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Daily Devotion

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October 14
Thriving Together
Bible in a Year:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

Colossians 3:15
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Colossians 3:5–16
My husband, Alan, stood below the towering lights illuminating the athletic field, as a member of the opposing team hit a ball into the air. With his eyes fixed on the ball, Alan ran full speed toward the darkest corner of the field—and slammed into the chain link fence.
Later that night, I handed him an ice pack. “Are you feeling okay?” I asked. He rubbed his shoulder. “I’d feel better if my buddies had warned me that I was getting near the fence,” he said.
Teams function best when they work together. Alan’s injury could have been avoided, if only one of his teammates had yelled out a warning as he approached the fence.
Scripture reminds us that members of the church are designed to work together and watch out for each other like a team. The apostle Paul tells us that God cares about how we interact with each other, because the actions of one person can impact the whole community of believers (Colossians 3:13–14). When we all embrace opportunities to serve each other, fully devoted to unity and peace, the church flourishes (v. 15).
Paul instructed his readers to “let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit” (v. 16). In this way we can inspire and protect one another through loving and honest relationships, obeying and praising God with grateful hearts—thriving together.
By: Xochitl Dixon
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Reflect & Pray
How can you share Scripture this week with others to encourage unity and love in the body of Christ? What does it mean for you to have “the message of Christ [dwelling] among you richly”?
Father God, thank You for using Scripture to instruct me, Your Spirit to guide me, and Your people to keep me focused and accountable.
 

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October 19
Stronger than Hate
Bible in a Year:

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Luke 23:34
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Luke 23:32–34, 44–46
Within twenty-four hours of his mother Sharonda’s tragic death, Chris found himself uttering these powerful, grace-filled words: “Love is stronger than hate.” His mother, along with eight others, had been killed at a Wednesday night Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. What was it that had so shaped this teenager’s life that these words could flow from his lips and his heart? Chris is a believer in Jesus whose mother had “loved everybody with all her heart.”
In Luke 23:26–49 we get a front row seat to an execution scene that included two criminals and the innocent Jesus (v. 32). All three were crucified (v. 33). Amid the gasps and sighs and the likely groans from those hanging on the crosses, the following words of Jesus could be heard: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (v. 34). The hate-filled initiative of the religious leaders had resulted in the crucifixion of the very One who championed love. Though in agony, Jesus’ love continued to triumph.
How have you or someone you love been the target of hate, ill-will, bitterness, or ugliness? May your pain prompt your prayers, and may the example of Jesus and people like Chris encourage you by the power of the Spirit to choose love over hate.
By: Arthur Jackson
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Reflect & Pray
When have you found it hard to love someone? Is there someone you find it hard to forgive now? What steps might you take?
Father, forgive me when I find it hard to forgive others. Help me to demonstrate that love is stronger than hate.
 

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October 20
Golden Scars
Bible in a Year:

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

2 Corinthians 11:30
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
2 Corinthians 12:1–10
In the Netherlands, a group of fashion designers offer a “Golden Joinery” workshop. Inspired by the Japanese technique Kintsugi, where broken porcelain is visibly repaired with gold, participants collaborate in mending clothes in ways that highlight the mending work rather than trying to mask it. Those who are invited bring “a dear but broken garment and mend it with gold.” As they remake their clothes, the repair becomes ornamental, a “golden scar.”
Articles of clothing are transformed in ways that highlight the places where they were torn or frayed. Perhaps this is something like what Paul meant when he said that he would “boast” in the things that showed his weakness. Although he’d experienced “surpassingly great revelations,” he doesn’t brag about them (2 Corinthians 12:6). He is kept from getting proud and overconfident, he says, by a “thorn” in his flesh (v. 7). No one knows exactly what he was referring to—perhaps depression, a form of malaria, persecution from enemies, or something else. Whatever it was, he begged God to take it away. But God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9).
Just as the rips and tears in old clothes can become sights of beauty as they’re remade by designers, the broken and weak places in our lives can become places where God’s power and glory may shine. He holds us together, transforms us, and makes our weaknesses beautiful.
By: Amy Peterson
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Reflect & Pray
What are some weaknesses you try to keep hidden from the world? How has God revealed His power through your weakness?
God, may all my scars become golden as You heal and repair me in ways that bring glory to Your name.
 

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October 21
What’s Wrong with the World?
Bible in a Year:

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

1 Timothy 1:15
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Timothy 1:12–17
There is an oft-heard story that The London Times posed a question to readers at the turn of the twentieth century. What’s wrong with the world?
That’s quite the question, isn’t it? Someone might quickly respond, “Well, how much time do you have for me to tell you?” And that would be fair, as there seems to be so much that’s wrong with our world. As the story goes, The Times received a number of responses, but one in particular has endured in its brief brilliance. The English writer, poet, and philosopher G. K. Chesterton penned this four-word response, a refreshing surprise to the usual passing-of-the-buck: “Dear Sirs, I am.”
Whether the story is factual or not is up for debate. But that response? It’s nothing but true. Long before Chesterton came along, there was an apostle named Paul. Far from a lifelong model citizen, Paul confessed his past shortcomings: “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man” (v. 13). After naming who Jesus came to save (“sinners”), he goes on to make a very Chesterton-like qualification: “of whom I am the worst” (v. 15). Paul knew exactly what was and is wrong with the world. And he further knew the only hope of making things right—“the grace of our Lord” (v. 14). What an amazing reality! This enduring truth lifts our eyes to the light of Christ’s saving love.
By: John Blase
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Reflect & Pray
What is wrong with the world? Can you own the answer Paul and Chesterton gave? What is one way you can accept that without sliding into self-hatred?
God, thank You for Your immense patience with me, a sinner. To You be honor and glory forever and ever.
To learn about answering questions related to the Christian faith, visit ChristianUniversity.org/CA101.
 

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October 22
Laundry Day
Bible in a Year:

Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples.

Matthew 28:19 gnt
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Matthew 28:16–20
Driving through a low-income area near his church, Colorado pastor Chad Graham started praying for his “neighbors.” When he noticed a small laundromat, he stopped to take a look inside and found it filled with customers. One asked Graham for a spare coin to operate the clothes dryer. That small request inspired a weekly “Laundry Day” sponsored by Graham’s church. Members donate coins and soap to the laundromat, pray with customers, and support the owner of the laundry facility.
Their neighborhood outreach, which dares to include a laundromat, reflects Jesus’ Great Commission to His disciples. As He said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18–19 gnt).
His Holy Spirit’s powerful presence enables “everywhere” outreach, including even a laundromat. Indeed, we don’t go alone. As Jesus promised, “I will be with you always, to the end of the age” (v. 20 gnt).
Pastor Chad experienced that truth after praying at the laundromat for a customer named Jeff who is battling cancer. As Chad reported, “When we opened our eyes, every customer in the room was praying with us, hands stretched out toward Jeff. It was one of the most sacred moments I have experienced as a pastor.”
The lesson? Let’s go everywhere to proclaim Christ.
By: Patricia Raybon
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Reflect & Pray
Where can you go in your neighborhood today to proclaim Christ? How could His powerful presence enable you?
Jesus, enable me to proclaim Your good news today—everywhere.
 

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October 26
Prayers on La Playa
Bible in a Year:

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted.

Psalm 148:13
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 148
During a trip to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary, my husband and I read our Bibles on the beach. As vendors passed and called out the prices of their wares, we thanked each one but didn’t buy anything. One vendor, Fernando, smiled wide at my rejection and insisted we consider buying gifts for friends. After I declined his invitation, Fernando packed up and began walking away . . . still grinning. “I pray God will bless your day,” I said.
Fernando turned toward me and said, “He has! Jesus changed my life.” Fernando knelt between our chairs. “I feel His presence here.” He then shared how God had delivered him from drug and alcohol abuse more than fourteen years earlier.
My tears flowed as he recited entire poems from the book of Psalms and prayed for us. Together, we praised God and rejoiced in His presence . . . on la playa.
Psalm 148 is a prayer of praise. The psalmist encourages all of creation to “praise the name of the Lord, for at his command [everything was] created” (v. 5), “for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens” (v. 13).
Though God invites us to bring our needs before Him and trust He hears and cares for us, He also delights in prayers of grateful praise wherever we are. Even on the beach.
By: Xochitl Dixon
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Reflect & Pray
What will you praise God for today? How has He inspired you to praise Him after hearing someone else’s story?
Help me praise You with every breath You’ve given me, God.
 

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October 27
Choosing Hope
Bible in a Year:

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord.

Micah 7:7
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Micah 7:2–7
I am one of millions of people worldwide who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), a type of depression common in places with limited sunlight due to short winter days. When I begin to fear winter’s frozen curse will never end, I’m eager for any evidence that longer days and warmer temperatures are coming.
The first signs of spring—flowers successfully braving their way through the lingering snow—also powerfully remind me of the way God’s hope can break through even our darkest seasons. The prophet Micah confessed this even while enduring a heart-rending “winter” as the Israelites turned away from God. As Micah assessed the bleak situation, he lamented that “not one upright person” seemed to remain (Micah 7:2).
Yet, even though the situation appeared dire, the prophet refused to give up hope. He trusted that God was at work (v. 7)—even if, amid the devastation, he couldn’t yet see the evidence.
In our dark and sometimes seemingly endless “winters,” when spring doesn’t appear to be breaking through, we face the same struggle as Micah. Will we give into despair? Or will we “watch in hope for the Lord”? (v. 7).
Our hope in God is never wasted (Romans 5:5). He’s bringing a time with no more “winter”: a time with no more mourning or pain (Revelation 21:4). Until then, may we rest in Him, confessing, “My hope is in you” (Psalm 39:7).
By: Lisa M. Samra
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Reflect & Pray
Where do you find hope in dark times? In what “winter” season has God given you the hope you needed?
Heavenly Father, during difficult seasons of life, it’s easy for me to be discouraged; in those hard times, help me place my hope in You. And in every season of my life, help me share with others the peace found in life with You.
 

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October 28
Who’s It For?
Bible in a Year:

He poured it out before the Lord.

2 Samuel 23:16
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
2 Samuel 23:13–17
The picture made me laugh out loud. Crowds had lined a Mexican avenue, waving flags and throwing confetti as they waited for the pope. Down the middle of the street strolled a stray puppy, appearing to grin as if the cheering was entirely for him. Yes! Every dog should have its day, and it should look like this.
It’s cute when a puppy “steals the show,” but hijacking another’s praise can destroy us. David knew this, and he refused to drink the water his mighty warriors had risked their lives to get. He had wistfully said it would be great if someone would fetch a drink from the well in Bethlehem. Three of his soldiers took him literally. They broke through enemy lines, drew the water, and carried it back. David was overwhelmed by their devotion, and he had to pass it on. He refused to drink the water, but “poured it out before the Lord” as a drink offering (2 Samuel 23:16).
How we respond to praise and honor says a lot about us. When praise is directed toward others, especially God, stay out of the way. The parade isn’t for us. When the honor is directed toward us, thank the person and then amplify that praise by giving all the glory to Jesus. The “water” isn’t for us either. Give thanks, then pour it out before God.
By: Mike Wittmer
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Reflect & Pray
What praise for yourself or others did you hear today? How did your heart respond?
God, may words of praise to You be continually on my lips. You alone deserve the praise!
 

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“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1
EXPERIENCE PEACE IN A WORLD OF CHAOS
November 2, 2020
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to decipher that we live in a world seemingly out of control. If one were to pick words to characterize the current state of these days, “peaceful” would probably fall to the very bottom of that list. Wars, famine, racial division and strife, political corruption, persecution, poverty, COVID-19 – the list is seemingly endless when one contemplates brokenness in all its forms.
And if the external hostilities aren’t enough, on top of that, many of us face internal hostility and strife. If we’re honest with ourselves, in our heart of hearts, many of us are afraid, tired, depressed, and wondering when this heartache will cease and peace will abound. When we find ourselves losing heart, sometimes our faith can be lost with it. We begin to question if God is still active and present in our world.
The Bible doesn’t deny the pain of our current predicament. The Bible doesn’t sugarcoat the brokenness in our world and treat it as an illusion. But the Bible does provide a solution in the midst of it. Although final freedom from external hostilities may never be fully realized until Christ returns, faith in Jesus makes it possible for a person to experience inner peace and freedom from fear, sin, and death.
When Paul was writing his letter to the Romans, in secular Greek (the language the New Testament was written in), there was a negative connotation to the idea of “peace.” The word only denoted that strife had been taken away; it was a ceasing or absence of enmity between two warring parties. However, Paul uses “peace” in a context that puts more of a positive connotation on it. Not only has something been taken away (namely, hostility), something has been given to us, as well — God’s favor. God is for us. He is concerned with our well-being and our lives. He is our Advocate, even when all those around us turn away.
God doesn’t promise us an easy, carefree life, free from pain and hardship. But He does promise that when we do feel burdened by the weight of our broken world, when we walk through grief and suffering, and when conflict seems to rage all around us, we can still have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, God is now with us and God is now for us.
If you haven’t experienced this kind of peace, you can today. Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). Call on Christ in faith, and the peace of Christ will be yours by His grace. And for Christians who have already placed their belief in Jesus, be reminded and comforted that all Jesus said to us in His Word is given so that we “may have peace” (John 16:33).
 

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November 4
Relaxing with Purpose
Bible in a Year:

Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise.

Proverbs 30:24
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Proverbs 30:24–31
Ramesh loves to tell others about Jesus. He boldly speaks with coworkers, and one weekend each month returns to his village to evangelize from house to house. His enthusiasm is contagious—especially since he’s learned the value of taking time to rest and relax.
Ramesh used to spend every weekend and most evenings proclaiming the gospel. His wife and children missed him when he was out, and they found him exhausting when he was around. He needed to make every minute and conversation count. He couldn’t enjoy games or small talk. Ramesh was wound too tight.
He was awakened to his imbalance by the honest words of his wife, the counsel of friends, and somewhat obscure passages of Scripture. Proverbs 30 mentions trivial things, such as ants, roosters, and locusts. It marvels how “a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces” (v. 28).
Ramesh wondered how something so mundane made it into the Bible. Observing lizards required significant downtime. Someone saw a lizard darting around the palace and thought that’s interesting, and paused to watch some more. Perhaps God included it in His Word to remind us to balance work with rest. We need hours to daydream about lizards, catch one with our kids, and simply relax with family and friends. May God give us wisdom to know when to work, serve, and relax!
By: Mike Wittmer
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Reflect & Pray
How are you balancing work and rest? Would those closest to you say that you love them? Why or why not?
Jesus, Your love frees me for productive work and meaningful rest.
 

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“…And your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” – Ephesians 6:15
HOW PEACE COMBATS STRESS
November 4, 2020
Our high-pressure, stress-filled schedules are taking its toll. Dr. Joel Elkes* argues that our lifestyle is one of the leading causes of illness today. The American Academy of Family Physicians says that two-thirds of all doctor visits are stress-related because we now know that stress is a major contributor to heart disease, cancer, accidental injuries, and suicide. To combat stress, many people attend seminars or read countless books on the subject. But some find these resources only heighten the problem – which leads to even more stress! It can be a vicious circle.
Let’s face it – stress and pressure are a part of life. Even Jesus stated that no one was immune to it. His exact words were, “In this world, you’ll face much tribulation.” Tribulation or trouble also means pressure. He goes on to say, “…but take heart. I have overcome the world.” Jesus does not promise us freedom from pressure, but He does promise us peace amidst the stress. Inner peace is a by-product of knowing Christ as Savior and Lord. And the good news is, that it’s available to all who trust in Him.
Yes, stress and pressure might be an unavoidable part of life, but we don’t have to be crushed by it. Christ offers us HIS peace throughout life’s journey – no matter what stresses we face. And I can tell you from experience, that’s not a bad way to live!
*Joel Elkes is a renowned leader in Neuropsychopharmacology, a world-renowned psychiatrist, and the former Psychiatry-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.
 

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November 6
The Sweetest Harvest
Bible in a Year:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.

John 15:5
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Isaiah 5:1–7
When we purchased our home, we inherited an established grapevine. As gardening novices, my family invested considerable time learning how to prune, water, and care for it. When our first harvest came, I popped a grape from the vine into my mouth—only to be disappointed with an unpleasant, sour taste.
The frustration I felt about painstakingly tending a grapevine, only to have a bitter harvest, echoes the tone of Isaiah 5. There we read an allegory of God’s relationship to the nation of Israel. God, pictured as a farmer, had cleared the hillside of debris, planted good vines, built a watchtower for protection, and crafted a press to enjoy the results of His harvest (Isaiah 5:1–2). To the farmer’s dismay, the vineyard, representing Israel, produced sour-tasting grapes of selfishness, injustice, and oppression (v. 7). Eventually, God reluctantly destroyed the vineyard while saving a remnant of vines that someday would produce a good harvest.
In the gospel of John, Jesus revisits the vineyard illustration, saying, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5). In this parallel imagery, Jesus pictures believers in Him as grapevine branches connected to Him, the main vine. Now, as we remain connected to Jesus through prayerful reliance on His Spirit, we have direct access to the spiritual nourishment that will produce the sweetest fruit of all, love.
By: Lisa M. Samra
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Reflect & Pray
How does remaining connected to Jesus produce love in your life? What are the other blessings of being connected to Him?
Jesus, thank You for creating good fruit in my life as I remain connected to You. May Your life flow through me to produce an even greater harvest of love.
 

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November 9
Doing Our Role
Bible in a Year:

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace.

1 Peter 4:10
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Hebrews 6:9–12
When two of my grandchildren tried out for the musical Alice in Wonderland Jr., their hearts were set on getting leading roles. Maggie wanted to be young Alice, and Katie thought Mathilda would be a good role. But they were chosen to be flowers. Not exactly a ticket to Broadway.
Yet my daughter said the girls were “excited for their friends who got the [leading roles]. Their joy seemed greater cheering for their friends and sharing in their excitement.”
What a picture of how our interactions with each other in the body of Christ should look! Every local church has what might be considered key roles. But it also needs the flowers—the ones who do vital but not-so-high-profile work. If others get roles we desire, may we choose to encourage them even as we passionately fulfill the roles God has given us.
In fact, helping and encouraging others is a way to show love for Him. Hebrews 6:10 says, “[God] will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people.” And no gift from His hand is unimportant: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace” (1 Peter 4:10).
Imagine a church of encouragers diligently using their God-given gifts to His honor (Hebrews 6:10). That makes for joy!
By: Dave Branon
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Reflect & Pray
Do you know someone who received a position, task, or role you wanted, yet could use your encouragement? Why is it good to thank God for the tasks He’s given you in serving others?
Sovereign God, help me not to focus on the roles of other, but to serve You in the sacred calling You’ve given me. Enable me to help others by a word of encouragement for what they do for You.
 

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“One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof, he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.” – 2 Samuel 11:2-4
WITH GREAT AUTHORITY COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
November 9, 2020
First came the adultery, then the coverup. Involving deceit, lies, and eventually murder, David’s affair with Bathsheba is a familiar story in the life of King David – one, I’m sure he’d rather us forget. While it offers a clear lesson in what not to do, this story also highlights the incredibly high moral standard to which God holds those in authority.
Did you ever notice that despite the horrendous consequences of what appeared to be a consensual act, the Bible’s perspective seems to only condemn David? What about Bathsheba? She too, took part – didn’t she? After all, she was a beautiful woman, and beauty is a great power in a woman. Don’t kid yourself, Bathsheba was aware of that power when she bathed outside by the moonlight, knowing that the King was in town and her husband wasn’t.
Even so, the Bible lays the responsibility of this sin on David, showing that the person in authority is the one held responsible for the deed. David was the man in power. He was the King, and he had the major responsibility for this sin – no matter how cooperative Bathsheba may or may not have been. He used his power and authority over her to bring this sin to fruition and, therefore, he was held fully accountable.
Yes, it takes two to commit the act, but the one in power is always the most responsible.
 

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November 10
The Triumph of Forgiveness
Bible in a Year:

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

Psalm 32:1
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 32:1–7
Mack, having struggled with drug abuse and sexual sin, was desperate. Relationships he valued were in disarray, and his conscience was beating him up. In his misery, he found himself unannounced at a church asking to speak with a pastor. There he found relief in sharing his complicated story and in hearing about God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Psalm 32 is believed to have been composed by David after his sexual sin. He compounded his wrongdoing by devising a sinister strategy that resulted in the death of the woman’s husband (see 2 Samuel 11–12). While these ugly incidents were behind him, the effects of his actions remained. Psalm 32:3–4 describes the deep struggles he experienced before he acknowledged the ugliness of his deeds; the gnawing effects of unconfessed sin were undeniable. What brought relief? Relief began with confession to God and accepting the forgiveness He offers (v. 5).
What a great place for us to start—at the place of God’s mercy—when we say or do things that cause hurt and harm to ourselves and others. The guilt of our sin need not be permanent. There’s One whose arms are open wide to receive us when we acknowledge our wrongs and seek His forgiveness. We can join the chorus of those who sing, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (v. 1).
By: Arthur Jackson
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Reflect & Pray
Where do you run when you find yourself burdened by something you’ve done or said? When someone comes to you who’s struggling with guilt, how do you advise them?
 

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November 11
Returning Home
Bible in a Year:

In distant lands they will remember me . . . and they will return.

Zechariah 10:9
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Zechariah 10:6–12
Walter Dixon had five days to honeymoon before he shipped off to the Korean War. Less than a year later, troops found Dixon’s jacket on the battlefield, with letters from his wife stuffed in the pockets. Military officials informed his young wife that her husband had been killed in action. Actually, Dixon was alive and spent the next 2.5 years as a POW. Every waking hour, he plotted to get home. Dixon escaped five times but was always recaptured. Finally, he was set free. You can imagine the shock when he returned home!
God’s people knew what it was to be captured, moved far away, and to long for home. Due to their rebellion against God, they were exiles. They woke each morning yearning to return, but they had no way to rescue themselves. Thankfully, God promised He’d not forgotten them. “I will restore them because I have compassion on them” (Zechariah 10:6). He would meet the people’s relentless ache for home, not because of their perseverance, but because of His mercy: “I will signal for them . . . and they will return” (vv. 8–9).
Our sense of exile may come because of our bad decisions or because of hardships beyond our control. Either way, God hasn’t forgotten us. He knows our desire and will call to us. And if we’ll answer, we’ll find ourselves returning to Him—returning home.
By: Winn Collier
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Reflect & Pray
Where do you sense exile in your life? How are you hearing God calling you, showing you how to return home?
God, I feel far away from You. I know You’re near, but I feel so distant. Would You help me to hear Your call? Would You bring me home?
 

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November 13
When God Speaks
Bible in a Year:

So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty.

Isaiah 55:11
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Isaiah 55:10–13
Lily, a Bible translator, was flying home to her country when she was detained at the airport. Her mobile phone was searched, and when the officials found an audio copy of the New Testament on it, they confiscated the phone and questioned her for two hours. At one point they asked her to play the Scripture app, which happened to be set at Matthew 7:1–2: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Hearing these words in his own language, one of the officers turned pale. Later, she was released and no further action was taken.
We don’t know what happened in that official’s heart at the airport, but we know that the “word that goes out from [God’s] mouth” accomplishes what He desires (Isaiah 55:11). Isaiah prophesied these words of hope to God’s people in exile, assuring them that even as the rain and snow make the earth bud and grow, so too what goes “out from [His] mouth” achieves His purposes (vv. 10–11).
We can read this passage to bolster our confidence in God. When we’re facing unyielding circumstances, such as Lily with the airport officials, may we trust that God is working—even when we don’t see the final outcome.
By: Amy Boucher Pye
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Reflect & Pray
When was the last time you saw God at work? How have you received God’s love through the words He's declared?
Heavenly Father, thank You for what You’ve revealed, which brings me hope, peace, and love. Help me to grow in my love for You.
 

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November 16
Borrowed Shoes
Bible in a Year:

Serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Galatians 5:13–26
In the chaos of fleeing his home during the California wildfires of 2018, Gabe, a high school senior, missed the state-qualifying cross-country race for which he’d been training. Missing this meet meant he wouldn’t have the chance to compete at the state meet—the culminating event of his four-year running career. In light of the circumstances, the state athletics board gave Gabe another chance: he’d have to run a qualifying time by himself, on a rival high school’s track, in “street shoes” because his running shoes were in the charred rubble of his home. When he showed up to “race,” Gabe was surprised by his competitors who’d come to supply him with proper shoes and to run alongside him to ensure he kept the pace necessary to be entered in the state meet.
Gabe’s opponents had no obligation to help him. They could have given into their natural desires to look out for themselves (Galatians 5:13); doing so might have improved their own odds of winning. But Paul urges us to display the fruit of the Spirit in our lives—to “serve one another humbly in love” and to demonstrate “kindness” and “goodness” (vv. 13, 22). When we lean on the Spirit to help us not act on our natural instincts, we’re better able to love those around us.
By: Kirsten Holmberg
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How are you showing the “fruit of the Spirit” in the way you treat others? How can you better love your “neighbor”?
Dear God, my natural desire is to look out for myself. Help me to serve others out of love for You.
 

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November 17
If Only We Could . . .
Bible in a Year:

The Lord is the strength of his people.

Psalm 28:8
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 28
The weeping Alaskan cedar tree whipped from side to side in the storm’s strong winds. Regie loved the tree that had not only provided shelter from the summer sun but also given her family privacy. Now the fierce storm was tearing the roots from the ground. Quickly, Regie, with her fifteen-year-old son in tow, ran to try to rescue the tree. With her hands and ninety-pound frame firmly planted against it, she and her son tried to keep it from falling over. But they weren’t strong enough.
God was King David’s strength when he called out to Him in another kind of storm (Psalm 28:8). Some commentators say he wrote this during a time when his world was falling apart. His own son rose in rebellion against him and tried to take the throne (2 Samuel 15). He felt so vulnerable and weak that he feared God might remain silent, and he would die (Psalm 28:1). “Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help,” he said to God (v. 2). God gave David strength to go on, even though his relationship with his son never mended.
How we long to prevent bad things from happening! If only we could. But in our weakness, God promises we can always call to Him to be our Rock (vv. 1–2). When we don’t have the strength, He’s our shepherd and will carry us forever (vv. 8–9).
By: Anne Cetas
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When have you felt vulnerable and unable to fix a situation? How did you see God come through for you?
It seems there’s always something for which I need extra strength from You, O God. Help me to remember that without You I can do nothing.
 

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“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” – 2 Timothy 2:2
LEAVING A GOSPEL LEGACY
November 17, 2020
Entrusting – this idea of “passing down” makes me think of depositing something for safekeeping. Recently, my wife and I went to her grandmother’s house for a visit. After lunch, she asked my wife, “Christine, I’m getting older and my days are short. Is there anything of mine you would like once I am gone?”
On the one hand, it was extremely sad to think about the prospect of that day coming. But as we were walking around and looking at different photographs and pieces of art, we soon realized that everything had a story. This photograph was from three or four generations ago. That piece of art was painted 150 years ago and still in its original frame … so on and so forth.
My wife’s grandmother knows that her days are winding down, and she’s entrusting us with these valuable family keepsakes and all the stories that come with them. One day, as our days draw to a close, we will entrust our keepsakes and stories to the next generation, in hopes that they will do the same.
So, what does this have to do with our faith? Paul is writing to Timothy because he understands that he has received something infinitely more valuable than any family keepsake. In realizing that his days are numbered, Paul is entrusting the saving message of the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ – to Timothy, telling him to go and do likewise. What is this good news? That in spite of our rebellion against God, we can be made right with Him and experience a new life. The news of Jesus is worth preserving and passing down.
As Christ-followers, we have been given the gospel through the living Word of God and are instructed to teach this Word to others. So, if you are in Christ, you are a disciple of Christ and every disciple is called to make disciples. The question is, are you making disciples?
Parents, dads, and moms – are you making disciples of your children? For the Christ-follower, are other men and women pouring into your life by teaching you the Word and demonstrating what it looks like to live a godly life in Christ Jesus? And for the older, more mature believers, are you taking younger believers under your wing to teach them Scriptures that better ensure a Christ-centered life?
Unsure where to begin? Parents, why not start by setting regular times of family worship, read devotions with your kids, or start a nighttime prayer routine. Spouses, make sure you’re demonstrating your love for one another “as Christ loves His church.” In doing so, you show your kids what putting each other first looks like and choosing your family first, even over good things like work or entertainment. It also means husbands should be laying down their lives for their brides, as brides joyfully follow the lead of their husbands.
Paul is telling Timothy to be strengthened in Christ Jesus and to entrust this gospel message to others. The church will thrive as a result.
 
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