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Thread: Our Daily Bread

  1. #1521
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    Saturday, September 15, 2018

    You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:68

    Because I like dark chocolate, I once*Googled “Is dark chocolate good for you?” I got a variety of results—some good, some bad. You can do the same for almost any food product. Is milk good for you? Is coffee good for you? Is rice good for you? There is a dizzying array of answers to these questions, so you have to be aware that the search itself may not be good for you. It may give you a headache!

    But if you’re looking for something that’s one-hundred percent good for you all the time, can I recommend the Word of God? Listen to what it can do for the follower of Jesus who is seeking to build a*relationship with God.

    It can keep you pure (Psalm 119:9, 11).

    It blesses you (Luke 11:28).

    It makes you wise (Matthew 7:24).

    It gives light and understanding (Psalm 119:130).

    It helps you grow spiritually (1 Peter 2:2).

    Our God is good: “The Lord is good to all,” says Psalm 145:9. And in His goodness, He’s provided those who love Him with a guide that helps us see how to enhance our relationship with Him. As we try to decide how to live in a world full of choices, praise God that He’s told us in Scripture what’s good for us. Let’s say with the psalm-writer: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103).

    God, thank You for leaving us Your inspired Word. Help us to read it carefully, interpret it correctly, and apply it enthusiastically in our lives.

    God’s Word is the only sure foundation for life. By Dave Branon | See Other Authors

    INSIGHT:It’s easy to read through the twenty-two sections that comprise Psalm 119 and see them as repetitions of the same theme: love for God’s law (God’s Word). But each eight-verse stanza has its own distinctive flavor. Verses 65–72 carry the subtheme of affliction as the writer shows us a glimpse into his personal life: “Before I was afflicted I went astray” (v. 67). We don’t know precisely what sin the author means by “astray”; neither do we know with certainty the source or nature of the affliction. But we can identify with the situation. We all stray from time to time, and it’s part of the human condition to suffer—often unfairly. The psalmist says, “The arrogant have smeared me with lies” (v. 69). Yet each section always bends back to the larger theme of the whole psalm. Here it occurs in verse 70: “I delight in your law.” The stanza then highlights the value of suffering: “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (v. 71).

    How can I apply God’s Word to every situation I face, even difficult ones?

    Tim Gustafson
    Psalms 119:65-72

    Teth

    65*Do good to your servant
    according to your word, Lord.
    66*Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
    for I trust your commands.
    67*Before I was afflicted I went astray,
    but now I obey your word.
    68*You are good, and what you do is good;
    teach me your decrees.
    69*Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
    I keep your precepts with all my heart.
    70*Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
    but I delight in your law.
    71*It was good for me to be afflicted
    so that I might learn your decrees.
    72*The law from your mouth is more precious to me
    than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

    Cross references:Psalm 119:65 : ver 17; Ps 125:4; Isa 50:2; 59:1; Mic 2:7 Psalm 119:65 : S ver 9 Psalm 119:66 : S Ps 51:6 Psalm 119:67 : S Ps 116:10 Psalm 119:67 : S Ps 95:10; S Jer 8:4 Psalm 119:67 : S ver 17 Psalm 119:68 : Ps 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; 135:3 Psalm 119:68 : S Ex 18:20 Psalm 119:69 : Job 13:4; Ps 109:2 Psalm 119:70 : S Ps 17:10; Isa 29:13; Ac 28:27 Psalm 119:71 : ver 67, 75 Psalm 119:72 : S Job 28:17; S Ps 19:10
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  2. #1522
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    Sunday, September 16, 2018

    When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Matthew 6:6

    I admire people who record prayer requests in journals tattered from daily handling, those who keep track of every prayer and praise and then faithfully update their lists. I’m inspired by those who gather with others to pray and whose kneeling wears out the carpet at their bedsides. For years, I tried to copy their styles, to emulate*a perfect prayer life, and to imitate the eloquence of the so-much-more-articulate-than-me folks. I strived to unravel what I thought was a mystery, as I longed to learn the right way to pray.

    Eventually, I learned that our Lord simply desires prayer that begins and ends with humility (Matthew 6:5). He invites us into an intimate exchange through which He promises to listen (v. 6). He never requires fancy or memorized words or phrases (v. 7). He assures us that prayer is a gift, an opportunity to honor His majesty (vv. 9–10), to display our confidence in His provision (v. 11), and to affirm our security in His forgiveness and guidance (vv. 12–13).

    God assures us He hears and cares about every single spoken and unspoken prayer, as well as the prayers that slip down our cheeks as silent tears. As we place our trust in God and His perfect love for us, we can be sure praying with a humble heart that’s surrendered to and dependent on Him is always the right way to pray.

    Lord, thank You for reminding us You hear every prayer.

    Calling on Jesus as our loving Savior and Lord is the right way to pray. By Xochitl Dixon

    INSIGHT:Today’s Bible reading, taken from our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, gets to the heart of one of the most important issues in Christian living—motives. In Jesus’s teaching, He continually brought the “why” issue to the forefront because, in many ways, what we do is often secondary to why we do what we do. In a world focused on performance, Christ focuses on motive; and this focus drives us to the priority of motive as well.

    Do we do what we do to be seen by people or to please our Lord?

    Bill Crowder
    Matthew 6:1-15

    Prayer

    5*“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6*But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7*And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8*Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

    9*“This, then, is how you should pray:

    “‘Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name,
    10*your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    11*Give us today our daily bread.
    12*And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    13*And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’

    14*For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15*But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

    Footnotes:Matthew 6:13 The Greek for temptation can also mean testing. Matthew 6:13 Or from evil; some late manuscripts one, / for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

    Cross references:Matthew 6:5 : 6:9-13pp — Lk 11:2-4 Matthew 6:5 : Mk 11:25; Lk 18:10-14 Matthew 6:6 : 2Ki 4:33 Matthew 6:7 : Ecc 5:2 Matthew 6:7 : 1Ki 18:26-29 Matthew 6:8 : ver 32 Matthew 6:9 : Jer 3:19; Mal 2:10; 1Pe 1:17 Matthew 6:10 : S Mt 3:2 Matthew 6:10 : S Mt 26:39 Matthew 6:11 : Pr 30:8 Matthew 6:12 : Mt 18:21-35 Matthew 6:13 : Jas 1:13 Matthew 6:13 : S Mt 5:37 Matthew 6:14 : Mt 18:21-35; Mk 11:25, 26; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13 Matthew 6:15 : Mt 18:35
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  3. #1523
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    Monday, September 17, 2018

    Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

    I was paging through my great-grandmother’s Bible when a treasure fell into my lap. On a small scrap of paper, in a young child’s handwriting, were the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:3–4 kjv). Scribbled beside those verses in wobbly cursive was my mother’s signature.

    My great-grandmother had a habit of teaching her grandchildren to write out Scripture verses so they would learn them and take them to heart. But the story behind this verse brought tears to my eyes. My grandfather died when my mother was very young, and her little brother (my uncle) died just weeks later. It was in that tragic season that my great-grandmother pointed my mother to Jesus and the comfort only He can give.

    Paul wrote Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5). Faith isn’t inherited, but it is shared. Timothy’s mother and grandmother shared their faith with him, and he believed.**

    When we encourage those close to us to have hope in Jesus, we offer them a legacy of love. Through a simple note, my mother left evidence of my great-grandmother’s love for her Savior and her family. Oh, to share Him with those who come after us!*

    Thank You for those who shared Your love with me, Father. Please help me to point others to Your salvation today.

    When we share our faith, we share the greatest treasure of all. By James Banks

    INSIGHT:The family language used in 2 Timothy 1:1–5 is hard to miss. In addition to the reference to “God the Father” (v. 2), other family terms are used. Paul refers to Timothy as “my dear son” (v. 2). The word translated “son” can refer to literal or spiritual offspring, the latter being the case here. Paul was a “spiritual father” who had invested in Timothy’s ministerial training and development. The family term in verse 3 is the word “ancestors,” and it refers to those from whom Paul had inherited a legacy of faith. Paul had spiritual roots (see Acts 22:1–3; 23:6; Philippians 3:5–7).

    Timothy’s connection to his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother Lois was not just biological. His “sincere faith” had been nurtured by these godly women. Because of the influence of these family members, Paul could write in 2 Timothy 3:14–15: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

    What kind of spiritual roots are you leaving for those who will follow you?

    Arthur Jackson
    2 Timothy 1:1-5

    1*Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

    2*To Timothy, my dear son:

    Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Thanksgiving

    3*I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4*Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5*I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

    Cross references:2 Timothy 1:1 : S 1Co 1:1 2 Timothy 1:1 : S 2Co 1:1 2 Timothy 1:1 : Eph 3:6; Tit 1:2; 1Ti 6:19 2 Timothy 1:2 : S Ac 16:1 2 Timothy 1:2 : S 1Ti 1:2 2 Timothy 1:2 : S Ro 1:7 2 Timothy 1:3 : S Ro 1:8 2 Timothy 1:3 : S Ac 23:1 2 Timothy 1:3 : S Ro 1:10 2 Timothy 1:4 : Ac 20:37 2 Timothy 1:4 : 2Ti 4:9 2 Timothy 1:5 : 1Ti 1:5 2 Timothy 1:5 : Ac 16:1; 2Ti 3:15
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Isaiah 49:16

    In Charles Spurgeon’s many years at his London church during the 1800s, he loved to preach on the riches of Isaiah 49:16, which says that God engraves us on the palms of His hands. He said, “Such a text as this is to be preached hundreds of times!” This thought is so precious that we can run over it in our minds again and again.

    Spurgeon makes the wonderful connection between this promise of the Lord to His people, the Israelites, and God’s Son, Jesus, on the cross as He died for us. Spurgeon asked, “What are these wounds in Your hands? . . . The engraver’s tool was the nail, backed by the hammer. He must be fastened to the Cross, that His people might be truly engraved on the palms of His hands.” As the Lord promised to engrave His people on His palms, so Jesus stretched out His arms on the cross, receiving the nails in His hands*so we could be free of our sins.

    If and when we’re tempted to think that God has forgotten us, we only need to look at our palms and remember God’s promise. He has put indelible marks on His hands for us; He loves us that much.

    Lord God, how vast is Your love for me! You keep me ever before You. I know You’ll never leave me, and I’m grateful.

    The Lord engraves us on the palms of His hands. By Amy Boucher Pye

    INSIGHT:Our God remembers us and keeps His promises. A study of the word remember bears this out. Throughout the Old Testament we read passages about how God “remembered” specific people (Genesis 8:1; 19:29; 30:22). Still other passages recall what He has done for us all. “The*Lord*has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness*to the nations.*He has remembered*his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth*have seen*the salvation of our God” (Psalm 98:2–3). God specifically worked in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses to fulfill His promises, for He remembers His covenant (see Psalm 105.)

    Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promises. We see this in the words of Zechariah’s song (Luke 1:67–73): “Praise to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.” He “remember[ed] his holy covenant” (vv. 68, 72).

    God hasn’t forgotten us. He is with us through the Spirit (John 14:26). And one day He will return to establish a new heaven and earth where He will dwell with us forever (Revelation 21:1–3).

    In what ways has God shown you He hasn’t forgotten you?

    Alyson Kieda
    Isaiah 49:14-18

    14*But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
    the Lord has forgotten me.”

    15*“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
    Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
    16*See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are ever before me.
    17*Your children hasten back,
    and those who laid you waste depart from you.
    18*Lift up your eyes and look around;
    all your children gather and come to you.
    As surely as I live,” declares the Lord,
    “you will wear them all as ornaments;
    you will put them on, like a bride.

    Cross references:Isaiah 49:14 : Isa 40:9 Isaiah 49:14 : S Ps 9:10; S 71:11; S Isa 27:8 Isaiah 49:15 : S 1Ki 3:26; Isa 66:13 Isaiah 49:15 : S Isa 44:21 Isaiah 49:16 : S Ge 38:18; S Ex 28:9 Isaiah 49:16 : Ps 48:12-13; Isa 62:6 Isaiah 49:17 : S Isa 5:6; 10:6; 37:18 Isaiah 49:18 : S Isa 11:12; 14:1; 43:5; 51:3; 54:7 Isaiah 49:18 : S Nu 14:21; Isa 45:23; 54:9; 62:8; Ro 14:11* Isaiah 49:18 : Isa 52:1; 61:10; Jer 2:32
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

    Yesterday I purchased an airline ticket to send my firstborn child to college. I’m surprised the keyboard on my computer still functions, given the waterworks my eyes unleashed on it during the flight selection process. I have so enjoyed my eighteen years of daily life with her that I am saddened by the prospect of her departure. Yet I wouldn’t rob her of the opportunity that lies ahead simply because I’ll miss her. At this juncture in her life, it is fitting for her to embark on a new journey to discover adulthood and explore another part of the country.

    As this season of my parenting draws to a close, another one begins. It will undoubtedly bring both new challenges and new delights. Solomon, Israel’s third king, wrote that God appoints “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We humans have little control over the events of our lives—whether we view those events as favorable or not. But God, in His mighty power, makes “everything beautiful in its time” (v. 11).

    In seasons of heartache, we can trust God to bring something good from them in time. Our comforts and joys may come and go, but God’s works “will endure forever” (v. 14). We may not relish every season—some are quite painful—yet He can bring beauty to them all.*

    Father, You have permitted this season in my life. Help me to be content in the midst of it, and to recognize Your power and might are at work.

    God brings beauty from all seasons. By Kirsten Holmberg

    INSIGHT:For further study on the book of Ecclesiastes, check out this free online course at christianuniversity.org/OT224.
    Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

    A Time for Everything

    3*There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    2*a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    3*a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    4*a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    5*a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    6*a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    7*a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    8*a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

    9*What do workers gain from their toil? 10*I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11*He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12*I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13*That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14*I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

    Footnotes:Ecclesiastes 3:11 Or also placed ignorance in the human heart, so that

    Cross references:Ecclesiastes 3:1 : ver 11, 17; Ecc 8:6 Ecclesiastes 3:2 : Isa 28:24 Ecclesiastes 3:3 : S Dt 5:17 Ecclesiastes 3:7 : S Est 4:14 Ecclesiastes 3:9 : S Ecc 1:3 Ecclesiastes 3:10 : S Ecc 1:13 Ecclesiastes 3:11 : S ver 1 Ecclesiastes 3:11 : S Job 11:7 Ecclesiastes 3:11 : S Job 28:23; Ro 11:33 Ecclesiastes 3:13 : Ecc 2:3 Ecclesiastes 3:13 : Ps 34:12 Ecclesiastes 3:13 : S Dt 12:7, 18; S Ecc 2:24 Ecclesiastes 3:14 : S Job 23:15; Ecc 5:7; 7:18; 8:12-13
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    Thursday, September 20, 2018

    And hope does not put us to shame, because Gods love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

    Elizabeth struggled for a long time with drug addiction, and when she recovered wanted to help others in return. So she started writing notes and anonymously placing them throughout her city. Elizabeth tucks these notes under car windshield wipers and tacks them on poles in parks. She used to look for signs of hope; now she leaves them for others to find. One of her notes concluded with these words: “Much love. Hope sent.”

    Hope with love—that’s what Jesus gives. He brings us His love with each new day and strengthens us with that hope. His love is not rationed out to us drop by drop but flows out of His heart freely and is poured lavishly into ours: “We know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:5 nlt). He desires to use the hard times to develop perseverance and character and bring us a satisfying, hope-filled life (vv. 3–4). And even when we’re far from Him, He still loves us (vv. 6–8).

    Are you looking for signs of hope? The Lord gives hope with love through inviting us to grow in a relationship with Him. Our hope for a fulfilling life is anchored in His unfailing love.*

    I’m grateful, God, for the love You lavishly pour on me. Please bring me contentment in You and confidence in what You are doing in me.

    Read Hope: Choosing Faith Instead of Fear at discoveryseries.org/q0733.

    Hope is the anchor of the soul.

    By Anne Cetas

    INSIGHT:Sometimes the truth of the gospel—that Jesus offers a new, guilt-free life for all who believe (Romans 8:1)—might feel a bit too good to be true. If all we’ve ever known is emptiness, hatred, and despair, how is it even possible to learn to live with love and hope?

    It’s possible because it doesn’t depend on us. God’s love reaches deeper than our brokenness, loving us completely even when we’re far from Him (5:8). As we surrender to Him, we can experience His love and hope as the Spirit transforms every aspect of our life (vv. 3–5).

    Monica Brands
    Romans 5:1-11

    Peace and Hope

    5*Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2*through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3*Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4*perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5*And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

    6*You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7*Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8*But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    9*Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10*For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11*Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

    Footnotes:Romans 5:1 Many manuscripts let us Romans 5:2 Or let us Romans 5:3 Or let us

    Cross references:Romans 5:1 : S Ro 4:25 Romans 5:1 : S Ro 3:28 Romans 5:1 : S Lk 2:14 Romans 5:1 : ver 10 Romans 5:2 : Eph 2:18; 3:12 Romans 5:2 : 1Co 15:1 Romans 5:2 : S Heb 3:6 Romans 5:3 : S Mt 5:12 Romans 5:3 : S Heb 10:36 Romans 5:5 : Php 1:20; S Heb 3:6; 1Jn 3:2, 3 Romans 5:5 : ver 8; Jn 3:16; Ro 8:39 Romans 5:5 : Ac 2:33; 10:45; Tit 3:5, 6 Romans 5:6 : Mk 1:15; Gal 4:4; Eph 1:10 Romans 5:6 : ver 8, 10 Romans 5:6 : Ro 4:25 Romans 5:8 : Jn 3:16; 15:13; 1Pe 3:18; 1Jn 3:16; 4:10 Romans 5:9 : S Ro 4:25 Romans 5:9 : S Ro 3:25 Romans 5:9 : S Ro 1:18 Romans 5:10 : Ro 11:28; Col 1:21 Romans 5:10 : ver 11; Ro 11:15; 2Co 5:18, 19; Col 1:20, 22 Romans 5:10 : Ro 8:34; Heb 7:25 Romans 5:11 : S ver 10
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    Saturday, September 22, 2018

    But Barnabas took [Saul]and brought him to the apostles. Acts 9:27

    The 2010 movie*The King’s Speech*tells the story of England’s King George VI, who unexpectedly became monarch when his brother abandoned the throne. With the country on the brink of World War II, government officials wanted a well-spoken leader because of the increasingly influential role of radio. King George VI, however, struggled with a stuttering problem.

    I was especially drawn to the film’s portrayal of George’s wife, Elizabeth. Throughout his struggle to overcome his speech difficulty, she was his constant source of encouragement. Her steadfast devotion provided the support he needed to overcome his challenge*and rule well during the war.

    The Bible highlights the stories of encouragers who gave powerful assistance during challenging circumstances. Moses had Aaron and Hur’s support during Israel’s battles (Exodus 17:8–16). Elizabeth encouraged her pregnant relative Mary (Luke 1:42–45).

    After his conversion, Paul needed the support of Barnabas, whose name literally means “son of encouragement.” When the disciples were fearful of Paul, Barnabas, at the risk of his own reputation, vouched for him (Acts 9:27). His endorsement was essential to Paul being welcomed by the Christian community. Barnabas later served as Paul’s traveling and preaching companion (Acts 14). Despite the dangers, they worked together to proclaim the gospel.

    Believers in Jesus*are still called to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). May we be eager to offer encouragement to help support others, especially as they face difficult circumstances.

    The encouragement of a friend can make all the difference. By Lisa Samra

    INSIGHT:Barnabas was an encourager. In the Scriptures, he is singled out as a believer who encouraged others by his generosity (Acts 4:36–37). He encouraged Paul, as we see in today’s text, and he also played a critical role in encouraging John Mark, a young man who was deemed an unreliable failure by Paul because he had abandoned the first missionary journey (13:13). Barnabas wanted to take John Mark on the second missionary trip, but Paul refused, causing a severe break in their partnership (15:36–39). Barnabas took a risk and gave John Mark a second chance, restoring him to effective ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). Without Barnabas, there might not have been the great theologian Paul, who wrote thirteen books of the New Testament, or John Mark, who wrote the gospel of Mark.

    Who has been a “Barnabas” to you by encouraging you, believing in you, and restoring you to wholeness and usefulness? Will you be a Barnabas to someone who needs a fresh start?

    K. T. Sim
    Acts 9:26-31

    26*When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27*But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28*So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29*He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30*When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

    31*Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

    Footnotes:Acts 9:29 That is, Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture

    Cross references:Acts 9:26 : Ac 22:17; 26:20; Gal 1:17, 18 Acts 9:27 : S Ac 4:36 Acts 9:27 : ver 3-6 Acts 9:27 : ver 20, 22 Acts 9:29 : Ac 6:1 Acts 9:29 : 2Co 11:26 Acts 9:30 : S Ac 1:16 Acts 9:30 : S Ac 8:40 Acts 9:30 : S ver 11 Acts 9:31 : Ac 8:1 Acts 9:31 : S Ac 2:41
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    Sunday, September 23, 2018

    Whoever turns a sinner from the error of theirway will save themfrom death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5:20

    “You need to listen to me, I’m your brother!” The plea came from a concerned older brother in my neighborhood and was directed to a younger sibling who was moving farther away from him than the older child was comfortable with. Clearly the older child was better able to judge what was best in the situation.

    How many of us have resisted the wise counsel of a brother or sister? If you’ve had to face the consequences of resisting the good advice of someone more mature, you’re not alone.

    One of the greatest resources we can have as believers in Jesus is a family—those who are spiritually related because of a common faith in Him. This family includes mature men and women who love God and each other. Like the little brother in my neighborhood, we sometimes need a word of caution or correction to get us back on track. This is particularly true when we offend someone or someone offends us. Doing what’s right can be difficult. Yet Jesus’s words in Matthew 18:15–20 show us what to do when offenses happen within our spiritual family.

    Thankfully, our gracious heavenly Father places in our lives people who are prepared to help us honor Him and others. And when we listen, things go better in the family (v. 15).*

    Father, we praise You for placing us in Your spiritual family. Help us to learn and grow through the wise words and godly behavior of mature believers.

    Wisdom grows when we listen to*the words of mature believers. By Arthur Jackson

    INSIGHT:The underlying theme of today’s text emphasizes that the church is not just a social organization. Instead it is a spiritual family. The very idea of calling someone “brother” in addressing possible offenses shows how real the idea of the family is. A teachable spirit evidenced by listening to those who are more mature is the starting point for growth in community. The book of Proverbs admonishes us: “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise” (Proverbs 19:20). Listening to more experienced believers and having a teachable attitude can do wonders in maintaining harmony within the body of Christ.

    Is there someone you need to listen to so that you can grow spiritually?

    Dennis Fisher
    Matthew 18:15-20

    Dealing With Sin in the Church

    15*“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16*But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17*If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

    18*“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

    19*“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20*For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

    Footnotes:Matthew 18:15 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a fellow disciple, whether man or woman; also in verses 21 and 35. Matthew 18:15 Some manuscripts sins against you Matthew 18:16 Deut. 19:15 Matthew 18:18 Or will have been Matthew 18:18 Or will have been

    Cross references:Matthew 18:15 : Lev 19:17; Lk 17:3; Gal 6:1; Jas 5:19, 20 Matthew 18:16 : Nu 35:30; Dt 17:6; 19:15; Jn 8:17; 2Co 13:1; 1Ti 5:19; Heb 10:28 Matthew 18:17 : 1Co 6:1-6 Matthew 18:17 : S Ro 16:17 Matthew 18:18 : Mt 16:19; Jn 20:23 Matthew 18:19 : S Mt 7:7 Matthew 18:20 : S Mt 28:20
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    Monday, September 24, 2018

    Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it. Isaiah 30:21

    “We’re going this way,” I said as I touched my son’s shoulder and redirected him through the crowd to follow his mom and sisters in front of us. I’d done this more often as the day wore on at the amusement park our family was visiting. He was getting tired*and more easily distracted. Why can’t he just follow them? I wondered.

    Then it hit me: How often do I do exactly the same thing? How often do I veer from obediently walking with God, enchanted by the temptations to pursue what I want instead of seeking His ways?

    Think of Isaiah’s words from God for Israel: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’ ” (Isaiah 30:21). Earlier in that chapter, God had rebuked His people for their rebelliousness. But if they would trust His strength instead of their own ways (v. 15), He*promised to show His graciousness and compassion (v. 18).

    One expression of God’s graciousness is His promise to guide us by His Spirit. That happens as we talk to Him about our desires and ask in prayer what He has for us. I’m thankful God patiently directs us, day-by-day, step-by-step, as we trust Him and listen for His voice.*

    Father, You’ve promised to guide us through the ups and downs and decisions we face in life. Help us to trust and follow You, and to actively listen for Your guiding voice.

    God patiently directs us as we trust Him and listen for His voice. By Adam Holz

    INSIGHT:In today’s passage, a resurgent militant Assyria threatened to conquer all of Israel. But instead of trusting God to deliver them, Judah turned to Egypt for help. God had explicitly prohibited Israelite kings from trusting in anything other than God for deliverance (Deuteronomy 17:16). Isaiah warned that it’s futile to trust Egypt instead of the Lord (Isaiah 30:1–19; 31:1). The psalmist also warned of the futility of putting our trust in something other than God: “No king is saved by the size of his army . . . . A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save” (Psalm 33:16–17).

    When have you placed your trust in something other than God?

    K. T. Sim
    Isaiah 30:15-21

    15*This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

    “In repentance and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.
    16*You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
    Therefore you will flee!
    You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
    Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
    17*A thousand will flee
    at the threat of one;
    at the threat of five
    you will all flee away,
    till you are left
    like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
    like a banner on a hill.”

    18*Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
    For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!

    19*People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20*Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21*Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

    Cross references:Isaiah 30:15 : Jer 7:20; Eze 3:11 Isaiah 30:15 : S ver 12 Isaiah 30:15 : S Ex 14:14; S Jos 1:13 Isaiah 30:15 : S 2Ch 20:12; Isa 32:17 Isaiah 30:15 : Isa 8:6; 42:24; 57:17 Isaiah 30:16 : Jer 46:6 Isaiah 30:16 : S Dt 17:16; 1Ki 10:28-29; S Ps 20:7; Isa 31:1, 3; 36:8 Isaiah 30:17 : S Lev 26:8 Isaiah 30:17 : Lev 26:36; Dt 28:25; S 2Ki 7:7 Isaiah 30:17 : S Isa 1:8 Isaiah 30:17 : S Ps 20:5 Isaiah 30:18 : S Ge 43:31; Isa 42:14; 2Pe 3:9, 15 Isaiah 30:18 : Ps 78:38; Isa 48:9; Jnh 3:10 Isaiah 30:18 : S Ps 11:7; S Isa 5:16 Isaiah 30:18 : S Ps 27:14; Isa 25:9; 33:2; 40:31; 64:4; La 3:25; Da 12:12 Isaiah 30:19 : S Isa 25:8; 60:20; 61:3 Isaiah 30:19 : S Job 24:12 Isaiah 30:19 : Job 22:27; Ps 50:15; S 86:7; Isa 41:17; 58:9; 65:24; Zec 13:9; Mt 7:7-11 Isaiah 30:20 : 1Ki 22:27 Isaiah 30:20 : S Isa 28:9 Isaiah 30:20 : Ps 74:9; Am 8:11 Isaiah 30:21 : S Isa 29:24 Isaiah 30:21 : S ver 11; S Job 33:11
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    Tuesday, September 25, 2018

    She has done a beautiful thing to me. Mark 14:6

    Just before her death, artist and missionary Lilias Trotter looked out a*window and saw a vision of a heavenly chariot. According to her biographer, a friend asked, “Are you seeing many beautiful things?” She answered, “Yes, many, many beautiful things.”

    Trotter’s final words reflect God’s work in her life. Not only in death, but throughout her life, He*revealed much beauty to her and through her. Although a talented artist, she chose to serve Jesus as a missionary in Algeria. John Ruskin, a famous painter who tutored her, is said to have commented, “What a waste,” when she chose the mission field over a career in art.

    Similarly, in the New Testament, when a woman came to Simon the Leper’s house with an alabaster jar and poured perfume on Jesus’s head, those present*saw it as a waste. This expensive perfume was worth a year’s common wages, so some of the people present thought it could have been used to help the poor. However, commending this woman’s deep devotion to Him, Jesus said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6).

    Every day we can choose to let Christ’s life shine in our lives and display His beauty to the world. To some, it may seem a waste, but let us have willing hearts to serve Him. May Jesus say we have done many beautiful things for Him.

    Dear Father, help me express my love to You in beautiful ways.

    May our lives display the beauty of God. By Keila Ochoa

    INSIGHT:How can we, like the woman in Mark 14, do beautiful things for Christ? We can offer the beauty of “a gentle and quiet spirit” which “is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3–4). Gentleness is one of the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians*5:22–23, a list of characteristics that display Christ at work in our lives. We are to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). When we are willing to be used by Him, the Spirit produces fruit and can guide us to do beautiful things.

    For more on the beauty of a Spirit-filled life, check out the online course “Foundations of Spiritual Formation I: The Work of the Spirit” at christianuniversity.org/SF507.

    Alyson Kieda
    Mark 14:1-9

    Jesus Anointed at Bethany

    14*Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2*“But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

    3*While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

    4*Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5*It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

    6*“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7*The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8*She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9*Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

    Footnotes:Mark 14:5 Greek than three hundred denarii Mark 14:7 See Deut. 15:11.

    Cross references:Mark 14:1 : 14:1-11pp — Mt 26:2-16 Mark 14:1 : 14:1, 2, 10, 11pp — Lk 22:1-6 Mark 14:1 : 14:3-8Ref — Jn 12:1-8 Mark 14:1 : S Jn 11:55 Mark 14:1 : S Mt 12:14 Mark 14:3 : S Mt 21:17 Mark 14:3 : Lk 7:37-39 Mark 14:7 : Dt 15:11 Mark 14:8 : Jn 19:40 Mark 14:9 : S Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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