that their nets began to break! Even help from a nearby boat couldn’t bring in the massive haul. This miracle was the moment that Peter recognized that Jesus was different. Peter saw how unworthy, flawed and sinful he was to be standing before the Lord Jesus. But Jesus, in all His love and mercy, reached out to Peter saying, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” From that moment on, Peter left everything and followed Jesus. (Luke 5:1-11)
Fast forward three years and Peter has seen it all: from miraculous healings, provocative teachings, and massive popularity to widespread hatred that would ultimately lead to Jesus’ death on the cross. And at the very moment when all felt lost, Jesus appeared before Peter and the other disciples – completely resurrected from the dead.
Undoubtedly still processing all that had happened, we again find Peter and six other disciples back out on the water after another uneventful fishing trip. Suddenly, someone calls out from the shore, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” Nope, not this time. The man tells them to cast the nets out once more from the right side of the boat. Doing so, the disciples struggled to haul in the net because of the great catch. 153 big ones!
That’s when things began to click. John first recognized Jesus for who He was: the risen Lord. Immediately, Peter jumped into the water and swam to shore. You can be sure that Peter flashed back to that first fishing miracle when he left everything to follow Jesus. Jesus was about to remind Peter of that original calling to become a fisher of men. Isn’t it just like Jesus to remind us of our calling – especially when life is uncertain and the next step unclear?
Do you need to be reminded of your God given calling in life? Maybe you’re walking through a confusing or difficult season and the way forward seems anything but clear. Think back to when you first gave your life to Christ. God hasn’t changed. He hasn’t forgotten. Have you?
 

boldstardex

Moderator
“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
FINDING FREEDOM FROM YOUR PAST Part I
November 6, 2019
Did you know that the prophet Hosea’s love life is the topic of an often overlooked and pretty unexpected story in the Old Testament? (You can find the full story in his namesake book, Hosea.) The short version of the story goes like this: God told Hosea to marry a woman with a “bad reputation.” She was known around town for her “loose morals” and sexual immorality – not exactly the usual pedigree a prophet would expect in a wife.
Yet, Hosea obeyed God and they married. A few years and three kids later, she runs away, completely abandoning Hosea and the family – only to end up trapped in a lifestyle of prostitution. Unbelievably, God tells Hosea to take her back as his wife. Despite everything she’s put him through, Hosea obeys God, going so far as to even pay for her freedom.
For anyone who’s ever experienced relational infidelity, abandonment, or betrayal – Hosea’s forgiveness and obedience might be a little hard to understand, much less to accept. So, what could God possibly be trying to communicate through this story?
I think there are two powerful take-aways for us. The first, more obvious parallel is how Hosea’s love, acceptance, and continual pursuit of his wife, even after she rejected and turned her back on him, mirrors that of Christ’s love towards us. From the moment that Adam and Eve rejected God through their sin, God set in motion a redemption plan; He’s been pursuing us ever since. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8). Jesus took upon Himself the judgment for our sin, so that we might have life (John 3:16).
And just like Hosea’s love for His wife, God’s love isn’t contingent on us first getting our lives in order. If that were the case, then we would never be good enough. No, Jesus took full ownership of our sins and accepts us as we are – sin, shame, and all. We need only to come to Him with repentant hearts and a willingness to hand Him control of our lives, and to experience it personally. It’s that simple and that powerful.
Don’t miss the second take-away in part two of this story tomorrow!
 

boldstardex

Moderator
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has pass away; behold the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
FINDING FREEDOM FROM YOUR PAST Part II
November 7, 2019
Jesus offers freedom in forgiveness. Author Stephen Chbosky writes in the book turned film, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, that “We accept the love we think we deserve.” In other words, how we view ourselves (our identity, value, and self-worth), has a big impact on how we engage in life. That’s why it can be so difficult to completely let go of our past sins, regrets, or even the harm others have done to us. It’s much easier to hold onto our pain and baggage, accepting the labels given by ourselves and others.
Let’s jump back into the story of Hosea and his wife (Read the full story in the Old Testament book, Hosea). I wonder if Hosea’s wife ran back to her old life of sexual immorality because she wasn’t able to fully embrace Hosea’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness? I wonder if she still carried around the weight of her sin and shame from her previously immoral life, rather than walking in the new identity Hosea was offering her as his bride?
Have you ever done that? No matter how hard you try, you just can’t shake the lie that you’re not worthy of ____love, happiness, purpose, worth, a healthy relationship___ (fill in the blank). Why? Maybe you messed up in the past and you’re letting guilt and shame keep you from moving on. Perhaps you heard that label or statement spoken about you so often that it’s hard to believe anything different is possible. Maybe you’ve had one door after another slammed in your face and you’ve internalized that rejection, believing there must really be something wrong with you.
Thankfully, there is no sin or shame or lie we’ve believed that is too big for the forgiveness of Jesus to redeem. Jesus accepts us as we are, where we are – when we come to Him with a repentant heart and surrendered spirit. 2 Corinthians 5: 17 speaks of becoming a new creation – “the old has gone, the new has come.” Gone is our sin and shame. Gone are the lies we’ve believed and gone is that former identity we’ve carried. The new has come! Praise the Lord!
If you’ve been holding onto the past, leave it at the foot of the cross. Go to God in prayer and ask for His forgiveness for your past, recognize your need for Christ to take over and thank Him for already taking care of that sin and shame on the cross. Make today the day that you finally step into the complete freedom that God’s forgiveness offers.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
It’s Up to God
Bible in a Year:

Your will be done.

Matthew 6:10
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Matthew 6:5–15
Nate and Sherilyn enjoyed their stop at an omakase restaurant while visiting New York City. Omakase is a Japanese word that translates, “I will leave it up to you,” which means customers at such restaurants let the chef choose their meal. Even though it was their first time to try this type of cuisine and it sounded risky, they loved the food the chef chose and prepared for them.
That idea could carry over to our attitude toward God with our prayer requests: “I will leave it up to You.” The disciples saw that Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places” to pray (Luke 5:16), so they asked Him one day to teach them how to pray. He told them to ask for their daily needs, forgiveness, and the way out of temptation. Part of His response also suggested an attitude of surrender: “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
We can pour out our needs to God because He wants to hear what’s on our hearts—and He delights to give. But being human and finite, we don’t always know what’s best, so it only makes sense to ask with a humble spirit, in submission to Him. We can leave the answer to Him, confident that He’s trustworthy and will choose to prepare what’s good for us.
By: Anne Cetas
Reflect & Pray
What do you want to share with God right now? What would it look like if you totally surrendered it to Him?
Thank You, God, for carrying me and my needs close to Your heart. I surrender my life and those I love to Your care.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
“How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” – Habakkuk 1:2-4
WHAT TO DO WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT FAITH?
November 11, 2019
How could a loving God allow so much evil and suffering in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people? There are so many questions that have the potential to shake our faith. And for many, these questions alone are the reason some walk away from God altogether. So, what do we do with these age-old questions?
Well, it might surprise you to know that the Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk, went through a season of wrestling with similar questions. You see, Habakkuk was fed up with all the evil and corruption taking place among God’s own people.
Now, if anyone should have known better, it should be God’s chosen people. This was the very nation that had witnessed first-hand, miracle after miracle as God brought them out of Egyptian captivity and eventually into the promised land. And yet, here was Habakkuk, crying out in frustration at the fact that things had veered so far off course. Why would God allow all this immorality and sin? Wasn’t God paying attention? Why wasn’t He doing anything? Why wasn’t He answering him? Can you relate?
In Habakkuk 1:5, God responds. You see, God had been paying attention. In fact, God was about to set into motion events that would go down in history, as the most powerful nation of the day would ultimately conquer the nation of Judah. That wasn’t exactly the answer that Habakkuk had in mind and he continues to pour out his heart to God in prayer in Habakkuk chapter 2.
Now, what I hope you’re seeing about Habakkuk is this:
  1. He was a man of PRAYER. This meant that he prayed regularly and honestly.
  2. He brought his doubts TO God. Absolutely nothing was off limits when it came to talking with God – including his big questions about God’s goodness and mankind’s evil.
We, too, can learn from Habakkuk’s example of how to deal with these big, life-questions that we all struggle with at times. How? By bringing them to God: questions, fears, doubts, frustrations… everything. Be honest. Because when we raise these doubts and questions TO God, we give God the opportunity to help us work through them, rather than allowing our doubts to push us away from God. After all, faith is all about a relationship with God. How can we get answers if we don’t go to God first?
What questions do you need to bring to God?
 

boldstardex

Moderator
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2
FIVE MODERN-DAY “WOES”
November 12, 2019
Selfish ambition. Greed. Violence. Debauchery. Idolatry. These are pretty strong words, or “woes” as they are often referred to in Scripture. And yet, they could very easily describe much of modern-day culture. Well, some things don’t change, because God described the ancient nation of Babylon in these very same terms to the prophet, Habakkuk.
  1. Selfish Ambition (Habakkuk 2: 4-5): A society so focused on wealth and status that corners are cut and relationships crumble. From social media influencer to C-suite executive, the pursuit of the “American dream” of wealth and success has driven many people to take shortcuts and even sacrifice others in their climb to the top.
  2. Greed (Habakkuk 2: 9-11): The Bible uses the word covet to describe a level of envy and jealousy so great that it leads to resentment towards others. God took the sin of coveting so seriously that it made it into the ten commandments.
  3. Violence (Habakkuk 2: 12-14): Babylon was one of the most violent and powerful nations at that time. America is certainly in no shortage of violence.
  4. Debauchery (Habakkuk 2: 15-17): Debauchery isn’t a common word today. It refers to an excessive indulgence for pleasure. For Babylon it was drunkenness. Today, it could describe our culture of sexual freedom, drug addictions, or the opioid crisis that is crippling much of the nation.
  5. Idolatry (Habakkuk 2: 18-20): Now, in Babylon’s day, this often translated into a physical idol made out of precious metal, jewelry, or wood that would be worshipped as a god. However, in today’s modern culture, idolatry refers to anything that we place before God. This can be a relationship, career, finances, a hobby – you fill in the blank.
God might have been speaking about the Babylonians in this conversation with Habakkuk, but it could so easily describe society today. Ask God to identify which “modern-day woes” might be showing up in your life. With God’s help, you can address even the smallest root of these sins before they grow into bigger and bigger problems. You’ll be glad you did!
 

boldstardex

Moderator
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
November 13, 2019
The Gospel is incredibly good news that follows bad news. Imagine that out of nowhere a North Korean long-range ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead was 30 minutes from hitting Los Angeles. Can you imagine the horror and fear not just in LA but around the world? Then twenty minutes later we learn that the US military has shot down the missile. It falls harmlessly into the Pacific. Talk about incredibly good news after the imminent worst-case scenario. This good news following horrific news illustration is what the Gospel is all about.
The Gospel tells us that we are all sinners, separated from God because of that sin. God is very clear that we will face judgement for our sins, a “double-death.” In other words, we will die both a physical death and a spiritual death which the Bible tells us means a permanent eternal separation from God. Jesus calls this Hell. This is the bad news.
But the Gospel is actually the good news that follows the bad. It’s that God loves you and me so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus died in our place so that if we acknowledge our sins, confess and repent, then we are forgiven. He cleanses us of sin. He makes us right with God, and because Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death, Jesus gives us that same victory, as well. Even though our bodies will one day give out and die, we can be confident that our souls will live forever with the Lord. And one day, when He returns for His Church, He will give us a resurrected body like His.
This is the Gospel! There is no better news in all of history. Have you embraced the Gospel in your life?
 

boldstardex

Moderator
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” – Psalm 139: 7-8
HITTING ROCK BOTTOM
November 14, 2019
There’s an old cliché that says, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” In other words, when the battle rages and the bullets fly, people tend to pray. There’s just something about realizing that you’re out of options and in need of divine intervention. Jonah experienced this kind of moment as the sailors tossed him overboard into the rough and stormy sea. You see, Jonah didn’t like the idea of preaching in the dangerous city of Nineveh, so he ran. That was Jonah’s first mistake. Thankfully, even when we run from God, God never stops pursuing us.
  1. When we run FROM God, we will continue running INTO God. As Jonah ran, he stumbled into one problem after another. Some of those problems impacted his own life, while other problems spilled over into the lives of others. (Think of all the sailors on the ship in the storm.) In running FROM God, God kept showing up.
  2. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom. It took Jonah being tossed into the sea and facing eminent death before he asked God for help. It didn’t have to be this way for Jonah, and it doesn’t have to be this way for us. However, for so many of us, it often takes hitting rock bottom before we turn back to God.
Are you running from God? What problems in your life and in the lives of others are the result of running? Thankfully, no matter how far or how fast we run, we can never out run God. His arms are too long for us to escape His reach. He is always ready and waiting to welcome us home.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
Loving the Stranger
Bible in a Year:

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

Exodus 22:21
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Exodus 23:1–9
After a member of my family converted to a different religion, Christian friends urged me to “convince” her to return to Jesus. I found myself first seeking to love my family member as Christ would—including in public places where some people frowned at her “foreign-looking” clothes. Others even made rude comments. “Go home!” one man yelled at her from his truck, not knowing or apparently caring that she already is “home.”
Moses taught a much kinder way to act toward people whose dress or beliefs feel different. Teaching laws of justice and mercy, Moses instructed the children of Israel, “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). The edict expresses God’s concern for all strangers, people vulnerable to bias and abuse, and it is repeated in Exodus 22:21 and Leviticus 19:33.
Therefore, when I spend time with my family member—at a restaurant, in a park, taking a walk together or sitting and talking with her on my front porch—I seek first to show her the same kindness and respect that I would want to experience. It’s one of the best ways to remind her of the sweet love of Jesus, not by shaming her for rejecting Him, but by loving her as He loves all of us—with amazing grace.
By: Patricia Raybon
Reflect & Pray
What attitudes do you hold about people who appear “different” or “foreign”? In what ways can you practice God’s edict to not mistreat a “stranger” or “sojourner” in your land?
Gracious Father, open my heart today to a stranger or foreigner in my land, helping them to encounter You.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
“Who are my mother and brothers?” He (Jesus) asked. Then He looked at those seated in a circle around Him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” – Mark 3:33-35
TWO TYPES OF FAMILIES
November 19, 2019
Let’s set the scene. Jesus was in the early days of ministry and word had spread about His powerful teaching and miraculous healings. He was in the small town of Capernaum when His family showed up, hoping to talk some sense into Him. After all, to them, He was a simple carpenter and their older brother – not this radical preacher forgiving sins and calling Himself God.
When His mother and brothers showed up asking to speak to Him, Jesus’ response was unexpected. “Who are my mother and my brothers?” He asked. Now put yourself in Mary’s shoes for a second. As the mother of Jesus, this statement had to sting a little bit. But, Jesus continued: “Whoever does God’s will is my mother, my brother and my sister” (My paraphrase). In other words, Jesus was saying that there are two types of families: our earthly family into which we are born, and our eternal family, the one we join only when we accept the gift of salvation that Jesus offers.
No matter how happy and loving, or how exhausting and dysfunctional, there is no such thing as a perfect earthly family. No matter where your family falls on the spectrum, Jesus says there’s actually another type of family – an eternal family. It, too, is imperfect, but this family welcomes anyone who recognizes their sins and their need for a Savior. Thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross that forgives our sins and makes us right with God, we all can enter this eternal family of faith. It’s a family we will never lose.
Jesus is inviting us to join His family – by being “spiritually born” into the family of faith: His bride, the church. Are you a member of His family?
 
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