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The One Who Saves--
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!”
John 12:13
READ JOHN 12:12–18

He was called “one of the bravest persons alive,” but he wasn’t what others expected. Desmond was a soldier who declined to carry a gun. As a medic, he single-handedly rescued seventy-five injured soldiers in one battle, including some who once called him a coward and ridiculed him for his faith. Running into heavy gunfire, Desmond prayed continually, “Lord, please help me get one more.” He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

Scripture tells us that Jesus was greatly misunderstood. On a day foretold by the prophet Zechariah (9:9), Jesus entered Jerusalem and the crowd waved branches, shouting, “Hosanna!” (John 12:13). Quoting Psalm 118:26, they cried: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (John 12:13). But the very next verse in that psalm refers to bringing a sacrifice “with boughs in hand” (Psalm 118:27). While the crowd in John 12 anticipated an earthly king to save them from Rome, Jesus was much more. He was King of Kings and our sacrifice—God in the flesh, willingly embracing the cross to save us from our sins—a purpose prophesied centuries earlier.

“At first his disciples did not understand all this,” John writes. Only later “did they realize that these things had been written about him” (John 12:16). Illumined by His Word, God’s eternal purposes became clear. See the link below to view Grant Stevenson’s “In Pursuit of Jesus” video to learn more about the One who saves. By James Banks

REFLECT & PRAY:
Risen Savior, I praise You for Your sacrifice for us at the cross. Help me to live serving and praising You, my eternal King!

How has Jesus saved you? How can you express your grateful praise to Him today?
Jesus, the Savior

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
The word hosanna (John 12:13) appears in the New Testament only in relation to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem during the Passover festival. According to the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, “This term was originally a Hebrew invocation addressed to God [meaning ‘Save now’]. . . . Later it apparently came to be used as a joyous acclamation, an ascription of praise to God.” It could also mean a shout of welcome, which seems to be how it’s used by the crowds welcoming Jesus. But it isn’t out of the question that all three meanings are found in this passage. John mentions that those who saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead were present at His triumphal entry and were spreading the word about Him. Those who came to see the One who could rescue from death may have been pleading for their own rescue from Rome. Others may have been simply shouting Hosanna! as a praise for the things Jesus had done.

Blessings on your day, stay safe.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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The Picture of Despair-
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
Psalm 107:6
READ PSALM 107:4–9

During the Great Depression in the United States, photographer Dorothea Lange snapped a photo of Florence Owens Thompson and her children. This well-known photograph, Migrant Mother, is the picture of a mother’s despair in the aftermath of the failed pea harvest. Lange took it in Nipomo, California, while working for the Farm Security Administration, hoping to make them aware of the needs of the desperate seasonal farm laborers.

The book of Lamentations presents another snapshot of despair—that of Judah in the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem. Before the army of Nebuchadnezzar swept in to destroy the city, the people had suffered from starvation thanks to a siege (2 Kings 24:10-11). Though their turmoil was the result of years of disobedience to God, the writer of Lamentations cried out to God on behalf of his people (Lamentations 2:11-12).

While the author of Psalm 107 also describes a desperate time in Israel’s history (during Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness, vv. 4-5), the focus shifts to an action step to be taken in hard times: “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble” (v. 6). And what a wonderful result: “he delivered them from their distress.”
In despair? Don’t stay silent. Cry out to God. He hears and waits to restore your hope. Though He doesn’t always take us out of hard situations, He promises to be with us always.
By Linda Washington

REFLECT & PRAY
Heavenly Father, I’m grateful for Your comforting presence.
When have you experienced God’s help in a stressful time? How will you encourage someone this week who’s facing a crisis?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
This psalm by an unknown author is considered a hymn of national thanksgiving believed to be sung at the laying of the foundation of the second temple. Bible commentator Derek Kidner writes regarding Psalm 107: “The center-piece of this striking psalm is the set of four word-pictures of human predicaments and divine interventions. In themselves the adventures are not characteristically Israelite situations; yet the fact that this is a piece to celebrate the return of exiles raises the possibility that these episodes are four different ways of depicting the plight from which the nation had been delivered.” Today’s passage describes how Israel was like someone lost in the desert, whom God rescued and led back home. These verses also describe our lostness before God rescued us. Alyson Kieda

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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3/14/20 7:31 A

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Every Opportunity
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
Colossians 4:5
READ COLOSSIANS 4

Ever caught a dragon? I hadn’t until my son convinced me to download a game on my phone. Producing a digital map mirroring the real world, the game allows you to catch colorful creatures near you.

Unlike most mobile games, this one requires movement. Anywhere you go is part of the game’s playing field. The result? I’m doing a lot more walking! Anytime my son and I play, we strive to maximize every opportunity to nab the critters that pop up around us.

It’s easy to focus on, even obsess over, a game that’s crafted to captivate users. But as I played the game, I was convicted with this question: Am I this intentional about maximizing the spiritual opportunities around me?

Paul knew the need to be alert to God’s work around us. In Colossians 4, he asked for prayer for an opportunity to share the gospel (v. 3). Then he challenged, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (v. 5). Paul didn’t want the Colossians to miss any chance of influencing others toward Christ. But doing so would require truly seeing them and their needs, then engaging in ways “full of grace” (v. 6).

In our world, far more things vie for our time and attention than a game’s imaginary dragons. But God invites us to navigate a real-world adventure, every day seeking opportunities to point to Him. By Adam R. Holz

REFLECT & PRAY: Jesus, thank You that You’re constantly at work in the people around me. Help me to make the most of every opportunity I have to demonstrate Your love and grace.

When did God use someone in an unexpected way to bring you into deeper relationship with Him? When has He used you to impact someone’s life during an ordinary day?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT: While under house arrest in Rome, Paul composed what are commonly referred to as his Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Although grouped together because all were written from Paul’s place of confinement, these four letters each have their own distinct audience and purpose. One of the Prison Letters (Philippians) was directed to Greece while the other three epistles were sent to Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Ephesians and Colossians present the theme of the body of Christ and Christ the head of the church (Christ’s headship)—though from different perspectives. Ephesians focuses on His headship, while Colossians looks more closely at the church. Philippians, written to the members of Paul’s first church plant on European soil, describes how believers can experience joy even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Philemon is the only personal letter of the group, encouraging his dear friend to deal kindly with a recently converted runaway slave, Onesimus. Bill Crowder

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"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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3/1/20 8:34 A

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A Goal and a Purpose- My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me. Acts 20:24
READ ACTS 20:17–24

In 2018, endurance athlete Colin O’Brady took a walk that had never been taken before. Pulling a supply sled behind him, O’Brady trekked across Antarctica entirely alone—a total of 932 miles in 54 days. It was a momentous journey of dedication and courage.

Commenting on his time alone with the ice, the cold, and the daunting distance, O’Brady said, “I was locked in a deep flow state [fully immersed in the endeavor] the entire time, equally focused on the end goal, while allowing my mind to recount the profound lessons of this journey.”

For those of us who have put our faith in Jesus, that statement might strike a familiar chord. It sounds a lot like our calling as believers: focused on the goal of walking through life in a way that glorifies (honors) God and reveals Him to others. In Acts 20:24, Paul, no stranger to dangerous journeys, said, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

As we walk on in our relationship with Jesus, may we recognize what we know about the purpose for our journey and press on to the day we’ll see our Savior face to face.
By Dave Branon

REFLECT & PRAY : Dear heavenly Father, as we walk through life, help us to honor You in all we do. And may we encourage others to journey with You.

How does your relationship with Jesus affect your walk in life? What can you do today to reveal to others your love for Him?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
Ephesus was the Roman capital of western Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and home of the temple to the goddess Artemis—a temple that’s listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Artemis was considered the fertility goddess and was honored in an annual festival called the Artemisia, celebrated in the month of the Artemision (March-April). The festival involved athletic competitions and theatrical events and was also a popular time for men and women to choose their marriage partners. As a result, this event attracted a large crowd of visitors. Paul’s gospel ministry saw people abandoning the worship of Artemis to follow Jesus—resulting in the riot described in Acts 19:23-41. Bill Crowder

Blessings on your day!

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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2/27/20 6:55 A

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The Miracle of White Snow--
Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.Isaiah 1:18
READ ISAIAH 1:15–20

In the seventeenth century, Sir Isaac Newton used a prism to study how light helps us see different colors. He found that when light passes through an object, the object appears to possess a specific color. While a single ice crystal looks translucent, snow is made up of many ice crystals smashed together. When light passes through all of the crystals, snow appears to be white.

The Bible mentions something else that has a certain color—sin. Through the prophet Isaiah, God confronted the sins of the people of Judah and described their sin as “like scarlet” and as “red as crimson.” But God promised they would “be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). How? Judah needed to turn away from wrongdoing and seek God’s forgiveness.

Thanks to Jesus, we have permanent access to God’s forgiveness. Jesus called Himself “the light of the world” and said whoever follows Him “will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). When we confess our sins, God forgives us and we’re seen through the light of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This means that God sees us as He sees Jesus—blameless.

We don’t have to wallow in the guilt and shame of what we’ve done wrong. Instead, we can hold on to the truth of God’s forgiveness, which makes us “white as snow.”
By Linda Washington

REFLECT & PRAY : Heavenly Father, thank You for the forgiveness You freely offer.
What does it mean to be completely forgiven? What helps you remember that God has forgiven you?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
The imagery in Isaiah 1:15-20 stands as a testimony to the universal accessibility of the Bible’s wisdom. Isaiah uses the dual analogies of snow and wool to convey the idea of flawless and complete cleanliness of heart (1:18). Fresh fallen snow transforms a bleak winter landscape with its blanket of white, but readers who have never been to a cold climate can’t fully grasp that experience. However, such people would likely be familiar with the brilliant whiteness of freshly shorn sheep’s wool. In this way Isaiah clearly communicated to everyone in the world that our sins, though as red as the blood on the hands of a killer (v. 15), can be washed away. Although Isaiah prophesied to Judah specifically, the deep soul-cleansing described here applies to all and requires the blood of Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb. Tim Gustafson

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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2/15/20 6:29 A

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Going, Going, Gone!

Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone. Proverbs 23:5
READ PROVERBS 23:1–5

The mischievous artist Banksy pulled off another practical joke. His painting Girl with Balloon sold for one million pounds at Sotheby’s auction house in London. Moments after the auctioneer yelled “Sold,” an alarm sounded and the painting slipped halfway through a shredder mounted inside the bottom of the frame. Banksy tweeted a picture of bidders gasping at his ruined masterpiece, with the caption, “Going, going, gone.”

Banksy relished pulling one over on the wealthy, but he need not have bothered. Wealth itself has plenty of pranks up its sleeve. God says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich . . . . Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:4-5).

Few things are less secure than money. We work hard to earn it, yet there are many ways to lose it. Investments go sour, inflation erodes, bills come, thieves steal, and fire and flood destroy. Even if we manage to keep our money, the time we have to spend it continually flies. Blink, and your life is going, going, gone.

What to do? God tells us a few verses later: “always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (vv. 17-18). Invest your life in Jesus; He alone will keep you forever. By Mike Wittmer

REFLECT & PRAY:
God, help me to give my insecurities to You and to trust in Your goodness and faithfulness.

Where does your life feel insecure? How might that lead you to Jesus.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
Proverbs 22:17-24:22 is marked out as a separate section with the prologue, “Thirty Sayings of the Wise.” Some scholars have argued that Solomon “borrowed” some of these proverbs from an ancient Egyptian wisdom work “The Instruction of Amenemope,” which has thirty chapters. Regardless of its source, we believe that these “Thirty Sayings” are “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The seventh saying (Proverbs 23:1-3) paints the picture of being invited to dinner by a powerful host, and warns of being enamored by the appearance of social prestige. Instead, we’re to be vigilant and restrained at a time when it’s easy to indulge. The eighth saying (vv. 4-5) warns of the danger of greed, of being consumed by money and materialism, of trusting in riches. Since wealth is fleeting (27:24), it’s foolish to trust in it (Ecclesiastes 5:13-15; Matthew 6:19; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; James 5:1-6). K. T. Sim

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8) echoes the description of God revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 34:6-7). God’s love (Hebrew hesed) is often paired in the psalms with the word faithfulness (see Psalm 100:5), but Psalm 103 connects God’s love with His compassion (vv. 8, 13). The psalmist insists that God’s anger isn’t a vengeful, vindictive one, but is related to His longing for human beings to find forgiveness, healing, joy, and satisfaction in Him (vv. 3-5). Monica La Rose

Blessings on your day!

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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2/5/20 7:17 A

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Life to the Full--
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10
READ JOHN 10:7–15

The year was 1918, near the end of World War I, and photographer Eric Enstrom was putting together a portfolio of his work. He wanted to include one that communicated a sense of fullness in a time that felt quite empty to so many people. In his now much-loved photo, a bearded old man sits at a table with his head bowed and his hands clasped in prayer. On the surface before him there is only a book, spectacles, a bowl of gruel, a loaf of bread, and a knife. Nothing more, but also nothing less.

Some might say the photograph reveals scarcity. But Enstrom’s point was quite the opposite: Here is a full life, one lived in gratitude, one you and I can experience as well regardless of our circumstances. Jesus announces the good news in John 10: “life . . . to the full” (v. 10). We do a grave disservice to such good news when we equate full with many things. The fullness Jesus speaks of isn’t measured in worldly categories like riches or real estate, but rather a heart, mind, soul, and strength brimming in gratitude that the Good Shepherd gave “his life for the sheep” (v. 11), and cares for us and our daily needs. This is a full life—enjoying relationship with God—that’s possible for every one of us. By John Blase

REFLECT & PRAY :
Good Shepherd, thank You for laying down Your life for me, one of the sheep. And thank You for Your promise to provide nothing less than the daily bread I need, both literally and figuratively.

Would you say that right now you’re living “life to the full”? Why or why not? Have you had a tendency to equate full with many things?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
The seven “I am” statements recorded in the gospel of John are Christ’s own descriptions of Himself. They’re metaphors He uses to draw out imagery that describes the implications of His identity. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life” (6:35); “the light of the world” (8:12); “the gate” (10:9); “the good shepherd” (10:11); “the resurrection and the life” (11:25-26); “the way and the truth and the life” (14:6); and “the vine” (15:5).

By describing Himself as the gate (10:7), He declares that the sheep will only find safety and pasture when they enter through Him. Then, in related imagery, Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd (v. 11). This is imagery of trust and intimacy. Jesus knows His sheep in a deep and personal way and lays down His life for them in the face of threat. J.R. Hudberg

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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No Line to Love-- I have made you and I will carry you. Isaiah 46:4
READ ISAIAH 46:3–10

Sometimes when my Labrador retriever wants attention, he’ll take something of mine and parade it in front of me. One morning as I was writing at the desk with my back turned, Max snatched my wallet and ran off. But realizing I hadn’t seen him do it, he returned and nudged me with his nose—wallet in mouth, eyes dancing, tail wagging, taunting me to play.

Max’s antics made me laugh, but they also reminded me of my limitations when it comes to being attentive to others. So often I’ve intended to spend time with family or friends, but other things occupy my time and awareness; and before I know it the day slips away and love is left undone.
How comforting to know that our heavenly Father is so great that He’s able to attend to each of us in the most intimate ways—even sustaining every breath in our lungs for as long as we live. He promises His people, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:4).

God always has time for us. He understands every detail of our circumstances—no matter how complex or difficult—and is there whenever we call on Him in prayer. We never have to wait in line for our Savior’s unlimited love. By James Banks

REFLECT & PRAY : You always have time for me, Jesus. Please help me to live every moment for You!

In what ways does God take care of your daily needs? How can you share His love with others?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
In Isaiah 46, God contrasts Himself to idols (“burdensome” gods, v. 1) made by man. They not only are incapable of rescuing their worshipers but they themselves have to be carried to safety (vv. 1-2, 6-7). These gods included Bel (a variant of Baal), the principal god of the Babylonians, and his son Nebo. In contrast, God created us, carries us, and sustains us (v. 4). He alone is the one true God: “I am God, and there is no other” (v. 9). The Bible repeatedly points to this truth (Deuteronomy 4:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 44:6). Alyson Kieda


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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Perfectly Placed--
Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Job 38:4
READ JOB 38:4–11

Scientists know our planet is precisely the right distance from the sun to benefit from its heat. A little closer and all the water would evaporate, as on Venus. Only a bit farther and everything would freeze like it does on Mars. Earth is also just the right size to generate the right amount of gravity. Less would make everything weightlessly sterile like our moon, while more gravity would trap poisonous gases that suffocate life as on Jupiter.

The intricate physical, chemical, and biological interactions that comprise our world bear the imprint of a sophisticated Designer. We catch a glimpse of this complex craftsmanship when God speaks to Job about things beyond our understanding. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” God asks. “Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone?” (Job 38:4-6).

This glimpse of creation’s magnitude causes us to wonder at Earth’s mighty oceans bowing before the One who “shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, . . . [who said] ‘This far you may come and no farther’ ” (vv. 8-11). In wonder may we sing with the morning stars and shout for joy with the angels (v. 7), for this elaborate world was made for us that we might know and trust God. By Remi Oyedele

REFLECT & PRAY: Thank You, Creator God, for this elaborate world You designed for us.

How does God’s amazing creation cause you to praise Him today? What about its design reveals a Maker?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
After more than thirty-five chapters of debate between Job and his accusers, a new conversation takes place—Job hears from God Himself! Throughout most of these chapters, as Job’s friends were accusing him, Job was accusing God. In fact, Job actually demands that He come and answer for His actions: “Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense—let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing” (Job 31:35). Now, at the end of Job’s story, the Creator comes to respond to the charges Job has raised against Him (chs. 38-41), centering His response in a series of questions. Job bows before God and acknowledges his own weakness, saying, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (42:3). A true encounter with the Almighty is a humbling experience. Bill Crowder

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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1/16/20 7:20 A

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Walking with the Spirit-- Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Galatians 5:16
READ GALATIANS 5:13–18

Ten thousand hours. That’s how long author Malcolm Gladwell suggests it takes to become skillful at any craft. Even for the greatest artists and musicians of all time, their tremendous inborn talent wasn’t enough to achieve the level of expertise that they would eventually attain. They needed to immerse themselves in their craft every single day.

As strange as it might seem, we need a similar mentality when it comes to learning to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians, Paul encourages the church to be set apart for God. But Paul explained that this couldn’t be achieved through merely obeying a set of rules. Instead we’re called to walk with the Holy Spirit. The Greek word that Paul uses for “walk” in Galatians 5:16 literally means to walk around and around something, or to journey (peripateo). So for Paul, walking with the Spirit meant journeying with the Spirit each day—it’s not just a one-time experience of His power.

May we pray to be filled with the Spirit daily—to yield to the Spirit’s work as He counsels, guides, comforts, and is simply there with us. And as we’re “led by the Spirit” in this way (v. 18), we become better and better at hearing His voice and following His leading. Holy Spirit, may I walk with You today, and every day! By Peter Chin

REFLECT & PRAY- Father, help me to experience the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit today, so that I might walk with You and live in a way that pleases You.

While being indwelt by the Holy Spirit when we receive salvation is a one-time event, how does this differ from being filled or walking with the Spirit? How have you been exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
Paul’s core element of a life lived in the Spirit is found in Galatians 5:14: “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” This is significant because the apostle was writing to a community of believers in Jesus who were being lured away from the grace of Christ and back into the law of Moses. So Paul was reminding the Galatians that the issue wasn’t maintaining the smallest details of the law, but embracing the law’s goal—“love your neighbor as yourself.” In focusing on this priority, the apostle was lining up with a consistent message in the Scriptures voiced by Jesus (Mark 12:31), Paul again in Romans 13:9, and James (James 2:8)—all quoting from Moses (Leviticus 19:18). The ethical challenge of life in Christ couldn’t be clearer.
Bill Crowder







"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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A Lifestyle of Praise-
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.Psalm 146:2
READ PSALM 146
Wallace Stegner’s mother died at the age of fifty. When Wallace was eighty, he finally wrote her a note—“Letter, Much Too Late”—in which he praised the virtues of a woman who grew up, married, and raised two sons in the harshness of the early Western United States. She was the kind of wife and mother who was an encourager, even to those that were less than desirable. Wallace remembered the strength his mother displayed by way of her voice. Stegner wrote: “You never lost an opportunity to sing.” As long as she lived, Stegner’s mother sang, grateful for blessings large and small.

The psalmist too took opportunities to sing. He sang when the days were good, and when they weren’t so good. The songs were not forced or coerced, but a natural response to the “Maker of heaven and earth” (146:6) and how He “gives food to the hungry” (v. 7) and “gives sight to the blind” (v. 8) and “sustains the fatherless and the widow” (v. 9). This is really a lifestyle of singing, one that builds strength over time as daily trust is placed in “the God of Jacob” who “remains faithful forever” (vv. 5-6).

The quality of our voices isn’t the point, but our response to God’s sustaining goodness—a lifestyle of praise. As the old hymn puts it: “There’s within my heart a melody.”
By John Blase

REFLECT & PRAY --
Maker of heaven and earth, when I pause and reflect, Your provision for and protection of me is overwhelming. May my life be a continuous song of praise to You for as long as I live.

How can you make singing praises to God a regular part of your day? What’s your favorite song of praise? Tell us why on our Facebook page. (Our Daily Bread)

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
Psalm 146 doesn’t include a superscription, which means we don’t have information about the author’s identity or the circumstances surrounding the song’s composition. What we do know, however, is how Psalm 146 was viewed by the religious community. While many scholars believe Psalm 1 was intentionally written to open the book of Psalms, Psalms 145-150 were praise songs selected to close the Hebrew hymnal. This closing flourish of praise has been called by one writer “the endless hallelujah.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary agrees, stating that these songs are “the grand doxology of the entire collection, for praise plays a greater part of Psalms 145-150 than in most of the others. The word ‘praise’ occurs 46 times in these six psalms.” Bill Crowder

Blessings! emoticon

Edited by: ADIRONDACKMOM1 at: 1/12/2020 (05:28)
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
youtu.be/Ps7xmW-9LXQ


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God Waited-- The Lord longs to be gracious to you.

Isaiah 30:18 READ ISAIAH 30:8–18
When Denise Levertov was just twelve, long before she became a renowned poet, she had the gumption to mail a package of poetry to the great poet T. S. Eliot. She then waited for a reply. Surprisingly, Eliot sent two pages of handwritten encouragement. In the preface to her collection The Stream and the Sapphire, she explained how the poems “trace [her] own movement from agnosticism to Christian faith.” It’s powerful, then, to recognize how one of the later poems (“Annunciation”) narrates Mary’s surrender to God. Noting the Holy Spirit’s refusal to overwhelm Mary and His desire for Mary to freely receive the Christ child, these two words blaze at the poem’s center: “God waited.”

In Mary’s story, Levertov recognized her own. God waited, eager to love her. He would not force anything upon her. He waited. Isaiah described this same reality, how God stood ready, eager with anticipation, to shower Israel with tender love. “The Lord longs to be gracious to you . . . to show you compassion” (30:18). He was ready to flood His people with kindness, and yet God waited for them to willingly receive what He offered (v. 19).

It’s a wonder that our Creator, the Savior of the world, chooses to wait for us to welcome Him. The God who could so easily overpower us practices humble patience. The Holy One waits for us. By Winn Collier

REFLECT & PRAY -
God, it boggles my mind that You wait for me. Wait? For me? This makes me trust You, desire You. Please come. Give me Your full self.

In what areas of your life has God been waiting for you? How might you surrender to Him?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
In Isaiah 30:18, the words translated longs (“the Lord longs”) and wait (“all who wait for him”) are the same word in the original language. In one verse we see both the waiting of God and the waiting of man. Isaiah 8:17 also uses this word: “I will wait for the Lord.” Whether the subject of the waiting is God or humans, we’re the ones who benefit, and God is to be praised. Arthur Jackson

Blessings on your day!

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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Led by His Word--
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Psalm 119:133-136

READ PSALM 119:1, 133–1
At the BBC in London, Paul Arnold’s first broadcasting job was making “walking sounds” in radio dramas. While actors read from scripts during a walking scene, Paul as stage manager made corresponding sounds with his feet—careful to match his pace to the actor’s voice and spoken lines. The key challenge, he explained, was yielding to the actor in the story, “so the two of us were working together.”

A divine version of such cooperation was sought by the author of Psalm 119, which emphasizes living by the precepts of God’s Word. As Psalm 119:1 says, “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.” Led this way by God and following His instructions, we can remain pure (v. 9), overcome scorn (v. 22), and escape greed (v. 36). He will enable us to resist sin (v. 61), find godly friends (v. 63), and live in joy (v. 111).

Theologian Charles Bridges commented on verse 133: “When I take therefore a step into the world, let me ask—Is it ordered in God’s word, which exhibits Christ as my perfect example?”

Walking this way, we show the world Jesus. May He help us walk so closely with Him that people glimpse in us our Leader, Friend, and Savior!
By Patricia Raybon

REFLECT & PRAY :Dear God, order my steps in the wisdom found in Scripture today, helping me to walk like You.

How closely do you walk with God? Finding your answer in Psalm 119, identify one key step you can make to follow God more closely. What benefit can you gain...

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
Psalm 119 is the longest psalm and chapter in the Bible; its 176 verses speak of the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures. The author isn’t named. One rabbinic tradition says Ezra penned it, whose devotion for Scripture is well-attested (Ezra 7:10; Nehemiah 8:1-9). But most scholars say David composed the psalm because it sounds Davidic in tone and expression, and reflects his own experience. Oppressed and persecuted by many powerful enemies, the psalmist writes of the encouragement and strength he received from trusting and meditating on the Scriptures (vv. 11, 15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148). Acknowledging the Scriptures have protected and preserved his life, the writer commits himself to obeying them (v. 129). K. T. Sim

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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HYMN OFTHE SEASON. With History and Inspiration
December 6, 2014(December 6, 2019)

Welcome to the hymn of the week.

There are endless hymns and carols each Christmas season to be enjoyed, some more familiar than others. This one is a less familiar Christmas hymn “CHILD OF THE STABLE’S SECRET BIRTH”.

I, myself have never heard of this hymn, as beautiful as it is, and it was originally written as a family Christmas card! Then handed over to a friend and editor, Timothy Dudley-Smith, and when placed in his magazine, it became strong in popularity. Shortly thereafter, this poem was put to a tune by Christopher Dearnley and found it’s way to a British hymnal.

Dudley-Smith was ordained a Deacon in 1950, a priest in 1951, and then served as Archdeacon of Norwich from 1973-81, and Bishop of Thetford in 1981-91. He retired in 1991. He has been writing hymns for over 30 years, composing approximately six to eight hymns per year. He has published over 250 hymns.

He currently resides in Salisbury, England. He had a wife named Arlette MacDonald. He has 1 son and 2 daughters. He is the first lyricist I have researched that is still living!

Some of his collections include:
Lift Every Heart 1984
Songs of Deliverance 1988
A voice of Singing 1993
Great is the Glory 1997

Biography of a Friend:
The Making of a Leader: JOHN STOTT (2 volumes)

Some of his hymns include:
Choirs of Angels, Tell Abroad
Come now With Ave
Holy Child
Soft the Evening Shadows Fall
The Light of Glory Breaks

* Special Note: In 1997 he was honored by being named a “Fellow” in the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada (rare honors). In 2003 Dudley-Smith was awarded an OBE for services to “hymnody” and in 2009 a ‘Doctor of Divinity’ degree.

CHILD OF THE STABLES SECRET BIRTH
Words by: Original author unknown– (edited version)Timothy Dudley-Smith
Born, December 26, 1926–
Music by: Christopher Dearnley (2/11/1930- 12/15/2000)


Child of the stable's secret birth,
the Lord by right of the lords of earth,
let angels sing of a King newborn,
the world is weaving a crown of thorn:
a crown of thorn for that infant head
cradled soft in the manger bed.

Eyes that shine in the lantern's ray;
a face so small in its nest of hay,
face of a child who is born to scan
the world he made through the eyes of man:
and from that face in the final day
earth and heaven shall flee away.

Voice that rang through the courts on high,
contracted now to a wordless cry,
a voice to master the wind and wave,
the human heart and the hungry grave:
the voice of God through the cedar trees
rolling forth as the sound of seas.

Infant hands in a mother's hand,
for none but Mary may understand
whose are the hands and the fingers curled
but his who fashioned and made the world;
and through these hands in the hour of death
nails shall strike to the wood beneath.

Child of the stable's secret birth,
the Father's gift to a wayward earth,
to drain the cup in a few short years
of all our sorrows , our sins, and tears--
ours the prize for the road he trod:
risen with Christ; at peace with God.

Words: Timothy Dudley-Smith
Words © 1983 Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188.

Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Read: John 1:11-13 Gal 4:4

THE FATHER’S GIFT TO A WAYWARD EARTH...

His servant, Phylis

**SPECIAL NOTE: I apologize for any poor quality of the videos from 'you tube' or any other sources. I have spent a lot of time researching to find the best examples as close to what I feel would be the composer's rendition of the piece. Sorry for the quality of these next few examples. Please complete watching the videos, the music is lovely!
You might need to copy/paste onto youtube.

God bless.
youtu.be/5wWJgK6sTbI

Edited by: ADIRONDACKMOM1 at: 12/6/2019 (09:36)
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
youtu.be/Ps7xmW-9LXQ


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Intentional Kindness--I want to show God’s kindness to them. 2 Samuel 9:3

READ 2 SAMUEL 9
Boarding a plane alone with her children, a young mom tried desperately to calm her three-year-old daughter who began kicking and crying. Then her hungry four-month-old son also began to wail.

A traveler seated next to her quickly offered to hold the baby while Jessica got her daughter buckled in. Then the traveler—recalling his own days as a young dad—began coloring with the toddler while Jessica fed her infant. And on the next connecting flight, the same man offered to assist again if needed.

Jessica recalled, “I [was] blown away by God’s hand in this. [We] could have been placed next to anyone, but we were seated next to one of the nicest men I have ever met.”

In 2 Samuel 9, we read of another example of what I call intentional kindness. After King Saul and his son Jonathan had been killed, some expected David to kill off any competition to his claim for the throne. Instead, he asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” (v. 3). Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, was then brought to David who restored his inheritance and warmly invited him to share his table from then on—just as if he were his own son (v. 11).

As beneficiaries of the immense kindness of God, may we look for opportunities to show intentional kindness toward others (Galatians 6:10). By Cindy Hess Kasper

REFLECT & PRAY:Heavenly Father, I thank You for the kindness You’ve shown me. Help me to lavish it on others.

Who can you show God’s kindness to? What specific act of kindness can you demonstrate to someone who is hurting or discouraged.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
The events that transpire in 2 Samuel 9 have their roots in the covenant relationship that David had with Jonathan, the son of Israel’s first king, Saul. Jonathan, knowing that David was destined to be king, secured David’s commitment to show “kindness” to his offspring (1 Samuel 20:14-17). Mephibosheth, crippled by an accident when he was five years old (2 Samuel 4:4), was an heir to covenant kindness. Arthur Jackson

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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Hazardous Materials--

See, this [live coal] has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.
Isaiah 6:7
READ ISAIAH 6:1–10

The sound of a siren increased to an ear-piercing level as an emergency vehicle sped by my car. Its flashing lights glared through my windshield, illuminating the words “hazardous materials” printed on the side of the truck. Later, I learned it had been racing to a science laboratory where a 400-gallon container of sulfuric acid had begun to leak. Emergency workers had to contain the substance immediately because of its ability to damage whatever it came in contact with.
As I thought about this news story, I wondered what would happen if sirens blared every time a harsh or critical word “leaked” out of my mouth? Sadly, it might become rather noisy around our house.
The prophet Isaiah shared this sense of awareness about his sin. When he saw God’s glory in a vision, he was overcome by his unworthiness. He recognized that he was “a man of unclean lips” living with people who shared the same problem (Isaiah 6:5). What happened next gives me hope. An angel touched his lips with a red-hot coal, explaining, “your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (v. 7).
We have moment-by-moment choices to make with our words—both written and spoken. Will they be “hazardous” material, or will we allow God’s glory to convict us and His grace to heal us so we can honor Him with everything we express? By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

REFLECT & PRAY :Dear God, help me to see how my words affect other people. Show me how to encourage them.

Why do our words have such a powerful effect on others? How might God want to change your speech?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
The book of Isaiah was written by the prophet whose name means “Yahweh is salvation” during a time of almost constant clash with the kingdom of Assyria. Isaiah was the son of Amoz and was married to a woman called “the prophetess” (8:3). They had two sons—Shear-Jashub and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (7:3; 8:3). From the very first verse we know that Isaiah prophesied “during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah,” a period of possibly fifty years. Alyson Kieda

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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Our Blessings, His Love: To him who led his people through the wilderness; His love endures forever. Psalm 136:16
READ PSALM 136:1–3, 10–26

In 2015, a woman discarded her deceased husband’s computer at a recycling center—a computer that had been made in 1976. But more important than when it had been made was who made it. It was one of 200 computers hand built by Apple founder Steve Jobs, and was worth an estimated quarter of a million dollars! Sometimes knowing the true worth of something means knowing who made it.

Knowing that it’s God who made us shows us how valuable we are to Him (Genesis 1:27). Psalm 136 catalogs key moments of His people—ancient Israel: how they had been freed from captivity in Egypt (vv. 11-12), journeyed through the wilderness (v. 16), and were given a new home in Canaan (vv. 21-22). But each time a moment of Israel’s history is mentioned, it’s paired with this repeated refrain: “His love endures forever.” This refrain reminded the people of Israel that their experiences weren’t random historical events. Each moment had been orchestrated by God and was a reflection of His enduring love for those He’d made.

Far too often, I allow moments that show God at work and His kind ways to simply pass by, failing to recognize that every perfect gift comes from my heavenly Father (James 1:17) who made me and loves me. May you and I learn to connect every blessing in our lives to God’s enduring love for us. By Peter Chin

REFLECT & PRAY:
Heavenly Father, please don’t allow even one blessing that You’ve given pass by without me recognizing that it came from You, and You alone!

How can we better remember the Source of life’s blessings? What hinders you from doing so?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
When we read the Psalms, it’s easy to forget they were actually written to be sung, not read. While many were about individual experiences, some were directed to the people of Israel corporately. This was often expressed when the people gathered for worship. Psalm 136 was such a psalm, and some scholars believe it was intended to be sung antiphonally—where one group made a musical declaration and another group responded to that declaration. The priests and Levites (worship leaders) would sing a statement about God (“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,” v. 1) and the assembled congregation would respond, “His love endures forever.” Bill Crowder

Blessings on your day!


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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Good News for Feet--
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death . . . that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
Psalm 116:8-9
READ JOHN 5:1–9

The ad brought a smile to my face: “The most comfortable socks in the history of feet.” Then, extending its claim of good news for feet even further, the advertiser said that because socks remain the most requested clothing item at homeless shelters, for every pair of socks purchased the company would donate a pair to someone in need.

Imagine the smile when Jesus healed the feet of a man who hadn’t been able to walk for thirty-eight years (John 5:2-8). Now imagine the opposite look on the faces of the temple officials who weren’t impressed by Jesus’s care for the feet or heart of someone who had gone without help for so long. They accused the man and Jesus of breaking a religious law that allows no work to be done on the Sabbath (vv. 9-10, 16-17). They saw rules where Jesus saw the need for mercy.

At this point the man didn’t even know who had given him new feet. Only later would he be able to say that it was Jesus who had made him well (vv. 13-15)—the same Jesus who would allow His own feet to be nailed to a tree to offer that man—and us—the best news in the history of broken bodies, minds, and hearts. By Mart DeHaan

REFLECT & PRAY:
Jesus, allow me to see and meet the needs of others. To learn more about the life of Christ, visit christianuniversity.org/NT111.
What needs do you see in those around you? In what ways have you seen Jesus meet your own needs?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus begins His ministry by quoting from Isaiah (61:1-2) that the Messiah would perform miracles. Christ’s miracles served as proof that He was indeed the Messiah. In John 5, Jesus directly confronted the religious leaders about His identity. When they began to persecute Him for working on the Sabbath, He referred to God as “my Father” (v. 17) and stated that God too worked (on the Sabbath). As evidence of His deity, Jesus pointed to the miracle He’d just performed, saying that as the Father gives life so does the Son (v. 21). In other words, He wouldn’t have been able to restore the paralyzed man’s legs if He were not doing it through the power of the Father. J.R. Hudberg

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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Fill in Your Name--
. . . He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.
Isaiah 40:26
READ ISAIAH 40:25–31

In Love Letters from God, Glenys Nellist invites children to interact with the Lord in a deeply personal way. These children’s books include a note from God with a space for the child’s name to be inserted after each Bible story. Personalizing scriptural truth helps her young readers understand that the Bible isn’t just a storybook. They’re being taught that the Lord wants a relationship with them and that He speaks to His greatly loved children through the Scriptures.
I bought the book for my nephew and filled in the blanks in the beginning of every note from God. Delighted when he recognized his name, my nephew said, “God loves me too!” What a comfort to know the deeply and completely personal love of our loving Creator.

When God spoke to the Israelites directly through the prophet Isaiah, He called their attention to the heavens. The Lord affirmed that He controls “the starry host” (Isaiah 40:26), determines each star’s individual value, and directs each one with love. He assured His people that He won’t forget or lose one star . . . or one beloved child that He’s sculpted with deliberate purpose and endless love.

As we celebrate our Almighty God’s intimate promises and proclamations of love within Scripture, we can fill in our names. We can trust and declare with childlike delight, “God loves me too!”
By Xochitl Dixon

REFLECT & PRAY:
God, thank You for affirming that Your love is a personal gift for each and every one of us. Thank You for assuring us that You know our names and can handle all of our needs.

How does it feel when you realize God loves you and knows your needs? What Bible verse could you remember that’s a personal promise to you?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT:
One of the ways God is magnified in Isaiah 40 is through the use of rhetorical questions—questions not asked in anticipation of an answer but to provoke one’s thoughts, to drive home a point. An example of this device in the Bible is the book of Job, particularly chapters 38-41, where God is the One asking the questions. In Isaiah 40, after the pronouncements of the comfort that awaited the people of God through the Lord’s coming (vv. 1-5), the trustworthiness of God’s words (vv. 6-8), and the might and mercy that would attend His coming (vv. 9-11), the questions begin to roll in verse 12 and they don’t stop until verse 28! They’re designed to help believing people throughout history to ponder the incomparable greatness of our loving God. Arthur Jackson

Blessings on your day!

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"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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But a Breath
My hope is in you. Psalm 39:7
READ PSALM 39:1–13

Bobby’s sudden death brought home to me the stark reality of death and the brevity of life. My childhood friend was only twenty-four when a tragic accident on an icy road claimed her life. Growing up in a dysfunctional family, she had recently seemed to be moving forward. Just a new believer in Jesus, how could her life end so soon?

Sometimes life seems far too short and full of sorrow. In Psalm 39 the psalmist David bemoans his own suffering and exclaims: “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure” (vv. 4-5). Life is short. Even if we live to see a century, our earthly life is but a drop in all of time.

And yet, with David, we can say, “My hope is in [the Lord]” (v. 7). We can trust that our lives do have meaning. Though our bodies waste away, as believers we have confidence that “inwardly we are being renewed day by day”—and one day we’ll enjoy eternal life with Him (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1). We know this because God “has given us the Spirit . . . guaranteeing what is to come”! (5:5).
By Alyson Kieda

REFLECT & PRAY
Thank You, Lord, that this life is not all there is! You have eternity in store for all who believe in You. Help us to spend our numbered days here in service to You.

How is it comforting to know that God has made it possible for you to share in His eternal life? How can the gift of each moment encourage you to make the most of your time?
Blessings!

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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7/21/19 9:35 A

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Victory Parade

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession.
2 Corinthians 2:14
READ 2 CORINTHIANS 2:14–17

In 2016 when the Chicago Cubs baseball team won the World Series for the first time in more than a century, some sources said that five million people lined the parade route and gathered at a downtown rally to celebrate the championship.

Victory parades are not a modern invention. A famous ancient parade was the Roman Triumph, in which victorious generals led a procession of their armies and captives through crowded streets.

Such parade imagery was likely in Paul’s mind when he wrote to the Corinthian church thanking God for leading believers “as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession” (2 Corinthians 2:14). I find it fascinating that in this imagery, followers of Christ are the captives. However, as believers we’re not forced to participate, but are willing “captives,” willingly part of the parade led by the victorious, resurrected Christ. As Christians, we celebrate that through Christ’s victory, He’s building His kingdom and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

When we talk about Jesus’s victory on the cross and the freedom it gives believers, we help spread the “aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14). And whether people find the aroma to be the pleasing reassurance of salvation or the odor of their defeat, this unseen but powerful fragrance is present everywhere we go.

As we follow Christ, we declare His resurrection victory, the victory that makes salvation available to the world.
By Lisa M. Samra

REFLECT & PRAY
Jesus is our victorious King. For further study, see christianuniversity.org/NT109-06.

What does Jesus’s victory on the cross mean to you? How are you living out the power of His resurrection?
Blessings...

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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7/4/19 11:20 A

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The Lord Rejoices, [God] will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17
READ ZEPHANIAH 3:14–20

My grandmother recently sent me a folder full of old photographs, and as I thumbed through them, one caught my eye. In it, I’m two years old, and I’m sitting on one end of a hearth in front of a fireplace. On the other end, my dad has his arm around my mom’s shoulders. Both are gazing at me with expressions of love and delight.

I pinned this photo to my dresser, where I see it every morning. It’s a wonderful reminder of their love for me. The truth is, though, that even the love of good parents is imperfect. I saved this photo because it reminds me that although human love may fail sometimes, God’s love never fails—and according to Scripture, God looks at me the way my parents are looking at me in this picture.

The prophet Zephaniah described this love in a way that astounds me. He describes God as rejoicing over His people with singing. God’s people had not earned this love. They had failed to obey Him or to treat each other with compassion. But Zephaniah promised that in the end, God’s love would prevail over their failures. God would take away their punishment (Zephaniah 3:15), and He would rejoice over them (v. 17). He would gather His people into His arms, bring them home, and restore them (v. 20).

That’s a love worth reflecting on every morning. By Amy Peterson

REFLECT & PRAY
God, thank You for Your forgiveness and faithful love for us.

How does it make you feel that God rejoices over you with singing? How have you experienced His love?


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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6/27/19 9:13 A

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Untying the Rope

But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. Genesis 33:4

GENESIS 33:1–11
One Christian organization’s mission is to promote the healing nature of forgiveness. One of their activities involves a skit in which a person who has been wronged is strapped back to back with a rope to the wrongdoer. Only the one sinned against can untie the rope. No matter what she does, she’s got someone on her back. Without forgiveness—without untying the rope—she cannot escape.

Offering forgiveness to someone who comes to us in sorrow for their wrongdoing begins the process of releasing us and them from the bitterness and pain that can cling to us over wrongs we’ve suffered. In Genesis, we see two brothers separated for twenty years after Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. After this long time, God told Jacob to return to his homeland (Genesis 31:3). He obeyed, but nervously, sending ahead to Esau gifts of herds of animals (32:13-15). When the brothers met, Jacob bowed at Esau’s feet seven times in humility (33:3). Imagine his surprise when Esau ran and embraced him, both of them weeping over their reconciliation (v. 4). No longer was Jacob held by the sin he committed against his brother.
Do you feel imprisoned by unforgiveness, saddled with anger, fear, or shame? Know that God through His Son and Spirit can release you when you seek His help. He will enable you to begin the process of untying any ropes and setting you free.
By Amy Boucher Pye

REFLECT & PRAY
How do you think Esau felt to see Jacob bowing before him? Could you similarly humble yourself before someone you’ve wronged? Who do you need to release through forgiveness?

blessings on your day....

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
youtu.be/Ps7xmW-9LXQ


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6/16/19 7:46 A

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Words that Wound
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18

READ 1 SAMUEL 1:1–8

“Skinny bones, skinny bones,” the boy taunted. “Stick,” another chimed. In return, I could have chanted “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But even as a little girl, I knew the popular rhyme wasn’t true. Unkind, thoughtless words did hurt—sometimes badly, leaving wounds that went deeper and lasted much longer than a welt from a stone or stick.

Hannah certainly knew the sting of thoughtless words. Her husband, Elkanah, loved her, but she had no children, while his second wife, Peninnah, had many. In a culture where a woman’s worth was often based on having children, Peninnah made Hannah’s pain worse by continually “provoking her” for being childless. She kept it up until Hannah wept and couldn’t eat (1 Samuel 1:6-7).

And Elkanah probably meant well, but his thoughtless response, “Hannah, why are you weeping? . . . Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (v. 8) was still hurtful.

Like Hannah, many of us have been left reeling in the wake of hurtful words. And some of us have likely reacted to our own wounds by lashing out and hurting others with our words. But all of us can run to our loving and compassionate God for strength and healing (Psalm 27:5, 12-14). He lovingly rejoices over us—speaking words of love and grace.
By Alyson Kieda

REFLECT & PRAY
Loving Father, thank You for the healing and hope we find in You! Help us to bring our hurts to You—and always to be mindful of the words we say. Give us the wisdom and patience to think before speaking.
When have you been hurt by unkind words? What helped you to heal? Who needs to hear your grace-filled words?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT
The historical setting of 1 Samuel 1 is critical to understanding the events recorded in this book. As 1 Samuel opens, it’s the end of the time of the judges, but it’s not yet the time of kings. Bridging that gap will be Samuel, the son who would be born to Hannah after her season of prayer at the tabernacle in Shiloh (1:9-20). Samuel’s role in the transition from judges to kings will include the fact that he’s the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. As a prophet, he would be responsible for anointing Israel’s first two kings: Saul, the kind of king the people wanted (10:17-24); and David, a man after God’s own heart (13:14). Bill Crowder

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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6/2/19 2:05 P

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Amen!

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
youtu.be/Ps7xmW-9LXQ


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6/1/19 12:57 P

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JUST for TODAY

Just for today I will have a program, I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.

Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself, and relax. During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life.

Just for today I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world,so the world will give to me.

Prayer for Today Prayer of St. Francis
Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt,faith; where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness,light, and where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved,as to love,
for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

This was from Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters,inc. from 1972


PS I posted the entire Just for today in a blog on page if you wanted to read it. emoticon


Edited by: IMEMINE1 at: 6/2/2019 (11:00)
Donna
Lehighton, Pa
BLC 27-to-42
Powerful Prism Panther team
W,J,R&G

Focus....Eat right & keep moving!!
Eastern time




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5/30/19 7:20 A

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Marvelously Unique:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

Human beings are not special—at least according to the London Zoo. In 2005, the zoo introduced a four-day exhibit: “Humans in Their Natural Environment.” The human “captives” were chosen through an online contest. To help visitors understand the humans, the zoo workers created a sign detailing their diet, habitat, and threats. According to the zoo’s spokesperson, the goal of the exhibit was to downplay the uniqueness of human beings. One participant in the exhibit seemed to agree. “When they see humans as animals, here, it kind of reminds them that we’re not that special.”

What a stark contrast to what the Bible says about human beings: God “fearfully and wonderfully” made us in “his image” (Psalm 139:14; Genesis 1:26-27).

David began Psalm 139 by celebrating God’s intimate knowledge of him (vv. 1-6) and His all-encompassing presence (vv. 7-12). Like a master weaver, God not only formed the intricacies of David’s internal and external features (vv. 13-14), but He also made him a living soul, giving spiritual life and the ability to intimately relate to God. Meditating on God’s handiwork, David responded in awe, wonder, and praise (v. 14).

Human beings are special. God created us with marvelous uniqueness and the awesome ability to have an intimate relationship with Him. Like David, we can praise Him because we’re the workmanship of His loving hands.
By Marvin Williams

REFLECT & PRAY God created human beings to be like Him.
What are some practical implications of knowing and believing you’re fearfully and wonderfully made? What are some negative consequences of not believing this?

Edited by: ADIRONDACKMOM1 at: 5/30/2019 (07:22)
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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5/27/19 8:21 A

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A Living Memorial of Kindness

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Samuel 9:1

READ 2 SAMUEL 9:1–7
I grew up in a church full of traditions. One came into play when a beloved family member or friend died. Often a church pew or possibly a painting in a hallway showed up not long afterward with a brass plate affixed: “In Memory of . . .” The deceased’s name would be etched there, a shining reminder of a life passed on. I always appreciated those memorials. And I still do. Yet at the same time they’ve always given me pause because they are static, inanimate objects, in a very literal sense something “not alive.” Is there a way to add an element of “life” to the memorial?

Following the death of his beloved friend Jonathan, David wanted to remember him and to keep a promise to him (1 Samuel 20:12-17). But rather than simply seek something static, David searched and found something very much alive—a son of Jonathan (2 Samuel 9:3). David’s decision here is dramatic. He chose to extend kindness (v. 1) to Mephibosheth (vv. 6-7) in the specific forms of restored property (“all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul”) and the ongoing provision of food and drink (“you will always eat at my table”).

As we continue to remember those who’ve died with plaques and paintings, may we also recall David’s example and extend kindness to those still living.

REFLECT & PRAY
Jesus, give me the strength to extend kindness in memory of the kindness others have shown me, but most important because of Your great kindness.

Who has died that you don’t want to forget? What might a specific kindness to another person look like for you?


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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5/16/19 9:01 A

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God is love. 1 John 4:16
READ 1 JOHN 4:13–19

“Bear” was a gift for my grandchild—a heaping helping of love contained in a giant stuffed animal frame. Baby D’s response? First, wonder. Next, an amazed awe. Then, a curiosity that nudged a daring exploration. He poked his pudgy finger at Bear’s nose, and when the Bear tumbled forward into his arms he responded with joy joy JOY! Baby D laid his toddler head down on Bear’s fluffy chest and hugged him tightly. A dimpled smile spread across his cheeks as he burrowed deeply into Bear’s cushiony softness. The child had no idea of Bear’s inability to truly love him. Innocently and naturally, he felt love from Bear and returned it with all his heart.

In his first of three letters to early Christians, the apostle John boldly states that God Himself is love. “We know and rely on the love God has for us,” he writes. “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

God loves. Not in the pillow of a pretend animal but rather with the outstretched arms of a real human body encasing a beating but breaking heart (John 3:16). Through Jesus, God communicated His extravagant and sacrificial love for us.

John goes on, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). When we believe we’re loved, we love back. God’s real love makes it possible for us to love God and others—with all our hearts. By Elisa Morgan

REFLECT & PRAY
Dear God, help me to let You love me and then help me to love You back—with all my heart.

What do you find is most amazing about God’s love for you? How will you reveal His love to others today?

Blessings on your day.


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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5/12/19 7:25 A

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As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me.
Psalm 55:16

Love Won’t Stop
Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. Luke 15:6
READ LUKE 15:1–7

After I turned nineteen, and years before I owned a pager or a cell phone, I moved more than seven hundred miles away from my mom. One morning, I left early to run errands, forgetting our scheduled call. Later that night, two policemen came to my door. Mom had been worried because I’d never missed one of our chats. After calling repeatedly and getting a busy signal, she reached out to the authorities and insisted they check on me. One of the police officers turned to me and said, “It’s a blessing to know love won’t stop looking for you.”

When I picked up the phone to call my mom, I realized I had accidentally left the receiver off its base. After I apologized, she said she needed to spread the good news to the family and friends she had informed that I’d been missing. I hung up thinking she’d overreacted a bit, though it felt good to be loved that much.

Scripture paints a beautiful picture of God, who is Love, relentlessly beckoning His wandering children. Like a good shepherd, He cares about and seeks out every lost sheep, affirming the priceless value of every beloved child of God (Luke 15:1-7).

Love never stops looking for us. He will pursue us until we’ve returned to Him. We can pray for others who need to know that Love—God—never stops looking for them either.
By Xochitl Dixon

REFLECT & PRAY Heavenly Father, thank You for pursuing us with persistence and providing a safe place when we return to Your loving arms.

How does it encourage you to know that God continually pursues you in love? How is He using you to reveal His love to others?

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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5/5/19 6:35 A

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Small but Significant:
On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.
2 Corinthians 1:10–11
READ 2 CORINTHIANS 1:8–11

The day started out like any other, but it ended as a nightmare. Esther (not her real name) and several hundred women were kidnapped from their boarding school by a religious militant group. A month later all were released—except for Esther who refused to deny Christ. As my friend and I read about her and others who are being persecuted for their faith, our hearts were moved. We wanted to do something. But what?

When writing to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul shared about the trouble he experienced in the province of Asia. The persecution was so severe that he and his companions “despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8). However, Paul was helped by the prayers of believers (v. 11). Though the Corinthian church was many miles away from the apostle, their prayers mattered and God heard them. Herein lies an amazing mystery: the sovereign One has chosen to use our prayers to accomplish His purpose. What a privilege!

Today we can continue to remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for their faith. There’s something we can do. We can pray for those who are marginalized, oppressed, beaten, tortured, and sometimes even killed for their belief in Christ. Let’s pray for them to experience God’s comfort and encouragement and to be strengthened with hope as they stand firmly with Jesus. By Poh Fang Chia

REFLECT & PRAY
In prayer, we cast ourselves at the feet of divine power.
Who can you commit to praying for by name this week? When have you experienced God’s faithfulness during a time of persecution?

Praising HIM! Blessings on your Sonday!


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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4/20/19 7:50 A

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Flourishing Like a Flower
The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field. Psalm 103:15
READ PSALM 103:13–22

My youngest grandson is only two months old, yet every time I see him I notice little changes. Recently, as I cooed to him, he looked up at me and smiled! And suddenly I began crying. Perhaps it was joy mixed with remembering my own children’s first smiles, which I witnessed so long ago, and yet it feels like just yesterday. Some moments are like that—inexplicable.

In Psalm 103, David penned a poetic song that praised God while also reflecting on how quickly the joyful moments of our lives pass by: “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone” (vv. 15-16).

But despite acknowledging the brevity of life, David describes the flower as flourishing, or thriving. Although each individual flower blossoms and blooms swiftly, its fragrance and color and beauty bring great joy in the moment. And even though an individual flower can be quickly forgotten—“its place remembers it no more” (v. 16)—by contrast we have the assurance that “from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him” (v. 17).

We, like flowers, can rejoice and flourish in the moment; but we can also celebrate the truth that the moments of our lives are never truly forgotten. God holds every detail of our lives, and His everlasting love is with His children forever!
By Alyson Kieda

REFLECT & PRAY - God provides what we need to flourish for Him.
In what way can you flourish in this moment? How can you bring joy to another?

Many blessings this Holy Week! emoticon

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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4/18/19 10:18 A

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In the Moment

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life . . . . No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
John 10:17–18
READ LUKE 23:32–46

The ambulance door was about to close—with me on the inside. Outside, my son was on the phone to my wife. From my concussed fog, I called his name. As he recalls the moment, I slowly said, “Tell your mom I love her very much.”

Apparently I thought this might be goodbye, and I wanted those to be my parting words. In the moment, that’s what mattered most to me.

As Jesus endured His darkest moment, He didn’t merely tell us He loved us; He showed it in specific ways. He showed it to the mocking soldiers who had just nailed Him to a cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He gave hope to a criminal crucified with Him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). Nearing the end, He looked at His mother. “Here is your son,” He said to her, and to His close friend John He said, “Here is your mother” (John 19:26-27). Then, as His life slipped from Him, Jesus’s last act of love was to trust His Father: “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Jesus purposefully chose the cross in order to show His obedience to His Father—and the depth of His love for us. To the very end, He showed us His relentless love.
By Tim Gustafson

REFLECT & PRAY - Every word of Jesus was spoken in love.
What matters most to you? How do love and obedience fit together?

---------------------
I too called out to the Father and asked to speak with my children before the Emergency crew rushed me to the Medical center in Vermont, a 2 hour ride!

After suffering for over a day in our local ER, an MRI revealed an aneurysm and it was determined to send me to the bigger medical center in Burlington, VT.
This was in 2011 and I since have been on yearly watch to access the growth of my defect.
I am safe for now and it was deemed too risky to operate. I have also been in the ICU in Burlington for uncontrollable high blood pressure.

Our days are numbered and only the Lord knows when our time is at an end. I thought mine was over with that day. I told all my family how I loved them. My time was not up.

Be thankful for each and everyday! Phylis(I now have two aneurysms)

Blessings on your Easter!
emoticon

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
youtu.be/Ps7xmW-9LXQ


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4/14/19 9:09 A

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Will you finish first or last?
Many who are first will be last. Matthew 19:30
Many who are first will be last. Matthew 19:30

READ MATTHEW 19:17–30 From: Our Daily Bread

Perhaps the most preposterous, spellbinding moment in the 2018 Winter Olympics was when the Czech Republic’s world champion snowboarder Ester Ledecka won an event in a completely different sport: skiing! And she took the first-place gold medal even though she had the unenviable position of skiing 26th—a feat believed to be basically impossible.

Amazingly, Ledecka qualified to race the women’s super-G—an event that combines downhill skiing with a slalom course. After she won by .01 of a second on borrowed skis, she was just as shocked as the media and other contestants who had assumed the winner would be one of the top skiers.

This is how the world works. We assume the winners will keep winning while all the others will lose. It was a jolt, then, when the disciples heard Jesus say how “hard [it is] for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23). Jesus turned everything upside down. How could being rich (a winner) offer a roadblock? Apparently, if we trust in what we have (what we can do, who we are), then it’s not only hard but actually impossible to trust God.

The kingdom of God doesn’t play by our rules. “Many who are first,” Jesus says, “will be last, and many who are last will be first” (v. 30). And, whether you’re first or last, everything we receive is purely by grace—by God’s unmerited favor.
By Winn Collier

REFLECT & PRAY
Winning and losing are turned upside down in God’s kingdom.

Consider how you view people, or how you view your own life. How does Jesus’s way of seeing so-called losers and winners change your perspective?
Blessings!

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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The Greatest Gift

We have found . . . Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
John 1:45
READ JOHN 1:43–51

Over the years, my friend Barbara has given me countless encouraging cards and thoughtful presents. After I told her I’d received Jesus as my Savior, she handed me the greatest gift she’d ever given me—my first Bible. She said, “You can grow closer to God and mature spiritually by meeting with Him daily, reading Scripture, praying, and trusting and obeying Him.” My life changed when Barbara invited me to get to know God better.

Barbara reminds me of the apostle Philip. After Jesus invited Philip to follow Him (John 1:43), the apostle immediately told his friend Nathanael that Jesus was “the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote” (v. 45). When Nathanael doubted, Philip didn’t argue, criticize, or give up on his friend. He simply invited him to meet Jesus face to face. “Come and see,” he said (v. 46).

I can imagine Philip’s joy when he heard Nathanael declare Jesus as “the Son of God” and “the king of Israel” (v. 49). What a blessing to know his friend wouldn’t miss out on seeing the “greater things” Jesus promised they’d witness (vv. 50-51).

The Holy Spirit initiates our intimate relationship with God and then lives in all who respond in faith. He enables us to know Him personally and to invite others to encounter Him daily through His Spirit and the Scriptures. An invitation to know Jesus better is a great gift to receive and give.
By Xochitl Dixon

REFLECT & PRAY
Knowing Jesus is the greatest gift we can receive; sharing Him is the greatest gift we can give.

To whom will you extend an invitation to know Jesus better? How has He worked through others to grow your faith?
Blessings on your day!

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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Joy in Hard Places.... From Our Daily Bread

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:18
READ HABAKKUK 3:16–19

Whenever she was unable to take my phone call, my friend’s voicemail recording invited me to leave her a message. The recording cheerfully concluded, “Make it a great day!” As I reflected on her words, I realized that it’s not within our power to make every day “great”—some circumstances truly are devastating. But a closer look might reveal something redeeming and beautiful in my day, whether things are going well or poorly.

Habakkuk wasn’t experiencing easy circumstances. As a prophet, God had shown him coming days when none of the crops or livestock—on which God’s people depended—would be fruitful (3:17). It would take more than mere optimism to endure the coming hardships. As a people group, Israel would be in extreme poverty. Habakkuk experienced heart-pounding, lip-quivering, leg-trembling fear (v. 16).

Yet despite that, Habakkuk said he would “rejoice in the Lord” and “be joyful” (v. 18). He proclaimed His hope in the God who provides the strength to walk in difficult places (v. 19).

Sometimes we go through seasons of deep pain and hardship. But no matter what we’ve lost, or wanted but never had, we can, like Habakkuk, rejoice in our relationship with a loving God. Even when it feels like we have nothing else, He will never fail or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). He, the One who “provide[s] for those who grieve,” is our ultimate reason for joy (Isaiah 61:3). By Kirsten Holmber

REFLECT & PRAY
Lord, no matter my circumstances, help me to find joy in You.

What about your relationship with Jesus brings you the greatest joy? How has He met you recently in a time of hardship or grief?

Blessings on your day! Phylis

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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From: Our Daily Bread

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. Ezekiel 36:26
READ EZEKIEL 36:24–27

The news was grim. My father had been having chest pains, so his doctor ordered a test to peer into his heart. The result? Blockage found in three arteries.

Triple-bypass surgery was scheduled for February 14. My dad, though anxious, saw that date as a hopeful sign: “I’m getting a new heart for Valentine’s Day!” And he did! The surgery went perfectly, restoring life-giving blood flow to his struggling heart—his “new” heart.

My father’s surgery reminded me that God offers us a new life as well. Because sin clogs our spiritual “arteries”—our capacity to connect with God—we need spiritual “surgery” to clear them.

That’s what God promised His people in Ezekiel 36:26. He assured the Israelites, “I will give you a new heart. . . . I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” He also promised, “I will cleanse you from all your impurities” (v. 25) and “put my Spirit in you” (v. 27). To a people who’d lost hope, God promised a fresh start as the One who could renew their lives.

That promise was ultimately fulfilled through Jesus’s death and resurrection. When we trust in Him, we receive a new spiritual heart, one that’s cleansed of our sin and despair. Filled with Christ’s Spirit, our new heart beats with the spiritual lifeblood of God, that “we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).
By Adam Holz

REFLECT & PRAY
Father, thank You for the new hope You’ve given us in Jesus. Help us to trust You daily as Your Spirit leads us into a whole new way of living.

How does God’s promise of a new life bring hope when you’re struggling with guilt or shame? How will you rely on the Spirit’s power today instead of your own?

Blessings on your day! Phylis


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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Matthew 19
13Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. And the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15And after He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there.…

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Edited by: ADIRONDACKMOM1 at: 3/27/2019 (05:36)
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
youtu.be/Ps7xmW-9LXQ


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3/25/19 8:52 A

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We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. 2 Corinthians 4:18
READ 2 CORINTHIANS 4:16–18

A rare supermoon appeared in November 2016—the moon in its orbit reached its closest point to the earth in over sixty years and so appeared bigger and brighter than at other times. But for me that day the skies were shrouded in gray. Although I saw photos of this wonder from friends in other places, as I gazed upward I had to trust that the supermoon was lurking behind the clouds.

The apostle Paul faced many hardships but believed that what is unseen will last forever. He said how his “momentary troubles” achieve “an eternal glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Thus he could fix his eyes “not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,” because what is unseen is eternal (v. 18). Paul yearned that the Corinthians and our faith would grow, and although we suffer, that we too would trust in God. We might not be able to see Him, but we can believe He is renewing us day by day (v. 16).

I thought about how God is unseen but eternal when I gazed at the clouds that day, knowing that the supermoon was hidden but there. And I hoped the next time I was tempted to believe that God was far from me, I would fix my eyes on what is unseen.
By Amy Boucher Pye

REFLECT & PRAY
Lord God, sometimes I feel like You’re far from me. Help me to believe the truth that You are ever near, whether I feel Your presence or not.

What does it mean for you to fix your eyes on what is unseen? How does your hope in Jesus help you face the difficulties of life?

Blessings on your week! Phylis

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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3/11/19 8:07 A

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Return on Investment

We have left everything to follow you!
Mark 10:28
READ MARK 10:17–31

In 1995 US stock market investors received record-high returns—on average, a whopping 37.6 percent return on their dollars. Then in 2008 investors lost almost exactly as much: a negative 37.0 percent. The years between had varying returns, causing those with money in the market to wonder—sometimes with fear—what would become of their investment.

Jesus assured His followers they would have an incredible return on investing their lives in Him. They “left everything to follow [Him]”—leaving their homes, jobs, status, and families to put their lives on deposit (v. 28). But they grew concerned that their investment might not pay off after watching a wealthy man struggle with the grip worldly goods had on him. Jesus replied, however, that anyone willing to sacrifice for Him would “receive a hundred times as much in this present age . . . and in the age to come eternal life” (v. 30). That’s a far better outcome than any stock market could ever match.

We don’t have to be concerned about the “interest rate” on our spiritual investment—with God, it’s an unmatched certainty. With money, our aim is to maximize the financial gain from our investment. With God, what we get back isn’t measured in dollars and cents, but in the joy that comes from knowing Him now and forever—and sharing that joy with others!
By Kirsten Holmberg

REFLECT & PRAY
Living for God is a worthy investment.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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3/3/19 8:26 A

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[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:4

READ 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3–7

When Siu Fen discovered she had kidney failure and would need dialysis for the rest of her life, she wanted to give up. Retired and single, the longtime believer in Jesus saw no point in prolonging her life. But friends convinced her to persevere and go for dialysis and trust in God to help her.

Two years later, she found her experience coming into play when she visited a friend from church with a debilitating disease. The woman felt alone, as few could truly understand what she was going through. But Siu Fen was able to identify with her physical and emotional pain and could connect with her in a personal way. Her own journey enabled her to walk alongside the woman, giving her a special measure of comfort others couldn’t. “Now I see how God can still use me,” she said.

It can be hard to understand why we suffer. Yet God can use our affliction in unexpected ways. As we turn to Him for comfort and love in the midst of trials, it also empowers us to help others. No wonder Paul learned to see purpose in his own suffering: It gave him the opportunity to receive God’s comfort, which he could then use to bless others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). We’re not asked to deny our pain and suffering, but we can take heart in God’s ability to use it for good.

By Leslie Koh

REFLECT & PRAY
Lord, help me to keep trusting in You in the midst of trouble, knowing that I can tap Your unlimited comfort and share it with others.

How has God used you to bring comfort to another? How has your faith helped you to persevere?

blessings.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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From: Our Daily Bread

Living in God’s Story
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. Romans 13:12

READ ROMANS 13:8–14

Ernest Hemingway was asked if he could write a compelling story in six words. His response: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” Hemingway’s story is powerful because it inspires us to fill in the details. Were the shoes simply not needed by a healthy child? Or was there a tragic loss—something requiring God’s deep love and comfort?

The best stories pique our imagination, so it’s no surprise that the greatest story ever told stokes the fires of our creativity. God’s story has a central plot: He created all things; we (the human race) fell into sin; Jesus came to Earth and died and rose again to save us from our sins; and we now await His return and the restoration of all things.

Knowing what has come before and what lies ahead, how should we now live? If Jesus is restoring His entire creation from the clutches of evil, we must “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12). This includes turning from sin by God’s power and choosing to love Him and others well (vv. 8-10).

The specific ways we fight with Jesus against evil will depend on what gifts we have and what needs we see. Let’s use our imagination and look around us. Let’s seek out the wounded and weeping, and extend God’s justice, love, and comfort as He guides us.
By Mike Wittmer

REFLECT & PRAY
Live out your role in God’s story as He leads you.
Father, may Your kingdom come and may it come in me.

Blessings on your day.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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Amen.
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Donna
Lehighton, Pa
BLC 27-to-42
Powerful Prism Panther team
W,J,R&G

Focus....Eat right & keep moving!!
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Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
Romans 15:2

READ ROMANS 15:1–7

I’m encouraged every time I visit the fitness center near our house. In that busy place, I’m surrounded by others who are striving to improve their physical health and strength. Posted signs remind us not to judge each other, but words and actions that reveal support for others’ conditioning efforts are always welcomed.

What a great picture of how things should look in the spiritual realm of life! Those of us who are striving to “get in shape” spiritually, to grow in our faith, can sometimes feel as if we don’t belong because we’re not as spiritually fit—as mature in our walk with Jesus—as someone else.

Paul gave us this short, direct suggestion: “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). And to the believers in Rome he wrote: “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (Romans 15:2). Recognizing that our Father is so lovingly gracious with us, let’s show God’s grace to others with encouraging words and actions.

As we “accept one another” (v. 7), let’s entrust our spiritual growth to God—to the work of His Spirit. And while we daily seek to follow Him, may we create an atmosphere of encouragement for our brothers and sisters in Jesus as they also seek to grow in their faith.
By Dave Branon

REFLECT & PRAY
A word of encouragement can make the difference between giving up and pressing on.
Lord, help me today to encourage others along the way. Guide me to say what will not discourage but will spur them toward a deeper walk with You in Your love.

Blessings.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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2/13/19 6:36 A

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The Battle
But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.
Psalm 39:7

READ PSALM 39:1–7
As artillery rounds fell around him with an earth-shaking whoomp, the young soldier prayed fervently, “Lord, if you get me through this, I’ll go to that Bible school Mom wanted me to attend.” God honored his focused prayer. My dad survived World War II, went to Moody Bible Institute, and invested his life in ministry.

Another warrior endured a different kind of crisis that drove him to God, but his problems arose when he avoided combat. As King David’s troops fought the Ammonites, David was back at his palace casting more than just a glance at another man’s wife (see 2 Samuel 11). In Psalm 39, David chronicles the painful process of restoration from the terrible sin that resulted. “The turmoil within me grew worse,” he wrote. “The more I thought about it, the hotter I got” (vv. 2-3 nlt).

David’s broken spirit caused him to reflect: “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is” (v. 4). Amid his renewed focus, David didn’t despair. He had nowhere else to turn. “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you” (v. 7). David would survive this personal battle and go on to serve God.

What motivates our prayer life doesn’t matter as much as the focus of our prayer. God is our source of hope. He wants us to share our heart with Him.
By Tim Gustafson

REFLECT & PRAY
We are in the best place we can imagine when we go to God in prayer.

Father, our hope is in You. Forgive us for seeking answers apart from You. Draw us close to You today.

Be blessed.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
Psalm 94:19

As I waited at the train station for my weekly commute, negative thoughts crowded my mind like commuters lining up to board a train—stress over debt, unkind remarks said to me, helplessness in the face of a recent injustice done to a family member. By the time the train arrived, I was in a terrible mood.

On the train, another thought came to mind: write a note to God, giving Him my lament. Soon after I finished pouring out my complaints in my journal, I pulled out my phone and listened to the praise songs in my library. Before I knew it, my bad mood had completely changed.

Little did I know that I was following a pattern set by the writer of Psalm 94. The psalmist first poured out his complaints: “Rise up, Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve. . . . Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?” (Psalm 94:2, 16.) He didn’t hold anything back as he talked to God about injustice done to widows and orphans. Once he’d made his lament to God, the psalm transitioned into praise: “But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge” (v. 22).

God invites us to take our laments to Him. He can turn our fear, sadness, and helplessness into praise. By Linda Washington

REFLECT & PRAY
Praise has the power to lighten our heaviest burden.

Lord, I pour out my heart to You. Take my hurts and my anger, and grant me Your peace.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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1/25/19 6:39 A

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READ HEBREWS 11:1–6

Lessons on faith can come from unexpected places—like the one I learned from my 110-pound, black Labrador retriever, “Bear.” Bear’s large metal water bowl was located in a corner of the kitchen. Whenever it was empty, he wouldn’t bark or paw at it. Instead, he would lie down quietly beside it and wait. Sometimes he would have to wait several minutes, but Bear had learned to trust that I would eventually walk into the room, see him there, and provide what he needed. His simple faith in me reminded me of my need to place more trust in God.

The Bible tells us that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). The foundation of this confidence and assurance is God Himself, who “rewards those who earnestly seek him” (v. 6). God is faithful to keep His promises to all who believe and come to Him through Jesus.

Sometimes having faith in “what we do not see” isn’t easy. But we can rest in God’s goodness and His loving character, trusting that His wisdom is perfect in all things—even when we have to wait. He is always faithful to do what He says: to save our eternal souls and meet our deepest needs, now and forever.
By James Banks

REFLECT & PRAY Don’t worry about tomorrow—God is already there.

Almighty Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to always take care of me. Help me to trust You and to rest in Your perfect love today.

I had a dog named 'Bear'! Blessings!

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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Where Are You Headed?

Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord.

Psalm 121:1-2
What determines our direction in life? I once heard an answer to that question in a surprising place: a motorcycle training course. Some friends and I wanted to ride, so we took a class to learn how. Part of our training dealt with something called target fixation.

“Eventually,” our instructor said, “you’re going to face an unexpected obstacle. If you stare at it—if you target fixate—you’ll steer right into it. But if you look above and past it to where you need to go, you can usually avoid it.” Then he added, “Where you’re looking is the direction you’re going to go.”

That simple-but-profound principle applies to our spiritual lives too. When we “target fixate”—focusing on our problems or struggles—we almost automatically orient our lives around them.

However, Scripture encourages us to look past our problems to the One who can help us with them. In Psalm 121:1, we read, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?” The psalm then answers: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. . . . The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (vv. 2, 8).

Sometimes our obstacles can seem insurmountable. But God invites us to look to Him to help us see beyond our troubles instead of letting them dominate our perspective.
By Adam Holz

REFLECT & PRAY
Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 124:8

Father, help me not to “target fixate,” but to look to You whenever I face fearful obstacles as I seek to follow You along life’s road.

Blessings!


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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Unfailing love!

I pray that you . . . [will] grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
Ephesians 3:17-18

I lay still on the vinyl-covered mat and held my breath on command as the machine whirred and clicked. I knew lots of folks had endured MRIs, but for claustrophobic me, the experience required focused concentration on something—Someone—much bigger than myself.

In my mind, a phrase from Scripture—“how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18)—moved in rhythm with the machine’s hum. In Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church, he described four dimensions to God’s love in order to stress the unending parameters of His love and presence.

My position while lying down for the MRI provided a new image for my understanding. Wide: the six inches on either side of where my arms were tightly pinned to my body within the tube. Long: the distance between the cylinder’s two openings, extending out from my head and feet. High: the six inches from my nose up to the “ceiling” of the tube. Deep: the support of the tube anchored to the floor beneath me, holding me up. Four dimensions illustrating God’s presence surrounding and holding me in the MRI tube—and in every circumstance of life.

God’s love is ALL around us. Wide: He extends His arms to reach all people everywhere. Long: His love never ends. High: He lifts us up. Deep: He dips down, holding us in all situations. Nothing can separate us from Him! (Romans 8:38-39).
By Elisa Morgan

REFLECT & PRAY
Dear God, help us pause to ponder Your multidimensional love for us!
What situations cause you to question God’s love? How will you choose to trust Him?

From: Our Daily Bread.
Blessings.



"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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1/6/19 8:33 A

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Glory to God

The word glory (or glorify) is very prominent in John’s gospel. In John 17 alone it’s used nine times. It’s derived from the base word doxa, which means “glory,” “honor,” or “praise.” Our word doxology (a short hymn of worship) comes from this term. In John, the word glory surfaces first in chapter 1, verse 14. The second time is in John 2:11 where at Cana we read that Jesus “revealed His glory” by turning water into wine. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God was and is honored or glorified. Arthur Jackson

Blessings!

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Edited by: ADIRONDACKMOM1 at: 1/6/2019 (08:38)
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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12/30/18 9:01 A

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All Things New: From Our Daily Bread.

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Junkyards intrigue me. I enjoy working on cars, so I frequently make trips to the one near our home. It’s a lonely place, where the wind whispers through discarded hulks that were once someone’s prized possession. Some were wrecked, some wore out, and others simply outlived their usefulness. As I walk between the rows, a car will sometimes catch my eye, and I’ll find myself wondering about the adventures it had during its “lifetime.” Like a portal to the past, each has a story to tell—of human hankering after the latest model and the inescapable passage of time.

But I take particular pleasure in finding new life for an old part. Whenever I can take something discarded and give it new life in a restored vehicle, it feels like a small victory against time and decline.

It sometimes makes me think of Jesus’s words at the end of the Bible: “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5). These words refer to God’s renewal of creation, which includes believers. Already, all who’ve received Jesus are a “new creation” in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

And one day we will enter into His promise of unending days with Him (John 14:3). Age and disease will no longer take their toll, and we will continue the adventure of an eternal lifetime. What stories each of us will have to tell—stories of our Savior’s redeeming love and undying faithfulness.
By James Banks

REFLECT & PRAY
The end of a year and beginning of another is an opportunity for a fresh start. What might God be making new in your life?

Loving Lord, I praise You that I am a new creation in You, and that in Your kindness and mercy You have given me the promise of eternal life.

Amen. Blessings.




"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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12/23/18 6:34 A

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A Christmas Letter

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father.
John 1:14
READ JOHN 1:1–14

Every Christmas, a friend of mine writes a long letter to his wife, reviewing the events of the year and dreaming about the future. He always tells her how much he loves her, and why. He also writes a letter to each of his daughters. His words of love make an unforgettable Christmas present.

We could say that the original Christmas love letter was Jesus, the Word made flesh. John highlights this truth in his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). In ancient philosophy, the Greek for Word, logos, suggested a divine mind or order that unites reality, but John expands the definition to reveal the Word as a person: Jesus, the Son of God who was “with God in the beginning” (v. 2). This Word, the Father’s “one and only Son,” “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (v. 14). Through Jesus the Word, God reveals Himself perfectly.

Theologians have grappled with this beautiful mystery for centuries. However much we may not understand, we can be certain that Jesus as the Word gives light to our dark world (v. 9). If we believe in Him, we can experience the gift of being God’s beloved children (v. 12).

Jesus, God’s love letter to us, has come and made His home among us. Now that’s an amazing Christmas gift!

By Amy Boucher Pye

REFLECT & PRAY
How can you share the amazing gift of Jesus with others today?

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Word of God, and You bring light into my life. May I shine forth Your goodness and grace and bring You honor.
From: Our Daily Bread

Blessings to you this Christmas!
Phylis
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"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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12/16/18 7:31 A

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Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it . . . will be blessed in what they do.
James 1:25


When I emerged from my hotel in Kampala, Uganda, my hostess, who had come to pick me up for our seminar, looked at me with an amused grin. “What’s so funny?” I inquired. She laughed and asked, “Did you comb your hair?” It was my turn to laugh, for I had indeed forgotten to comb my hair. I’d looked at my reflection in the hotel mirror. How come I took no notice of what I saw?

In a practical analogy, James gives us a useful dimension to make our study of Scripture more beneficial. We look in the mirror to examine ourselves to see if anything needs correction—hair combed, face washed, shirt properly buttoned. Like a mirror, the Bible helps us to examine our character, attitude, thoughts, and behavior (James 1:23-24). This enables us to align our lives according to the principles of what God has revealed. We will “keep a tight rein” on our tongues (v. 26) and “look after orphans and widows” (v. 27). We will pay heed to God’s Holy Spirit within us and keep ourselves “from being polluted by the world” (v. 27).

When we look attentively into “the perfect law that gives freedom” and apply it to our lives, we will be blessed in what we do (v. 25). As we look into the mirror of Scripture, we can “humbly accept the word planted in [us]” (v. 21).

By Lawrence Darmani


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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12/10/18 6:57 A

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Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1

Steadfast Love

“I love you!” my dad called out as I slammed the car door and headed into school. I was in sixth grade, and for months we had played out basically the same scenario every morning. We arrived at school, Dad said, “Have a great day! I love you!” and all I said was “Bye.” I wasn’t angry with him or ignoring him. I was simply so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I didn’t notice his words. Nevertheless, my dad’s love remained steadfast.

God’s love is like that—and more. It endures forever. The Hebrew word that expresses this steadfast kind of love is hesed. It’s used over and over again in the Old Testament, and twenty-six times in Psalm 136 alone! No modern word can fully capture the meaning; we translate it “kindness,” “loving-kindness,” “mercy,” or “loyalty.” Hesed is a love that is based on covenant commitment; love that is loyal and faithful. Even when God’s people sinned, He was faithful in loving them. Steadfast love is an integral part of the character of God (Exodus 34:6).

When I was a child, I sometimes took my dad’s love for granted. Sometimes now I do the same thing with my heavenly Father’s love. I forget to listen to God and respond. I forget to be grateful. Yet I know that God’s love for me remains steadfast—a reality that provides a sure foundation for all of my life.
By Amy Peterson

REFLECT & PRAY
Take time to show the love of God to someone today.

God, we praise You for Your steadfast love to us! Even when we’re faithless, You’re faithful.

Bel blessed!


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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12/7/18 6:26 A

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With Jesus we are never alone....

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.
By Lawrence Darmani

REFLECT & PRAY With Jesus at Christmas, we’re never alone.

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.
From: Our Daily Bread

Blessings this holiday season! emoticon

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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12/1/18 6:50 A

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Honoring God with Thanks

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.

By Patricia Raybon

From: Our Daily Bread


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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11/25/18 6:33 A

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The eye of their God was watching over [them] . . . and they were not stopped.
Ezra 5:5
READ EZRA 5:1–5

When an opportunity came to take on a new role at work, Simon believed it was a godsend. After praying over the decision and seeking counsel, he felt that God was giving him this opportunity to take on bigger responsibilities. Everything fell into place, and his boss supported his move. Then things began to go wrong. Some colleagues resented his promotion and refused to cooperate. He began to wonder if he should give up.

When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem to build the house of God, enemies sought to frighten and discourage them (Ezra 4:4). The Israelites stopped at first, but continued after God encouraged them through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (4:24-5:2).

Once again, enemies came to hassle them. But this time they persevered, knowing “the eye of their God was watching over [them]” (5:5). They held on firmly to God’s instructions and trusted Him to carry them through whatever opposition they’d face. Sure enough, God moved the Persian king to support the temple’s completion (vv. 13-14).

Similarly, Simon sought God’s wisdom to discern whether he should stay or find a new position. Sensing God calling him to remain, he relied on God’s strength to persevere. Over time, he slowly gained his colleagues’ acceptance.

As we seek to follow God, wherever He places us, we may face opposition along the way. That’s when we need to keep following Him. He will guide us and carry us through.
By Leslie Koh

REFLECT & PRAY
Remain strong, for God’s eye is on you.
From: Our Daily Bread.

Blessings on your day. Phylis

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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11/15/18 9:36 A

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Dangerous.

Artist Sigismund Goetze shocked Victorian-era England with a painting entitled “Despised and Rejected of Men.” In it, he portrayed the suffering, condemned Jesus surrounded by people of Goetze’s own generation. They were so consumed by their own interests—business, romance, politics—that they were shockingly oblivious to the Savior’s sacrifice. Indifferent to Christ, the surrounding crowd, like the mob at the foot of Jesus’s cross, had no idea what—or who—they had missed.

In our day as well, believers and unbelievers alike can easily become distracted from the eternal. How can followers of Jesus cut through this fog of distraction with the truth of God’s great love? We can begin by loving one another as fellow children of God. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35 nlt).

But real love doesn’t stop there. We extend that love by sharing the gospel in hopes of drawing people to the Savior. As Paul wrote, “We are . . . Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

In this way, the body of Christ can both reflect and project God’s love, the love we so desperately need, to both each other and to our world. May both efforts, empowered by His Spirit, be a part of cutting through the distractions that hinder us from seeing the wonder of God’s love in Jesus.

By Bill Crowder
REFLECT & PRAY
To a world living in the fog of distraction, we bring the light of the good news of Jesus.



"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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11/11/18 7:11 A

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Thy father.

He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.
Malachi 4:6
For believers of Christ- death is not the end.

My father was a good father, and, in most respects, I was a dutiful son. But I allowed my father to starve for the one thing I could have given him: myself.

He was a quiet man; I was equally silent. We often worked for hours side-by-side with scarcely a word passing between us. He never asked; I never told him my deepest desires and dreams, my hopes and fears.

In time I woke up to my reticence. Perhaps the perception came when my first son was born, or when, one by one, my sons went out into the world. Now I wish I had been more of a son to my father.

I think of all the things I could have told him. And all the things he could have told me. At his funeral I stood beside his casket, struggling to understand my emotions. “It’s too late, isn’t it?” my wife said quietly. “Exactly.”

My comfort lies in the fact that we’ll be able to set things right in heaven, for is that not where every tear will be wiped away? (Revelation 21:4).

For believers in Jesus, death is not the end of affection but the beginning of timeless existence in which there will be no more misunderstandings; relationships will be healed and love will grow forever. There, the hearts of sons will turn to their fathers and the hearts of fathers to their sons (Malachi 4:6).

By David H. Roper:
REFLECT & PRAY
In God’s power and love, draw closer to others while there’s time.

Father, thank You for forgiving me and allowing me to experience a restored relationship with You. Help me to seek reconciliation in my broken relationships and deeper connections with others close to me even as I await the healing that will come in Your presence.



"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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11/7/18 7:38 A

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Compassion...

Anne Frank is well known for her diary describing her family’s years of hiding during World War II. When she was later imprisoned in a Nazi death camp, those with her said “her tears [for them] never ran dry,” making her “a blessed presence for all who knew her.” Because of this, scholar Kenneth Bailey concluded that Anne never displayed “compassion fatigue.”

Compassion fatigue can be one of the results of living in a badly broken world. The sheer volume of human suffering can numb even the best intentioned among us. Compassion fatigue, however, was not in Jesus’s makeup. Matthew 9:35-36 says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Our world suffers not only from physical needs but also from spiritual brokenness. Jesus came to meet that need and challenged His followers to join Him in this work (vv. 37-38). He prayed that the Father would raise up workers to respond to the needs all around us—people who struggle with loneliness, sin, and illness. May the Father give us a heart for others that mirrors His heart. In the strength of His Spirit, we can express His compassionate concern to those who are suffering.
By Bill Crowder

REFLECT & PRAY
In a world filled with heartache, we can model the compassion of Jesus.

Be blessed.



"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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10/30/18 8:18 A

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Agreeing to Disagree

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace. Romans 14:19

I remember hearing my dad talk about how difficult it was to walk away from unending arguments over differing interpretations of the Bible. By contrast he recalled how good it was when both sides agreed to disagree.

But is it really possible to set aside irreconcilable differences when so much seems to be at stake? That’s one of the questions the apostle Paul answers in his New Testament letter to the Romans. Writing to readers caught in social, political, and religious conflict, he suggests ways of finding common ground even under the most polarized conditions (14:5-6).

According to Paul, the way to agree to disagree is to recall that each of us will answer to the Lord not only for our opinions but also for how we treat one another in our differences (v. 10).

Conditions of conflict can actually become occasions to remember that there are some things more important than our own ideas—even more than our interpretations of the Bible. All of us will answer for whether we have loved one another, and even our enemies, as Christ loved us.

Now that I think of it, I remember that my dad used to talk about how good it is not just to agree to disagree but to do so with mutual love and respect.

By Mart DeHaan

REFLECT & PRAY We can agree to disagree—in love.

Father, please enable us to be patient and kind with those who don’t agree with us about anything or everything.

From: Our Daily Bread.

Be blessed today.




"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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10/23/18 6:49 A

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From: Our Daily Bread
I have a beautiful autumn photograph of a young man on horseback in the Colorado mountains as he contemplates which trail ahead to follow. It reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” In it, Frost ponders two pathways that lie before him. Both are equally inviting, but he doubts he will return to this place again, and he must choose one. Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), the Lord told His listeners, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (7:13-14).

On our journey through life, we face many choices about which road to travel. Many pathways seem promising and attractive but only one is the pathway of life. Jesus calls us to travel the road of discipleship and obedience to God’s Word—to follow Him instead of the crowd.

As we ponder the road ahead, may God give us wisdom and courage to follow His way—the road of life. It will make all the difference for us and those we love!
By David C. McCasland

REFLECT & PRAY
Choose to walk the road of life with Jesus.
Lord, as we go through this day, give us eyes to see the narrow road that leads to life and the courage to follow it.

Blessings on your day. Phylis


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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10/20/18 6:36 A

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God is always with us!

Fear can leave us frozen. We know all the reasons to be afraid—everything that’s hurt us in the past, everything that could easily do so again. So sometimes we’re stuck—unable to go back; too afraid to move forward. I just can’t do it. I’m not smart enough, strong enough, or brave enough to handle being hurt like that again.

I’m captivated by how author Frederick Buechner describes God’s grace: like a gentle voice that says, “Here is the world. Terrible and beautiful things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you.”

Terrible things will happen. In our world, hurting people hurt other people, often terribly. Like the psalmist David, we carry our own stories of when evil surrounded us, when, like “ravenous beasts,” others wounded us (Psalm 57:4). And so we grieve; we cry out (vv. 1-2).

But because God is with us, beautiful things can happen too. As we run to Him with our hurts and fears, we find ourselves carried by a love far greater than anyone’s power to harm us (vv. 1-3), a love so deep it fills the skies (v. 10). Even when disaster rages around us, His love is a solid refuge where our hearts find healing (vv. 1, 7). Until one day we’ll find ourselves awakening to renewed courage, ready to greet the day with a song of His faithfulness (vv. 8-10).
By Monica Brands

REFLECT & PRAY
God’s love and beauty make us brave.
Healer and Redeemer, thank You for holding us and healing us with Your endless love. Help us find in Your love the courage to follow You and share Your love with those around us.
This was from: Our Daily Bread

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Ps 16:8
Amen.



"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
youtu.be/Ps7xmW-9LXQ


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