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Daily Devotion

boldstardex

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“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4: 9-10
REAL DEAL LOVE
February 14, 2021
Real love – what is it? How do we find it? How do we hold onto it? Our culture is absolutely obsessed with the search for love. Just look at the lyrics of today’s chart-topping songs – they’re always about finding or losing love. And the rumor is if you find that real love music sings of and movies depict – then you’ll be happy. Love, romantic love = happiness.
But what if there was a love greater than one based solely on emotions, attraction, and even lust? What if there was a love more powerful and more enduring? A love not based on circumstances or feelings, but based on commitment and certainty. There is – it’s called God’s love. And it is very real.
Jesus makes it very clear that this real love is available to us. But it’s unlike anything we’ll find in the movies, in another person, or even in the most heart-wrenching love song on the radio – because God’s love never fades or changes. It never walks out or grows cold. God’s love is the real deal.
When we experience this kind of love, it changes us. God’s love even changes how we love others. You know that person at work, school, or in your family that you just can’t stand? When we know the assurance of God’s love for us, God gives us a love powerful enough to love others, even those we don’t like. And that kind of love is worth finding.
 

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February 16
Thinking Differently
Bible in a Year:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world.

Romans 12:2
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Romans 12:1–3
During college, I spent a good chunk of a summer in Venezuela. The food was astounding, the people delightful, the weather and hospitality beautiful. Within the first day or two, however, I recognized that my views on time management weren’t shared by my new friends. If we planned to have lunch at noon, this meant anywhere between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. The same for meetings or travel: timeframes were approximations without rigid punctuality. I learned that my idea of “being on time” was far more culturally formed than I’d realized.
All of us are shaped by the cultural values that surround us, usually without us ever noticing. Paul calls this cultural force the “world” (Romans 12:2). Here, “world” doesn’t mean the physical universe, but rather refers to the ways of thinking pervading our existence. It refers to the unquestioned assumptions and guiding ideals handed to us simply because we live in a particular place and time.
Paul warns us to be vigilant to “not conform to the pattern of this world.” Instead, we must be “transformed by the renewing of [our] mind” (v. 2). Rather than passively taking on the ways of thinking and believing that engulf us, we’re called to actively pursue God’s way of thinking and to learn how to understand His “good, pleasing and perfect will” (v. 2). May we learn to follow God rather than every other voice.
By: Winn Collier
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Reflect & Pray
How would you describe the values and assumptions that surround you? What would it look like for you to not conform to the world’s ways and to instead follow Jesus’ ways?
God, I don’t even recognize my assumptions and values most of the time. Help me to live out Your truth and Your mind in it all.
 

boldstardex

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“Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: ‘Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family that you have brought me this far?'” 1 Chronicles 17:16
GOD’S GRACE IS FOR THE TAKING
February 16, 2021
Popular songs come and they go, but there are just some songs that are timeless. Take the hymn Amazing Grace, for example. Is there any hymn more beloved?
The lyrics beautifully sum up the Jesus follower’s journey of redemption, God’s divine grace, and the promise of eternal life. And that eternity will be spent praising God for this incredible gift: “When we’ve been there 10,000 years…we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.” What a beautiful image; it’s no wonder this song is sung at many funerals.
The lyrics become even more powerful when we learn a little about the writer’s dark past as a captain of a slave ship. Later, serving as an Anglican priest, John Newton could think of nothing more evil than those former deeds. He was amazed that God would provide such grace despite his wretched past. It’s from that journey of unearned grace received and redemption that the hymn Amazing Grace was written.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

Are you dragging along guilt and baggage from your past? Leave it at the foot of the cross. There’s no sin too great to disqualify you from God’s forgiveness, love, and amazing grace. It’s there for the taking; all you have to do is accept.
 

boldstardex

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“And whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Romans 13: 9b-10
THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL
February 17, 2021
As citizens of a nation, one of the most important responsibilities we have is to love our neighbor. What do I mean by love? In this case, love doesn’t refer to a feeling. It doesn’t mean romance. It doesn’t mean that you agree with or even like the person. There are always going to be people that we don’t like, but we are called to love them – no matter what.
Love is a decision of the will on the part of the Christian to treat our fellowman justly and compassionately. It’s treating others right, even loving them enough to speak the truth regarding serious moral and character issues in their lives, when it begins to create a problem. It’s loving them even when we don’t like them! This is agape love – the way God loves. And the greatest way that we can show love to our neighbors is to share God’s love for them in Jesus Christ. It’s a love that is meant for all mankind. Period. It’s a love for Republicans and Democrats, progressives and conservatives, the politically correct and the religious moralist. It’s even a love for the racist, the bigot, or terrorist. Jesus’ love is a love for all. That may be hard for some to accept, but it is the TRUTH.
So, what is our role as a Christ-follower, a citizen, and an individual? To love God and to love others – this is the fulfillment of the law.
 

boldstardex

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‘Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when He judges the world.’ 1 Peter 2: 11-12
THIS WORLD IS NOT OUR HOME
February 18, 2021
For over 200 years, biblical values were the accepted moral standard for the majority of Americans. Of course, that didn’t mean that people always lived up to them. They didn’t and still don’t – because no one is perfect – but it was the accepted standard. Today things are very different. And while this causes fear among many Christians who have watched society radically change, God isn’t surprised. In fact, God’s Word speaks straight to the heart of the morality battle in our country and around the world.
Don’t forget, God reminds us: You are aliens. You are strangers. You are foreigners in the nations in which you live (My paraphrase). For followers of Jesus, our primary citizenship is in the kingdom of God. This world is but a short stop on the way to heaven.
And because of that, we will not always agree with everything culture has to offer. We will not always be in-sync with the majority of popular worldviews. And that’s ok – because our eternal citizenship is not in this world.
So how do we navigate the tension created when popular culture contradicts our Biblical values? We focus on living a life that pleases God rather than others. This doesn’t mean we judge, condemn, and hate, but we live lives of purity, goodness, and love according to the teachings of the Word of God. In doing so, our lives will reflect Jesus. And who knows? Some may recognize genuine goodness in us and want to have what we have. With that big picture in mind, even this short, temporary passing through of this life takes on an eternal purpose and meaning.
 

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February 20
Strengthened by Grace
Bible in a Year:

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:1
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
2 Timothy 2:1–4
During the American Civil War, the penalty for desertion was execution. But the Union armies rarely executed deserters because their commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, pardoned nearly all of them. This infuriated Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, who believed that Lincoln’s leniency only enticed would-be deserters. But Lincoln empathized with soldiers who had lost their nerve and who had given in to their fear in the heat of battle. And his empathy endeared him to his soldiers. They loved their “Father Abraham,” and their affection led the soldiers to want to serve Lincoln all the more.
When Paul calls Timothy to join him in “suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3), he calls him to a tough job description. A soldier is to be completely dedicated, hard-working, and selfless. He’s to serve his commanding officer, Jesus, wholeheartedly. But in reality, we sometimes fail to be His good soldiers. We don’t always serve Him faithfully. And so Paul’s opening phrase is important: “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (v. 1). Our Savior is full of grace. He empathizes with our weaknesses and forgives our failures (Hebrews 4:15). And just as the Union soldiers were encouraged by Lincoln’s compassion, so believers are strengthened by the grace of Jesus. We want to serve Him all the more because we know He loves us.
By: Con Campbell
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Reflect & Pray
How can the grace of Christ become a source of strength for you to serve Him? What does it mean for you to suffer for Jesus?
Dear God, please strengthen me in the grace of Christ that I may serve Him faithfully.
 

boldstardex

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“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” Colossians 3:13a
BEING AT PEACE WITH OTHERS
February 19, 2021
There’s a story about a death row inmate named Rusty. He had brutally killed several people and was sitting on death row awaiting his fate when he became a Christian. Immediately, he began to change. He even sent letters to the families of his victims, apologizing for his actions and asking for their forgiveness.
About a year later, one of the families arranged to visit with him. You can imagine the tension and fear as Rusty faced the family of one of the victims. The victim’s father looked Rusty square in the eyes and said, “For years, I hated you. But when I came to understand that Christ has forgiven me of all my sins, I knew I had no choice but to forgive you. We’re here today to let you know that we forgive you.”*
That kind of forgiveness is not natural; it’s supernatural. It’s the supernatural power of Jesus that gave that family the ability to forgive such a horrific act that took the life of their loved one. It’s a spirit that is distinct to Christianity – the willingness to forgive others that do not deserve our forgiveness at all. We forgive because that’s exactly what God does for us. He forgives us through the cross even though we are completely undeserving.
Believing this brings us peace with God. And this peace gives us a desire to be at peace with others—through forgiveness.
*Being the Body, Chuck Colson
 

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February 22
Like Jesus
Bible in a Year:

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.

Romans 8:29
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Romans 8:22–30
As a boy, theologian Bruce Ware was frustrated that 1 Peter 2:21–23 calls us to be like Jesus. Ware wrote of his youthful exasperation in his book The Man Christ Jesus. “Not fair, I determined. Especially when the passage says to follow in the steps of one ‘who did no sin.’ This was totally outlandish . . . . I just couldn’t see how God could really mean for us to take it seriously.”
I understand why Ware would find such a biblical challenge so daunting! An old chorus says, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus. My desire, to be like Him.” But as Ware rightly noted, we are incapable of doing that. Left to ourselves, we could never become like Jesus.
However, we’re not left to ourselves. The Holy Spirit has been given to the child of God, in part so that Christ can be formed in us (Galatians 4:19). So it should come as no surprise that in Paul’s great chapter on the Spirit we read, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). God will see His work completed in us. And He does it through the Spirit of Jesus living in us.
As we yield to the Spirit’s work in us, we truly become more like Jesus. How comforting to know that’s God’s great desire for us!
By: Bill Crowder
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Reflect & Pray
What attribute of the fruit of the Spirit would you like to live out to a greater degree? (see Galatians 5:22–23). What will help you do so?
Father, I long to be more like Your Son but so often fall short in word, thought, or deed. Forgive me, and help me to yield to the work of Your Spirit so that Jesus might be formed in me.
For further study, read Free in the Spirit at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0307.
 

boldstardex

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“Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14: 5-6

THE THIRD OPTION
February 21, 2021
According to Pew Research’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, 66% of American Christians say that many religions can lead to eternal life. This is a big problem because it is 100% contrary to the teachings of Jesus. By taking the “politically correct,” all-inclusive stance, you’re saying that Jesus was a liar when He made the statement, “I am the ONLY way to the Father” (My paraphrase.) So the question to ask is this: Do you believe Jesus? There are only three responses:
  • Jesus was crazy – a delusional, megalomaniac believing Himself to be God.
  • Jesus lied so that He could have a following and therefore, He was a fraud.
  • Jesus IS who He said He is – the Son of God.
That’s it. Those are the options. Now, for those pondering this question, it’s important to understand why Christians choose the third option. Firstly, Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross for you and me. He loved us so much that He willingly went to the cross in order to take upon Himself OUR sins so that we could have a relationship with God. Secondly, Jesus rose from the dead, conquering death and proving that He was more than an ordinary man. And for those interested, the historical evidence is absolutely overwhelming that Christ did in fact, rise from the dead. He is God. He is who He said He is.
The Christian faith rises and falls on the resurrection of Jesus. If He didn’t rise from the dead, then He was like every other ordinary person, only worse – He was a delusional fraud. But if Christ DID in fact overcome death, then His words hold incredible weight and authority. A risen Jesus has more authority than Mohammad or Buddha who lived and died, saying, “I’m going to show you A way.” Instead, Jesus said, “I am THE way.”
Jesus is life and no one comes to the Father without knowing and walking with Jesus. So, what option will you choose?
 

boldstardex

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“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
FINDING TRUTH
February 23, 2021
“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
2 Corinthians 3:17
What is truth and where can we find it? Truth is not found in man-made philosophy or ideology, but in a person—the person of Jesus Christ. And for those of us searching for truth in an ‘everything goes,’ politically correct society, we need the truth now more than ever. But where do we start looking?
God gives us two promises when it comes to finding truth:
  1. Jesus is TRUTH: The truth of God is revealed in Jesus, through the Bible. The more we read God’s Word, trust it and apply it to our everyday lives, the more we begin to discover the truth that is Christ Jesus.
  2. Truth brings FREEDOM: Freedom from what? Freedom from being a slave to sin, shame, and guilt caused by our mistakes. It’s freedom from being enslaved to our selfish desires. It’s a freedom that allows us to live in truth, believe the truth, and demonstrate the truth to others.
But how do we demonstrate the truth that we’ve discovered in Jesus when so many cultural norms seem to contradict God’s Word? By focusing on Jesus. See how searching for truth and living in truth comes full circle? It’s all about looking to Jesus and letting the Holy Spirit free us from areas of sin, bondage, and ideologies of this world.
In other words: The Spirit guides us, directs us (through God’s Word), and empowers us to become more like Jesus. And when that happens, we will experience incredible freedom from our pasts, our sins, and even the ideologies and pressures of society today. That’s the Truth!
 

boldstardex

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“So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!’”
Daniel 6: 16
TO HAVE THE COURAGE OF DANIEL
February 25, 2021
It’s a story of courage, integrity, and an incredible faith. Daniel, a Jewish captive living in Babylon (modern-day Iraq) rose to great prominence and became an advisor to the king. Later, after the Persians (modern-day Iran) conquered Babylon, Daniel’s wisdom and influence led him to a similar position alongside the king of Persia. Well, it didn’t take long for the other advisors to become jealous of Daniel’s influence (especially since he was a foreigner).
Knowing that Daniel was fully devoted to God and prayed three times a day, they convinced the king to issue a month-long decree that outlawed prayer to anyone other than the king. The advisors knew that Daniel would put God before the king’s decree and therefore be killed – death by hungry lions. But in an incredible miracle, God intervened. God protected Daniel from death, which in turn caused the king of Persia to proclaim the greatness of Daniel’s God throughout his empire!
So, what does this have to do with us today? While identifying as a follower of Jesus isn’t always popular, it rarely results in this level of persecution – at least for those of us in the West. But it does demonstrate what our response should be when it comes to popular culture and authority. We may lose our job, our friends or our status, but Daniel’s example should inspire us to remain faithful.
It’s about submission. As followers of Jesus, we are called to submit to Christ above all else– it means trusting Christ with our lives. At the same time, we are also to submit to worldly institutions like educators, laws and government– unless it means violating your conscience and God’s will, as shown in Scripture. So what would you do if forced to choose between God and government? Daniel chose to obey God over the government when the government commanded that he betray his faith. What courage! What faith! What an example for us all!
 
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