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Daily Devotion

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“When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. ‘Go,’ Jesus replied, ‘your son will live.’ The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living.” – John 4: 47 & 50-51
WHAT DOES HEALING LOOK LIKE?
December 26, 2020
“Go; your son lives,” Jesus told the man. It was a 4-6 hour journey home and his son was critically ill. So ill, in fact, that this father risked what could have been his son’s final hours to beg Jesus for a miracle. Can you imagine the journey home? The thoughts swirling around this man’s head – did Jesus really just heal my son? He didn’t even see him! Can this really happen? Or did I just miss my son’s final hours to go on this ridiculous journey? So many questions. So few answers.
Many of us can relate. We pray for a miracle, but we’re restless and full of doubt. In the case of this desperate father, Jesus did heal his son, bringing his entire household to faith in the process. But, how does this miracle relate to our lives, today? What can we learn about Jesus from this miracle of healing?
  1. Nothing is impossible with God.
  2. Jesus can heal because of the faith of others.
  3. Jesus doesn’t have to be physically present to heal.
  4. Only God sees the full picture and knows why some are healed and others are not.
  5. Our role is to trust the results of our prayers, whether or not they make sense.
Maybe your need isn’t physical healing like this sick little boy. Maybe you’re carrying around emotional or spiritual wounds. If we’re honest, we could all use some healing in our lives – right? Maybe twenty years ago you had an abortion. You didn’t feel you were ready to be a mother so you made a choice. But this choice still haunts you. Overwhelmed with guilt and pain, you’re in desperate need of God’s healing and forgiving power. Perhaps it’s abuse you experienced growing up. You need God’s supernatural power to forgive and move on because right now you just can’t. Whatever it may be, the same Jesus who healed this sick little boy, in spite of the father’s questions, uncertainties, and doubts, still heals today. If you confess your sins to God, He will forgive you. If you confess your inability to forgive others, He will help you.
Are you in need of physical, spiritual, or emotional healing in your life? Maybe you’ve been praying for a miracle but still struggle with doubt, questions, and a lack of faith. Take your needs before Jesus and leave the rest to Him. Let Jesus reveal what healing can look like in your life.
 

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“When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, ‘Do you wish to get well?’ The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.’ Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.” – John 5:6-9
ARE YOU STAYING STUCK?
December 27, 2020
The legend said that the first person to enter the pool after the water ripples would be healed. You can imagine that this pool attracted the most desperate of individuals, with many fighting for a spot just at the water’s edge – watching, waiting, hoping. In a place overflowing with need, one man caught Jesus’ eye. Paralyzed for 38 years, this man waited daily by the pool hoping for a miracle.
“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked the man. The question seemed bizarre and the answer obvious. But Jesus knew human nature. For 38 years, people had been bringing him to the pool. He had become dependent on others. Being healed meant taking responsibility for himself.
The man became defensive. “It’s not my fault, no one is here to help me into the water,” he explained. He was understandably frustrated, probably feeling stuck. But, in playing the victim and blaming others for his circumstances, he almost missed Jesus’ life-changing offer: healing.
Can’t we all relate? When things are hard and we feel stuck – isn’t it easy to become depressed, give up and give in to the hand life has dealt? Maybe we’ve been disappointed time and time again and accepting current circumstances seems less painful than hopes crushed. Maybe the situation really is unfair or out of your control – an illness, a sudden layoff, broken trust – you are the victim. Sometimes it just seems safer to stay where you are, to stay stuck.
So, what does Jesus ask of us when our lives feel stuck? “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.”
  1. “Get up” – Believe in the person of Christ Jesus, in His promises, in His truth.
  2. “Pick up your pallet” – Take responsibility for yourself.
  3. “Walk” – Have the faith to walk away from your old self as you journey through life with Jesus.
No matter life’s circumstances, Jesus offers a way out: hope and eternal salvation that overcomes every sickness, obstacle, and disappointment life has to offer. Don’t just wait by the pool hoping for a miracle. Seek out the miracle worker Himself!
 

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‘By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”’ – Hebrews 11: 17-18
WHAT ARE YOUR ISAACS?
January 10, 2021
Imagine. You’ve dreamt of having a child. All you’ve ever wanted is to be a parent, but years pass and nothing. No doctor or treatments are able to help. You almost give up – until one day you discover you will have a son. Can you imagine the emotions? A few years pass and your son is growing into a curious little boy with personality to spare. You love admiring all he does as he learns and grows. After all, he’s a miracle. Then one day, God asks you to give up this miracle. Could you do it?
Abraham was asked this very question. After years of waiting, hoping, losing faith, and trying things their own way, God fulfilled His promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah. Isaac was their miracle. An answer to prayer. The promised heir to a great nation. And God wanted Abraham to give up Isaac? It didn’t make sense. Yet, Abraham chose to fully trust God. You see, God never intended for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. He simply wanted to see Abraham’s heart. Did he really trust God? Was God really more important to Abraham than his son?
We all have dreams we would do almost anything to achieve. Sometimes it’s a dream we’ve been chasing since picking up a guitar as a kid. For others, it’s fresh and new, an idea that sparked a new business venture. You put in extra hours, sweat, and tears – you give up sleep, finances, and free time. We’re all dreaming of something. The problem, however, is when these dreams begin to replace God in our lives. When that dream takes first place and becomes our focus, our god – our ‘Isaac.’
The ultimate act of faith is giving God what we value most. Look at your life. Are you willing to put the Lord before your child? Before your spouse? Before your parents, friends, job, or ministry? These are our dreams; the things we love most. These are our Isaacs.
So, what is it that you are holding onto so tightly that you’re not willing to give up for God? Start there and ask for help turning over to God the Isaacs in your life. With God, He’s either first place in our lives – or no place at all.
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January 13
After God’s Heart
Bible in a Year:

The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart.

1 Samuel 13:14
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Samuel 16:1-13
When senior bankers in Asia were asked what their favorite interview questions were, one of them gave this answer: “How do you define and achieve success?” The CEO of Citibank Singapore explained, “I like to understand motivations for success. This allows me to know the core of the person [I am interviewing] and their values.”
How about God? What does He look out for? We read of an “interview” session in 1 Samuel 16:1-13. The prophet Samuel was tasked by God to identify and appoint the king of Israel, and God gave Samuel this requirement: “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Seven candidates were interviewed and rejected (vv.8-10). The eighth candidate, David, who was Jesse’s youngest son and the least qualified in terms of achievement, was chosen. He fulfilled that one important criterion that God was looking for: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22).
While it’s important to consider a person’s skills and qualifications, let’s not neglect the weightier issues of character—honesty, veracity, integrity, and humility. This has an important implication for us: as we seek to be God’s good and faithful servant, we must seek to grow in skills and knowledge, and more importantly, to be a person after God’s own heart.

By: Kay Tee Sim
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Reflect & Pray
What does it mean for you to be after God’s own heart? What can you do to follow after God’s own heart every day?
Lord, let me be like David, a person after your own heart. Help me do everything You want me to do.
 

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January 15
All Roads?
Bible in a Year:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

John 14:6
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
John 14:1–7
“Don’t get on the expressway!” That text came from my daughter one day as I was leaving work. The highway home had become a virtual parking lot. I began trying alternate routes, but after experiencing gridlock on other roads, I gave up. The trip home would have to wait till later in the day, so I drove in the opposite direction to an athletic event my granddaughter was involved in.
Discovering that no roads would lead me home made me think about people who say that all roads lead to an eternal relationship with God. Some believe the road of kindness and good behavior will get you there. Others choose the road of doing religious things.
Relying on those roads, however, leads to a dead end. There’s only one road to take to God’s eternal presence. Jesus clarified this when He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He was revealing that He was going to die to open the way for us to enter His Father’s house—to His presence and the real life He provides for today and eternity.
Skip the blocked highways that don’t lead to God’s presence. Instead, trust Jesus as Savior, for “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (3:36). And for those who already believe in Him, rest in the way He’s provided.
By: Dave Branon
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Reflect & Pray
Why is it vital to know that only Jesus can save us? Why are we prone to try to add to what it takes to be welcomed into His family?
Dear God, I want to trust You for eternity. Thank You for the salvation found in Jesus alone.
Read about the difference between relationship with Jesus and religion at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0215.


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“For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” – Exodus 20: 11
FINDING THE WORK-REST BALANCE
January 17, 2021
Have you found the work-rest balance? According to the Washington Post, the likely answer is “No.” A 2014 gallop poll showed the average American working almost 47 hours a week with 50% working even longer! It’s pretty obvious that as a nation we’re struggling to find the balance between work and rest. After all, “work” and being “busy” have become a part of our identity. It’s no surprise our workaholic attitude has begun to negatively impact our health and relationships.
Work is necessary, but the key is finding balance. In fact, if we are putting more value and more focus on our work than anything else (including our relationship with God) – work has become an idol. That’s not only unhealthy, but it is sinful.
God knew that we would struggle with this balance so He created the Sabbath. The Sabbath simply means rest. It means to step back from your regular routine and your work schedule for a 24-hour period of time – pure, guilt-free rest. The concept of a day of rest goes all the way back to the beginning. After 6 days of creating, God set the example – He rested. It wasn’t because God was tired, but because He had completed a great work.
By pausing from our busy lives, we can reflect on all God is doing and the opportunities He has provided. Resting enables us to go back to work more productive than when we left. If you are struggling with finding a work-rest balance, you’re not alone. Start by choosing one day this week to step back. Close the laptop, turn off email and yes, even your phone, and do whatever recharges you.
Finding your work-rest balance won’t happen overnight, but it can start by intentionally slowing down, stepping back, and following God’s example to rest.
 

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‘And Jesus said to them, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”’– Matthew 28: 19a & 20

STORY TIME
January 18, 2021
Jesus told a lot of stories. God’s Word uses the term “parables,” but that really just means stories that convey a deeper lesson or wisdom. These stories were simple enough for a child to grasp and yet full of insight and depth to capture the attention of even highly educated leaders of the day. Teaching through stories was very common in the first century, as only the educated and elite were literate.
But what made these stories so powerful? Jesus spoke the language of the people. He didn’t use words and concepts only the religious elite would understand. No, He spoke in ways that not only connected with the culture of the day but also turned their worldview on its head.
Jesus spoke of God’s relentless love through the story of a shepherd leaving his flock to seek out a single lost sheep (Luke 15). He spoke of the magnitude of God’s forgiveness and redemption through the portrayal of a father’s love towards his rebellious son returning home after having squandered his inheritance (Luke 15: 11-32). Jesus even taught on the importance of living with an eternal perspective rather than focusing solely on the momentary pleasures of the day, through the story of a rich man who stored up his “wealth” in giant barns, only to leave it all behind at the end of his life (Luke 12: 15-21).
As followers of Jesus, we too are called to share the truth of Jesus with others in a language and in ways that are understood. One way to do that is through stories. What story of Jesus are you telling? You might want to start with the story of how Jesus changed your life. We would love to know about your story!
 

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“Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” – Luke 15: 3-7
LOST & FOUND
January 19, 2021
I remember the year my aunt and uncle took their four kids to New York City on vacation. One day, while leaving the subway, they turned around to find their youngest son staring wide-eyed from behind the train’s closed doors. My uncle frantically ran alongside the subway train, beating on the doors as it took off. Three of his four kids were fine, but it was that one potentially lost child that immediately consumed all his attention. (Don’t worry, he was found.)
Jesus is always concerned about that one lost individual. It doesn’t mean that He loves the others less, but He goes out of His way to seek out the lost, the broken, and the marginalized.
In Luke 5: 30-32, the Pharisees asked Jesus point-blank why He spent so much time with those whom they viewed as “sinners.” Jesus answered simply: “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
To emphasize His point, Jesus told a parable: When a shepherd notices that a single sheep is missing, he leaves behind the rest of the flock to search for the one that is lost. Once found, that shepherd calls all his neighbors together to celebrate the return of that lone lost sheep.
Many times in Scripture, Jesus is referred to as the Good Shepherd and His followers as sheep. The analogy is that like any good shepherd, Jesus loves, cares for, and protects ALL His sheep; but He’s especially burdened by those sheep that are missing. And when even one of those missing sheep is found, all of heaven rejoices (Luke 15: 7).
Have you walked away from God? You probably have many reasons for keeping your distance, but Jesus’ heart is for you – not against you. Like a father who has lost a child, Jesus is consumed by the thought of you. He won’t give up on you; He won’t stop pursuing you – no matter how far away you’ve wandered. Will you look to Him today? You won’t be disappointed.
 

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“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life…” – 2 Peter 1:3
MAKING IT THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS OF LIFE
January 24, 2021
Merriwether Lewis and William Clark set out in 1804 to explore the unchartered land west of the Mississippi River. Along with the other members of the Corps of Discovery, they were seeking to find an extended waterway to the Pacific Ocean.
Instead of discovering a navigable trade route, do you know what they encountered? The Rocky Mountains.
One member of the team described them as, “the most terrible mountains I ever beheld.”
The journey behind them had been fraught with challenges, and now they realized the journey ahead was going to be even more demanding. It’s hard to imagine how they must’ve felt.
Though we’ve never trekked across the American frontier, we do know what it’s like to face daunting, unexpected challenges. And just when we think our journey might get easier, life brings mountain-like obstacles we never saw coming.
We can’t avoid them.
We can’t go around them.
We have no choice but to go through them.

So what do we do when we find ourselves traveling through mountains of adversity? The Apostle Peter has good news: We have everything we need for the journey (2 Peter 1:3).
(Notice that Peter doesn’t say the road will be easy; he says we have all that is required along the way.)
The journey begins when we place our faith in Jesus as our Savior and Lord and it ends when He calls us home to be with Him. In the meantime, the Lord hasn’t forgotten to pack something for our trip. Peter assures us that we lack nothing for our time on Earth.
The key is tapping into the “power” of God within us. In and of ourselves, we don’t have what it takes. We must confess our weakness and perpetually depend on His power. This power is meant to sustain us every step of life’s unpredictable journey.
The Greek word for power is, ‘dynameos.’ It’s where we get our word, ‘dynamite.’ If you are a child of God, you have Divine Dynamite within you. The Apostle Paul says this power is an “incomparably great power” likened to the power that raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:19).
The power enables us to live a “godly life.” This is not a life that is self-centered or self-serving. A godly life reflects God’s character, passionately pursues His agenda, and lives for His glory. We should never use the mountains of hardship as an excuse for failing to live a godly life. No matter what comes our way, we are to stay the course and remain devoted to Him.
Tell the Lord that you need His power through the formidable challenges ahead. He longs to not only be your Strength but your Guide. Rest assured, He hasn’t brought you this far only to abandon you.
Lewis and Clark made it through their mountains.
Relying on God’s power, you will, too.

Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director of RFTH
 

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‘Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.”’– Luke 15: 11-12
WE ALL HAVE A “PRODIGAL” STORY
January 25, 2021
One of Jesus’ most famous parables is the story of a man who had two sons. His youngest son was fed up with the day to day lifestyle of living at home under Dad’s rules. One day, he decided to take his share of his inheritance and head off to the big city. In other words, this son wanted the benefits of his dad, without his dad.
Have you ever treated God this way? It’s the what can God do for me mentality.
Amazingly, the father in the story agreed and gave him his share of the inheritance. Without a word, the son packed his things and left home. Pretty soon, his partying lifestyle got the best of him and all his money dried up. Out of options and with nowhere left to turn, this son came crawling back home. Acutely aware of how badly he had messed up, he begged his father for forgiveness and the chance to simply work on the estate. The role of son? No way! He knew he didn’t have the right to ask that after turning his back on his father and his family.
It’s easy to judge this young, arrogant, and entitled son. He doesn’t even deserve a job on his father’s estate – and yet, the power of this story is in the father’s response. In a culture where honor and shame is everything, the outright disrespect the son showed his father would justify the father sending the son away without a second thought. And yet the father RAN to greet his son with joy. He dressed him in the best clothes and threw a giant party. Why? Because his youngest son, this prodigal son, had come home.
Jesus uses this story to paint a very clear picture of repentant faith. In other words, Jesus is talking about recognizing our own sins and turning back towards God, our heavenly Father. It’s about receiving God’s abundant love and grace in spite of our sin and shame. We definitely don’t deserve it, but like the father in the story, God is ready and waiting if we will only return home.
 

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“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”- Luke 15: 28-30
ARE YOU THE ELDER SON?
January 26, 2021
One of Jesus’ most famous parables is the story of the prodigal son. It’s a powerful story of a father’s unconditional love and mercy towards his rebellious son who returns home defeated and ashamed after blowing his inheritance. It’s a beautiful picture of God’s heart towards each and every one of us who, at one time or another, has taken life into our own hands and walked away from God.
The protagonist is clearly the younger son; however, Jesus specifically mentions a second son – the ELDER son. Watching the warm welcome this “screw-up“ son received, the elder son became angry: What about me? I’ve never once left your side or dishonored you, he complains to the father (my paraphrase). It’s just not fair! And he’s right; it’s not fair.
The father in the story represents God who offers forgiveness and grace free of charge – once we reach that point of finally turning back towards Him. Now, for the younger sons among us, that unconditional love often translates to powerful life-changing testimonies. But what about those of us who are the elder sons? Those of us who have been faithful Christians for years? It’s tempting to look down at those rebellious, younger sons with judgment and disdain. It’s amazing how quickly the sins of self-righteousness and pride can take root in our hearts.
In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees often took on the elder son mentality. They saw only the sins of others and worked hard to earn God’s favor. Yet, today’s modern church is overrun with elder sons. It’s so much easier to point out the flaws of others while remaining blind to our own. But the Father loves BOTH sons. He pursues BOTH sons. His invitation to return home is available to BOTH of his sons.
The younger son accepted. So, elder son, will you finally come home as well?
 

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“Jesus said, ‘But woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you shut off the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.’”– Matthew 23: 13
OBJECTIONS TO CHRISTIANITY: THE HYPOCRITE HURDLE
January 31, 2021
I’ve had a lot of Gospel conversations in my life, and the #1 objection to Christianity goes something like this: “The church and Christianity are full of hypocrites; I don’t want anything to do with that group of phonies.” I call this the Hypocrite Hurdle. Maybe you’ve heard of it yourself.
The term “hypocrite” was originally used in ancient Greece to refer to actors who wore masks. The masks made them appear to be someone they weren’t – thus actors. Over time, the word came to describe people who appear to be something or someone they’re not: a phony, fraud, or charlatan. Unfortunately, the term hypocrite today is most often directed towards Christians.
Jesus was well aware of such hypocrites. In His day, the biggest fakers were the Pharisees. These were the “religious leaders” who were so concerned about appearing to follow the religious “rules,” that they missed the heart of God and life transformation that only Jesus can bring – change from within. So how do we respond to the Hypocrite Hurdle objection?
First of all, don’t get defensive. Every single follower of Jesus is flawed. Therefore, every church is full of imperfect people who don’t always live the way they know they should – including me. We just don’t always practice what we preach. Yet, I can’t think of a better place for a bunch of hypocrites to be than in church, because the church isn’t a cruise ship for saints, but a hospital for sinners.
Secondly, point to Jesus rather than to the shortcomings of His followers. While you and I will always disappoint in one way or another, Jesus never will. Jesus loves us – our flawed, broken, and hypocritical selves. So the next time someone brings up the Hypocrite Hurdle in relation to Christianity, humbly point them to Jesus when they point to our flaws. Ask them to consider Him. Read about His life in the Gospels and see what they think. I really believe they will like Him (There won’t be any phoniness in Jesus). And some will even choose to follow Him.
 

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“Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”– Romans 1: 19-20
OBJECTIONS TO CHRISTIANITY: THE MEMBERS ONLY CLUB
February 1, 2021
If Christ is the only way to heaven, then what about all those who have never heard of Jesus? God’s Word tells us in Romans chapter 1 that there are two ways that all mankind has knowledge of God:
First of all, God is revealed through our consciousness of right and wrong.
Anthropologists have discovered that in every people group throughout history, there has been a belief in some kind of higher power and a sense of right and wrong. The Atheism of today was not the norm throughout history. C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity refers to man’s sense of conscience or “moral ought-ness” as evidence that God exists. Why? Because being made in the image of God, mankind has this inner wrestling between right and wrong. It’s what makes us unique from the animal kingdom. It’s evidence of God’s existence.
Secondly, God is revealed through creation.
In verses 19-20, it’s very clear that God displays His glory in all that He has made. We see the evidence of God in the beauty and complexity of creation. Therefore, no man can truly claim ignorance before God, because all mankind can see the evidence of an intelligent designer in Creation.
So what about those who haven’t yet heard the good news of Jesus? The evidence of God is clearly there and no one has the excuse to claim ignorance when it comes to knowing God. In fact, the scriptures are full of examples of God revealing Himself to those who were truly searching: the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8), the Roman centurion (Acts 10), and Lydia (Acts 16). But that doesn’t mean that Christians get to sit back and watch it all happen.
Jesus Himself called on the church to go and tell others (Matthew 28: 19-20). While God doesn’t need any help revealing Himself to the world, He chooses those in the church to take the Gospel to every people group on earth. So that every person seeking God might have the opportunity to know Him personally, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
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“Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1:20-21

OBJECTIONS TO CHRISTIANITY: WHAT IS “THE WORD?”
February 2, 2021
The Word of God is Jesus. John chapter 1 describes the incarnation – God becoming man in the form of Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5). But the Word of God is also the Scriptures, the written Word. This brings us to another common objection to Christianity: the validity of the Bible. Some will argue that the Bible was simply an ancient, irrelevant book written by men a long time ago.
In fact, the Bible was written over 1,600 years by about 40 different writers. The argument is that these men were just like you and me, so they made mistakes. And that’s exactly right – these men were ordinary men. However, the miracle of the Scriptures is the fact that it came into existence through this group of flawed, sinful men to tell one, cohesive story.
The story of the Bible is that of a loving God desiring the redemption of mankind. 2 Peter 1 describes the power of the Holy Spirit working through these writers to reveal the perfect truth OF God, FROM God. In other words, the Bible is divinely inspired by God, in order to reveal Himself to the world.
Let me put it another way: If Jesus is the Word of God, then the only way that we can know Jesus is through the written Word of God. If this written Word is not trustworthy, then we don’t have a true picture of Jesus. But because it is perfectly true, without error – it makes Jesus the authoritative word on right belief and living.
We believe in Jesus because we believe the Bible, but it calls for a step of faith. Are you willing to believe what the Word of God says about Jesus?
 

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But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.'” Luke 10: 33b, 36-37
SWAPPING PLACES
February 4, 2021
It’s a story of compassion: A man is robbed and left for dead on the side of the road when three people pass by. First up is a religious leader, soon followed by a teacher of the religious law. Arguably both Jewish leaders should have stopped to help, but they don’t. It’s the third man, a Samaritan, who stops to help. Here’s the irony: the Jewish people looked down on the Samaritans and had little to do with them.
This parable is actually a picture of what Jesus has done for us because Jesus is the ultimate ‘Good Samaritan.’ It’s Jesus who steps right into the middle of our mess, who walks into the midst of our deepest need and does for us what we could never do for ourselves. From our stranded, beaten and broken state, Jesus picks us up, binds our wounds, and offers us new life. But it doesn’t stop there.
Jesus takes it one more step. He takes our place. Jesus became the one beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. He was stripped and robbed of all His glory, bearing our sin and shame all the way to the cross. Out of compassion, Jesus swapped places with us. Jesus is the mercy of God poured out for you and for me.
Have you experienced this kind of mercy in your life? While others pass you by, Jesus will always see you and stop. When this really begins to sink in, our only fitting response is to show the world the love and mercy Jesus provides.
 

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“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Matthew 5: 46 & 47
A LIFE TRANSFORMED
February 7, 2021
Followers of Christ are called to be different, to live lives that are distinct – transforming. Why? Because Christ’s message was radical. To love the people who love us, who look and act and think like us – that’s normal. But Jesus called us to love our enemies, and that was a radical statement. How is something so unnatural even possible?
There’s an incredible story Nick Ripkin tells in the book Insanity of God about a Muslim man in the Middle East. A Christian ministry opened a health clinic in this man’s community, and each day he would curse and insult the staff as they passed by his shop on their way to work. He did just about everything he could to undermine the clinic until one day he was diagnosed with cancer. Slowly his friends began to abandon him until the only people who cared for him were the clinic’s staff. They reached out to the same man who had cursed them, taking care of him and even offering him medical care. Towards the end of his life, this man gave his life to Christ – all because of the radical love he encountered in Christ Jesus.
But the story doesn’t end there. This man’s family was so impacted by the way the staff ministered and cared for him that his wife became a bold, outspoken Jesus follower. She was so outspoken that she was put in prison. Undeterred by prison, she continued to share about Jesus with the other prisoners until she was moved to solitary confinement. Even isolated from every other person, she was heard singing praises to God. Finally, the police chief released her and asked her to explain what made her so fearless. What a witness!
Do you see the ripple effect of radical love? The love of Christ is a radical love that transforms lives – IF we are courageous enough to live differently. Will you?
 

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February 9
Looking Up
Bible in a Year:

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:2
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Colossians 3:1–4
The cockeyed squid lives in the ocean’s “twilight zone” where sunlight barely filters through the deep waters. The squid’s nickname is a reference to its two extremely different eyes: the left eye develops over time to become considerably larger than the right—almost twice as big. Scientists studying the mollusk have deduced that the squid uses its right eye, the smaller one, to look down into the darker depths. The larger, left eye, gazes upward, toward the sunlight.
The squid is an unlikely depiction of what it means to live in our present world and also in the future certainty we await as people who “have been raised with Christ” (Colossians 3:1). In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he insists we ought to “set [our] minds on things above” because our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” (vv. 2–3).
As earth-dwellers awaiting our lives in heaven, we keep an eye trained on what’s happening around us in our present reality. But just as the squid’s left eye develops over time into one that’s larger and more sensitive to what’s happening overhead, we too can grow in our awareness of the ways God works in the spiritual realm. We may not have yet fully grasped what it means to be alive in Jesus, but as we look “up,” our eyes will begin to see it more and more.
By: Kirsten Holmberg
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Reflect & Pray
How can you develop your “upward” vision? How can you set your mind on heavenly things?
Loving God, help me to set my mind and heart on those things that are of You!
 

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February 10
Who’s in Control?
Bible in a Year:

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”

Mark 4:39
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Mark 4:35-41
While learning to drive in Chennai, India, I drove through the city’s early morning traffic. It was nerve-wracking, and at one point, I panicked and stepped on the accelerator pedal instead of the brake. To my shock, we surged forward—then jerked to a halt. The instructor had hit the brakes from the passenger seat where he had been sitting. While I had panicked, my instructor had responded calmly.
Mark 4:35-41 describes how Jesus slept through a storm while His disciples panicked. It was only when they woke Him up, that He got up to calm the storm. How could Jesus remain so untroubled when His disciples—veteran fishermen who would have seen their share of sudden squalls—were so worried?
Jesus could remain calm because He was in full control of the situation. Our Lord is all powerful and sovereign over creation and everything in it, including any situation we face. No circumstance is beyond His control. Just as He can calm the storm (v.39), He can help us through our crises and challenges.
Today, if you are in the midst of a frightening situation, remember that Jesus is in full control. Not only can He bring peace and calm to your heart, He can also help you through the storm.

By: Ebinezer Mohan
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Reflect & Pray
What storms are you facing now? What steps can you take to remind yourself that Jesus is in full control of your situation?
For hope in the storms of life, read DiscoverySeries.org/Q0746.

Thank you, Lord, for Your love and power that protects me. Help me to trust in You, knowing that You are in full control of the situation I am in.
 

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“The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service… But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.” Daniel 1: 5, 8a
COURGEOUS FAITH
February 9, 2021
Times they are a-changing,” sang Bob Dylan in the mid-’60s as American society pushed back against the established cultural norms of the day. Over fifty years later, Dylan’s lyrics still ring true as we witness our formerly accepted Judeo-Christian worldview being cast aside and replaced by man-made, politically correct ideology. More than ever before, courageous faith is demanded as followers of Jesus navigate life in an unfamiliar world.
2,600 years ago, Daniel, a captive living in what is modern-day Iraq, faced the same challenge: Follow the king’s rules or adhere to the dietary teachings that God had given the Jewish people (Leviticus 1, Deuteronomy 14). You can imagine some of the other Hebrew men in the king’s court who were also being educated and trained alongside Daniel saying, “What’s the big deal? It’s a new day; we’re in a new culture. Just go along with what the king is asking and blend in. Don’t make waves.” But Daniel could not betray his faith or his conscience. Instead, Daniel chose to risk his life by remaining faithful to God’s teaching, rather than following the king’s command. And God blessed him with better health than those who ate the king’s appointed food (For the full story read Daniel Chapter 1).
What about you? Will you stand up for Jesus even as our culture looks more and more unfamiliar? Will you stand strong in the face of societal pressures to just fit in? Or like Daniel, will you take a stand? Ask God for courageous faith like Daniel to stand boldly for Jesus in an increasingly unfamiliar world.
 

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February 11
The Ticking Watch
Bible in a Year:

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

Psalm 37:7
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 37:1–7
A group of workers were cutting ice out of a frozen lake and storing it in an icehouse when one of them realized he’d lost his watch in the windowless building. He and his friends searched for it in vain.
After they gave up, a young boy who’d seen them exit went into the building. Soon, he emerged with the watch. Asked how he’d found it, he replied: “I just sat down and kept quiet, and soon I could hear it ticking.”
The Bible talks much about the value of being still. And no wonder, for God sometimes speaks in a whisper (1 Kings 19:12). In the busyness of life, it can be hard to hear Him. But if we stop rushing about and spend some quiet time with Him and the Scriptures, we may hear His gentle voice in our thoughts.
Psalm 37:1–7 assures us that we can trust God to rescue us from the “wicked schemes” of evil people, give us refuge, and help us stay faithful. But how can we do this when turmoil is all around us?
Verse 7 suggests: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” We could start by learning to keep silent for a few minutes after prayer. Or by quietly reading the Bible and letting the words soak into our hearts. And then, perhaps, we’ll hear His wisdom speaking to us, quiet and steady as a ticking watch.
By: Leslie Koh
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Reflect & Pray
How can you be still before God each day? What will help you stay silent and listen?
Loving God, grant me the patience and discipline to stay still for a while each day, that I might hear Your gentle whisper in my life.
 
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