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Daily Devotion

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January 10
Here Be Dragons?
Bible in a Year:

The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
2 Timothy 1:6–14
Legend has it that at the edges of medieval maps, marking the boundaries of the world the maps’ creators knew at the time, there’d be inscribed the words “Here be dragons”—often alongside vivid illustrations of the terrifying beasts supposedly lurking there.
There’s not much evidence medieval cartographers actually wrote these words, but I like to think they could have. Maybe because “here be dragons” sounds like something I might’ve written at the time—a grim warning that even if I didn’t know exactly what would happen if I ventured into the great unknown, it likely wouldn’t be good!
But there’s one glaring problem with my preferred policy of self-protection and risk-aversion: it’s the opposite of the courage to which I’m called as a believer in Jesus (2 Timothy 1:7).
One might even say I’m misguided about what’s really dangerous. As Paul explained, in a broken world bravely following Christ will sometimes be painful (v. 8). But as those brought from death to life and entrusted with the Spirit’s life flowing in and through us (vv. 9–10,14), how could we not?
When God gives us a gift this staggering, to fearfully shrink back would be the real tragedy—far worse than anything we might face when we follow Christ’s leading into uncharted territory (vv. 6–8, 12). He can be trusted with our hearts and our future (v. 12).
By: Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray
Is there a particularly debilitating fear God may be calling you to confront? How might the support and love of other believers encourage you as you walk through your fears?
Loving God, thank You for the new life You’ve given us, for freedom from all that would cripple us in fear and shame. Help us to find peace in You.
 

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January 13
Everyone Needs Compassion
Bible in a Year:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Matthew 9:27–38
When Jeff was a new believer in Jesus and fresh out of college, he worked for a major oil company. In his role as a salesman, he traveled; and in his travels he heard people’s stories—many of them heartbreaking. He realized that what his customers most needed wasn’t oil, but compassion. They needed God. This led Jeff to attend seminary to learn more about the heart of God and eventually to become a pastor.
Jeff’s compassion had its source in Jesus. In Matthew 9:27–33 we get a glimpse of Christ’s compassion in the miraculous healing of two blind men and one demon-possessed man. Throughout His earthly ministry, He went about preaching the gospel and healing “through all the towns and villages” (v. 35). Why? “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (v. 36).
The world today is still full of troubled and hurting people who need the Savior’s gentle care. Like a shepherd who leads, protects, and cares for his sheep, Jesus extends His compassion to all who come to Him (11:28). No matter where we are in life and what we’re experiencing, in Him we find a heart overflowing with tenderness and care. And when we’ve been a beneficiary of God’s loving compassion, we can’t help but want to extend it to others.
By: Alyson Kieda


Reflect & Pray
When have you experienced God’s tender care? Who can you reach out to in compassion?
Heavenly Father, we’re so grateful You had compassion on us! We would be lost without You. Help us to extend Your overflowing compassion to others.
 

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“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12
THINK YOU’RE GOOD ENOUGH ON YOUR OWN?
January 13, 2020
Ever look around at others and think, “Well, I’m not as bad as they are. I’m pretty good most of the time, so I should be able to get into heaven?” Or how about, “You see, me and God, we’ve got an agreement. We’ve got things worked out?”
Let me make this clear – if you feel you can be right with God in your “own” way, you’re going to get to the end of your life, stand before God, and the judgement won’t come out in your favor. All of us are sinners, yet amazingly, God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins – to be a substitute in facing the sentence we actually deserve. So, if we feel like there is any way we can receive salvation other than through Jesus Christ, we are showing blindness to our own sinful ignorance. It’s absolutely appalling to God. Continue on that course and you’re doomed.
But God’s Word gives us some great news. “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”
In the end, where will you stand?
 

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“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” – John 3:36
SAVED FOREVER? YOU BET
January 14, 2020
There is a theological term called eternal security. What this five-dollar phrase means is that once you are saved, you are always saved; you can never lose your salvation.
How can we be so certain of this? You are saved by the grace of God, not by your deeds or actions. You cannot be nice enough, you cannot help enough people, you cannot donate enough money – there is absolutely nothing you can do to earn your way into heaven. And since there is nothing you can do to gain salvation, there is nothing you can do to lose it. Once saved, always saved.
You might ask yourself if you are always saved, then does that mean that you can go out and sin without having to worry about being shut out of heaven? Well, yes, in the literal sense, it does. But if you were sincere in accepting Christ, then you will not want to use this loophole. You will have such gratitude to Jesus for His remarkable gift that you will seek to live your life in a manner that pleases Him.
Now, perhaps some of you may be worried that perhaps you weren’t really saved years ago. Perhaps it was done on a whim or without the proper motivation. If you’re still unsure, you can always ask Him to save you for sure. Read Revelation 3:20 and 1 John 5:11-13. Believe those words of God, and you can know for sure that you have eternal life!
 

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January 16
Bring What You Have
Bible in a Year:

“Bring them here to me,” [Jesus] said.

Matthew 14:18
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
John 6:4–14
“Stone Soup,” an old tale with many versions, tells of a starving man who comes to a village, but no one there can spare a crumb of food for him. He puts a stone and water in a pot over a fire. Intrigued, the villagers watch him as he begins to stir his “soup.” Eventually, one brings a couple of potatoes to add to the mix; another has a few carrots. One person adds an onion, another a handful of barley. A farmer donates some milk. Eventually, the “stone soup” becomes a tasty chowder.
That tale illustrates the value of sharing, but it also reminds us to bring what we have, even when it seems to be insignificant. In John 6:1–14 we read of a boy who appears to be the only person in a huge crowd who thought about bringing some food. Christ’s disciples had little use for the boy’s sparse lunch of five loaves and two fishes. But when it was surrendered, Jesus increased it and fed thousands of hungry people!
I once heard someone say, “You don’t have to feed the five thousand. You just have to bring your loaves and fishes.” Just as Jesus took one person’s meal and multiplied it far beyond anyone’s expectations or imagination (v. 11), He’ll accept our surrendered efforts, talents, and service. He just wants us to be willing to bring what we have to Him.
By: Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray
What have you been holding back from God? Why is it difficult to bring that area of your life to Him?
Jesus, help me to surrender whatever I have to You, knowing You can multiply a little into a lot.
 

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January 20
Clean Containers
Bible in a Year:

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

Proverbs 10:12
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Peter 4:7–11
“Hatred corrodes the container that carries it.” These words were spoken by former Senator Alan Simpson at the funeral of George H. W. Bush. Attempting to describe his dear friend’s kindness, Senator Simpson recalled how the forty-first president of the United States embraced humor and love rather than hatred in his professional leadership and personal relationships.
I relate to the senator’s quote, don’t you? Oh, the damage done to me when I harbor hatred!
Medical research reveals the damage done to our bodies when we cling to the negative or release bursts of anger. Our blood pressure rises. Our hearts pound. Our spirits sag. Our containers corrode.
In Proverbs 10:12, King Solomon observes, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” The conflict that results from hatred here is a blood feud between rivaling peoples of different tribes and races. Such hatred fuels the drive for revenge so that people who despise each other can’t connect.
By contrast, God’s way of love covers—draws a veil over, conceals, or forgives—all wrongs. That doesn’t mean we overlook errors or enable a wrongdoer. But we don’t nurse the wrong when someone is truly remorseful. And if they never apologize, we still release our feelings to God. We who know the Great Lover are to “love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
By: Elisa Morgan


Reflect & Pray
What things cause you to hate? How might the hard-hearted heat of hostility eat away at our personal joy and our world’s peace?
O God, help me surrender to Your great love that covers all sins and makes me into a clean container in which You dwell in love.
 

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January 21
Where Are You Headed?
Bible in a Year:

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

2 Samuel 12:7
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
2 Samuel 12:1–14
In northern Thailand, the Wild Boars youth soccer team decided to explore a cave together. After an hour they turned to go back and found that the entrance to the cave was flooded. Rising water pushed them deeper into the cave, day after day, until they were finally trapped more than two miles (four kilometers) inside. When they were heroically rescued two weeks later, many wondered how they had become so hopelessly trapped. Answer: one step at a time.
In Israel, Nathan confronted David for killing his loyal soldier, Uriah. How did the man “after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) become guilty of murder? One step at a time. David didn’t go from zero to murder in one afternoon. He warmed up to it, over time, as one bad decision bled into others. It started with a second glance that turned into a lustful stare. He abused his kingly power by sending for Bathsheba, then tried to cover up her pregnancy by calling her husband home from the front. When Uriah refused to visit his wife while his comrades were at war, David decided he would have to die.
We may not be guilty of murder or trapped in a cave of our own making, but we’re either moving toward Jesus or toward trouble. Big problems don’t develop overnight. They break upon us gradually, one step at a time.
By: Mike Wittmer


Reflect & Pray
What decision can you make right now to move toward Jesus and away from trouble? What must you do to confirm this decision?
Jesus, I’m running to You!
 

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January 22
Demonstrating Grace
Bible in a Year:

You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:19
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Micah 7:18–20
“In moments where tragedy happens or even hurt, there are opportunities to demonstrate grace or to exact vengeance,” the recently bereaved man remarked. “I chose to demonstrate grace.” Pastor Erik Fitzgerald’s wife had been killed in a car accident caused by an exhausted firefighter who fell asleep while driving home, and legal prosecutors wanted to know whether he would seek the maximum sentence. The pastor chose to practice the forgiveness he often preached about. To the surprise of both him and the firefighter, the men eventually became friends.
Pastor Erik was living out of the grace he’d received from God, who’d forgiven him all of his sins. Through his actions he echoed the words of the prophet Micah, who praised God for pardoning sin and forgiving when we do wrong (Micah 7:18). The prophet uses wonderfully visual language to show just how far God goes in forgiving His people, saying that He will “tread our sins underfoot” and hurl our wrongdoings into the deep sea (v. 19). The firefighter received a gift of freedom that day, which brought him closer to God.
Whatever difficulty we face, we know that God reaches out to us with loving, open arms, welcoming us into His safe embrace. He “delights to show mercy” (v. 18). As we receive His love and grace, He gives us the strength to forgive those who hurt us—even as Pastor Erik did.
By: Amy Boucher Pye


Reflect & Pray
How do you respond to this story of amazing forgiveness? Can you think of someone you need to forgive? If so, ask God to help you.
Father God, You love us without ceasing, and You delight to forgive us when we return to You. Envelop us with Your love, that we might demonstrate grace to those who hurt us.
 

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“Then (Elijah) said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.'” – I Kings 19: 14
TRUTH FOR TROUBLED TIMES
January 22, 2020
The prophet Elijah’s life tells a powerful story. It’s full of boldness, faith and miraculously answered prayers. Still, Elijah struggled with fear, depression and self-pity – things many of us battle today. You can read his full story in 1 Kings chapters 17 and 18.
For those of us struggling in these same areas, what can we learn from the life of Elijah?
Fear comes when we lose sight of God. Elijah became fearful when he shifted his focus from God to Queen Jezebel’s threats. The same is true for us.
  • Life Lesson: When we focus more on the problem than on God, fear replaces faith.
Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes life’s “blues” settle-in after a spiritual high point or some great excitement in life. In Elijah’s case, these feelings crept in after God’s miraculous answer to prayer in his showdown against false prophets that ended a 3.5-year drought. In spite of all Elijah witnessed, he was completely exhausted: emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
  • Life Lesson: Don’t let yourself be caught off guard by these normal ups and downs of life.
Unresolved anger leads to self-pity and depression. In verse 14, Elijah let out some brutally honest complaints to God. He let his self-righteousness and self-pity take control of his life.
  • Life Lesson: Unresolved anger can lead to deep depression if we aren’t careful.
Hope that is lost is deadly. When Elijah lost hope, he began to hope for death. It’s no secret that suicidal thoughts can accompany severe depression. Losing the will to live has been a struggle battled by some of the greatest men of faith: Moses when leading the Israelites out of Egypt, Job after losing literally everything, and the prophet Jeremiah when preaching to an uninterested people – just to name a few.
If you are struggling with fear, hopelessness, depression, or self-pity, you’re not alone. Be honest with God in your prayers and seek out a trusted friend and/or professional for support. Learn from Elijah’s story and remember that there is hope, healing, and victory in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.
 

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January 24
No Line to Love
Bible in a Year:

I have made you and I will carry you.

Isaiah 46:4
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Isaiah 46:3–10
Sometimes when my Labrador retriever wants attention, he’ll take something of mine and parade it in front of me. One morning as I was writing at the desk with my back turned, Max snatched my wallet and ran off. But realizing I hadn’t seen him do it, he returned and nudged me with his nose—wallet in mouth, eyes dancing, tail wagging, taunting me to play.
Max’s antics made me laugh, but they also reminded me of my limitations when it comes to being attentive to others. So often I’ve intended to spend time with family or friends, but other things occupy my time and awareness; and before I know it the day slips away and love is left undone.
How comforting to know that our heavenly Father is so great that He’s able to attend to each of us in the most intimate ways—even sustaining every breath in our lungs for as long as we live. He promises His people, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:4).
God always has time for us. He understands every detail of our circumstances—no matter how complex or difficult—and is there whenever we call on Him in prayer. We never have to wait in line for our Savior’s unlimited love.
By: James Banks


Reflect & Pray
In what ways does God take care of your daily needs? How can you share His love with others?
You always have time for me, Jesus. Please help me to live every moment for You!
 
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