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Daily Devotion

boldstardex

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“As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:10 and 3:23
FATHER, THIS ONE’S WITH ME
July 28, 2020
Do you realize that you can’t earn your way into heaven? It can’t be done. There is just too much sin in our life to ever be offset by any good works we may perform. No matter how hard we try, the ledger can never be balanced. The only way to heaven is through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Salvation is a gift we accept or reject; there are no other choices.
For the Christian, I picture it this way: We’re standing before the throne of Jesus Christ. All of our deeds for this life are brought out. It’s very evident that we deserve hell because unless we’re perfect (and no one is), we certainly deserve eternal separation from our holy Creator. Then Christ steps down from that throne of judgment and stands beside us.
There’s a wonderful song recorded by the Christian musical group, NewSong, entitled, “This One’s With Me,” which pretty well sums up what happens next. Jesus then takes His robe of righteousness and puts it on us and says (my words), “It’s obvious you’re guilty. It’s obvious you deserve hell. But, I have paid the penalty. I have taken the judgment you deserve upon Myself on the cross, and you have accepted this gift. May you live forever in the joy and gratitude of what I have done for you! Father, this one’s with me.” What a celebration of gratitude and praising of the Lord that day will be.
Have you received this unearned gift in faith?
 

boldstardex

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Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” – Ephesians 5: 25
LOVE – NO MATTER WHAT
July 29, 2020
We talk about love in many ways: romantic love, erotic love, friendship love. The word love used in the biblical description of family calls husbands to choose to love their wives – no matter what. Now, what does this mean, to choose to love?
This kind of love is a commitment to love, no matter the response. It’s always easy to love someone who loves us back. When someone shows us kindness, offers words of encouragement and affirmation, they are easier to love. But, to love someone in the midst of conflict, in disappointment, even when it hurts – well, that is tough love.
In the biblical description of family, the husband is called to be committed to his wife. To be respectful. To love and to forgive, no matter what. In the first century, this was radically counter-cultural. Now, just as the Word of God applied to the first century, the Word of God applies to the 21st century. It is timeless.
Remember, the major responsibility for marriage-working lies with the husband. We’re called to love our wives as Christ loved the church. Christ died for the church. This is a tall order because as sinful, imperfect beings, it is an overwhelming challenge to love our wives as Christ does His church. Think about His death on the cross – for you, for me “while we were still sinners, Christ died.” Talk about loving without condition!
Men, ask God to help you choose love, even when it hurts. Start today. Just as Christ faithfully loves us day in and day out without condition, ask Him to help you begin to love your wife with His love.
 

boldstardex

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“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.” – Colossians 3:18-19
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SUBMIT?
July 30, 2020
Submit – to be under the authority of another. This is a military term, used in the biblical description of family. Here, we see wives called to submit to the leadership of their husbands. Now hold on, wives. Stay with me and let’s break down what this looks like according to God’s Word.
First of all, I want to be very clear. The Bible does NOT teach that women are to submit to men. Does it mean men and women are unequal? That men are better? Absolutely not. In Genesis 1, we see that mankind is made in the image of God, male and female. We are all equal before God.
Still, this is not an easy verse. It is radically counter-cultural. And besides, we are all sinners. Meaning, all wives are married to – yep, sinners. So, he will make mistakes. It’s also tough because all wives are sinners, too.
Is there a time when you’re not called to submit to your husband? Yes, there is. If your husband is drunk, on drugs, mentally ill, or just sinful and is urging you to go against God’s Word, then the leadership of the husband has been forfeited. If he is physically abusive to you or your children, then absolutely, there is a need to seek shelter from that relationship.
At the same time, the teaching is very clear that wives are to submit to their husbands’ leading because “it is fitting to the Lord.” It’s not because he is smarter or better. It doesn’t mean we guys are deserving. No guy is. But, it’s because the Christian marriage is to be an example of Christ’s relationship with His bride, the church. The bride, the wife, is called to submit to her husband as the church is called to submit to Jesus (Ephesians 5:22-24).
And think about this: The ultimate act of submission was Christ voluntarily taking on the guilt and sin of mankind and dying on the cross to restore our relationship with God. He did this out of submission to His Father’s will.
The word “submit” is a radically counter-cultural word. Yet, what Jesus did with His Father, husbands are to do with Jesus, and wives are to submit to Christ by submitting to their husbands. Ask God to change your heart towards this word – submit. Start with your relationship with Christ. In what areas are you not submitting to God’s will for your life?
 

boldstardex

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“Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” – Colossians 3:20-21
PARENTING GOD’S WAY
July 31, 2020
Parenting is tough. Just look at all the books, blogs, and other so-called “professionals” offering their latest, greatest method. It’s pretty clear people are looking for help. So what does God’s Word have to say on the subject? When the Bible mentions raising kids, it specifically calls out dads and says, “Don’t exasperate or discourage your children.” Moms, this goes for you too. However, God clearly puts the major responsibility on the fathers in raising healthy kids.
So what does ‘exasperating’ or discouraging your kids look like?
  • Too strict or too rigid When your children think there is no way they can ever please you, it crushes their spirit. They tend to become resentful, bitter, and angry.
  • Too lenient, passive, or disengaged This can look like prioritizing work, hobbies, or a particular sports game over the family. Kids think dad doesn’t care.
  • To desert the family The fact is that over 40% of all children born in America today are born to fatherless homes. The resentment, bitterness, and depression that children can feel when dad deserts the family or is “just not there” in passive indifference can cause a child to feel unloved.
  • Dad does not love mom – The best way to be a good parent is to love your spouse. Nothing gives a child greater security and greater emotional stability than seeing mom and dad love and respect one another. And nothing harms the psyche and self-image of a child, like seeing mom and dad tearing each other down.
Parenting is hard. There’s no one size fits all. In fact, it’s pretty clear that today’s “modern family” is more than a little complicated.
However, the power of the gospel is the power to transform your parenting, whatever your situation. No matter how dysfunctional or how healthy your family, your kids, or your life appears, choose to live life counter-culturally. Seek to parent and respect your parents – God’s way!
 

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August 2
Kind Correction
Bible in a Year:

Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death.

James 5:20
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
James 5:19–20
The early spring weather was refreshing and my traveling companion, my wife, couldn’t have been better. But the beauty of those moments together could have quickly morphed into tragedy if it weren’t for a red and white warning sign that informed me I was headed in the wrong direction. Because I hadn’t turned wide enough, I momentarily saw a “Do Not Enter” sign staring me in the face. I quickly adjusted, but shudder to think of the harm I could have brought to my wife, myself, and others if I’d ignored the sign that reminded me I was going the wrong way.
The closing words of James emphasize the importance of correction. Who among us hasn’t needed to be “brought back” by those who care for us from paths or actions, decisions or desires that could’ve been hurtful? Who knows what harm might have been done to ourselves or others had someone not courageously intervened at the right time.
James stresses the value of kind correction with these words, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (5:20). Correction is an expression of God’s mercy. May our love and concern for the well-being of others compel us to speak and act in ways that He can use to “bring that person back” (v. 19).
By: Arthur Jackson
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Reflect & Pray
What risks or rewards are associated with helping a wanderer find his or her way back to where they belong? When did God use someone to bring you back from a not-so-good place?
Father, keep me from straying from Your truth and grant me courage to help bring back those who are wandering.
 

boldstardex

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“Joshua summoned the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one per tribe. Joshua told them, “Go in front of the ark of the Lord your God to the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to put a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the Israelite tribes. The stones will be a reminder to you. When your children ask someday, ‘Why are these stones important to you?’ tell them how the water of the Jordan stopped flowing before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the water of the Jordan stopped flowing. These stones will be a lasting memorial for the Israelites.” – Joshua 4: 4-7
MARKING MOMENTS OF GRATITUDE
August 4, 2020
For many, finding gratitude during this season of fear and uncertainty has been a challenge. We are bombarded by headlines, press conferences, statistical models, and coronavirus projections that don’t often inspire much optimism. Stress and anxiety are at an all-time high – so much so that even the CDC (the US Center for Disease Control) has highlighted stress coping mechanisms and warning signs to look for in both children and adults.
With so much stress and anxiety, how can Jesus followers fight back in seasons of overwhelming fear and uncertainty? By marking moments of gratitude. I’m talking about those big, life-changing moments where God miraculously provided, healed, comforted, called, promised, or answered a long-awaited prayer – the moments in our lives when God undeniably showed up.
Joshua demonstrated this in a very tangible way when leading the people of Israel into the long-awaited promised land after their lack of faith had cost them 40 additional years of wandering in the desert. Talk about a moment worth remembering. This was not only an answer to their prayers, but it was a major step in God ultimately fulfilling His promise to Abraham (Gen. 15:18-21).
So, to commemorate this monumental moment of God’s faithfulness, Joshua instructed a member from each tribe to select one stone from the Jordan River as a “reminder” of the moment when God stopped the Jordan River and led the people of Israel into the promised land. These stones would mark this moment and act as a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness on that day. Joshua continued his instructions, stating that these stones would be used to tell future generations of God’s faithfulness.
Do you have something in your life similar to Joshua’s remembrance stones?
This can be something physical – a photo, a quote, a journal, or perhaps a verse that you’ve framed and placed on your desk –anything that helps you regularly remember and reflect upon those big moments in life when God showed up. My home church has memorial plaques that tell of God’s miracles through the years.
Just like Joshua, these are the moments we want to remember. These are the moments we want to hold onto because it’s during those difficult, uncertain, or fearful days that standing on God’s faithfulness is all the more important as we walk in faith through life’s every high and low.
 

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August 7
Letting Go
Bible in a Year:

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.

Psalm 116:15
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
John 11:21–36
“Your father is actively dying,” said the hospice nurse. “Actively dying” refers to the final phase of the dying process and was a new term to me, one that felt strangely like traveling down a lonely one-way street. On my dad’s last day, not knowing if he could still hear us, my sister and I sat by his bed. We kissed the top of his beautiful bald head. We whispered God’s promises to him. We sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and quoted the 23rd Psalm. We told him we loved him and thanked him for being our dad. We knew his heart longed to be with Jesus, and we told him he could go. Speaking those words was the first painful step in letting go. A few minutes later, our dad was joyously welcomed into his eternal home.
The final release of a loved one is painful. Even Jesus’ tears flowed when His good friend Lazarus died (John 11:35). But because of God’s promises, we have hope beyond physical death. Psalm 116:15 says that God’s “faithful servants”—those who belong to Him—are “precious” to Him. Though they die, they’ll be alive again.
Jesus promises, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25–26). What comfort it brings to know we’ll be in God’s presence forever.
By: Cindy Hess Kasper
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Reflect & Pray
What did Jesus accomplish by His death on the cross? How does His sacrifice affect every person who has ever lived?
Precious Father, thank You for the promise of eternal life in Your presence.
For help in dealing with loss, read Life After Loss at discoveryseries.org/cb131.
 

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August 10
On the Bubble
Bible in a Year:

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you . . . into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Peter 2:4–10
A news article in May 1970 contained one of the first uses of the idiom “on the bubble.” Referring to a state of uncertainty, the expression was used in relation to rookie race car driver Steve Krisiloff. He’d been “on the bubble,” having posted a slow qualifying lap for the Indianapolis 500. Later, it was confirmed that his time—though the slowest of those who qualified—allowed him to compete in the race.
We can feel at times that we’re “on the bubble,” uncertain we have what it takes to compete in or finish the race of life. When we’re feeling that way, it’s important to remember that in Jesus we’re never “on the bubble.” As children of God, our place in His kingdom is secure (John 14:3). Our confidence flows from Him who chose Jesus to be the “cornerstone” on which our lives are built, and He chose us to be “living stones” filled with the Spirit of God, capable of being the people God created us to be (1 Peter 2:5–6).
In Christ, our future is secure as we hope in and follow Him (v. 6). For “[we] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that [we] may declare the praises of him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light” (v. 9).
In Jesus’ eyes we’re not “on the bubble.” We’re precious and loved (v. 4).
By: Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
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Reflect & Pray
In what areas of life have you found yourself “on the bubble” and struggling with uncertainty? What can you do to regain your confidence in Jesus?
Father God, when disappointments threaten to undermine my identity as Your child, remind me to put my hope and confidence in You alone.
 

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August 11
Named by God
Bible in a Year:

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.”

Ruth 1:20
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Ruth 1:19–22
Riptide. Batgirl. Jumpstart. These are a few names given to counselors at the summer camp our family attends every year. Created by their peers, the camp nicknames usually derive from an embarrassing incident, a funny habit, or a favorite hobby.
Nicknames aren’t limited to camp—we even find them used in the Bible. For example, Jesus dubs the apostles James and John the “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). It’s rare in Scripture for someone to give themselves a nickname, yet it happens when a woman named Naomi asks people to call her “Mara,” which means “bitterness” (Ruth 1:20), because both her husband and two sons had died. She felt that God had made her life bitter (v. 21).
The new name Naomi gave herself didn’t stick, however, because those devastating losses were not the end of her story. In the midst of her sorrow, God had blessed her with a loving daughter-in-law, Ruth, who eventually remarried and had a son, creating a family for Naomi again.
Although we might sometimes be tempted to give ourselves bitter nicknames, like “failure” or “unloved,” based on difficulties we’ve experienced or mistakes we’ve made, those names are not the end of our stories. We can replace those labels with the name God has given each of us, “loved one” (Romans 9:25), and look for the ways He’s providing for us in even the most challenging of times.
By: Lisa M. Samra
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Reflect & Pray
Think of a nickname someone gave you. What did you like or not like about it? How does being called a beloved child of God change how you see yourself?
Heavenly Father, thank You that I’m not defined by the circumstances or experiences of my life. Thank You for calling me Your child.
 

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“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.”’ – Matthew 19: 21-23
ARE YOU WILLING TO DROP EVERYTHING TO FOLLOW JESUS?
August 11, 2020
Where do you find your security – wealth, status, career? If you were asked to give it all away – would you? Could you?
In Matthew, we read of a rich young man approaching Jesus. He wants to follow Him. But Jesus, knowing the true heart behind people’s motives and priorities says to the man – “If you want to follow me, go and sell all your wealth and give it to the poor. Then you can come follow me.”
Turning to leave, the rich man is disappointed. He knows he can’t do that. Why? Because his security is in his money. The idol of his life is money. There is no way he could give it up.
Witnessing this exchange, the disciples become unsettled. Why would Jesus say that? What will others think? They might lose followers.
Recognizing their concern, Jesus explains how difficult it is for a wealthy person to enter heaven. His answer was more than a little alarming. It’s probably alarming many affluent individuals calling themselves Christian, today.
You might think you’re going to go to heaven when you die, but all this time you’ve been putting your trust in money rather than God. God knows that your heart isn’t really His. That’s a pretty strong statement.
Choosing to follow Jesus isn’t easy. Now, don’t get Him wrong. Jesus isn’t asking everyone to give up all their earthly possessions in order to follow Him. But, He is saying that we need to be willing to give up what is most important to us in order to follow Him.
Where are we putting our trust, our security, and our hope? Is it in the things of this world, things that will pass away? Or, are we putting our trust, our security, and our hope in Christ? It’s a one-time decision that needs to be renewed daily. What decision are you making? Will you walk away from Jesus disappointed – or will you walk with Jesus?
 
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