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Daily Devotion

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September 16
From Mess to Message
Bible in a Year:

Tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.

Mark 5:19
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Mark 5:1–20
Darryl was a baseball legend who nearly destroyed his life with drugs. But Jesus set him free, and he’s been clean for years. Today he helps others struggling with addiction and points them to faith. Looking back, he affirms that God turned his mess into a message.
Nothing is too hard for God. When Jesus came ashore near a cemetery after a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee with His disciples, a man possessed by darkness immediately approached Him. Jesus spoke to the demons inside him, drove them away, and set him free.
When Jesus left, the man begged to go along. But Jesus didn’t allow it, because He had work for him to do: “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you” (Mark 5:19).
We never see the man again, but Scripture shows us something intriguing. The people of that region had fearfully pleaded with Jesus “to leave” (v. 17), but the next time He returned there, a large crowd gathered (8:1). Could the crowd have resulted from Jesus sending the man home? Could it be that he, once dominated by darkness, became one of the first missionaries, effectively communicating Jesus’ power to save?
We’ll never know this side of heaven, but this much is clear. When God sets us free to serve Him, He can turn even a messy past into a message of hope and love.
By: James Banks
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Reflect & Pray
What has Jesus set you free from? How can you share with others what He’s done for you?
Beautiful Savior, I praise You for Your amazing power! No darkness can stand against You! Help me to walk in Your light today.
 

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WE ARE ALL MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE
September 16, 2021
“And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Genesis 1: 26
Let’s be honest – judging others is easy. Think about it: How often do we meet someone new and judge their looks, intelligence or career compared to ourselves? We place them on a scale, giving them value based on the world’s criteria. Some measure up, while others don’t. But God says that we are to look for HIM in others, whether they appear seemingly ordinary or incredibly talented. You see, through the vast diversity of people and personalities, God is displaying something of Himself through each and every one of us.

Think of the smallest and weakest person according to the world’s eyes. Even he/she is displaying something glorious about the character and the nature of God. What about the person that you constantly disagree with—your office competitor or nemesis? Yes, even that individual is made in the image of God.

If every person we meet is made in the image of God, then we must treat every human being with dignity and honor – including ourselves.

When we understand that our lives are gifts from God, that changes how we live. When we see God’s image in others, that changes our response to those around us. Our lives are not our own. We were created to reflect God’s image. And whenever we put people down, whenever we use people for our own good, whenever we cheat, or gossip or judge someone’s worth based on race or class or political opinion, we disrespect the image of God in them.

Are you struggling with judging and comparing yourself and others? Ask God for a perspective shift – because when we view ourselves and others through God’s eyes, nothing looks the same.

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September 20
An Unexpected Guest
Bible in a Year:

[Jesus said], “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

Luke 19:5
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Luke 19:1–10
Zach was a lonely guy. When he walked down the city streets, he could feel the hostile glares. But then his life took a turn. Clement of Alexandria, one of the church fathers, says that Zach became a very prominent Christian leader and a pastor of the church in Caesarea. Yes, we’re talking about Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus (Luke 19:1–10).
What prompted him to climb the tree? Tax collectors were perceived as traitors because they heavily taxed their own people to serve the Roman Empire. Yet Jesus had a reputation for accepting them. Zacchaeus might have wondered if Jesus would accept him too. Being short in stature, however, he couldn’t see over the crowd (v. 3). Perhaps he climbed a tree to seek Him out.
And Jesus was seeking Zacchaeus too. When Christ reached the tree where he was perched, He looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (v. 5). Jesus considered it absolutely necessary that He be a guest in this outcast’s home. Imagine that! The Savior of the world wanting to spend time with a social reject.
Whether it’s our hearts, relationships, or lives that need mending, like Zacchaeus we can have hope. Jesus will never reject us when we turn to Him. He can restore what’s been lost and broken and give our lives new meaning and purpose.
By: Poh Fang Chia
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Reflect & Pray
What relationships in your life can Jesus help restore? What will it mean for you to be restored by Him?
Jesus, thank You for seeking me when I was lost in sin and for redeeming my messed-up life.
 

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September 21
Truth, Lies, and Vigilantes
Bible in a Year:

Do not spread false reports.

Exodus 23:1
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Exodus 23:1–9
During the 2018 baseball season, a Chicago Cubs coach wanted to give a baseball to a young boy sitting by the dugout. But when the coach tossed the ball toward him, a man scooped it up instead. Video of the event went viral. News outlets and social media skewered this “brute” of a man. Except viewers didn’t know the whole story. Earlier, the man had helped the young boy snag a foul ball, and they agreed to share any additional balls that came their way. Unfortunately, it took twenty-four hours before the true story emerged. The mob had already done its damage, demonizing an innocent man.
Too often, we think we have all the facts when we only have fragments. In our modern gotcha culture, with snippets of dramatic video and inflamed tweets, it’s easy to condemn people without hearing the full story. However, Scripture warns us not to “spread false reports” (Exodus 23:1). We must do everything possible to confirm the truth before leveling accusations, making sure not to participate in lies. We should be cautious whenever a vigilante spirit takes hold, whenever passions ignite and waves of judgment swell. We want to safeguard ourselves from “follow[ing] the crowd in doing wrong” (v. 2).
As believers in Jesus, may God help us not to spread falsehoods. May He provide what we need to exhibit wisdom and to make certain our words are actually true.
By: Winn Collier
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Reflect & Pray
Take a moment to recollect a time when someone was falsely accused. What was the damage, and how was the wrong made right?
God, with things moving so fast these days, it’s often hard to know what’s real. Help me to listen, pay attention, and speak only the truth.


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FATHER, FORGIVE THEM
September 21, 2021
“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”
Luke 6:22

Have you ever been avoided, felt left out, or even outright rejected, for the simple reason that you are a Christian? This happens to most dedicated Christians at one time or another, and Jesus wants you to know that when you are rejected by others or shown hostility because of your beliefs, you are not the one being rejected. Even though it feels like a personal attack, that hostility is actually being directed towards Jesus – not you.

Jesus is the One who is being rejected. Never forget that.

So, how do we respond when faced with such attitudes? That’s when we need to follow the example of Jesus. When you are rejected due to your devotion to Christ, respond just as Jesus did when He was rejected by the world and hanging on the cross.

“Father, forgive them,” Jesus said. “They don’t understand what they’re doing” (my paraphrase). If you want to see something that is unique about Christianity over every other religion, remember what Jesus did on that cross.

Are you willing to follow Jesus with this level of commitment? Will you love those who hate you? Will you forgive them? Pray for them?

Think of the thousands of Christian missionaries all over the world who daily put their lives on the line to follow Jesus. All we’re talking about here is being courageous enough to do it in our own neighborhoods and schools.

Are you willing?

Are you sure?
 

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September 24
The Whatevers
Bible in a Year:

Brothers and sisters, whatever . . . is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Philippians 4:1–9
Every Friday evening, the national news my family views concludes the broadcast by highlighting an uplifting story. In contrast to the rest of the news, it’s always a breath of fresh air. A recent “good” Friday story focused on a reporter who had suffered from COVID-19, fully recovered, and then decided to donate plasma to possibly help others in their fight against the virus. At the time, the jury was still out on how effective antibodies would be. But when many of us felt helpless and even in light of the discomfort of donating plasma (via needle), she felt it “was a small price to pay for the potential payoff.”
After that Friday broadcast, my family and I felt encouraged—dare I say hope-filled. That’s the power of the “whatevers” Paul described in Philippians 4: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (v. 8). Did Paul have in mind plasma donation? Of course not. But did he have in mind sacrificial actions on behalf of someone in need—in other words, Christlike behavior? I’ve no doubt the answer is yes.
But that hopeful news wouldn’t have had its full effect if it hadn’t been broadcast. It’s our privilege as witnesses to God’s goodness to look and listen for the “whatevers” all around us and then share that good news with others that they may be encouraged.
By: John Blase
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Reflect & Pray
What’s a “whatever” story that’s encouraged you lately? Who might want or need to hear your story?
Father, I know that behind whatever is excellent and praiseworthy is You. I love You.
 

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AFRAID OF THE DARK?
September 26, 2021
“For you light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.” – Psalm 18:28
The fear of the dark is common among children and, to a varying degree, adults. But that fear is usually not simply the fear of darkness itself, but a fear of the possible or imagined dangers concealed by darkness.

Here’s an example:

She had been driven crazy by her energetic children and just needed to get away, if even for just a moment. She ran upstairs to her daughter’s bedroom and closed the closet door behind her. And there, in the solitude of the closet she cleansed her mind by letting out a long, loud scream. She immediately felt better and opened the door to leave. Blocking her exit, with eyes the size of saucers, were her three children. Her four-year-old daughter spoke first: “Mommy, I told you there were monsters in there.”

While this might be a humorous moment, the truth is children and adults fear the dark (or the unknown) for the same reason:

Our fears are intensified when we cannot see what is really before us.

Listen to these words from the Psalmist: “Where can I go from Your spirit? Where can I flee Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there. If I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10

Like a loving father, God promises that He’ll always be with us. He’s there to offer His hand to cling to during life’s darkest hours. He’s a light that will always guide us through the darkness, never leaving our side.

So don’t be afraid of the unknown; allow God to light your way and lead you everywhere you need to go.

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September 28
Flight of Ichabod
Bible in a Year:

The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.

1 Samuel 4:22
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
1 Samuel 4:12–22
In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving tells of Ichabod Crane, a schoolteacher who seeks to marry a beautiful young woman named Katrina. Key to the story is a headless horseman who haunts the colonial countryside. One night, Ichabod encounters a ghostly apparition on horseback and flees the region in terror. It’s clear to the reader that this “horseman” is actually a rival suitor for Katrina, who then marries her.
Ichabod is a name first seen in the Bible, and it too has a gloomy backstory. While at war with the Philistines, Israel carried the sacred ark of the covenant into battle. Bad move. Israel’s army was routed and the ark captured. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of the high priest Eli, were killed (1 Samuel 4:17). Eli too would die (v. 18). When the pregnant wife of Phinehas heard the news, “she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains” (v. 19). With her last words she named her son Ichabod (literally, “no glory”). “The Glory has departed from Israel,” she gasped (v. 22).
Thankfully, God was unfolding a much larger story. His glory would ultimately be revealed in Jesus, who said of His disciples, “I have given them the glory that you [the Father] gave me” (John 17:22).
No one knows where the ark is today, but no matter. Ichabod has fled. Through Jesus, God has given us His very glory!
By: Tim Gustafson
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Reflect & Pray
What do you think it means for God to give us His glory? How have you experienced it?
Dear Father, thank You for revealing Your glory through Jesus. Make me mindful of Your presence throughout this day.
 

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September 29
Joyful Learning
Bible in a Year:

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:2
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Romans 12:1–3
In the city of Mysore, India, there’s a school made of two refurbished train cars connected end-to-end. Local educators teamed up with the South Western Railway Company to buy and remodel the discarded coaches. The units were essentially large metal boxes, unusable until workers installed stairways, fans, lights, and desks. Workers also painted the walls and added colorful murals inside and out. Now, sixty students attend classes there because of the amazing transformation that took place.
Something even more amazing takes place when we follow the apostle Paul’s command to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). As we allow the Holy Spirit to uncouple us from the world and its ways, our thoughts and attitudes begin to change. We become more loving, more hopeful, and filled with inner peace (8:6).
Something else happens too. Although this transformation process is ongoing, and often has more stops and starts than a train ride, the process helps us understand what God wants for our lives. It takes us to a place where we “will learn to know God’s will” (12:2 nlt). Learning His will may or may not involve specifics, but it always involves aligning ourselves with His character and His work in the world.
Nali Kali, the name of the transformed school in India, means “joyful learning” in English. How’s God’s transforming power leading you to the joyful learning of His will?
By: Jennifer Benson Schuldt
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Reflect & Pray
Which areas of your thought life are most in need of God’s transforming power? How willing are you to act when you clearly understand His will for your life?
Dear God, I invite You to transform me by renewing my mind today. Thank You for all that’s possible when I surrender to You.
 

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IF YOU’RE BREATHING, PRAISE THE LORD!
September 29, 2021
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150:6
Renowned poet Maya Angelou once said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”

It’s true; each of us will only experience a handful of moments that leave us breathless. When they occur, we should treasure them for all they’re worth.

But what about the rest of our breaths?

We take roughly 20,000 breaths a day, around 8 million or so per year. By the time we’re 50, approximately 400 million.

What are we to do with these everyday, routine respirations?

The Bible says that we should, “praise the Lord.”

Praise” is mentioned thirteen times in the six verses of Psalm 150. What does it mean to “praise?” Author Chuck Swindoll explains, “Praise is all about Him. You are out of the picture. You express words of adoration to Him for what He does and for who He is.”

With every lungful of oxygen, we are to exhale praise to our Creator, the One who gave us breath in the first place. In the Garden of Eden, we are told, “The Lord breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

Every breath we take is graciously given to us by God. Even as you read this sentence, He is sustaining your life. It sounds so obvious, but we take each breath for granted, don’t we?

Maybe less obvious, however, is that breathing can serve as a powerful reminder of our life in Jesus. Apart from Christ, all of us are 100% spiritually dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1).

That’s the bad news.

But here’s the good news:

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ Jesus, even when we were dead in our transgressions.” (Ephesians 2:5)

Spiritually speaking, we only start “breathing” because of Jesus. Through faith in Him, we are “born again” and filled with His life-giving Spirit (John 3:3; Ephesians 1:13,14).

So, both physical and spiritual breathing are manifestations of life given to us by God. And the psalmist is calling, “everything that has breath,” to join in a magnificent symphony of praise. He can’t force us, but he is inviting us to not stand idly by. He wants us to grab a “trumpet,” pick up a “harp” and start tapping our feet. (Psalm 150:3,4)

We are, in other words, to be participants of praise, not spectators.

Think about this: One day, there will come a moment that will quite literally leave you breathless. You will have reached your God-ordained quota of your allotted number of breaths on earth.

Until that final breath, don’t you want to spend your days making every breath count for Him, participating in the great chorus of praise?

You can start right now.

Humbly come before the Lord in an attitude of prayer and fill in the blank.

Lord, I praise You because __________________.”


Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH
 

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GROW YOUNGER WHILE GROWING OLDER
September 30, 2021
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-1
When was the last time you went to the doctor for a checkup? If you are past a certain age, these appointments are often a combination of good news and bad news. You might, for example, have good results on your blood work, but you might also have some nagging pain in your back. Those aches and pains are pretty much par for the course; they are reminders that we are all aging. The law of entropy which tells us that natural processes only run in one direction – and that is in a degrading direction – is applicable to our physical bodies. We are deteriorating creatures.
Yet for the Christian, there is a glorious paradox that comes with aging – one that causes a great measure of joy when you could be feeling an increasingly large measure of sorrow since you just cannot do all the things you were once able to do. The words of Paul from 2 Corinthians remind us that these are two simultaneous realities for the Christian.
The first reality is that of aging. That our outer person, our physical bodies, are on the downhill. They are degrading, and all the aches, pains, lapses of memory, and whatever else come along with it. Oh sure – we do all kinds of things to try and postpone or deny this is true. We might nip, we might tuck, we might style, and we might hide, but the truth is there staring us in the face.
It is as Paul would say just a few verses earlier – we are as jars of clay. Frail, fragile, and falling apart day by day.
This truth (and it is a truth) might lead us to depression. In some ways, we are fighting a losing battle and could live out the rest of our days in a depressed state. But that brings us to the second reality Paul described in these verses. That is, that…
…even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.
In other words, the inner life of the Christian breaks the universal law of entropy. While everything physical is in a constant state of decay, our inner selves are reversing the trend. Because of God’s mercies that are new every morning, and because we are His children, in our inner selves we are growing younger – growing to look more and more like the true children of God even while our outer selves are growing older. Such is the grand and glorious paradox of Christian aging.
What does that mean for us?
  1. It means that as Christians, we do not have to chase the ever-elusive promise of youth.
  2. We do not have to fix our eyes on the vanity of the physical.
  3. It means that we can still steward our bodies, but we cannot have our entire self-worth and value rest on them.
  4. And it means we can rejoice even while the shoulders start to ache and the inevitable weight gain sets in.
We can do this if we don’t focus on what is seen in the mirror, but on that which is unseen.
We can do this if we fix our eyes on Jesus, Who not only began our faith but is perfecting it in us.
We can do this if we believe that we are growing younger even as we are growing older.
We can do this!

Written by Michael Kelley, Guest Contributor
To read more of Michael’s writing, check out his daily blog,
Forward Progress. http://michaelkelley.co/
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October 4
Wherever We Worship
Bible in a Year:

A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

John 4:23
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
John 4:7–24
Intense pain and a debilitating headache prevented me from attending services with my local church family . . . again. Grieving the loss of community worship, I watched an online sermon. At first, complaints soured my experience. The poor sound and video quality distracted me. But then a voice on the video warbled a familiar hymn. Tears flowed as I sang these words: “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart. Naught be all else to me save that Thou art. Thou my best thought, by day or by night. Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.” Focusing on the gift of God’s constant presence, I worshiped Him while sitting in my living room.
While Scripture affirms the vital, essential nature of corporate worship (Hebrews 10:25), God’s not bound within the walls of a church building. During Jesus’ chat with the Samaritan woman at the well, He defied all expectations of the Messiah (John 4:9). Instead of condemnation, Jesus spoke truth and loved her as she stood next to that well (v. 10). He revealed His intimate and sovereign knowledge of His children (vv. 17–18). Proclaiming His deity, Jesus declared that the Holy Spirit evoked true worship from the hearts of God’s people, not from a specific physical location (vv. 23–24).
When we focus on who God is, what He’s done, and all He’s promised, we can rejoice in His constant presence as we worship Him with other believers, in our living rooms . . . and everywhere!
By: Xochitl Dixon
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Reflect & Pray
Where do you enjoy worshiping God? How do you enjoy His presence and experience joy while worshiping Him?
Amazing God, please help me worship You as I rejoice in who You are, what You’ve done, and all You promise to do.
 

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October 5
With Us in the Valley
Bible in a Year:

I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Psalm 23:4
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 23
As Hannah Wilberforce (aunt of British abolitionist William Wilberforce) lay dying, she wrote a letter in which she mentioned hearing about the death of a fellow believer in Jesus: “Happy is the dear man who is gone to glory, now in the presence of Jesus, whom unseen he loved. My heart seemed to jump for joy.” Then she described her own situation: “Myself, better and worse; Jesus, as good as ever.”
Her words make me think of Psalm 23, where David writes, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley [the valley of the shadow of death], I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (v. 4). Those words leap from the page because it’s there, in the middle of the valley of the shadow of death, where David’s description of God turns deeply personal. He moves from talking about God in the beginning of the psalm—“the Lord is my shepherd” (v. 1)—to talking to Him: “for you are with me” (v. 4, italics added).
How reassuring it is to know that almighty God who “brought forth the whole world” (90:2) is so compassionate that He walks with us through even the most difficult places. Whether our situation turns better or worse, we can turn to our Shepherd, Savior, and Friend and find Him “as good as ever.” So good that death itself is vanquished, and we will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (23:6).
By: James Banks
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Reflect & Pray
How does it comfort you to know that Jesus our Shepherd is always with you? How can you share that hope with someone today?
My Shepherd, thank You for Your perfect faithfulness and kindness to me. Help me to stay near You today.
 

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HOW DO YOU MANAGE GOD’S RESOURCES?
October 05, 2021
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” Matthew 25:29
How can we be good managers of our financial resources?

It begins with a budget. And every good budget has certain biblical principles to keep in mind:

  1. Give to God First – Scripture is very clear that we are to give God a tithe, or 10% of our income. In Scripture it’s referred to as the “storehouse” (Malachi 3:8-10) or where you worship and are spiritually fed – your local church. We’re to do this first before anything else. This acknowledges that all we have comes from Him and that we trust Him to meet our needs. It’s a way of saying – God, all of this is yours (Proverbs 3: 9-10).
  2. Save & Invest – Any financial planner will tell you that at least 10% of your income should go into savings and investments. Scripture provides the analogy of ants to emphasize the importance of this principle. Ants work hard during the summer months to prepare for the winter. When it comes to saving and investments, we are to be wise planners (Proverbs 6:6-11).
  3. Pay Taxes – No one has ever been excited about paying taxes, but Scripture is very clear that we are to pay the taxes we owe. After all, those funds not only pay the salaries of our civil servants, but they also fund and maintain our roads, water, schools, courts, and even our police and military protection. (Romans 13: 6-7).
  4. Plan for Fixed Expenses – These are regular costs such as your mortgage, car payment, monthly groceries and any debt payments. These payments must be paid or there are penalties – they are fixed.
  5. Manage Discretionary Expenses – This category covers all the fun things like entertainment, vacation, shopping and hobbies. These things are nice, but not necessities.
The bottom line is that all of us are called to be good managers of the specific resources that God has entrusted to us – each according to our own ability. While there should be no comparison in the kingdom of God, we should make the most of the ability and opportunity that God has given.

So how are you doing as a manager of God’s financial resources?

One day, we all must give an account for how we managed “His” resources.

What will God say to you?
 

boldstardex

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TO WORSHIP IS TO OBEY
October 07, 2021
“That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13
Solomon, the ancient king of Israel, was a man who had it all. He had extraordinary success, wealth, and incredible intellect. He had more women and sex than any Hollywood star or professional athlete could imagine. Yet it all became meaningless.

Solomon STILL felt empty inside.

Why?

Because he had turned his back on God to pursue his own selfish desires. He was a classic example of a good man who started strong, but turned the wrong way and wound up empty.

The good news in Solomon’s story is that late in his life, he came to his senses and turned back to God.

After searching for meaning everywhere else, Solomon found the key to life is “to fear God and keep His commandments.”

Fear means reverence. So, to revere God means to worship Him and demonstrate that worship by obeying His word.

Do you feel empty and weary?

Trust God and obey Him. He is rest for the weary soul.
 

boldstardex

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October 11
At the King’s Table
Bible in a Year:

So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.

2 Samuel 9:11
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
2 Samuel 9:6–13
“He’ll live,” the vet announced, “but his leg will have to be amputated.” The stray mongrel my friend had brought in had been run over by a car. “Are you the owner?” There would be a hefty surgery bill, and the puppy would need care as it recovered. “I am now,” my friend replied. Her kindness has given that dog a future in a loving home.
Mephibosheth saw himself as a “dead dog,” unworthy of favor (2 Samuel 9:8). Being lame in both feet due to an accident, he was dependent on others to protect and provide for him (see 4:4). Furthermore, after the death of his grandfather, King Saul, he probably feared that David, the new king, would order all enemies and rivals to the throne killed, as was the common practice of the time.
Yet, out of love for his friend Jonathan, David ensured that Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth would always be safe and cared for as his own son (9:7). In the same way, we who were once God’s enemies, marked for death, have been saved by Jesus and given a place with Him in heaven forever. That’s what it means to eat at the banquet in the kingdom of God that Luke describes in his gospel (Luke 14:15). Here we are—the sons and daughters of a King! What extravagant, undeserved kindness we’ve received! Let’s draw near to God in gratitude and joy.
By: Karen Kwek
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Reflect & Pray
When are you likely to forget that God protects and cares for you? How could 2 Samuel 9:6–13 encourage you during such times?
Dear Jesus, thank You for saving me and giving me a place at Your table forever. Remind me that I’m Your dear child, and help me to always praise and trust You.
 

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October 13
Words that Endure
Bible in a Year:

This word came to Jeremiah from the Lord.

Jeremiah 36:1
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Jeremiah 36:27–32
In the early nineteenth century, Thomas Carlyle gave a manuscript to philosopher John Stuart Mill to review. Somehow, whether accidentally or intentionally, the manuscript got tossed into a fire. It was Carlyle’s only copy. Undaunted, he set to work rewriting the lost chapters. Mere flames couldn’t stop the story, which remained intact in his mind. Out of great loss, Carlyle produced his monumental work The French Revolution.
In the waning days of ancient Judah’s decadent kingdom, God told the prophet Jeremiah, “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you” (Jeremiah 36:2). The message revealed God’s tender heart, calling on His people to repent in order to avoid imminent invasion (v. 3).
Jeremiah did as he was told. The scroll soon found its way to Judah’s king, Jehoiakim, who methodically shredded it and threw it into the fire (vv. 23–25). The king’s act of arson only made matters worse. God told Jeremiah to write another scroll with the same message. He said, “[Jehoiakim] will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night” (v. 30).
It’s possible to burn the words of God by tossing a book into a fire. Possible, but utterly futile. The Word behind the words endures forever.
By: Tim Gustafson
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Reflect & Pray
What has caused you or those you know to ignore the words of God? Why is it vital for you to submit to and obediently follow what He’s instructed?
Father, help me to take Your words to heart, even if they’re difficult to hear. Please give me a heart of repentance—not defiance.
 

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October 15
God’s Plans for You
Bible in a Year:

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 37:3–7
For six years, Agnes tried to make herself the “perfect minister’s wife,” modeling herself after her adored mother-in-law (also a pastor’s wife). She thought that in this role she couldn’t also be a writer and painter, but in burying her creativity she became depressed and contemplated suicide. Only the help of a neighboring pastor moved her out of the darkness as he prayed with her and assigned her two hours of writing each morning. This awakened her to what she called her “sealed orders”—the calling God had given her. She wrote, “For me to be really myself—my complete self—every . . . flow of creativity that God had given me had to find its channel.”
Later, she pointed to one of David’s songs that expressed how she found her calling: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). As she committed her way to God, trusting Him to lead and guide her (v. 5), He made a way for her not only to write and paint but to help others to better communicate with Him.
God has a set of “sealed orders” for each of us, not only that we’ll know we’re His beloved children but understand the unique ways we can serve Him through our gifts and passions. He’ll lead us as we trust and delight in Him.
By: Amy Boucher Pye
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Reflect & Pray
How does Agnes’ story of living someone else’s life resonate with you? What has God put in your “sealed orders”?
Creator God, You’ve made me in Your image. Help me to know and embrace my calling that I might better love and serve You.
Explore how your identity is rooted in Christ.


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