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Daily Devotion

boldstardex

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“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”… “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” – Ephesians 5:21, 31
TILL DEATH DO US PART
September 1, 2020
This next statement really got my attention: Every single day of the year in America, more than 3,500 marriages end in divorce. More than 50 percent of the children in America’s public schools live in single-parent homes. Of the nation’s children who live apart from their biological fathers, 50 percent have never set foot in their father’s home. (1)
Sometimes, when I’m performing a wedding ceremony and we are reciting the vow “till death do us part,” I realize that, in reality, the marriage outlook is more often, “Till death … or until we get tired of each other, do us part.” What has changed that has made divorce an okay outlet?
Is it our advancement in technology? Or our lack of communication? The answer to this selfish, ‘me-first’ mentality is found in our verse today from Ephesians. “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
What does it mean to be subject to? Well, “be subject to” is an old military term in the Greek. It means to rank under; it means someone has authority over another. God’s solution to the ‘me-first’ focus is found in this rather militaristic phrase. How so? By both the husband and the wife putting each other first. It means concentrating on the needs of the family rather than the urges of the individual. After all, that’s what you signed up for when you promised before God, “till death do us part.”
Are you and your spouse struggling right now? With so much spinning out of our control, maybe it’s time to refocus on the One who IS in control. Carve out some time this week to reconnect with one another. Listen, apologize, and pray. And ask God to help you re-position Christ as the center of your marriage, and for the strength to face today, together.
(1) SBC Life “Kingdom Families.”
 

boldstardex

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“Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4
THE PATH TO TRUE SEXUAL INTIMACY
September 2, 2020
Do you have true sexual intimacy with your spouse? (Do I have your attention yet?) Or maybe you’ve bought into the idea that the best, most enjoyable, and intense sex is always found outside of marriage? We are constantly bombarded with this message through TV shows, movies, the internet, magazines and books. Unfortunately, this mentality has become so common that we often don’t even notice it anymore.
This message is a lie. It is the exact opposite of what God had in mind when He invented sex. Any sexual act that is performed outside the context of committed love in marriage is always less than the best – in fact, it’s wrong. It brings emotional harm, broken relationships, turmoil, and guilt. In the end, it will destroy lives and families. God intended sexual intimacy to be His greatest gift for marriage and marriage alone.
Seek to trust the inventor of sex in order to experience the sacred enjoyment that God has in mind for you. Seek God’s best for true sexual intimacy in your marriage. You’ll find that bond to be the most gratifying you’ll ever experience.
 

boldstardex

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“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13
THE SECRET TO CONTENTMENT
September 6, 2020
One phone call. That’s all it takes to turn a life upside down. Everyone has a story of life spinning out of control. Maybe it was an accident, a call from the doctor, a relationship that ended, or an unexpected layoff. We know that everything can change in an instant. It can all be gone tomorrow. And if it IS gone, will we still be happy?
No, this is not a trick question. Life is uncertain. We are not in control. If being in control is the only way to be happy, then we are destined for a life of chasing temporary happiness in things that fade as quickly as they are found. The apostle Paul talks about finding true happiness, true contentment, that lasts through the ups and downs of life.
True happiness is not about what we have, but what God has done for us. Our happiness is in the Provider, not in the provision. Our happiness is in the Giver, not in the gifts given. Think about it. Everything we have is a gift from God. The ability to earn income comes from Him. The economy that keeps our investments stable is from Him. The health that we experience today is from God.
Is there contentment in your life?
 True happiness is found by those who acknowledge and daily live in the reality that they are dependent on God. If you’ve been seeking happiness in all the wrong places, spend time today putting your trust back in the one who provides, not in the things He provides.
Adapted from a sermon by Senior Pastor, George Wright, Shandon Baptist Church, Columbia, S.C.
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boldstardex

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Loving Others with Our Prayers
Bible in a Year:

This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

2 Corinthians 1:9
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
2 Corinthians 1:8–11
“Are people still praying for me?”
That was one of the first questions a missionary asked his wife whenever she was allowed to visit him in prison. He had been falsely accused and incarcerated for his faith for two years. His life was frequently in danger because of the conditions and hostility in the prison, and believers around the world were earnestly praying for him. He wanted to be assured they wouldn’t stop, because he believed God was using their prayers in a powerful way.
Our prayers for others—especially those who are persecuted for their faith—are a vital gift. Paul made this clear when he wrote the believers in Corinth about hardships he faced during his missionary journey. He “was under great pressure,” so much that he “despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8). But then he told them God had delivered him and described the tool He’d used to do it: “We have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers” (vv. 10–11, emphasis added).
God moves through our prayers to accomplish great good in the lives of His people. One of the best ways to love others is to pray for them, because through our prayers we open the door to the help only God can provide. When we pray for others, we love them in His strength. There’s none greater or more loving than He.
By: James Banks
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Reflect & Pray
How do you love others with your prayers? In what ways can you encourage prayer for those who are persecuted for their faith?
Loving and Almighty God, thank You for the amazing gift of prayer and the ways You move through it. Please help me to pray faithfully for others today!
For help in your prayer life, read Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer at DiscoverySeries.org/HJ891.
 

boldstardex

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Printed on Our Hearts
Bible in a Year:

Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 7:3
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Proverbs 7:1–5
When Johannes Gutenberg combined the printing press with moveable type in 1450, he ushered in the era of mass communications in the West, spreading learning into new social realms. Literacy increased across the globe and new ideas produced rapid transformations in social and religious contexts. Gutenberg produced the first-ever printed version of the Bible. Prior to this, Bibles were painstakingly hand-copied, taking scribes up to a year to produce.
For centuries since, the printing press has provided people like you and me the privilege of direct access to Scripture. While we also have electronic versions available to us, many of us often hold a physical Bible in our hands because of his invention. What was once inaccessible given the sheer cost and time to have a Bible copied is readily at our fingertips today.
Having access to God’s truth is an amazing privilege. The writer of Proverbs indicates we should treat His instructions to us in the Scriptures as something to be cherished, as “the apple of [our] eye” (Proverbs 7:2) and to write His words of wisdom on “the tablet of [our] heart” (v. 3). As we seek to understand the Bible and live according to its wisdom, we, like scribes, are drawing God’s truth from our “fingers” down into our hearts, to be taken with us wherever we go.
By: Kirsten Holmberg
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Reflect & Pray
How has having Scripture stored in your heart benefitted you? How can you begin to internalize more of God’s wisdom?
Loving God, help me to know Your Word intimately that I might live in the way You desire.
 

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September 14
Goodbyes and Hellos
Bible in a Year:

God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 21:3–4
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Revelation 21:1–5
When my brother David suddenly died of cardiac failure, my perspectives on life changed dramatically. Dave was the fourth of seven children, but he was the first of us to pass—and the unexpected nature of that passing gave me much to ponder. It became apparent that as age began to catch up with us, our family’s future was going to be marked more by loss than by gain. It was going to be characterized as much by goodbyes as hellos.
None of this was a surprise intellectually—that is just how life works. But this realization was an emotional lightning bolt to the brain. It gave a fresh, new significance to every moment life gives us and every opportunity time allows. And it placed a huge new value on the reality of a future reunion, where no goodbyes will ever be needed.
This ultimate reality is at the heart of what we find in Revelation 21:3–4: “God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Though today we may find ourselves experiencing seasons of long goodbyes, our trust in Christ’s death and resurrection promises an eternity of hellos.
By: Bill Crowder
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Reflect & Pray
How do you cope with grief and the loss of loved ones? What comfort does it bring to know that you will one day see them again?
Father, I thank You that You’re the living God who gives everlasting life. I pray that You would use our eternal hope to comfort us in our seasons of loss and grief.
 

boldstardex

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“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” – Romans 6:3-6
A TIME TO CELEBRATE
September 15, 2020
Flowers, bridesmaids, the white dress… we’ve all seen a wedding ceremony. Some are large, formal, five-piece band celebrations in traditional venues; while others are small, intimate beach-side ceremonies celebrated by a few close friends and family. No matter the ‘style,’ every wedding has the same purpose – a couple publicly committing their lives to one another.
Yet never, not one single time, have I performed a wedding where the couple fell in love during the ceremony. Never have I performed a wedding where the couple decided – at the ceremony – to commit their lives to one another. The decision was already made. In the same way, baptism is a public expression before God and man of what has already happened in one’s heart and life.
Just to be clear. A person is not baptized into faith in Christ Jesus when baptized in water. It’s the moment we decide to trust in Christ, through repentant faith, that we will receive a gift—the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit dwelling within us. That baptism occurs at salvation.
So, what then does water baptism represent? In baptism, we are saying that Christ died for our sins and that we, too, are dying to our life without Christ. We are dying to our sins, to our selfish desires. In baptism, we are testifying to what has already occurred—a decision to trust Christ, to follow Him.
But, that’s not all. In rising out of the water, we see the symbolic resurrection of Jesus Christ rising from the dead. This represents the second part of the gospel. It testifies that as the water cleanses me outwardly, Christ already cleansed my heart. He has set me free. Now, I have the privilege of following the resurrected Savior forever and ever.
Just like a wedding ceremony is a life-changing moment full of hope and celebration, baptism is to be celebrated. Have you publicly celebrated your life-altering, no going back, declaration of what Christ has done for you? It’s only something a follower of Jesus can do. No parent can make that decision for you. It is a choice that results only from saving faith in Jesus.
 

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September 18
Fixing Elevators
Bible in a Year:

Love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:18
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Leviticus 19:9–18
Sarah has a rare condition that causes her joints to dislocate, making her reliant on an electric wheelchair to get around. On her way to a meeting recently, Sarah rode her wheelchair to the train station but found the elevator broken. Again. With no way of getting to the platform, she was told to take a taxi to another station forty minutes away. The taxi was called but never arrived. Sarah gave up and went home.
Unfortunately, this is a regular occurrence for Sarah. Broken elevators stop her from boarding trains, forgotten ramps leave her unable to get off them. Sometimes Sarah is treated as a nuisance by railway staff for needing assistance. She’s often close to tears.
Out of the many biblical laws governing human relationships, “love your neighbor as yourself” is key (Leviticus 19:18; Romans 13:8–10). And while this love stops us from lying, stealing, and abusing others (Leviticus 19:11, 14), it also changes how we work. Employees must be treated fairly (v. 13), and we should all be generous to the poor (vv. 9–10). In Sarah’s case, those who fix elevators and drag out ramps aren’t doing inconsequential tasks but offering important service to others.
If we treat work as just a means to a wage or other personal benefit, we will soon treat others as annoyances. But if we treat our jobs as opportunities to love, then the most everyday task becomes a holy enterprise.
By: Sheridan Voysey
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Reflect & Pray
Why do you think we can become annoyed at someone needing extra assistance? How can you turn your job into a channel of love today?
Father, a job is never just a job to You but an opportunity to love You and serve others. Help me to see my work as an opportunity to benefit others today.
 

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September 21
Making Peace with Trouble
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 16:25–33
We were almost home when I noticed it: the needle of our car’s temperature gauge was rocketing up. As we pulled in, I killed the engine and hopped out. Smoke wafted from the hood. The engine sizzled like bacon. I backed the car up a few feet and found a puddle beneath: oil. Instantly, I knew what had happened: The head gasket had blown.
I groaned. We’d just sunk money into other expensive repairs. Why can’t things just work? I grumbled bitterly. Why can’t things just stop breaking?
Can you relate? Sometimes we avert one crisis, solve one problem, pay off one big bill, only to face another. Sometimes those troubles are much bigger than an engine self-destructing: an unexpected diagnosis, an untimely death, a terrible loss.
In those moments, we yearn for a world less broken, less full of trouble. That world, Jesus promised, is coming. But not yet: “In this world you will have trouble,” He reminded His disciples in John 16. “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (v. 33). Jesus spoke in that chapter about grave troubles, such as persecution for your faith. But such trouble, He taught, would never have the last word for those who hope in Him.
Troubles small and large may dog our days. But Jesus’ promise of a better tomorrow with Him encourages us not to let our troubles define our lives today.
By: Adam R. Holz
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Reflect & Pray
What does it look like for you to surrender your troubles to God? What might you use as a prompt to remind yourself to offer up your anxieties to Him throughout the day?
Father, troubles never seem far away. But when they’re close, You’re even closer. Please help me to cling to You in trust today.
 

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September 22
A Risky Detour
Bible in a Year:

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season.

2 Timothy 4:2
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
2 Timothy 4:1–5
What a waste of time, thought Harley. Her insurance agent was insisting they meet again. Harley knew it would be yet another boring sales pitch, but she decided to make the most of it by looking for an opportunity to talk about her faith.
Noticing that the agent’s eyebrows were tattooed, she hesitantly asked why and discovered that the woman did it because she felt it would bring her luck. Harley’s question was a risky detour from a routine chat about finances, but it opened the door to a conversation about luck and faith, which gave her an opportunity to talk about why she relied on Jesus. That “wasted” hour turned out to be a divine appointment.
Jesus also took a risky detour. While traveling from Judea to Galilee, He went out of His way to speak to a Samaritan, something unthinkable for a Jew. Worse, she was an adulterous woman avoided even by other Samaritans. Yet He ended up having a conversation that led to the salvation of many (John 4:1–26, 39–42).
Are you meeting someone you don’t really want to see? Do you keep bumping into a neighbor you normally avoid? The Bible reminds us to be always ready—“in season and out of season”—to share the good news (2 Timothy 4:2). Consider taking a “risky detour.” Who knows, God may be giving you a divine opportunity to talk to someone about Him today!
By: Leslie Koh
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Reflect & Pray
Whom might you meet today? How might there be an opportunity to talk about Jesus? How can you go out of your way to share the good news in a bold but loving, sensitive way?
Jesus, teach me to see the doors You’ve opened for me to share Your love, and give me the courage to tell others about You.
 

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September 23
God-Paved Memories
Bible in a Year:

Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me.

Deuteronomy 4:10
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Deuteronomy 4:3–10
When my grown son faced a difficult situation, I reminded him about God’s constant care and provision during his dad’s year of unemployment. I recounted the times God strengthened our family and gave us peace while my mom fought and lost her battle with leukemia. Highlighting the stories of God’s faithfulness stitched into Scripture, I affirmed He was good at keeping His word. I led my son down our family’s God-paved memory lane, reminding him about the ways He remained reliable through our valley and mountaintop moments. Whether we were struggling or celebrating, God’s presence, love, and grace proved sufficient.
Although I’d like to claim this faith-strengthening strategy as my own, God designed the habit of sharing stories to inspire the future generations’ belief in Him. As the Israelites remembered all they’d seen God do in the past, He placed cobblestones of confidence down their divinely paved memory lanes.
The Israelites had witnessed God holding true to His promises as they followed Him (Deuteronomy 4:3–6). He’d always heard and answered their prayers (v. 7). Rejoicing and reminiscing with the younger generations (v. 9), the Israelites shared the holy words breathed and preserved by the one true God (v. 10).
As we tell of our great God’s majesty, mercy, and intimate love, our convictions and the faith of others can be strengthened by the confirmation of His enduring trustworthiness.
By: Xochitl Dixon
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Reflect & Pray
Who’s invested in your spiritual growth by sharing what God has done in their lives? What creative ways can you share His faithfulness and love across generational lines?
Sovereign God, thank You for empowering me to walk with sure-footed faith that crosses generational lines.
 
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