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Daily Devotion

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July 15
Confident Prayer
Bible in a Year:

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?

Luke 11:11
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Luke 11:5–13
Having tried for years to have a child, Richard and Susan were elated when Susan became pregnant. Her health problems, however, posed a risk to the baby, and so Richard lay awake each night praying for his wife and child. One night, Richard sensed he didn’t need to pray so hard, that God had promised to take care of things. But a week later Susan miscarried. Richard was devastated. He wondered, Had they lost the baby because he hadn’t prayed hard enough?
On first reading, we might think today’s parable suggests so. In the story, a neighbor (sometimes thought to represent God) only gets out of bed to help the friend because of the friend’s annoying persistence (Luke 11:5–8). Read this way, the parable suggests that God will give us what we need only if we badger Him. And if we don’t pray hard enough, maybe God won’t help us.
But biblical commentators like Klyne Snodgrass believe this misunderstands the parable—its real point being that if neighbors might help us for selfish reasons, how much more will our unselfish Father. We can therefore ask confidently (vv. 9–10), knowing that God is greater than flawed human beings (vv. 11–13). He isn’t the neighbor in the parable, but the opposite of him.
“I don’t know why you lost your baby,” I told Richard, “but I know it wasn’t because you didn’t pray ‘hard’ enough. God isn’t like that.”
By: Sheridan Voysey
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Reflect & Pray
If the neighbor in the parable represents God, what does it suggest God is like? If verses 11–13 clarify the parable, what then is God like?
Father, today I bring You my needs and the needs of others, confident that You’ll hear and answer, and grateful that it’s Your goodness and not my words that count.
Read about the power of prayer at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0740.
 

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July 16
Navigating the Storms of Life
Bible in a Year:

Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me.

Psalm 43:3
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 43
On July 16, 1999, the small plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Investigators determined the cause of the accident to be a common error known as spatial disorientation. This phenomenon occurs when, due to poor visibility, pilots become disoriented and forget to rely on their instruments to help them successfully reach their destination.
As we navigate life, there are often times when life gets so overwhelming we feel disoriented. A cancer diagnosis, the death of a loved one, a job loss, a betrayal by a friend—life’s unexpected tragedies can easily leave us feeling lost and confused.
When we find ourselves in these kinds of situations, we might try offering the prayer of Psalm 43. In this psalm, the psalmist is overwhelmed and feeling lost because he feels surrounded by evil and injustice. In despair, the psalmist pleads with God to provide His sure guidance to help him safely navigate through the situation to his desired destination, God’s presence (vv. 3–4). In God’s presence the psalmist knows he’ll find renewed hope and joy.
What are the tools the psalmist requests for guidance? The light of truth and the assurance of God’s presence by His Holy Spirit.
When you’re feeling disoriented and lost, God’s faithful guidance through His Spirit and loving presence can comfort you and light your way.
By: Lisa M. Samra
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Reflect & Pray
What disorienting circumstances are you experiencing? How might you ask God to help guide you today?
Heavenly Father, thank You that You’ve not left me alone in the challenging and disorienting circumstances of life. Please help me to rely on You to guide my steps today.
To learn how to help people who are in pain, visit ChristianUniversity.org/CC205.



https://bit.ly/2TkiGAt
 

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July 19
Firm Refusal
Bible in a Year:

Daniel . . . still pray[ed] three times a day.

Daniel 6:13
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Daniel 6:10–23
When the Nazis drafted Franz Jägerstätter during World War II, he completed military basic training but refused to take the required pledge of personal loyalty to Adolf Hitler. Authorities allowed Franz to return to his farm, but they later summoned him to active duty. After seeing Nazi ideology up close and learning of the Jewish genocide, however, Jägerstätter decided his loyalty to God meant he could never fight for the Nazis. He was arrested and sentenced to execution, leaving behind his wife and three daughters.
Over the years, many believers in Jesus—under peril of death—have offered a firm refusal when commanded to disobey God. The story of Daniel is one such story. When a royal edict threatened that anyone “who pray[ed] to any god or human being except [the king]” (Daniel 6:12) would be thrown into the lions’ den, Daniel discarded safety and remained faithful. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (v. 10). The prophet would bend his knee to God—and only God—no matter the cost.
Sometimes, our choice is clear. Though everyone around us implores us to go along with prevailing opinion—though our own reputation or well-being may be at risk—may we never turn from our obedience to God. Sometimes, even at great cost, all we can offer is a firm refusal.
By: Winn Collier
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Reflect & Pray
Where are you sensing that obedience to God will require your firm refusal? What might this refusal cost you? What will you gain?
God, I know my loyalty to You will at times mean saying no to others’ expectations or demands. It may cost me dearly. Give me courage.
 

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IS YOUR SPOUSE YOUR BEST FRIEND?
July 18, 2021
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24
God has decreed that the most important human relationship in a marriage is with our spouse.

Men and women, we are to leave our fathers and mothers and be joined to our spouse.

It doesn’t mean that we love our parents or our children less, but the priority should always be with our spouse. In other words, the husband and the wife are called to be best friends. There should not be a person on this earth that we are closer to than our spouse. And if there is, our priorities have gotten out of whack and we need to confess our sin to God and ask Him to forgive us and help us reprioritize our life.

I speak often about the importance of a weekly date for a husband and wife. I call it the “falling in love all over again” time. Anne and I still have our weekly date after 40+ years of marriage. Every time, it’s like we are bonded together once again. This continues to amaze me that after all these years I can look at her and say, “Anne, isn’t it amazing? We’ve spent all this time together, and there’s nobody we want to be with more than each other.”

There is nothing like having your spouse as your best friend. It’s marriage as God designed it to be.
 

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July 21
Authentic Christianity
Bible in a Year:

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.

Matthew 5:12
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Matthew 5:3–10
I applied for a position in a Christian organization years ago and was presented with a list of legalistic rules having to do with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and certain forms of entertainment. “We expect Christian behavior from our employees” was the explanation. I could agree with this list because I, for reasons mostly unrelated to my faith, didn’t do those things. But my argumentative side thought, Why don’t they have a list about not being arrogant, insensitive, harsh, spiritually indifferent, and critical? None of these were addressed.
Following Jesus can’t be defined by a list of rules. It’s a subtle quality of life that’s difficult to quantify but can best be described as “beautiful.”
The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–10 sum up that beauty: Those who are indwelt by and dependent on the Spirit of Jesus are humble and self-effacing. They’re deeply touched by the suffering of others. They’re gentle and kind. They long for goodness in themselves and in others. They’re merciful to those who struggle and fail. They’re single-minded in their love for Jesus. They’re peaceful and leave behind a legacy of peace. They’re kind to those who misuse them, returning good for evil. And they’re blessed, a word that means “happy” in the deepest sense.
This kind of life attracts the attention of others and belongs to those who come to Jesus and ask Him for it.
By: David H. Roper
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Reflect & Pray
Which of the attributes from Matthew 5 do you especially need in your life? How can you grow in this?
Spirit of God, please produce these characteristics from the Beatitudes in my life.
 

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LOSING YOUR WONDER
July 25, 2021
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” John 21:25
WARNING: Be careful not to lose your wonder of who Jesus is and what He’s done.

Losing our sense of wonder can not only happen in our relationship with Jesus, but in other relationships as well. My wife and I, for instance, have been married for 20+ years. I remember the days when I would get as excited as a lovesick puppy each time she called. Now, her text messages are so commonplace that I take them for granted. The wonder of having a wife, a sacred partner on the journey of life, has gradually diminished.

I wish this wasn’t the case, but it’s just a part of human nature.

This is why John’s words at the very end of his book are both inspiring and challenging. For the better part of three years, John was with Jesus nearly 24/7. Yet, John’s closeness with Jesus didn’t stifle his amazement of Him.

In 21 chapters, John accurately and eloquently describes the key moments of Jesus’ life and ministry. He writes with the sole purpose of proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (20:31).

As he writes his concluding sentence, John knows he has only scratched the surface. The story of Jesus is far more glorious than one man could ever capture with pen and paper. Words can’t adequately portray the beauty of who Jesus is, nor is there a library big enough to catalogue the ineffable greatness of His deeds.

The largest library in the U.S. is the Library of Congress. Home to more than 1.7 million items and occupying over 2 million square feet, John would still say it’s far too small to tell the story of Jesus.

What’s more, John had no idea how true his words would become. Throughout the ages, countless books, articles, blogs, sermons, lyrics, etc. have been written about Jesus. Granted, not all of them are theologically accurate. Some are even penned by skeptics and cynics.

But the point remains: people can’t stop writing about Jesus and never will.

We might be tempted to dismiss John 21:25 as mere hyperbole, but that’s unfair to what John wants to convey. When trying to tell the story of Someone who truly surpasses comprehension, it’s not an exaggeration to say the work cannot be contained, nor will it ever be completed.

So, why does John end this way?

• To grab our attention.

• To humble us by the grandeur of the story of Jesus.

• To awaken the wonder inside of us.

How about you? Little by little, have you lost your sense of wonder for who Jesus is and what He’s done?

Do you feel as if you’re just going through the motions?

Take a few moments and allow John’s words to rekindle your wonder of Jesus.

(By the way…in case you’re wondering, Lisa and I are happily celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary this month. We’re far from perfect. But after all these years, we’re still fighting to not lose the wonder of marriage amidst the craziness of life ☺.)



Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH
 

boldstardex

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WHAT IS RIGHTEOUS ANGER, ANYWAY?
July 27, 2021
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” Matthew 5: 21-23
Is anger as bad as murder?

Of course not.

Right?

Well…Jesus would disagree – equating anger with murder when it comes to the seriousness of the sin. In other words, there’s no scale when it comes to sin: losing one’s temper and murder are the same in God’s eyes.

But Jesus got angry, so how can anger be a sin if Jesus never sinned? Well, it’s a bit complicated – especially when we read in Ephesians 4: 26: “In your anger do not sin.” So how can we make sense of all this?

  1. True righteous anger isn’t wrong. Righteous anger is the kind of anger that God and Jesus displayed in the Bible. It’s an anger that comes when God is not respected, when our fellow man is taken advantage of, or an injustice is committed against the defenseless. This kind of anger often moves us to action. However, if in the process of defending the defenseless, we lose our temper, that righteous anger suddenly becomes wrong in God’s eyes; it becomes a sin.
  2. Losing our temper is sin. No matter the circumstances, when we lose our temper, it always means we’ve blown it. We’ve all said and done things in a fit of temper that we deeply regret.
  3. Contempt for others is sin. This refers to any feelings of superiority or actions that belittle or insult others. The seriousness of an arrogant attitude of pride that leads to disrespecting others is no laughing matter.
What are we to do? If we have allowed anger to get in the way of a relationship, if we’ve lost our temper, belittled another or even called them a “harmless” but derogatory name – we need to stop and make it right. Confess it to God and ask for the courage to go and make it right with the person you’ve wronged.
 

boldstardex

Moderator

AVOIDING COUNTERFEIT MARRIAGE
July 28, 2021
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24
One of the saddest statements I’ve heard time and again as a pastor when a person loses their spouse is, “I feel like I’ve lost a part of me.” And they truly have. Because what God has designed for marriage is one-flesh bonding:

  • Emotionally; one- flesh bonding
  • Relationally; one-flesh bonding
  • Spiritually; one-flesh bonding, and
  • Physically; one-flesh bonding
And for those of you who are wondering, there is no doubt that sexual intercourse is the ultimate symbol of the one-flesh relationship that God has in mind for the husband and wife in marriage. Sex is a wonderful gift. This false idea that sex originated after the fall of man is nonsense! God gave sex as a gift to man and woman to be enjoyed in the context of committed love, but only in marriage. Adam and Eve enjoyed the mutual pleasure of “the one flesh” relationship long before they fell into sin, and God was very pleased. After all, sex is His idea.

Sadly, that one-flesh relationship has been counterfeited over and over by mankind. How is it counterfeited? Let’s take a look at a few ways:

  1. It is counterfeited by pre-marital sex. Not only is it wrong, there’s no lifetime commitment that gives the meaning to a one-flesh relationship.
  2. It is counterfeited by adultery. Adultery puts a dagger into the heart of a marriage. It so destroys trust that it’s often very hard for a spouse to get over it.
  3. It is counterfeited by homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Sadly, the Christian community hasn’t done much to help the situation. Looking at people in the church, the gay rights advocates see either pro-gay clergy saying the practice of homosexuality is not a sin, but good; or they see the self-righteous hypocrisy found in the Christian church and are thinking, “Are you kidding me? With all the divorce and adultery in your churches?” Obviously these sins are not what God had in mind for marriage.
  4. It is counterfeited by pornography. The damage that pornography in its many forms has brought to marriages and relationships between men and women is difficult to number. We would be saddened if we had real numbers on how many men and women are addicted to pornography, or are dabbling in it regularly, inside and outside the church.
There are more ways to counterfeit marriage, of course, but just looking at these few, the mindset that embraces them is self-gratification, and that was never part of God’s plan. The one-flesh relationship between one man and one woman in marriage…THAT was God’s plan.

Way to go, God!

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July 30
Overcoming Envy
Bible in a Year:

Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.

1 Samuel 18:7
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Samuel 18:5–9
In the film Amadeus, aging composer Antonio Salieri plays some of his music on the piano for a visiting priest. The embarrassed priest confesses he doesn’t recognize the tunes. “What about this one?” Salieri says, playing an instantly familiar melody. “I didn’t know you wrote that,” the priest says. “I didn’t,” Salieri replies. “That was Mozart!” As viewers discover, Mozart’s success had caused deep envy in Salieri—even leading him to play a part in Mozart’s death.
A song lies at the heart of another envy story. After David’s victory over Goliath, the Israelites heartily sing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). The comparison doesn’t sit well with King Saul. Envious of David’s success and afraid of losing his throne (vv. 8–9), Saul begins a prolonged pursuit of David, trying to take his life.
Like Salieri with music or Saul with power, we’re usually tempted to envy those with similar but greater gifts than we possess. And whether it’s picking fault with their work or belittling their success, we too can seek to damage our “rivals.”
Saul had been divinely chosen for his task (10:6–7, 24), a status that should’ve fostered security in him rather than envy. Since we each have unique callings too (Ephesians 2:10), maybe the best way to overcome envy is to quit comparing ourselves. Let’s celebrate each other’s successes instead.
By: Sheridan Voysey
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Reflect & Pray
Whom are you most tempted to envy? How can you celebrate their success?
Loving God, I thank You for my friends’ and colleagues’ successes.
 
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