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Daily Devotion

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June 30
Navigating Life’s Rapids
Bible in a Year:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Psalm 32:8
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 32:5–11
“Everybody on the left, give me three strong forward strokes!” our whitewater raft guide shouted. Those on the left dug in, pulling our raft away from a churning vortex. For several hours, we’d learned the importance of listening to our guide’s instructions. His steady voice enabled six people with little rafting experience to work together to plot the safest course down a raging river.
Life has its share of whitewater rapids, doesn’t it? One moment, it’s smooth sailing. Then, in a flash, we’re paddling like mad to avoid suddenly swirling whirlpools. Those tense moments make us keenly aware of our need for a skilled guide, a trusted voice to help us navigate turbulent times.
In Psalm 32, God promises to be that voice: “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go” (v. 8). Backing up, we see that confessing our sins (v. 5) and prayerfully seeking Him (v. 6) play a role in hearing Him too. Still, I take comfort in the fact that God promises, “I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (v. 8), a reminder that His guidance flows from His love. Near the end of the chapter, the psalmist concludes, “The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts him” (v. 10). And as we trust Him, we can rest in His promise to guide us through life’s rockiest passages.
By: Adam R. Holz
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Reflect & Pray
What circumstances in your life right now feel like whitewater rapids? How might you seek God’s guiding voice about how to respond?
Father, thank You for Your promise to be my Guide. Help me to seek You and listen to You as You direct the course of my life.
For help in navigating the storms of life, read discoveryseries.org/hp061.
 

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Talking Bananas
Bible in a Year:

[Barnabas] encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.

Acts 11:23
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Acts 11:19–26
Never give up. Be the reason someone smiles. You’re amazing. It isn’t where you came from—it’s where you’re going that counts. Some schoolchildren in Virginia Beach, Virginia, found these messages and more written on bananas in their lunchroom. Cafeteria manager Stacey Truman took the time to write the encouraging notes on the fruit, which the kids dubbed “talking bananas.”
This caring outreach reminds me of Barnabas’ heart for the “spiritual youngsters” in the ancient city of Antioch (Acts 11:22–24). Barnabas was famous for his ability to inspire people. Known as a good man, full of faith and the Holy Spirit, he prompted the new believers to “remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (v. 23). I imagine he spent time with those he wanted to help, saying things like: Keep praying. Trust the Lord. Stay close to God when life is hard.
New believers, like children, need loads of encouragement. They’re full of potential. They’re discovering what they’re good at. They may not fully realize what God wants to do in and through them, and often the enemy works overtime to prevent their faith from flourishing.
Those of us who’ve walked with Jesus for a while understand how hard living for Jesus can be. May all of us be able to give and receive encouragement as God’s Spirit guides us and reminds us of spiritual truth.
By: Jennifer Benson Schuldt
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Reflect & Pray
How has God encouraged you in the past? How might God want to work through you to inspire someone?
Heavenly Father, give me someone to encourage today. Show me what to say and how to meet this person’s needs so that You’ll be glorified.
 

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July 3
Just a Spark
Bible in a Year:

The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.

James 3:5
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
James 3:1–6
“We’re in the library, and we can see the flames right outside!” She was scared. We could hear it in her voice. We know her voice—the voice of our daughter. At the same time we knew her college campus was the safest place for her and her almost 3,000 fellow students. The 2018 Woolsey Fire spread more quickly than anyone anticipated—most of all fire personnel. The record heat and dry conditions in the California canyon, along with the legendary Santa Ana winds, were all the rather small sparks needed to ultimately burn 97,000 acres, destroy more than 1,600 structures, and kill three people. In the photos taken after the fire was contained, the usual lush coastline resembled the barren surface of the moon.
In the book of James, the author names some small but powerful things: “bits [in] the mouths of horses” and the rudders of ships (3:3–4). And while familiar, these examples are somewhat removed from us. But then he names something a little closer to home, something small that every human being possesses—a tongue. And while this chapter is first directed specifically to teachers (v. 1), the application quickly spreads to each of us. The tongue, small as it is, can lead to disastrous results.
Our small tongues are powerful, but our big God is more powerful. His help on a daily basis provides the strength to rein in and guide our words.
By: John Blase
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Reflect & Pray
When was the last time your tongue got away from you? What will help you keep a tight rein on your words in God’s strength?
Jesus, I’ve been on the receiving end of words that burn. And my words have hurt others. Help me to keep a tight rein on my tongue.
To learn more about the book of James, visit christianuniversity.org/nt336.
 

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July 4
The Kindness Man
Bible in a Year:

When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her.

Luke 7:13
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Luke 7:11–17
Disillusioned and wanting a more meaningful life, Leon quit his job in finance. Then one day he saw a homeless man holding up this sign at a street corner: KINDNESS IS THE BEST MEDICINE. Leon says, “Those words rammed straight into me. It was an epiphany.”
Leon decided to begin his new life by creating an international organization to promote kindness. He travels around the world, relying on strangers to provide him with food, gas, and a place to stay. Then he rewards them, through his organization, with good deeds such as feeding orphans or building on to a school for underprivileged children. He says, “It’s sometimes seen as being soft. But kindness is a profound strength.”
Christ’s very essence as God is goodness, so kindness naturally flowed from Him. I love the story of what Jesus did when He came upon the funeral procession of a widow’s only son (Luke 7:11–17). The grieving woman most likely was dependent on her son for financial support. We don’t read in the story that anyone asked Jesus to intervene. Purely from the goodness of His nature (v. 13), He was concerned and brought her son back to life. The people said of Christ, “God has come to help his people” (v. 16).
By: Anne Cetas
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Reflect & Pray
What kindnesses does Jesus pour out on you? List them and thank Him.
You, God, are always showering me with Your gifts of love. I praise You for caring for me.
 

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A Flourishing Tree
Bible in a Year:

Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

Proverbs 11:28
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Proverbs 11:24–30
I’ve always had a collector’s heart. As a kid, I collected stamps. Baseball cards. Comics. Now, as a parent, I see the same impulse in my kids. Sometimes I wonder, Do you really need another teddy bear?
Of course, it’s not about need. It’s about the allure of something new. Or sometimes the tantalizing draw of something old, something rare. Whatever captivates our imagination, we’re tempted to believe that if we only had “X,” our lives would be better. We’d be happy. Content.
Except those things never deliver the goods. Why? Because God created us to be filled by Him, not by the things that the world around us often insists will satisfy our longing hearts.
This tension is hardly new. Proverbs contrasts two ways of life: a life spent pursuing riches versus a life grounded in loving God and giving generously. In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases Proverbs 11:28 like this: “A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.”
What a picture! Two ways of life: one flourishing and fruitful, one hollow and barren. The world insists that material abundance equals “the good life.” In contrast, God invites us to be rooted in Him, to experience His goodness, and to flourish fruitfully. And as we’re shaped by our relationship with Him, God reshapes our hearts and desires, transforming us from the inside out.
By: Adam R. Holz
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Reflect & Pray
When has an undue focus on material things become a major spiritual struggle for you? What helps you keep your desires in proper perspective?
Father, thank You for the good gifts You give. Help me to keep putting my trust in You rather than the stuff of this world.
 

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July 7
Prayer Eggs
Bible in a Year:

Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:3
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Habakkuk 2:1–3
Just outside my kitchen window, a robin built her nest under the eaves of our patio roof. I loved watching her tuck grasses into a safe spot and then hunker down to incubate the eggs. Each morning I checked her progress; but each morning, there was nothing. Robin eggs take two weeks to hatch.
Such impatience isn’t new for me. I’ve always strained against the work of waiting, especially in prayer. My husband and I waited nearly five years to adopt our first child. Decades ago, author Catherine Marshall wrote, “Prayers, like eggs, don’t hatch as soon as we lay them.”
The prophet Habakkuk wrestled with waiting in prayer. Frustrated at God’s silence with Babylon’s brutal mistreatment of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Habakkuk commits to “stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts,” to “look to see what he will say to me” (Habakkuk 2:1). God replies that Habakkuk is to wait for the “appointed time” (v. 3) and directs Habakkuk to “write down the revelation” so the word can be spread as soon as it’s given (v. 2).
What God doesn’t mention is that the “appointed time” when Babylon falls is six decades away, creating a long gap between promise and fulfillment. Like eggs, prayers often don’t hatch immediately but rather incubate in God’s overarching purposes for our world and our lives.
By: Elisa Morgan
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Reflect & Pray
How difficult do you find it to wait while God works? While you wait, how can you obey God in what He has already given you to do?
Dear God, help me to trust You to work while I’m waiting.
To learn more about the prophet Habakkuk, visit bit.ly/35b7xTE.
 

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July 8
A Friend in Failure
Bible in a Year:

Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them.

Acts 15:38
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Acts 15:36–16:5
On November 27, 1939, three treasure hunters accompanied by film crews dug through the asphalt outside of the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater in Southern California. They were looking for the Cahuenga Pass treasure, consisting of gold, diamonds, and pearls rumored to have been buried there seventy-five years earlier.
They never found it. After twenty-four days of digging, they struck a boulder and stopped. All they accomplished was a nine-foot-wide, forty-two-foot-deep hole in the ground. They walked away dejected.
To err is human—we all fail sometimes. Scripture tells us that young Mark walked away from Paul and Barnabas on a missionary trip “and had not continued with them in the work.” Because of this, “Paul did not think it wise to take him” on his next trip (Acts 15:38), which resulted in a strong disagreement with Barnabas. But in spite of his initial failings, Mark shows up years later in surprising ways. When Paul was lonely and in prison toward the end of his life, he asked for Mark and called him “helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). God even inspired Mark to write the gospel that bears his name.
Mark’s life shows us that God won’t leave us to face our errors and failures alone. We have a Friend who’s greater than every mistake. As we follow our Savior, He’ll provide the help and strength we need.
By: James Banks
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Reflect & Pray
What mistakes or failures have you faced recently? In what ways have you discovered God’s strength as you shared them with Him in prayer?
Jesus, thank You for being there whenever I want to talk to You. I praise You for the comfort and hope only You can give!
 

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July 9
The Foolish Way of New Life
Bible in a Year:

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Corinthians 1:20–31
Some things just don’t make sense until you experience them. When I was pregnant with my first child, I read multiple books about childbirth and listened to dozens of women tell their stories of labor and delivery. But I still couldn’t really imagine what the experience would be like. What my body was going to do seemed impossible!
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that birth into God’s kingdom, the salvation that God offers us through Christ, seems equally incomprehensible to those who haven’t experienced it. It sounds like “foolishness” to say that salvation could come through a cross—a death marked by weakness, defeat, and humiliation. Yet this “foolishness” was the salvation that Paul preached!
It wasn’t what anyone could have imagined it would be like. Some people thought that salvation would come through a strong political leader or a miraculous sign. Others thought that their own academic or philosophical achievements would be their salvation (1 Corinthians 1:22). But God surprised everyone by bringing salvation in a way that would only make sense to those who believed, to those who experienced it.
God took something shameful and weak—death on a cross—and made it the foundation of wisdom and power. God does the unimaginable. He chooses the weak and foolish things of the world to shame the wise (v. 27).
And His surprising, confounding ways are always the best ways.
By: Amy Peterson
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Reflect & Pray
How is God surprising you today? Why is it true that God’s ways are better than your ways?
God, with Isaiah I pray, as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are Your ways higher than my ways.
 

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“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14
FORGIVENESS GRANTS FREEDOM
July 9, 2020
Most of us have either read, heard, or spoken the Lord’s prayer. But, have you ever noticed the presence of a little two-letter word in the Lord’s prayer? It says “And forgive us of our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Did you catch that? The word “as” implies that we cannot be forgiven until we offer that same forgiveness to others. In case we miss the “as,” Jesus makes it very clear in the next verse: “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”(Matthew 6:15)
Forgiving someone who has treated you poorly, said evil things about you, even broken up your family, is a very difficult thing to do. It takes Godly intervention to truly offer forgiveness to people who have deeply wounded you. But God commands us to do so, and God would never command us to do anything that He wouldn’t provide the ability to do.
Right now, pray for God to give you the strength to forgive those who have hurt you. Not only will God give you the power to do so, but He will also empower you supernaturally to love them, even though you hate what they did. Remember, bitterness is the poison we swallow, causing us to wish for evil things. Enjoy the release of this terrible burden by experiencing the cleansing power of forgiveness.
 

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July 13
Look Up!
Bible in a Year:

There will be no night there.

Revelation 21:25
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 8:3–4; Revelation 21:22–25
When filmmaker Wylie Overstreet showed strangers a live picture of the moon as seen through his powerful telescope, they were stunned at the up-close view, reacting with whispers and awe. To see such a glorious sight, Overstreet explained, “fills us with a sense of wonder that there’s something much bigger than ourselves.”
The psalmist David also marveled at God’s heavenly light. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3–4).
David’s humbling question puts our awe in perspective when we learn that, after God creates His new heaven and earth, we’ll no longer need the moon or the sun. Instead, said John the apostle, God’s shimmering glory will provide all necessary light. “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. . . . There will be no night there” (Revelation 21:23–25).
What an amazing thought! Yet we can experience His heavenly light now—simply by seeking Christ, the Light of the world. In Overstreet’s view, “We should look up more often.” As we do, may we see God.
By: Patricia Raybon
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Reflect & Pray
What does God’s heavenly light teach you about Him? When you praise the glory of God, what do you experience?
Our wondrous God, I’m awed by Your holy glory, and I praise You for Your marvelous Light.
 

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‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
HOW TO BECOME AN ENCOURAGER
July 13, 2020
Barnabas was an encourager. In fact, the name “Barnabas” was actually a nickname that meant the “son of encouragement.” If you were to be referred to by your most visible character trait, what would that be? It’s a pretty humbling thought when we stop to reflect on how we really interact with others on a daily basis.
So how do we become an encourager? Not all of us will have the gift of encouragement the way that Barnabas did, but we are all called to encourage one another. We can think of it like the gift of evangelism (sharing the gospel) or giving. Not all of us are especially gifted in leading others to faith in Christ, but we are all called to share our faith. Not all of us are gifted with the joy of giving way above the tithe, but we are all called to tithe (10%) as a basic start in faithful giving. It’s the same with encouragement. For some, encouraging others might come naturally. For others, it’s more of a challenge. Either way, the Bible tells us that we are all called to encourage and build each other up. So how do we do that?
  1. Touch. Sometimes a simple touch, a hug, or pat on the back is enough.
  2. Words. Compliment the good qualities that you see in a person. Let them know that you love them through words of compassion and kindness. And when someone is feeling discouraged, simple words like “don’t give up,” or “you’re not alone,” can make a huge difference.
  3. Written. Perhaps it’s a simple text or email saying that you’re thinking of that person or praying for them. Handwritten letters are the best.
  4. Worship. It’s amazing how God uses praise and worship to lift our spirits so that we can better encourage others.
When it comes to encouragement, we never know what’s going on behind the scenes in someone’s life. Who can you encourage this week? A spouse, a child, a colleague? A simple act of encouragement can have a powerful impact for good in a person’s life.
 

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“Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people.” – Acts 11: 25-26
BARNABAS TAKES A STAND
July 14, 2020
Imagine a religious terrorist who actively sought to kill Christians coming to faith in Christ. Many believers might be skeptical – right? Perhaps it’s a front to infiltrate the church and to do more harm? The Apostle Paul was that religious terrorist who after persecuting early believers, came to faith in a radical encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. As you can imagine, the Jewish followers of Jesus were very skeptical and fearful of Paul’s newfound faith. In fact, most didn’t believe that he was a true believer and even refused to associate with him (Acts 9:26).
That’s when Barnabas, the encourager, decided to do something radical. When Barnabas arrived in Antioch, northern Syria, and witnessed the incredible growth of the church among both Jews and Gentiles, he remembered Paul’s special God-given call to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. So Barnabas headed out in search of Paul to help him in discipling new believers in Antioch. For the next year, Barnabas and Paul taught and discipled Christians together – and the church flourished.
Barnabas stood up for Paul when he had been shunned by the early believers. He encouraged Paul by believing in him – by trusting that he had really changed. Is there someone you need to vouch for when others are skeptical? Ask God to show you how to be a Barnabas in someone else’s life.
 

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“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:11
THE WORK YOU WERE MEANT TO DO
July 15, 2020
Whether you are a big sports fan or not, it’s easy to get caught up in the action whenever a famous sports celebrity is on TV. Why? They play at such a high level that it is inspirational to watch them when they are “in the zone.” What does it mean to be in the zone? Well, that’s when someone’s actions seem effortless, almost as if they could score at will.
We can all think of a bad day at work, but can you think of any time when you were “in the zone” – a moment where you enjoyed your task, you were caught up in your work and lost track of time? What were you doing at that moment? What skills were you using? What was it that caused you to be passionate about the work? Understanding the answers to these questions will often help you better understand how to best use your time and talents and find your “calling,” if you will.
A calling is when we are passionately using our God-given gifts in a way that pleases Him. We are not talking about your personality profile, but about those God-given gifts listed in the Bible like teaching, preaching, generosity, administration, and prayer, among many others. Kirk Livingston, CEO of a communications company, sums it up, “When we find ourselves involved with God at work, we also begin to find the work we were meant to do.” And that’s how we discover our true calling from God.
Have you discovered your calling? Are you in your zone? If not, pray and search for God’s will. Over time, He’ll reveal it to you.
 

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“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33
MATERIALISM PULLS FAMILIES APART
July 16, 2020
There are so many challenges facing families today and materialism is one of the biggest. Materialism is a way of thinking that places such great importance on material possessions, that anything else takes a backseat. This can even include spiritual or intellectual pursuits. In other words, materialism is greed – just plain and simple!
Parents, have your kids ever relentlessly pressured and begged for the latest and greatest item that “all” their friends happen to have? Thanks to the world of social media, “keeping up with the Jones'” takes on a whole new meaning for both teens and adults, as we’re suddenly privy to everyone’s latest vacation, beach home addition, or brand new car. The highlight reel of just about everyone is at our fingertips. Seemingly innocent scrolling on Instagram can quickly turn into comparison, jealousy, and discontentment. To top it all off, advertisers add fuel to the fire by convincing us that every product is the gateway to true happiness.
While most of us would agree that materialism is a concern, few of us are willing to admit that at some level – MOST of us will struggle with materialism. Instead, we often rationalize it as a “concern for the family.” However, this attitude has an unfortunate way of planting dissatisfaction within the family. We see evidence of this in our economic downturns, when families, once able to buy whatever they wanted, are no longer able to buy their way into what they considered “happiness.” When the distraction of “stuff” is taken away, they’re confronted with real life, real issues, and occasionally, real dysfunction.
Jesus has a better idea: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness [as described in the Bible] and all these things shall be added unto you.” At a glance, this statement almost seems un-American in our consumerism culture. But is Jesus saying that we don’t have to work hard? Absolutely not! We are called to work (see Adam in Genesis). It’s about evaluating our priorities.
So, no – our material “stuff” isn’t bad, as long as our pursuit of and desire for it remains in check. If you’re struggling with a heart of materialism, ask God today to realign your priorities. Don’t let materialism pull your family apart; ask God to step in. Because after all, “the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
 

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July 20
How to Wait
Bible in a Year:

Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.

Psalm 27:7
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 27:1–3, 7–14
Frustrated and disappointed with church, seventeen-year-old Trevor began a years-long quest for answers. But nothing he explored seemed to satisfy his longings or answer his questions.
His journey did draw him closer to his parents. Still, he had problems with Christianity. During one discussion, he exclaimed bitterly, “The Bible is full of empty promises.”
Another man faced disappointment and hardship that fueled his doubts. But as David fled from enemies who sought to kill him, his response was not to run from God but to praise Him. “Though war break out against me, even then I will be confident,” he sang (Psalm 27:3).
Yet David’s poem still hints at doubt. His cry, “Be merciful to me and answer me” (v. 7), sounds like a man with fears and questions. “Do not hide your face from me,” David pleaded. “Do not reject me or forsake me” (v. 9).
David didn’t let his doubts paralyze him, however. Even in those doubts, he declared, “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (v. 13). Then he addressed his readers: you, me, and the Trevors of this world. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (v. 14).
We won’t find fast, simple answers to our huge questions. But we will find—when we wait for Him—a God who can be trusted.
By: Tim Gustafson
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Reflect & Pray
What do you do with your big questions? Where have you seen answers “in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13), and where are you still waiting for answers?
Father, melt my heart along with my fears and my anger.
 

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July 21
A Royal Role
Bible in a Year:

To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

John 1:12
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
John 1:9–14
The closer someone in a royal family is to the throne, the more the public hears about him or her. Others are almost forgotten. The British royal family has a line of succession that includes nearly sixty people. One of them is Lord Frederick Windsor, who’s forty-ninth in line for the throne. Instead of being in the limelight, he quietly goes about his life. Though he works as a financial analyst, he’s not considered a “working royal”—one of the important family members who are paid for representing the family.
David’s son Nathan (2 Samuel 5:14) is another royal who lived outside the limelight. Very little is known about him. But while the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew mentions his son Solomon (tracing Joseph’s line, Matthew 1:6), Luke’s genealogy, which many scholars believe is Mary’s family line, mentions Nathan (Luke 3:31). Though Nathan didn’t hold a scepter, he still had a role in God’s forever kingdom.
As believers in Christ, we’re also royalty. The apostle John wrote that God gave us “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Though we may not be in the spotlight, we’re children of the King! God considers each of us important enough to represent Him here on earth and to one day reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:11–13). Like Nathan, we may not wear an earthly crown, but we still have a part to play in God’s kingdom.
By: Linda Washington
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Reflect & Pray
How does knowing you’re royalty—God’s child—make you feel? As a child of the King, what do you see as your responsibilities to the people around you?
Heavenly Father, I’m grateful that You adopted me into Your forever family.
 

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“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ … Going a little further, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'” – Matthew 26: 36 & 39
FAITH – WHEN THE MOUNTAINS DON’T MOVE
July 21, 2020
The disciples just didn’t get it. It didn’t make any sense. In spite of the three times Jesus predicted His upcoming death and resurrection, all the disciples heard was death.
Jesus was going to be killed—and this grieved them greatly. Rising from the dead just didn’t sink in. But what the disciples didn’t understand, Jesus did. At this time, crucifixion was commonplace. Jesus knew what He would face – and at Gethsemane, He was terrified. The Bible says that in the moments leading up to His arrest, Jesus’ anxiety and fear were so great that His sweat was like drops of blood. Jesus even asked His Father to remove this mountain – yet, “not my will but yours,” He prayed.
This is the greatest example of faith and prayer in history.
God gave Jesus extraordinary power to move ahead in faith and endure the cross. We see from the life of Christ that sometimes the mountains we face don’t move. Instead, we’re given the supernatural power and strength to climb. So, in faith we climb, day in and day out.
What kind of mountains are you facing today? Is it fear of a pandemic? A prolonged illness? Is it a broken relationship? A problem at work that appears insurmountable and you don’t see a way out?
We can boldly face any challenge in this life because nothing is impossible with God. Because when we have the power of God on our side, we know that the most incredibly difficult times can ultimately end in triumph – even when the mountains don’t move.
 

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
FINDING REST
July 23, 2020
Everyone experiences tough times. They’re unavoidable. For the Apostle Paul, his missionary journey to Athens, Greece was one such season. Paul had done a great job of connecting with the intellectual elite and speaking about Jesus, but the message just wasn’t well received. He was ridiculed, teased, and ultimately only a few people came to believe in Christ. From Athens, Paul headed to Corinth where he ran into fellow Jewish believers, Aquila and Pricilla.
Paul connected with this couple as fellow believers in a new city and began to work together as tentmakers. You can find Paul’s full story in Acts chapter 18. I believe this was a time of rest for Paul.
Rest can look different for different people, but one thing is for certain: We all need times of rest and refreshing, especially after a particularly challenging season. Jesus knows that life can be difficult, and He wants to carry our burdens and walk with us through those seasons. Why? Because without rest, we won’t be able to finish what God has called us to do.
How do you find rest? What do you do to become refreshed and recharged? If you struggle finding and prioritizing rest, start by asking God to help you set aside time for a weekly Sabbath and make time for activities that offer rest and refreshment, both physically and spiritually.
 

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“Blessed are (happy are) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” – Matthew 5:6
THE RICH FOOD OF GRACE
July 26, 2020
According to Jesus, satisfaction is found by those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. But, what does that mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? First, let’s look at what it’s NOT. To hunger and thirst for righteousness is not:
  • Earning Salvation. – Trying really hard to do good so we can consider ourselves good enough to measure up. Why not? The Bible says it’s impossible. There’s no one righteous – not even one.
  • Manipulating God to get what we want. – Since I’m trying really hard to do the right thing, God should repay me with the desires of my heart. This is karma. This is not in the Bible. Nowhere in the Bible is it written that God helps those who help themselves. But rather, that God helps those who acknowledge they are helpless.
A hunger and thirst for righteousness is rooted and grounded in grace. It says I have tasted and seen that there is nothing in this world that comes close to what God has freely given me in Christ Jesus. It has nothing to do with how I perform or what I achieve. It is all about savoring and enjoying what has been freely given.
Isaiah 55:1 says, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

This is the rich food of grace. It cannot be purchased. It can only be freely received.
It is recognizing who we are in our need for a Savior. It is understanding the grace and mercy lavished upon us. It is seeing and savoring what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. I don’t know about you, but that is what I want. This is the longing of my life. To walk in the lavish grace and mercy of my loving Savior!
The satisfaction that is found in the gift of Jesus Christ and His righteousness is out of this world. It is the only thing that will truly satisfy the deepest longings of our heart.

Adapted from a sermon by Senior Pastor George Wright,
Shandon Baptist Church, Columbia, S.C.
 

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July 28
Trusting God in Times of Sorrow
Bible in a Year:

I know whom I have believed.

2 Timothy 1:12
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
2 Timothy 1:6–12
When a man known as “Papa John” learned he had terminal cancer, he and his wife, Carol, sensed God calling them to share their illness journey online. Believing that God would minister through their vulnerability, they posted their moments of joy and their sorrow and pain for two years.
When Carol wrote that her husband “went into the outstretched arms of Jesus,” hundreds of people responded, with many thanking Carol for their openness. One person remarked that hearing about dying from a Christian point of view was healthy, for “we all have to die” someday. Another said that although she’d never met the couple personally, she couldn’t express how much encouragement she’d received through their witness of trusting God.
Although Papa John sometimes felt excruciating pain, he and Carol shared their story so they could demonstrate how God upheld them. They knew their testimony would bear fruit for God, echoing what Paul wrote to Timothy when he suffered: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
God can use even the death of a loved one to strengthen our faith in Him (and the faith of others) through the grace we receive in Christ Jesus (v. 9). If you’re experiencing anguish and difficulty, know that He can bring comfort and peace.
By: Amy Boucher Pye
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Reflect & Pray
How have you experienced God’s joy even in times of deep sorrow? How do you explain this? How could you share what you learned with others?
Heavenly Father, fan into flame the gift of faith in me, that I might share with love and power my testimony of how You work in my life.
 
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