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Daily Devotion

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November 19
Valiant Actions
Bible in a Year:

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 10:14–15
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
John 10:7–18
John Harper had no idea what was about to unfold as he and his six-year-old daughter embarked on the Titanic. But one thing he knew: he loved Jesus and he was passionate that others know Him too. As soon as the ship hit an iceberg and water started pouring in, Harper, a widower, put his little girl on a lifeboat and headed into the chaos to save as many people as possible. As he distributed life jackets he reportedly shouted, “Let the women, children, and the unsaved into the lifeboats.” Until his last breath, Harper shared about Jesus with anyone who was around him. John willingly gave his life away so others could live.
There was One who laid down His life freely two thousand years ago so you and I can live not only in this life but for all eternity. Jesus didn’t just wake up one day and decide He would pay the penalty of death for humanity’s sin. This was His life’s mission. At one point when He was talking with the Jewish religious leaders He repeatedly acknowledged, “I lay down my life” (John 10:11, 15, 17, 18). He didn’t just say these words but lived them by actually dying a horrific death on the cross. He came so that the Pharisees, John Harper, and we “may have life, and have it to the full” (v. 10).
By: Estera Pirosca Escobar
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Reflect & Pray
How do you reveal that you truly love those around you? How can you show Jesus’ love to someone through your actions today?
Jesus, there aren’t words grand enough to thank You for demonstrating the greatest act of love there is. Thank You for giving Your life away so I might live. Help me to show Your love to others no matter how much it costs me.
 

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November 20
Turning from Conflict
Bible in a Year:

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

Ephesians 4:26
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Ephesians 4:26–32
In his graveside tribute to a famous Dutch scientist, Albert Einstein didn’t mention their scientific disputes. Instead, he recalled the “never-failing kindness” of Hendrik A. Lorentz, a beloved physicist known for his easy manner and fair treatment of others. “Everyone followed him gladly,” Einstein said, “for they felt he never set out to dominate but always simply to be of use.”
Lorentz inspired scientists to put aside political prejudice and work together, especially after World War I. “Even before the war was over,” Einstein said of his fellow Nobel Prize winner, “[Lorentz] devoted himself to the work of reconciliation.”
Working for reconciliation should be the goal of everyone in the church as well. True, some conflict is inevitable. Yet we must do our part to work for peaceful resolutions. Paul wrote, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26). To grow together, the apostle advised, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (v. 29).
Finally, said Paul, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (vv. 31–32). Turning from conflict whenever we are able helps build God’s church. In this, indeed, we honor Him.
By: Patricia Raybon
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Reflect & Pray
How can God help us deal with conflict? To honor Him and your church, what conflict should you let go?
Loving God, when I face conflict, remind my heart to turn my anger over to You.
 

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November 23
Space for Me
Bible in a Year:

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.

Mark 3:13
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Mark 3:13–19
He was an aging military veteran, rough-edged and given to even rougher language. One day a friend cared enough about him to inquire about his spiritual beliefs. The man’s dismissive response came quickly: “God doesn’t have space for someone like me.”
Perhaps that was just part of his “tough-guy” act, but his words couldn’t be further from the truth! God creates space especially for the rough, the guilt-ridden, and the excluded to belong and thrive in His community. This was obvious from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when He made some surprising choices for His disciples. First, He chose several fishermen from Galilee—the “wrong side of the tracks” from the perspective of those in Jerusalem. He also selected a tax collector, Matthew, whose profession included extorting from his oppressed countrymen. Then, for good measure, Jesus invited the “other” Simon—“the Zealot” (Mark 3:18).
We don’t know much about this Simon (he isn’t Simon Peter), but we do know about the Zealots. They hated traitors like Matthew, who got rich by collaborating with the despised Romans. Yet with divine irony, Jesus chose Simon along with Matthew, brought them together, and blended them into His team.
Don’t write anyone off as too “bad” for Jesus. After all, He said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). He has plenty of space for the tough cases—people like you and me.
By: Tim Gustafson
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Reflect & Pray
Who do you know that you think is unlikely to give their life to Jesus? How might you invite them to consider who Christ is and the space He has for them?
Dear Father, thank You that salvation is available to anyone who puts their faith in Jesus.


https://bit.ly/2wvRlQn
 

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November 24
Taught by Turkeys
Bible in a Year:

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Matthew 6:26
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Matthew 6:25–34
Do you know what a group of turkeys is called? It’s called a rafter. Why am I writing about turkeys? Because I’ve just returned from a weekend at a mountain cabin. Each day, I marveled at the train of turkeys parading past our porch.
I’d never turkey-watched before. They scratched fiercely with spectacular talons. Then they hunted and pecked at the ground. Eating, I assume. (Since this was my first turkey-observation time, I wasn’t 100 percent positive.) The scrawny scrubs in the area didn’t look like they could sustain anything. Yet here were these turkeys, a dozen of them, all of which looked delectably plump.
Watching those well-fed turkeys brought to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Jesus uses God’s provision for seemingly worthless birds to remind us of His care for us. If a bird’s life matters, how much more does ours? Jesus then contrasts fretting about our daily needs (vv. 27–31) with a life in which we “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (v. 33), one in which we’re confident of His rich provision for our needs. Because if God can care for that rafter of wild turkeys, He can certainly look after you and me.
By: Adam R. Holz






Reflect & Pray
Where have you seen God provide for something that you were worrying about? How might remembering and reflecting on His provision in the past help you not to be anxious in the future?
Father, sometimes I get scared. I worry. I struggle to trust. Thank You for Your care for me. Help me to remember Your provision in the past so I’m better able to trust You with future fears.
 

boldstardex

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“A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”’ – John 6: 18-20
WHEN LIFE HITS HARD
November 24, 2020
It’s the middle of the night, but you’re wide awake. The thunder is too loud. You walk over to the window. Lightning flashes and through the rain, you see a shadowy figure. Another flash and sure enough, there’s a man outside – this time just feet from the window. This sounds like a scene from a Hollywood horror film, but the disciples experienced this first-hand.
On a small boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, they were battling an incredible storm. No lights, no land nearby, when suddenly a man appeared a few yards from the boat. They were terrified! They thought He was a ghost. Then they recognized Jesus. As He boarded the boat, He spoke to the storm, and it stopped. They were stunned. This was no ordinary man.
We all face storms in life – from actual thunderstorms and natural disasters to countless personal trials and crises. It could be an extended illness in your life. Maybe the loss of a job and possibly the house. It could be a family falling apart. So many storms. How do we face them?
  1. We’re Not Alone. Even when we find ourselves battling the storms of life, don’t forget that Jesus is right there with us. You may not always feel the presence of God, but you can trust that He is going to walk with us through every storm.
  2. Jesus is All-Powerful. We are too quick to forget God when crises strike. We forget the miracles God has done in our past. Yet, Jesus always knows exactly what we’re experiencing. He’s bigger than even life’s biggest storms.
  3. All Storms End. Even when visibility is lost and we can’t see what’s next, we can trust that Jesus knows where we’re headed. You see, Jesus promises not only to walk with us through life’s storms but to get us where we need to go.
Life is hard. Difficulties are unavoidable. But as we walk with God, He promises to get us through even the darkest storms. What storms are you facing right now? Are you trying, like the disciples, to battle in your own strength? Maybe you feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Say to the Lord, “I’m done. Take control.” Allow Jesus to climb into the boat of your life and watch His presence begin to calm both the storm and your soul.
 

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November 27
Facing the Battle
Bible in a Year:

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

1 Chronicles 16:11
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Chronicles 16:1–11
Not long ago I met up with a group of friends. As I listened to the conversation, it seemed like everyone in the room was facing some significant battle. Two of us had parents fighting cancer, one had a child with an eating disorder, another friend was experiencing chronic pain, and another was facing major surgery. It seemed a lot for a bunch of people in their thirties and forties.
First Chronicles 16 recounts a key moment in Israel’s history when the ark of the covenant was brought into the City of David (Jerusalem). Samuel tells us it happened in a moment of peace between battles (2 Samuel 7:1). When the ark was in place, symbolizing God’s presence, David led the people in a song of praise (1 Chronicles 16:8–36). Together the nation sang of God’s wonder-working power, His promise-keeping ways, and His past protection (vv. 12–22). “Look to the Lord and his strength,” they cried out; “seek his face always” (v. 11). They’d need to, because more battles were coming.
Look to the Lord and His strength. Seek His face. That’s not bad advice to follow when illness, family concerns, and other battles confront us, because we haven’t been left to fight in our own waning energies. God is present; God is strong; He’s looked after us in the past and will do so again.
Our God will get us through.
By: Sheridan Voysey
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Reflect & Pray
What battle do you need God’s power to face right now? How can you hand your struggle to Him?
Wonder-working God, I hand over this battle to You. I trust in Your strength and Your promises.
 

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“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21
WHAT MAKES A WONDERFUL LIFE?
November 30, 2020
I’ve had the privilege of being with many people as they neared death. In all those instances, not once did I hear someone look back on their life and say, “You know, Bryant, I really wish I had made more money. If only I’d worked harder, I could’ve made a whole lot more money.” I’ve also never heard, “I wish I had accomplished more.” What people on their deathbed do say, often has something to do with relationship regret. “I wish I had done more for someone;” or “I wish I had spent more time with them.” “I wish I had focused more on the relationships that matter.”
Can you relate? For some, you’re remembering a loved one, gone too soon. If only you’d taken advantage of the time you had together. For others, you’re well aware of how important certain people are in your life. You’re thinking, “I know this. There’s nothing new here.” Well, hold on a second. While most everyone seems to understand this lesson intellectually, actually living it out proves to be much more difficult. We might “know” this in our heads, but are we living this out in our hearts?
The fact is, when people ask me to identify the ultimate meaning of life, I always respond the same way: relationships. Ultimate meaning is found in the relationships we have with those closest to us. Your most important relationship is, of course, with God, but your last moments on this earth will be so very empty if they are spent agonizing over failed relationships with family, friends, or those you may have wronged. So, who do you need to reach out to? Who do you need to prioritize? Don’t waste another moment. Act now to ensure that your last moments on earth aren’t full of relationship regret, but praising God for the life you’ve lived in anticipation of the glory of heaven that awaits.
 

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“So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: ‘Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed…’ When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at Him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, He said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’” – Luke 7:6-7,9
FAITH THAT PLEASES GOD
December 1, 2020
What kind of faith pleases God? What constitutes a belief in God that receives His approval? These words of Jesus from Luke 7 rest in the middle of a story about a Roman centurion asking Jesus to heal his servant. A centurion going to this much trouble for a servant demonstrates a great love for this man. One can imagine the feelings of grief and anxiety as someone he cares about is on the brink of death. But in seeking and finding Jesus, the centurion probably also possessed some hope. The passage doesn’t indicate whether or not the centurion came to a saving faith in Christ, but it definitely shows us a faith that Jesus highly regarded. It was a faith that believed Jesus possessed the power to heal his servant with a simple word.
On the other hand, contrast that kind of faith with a faith of which Jesus is critical. Throughout the Gospels, many Jews constantly asked Jesus to perform signs and wonders. Only after He had “performed” for them would they believe that He was the Christ. But, here we see a Gentile, not even ethnically a member of the Jewish people, who says to Jesus, “You don’t have to come to my house; you don’t have to physically touch my servant. You don’t have to perform any sign or wonder to get me to believe you can heal my servant. All you need to do is say the word, and I know he will be healed.”
That is biblical, commendable faith. The Bible is full of countless stories depicting the same kind of faith. Abram believed God, and it was his faith that received God’s favor (Genesis 15:6). The thief on the cross believed Jesus alone had the power to forgive him, and he was promised eternal life (Luke 23). The people of Israel marched around the fortified city of Jericho doing nothing but blowing trumpets – no swords, spears, or javelins – because the Lord told them to, and the walls come down (Joshua 6).
What kind of faith do you possess? Do you try to barter with God, “Lord, if you will only do this, then I will believe?” Or do you simply believe and wait for Him to act? Seek to possess faith like this centurion. Ask the Lord to give you a faith rooted in His character and Word rather than in what He can give you. This is the type of faith that pleases God.
 

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December 3
The Privilege of Prayer
Bible in a Year:

Give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees.

1 Chronicles 29:19
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Chronicles 29:11–19
Country artist Chris Stapleton’s deeply personal song, “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore,” was inspired by his own father’s prayers for him. The poignant lyrics reveal the reason his father’s prayers ended: not disillusionment or weariness, but his own death. Stapleton imagines that now, instead of speaking with Jesus in prayer, his dad is walking and talking face-to-face with Jesus.
Stapleton’s recollection of his father’s prayers for him brings to mind a biblical father’s prayer for his son. As King David’s life ebbed away, he made preparations for his son Solomon to take over as the next king of Israel.
After assembling the nation together to anoint Solomon, David led the people in prayer, as he’d done many times before. As David recounted God’s faithfulness to Israel, he prayed for the people to remain loyal to Him. Then he included a personal prayer specifically for his son, asking God to “give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees” (1 Chronicles 29:19).
We too have the remarkable privilege to faithfully pray for the people God has placed in our lives. Our example of faithfulness can make an indelible impact that will remain even after we’re gone. Just as God continued to work out the answers to David’s prayers for Solomon and Israel after he was gone, so too the impact of our prayers outlives us.
By: Lisa M. Samra
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Reflect & Pray
How have someone’s prayers made a significant impact on your life? How might you encourage others with your prayers?
Heavenly Father, I bring my loved ones before You and ask that You would work out Your plans in their lives.
Read Talking with My Father: Jesus Teaches on Prayer at DiscoverySeries.org/HP171.
 

boldstardex

Moderator
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3
I DO BELIEVE – HELP MY UNBELIEF
December 3, 2020
Luke chapter 9 details a story of Jesus healing a little boy who was being tormented by a demon. The disciples had tried and failed to heal him, so you can probably imagine the desperation of the boy’s father. What follows is a powerful exchange between the father and Jesus: “All things are possible to him who believes,” Jesus says to this father. “I DO believe. Help my unbelief,” the father responds (Mark 9: 23-24, emphasis added).
I love this passage. I love the raw, vulnerability seen in the father’s expression of faith. So what’s happening here? Jesus is telling us that to be a follower of God is to recognize that ALL THINGS are possible for those who believe, for those who have faith. Does that mean that God answers every single prayer in the exact way that we imagined? No. Because He’s a loving Father, He’s not always going to give us exactly what we want. Does that mean that a person will be healed if we have enough faith? No, because that’s not how God works in His ultimate sovereign plan. And yet, Jesus says that ALL THINGS are possible for those who believe.
The father in this story showed up because he believed in the power of Jesus, and yet he wasn’t completely sure that anything would happen. The problem was so big. It was so overwhelming and his honesty at that moment with Jesus was so real. As Jesus said, God is always powerful, and yet it’s prayer, it’s faith that activates God’s mighty power.
So does God still heal and perform miracles? Does He answer prayers? Absolutely! And while our faith might waver between confidence and uncertainty, we can confidently go before God and pour out our hopes, fears, and disappointments. And when we face seasons of doubt, continue to show up and ask God to help our unbelief.
 
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