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Thread: Our Daily Bread

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    Tuesday, November 27, 2018

    Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven. Romans 4:7

    When I was in college, I worked a summer on a ranch in Colorado. One evening, tired and hungry after a long day of mowing hay, I drove the tractor into the yard. Acting like the hot shot I thought I was, I cranked the steering wheel hard left, stamped on the left brake, and spun the tractor around.

    The sickle was down and swept the legs out from under a 500-gallon gasoline tank standing nearby. The tank hit the ground with a resounding boom, the seams split, and all the gasoline spewed out.

    The rancher stood nearby surveying the scene.

    I got off the tractor, stammered an apology, and—because it was the first thing that popped into my mind—offered to work the rest of the summer without pay.

    The old rancher stared at the wreckage for a moment and turned toward the house. “Let’s go have dinner,” he drawled.

    A scrap of a story Jesus told passed through my mind—a story about a young man who had done a terrible thing: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you,” he cried. He intended to add, “Make me like one of your hired servants,” but before he could get all the words out of his mouth his father interrupted him. In essence, he said, “Let’s go have dinner” (Luke 15:17–24).

    Such is God’s amazing grace.

    Father, we celebrate Your gracious and lavish forgiveness. Thank You for the peace and freedom it brings us as we enjoy a family relationship with You.

    What a privilege to be sons and daughters of the King! By David H. Roper
    Luke 15:1-24

    The Parable of the Lost Son

    11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

    13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

    17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

    “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

    21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

    22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

    Cross references:Luke 15:11 : Mt 21:28 Luke 15:12 : Dt 21:17 Luke 15:12 : ver 30 Luke 15:13 : ver 30; Lk 16:1 Luke 15:15 : Lev 11:7 Luke 15:18 : Lev 26:40; Mt 3:2 Luke 15:20 : Ge 45:14, 15; 46:29; Ac 20:37 Luke 15:21 : Ps 51:4 Luke 15:22 : Zec 3:4; Rev 6:11 Luke 15:22 : Ge 41:42 Luke 15:24 : Eph 2:1, 5; 5:14; 1Ti 5:6 Luke 15:24 : ver 32

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    Wednesday, November 28, 2018

    Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24

    Last summer my husband and I toured Fallingwater, a house in rural Pennsylvania designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Wright wanted to create a home that rose organically out of the landscape, as if it could have grown there—and he accomplished his goal. He built the house around an existing waterfall, and its style mirrors the neighboring rock ledges. Our tour guide explained what made the construction safe: “The whole vertical core of the house,” she said, “rests on boulders.”

    Hearing her words, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’s words to His disciples. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told them that what He was teaching would be the sure foundation for their lives. If they heard His words and put them into practice, they would be able to withstand any storms. Those who heard but didn’t obey, in contrast, would be like a house built on sand (Matthew 7:24–27). Later, Paul echoed this thought, writing that Christ is the foundation, and we must build upon it with work that will endure (1 Corinthians 3:11).

    Hearing her words, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’s words to His disciples. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told them that what He was teaching would be the sure foundation for their lives. If they heard His words and put them into practice, they would be able to withstand any storms. Those who heard but didn’t obey, in contrast, would be like a house built on sand (Matthew 7:24–27). Later, Paul echoed this thought, writing that Christ is the foundation, and we must build upon it with work that will endure (1 Corinthians 3:11).

    Hearing her words, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’s words to His disciples. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told them that what He was teaching would be the sure foundation for their lives. If they heard His words and put them into practice, they would be able to withstand any storms. Those who heard but didn’t obey, in contrast, would be like a house built on sand (Matthew 7:24–27). Later, Paul echoed this thought, writing that Christ is the foundation, and we must build upon it with work that will endure (1 Corinthians 3:11).

    Hearing her words, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’s words to His disciples. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told them that what He was teaching would be the sure foundation for their lives. If they heard His words and put them into practice, they would be able to withstand any storms. Those who heard but didn’t obey, in contrast, would be like a house built on sand (Matthew 7:24–27). Later, Paul echoed this thought, writing that Christ is the foundation, and we must build upon it with work that will endure (1 Corinthians 3:11).

    When we listen to the words of Jesus and obey them, we’re building our lives on a steady, rock-solid foundation. Maybe our lives can look a little like Fallingwater, beautiful and built to last on the Rock.

    God, help us to hear and obey the words of Jesus!

    What are you building your life around? By Amy Peterson

    INSIGHT: In Matthew 7:24–27, Jesus says following His teachings is wise and prudent, for they are the foundation on which a full and healthy life is built. He makes this statement after giving the Sermon on the Mount, which contains what has been considered by some the most difficult and stringent guidelines for life. But we aren’t left to live this life on our own; we are dependent on the Spirit. These requirements extend beyond actions and into the thoughts and attitudes. A person who honors God with his or her whole life will remain steady in the storms of life (vv. 24–25).

    J.R. Hudberg
    Matthew 7:24-27

    The Wise and Foolish Builders

    24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

    Cross references: Matthew 7:24 : 7:24-27pp — Lk 6:47-49 Matthew 7:24 : ver 21; Jas 1:22-25

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    Thursday, November 29, 2018

    In their hearts humans plan their course, but theLord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

    Not long ago I was working on a construction project at my son’s home three hours away. The job took days longer than expected, and each morning I prayed we would finish by sunset. But every evening there was more to be done.

    I wondered why. Could there be a reason for the delay? An answer came the next morning. I was picking up a tool when my phone rang and a stranger’s voice spoke urgently: “Your daughter was injured in an accident. You need to come immediately.”

    She lived near my son, so it took just fourteen minutes to reach her. If I had been home, I would have been three hours away. I followed the ambulance to the hospital and comforted her before surgery. As I sat holding her hand I realized if my project hadn’t been delayed, I wouldn’t have been there.

    Our moments belong to God. This was the experience of a woman whose son God had resurrected through the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 4:18–37). She left the country because of famine and returned years later to beg the king for her land. At precisely that moment the king was conversing with the prophet’s servant Gehazi. “Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored” her son, the woman walked in (8:5). Her request was granted.

    We don’t know what even the next second brings, but God is graciously able to use any situation for good. May God give us grace to walk with Him expectantly into His appointments for us today.

    Thank You, Lord, for the gift of my life. Help me to be Your faithful servant.

    Our lives are better off in God’s hands than in our own. By James Banks

    INSIGHT: Today’s text demonstrates God’s sovereignty in directing human affairs. Another example of God’s divine direction is seen in the account of Joseph (Genesis 37–41). At the end of his story, Joseph comforted his brothers who had grievously harmed him (45:5) and said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good” (50:20 nlt).

    The apostle Paul says, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

    How do these examples help you trust God as the Lord of your moments?

    K. T. Sim
    2 Kings 8:1-6

    The Shunammite’s Land Restored

    8 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the Lord has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.” 2 The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years.

    3 At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to appeal to the king for her house and land. 4 The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.” 5 Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to appeal to the king for her house and land.

    Gehazi said, “This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” 6 The king asked the woman about it, and she told him.

    Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.”

    Cross references:2 Kings 8:1 : 2Ki 4:8-37 2 Kings 8:1 : S Lev 26:26; S Dt 28:22; S Ru 1:1 2 Kings 8:1 : S Ge 12:10 2 Kings 8:5 : 2Ki 4:35

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    Friday, November 30, 2018

    Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:15

    The doctor wasn’t frowning, despite talking to my husband about his recent cancer diagnosis. Smiling, she offered a suggestion: start each day by giving thanks. “For at least three things,” the doctor said. Dan agreed, knowing that gratitude opens our hearts to find encouragement in God’s goodness. Thus, Dan starts each day with words of praise. Thank You, God, for a good night’s sleep. For my clean bed. For sunshine. For breakfast on the table. For a smile on my lips.

    Each word is heartfelt. But could it sound trivial? Does our praise in life’s small details matter to Almighty God? In Psalm 50, David’s chief musician, Asaph, offers a clear answer. God has “no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens” (v. 9). Instead of these once-formal Israelite sacrifices of gratitude, God wants His people to give Him our hearts and lives in gratitude (vv. 14, 23).

    As my husband experienced, whole-hearted gratitude helps our spirits flourish. Then when we call on the Lord “in the day of trouble,” He will “deliver” us (v. 15). Does this mean Dan will be healed, spiritually and physically, during his two-year treatment? Or not until after this lifetime? We don’t know. But for now, Dan delights in showing God he’s grateful for His love, and for who God is: Redeemer. Healer. Friend. And friends delight to hear these beautiful words: Thank You.

    What verses bring you comfort in trials?

    My gratitude to God is great to Him. By Patricia Raybon

    INSIGHT: The legal language and setting in Psalm 50 are hard to miss. A universal summons is issued by God (v. 1) and the purpose of the gathering is clear—the judgment of His people (v. 4). In a manner reminiscent of the giving of the Law (Exodus 19:16–19), the Lord makes His grand entry (Psalm 50:2–3) as the righteous and just judge (v. 6). However, “judge” is not His only role; He is also witness (v. 7) and plaintiff (v. 8). Two groups of defendants enter the Lord’s courtroom and the Judge has indictments that match the transgressions of each group. The Lord’s charges against the first group (vv. 7–15) concerned their worship. Though a formal worship system was in place, the kind of worship the Lord desired was missing. Spiritual worship that included “thanksgiving” mattered to the Lord more than the flesh and blood of animals. The charges against the second group (vv. 16–23) concerned their hypocrisy. Though they were able to recite words that came from God, their actions demonstrated their hearts were far from Him (vv. 17–21). As with the first group, the Lord’s corrective included the reminder that “thank offerings” really matter to Him (v. 23).

    Arthur Jackson
    Psalms 50:8-15

    8 I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
    or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
    9 I have no need of a bull from your stall
    or of goats from your pens,
    10 for every animal of the forest is mine,
    and the cattle on a thousand hills.
    11 I know every bird in the mountains,
    and the insects in the fields are mine.
    12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,
    for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
    13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats?

    14 “Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
    fulfill your vows to the Most High,
    15 and call on me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

    Cross references: Psalm 50:8 : S 2Sa 22:16 Psalm 50:8 : S Ps 40:6 Psalm 50:9 : S Lev 1:5 Psalm 50:9 : S Lev 16:5 Psalm 50:9 : S Nu 32:16 Psalm 50:10 : Ps 104:20; Isa 56:9; Mic 5:8 Psalm 50:10 : Ps 104:24 Psalm 50:11 : Mt 6:26 Psalm 50:11 : Ps 8:7; 80:13 Psalm 50:12 : Ex 19:5 Psalm 50:12 : Dt 10:14; S Jos 3:11; Ps 24:1; 1Co 10:26 Psalm 50:14 : S Ezr 1:4; S Ps 27:6 Psalm 50:14 : S Nu 30:2; S Ps 66:13; 76:11 Psalm 50:14 : Ps 7:8 Psalm 50:15 : Ps 4:1; 81:7; Isa 55:6; 58:9; Zec 13:9 Psalm 50:15 : Ps 69:17; 86:7; 107:6; 142:2; Jas 5:13 Psalm 50:15 : Ps 3:7 Psalm 50:15 : S Ps 22:23
    Last edited by JohnJohn; 11-30-2018 at 08:49 AM.

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    Saturday, December 1, 2018

    Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

    Diane listened as the others in the group asked for prayers for their family members and friends facing challenges or illness. She had a family member who had been struggling with an addiction for years. But Diane kept her request silent. She couldn’t bear to see the looks on people’s faces or hear the questions or advice that often followed whenever she spoke the words aloud. She felt that this request was usually better left unspoken. Others simply didn’t understand how her loved one could be a believer in Jesus and still struggle daily.

    Although Diane didn’t share her request with that group, she did have a few trusted friends she asked to pray with her. Together they asked God to set her loved one free from the very real bondage of addiction that he might experience freedom in Christ—and that God would give Diane the peace and patience she needed. As she prayed, she found comfort and strength from her relationship with Him.

    Many of us have earnest, persistent prayers that seem to go unanswered. But we can be assured that God does care and He does hear all our requests. He urges us to continue to walk closely with Him, being “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). We can lean on Him.

    Lord, Your Word urges us to pray continually. Help us to be persistent in prayer, and enable us to be faithful partners in prayer with others.

    Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings. Hebrews 10:22 By Alyson Kieda

    INSIGHT: In Romans 12, Paul builds on his theological teaching from chapters 1–11 and now begins to provide practical application for a gospel-based life. Salvation produces internal results with external impact. In response to our salvation, we are to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” (12:1–2). The internal results are a proper sense of self-awareness (v. 3) and spiritual enablement (vv. 4–8) producing the external impact of service in Christ’s kingdom (vv. 9–13, 15–16) and to the world in which we live (vv. 14, 17–21). Paul’s clear message to the followers of Christ in Rome is that what we believe should have a profound influence on how we live.

    For more on Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, check out Knowing God Through Romans at discoveryseries.org/sb221.

    Bill Crowder
    Romans 12:69-21

    Love in Action

    9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

    14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

    17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

    21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    Footnotes:Romans 12:16 Or willing to do menial work Romans 12:19 Deut. 32:35 Romans 12:20 Prov. 25:21,22

    Cross references:Romans 12:9 : 2Co 6:6; 1Ti 1:5 Romans 12:9 : Ps 97:10; Am 5:15; 1Th 5:21, 22 Romans 12:10 : Ps 133:1; 1Th 4:9; Heb 13:1; 1Pe 1:22 Romans 12:10 : Php 2:3 Romans 12:11 : Ac 18:25 Romans 12:12 : Ro 5:2 Romans 12:12 : Heb 10:32, 36 Romans 12:12 : S Lk 18:1 Romans 12:13 : S Ac 24:17 Romans 12:13 : 2Ki 4:10; Job 31:32; 1Ti 3:2; 5:10; Heb 13:2; 1Pe 4:9 Romans 12:14 : S Mt 5:44 Romans 12:15 : Job 30:25 Romans 12:16 : S Ro 15:5 Romans 12:16 : ver 3; Ps 131:1; Isa 5:21; Jer 45:5; Ro 11:25 Romans 12:17 : ver 19; Pr 20:22; 24:29 Romans 12:17 : 2Co 8:21 Romans 12:18 : S Mk 9:50; S Ro 14:19 Romans 12:19 : ver 17; Lev 19:18; Pr 20:22; 24:29 Romans 12:19 : Dt 32:35; Ge 50:19; 1Sa 26:10; Ps 94:1; Jer 51:36 Romans 12:20 : Pr 25:21, 22; Ex 23:4; Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27

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    Sunday, December 2, 2018

    I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Psalm 17:6

    My brothers and I grew up on a wooded hillside in West Virginia that provided a fertile landscape for our imaginations. Whether swinging from vines like Tarzan or building tree houses like the Swiss Family Robinson, we played out the scenarios we found in the stories we read and movies we watched. One of our favorites was building forts and then pretending we were safe from attack. Years later, my kids built forts out of blankets, sheets, and pillows—constructing their own “safe place” against imaginary enemies. It seems almost instinctive to want a hiding place where you can feel safe and secure.

    When David, the singer-poet of Israel, sought a safe place, he looked no further than God. Psalm 17:8 asserts, “[God,] keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” When you consider the Old Testament record of David’s life and the almost constant threats he faced, these words reveal an amazing level of confidence in God (v. 6). In spite of those threats, he was convinced his true safety was found in Him.

    We can know that same confidence. The God who promises to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) is the One we trust with our lives every day. Although we live in a dangerous world, our God gives us peace and assurance—both now and forever. He is our safe place.

    Father, the world around me can feel threatening, overwhelming, and dangerous. But You give me peace, strength, and help.

    Give God thanks for being your hiding place today. By Bill Crowder

    INSIGHT: In the Psalms, we find people speaking to God about the concerns of their heart and the practical issues of everyday life. As such, there are various categories of psalms. One category is imprecatory psalms (Psalms 5, 10, 17, 35, 58, 59, 70, 79, 83, 109, 129, 137, 140). Imprecatory literally means “to pray evil against” or “to invoke a curse upon.” In these psalms, the author typically asks for vindication against an enemy for unjust treatment. These prayers can range in aggression from a request for justice and vindication to petition for the death and destruction of one’s enemies (see Psalm 17:2 and Psalms 35 and 137 for increasingly aggressive requests for God’s action). While some imprecatory psalms may make us uncomfortable, we must remember that these are human requests for God to act—requests made from the pit of despair, frustration, and hopelessness.

    J.R. Hudberg
    Psalms 17:1-9

    Psalm 17A prayer of David.

    1 Hear me, Lord, my plea is just;
    listen to my cry.
    Hear my prayer—
    it does not rise from deceitful lips.
    2 Let my vindication come from you;
    may your eyes see what is right.

    3 Though you probe my heart,
    though you examine me at night and test me,
    you will find that I have planned no evil;
    my mouth has not transgressed.
    4 Though people tried to bribe me,
    I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
    through what your lips have commanded.
    5 My steps have held to your paths;
    my feet have not stumbled.

    6 I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
    7 Show me the wonders of your great love,
    you who save by your right hand
    those who take refuge in you from their foes.
    8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
    hide me in the shadow of your wings
    9 from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
    from my mortal enemies who surround me.

    Cross references:Psalm 17:1 : Ps 30:10; 64:1; 80:1; 140:6 Psalm 17:1 : Ps 5:2; 39:12; 142:6; 143:1 Psalm 17:1 : S Ps 5:1 Psalm 17:1 : Isa 29:13 Psalm 17:2 : Ps 24:5; 26:1; Isa 46:13; 50:8-9; 54:17 Psalm 17:2 : Ps 99:4 Psalm 17:3 : Ps 139:1; Jer 12:3 Psalm 17:3 : S Job 7:18 Psalm 17:3 : Job 23:10; Jer 50:20 Psalm 17:3 : Ps 39:1 Psalm 17:5 : Job 23:11; Ps 44:18; 119:133 Psalm 17:5 : Dt 32:35; Ps 73:2; 121:3 Psalm 17:6 : Ps 86:7 Psalm 17:6 : Ps 116:2 Psalm 17:6 : S Ps 4:1 Psalm 17:7 : Ps 31:21; 69:13; 106:45; 107:43; 117:2 Psalm 17:7 : S Ps 10:12 Psalm 17:7 : Ps 2:12 Psalm 17:8 : S Nu 6:24 Psalm 17:8 : S Dt 32:10; Pr 7:2 Psalm 17:8 : Ps 27:5; 31:20; 32:7 Psalm 17:8 : Ru 2:12; Ps 36:7; 63:7; Isa 34:15 Psalm 17:9 : Ps 109:3

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    Monday, December 3, 2018

    Enter his gates with thanksgiving. Psalm 100:4

    When I served as my mom’s live-in caregiver at a cancer center, I got to know Lori, another caregiver who lived down the hallway from us with her husband, Frank. I would chat, laugh, vent, cry, and pray with Lori in the shared living areas. We enjoyed supporting each other as we cared for our loved ones.
    One day, I missed the free shuttle that took residents to buy groceries. Lori offered to drive me to the store later that evening. With grateful tears, I accepted her offer. “Thanks for being you,” I said. I truly appreciated her for who she was as a person, not just for what she did for me as a friend.

    Psalm 100 demonstrates an appreciation of God for who He is, not simply for all He does. The psalmist invites “all the earth” (v. 1) to “worship the Lord with gladness” (v. 2), being confident in knowing “the Lord is God” (v. 3). Our Maker invites us into His presence to “give thanks to him and praise his name” (v. 4). Yes, the Lord remains worthy of our ongoing thankfulness because He “is good,” His “love endures forever,” and His “faithfulness continues through all generations” (v. 5).
    God will always be the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and our intimately loving Father. He deserves our genuine joy-filled gratitude.

    Lord, thanks for being You!

    Who can you share God’s love with today? By Xochitl Dixon

    INSIGHT: Psalm 100 echoes the words of Psalm 95. Both begin with an appeal to shout for joy and together call for a resounding celebration in song to the God of gods, Yahweh. This personal name of Israel’s God is translated in English versions as Lord.

    But beyond their similarities, the two songs tell a different story. While Psalm 95 attempts to rouse a nation that has lost its joy (vv. 7–11), Psalm 100 invites the whole earth to erupt in shouts of praise and songs of mirth. At least fourteen times the songwriter of Psalm 100 points to this God of gods by name or pronoun. With every line the psalmist invites people of all nations to enter into the presence of One who is infinitely more to be praised than was seen in the lagging joy of His dearly loved and chosen people.


    Mart DeHaan



    Psalms 100

    Psalm 100A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

    1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
    3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

    4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
    5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.


    Footnotes: Psalm 100:3 Or and not we ourselves

    Cross references: Psalm 100:1 : S Ps 98:6 Psalm 100:2 : S Dt 10:12 Psalm 100:2 : S Ps 95:2 Psalm 100:3 : S 1Ki 18:21; S Ps 46:10 Psalm 100:3 : S Job 10:3 Psalm 100:3 : Ps 79:13; Isa 19:25; 63:8, 17-19; 64:9 Psalm 100:3 : S 2Sa 24:17; S Ps 74:1 Psalm 100:4 : S Ps 42:4 Psalm 100:4 : S Ps 96:8 Psalm 100:4 : Ps 116:17 Psalm 100:5 : S 1Ch 16:34 Psalm 100:5 : S Ezr 3:11; Ps 106:1 Psalm 100:5 : Ps 108:4; 119:90



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    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    But what about you? [Jesus] asked. Who do you say I am? Matthew 16:15

    Well before the calendar flips to December, Christmas cheer begins to bubble up in our northern town. A medical office drapes its trees and shrubs in close-fitting strings of lights, each a different color, illuminating a breathtaking nighttime landscape. Another business decorates its building to look like an enormous, extravagantly wrapped Christmas present. It’s difficult to turn anywhere without seeing evidence of Christmas spirit—or at least seasonal marketing.

    Some people love these lavish displays. Others take a more cynical view. But the crucial question isn’t how others observe Christmas. Rather, we each need to consider what the celebration means to us.

    A little more than thirty years after His birth, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). They gave responses others had given: John the Baptist, Elijah, maybe another prophet. Then Jesus made it personal: “Who do you say I am?” (v. 15). Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).

    Many will celebrate Christmas without a thought about who the Baby really is. As we interact with them, we can help them consider these crucial questions: Is Christmas just a heartwarming story about a baby born in a stable? Or did our Creator visit His creation and become one of us?

    Father in heaven, may our Christmas celebrations this year, whether lavish or small, honor the Messiah who came to redeem His creation.

    For more on the life of Christ, see christianuniversity.org/NT111.

    Who do you say Jesus is? By Tim Gustafson

    INSIGHT: Who was Matthew, the writer of the gospel by the same name? Matthew (also known as Levi) was one of Jesus’s twelve disciples. Prior to Jesus’s call, Matthew served as a despised tax collector (9:9). Tax collectors were particularly loathed because they exacted taxes from their own people, the Jews, to pay the Romans (the oppressive rulers of Israel). And they often collected far more than required. Matthew wrote his gospel primarily to the Jews to prove that Jesus is the Messiah (Savior), the eternal King. We see Matthew’s emphasis clearly in today’s passage. When Jesus asked His disciples about His identity, Peter declared, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (16:15–16). Alyson Kieda

    Alyson Kieda
    Mathew 16:13-21

    Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah

    13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

    14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

    15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

    16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

    17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Jesus Predicts His Death.

    21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

    Footnotes:Matthew 16:18 The Greek word for Peter means rock. Matthew 16:18 That is, the realm of the dead Matthew 16:19 Or will have been Matthew 16:19 Or will have been

    Cross references:Matthew 16:13 : 16:13-16pp — Mk 8:27-29; Lk 9:18-20 Matthew 16:14 : S Mt 3:1 Matthew 16:14 : Mk 6:15; Jn 1:21 Matthew 16:16 : S Mt 4:3; Ps 42:2; Jer 10:10; Ac 14:15; 2Co 6:16; 1Th 1:9; 1Ti 3:15; Heb 10:31; 12:22 Matthew 16:17 : 1Co 15:50; Eph 6:12; Heb 2:14 Matthew 16:17 : S Mt 13:11 Matthew 16:18 : Jn 1:42 Matthew 16:18 : S Eph 2:20 Matthew 16:19 : Isa 22:22; Rev 3:7 Matthew 16:19 : Mt 18:18; Jn 20:23 Matthew 16:20 : S Mk 8:30 Matthew 16:21 : 16:21-28pp — Mk 8:31–9:1; Lk 9:22-27 Matthew 16:21 : S Lk 9:51 Matthew 16:21 : Ps 22:6; Isa 53:3; Mt 26:67, 68; Mk 10:34; Lk 17:25; Jn 18:22, 23; 19:3 Matthew 16:21 : Mt 27:1, 2 Matthew 16:21 : Ac 2:23; 3:13 Matthew 16:21 : Hos 6:2; Mt 12:40; Lk 24:21, 46; Jn 2:19; 1Co 15:3, 4 Matthew 16:21 : Mt 17:22, 23; 27:63; Mk 9:31; Lk 9:22; 18:31-33; 24:6, 7

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    Wednesday, December 5, 2018

    If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:10

    My children have enjoyed the thrill of a backyard ice-skating rink during our cold Idaho winters. When they were young, learning to skate was challenging: persuading them to deliberately set foot on the hard, icy surface proved difficult because they knew the pain of falling. Each time their feet slid out from under them, my husband or I would reach out to pull them again to their feet, setting them upright and steadying their frames.

    Having someone there to help us up when we fall is the gift of a helping hand depicted in Ecclesiastes. Working with another makes our work sweeter and more effective (4:9), and a friend brings warmth to our lives. When we encounter challenges, it helps to have someone come alongside with practical and emotional support. These relationships can give us strength, purpose, and comfort.

    When we find ourselves flattened on the cold ice of life’s hardships, is there a helping hand nearby? If so, it might be from God. Or when someone else needs a friend, could we be God’s answer to lift them up? In being a companion, we often find one. If it appears that no one is nearby to lift us to our feet again, we can find comfort in knowing that God is our ever-present help (Psalm 46:1). As we reach out to Him, He’s ready to steady us with His firm grip.

    Thank You, Father, for helping me up when life knocks me down. Thank You for the people You’ve used to encourage and strengthen me. Yours is the most faithful friendship I have.

    How can you open yourself more fully to God’s presence in your life? By Kirsten Holmberg

    INSIGHT: The author of Ecclesiastes (“the Teacher,” 1:1–2) is in the midst of a long lament about the meaninglessness of living for this world only. This particular section concerns a lonely rich man the Teacher has observed. Perhaps he has trampled all others on his way to the top. (Think of Charles Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge.) Regardless of how the man got there, the author recognizes the futility of such efforts and concludes, “Two are better than one” (4:9).

    Throughout Ecclesiastes, the Teacher’s larger point is that living with an earthbound view is cruelly dissatisfying. We toil and strive, yet we remain haunted by a vague sense that we’re missing something. As with all Scripture, Ecclesiastes must be understood within the context of the entire Bible. The early church fathers Jerome (ad 347–420) and Ambrose (ad 340–397) were among the first to note that the companion we’re missing is Christ Himself.

    Tim Gustafson
    Ecclesiastes 4:8-12

    8 There was a man all alone;
    he had neither son nor brother.
    There was no end to his toil,
    yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
    “For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
    “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
    This too is meaningless—
    a miserable business!

    9 Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
    10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
    But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
    11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
    12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
    A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

    Cross references:
    Ecclesiastes 4:8 : Pr 27:20

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    Thursday, December 6, 2018

    My eyes are ever on the Lord. Psalm 25:15

    The loneliest Christmas I ever spent was in my grandfather’s cottage near Sakogu, northern Ghana. I was just fifteen, and my parents and siblings were a thousand kilometers away. In previous years, when I’d been with them and my village friends, Christmas was always big and memorable. But this Christmas was quiet and lonely. As I lay on my floor mat early Christmas morning, I remembered a local song: The year has ended; Christmas has come; the Son of God is born; peace and joy to everybody. Mournfully, I sang it over and over.

    My grandmother came and asked, “What song is that?” My grandparents didn’t know about Christmas—or about Christ. So I shared what I knew about Christmas with them. Those moments brightened my loneliness.

    Alone in the fields with only sheep and occasional predators, the shepherd boy David experienced loneliness. It would not be the only time. Later in his life he wrote, “I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16). But David didn’t allow loneliness to cause him to be despondent. Instead, he sang: “My hope, Lord, is in you” (v. 21).

    From time to time we all face loneliness. Wherever Christmas may find you this year, in loneliness or in companionship, you can enjoy the season with Christ.

    Lord, thank You that with You I’m not alone even in my times of loneliness. This Christmas, help me to enjoy my fellowship with You and to reach out to others.

    With Jesus at Christmas, we’re never alone. By Lawrence Darmani

    INSIGHT: Psalm 25 is a prayer for and celebration of God’s guidance—extended to anyone willing to humbly learn from Him (vv. 5, 8–9, 12). Even the structure of this psalm as an acrostic poem (each line sequentially following the Hebrew alphabet) reinforces this emphasis on learning from God, since the structure was often chosen for its helpfulness in memorization.

    The psalm’s theme of worship as a lifestyle of learning from God is also captured by the words “put my trust” in verse 1—more literally, “lift up my soul” (nrsv; “soul” referring to all of oneself, both body and spirit). The image, alluding to the worship posture of uplifted hands, offers a beautiful picture of walking with God: we honestly lift up before Him all of ourselves and our struggles, while continually waiting with open, trusting hands to receive all we need from our loving, gracious God (vv. 15–18, 20–21).

    Monica Brands
    Psalms 25:14-22

    14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
    he makes his covenant known to them.
    15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will release my feet from the snare.

    16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
    17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.
    18 Look on my affliction and my distress
    and take away all my sins.
    19 See how numerous are my enemies
    and how fiercely they hate me!

    20 Guard my life and rescue me;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    for I take refuge in you.
    21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
    because my hope, Lord, is in you.

    22 Deliver Israel, O God,
    from all their troubles!

    Footnotes:Psalm 25:21 Septuagint; Hebrew does not have Lord.

    Cross references:Psalm 25:14 : Pr 3:32 Psalm 25:14 : Ge 17:2; Jn 7:17 Psalm 25:15 : S 2Ch 20:12; Ps 123:2; Heb 12:2 Psalm 25:15 : S Job 34:30; S Ps 119:110 Psalm 25:16 : S Ps 6:4 Psalm 25:16 : S Nu 6:25 Psalm 25:16 : Ps 68:6 Psalm 25:17 : 1Ki 1:29; Ps 34:6, 17; 40:12; 54:7; 116:3 Psalm 25:17 : Ps 6:3; 39:2 Psalm 25:18 : S Ps 13:3; Ro 12:12 Psalm 25:18 : S 2Sa 16:12 Psalm 25:18 : Ps 103:3 Psalm 25:19 : Ps 3:1; 9:13 Psalm 25:19 : Ps 35:19; 38:19; 69:4 Psalm 25:20 : Ps 86:2 Psalm 25:20 : Ps 17:13; 22:21; 43:1; 71:2; 116:4; 140:1; 142:6; 144:11 Psalm 25:20 : ver 3 Psalm 25:20 : Ps 2:12 Psalm 25:21 : S Ge 20:5; Pr 10:9 Psalm 25:21 : 1Ki 9:4; Ps 85:10; 111:8; Isa 60:17; Mal 2:6 Psalm 25:21 : ver 3 Psalm 25:22 : Ps 130:8; Lk 24:21

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