May 8, 2021

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Read – Song of Solomon 5:2-16

What does it say?
Solomon’s wife dreamed that he came to her but left because she did not unlock the door to her bedchamber. She then praised her husband to the daughters of Jerusalem.

What does it mean?
Some period of time had passed between the wedding and the events of Chapter 5. The dream in verses 2-8 is a reflection of the apathy that had crept into the wife’s affections. She was going to sleep when Solomon came, desiring intimacy. But he was gone by the time she changed her mind to let him into her room. In answering her friends’ question, she reminded herself of how attractive she found her husband to be. She fittingly summed up her description by calling him her lover and her friend.

How should I respond?
Most marriages don’t live in a perpetual honeymoon phase. Personality differences or annoying habits can cause a cooling off of physical attraction over time. Is your marriage in a period of indifference or maybe even hostility? What you feel towards your spouse will likely be determined by what you choose to focus on. Try this exercise: write down one positive thing about your spouse every day for a week. During the day, look for the chance to praise that quality. Thank him or her for how they use that character trait in your everyday life, even if it’s only occasionally. Focusing on the things that led you to fall in love can help renew your appreciation and affection for each other.

May 7, 2019

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Read – Psalms 46-47

What does it say?
The Lord Almighty, the God of Jacob, is a refuge and fortress for His people. The psalmist leads the people to sing praises to God as the King of all the earth.

What does it mean?
These psalms commemorate the angel of the Lord’s victory over the Assyrian army encamped around Jerusalem (2 Kings 19). Hezekiah withdrew to the temple in prayer the night before the planned attack. The light of day revealed God’s deliverance without a single man lifting a sword. The walls of the city would not have stood against an Assyrian assault, but the Lord Almighty Himself was their fortress. All they had to do was, “Be still, and know that I am God.” A night of agonizing prayer erupted in shouts of joy, clapping of hands, and songs of praise. The God of Jacob proved Himself to be God over the kingdoms of the earth, just as Hezekiah had prayed.

How should I respond?
How do you respond when a desperate situation is on the horizon? Do you frantically rush around trying to fortify the situation as if preparing for an approaching hurricane? Today’s psalms remind us to follow Hezekiah’s example to pause, pray, and praise. If you’re in the calm before the storm, get still before the Lord and talk honestly with Him about your concerns. How could God fight for you if you just released control of the situation? His resolution may not come immediately, but throughout the ordeal you will realize the powerful words of Martin Luther, “A mighty fortress is our God!

May 7, 2021

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Read – Song of Solomon 3:6-5:1

What does it say?
Solomon’s royal wedding party traveled to retrieve his bride. He praised her beauty and purity. The couple then consummated their marriage.

What does it mean?
Today’s passage is a glimpse inside a royal wedding day, filled with the splendor fitting such an occasion. Remembering her previous insecurities, Solomon praised his bride’s physical appearance and character. He saw strength reflected both in her eyes and in her demeanor. She was perfect just as she was because he loved her. As was the custom, he affectionately referred to his wife as his “sister,” now affording her the same provision and protection. The enjoyment of the wedding night was heightened by their decision to protect their purity until marriage.

How should I respond?
Weddings are a multi-billion dollar industry. Most brides dream of a wedding day fitting of a princess, emphasizing the dress, venue, flowers, and food. While these things usually express the couple’s personalities, it’s more important for the character and commitment of the bride and groom to take center stage. Divorce statistics might change drastically if as many hours were spent planning the marriage as had gone into planning the wedding. Take a moment to write down your personal commitments regarding marriage. How do they line up with God’s Word? What insights have you gained that you could share with others today?

May 6, 2019

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Read – Acts 2

What does it say?
The Holy Spirit came upon believers on the day of Pentecost. Afterward, Peter preached the good news of Jesus to the crowd, and about 3,000 people believed.

What does it mean?
It’s not a coincidence that God waited until Pentecost to send the Holy Spirit. Jews from every nation were in Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest, but the spiritual harvest would far outweigh any other. A fundamental change occurred when the Holy Spirit settled upon each believer. The new life He created within them gave power and clarity to their message and unity in their purpose. Peter, a simple fisherman, was emboldened to speak with authority, and listeners were convicted of their sin. A new age had begun; believers would have His indwelling presence with them always (John 14:16). The gospel story traveled back to each nation with those who heard and believed.

How should I respond?
For over 2,000 years, the Holy Spirit has empowered followers of Christ to accomplish extraordinary things for the Lord. You may wonder, “What exactly does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?” The initial work of God’s Spirit is conviction of your sinful state outside of Christ. When you place your faith in Jesus, His presence enters your life. You then access the Spirit’s power by yielding to His prompting and continuing conviction of individual sins. In what area do you need to yield to the Holy Spirit right now? Pay attention to His leading today – you might just be part of something extraordinary.

May 6, 2021

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Read – Song of Solomon 2:7-3:5

What does it say?
Solomon and the maiden talked of being alone together. Two times in this passage, she told the daughters of Jerusalem not to awaken love until it could be fulfilled.

What does it mean?
The mutual love between Solomon and his future bride caused other women to desire the same kind of relationship. Being keenly aware that her friends might try to manufacture those feelings, the Shulamite maiden encouraged them to maintain their moral purity until their wedding day. She modeled her advice, even though her love for Solomon was so consuming that she dreamed of frantically searching the city for him at night. Although Solomon and his fiancée each spoke of being alone together, they used restraint in physically expressing their love during their engagement.

How should I respond?
Virginity is an old-fashioned notion. Current culture tells young people to simply wait to “fall in love” before having a physical relationship. They seldom hear that pre-marital sex is both physically and emotionally unhealthy. So what guardrails should you put in place as a single person? First, don’t confuse physical intimacy with love. Be constantly aware of the temptations you face in spending time alone with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Following God’s design may be counter-cultural, but practicing abstinence before marriage will free you within marriage to express love as God intended.

May 5, 2019

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Read – Acts 1

What does it say?
Before Jesus was taken into Heaven, He told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Spirit so they would have power to be His witnesses.

What does it mean?
Being Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth was a mammoth task requiring faith in His resurrection, committed prayer, and Holy Spirit power. Jesus appeared to His followers at different times and in different ways, leaving no doubt as to His deity or His bodily resurrection. Inspired by the expectation that Jesus would return, His followers waited for the promised Holy Spirit in prayer. How did they pray? Together. When did they pray? Constantly. For what did they pray? Guidance. Why did they pray? Preparation. As a result, the book of Acts records how the Holy Spirit enabled the early church to follow Christ’s command to be His witnesses.

How should I respond?
The book of Acts is the backstory for the modern day church. Our origins are rooted in absolute faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, a dedication to prayer, and dependence on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Why then, do we often expect successful ministry without each of these elements firmly in place? Which aspect of today’s passage needs to be strengthened in your personal life or place of service at church? This week, gather with other ministry volunteers and pray for God’s direction and enabling to be His witnesses.

May 5, 2021

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Read – Song of Solomon 1:12-2:6

What does it say?
Solomon saw the Shulamite maiden as a lily among thorns. She described his love as an apple tree and a banner.

What does it mean?
During the engagement period, there was a contrast between how the young maiden saw herself and how Solomon viewed her. Although she compared herself to a common flower, Solomon thought her to be the most beautiful of women. As he expressed his love, her insecurities began to fade. His open praise was like a military standard, announcing his love and protection. She safely rested in the shade and nourishment of his love, as if under an apple tree. Solomon’s praise of her beauty reassured her of his love and gave her a sense of security in their relationship.

How should I respond?
In the early stages of a relationship, we’re more likely to express our emotions. As time goes by, we can become complacent. Truthfully, we’re more prone to publicly criticize our spouse than openly praise him or her. No matter how long you’ve been together, your partner still needs to be reassured of your love and respect. How do your words contribute to your spouse’s personal and spiritual growth? If dating, is he or she a godly person who praises your qualities and encourages your goals? Words matter, especially to those we love the most. Speak words today that strengthen your relationship.

May 4, 2019

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Read – John 21

What does it say?
The resurrected Christ met with His disciples by the Sea of Galilee.

What does it mean?
The last two verses of the previous chapter appear to be the perfect ending to John’s epistle. However, without Chapter 21 we would lose three important lessons from the life of Peter. First, God seeks to restore His followers after a failure of faith. Next, God forgives His children and gives them responsibilities. Both of these principles are seen in how Jesus gently but firmly reinstated Peter, giving him work to do right away. Finally, God has a unique plan for each believer. When Peter questioned the future, Jesus turned his focus from other disciples to the task ahead.

How should I respond?
Is there a spiritual wipeout in your past? Most of us would have to say, “Yes.” Past failure doesn’t mean the Lord has given up on you; we serve a God who is always willing to give us another chance. We find forgiveness and restoration to serve the Lord when we genuinely and humbly repent of sinful thoughts, attitudes, and actions. Ask God what responsibility He has for you in your community and local church. Which of His “sheep” or “lambs” has God given you to “feed” and “tend”? If He leads you down a difficult path, like Peter, stay focused on your task and accept the challenge, “Follow Me.”

May 4, 2021

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Read – Song of Solomon 1:1-11

What does it say?
The maiden longed for her beloved’s kiss and found pleasure in his name. Solomon praised her beauty when she asked him to excuse her physical appearance.

What does it mean?
The Song of Songs is an intimate picture of romantic love and marriage as God intended it to be. Throughout the lyrical poem, Solomon and the Shulamite maiden describe their mutual attraction, their feelings, and the progression of their relationship. The poetic language and the unfamiliar cultural setting can make it a difficult book to understand. In this first passage, the couple were in the early days of their courtship. She longed for his presence and associated his name with his positive qualities. His character was such that other women loved to hear her talk about him.

How should I respond?
Much of contemporary culture pictures unhealthy marriages and promotes casual or perverted relationships. We tend to forget that God originated romance and marriage. It makes sense for followers of Christ to approach romantic relationships the way God intended. If you are single, how would you describe the character of the person you are currently dating or interested in? Is he or she a believer who displays Christ-like qualities? The smoothest road to a healthy marriage starts with a growing personal relationship with Jesus and a commitment to Christ-centered dating.

May 3, 2019

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Read – John 20

What does it say?
Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to Mary Magdalene and the disciples, except for Thomas.

What does it mean?
The resurrection of Jesus is the greatest event in history. By it, Jesus defeated the power of death for all time. The risen Christ didn’t appear to unbelievers; He purposely came to His followers. To Mary, He gave renewed hope and sent her as a missionary to the disciples. To the 10 disciples hiding in fear, Jesus gave renewed courage and a new mission. When Thomas doubted the truth of the resurrection, Jesus appeared especially to renew his faith. The resurrection proves that Jesus is the Christ.

How should I respond?
Who first told you the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection? Knowing about the risen Lord Jesus carries a responsibility to go and tell. Faith requires action. But like the people in today’s passage, we all have stuff to overcome. Life is messy and can leave you discouraged, fearful, and full of doubt. God’s Word will renew your hope, courage, and faith so you, too, can go and tell. To whom is God sending you to tell the story of Jesus and what He’s done in your life? Today, how will your life reflect Thomas’ realization, “My Lord and my God!”?

May 3, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 12:1-14

What does it say?
King Solomon encouraged his readers to remember God while they are young and to understand that life’s sole purpose is to fear God and obey His commands.

What does it mean?
As old age approaches, abilities that are taken for granted in youth begin to fail, and opportunities available in younger years begin to pass by. Although this transition seems bleak, the realities of life should urge the young to lay a solid spiritual foundation as early as possible. That foundation comes from God’s Word, not books written by man’s logic alone. Throughout Ecclesiastes, Solomon voiced the frustration of looking at life from an earthly point of view. He concludes that the only way life makes sense is to look at it from God’s perspective. The whole purpose of mankind is to live in awe of God, obeying His commands. Reverence for the Lord results in obedience to His Word.

How should I respond?
From time to time we all have a tendency to view life from an earthly perspective and forget our purpose: to worship God and obey His instructions with love and respect. Do you still have the health and energy of youth? Then, how are you training yourself to develop godly habits? Have the realities of getting older left you frustrated? Take time to remember God’s blessings and commit to obeying Him with every ounce of energy you have. No matter what stage of life you are in, the message from today’s passage is clear. Life without God is meaningless. Its lasting value is found in Jesus Christ!

May 2, 2019

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Read – John 19

What does it say?
Pilate sentenced Jesus to death on a cross. Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for permission to bury Jesus’ body.

What does it mean?
Jesus had been welcomed into Jerusalem as “The King of Israel.” Now He stood wearing a crown of thorns, beaten and mocked as soldiers sarcastically called out, “Hail, King of the Jews!” The shouts of “Hosanna” turned to “Crucify!” Even though Pilate gave in to the crowd by consenting to Jesus’ death, His life was not taken – it was given as payment for every sin mankind had and would ever take part in. He didn’t give up His spirit until He could finally say, “It is finished!” God’s plan for the redemption of the world was complete.

How should I respond?
Americans can’t seem to get enough reality TV. We spend hours watching people publicly air the best and worst of humanity. But have you taken time to see yourself realistically? The crucifixion of Jesus requires you to “come into contact with the rugged reality of Redemption” – Oswald Chambers. Either you accept Jesus’ payment for your sin, or you choose to stand before God in judgment one day. What is your response to the cross? The reality of redemption makes your new reality possible: the guilty declared righteous. When was the last time you stopped to thank God for the Cross?

May 2, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 11

What does it say?
Solomon encouraged the reader to enjoy the benefits of diligently investing time and money, accepting God’s sovereign control over the outcome.

What does it mean?
Every person has three things to manage during a lifetime: money, time, and effort. Solomon illustrated how to wisely invest one’s resources. His listeners were also encouraged to enjoy the benefits of all stages of life, both youth and old age. He warned, however, that life is fleeting and unpredictable even with appropriate preparation. Since it is impossible to understand everything that God purposes or allows, diligence should be exercised in every area. But even worthy efforts are meaningless if the true purpose of life is not realized.

How should I respond?
Most people are aware of the consequences of failing to prepare well financially – but what about squandering the time and abilities God has given you? Anything you attempt without consideration for God’s long-term plan is shortsighted. Our culture focuses on immediate outcomes, but accepting God’s sovereign control frees you to work hard and enjoy every stage of life. In what ways have you been guilty of investing your money, time, or effort without asking for God’s guidance? Submit all that you have and are to Him. Determine to be diligent, regardless of what the day may bring.

May 1, 2019

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Read – Psalm 45

What does it say?
The psalmist sang of the king’s splendor and majesty and his bride’s beauty.

What does it mean?
This psalm describes the royal wedding of a great and godly king. Although we don’t know exactly when it was written or to which king it refers, the descriptions point to either Solomon or Hezekiah. Because he loved righteousness and hated wickedness, this king would be favored by God and remembered by men. But even greater, his reign was connected with that of Jesus Himself by the writer of Hebrews, who quoted verses from this psalm regarding the supremacy of Christ (Heb. 1:8-9). John also used this Messianic passage in Revelation to describe Christ’s coming for His church. Just as the bride clothed herself with garments to please her groom, the church is to be clothed in righteousness when King Jesus comes for His bride (Rev. 19:6-8).

How should I respond?
The church of Jesus Christ is made up of all people throughout the ages who have placed their faith in Him for salvation from their sins. For those of us who are alive and following Him today, these are days of preparation as the bride of Christ. The condition of the church as a whole is dependent upon each local church, which in turn is dependent upon the obedient lives of its individual members. If Jesus came back today, would you be dressed in rags or in His righteousness? How are you actively helping to prepare your local church as Christ’s royal bride? Determine not to waste a single day of preparation as we anticipate His return.

May 1, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 9:13-10:20

What does it say?
Solomon compared the blessings that result from following God’s wisdom with the consequences of living foolishly.

What does it mean?
King Solomon observed that true wisdom is rarely appreciated. In fact, he was astonished that foolish living, which resulted from disobeying God, seemed to be rewarded more frequently. Solomon noted that even persons in positions of authority struggled with recognizing true wisdom. Just like dead flies in perfume, even small amounts of foolishness can spoil the blessings of life. God’s wisdom, on the other hand, gives the insight and ability to avoid the consequences of foolish behavior.

How should I respond?
We have a distinct tendency to follow our own agenda rather than God’s much wiser plan. However, the consequences of following even a small amount of foolishness can be very serious. God’s Word helps us to recognize wisdom from foolishness and provides direction for a successful life. In which areas of your life have you blocked out God’s guidance? Keeping yourself in God’s Word illuminates problem areas and allows the Holy Spirit to convict you where needed. How are you intentionally following God’s plan? Surrender to his plan today, and allow God’s Word to protect you from the consequences of foolish living.

April 30, 2019

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Read – Psalm 44

What does it say?
The writer recalled how God caused their fathers to flourish and lamented that He no longer went out with their armies, even though they had not forgotten His name.

What does it mean?
This psalm was used in corporate worship to grieve utter defeat at the hands of their enemies. God’s people were being ransacked even though they worshipped the name of the Lord rather than other gods. The claim of fidelity to God indicates the psalm may have been written during the days of King Hezekiah, who despite ridding Judah of foreign idols and reinstating national worship of God Almighty, watched the Assyrian army plunder his kingdom without any restraint. The psalmist’s resolve to remain faithful to the Lord is rivaled only by the boldness of his request that God would wake up, rise up, and help them – an appeal based solely on His unfailing love for His people.

How should I respond?
Victory over sin that has gripped your life is freeing. Still, a spiritual victory shouldn’t give us a sense of entitlement before God. We’ve come to expect His unmitigated blessing, like school children receiving reward for doing as the teacher asks. Are you resolved to trust the Lord, regardless of what He allows in your life, or is your obedience directly linked to His blessings? Pray boldly about the difficulties you’re facing, and then resolve to hope in God alone (Job 13:15) with a faith that can be proven genuine (1 Pet. 1:6-7).

April 30, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 9:1-12

What does it say?
King Solomon observed that death is the common destiny for all mankind, but God has given gifts in life that should be enjoyed.

What does it mean?
Solomon reflected on a common problem for humanity: death. People, both good and bad, face the same end to their lives. Even the memory of our existence eventually disappears. Perhaps worst of all, death’s timing has always remained a mystery – sometimes coming suddenly like a fish caught in a net. In spite of that, however, Solomon also noted that God gives gifts in this life that are meant to be enjoyed and meaningful work that should be done with a person’s full effort.

How should I respond?
Every person is guilty of breaking God’s law. The penalty for that disobedience is death, which is why we all face the same end. Death’s reality can cause fear in the hearts of those who do not know God. Yet Scripture also teaches that if you accept Jesus’ payment on the cross, then death is not the end – it is only the beginning. Because Jesus defeated death, we can embrace a new life in Him. How have you allowed this belief to change the way you live? Your most important decision is to accept this amazing gift from God. Have you made that decision? The cost of rejecting this offer is too great to ignore.

April 29, 2019

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Read – John 18

What does it say?
Jesus was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and questioned by the high priest and Pilate.

What does it mean?
Three men failed to take a stand for Jesus in this chapter. Judas made a treacherous choice by selling His allegiance to Jesus for a handful of silver. Instead of standing with Jesus, “Judas…also stood with them.” Peter, on the other hand, was ready to give his life in defense of Jesus, but a sword was the wrong weapon at the wrong time. Afraid and alone outside the door of the high priest, Peter “stood with them” and denied knowing Jesus. Pilate chose power and security over truth, siding with the crowd and delivering Jesus to be crucified. Greed, fear, and power stood in the way of taking a stand.

How should I respond?
Are you in the minority as you live for Christ in your home, workplace, or school? When people ridicule and mock God and His Word, where do you stand? It takes courage and conviction to refuse to laugh, to walk away, or to stand on biblical truth. Are you, like Peter, courageous one moment and fearful the next? Have you denied Jesus simply by being silent when He wanted you to speak up? Jesus suffered humiliation and pain in order to stand for you. What are you willing to endure in order to stand for Him?

April 29, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 8

What does it say?
King Solomon observed that human wisdom cannot enable a person to comprehend how God administers justice to those who disobey Him.

What does it mean?
Solomon observed that God’s way of administering justice often seems unfair. The wicked were often buried with honor even among the people they had wronged. Those who broke God’s laws appeared to do so over and over with no consequences at all. In comparison, those who followed God’s commands seemed to receive treatment that should have rightfully been given to the wicked. Solomon quickly realized, however, that God’s wisdom in administering justice is far superior to ours. Even though the wicked often appear to prosper, their prosperity will not rescue them in the face of death.

How should I respond?
Although our limited wisdom makes it difficult for us to see God’s full plan, we can know that He is always working for our good. Scripture even warns us not to depend on our own understanding, but to trust God’s wisdom. That trust is often tested when we see people who oppose God prospering. Their prosperity, however, is only temporary and provides no protection from a lifetime of disobedience. Scripture teaches that only a relationship with Jesus can save us from the consequences of disobeying God. How would you describe your relationship with Jesus right now? Take time today to make the decision to trust God’s perfect plan regardless of life’s circumstances.

April 28, 2019

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Read – John 17

What does it say?
Jesus prayed for Himself, his disciples, and for all who will ever believe in Him.

What does it mean?
The “High Priestly Prayer of Christ” is the longest prayer of Jesus in Scripture. Several principles surface from what Jesus prayed for Himself and those who follow Him. First, the deepest desire of Jesus was to glorify the Father. God receives glory when the work He gives is completed as Jesus did by securing eternal life for believers by His death on the cross. Next, Jesus and the Father are one. God desires to experience this same unity with followers of Jesus and for believers to have unity with one another. Finally, disciples of Christ are to be sanctified by the truth of God’s Word. Sanctification is being set apart from sin for God’s purpose.

How should I respond?
The chief purpose of the Christian life is to glorify God by doing the work He designed for you to do. This is an impossible task if not done God’s way through sanctification and oneness. From what do you need to be separated so you can draw closer to God? God calls us to work alongside other believers in a local church. Unity in the church validates the message of Christ but is only achieved when each member is one with God. Look back over the prayer of Jesus. How can you pray for yourself, your family, and your church in order to better glorify the Father?

April 28, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 7

What does it say?
Solomon’s contrasting of wisdom and folly led him to conclude that it is better to be wise than foolish, even though life may seem futile.

What does it mean?
Solomon’s list of “better” things in life may seem puzzling. He draws the conclusion that people seem to learn more from adversity than when things are going well. Life is unpredictable. At certain times it all seems meaningless. But even if things don’t make sense, it is better to live wisely and righteously than foolishly. After all, the difference between a wise or foolish decision can alter the course of a person’s life. Wisdom provides much needed strength and protection and offers better results.

How should I respond?
Life, with all of its difficulties and adversities, may seem pointless at times. However, everything that happens is under God’s sovereign control. He alone knows what the future holds. That‘s why it is always to our advantage to choose godly wisdom in daily decisions. When faced with a dilemma, the wise choice might not always appeal to you or appear to be the most convenient. But keep in mind that it will be pleasing to God and, therefore, beneficial to you. How can you recognize the wise choice? Look to the One who is infinitely wise. He will guide you with divine wisdom as you search the Scriptures and pray. Determine today to choose wisdom over foolishness.

April 27, 2019

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Read – John 16

What does it say?
Jesus told his disciples that He was leaving but was sending them the Holy Spirit. Their sorrow would turn to joy and peace because Jesus has overcome the world.

What does it mean?
Jesus continued to prepare the disciples for His departure. Even though He wouldn’t physically be with them in the difficult days ahead, Jesus was sending a Helper who would be with them always. The grief, confusion, and panic they would feel at His crucifixion would be transformed into a cause for joy at His resurrection. Though they wouldn’t fully understand it at the time, His sacrifice on the cross completely defeated sin and death, overcoming anything the world could throw at them. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, they would experience peace in a troubled and hostile world.

How should I respond?
When was the last time you said, “I’m fine, under the circumstances?” Well, what in the world are you doing under there when you can live as an overcomer? The Lord is able to transform your sorrows into joy as you experience His presence and peace through the Holy Spirit. Have you asked God to remove some kind of sorrow? It seldom works that way. Just as labor pains become a reason for joy because they bring a baby into a family, trouble and heartache give birth to stronger faith and character in the life of an overcomer. Be aware of the presence of Jesus in the midst of today’s trouble.

April 27, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:12

What does it say?
Solomon warned of the vanity of loving money, as he witnessed the unreliability of wealth. He concluded that the ability to enjoy work and possessions is a gift from God.

What does it mean?
Many people believe they will be satisfied once they have accumulated enough wealth, only to find they are still unfulfilled. Having wealth carries no guarantees, since riches can slip away at any time. All mankind enters this world empty handed, and every person will leave in the exact same way. Solomon recognized God as the one true source of happiness and satisfaction. Why? He realized that contentment in life is a gift from God, enabling a person to enjoy both his work and his possessions.

How should I respond?
We live in a society that worships wealth. People exhaust themselves in order to have it all, only to want more. Living for money can cause frustration, illness, and even death. No matter how secure someone believes his wealth to be, financial ruin can happen to anyone at any time. God never intended for us to depend on something so unreliable. How has society influenced the managing of your finances? Are you accumulating possessions for greedy purposes, or are you allowing God to lead you? Seeing your work and wealth from God’s perspective will result in God’s gift of contentment.

April 26, 2019

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Read – John 15

What does it say?
Jesus spoke to his disciples about fruit bearing, loving, suffering, and witnessing.

What does it mean?
To “abide” in Christ is to depend on Him for life as a branch does a vine. It means staying close to Jesus by remaining in His Word, obeying, and confessing sin through prayer. The believer who abides bears the fruit of Christ-like character (Gal. 5:22-24) and brings others to faith in Jesus (John 4:36). Other evidences of abiding in Christ are answered prayer, joy, and increased love for Jesus and other believers. The abiding disciple will also experience personal pruning in order to produce “more fruit” and “much fruit.” The world will reject those who abide in Christ just as it rejected the Lord Jesus.

How should I respond?
When teachers want to stress the importance of a topic, they use repetition. The word, “abide” is used eleven times in this chapter. Did you get the message? Without abiding in Christ you will accomplish nothing of eternal value. Abiding doesn’t happen automatically or by accident – it’s conscious work. What evidence of lasting fruit do you see in your life? Will you yield to God’s pruning in order to increase your potential and give new direction for growth? When you determine to abide, you’ll reap the benefits of a revitalized prayer life, along with deeper love and joy – in spite of how others view and treat you.

April 26, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

What does it say?
Solomon advised mankind to fear God by listening in His house, by not making rash vows, and by fulfilling vows that have been made.

What does it mean?
All reverence should be shown to Almighty God. A person should enter His house and His presence ready to learn, being quick to listen and slow to speak. It’s especially foolish to make a hasty vow before God. Once an intention is promised, God expects it to be fulfilled. It’s better to refrain from making a promise than to end up making excuses later for why it didn’t happen. Promises made to God are a serious matter; excuses for not following through are unacceptable. Carefully considering and keeping one’s word shows honor for the Lord.

How should I respond?
Have you ever been caught up in the moment and promised to do something for someone only to later realize that you couldn’t deliver? We’ve all been there and experienced the consequences. God deserves our utmost reverence. We do not want to sin against Him by making promises we cannot keep. How can you avoid the pitfall of speaking rashly before the Lord? First, be teachable at church and as you read the Bible. Ask God what He wants you to learn. Next, prayerfully consider any commitment before you make it. Then be sure to honor the Lord by following through.

April 25, 2019

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Read – John 14

What does it say?
Jesus promised to come again, send the Holy Spirit, and give His disciples peace.

What does it mean?
Chapters 13-17 contain the conversation Jesus had with the disciples before being arrested and crucified. He was leaving; life was about to change. Jesus knew He needed to prepare them for His departure. His beloved disciples were going to find themselves in dangerous and heartbreaking circumstances in the near future. They could either live in fear or choose to enjoy His peace. The promise of the Holy Spirit ensured they wouldn’t be alone. He would comfort, guide, help, and teach them.

How should I respond?
In what area of your life do you need the peace of Jesus? Having a troubled heart comes from dwelling on feelings of fear in uncertain situations. The peace that Jesus gives doesn’t depend on circumstances. The gift of peace comes through the Holy Spirit, who makes His home inside anyone who places trust in Jesus. God’s Spirit causes the Bible to come alive with meaning and reminds you of what Jesus taught. Will you refuse to be troubled or anxious today by relying on the Holy Spirit?

April 25, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 4

What does it say?
Meaningful relationships help people navigate life’s realities, such as oppression, envy, and selfishness.

What does it mean?
Solomon was grieved to see lives controlled by oppression, envy, and selfishness. God never intended for humanity to live in such a bleak way. However, relationships can be mutually beneficial when people recognize opportunities to help, encourage, and protect each other. Goals are more easily achieved as people truly care for one another and work together. The benefits of friendship can make all the difference when facing the hardships and disappointments that are a natural part of living in a broken world.

How should I respond?
Life is hard, and at times it can be unfair. Every day, you pass desperate people in need of help and encouragement. How can God use you to help others who are hurting? What God-given ability could you use to benefit them? Romans 12:4-5 explains the relationship believers should have as we work together in the body of Christ. Because we need one another, we should apply this principle to everything we do in life. Stop now and write down the names those God is prompting you to contact; then pray for them. Your encouragement could make a huge difference in their world.

April 24, 2019

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Read – Psalm 42, 43

What does it say?
The writer remembered joyfully leading God’s people to God’s house. Downcast, he reminded himself to have hope in God and to praise the One who lovingly directed him.

What does it mean?
Psalm 42, the first psalm attributed to the sons of Korah, marks the beginning of Book 2 in Psalms. The descendants of Korah overcame the rebellious legacy of their ancestor and faithfully led Israel in Temple worship (Num. 16). The writer was far from Jerusalem, suffering physically and taunted by the ungodly. His consuming desire to return to the Temple led him to seek direction through God’s truth. God’s love sustained him during the day and gave him a song in the night. This dark lament maintains a singular reason to hope he would smile again – his Savior, his Rock was with him.

How should I respond?
Drastic change of some kind can make us feel disjointed emotionally, bringing on a period of depression. At others times, we long for our circumstance to change, but God allows it to continue day after day. What should you do when life leaves you feeling dark and unsettled? Search out the light and truth found in Scripture. The Bible is a compass, directing our feelings so we won’t get off course spiritually. It reminds us of who God is and how He has been faithful in the past. Have your hopes been dashed? Hope in God; His character remains unchanged in the midst of our fluctuating circumstances.

April 24, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 3

What does it say?
God, in His sovereign design, has appointed a time for everything under Heaven. He has also placed in each person’s heart a desire for eternity.

What does it mean?
God is in control, and His purposes will be accomplished. God’s perfect timing gives order and stability to what would be total chaos otherwise. People have the opportunity to enjoy each day and rise above every challenge because of God’s blessings and sovereignty. Since God created mankind with His eternal purpose in mind, the deepest human longings can never be completely satisfied by mere earthly experiences. It is only fitting to worship and reverence God as He reveals the eternal purposes behind life’s daily activities.

How should I respond?
Life happens. Some things you expect, but others come without warning. God, however, knows and sees everything from beginning to end. He can use each event in your life for His divine purposes, no matter how those circumstances may make you feel. What is your first course of action when you find yourself surrounded by chaos? Do you immediately turn to the One who made you, loves you, and sent His Son to die for you? Today, determine to trust the Lord to bring order to your life and bring awareness of His eternal purposes. As you do, a new sense of moment-by-moment worship will emerge.

April 23, 2019

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Read – Psalm 41

What does it say?
While David’s enemies waited for him to die of disease and his friends betrayed him, David trusted the Lord to mercifully sustain and restore him.

What does it mean?
In order to understand this psalm, it’s imperative to put it into context. The “one” and “close friend” David speaks of in this passage are his son Absalom and Ahithophel (who sided against David after his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah). Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather, but Absalom’s hatred for his father was more complicated. David had not punished his son Amnon for brutally attacking Absalom’s sister. When Absalom killed Amnon, David was estranged from him for years, leaving Absalom bitter and revengeful. David felt the harsh reality of Nathan’s prophecy that the sword would never leave his house. He must have felt he had no moral ground upon which to rule justly because of his own similar offenses. Although David had right standing with God after his repentance, the consequences of his sin followed him and tore his family apart.

How should I respond?
The Lord’s forgiveness is assured when we genuinely repent, but the severity of the consequences can be far reaching. If you’re enduring the realities of your own actions, seek God’s forgiveness and reach out to those you’ve hurt. Consider the underlying warning in this chapter – the temptation that entices you today may cost you dearly in the future. Will you choose to repent before a sinful thought becomes a sinful action?

April 23, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 2

What does it say?
Solomon observed that pleasures, possessions, wisdom, and hard work are futile without God. True wisdom, knowledge, and joy come only from the hand of God.

What does it mean?
Solomon had everything that anyone could ever hope to have. Yet when he considered it all, he realized that his fate would be the same as that of a foolish man. Death would come to both, and all he had worked for would be left behind. Without God, a person has only the satisfaction of the immediate moment, and even that holds no lasting value. However, God gives those who live to please Him satisfaction in their work because it is accompanied with wisdom, knowledge, and joy. When work has eternal purpose, it gives lasting satisfaction. Only what is done for and through God provides meaning.

How should I respond?
What things have you been working hard to possess and enjoy? From what are you trying to gain satisfaction: the perfect career, a dream home, or a big bank account? Contentment based on such things rises and falls as possessions and accomplishments come and go. Complete satisfaction is the result of desiring the same things God desires and living to please Him (Psalm 37:4). What personal desire needs to bend to God’s desires? What pursuit is He prompting you to stop? Our society may tell you to live for the moment, but the wisdom of God urges us to live for eternity.

April 22, 2019

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Read – John 13

What does it say?
Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and predicted both Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s denial.

What does it mean?
Washing the feet of those who entered a house fell to the servant with the lowest position. Apparently, no servants were present as Jesus and the disciples met in secret. Rather than humbly volunteering for the task, the disciples had been disagreeing about which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:24). But Jesus, motivated by perfect love and with full awareness of His greatness, “took a towel” and modeled humility as a servant, even to the ones who would shortly deny and betray Him. No longer were His disciples simply to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus commanded them to “love … as I have loved you.”

How should I respond?
Are you in a silent competition to be greater than a co-worker, fellow student, or a sibling? Or has someone betrayed your trust? As followers of Christ, we are commanded to follow His example and approach that person with the humility of a servant. Is your heart full of pride and hurt or with love and humility? The world will take notice of Christ only to the extent that we demonstrate His love in our reactions. How will you show His love today? Remember, true greatness is the willingness to humbly serve others.

April 22, 2021

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Read – Ecclesiastes 1

What does it say?
Solomon, son of David and king over Israel, had gained more knowledge than all before him. Solomon found everything was meaningless and futile, a chasing after the wind.

What does it mean?
God had given Solomon unmatched wisdom, knowledge, and wealth. Yet as he reflected on nature, past generations, and human effort in general, he found no meaning in any of it. Ecclesiastes was written near the end of Solomon’s life. All of the things that had once seemed important are now described as a “chasing after the wind.” He realized that everything in life is endless repetition. What has already happened will happen again and will one day be forgotten. Since life’s meaning cannot be found in any effort of mankind, its true meaning must be found somewhere else.

How should I respond?
Think about trying to catch the wind. It is as futile as children trying to catch their shadow – a meaningless task that can never be completed. Yet how many times do we “chase the wind” as adults? “If I get that promotion, I can spend more time with the family.” Or, “When I pay off this debt, I’ll have money to help others.” What are you chasing right now? Whatever you try to do in your own strength and effort will ultimately be meaningless. Determine today to live for Christ. It’s only then that you’ll find life’s true meaning and purpose.

April 21, 2019

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Read – John 12

What does it say?
Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with an expensive bottle of perfume. He then rode triumphantly into Jerusalem before predicting His death.

What does it mean?
The events of Chapter 12 mark the end of Jesus’ public ministry. Mary’s anointing and His entry into Jerusalem before Passover prepare the way for Jesus’ death on the cross. He introduced the idea that death precedes life by describing Himself as a grain of wheat, which falls to the ground and dies, and then reproduces itself many times over. Without dying, it remains only a single grain and cannot provide nourishment. The Son of God and the Son of Man could not become the Savior without facing death on the cross. Jesus completely surrendered His will to the will of the Father. Jesus Himself would be the Passover lamb.

How should I respond?
We all like to be in control, so it baffles us when Jesus says, “he who loves his life will lose it…he who hates his life…will keep it.” As a believer, you are called to follow His example and submit your mind, will, and emotions to God. By giving control to the Lord, you become the person God created you to be, with the opportunity to reproduce your faith in others. How might you be living for your own agenda? Today, choose to die to yourself and live for God’s purpose.

April 21, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 31:10-31

What does it say?
Her children, husband, and community praise a wife of noble character for her excellence.

What does it mean?
An excellent wife is known for her spiritual wisdom, practical wisdom, and moral virtues. The loyalty, support, and respect she gives to her husband cause him to trust her completely. She manages their home, prepares food for her family, and plans ahead for the future. Being resourceful in investing enables her to be generous to the poor and needy. Her delight in being a mother shows as she instructs her children with wisdom and kindness. The praise she receives from her family and community is the reward of her lifelong diligence. The key to godly character is fear and reverence for the Lord.

How should I respond?
True godly character only comes from the Lord. Knowing God personally gives you continuous access to His divine guidance through Scripture, the Holy Spirit, and prayer. As you fear and reverence God, He will enable you to become the godly person He created you to be. When your responsibilities seem overwhelming, where do you turn for help? Remember, the Lord is available and able 24/7. He can empower you to carry out your tasks diligently and accomplish necessary goals. Godly character will develop as the Lord works through you, and you will be blessed while blessing others.

April 20, 2019

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Read – John 11

What does it say?
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead while the Jewish leaders plot Jesus’ death.

What does it mean?
We should note four truths from this passage: 1) Suffering has a purpose. Just as with the blind man in Chapter 9, Lazarus’ illness would be “for the glory of God.” 2) Jesus loved Lazarus and his family. His delay in coming to them didn’t mean He loved them less. 3) God is never late. He performs His will in His time. 4) Jesus has power over life and death. We also see several character traits of Jesus as God. In verse 11 He’s omniscient (all-knowing). Jesus is Life, according to the fifth “I am” statement in verse 25. His omnipotence (infinite power) is obvious as He speaks Lazarus to life in verse 43.

How should I respond?
Americans hate to wait. Convenience is bred into our culture. But times of waiting are opportunities to trust God. How do you respond when God delays His answer to your heartache? Don’t misinterpret the delay as a lack of love. Instead, view your circumstances through His love. What current suffering in your life could be used to strengthen your faith and bring glory to God? Jesus knows exactly what you’re facing and has all power over the situation. Continue to be faithful. Wait on the Lord. Trust that His answer will be right on time (Psalm 27:14; Isaiah 40:31).

April 20, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 31:1-9

What does it say?
King Lemuel’s godly mother warned him about wayward women, wine, and injustice.

What does it mean?
King Lemuel’s mother loved him enough to instruct him according to the way of the Lord. She cautioned him against giving himself to wayward women so that he would not experience the debilitating effects of immorality. As a king, he would need to have a clear mind in order to decree judgments; therefore, his mother advised against wine and strong drink. Seeking justice for the unfortunate, afflicted, and needy was also a duty of the king. She taught him to carry out justice by ruling righteously with compassion. King Lemuel stood to gain much by following her godly advice.

How should I respond?
Scripture instructs us to teach our children the way of the Lord. How do you accomplish this most important task? As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher and role model. You teach every moment by your words, actions, attitudes, and choices. What areas of your life do you need to bring under the Lord’s control in order to honor Him? Have you found ways to communicate Scripture with your children daily on age-appropriate levels? God’s Word is a believer’s instruction manual for life. As you train your children to believe and obey His Word, your godly influence will become your legacy.

April 19, 2019

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Read – John 10

What does it say?
Jesus compared His followers to sheep and described Himself as the True, Good Shepherd and the Door of the sheep.

What does it mean?
Jesus used a metaphor of an Eastern shepherd to describe Himself. This shepherd knows his sheep by name. His rod guards them from predators, and his staff pulls them back when they wander into dangerous areas. At night he lies down in the opening of the pen, becoming the door as well as the shepherd. They know his voice and never follow anyone else. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who knows, protects, and warns His followers. As the Door of the sheep, He is the only way into the kingdom of God.

How should I respond?
Being compared to sheep may be accurate, but it’s not flattering. Sheep are smelly and not very smart. They desperately need a shepherd … and so do we! We follow our Shepherd through the guidance of Scripture and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Do you enjoy spending time in God’s Word? That’s how you distinguish God’s voice from all the noise in the world that pulls you away. God delights to know you personally and will always seek to draw you back when you wander into an area of sin. Where is He leading you right now? Will you choose to follow Him out of love and obedience today?

April 19, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 30:10-33

What does it say?
Agur, a student of wisdom, observed how God’s wisdom empowers the weak.

What does it mean?
Agur recognized the wisdom of the Creator in four small, weak creatures. Tiny ants use planning and working together; defenseless rock badgers diligently climb up steep, rugged rocks for protection; locusts are well organized despite the fact that they have no apparent leader; and spiders are resourceful enough to exist practically anywhere. Not one of these creatures is strong, but each survives by using the innate wisdom given to it by God. The wisdom of the Creator enables these minute species to thrive in a world where most other creatures are larger and stronger. Agur realized that wisdom is superior to strength.

How should I respond?
What can we learn from the lives of these insignificant creatures? Plenty! The wisdom, plainly seen in these species, points us to the God of all creation (Psalm 8:3-9). We can greatly benefit by planning ahead and working together, diligently striving onward, organizing endeavors, and resourcefully using what God has provided. How many times have you blown it by relying solely on your own strength? The next time you find yourself struggling, ask the Creator to guide you. Since God cares for the least of His creation, just consider how much more He cares for those made in His image.

April 18, 2019

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Read – John 9

What does it say?
The Pharisees criticized Jesus for healing a blind man on the Sabbath day.

What does it mean?
The Sabbath healing of a man born blind revealed the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees. Jesus gave the blind beggar new sight and new purpose. No longer was his life a struggle to survive; he became a living exhibit of what God could do. The purpose of the miracle extended beyond helping one person to empowering the man to tell everyone who would listen that Jesus was the Christ come from God. The Pharisees were so hung up on the day of the week Jesus chose to do the miracle that they rejected the man, his testimony, and the Messiah.

How should I respond?
Everyone wants to live a meaningful life. Living for your own importance, like the Pharisees, blinds you to the things that matter to God. On the other hand, obedience to Jesus’ instructions opens the door for blessing and spiritual insight. The moment you decided to follow Jesus, your life had new purpose and direction. Even the most difficult challenges become opportunities to display how God is working in your life. To whom can you tell your story this week? Some will listen, while others will question your belief in Jesus and the Bible. If you set your focus on what matters most, you’ll look back on a life rich with meaning and purpose.

April 18, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 30:10-33

What does it say?
Divine revelation is certain, and no one has the authority to add to God’s Word.

What does it mean?
Agur, a sage during the time of Solomon, wisely instructed his students that true wisdom is not learned through human efforts. He humbly admitted his limited understanding and proceeded to direct them to the source of all wisdom, the Holy One. The questions Agur presented could only be answered by divine revelation through Scripture. The Word of God is infallible. Anyone who tries to add to His Word will be proven a liar. God’s Word is settled forever (Psalm 119:89). Ultimately, true wisdom only comes from knowing God through His Holy Word.

How should I respond?
Have you truly realized how awesome it is to have knowledge of Almighty God? You may possess knowledge from many sources, but unless you know God through His Word, you won’t have true wisdom. How tragic it would be to spend a lifetime learning what the world has to offer while neglecting the knowledge of God. What would be gained if you knew everything society deems as important but failed to know the God who created it all? Today, allow the Lord to speak to you through Scripture. What He has revealed is amazing!

April 17, 2019

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Read – Psalm 39, 40

What does it say?
Many would place their trust in the Lord as David broke his silence about the wonders, love, and truth of the Lord – his hope, help and deliverer.

What does it mean?
Both of these psalms were likely written during Absalom’s rebellion and while David was suffering the physical effects of God’s judgment on his sin with Bathsheba. It seemed to David that things couldn’t get any worse. Instead of simply refraining from complaining, David tried to remain completely silent to ensure he didn’t slip up and sin. His misguided attempt at silence fell apart as he poured out his emotions, questions, and confession to the Lord. Such intensity gave David a deeper appreciation for all God had done for him in the past, causing a new awareness of what worship was all about. He was confident that others would also trust in the Lord when he openly talked about God’s love and mercy. The God who helped him in the past was the God who allowed his present situation. All of David’s hope for deliverance was in Him.

How should I respond?
We are too often silent about the things that really matter. Complaints and negative emotions pour out of us like a broken fire hydrant, while genuine praise for the Lord gets bottled up. If we’re honest about why this happens, we’d probably have to admit that we’re more focused on everything that seems to be wrong than we are on the love and mercy of God. What have you been the most vocal about this week? Have your words drawn people to Christ, or would they be categorized as sinful? Don’t wait until your present situation improves to openly praise and worship the Lord. Recounting what He has done in the past will improve your outlook for what He can do in the present.

April 17, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 29:11,20

What does it say?
It is foolish to speak in haste or in anger. A wise person maintains self-control when he speaks.

What does it mean?
Woven within this chapter are great nuggets of truth regarding speech. First, the person who allows anger to rule his tongue causes hurt and frustration. It is better to calm down before speaking. A wise person understands the benefits of maintaining self-control in heated conversations. Secondly, the person who speaks before he knows all the facts makes costly mistakes. His words show no thought, whereas a wise person listens and gains information in order to speak carefully and thoughtfully.

How should I respond?
Harsh words spoken when emotions are running high will damage your relationships. Wait until you have control of your emotions before emailing, texting, or having a face-to-face confrontation. Don’t let anger get the best of you. Review all that was said. Is it possible there is something deeper going on? How can you help rather than harm the relationship in a moment of anger? Being cautious of how you respond to a difficult situation demonstrates strength and wisdom. Remember, it’s more important to preserve a relationship than to foolishly vent your feelings.

April 16, 2019

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Read – Psalm 38

What does it say?
God’s discipline on David’s sin brought overwhelming guilt and physical pain, which prompted David to confess his sin and wait for the Lord to answer.

What does it mean?
David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband were almost his undoing, accounting for several of his penitential psalms (6, 32, 38 and 51). The description of his physical condition in these passages has led many scholars to believe that David suffered from leprosy. While not all sickness is caused by sin, this chapter certainly confirms that God sometimes uses extreme measures to bring His children to a point of personal recognition regarding wrongdoing. David’s emotional and mental anguish were equally as painful as his physical condition. God’s heavy hand of discipline brought David to a point of desperation and confession.

How should I respond?
Sickness and heartache are part of the human condition simply because sin affects the world we live in. Sometimes though, God may allow trouble to enter your life as a means to get your attention if you haven’t responded to His initial rebuke of sin. Take a moment to ponder the causes of stress and anguish in your life today. Sit quietly before the Lord, asking Him to reveal if any of those things are His discipline. Don’t wait until He brings you to a point of desperation. Confess any sin and move on with a clean conscience.

April 16, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 29:1-27

What does it say?
A king who rules with righteousness and justice encourages stability and security, causing his people to rejoice.

What does it mean?
Two types of kings or leaders are described in these Proverbs. A righteous king who rules justly brings a nation stability and joy. People feel secure when an honest, trustworthy person is in control. On the other hand, a wicked, greedy king who listens to dishonest advisors encourages sinful behavior among his people. They often live in fear and distress from their king and those who follow his example. That nation has little chance of peace and will eventually self-destruct due to poor leadership. But no matter who is in power, justice ultimately comes from God.

How should I respond?
In our world, it is quite common to have both righteous and wicked leaders in positions of authority. Although we elect political and civic leaders, we do not get to choose how they do their jobs. Regardless of what they do while in office, we can look to God as our righteous ruler. He will always have the final say on right and wrong. His rule over the world is just and will prevail in the end. As followers of Christ we are called to respect and obey our leaders, but our peace and security should rest solely in our heavenly King who is in control of all things.

April 15, 2019

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Read – John 8

What does it say?
Jesus defended a woman caught in adultery. He is the eternal light of the world and existed before Abraham was born.

What does it mean?
We talked yesterday about asking the Lord to reveal Himself during our study of the book of John. Well, this chapter is rich with character traits of Christ: As the eternal “I AM” (v58), Jesus had the authority to forgive the woman’s sin. In mercy He didn’t condemn her but offered grace (v11). As “the light of the world” (v12), He delivered her from darkness and gave her life (v12). His word is truth and freedom (v32) for those enslaved to sin. Every time Jesus spoke or acted, He revealed truth about Who He is.

How should I respond?
Strong character builds confidence and trust in relationships. How does knowing Jesus is “the light of the world” affect how you look at your current circumstances? What other character trait in this chapter is particularly meaningful to you just now? Try this: keep an alphabetical address book on hand during your devotion time. When you recognize a character trait of God, write it in the proper alpha section with the reference and a quick explanation (e.g., “B”; Bread of life, John 6:35; Jesus satisfies). In a short time, you’ll have a reminder of all the reasons God can be trusted with every aspect of your life.

April 15, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 28:15-28

What does it say?
Those who are faithful and generous will prosper, whereas those who are selfish and greedy end up in poverty.

What does it mean?
The Lord provides for those who put their trust in Him. In most cases, God’s provision comes through the ability to work hard. The person who does so with honesty and integrity is trustworthy and has no reason to look over his shoulder in fear. Because he trusts in the Lord to provide, he is free to be generous to those who have less. By contrast, the stingy and greedy person cannot be blessed by the Lord. He tries to take the easy way out and gain riches dishonestly by chasing worthless schemes. Ironically, people who are eager to get rich often end up in poverty due to foolishly trusting their own judgment.

How should I respond?
Our definition of prosperity in America is somewhat skewed from what it means in other parts of the world. We have become so accustomed to having an overabundance of “stuff” that we fail to recognize the meeting of our daily needs as a divine blessing. Instead, we often expect a certain level of provision that includes luxury and excess. With whom is God prompting you to share His provision? What are you willing to do without in order to be generous? Trust God with all that you have by giving others what they need. Your generosity may very well draw them to Christ.

April 14, 2019

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Read – John 7

What does it say?
Jesus traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles after facing the disbelief of his family in Nazareth.

What does it mean?
This chapter reveals the confusion surrounding Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God. Nazareth and Jerusalem were both buzzing with the same topic: Who is Jesus, really? The controversy started with His family in Nazareth and continued in Jerusalem where His teaching at the feast aroused the anger of the priests and Pharisees who rejected Him as the Christ. The evidence was there – He knew the Scriptures even better than their religious leaders, and He taught them with such power. Jesus’ teaching was forcing people to make a decision about His identity and spiritual authority.

How should I respond?
Two thousand years later, people are having the same debate: Who is Jesus, really? In what has been called the most famous quote outside of the Bible, C.S. Lewis puts it this way, “Jesus Christ is either a liar, a lunatic or Lord.” Who do you say Jesus is? If you’re not sure, then commit to really study His words as we read the book of John. Ask Christ to reveal Himself to you as you meditate on His character and teachings. If you claim Jesus as Lord, do you treat Him as such by obeying even the most difficult parts of what He says to do? What will you do today to acknowledge Jesus as your Lord?

April 14, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 28:1-14

What does it say?
The righteous are discerning, keeping and fully understanding the law. They confess their sins in the fear of the Lord, who shows them mercy.

What does it mean?
The righteous and the wicked take opposite approaches to the laws of the land. Their perspective is determined by how they view God. Because the righteous person reveres the Lord, he can discern how his actions affect others, himself, and his relationship with a holy God. His keeping of the law results in a clear conscience. He admits when he has done wrong and leaves it behind. God responds to the repentant attitude of the righteous with mercy and forgiveness.

How should I respond?
What is your first reaction when you see a state trooper? Do you immediately take your foot off the gas and look at your speedometer? Your reaction is a direct result of either a clear or guilty conscience. What about other laws in our country? When you feel a need to hide what you’re doing, that is evidence that God is pricking your conscience. You’ll gain discernment as you discover more about the character of God by studying the Bible. A proper view of God leads to admitting when you’ve sinned. What do you need to admit to the Lord and walk away from today?

April 13, 2019

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Read – John 6

What does it say?
Jesus fed over 5,000 people, walked on water, and said He is the bread from Heaven.

What does it mean?
After Jesus miraculously turned one boy’s box lunch into an all-you-can eat buffet for over 5,000, people followed Him because their physical hunger had been filled. They failed to understand the miracle as a sign to turn their attention from physical to spiritual nutrition. While Jesus’ shocking statements confused others, Peter had one of his shining moments. He understood that the words Jesus spoke were life itself. Of course, He couldn’t unravel all of the mystery behind Jesus’ teaching, but He seemed to grasp that belief in Jesus, the Bread of Life, is the only thing that offers lasting satisfaction.

How should I respond?
We’re all born with the instinct to cry out for physical food. Just as loving parents provide food for a hungry infant, our heavenly Father has supplied spiritual nourishment for our souls. But like the people in today’s passage, we sometimes appreciate the physical things God provides more than the spiritual – seeing God primarily as a source of material comfort and security. How much time do you give to spiritual feeding versus physical? Which do you look forward to most? Your greatest needs are spiritual and can only be met through Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life.

April 13, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 27:18-27

What does it say?
Tending a fig tree provides fruit to eat. Looking after flocks provides clothing and nourishment for the household.

What does it mean?
Solomon addressed the reader’s work ethic with examples from an agricultural society. Farmers have to cultivate their crops in order to have a healthy harvest. Likewise, a shepherd who doesn’t carefully look after his flock won’t enjoy the clothing, food, or monetary benefits the herd can offer. A boss notices the worker who faithfully carries out his duties. The benefits of diligent, hard work affect the quality of a person’s life and the relationships he or she has.

How should I respond?
We live in an entitlement society; many people expect to do less and receive more. That attitude is contradictory to Scripture. God cares about how well we perform our daily chores at home and duties at work. Everything we do as believers should be a reflection of Jesus. Is your work ethic a positive or negative testimony for Christ? The benefits of being diligent in your job, schoolwork, or household chores will provide for your daily needs and nurture the relationships in those places. What task is ahead of you this week? Determine to carry it out with diligence. When your aim is to please the Lord with your work, those over you are seldom disappointed.

April 12, 2019

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Read – John 5

What does it say?
Jesus healed a lame man at the pool of Bethesda and affirmed that He is God’s Son.

What does it mean?
The Jews in today’s passage cared more about entrapping Jesus than they did about the physical and spiritual healing of a crippled man. As a result, they missed sharing the excitement of the miracle and recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. These same men read the prophetic Scriptures describing Jesus every day. So how did they miss it? Jesus revealed their root problem – they did not have the love of God in their hearts. They thought that the act of reading Scripture would give them eternal life, when that life was found in the One they were reading about. They had outward religion with no inward reality.

How should I respond?
Spending time in God’s Word daily is an essential discipline for a growing follower of Christ. However, today’s passage warns that you can read the Bible regularly without experiencing spiritual growth. Do you have preconceived ideas about God and religion, as the unbelieving Jews did? If you humbly approach the Bible with a teachable heart, you’ll find life-transforming truth every time. God can then use you as an instrument of love and compassion to the hurting people around you.

April 12, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 27:1-17

What does it say?
A friend gives counsel and praise, as well as rebuke when needed.

What does it mean?
The meaning of true friendship comes across throughout these verses. Friends praise each other’s qualities and accomplishments, but genuine care for another person is proven in difficulty. A bona fide friend doesn’t hesitate to be honest, even when it’s difficult. Although the words may initially sting, they are more profitable than false praise intended to manipulate. When a crisis comes, that same person is generous with his time, helping in any way he can. True friendships are marked by mutual love and honesty. Over time, each helps the other to improve.

How should I respond?
Let’s take a friendship quiz. Jot down the names of people who have given you some kind of praise recently. Next, think of people who’ve taken time to offer you wise counsel. Do any of the names match up? Now include anyone who helped you during a personal or family crisis. Has the list gotten smaller? Finally, write down the name of someone who cared enough to lovingly warn against a questionable decision or a character flaw. Look over your list – do one or two names show up more than once – perhaps three times? Those are true friends! How many times would your name be on their lists? Find a way to let them know that you’re a better person for knowing them.

April 11, 2019

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Read – John 4

What does it say?
Many people believed in Jesus after He offered a Samaritan woman living water and healed the son of a Capernaum government official.

What does it mean?
Jesus spoke one-on-one with two people: a social outcast and a desperate parent. By the world’s standards, the Samaritan woman with the immoral past and little religious understanding was of no importance. The father, however, was accustomed to special treatment as a royal official in Herod’s court. Jesus turned both the woman’s confusion and the father’s crisis into contagious faith. Although the approach to each was different, the message was the same: faith in Christ brings new life.

How should I respond?
What barriers do you let stand in the way of telling others about Christ? Like Jesus we shouldn’t care about race, gender, or social status. He was concerned about individuals and so should we be. But we can get so caught up in our own lives that we don’t stop to see those around us who are desperate for “living water.” Do you know someone in a desperate situation? What has stopped you from showing them God’s love? Today, be aware of the people God puts in your path. Take time to be intentional. Affecting one life for Christ might result in an entire home or city following Jesus.

April 11, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 26:13-28

What does it say?
Solomon warned against laziness, interference in other people’s quarrels, and deceitfulness.

What does it mean?
Solomon discussed several destructive behaviors: laziness, meddling, deception, and gossip. The “sluggard” is uninvolved, even in his own life, to the point of absurdity. On the other hand, the meddler and gossip are overly involved in the affairs of others. Those who are lazy or who meddle tend to suffer personally from their choices. However, those who set out to gossip, deceive, and start quarrels primarily hurt other people. Their harmful behavior, even if disguised, will eventually come back on them.

How should I respond?
There’s no excuse for a follower of Christ to be lazy. Jesus left us with a clear mission: to make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching them (Matt. 28:18-20.) That can only be accomplished through diligent effort. However, we must discern between doing the work of the Lord and getting involved in situations that are none of our business. How might you have masked your own agenda under the guise of Christian service? Who has been hurt in the process? Determine to stay focused on using your time wisely as directed by God. Heed Solomon’s warning – destructive behaviors cannot be taken back.

April 10, 2019

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Read – Psalm 37

What does it say?
Do no fret when evil men succeed, but do good. Trust and delight in the Lord. Be still and commit your way to Him, waiting patiently because He upholds the righteous.

What does it mean?
David shared the wisdom of an elderly man who had observed both evil and godly men. Unlike the book of Job, this psalm doesn’t deal with, “Why does God allow evil to exist?” Instead, David focused his attention on the only thing righteous people can control – their response to continuing evil in the world. The trusting child of God finds pleasure in what pleases Him, which causes personal desires to align with the Lord’s will. The righteous have no need to scheme in order to find security; they can live within what God provides knowing that He will take care of every need. Time will eventually run out for the wicked. One day God will settle all accounts. The wicked will be completely cut off from His presence, but the godly will enjoy the Lord’s favor and blessing for eternity.

How should I respond?
It’s disheartening to watch evil prevail as our national morals continue to decay. God calls His people to action, but the first steps are more personal than petitions or letters to congressmen. Look at Psalm 37 again; circle or highlight the action verbs David used: trust, delight, commit, be still, do good, wait, and keep His way (NIV). Also make note of what we’re to do: do not fret, refrain from anger, turn from wrath and evil. Which of these would you consider your strengths and which are still areas of weakness in your life? Before you rant on social media about what’s wrong with the world, ask God to convict you of any area where you aren’t personally trusting or delighting in Him. How will you demonstrate wholehearted commitment to God’s Word today?

April 10, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 26:1-12

What does it say?
It is difficult for a fool to understand or apply wisdom, but there is more hope for him than for a person full of pride.

What does it mean?
The book of Proverbs gives many examples of the effects of foolish behavior. These verses, however, deal specifically with the consequences of trusting someone who is foolish. Hiring a fool or placing him in a position of responsibility and honor is not wise. He seldom learns from his mistakes and rarely takes wise counsel to heart. While some of his nonsense can be overlooked, correction has to be given when foolishness gets out of hand. The person dealing with a fool should guard against speaking from his own wisdom. Not recognizing pride or self-conceit is worse than being foolish.

How should I respond?
Proverbs tells us over and over again that the Lord is the only true source of wisdom. That’s why it’s best to be cautious when dealing with someone who doesn’t understand – or refuses to believe in – the Word of God. Relationships and friendships can be tested when one person continues to act foolishly. So how should you proceed? First, speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Also, be careful to avoid becoming conceited regarding your advice or understanding of Scripture. After all, any wisdom you have is solely because of the Lord. Pride will only serve to blind you to your own needs.

April 9, 2019

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Read – Psalm 36

What does it say?
The wicked have no fear of God, nor do they hate their own sin or reject what is wrong. God’s unfailing love provides refuge to the upright in heart who know Him.

What does it mean?
Today’s passage offers a contrast between those who know God and those who reject Him. The person described as “wicked” proudly embraces his human nature. Since he doesn’t acknowledge God or His laws, the only standards for behavior are his own thoughts and desires, which are sinful. Simply put – there is no right or wrong in his thinking. By contrast, David describes another person as “upright in heart,” whose thoughts and actions are subject to God’s authority. This person embraces God’s character, clinging to His love and faithfulness for his very existence.

How should I respond?
Your view of God determines how you think and act. Consider how your reactions to the events of the day might be different if your first thoughts were of God’s unchanging character. Have you been wronged? Then remember that God will exact justice. View recent disappointments through the knowledge that He is always faithful, even when we can’t see it yet. If you’ve struggled with a sinful habit – look to His unfailing love to find forgiveness. If, however, you choose to reject God’s authority over each thought and action, you forfeit the security and provision He offers. What will you embrace today – your sinful nature or the righteous Lord?

April 9, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 25:11-28

What does it say?
A person with no self-control is like a city with broken walls.

What does it mean?
Solomon used figurative language to encourage his reader toward a life of discipline and self-control, which is valuable to the individual and to others. Although this passage covers a broad range of topics, each saying guides the reader to wisely guard some aspect of his speech, emotions, or behavior. A person’s words and reactions can be either controlled and beneficial or undisciplined and detrimental to relationships. A life of self-control offers protection just as a wall safeguards the inhabitants of a well-fortified city.

How should I respond?
Discipline regarding our health and fitness is currently in vogue. You may choose to forgo a piece of pie, but how much self-control do you exercise over your mind and emotions? For a follower of Christ, self-control is actually submitting to the control of the Holy Spirit. When you allow God to discipline your speech, your words will be encouraging, and your friendship will be valued. The same is true for your actions and emotions; keeping both in check displays godly character. In which example from today’s passage do you need more self-control? Be aware of it as you move throughout the day. Ask God to give you a disciplined body, mind, and spirit.

April 8, 2019

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Read – John 3

What does it say?
Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again in order to be saved. John the Baptist told his disciples that Jesus was the Messiah.

What does it mean?
As a Jewish leader, Nicodemus must have started this conversation believing he was already part of the kingdom of God. Yet something drove him to meet with Jesus secretly. When Jesus introduced the truth of being born again, Nicodemus had to make a choice: humbly turn to Christ for eternal life or hold to his religious pride and perish. Unlike human birth, spiritual birth is a choice, requiring belief in God’s Son. God offers salvation because of his deep love for mankind, but each person must make a choice. To reject Christ is to choose condemnation.

How should I respond?
God loved. God gave. We believe. We receive. That’s the message of salvation in a nutshell. God loved the world; that means everyone. But you must face the same choice as Nicodemus: salvation or condemnation. The only condition of salvation is to believe that Jesus is God’s Son sent to save you from your sins so you can live fully committed to Him. Are you like Nicodemus – a good and moral person who has never acted on God’s gift and had a spiritual birth? If so, will you stop right now and confess your sin to Christ and ask Him to give you new and eternal life?

April 8, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 25:1-10

What does it say?
A king should strive for a righteous reign, and his people should be careful in the way they relate to one another.

What does it mean?
Both the king and the people had a part in helping the kingdom to run smoothly. Solomon, as well as a future king, had the responsibility to know what was happening in his kingdom and to use that information with discernment. Removing wicked influences helped each king to rule righteously. Likewise, if the people avoided self-promotion, hasty court proceedings, and betrayals of trust, their relationships with one another would improve. A healthy community required less intervention from the king, allowing him to focus on important kingdom matters.

How should I respond?
If you are in a position of leadership, it makes sense to be the best leader possible. Following scriptural guidelines helps to ensure a successful “reign” in all you are doing. Ask God to give you discernment as you make decisions and communicate with those you lead. When you find yourself under someone else’s leadership, be willing to follow. How willingly do you take directions and maintain trust with others involved? Strife will only get in the way of fulfilling your purpose. How healthy is your leadership or “follow-ship” today? Determine to lead, follow, AND get out of the way.

April 7, 2019

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Read – John 2

What does it say?
Jesus changed water into wine and drove merchants and moneychangers from the temple.

What does it mean?
This chapter records contrasting responses to signs that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. The miracle in Galilee was the result of obedience to Jesus as an honored guest: “Whatever He says to you, do it.” In Jerusalem, greed and corruption blinded the eyes of Jewish leaders. They should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah they had studied in the Scriptures when He said He would restore the destroyed temple in three days. Instead, the religious elite challenged His authority because they failed to understand He was talking about His body, not the temple in which they met.

How should I respond?
Who is Jesus to you … someone you honor or an authority you challenge? Honoring Him is as simple as doing what He says is right and avoiding what He says is wrong. Obedience increases your awareness to attitudes that creep in and lead to sinful habits. What do you need Jesus to remove from your life today? Just as He cleansed the corruption from the temple, Jesus can clean anything out of your life that doesn’t reflect His righteousness; all you have to do is ask (1 John 1:9). As you read God’s Word, ask what He wants you to do today; then honor Him by obeying what He shows you.

April 7, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 24:23-34

What does it say?
A wise man learned a lesson from the poor condition of the lazy man’s field: too much sleep and folding of the hands will lead to poverty.

What does it mean?
Several character traits emerge from today’s passage: justice, honesty, and diligence. Wisdom leads a person to strengthen and practice such godly characteristics through observation. The writer saw a man who neglected his fields; because the man allowed thorns and weeds to choke out his crop, he had no way to provide for his household. A wise person is able to learn from the mistakes of others so that he will not make the same mistakes himself. He also sees life lessons in the natural order of the world.

How should I respond?
If you’ve ever done a school science project, you know that there is a difference between seeing and observing. Observing includes watching carefully in order to arrive at a conclusion. Today’s Proverbs encourage us to gain wisdom from what we observe in nature and in the lives of others. Which character trait from today’s passage needs to be developed more fully in your life? Today, take notice of people who are either very strong or very weak in that trait. Look for the way God has demonstrated that attribute in nature. What lesson or warning can you take from your observations? Does someone else receive encouragement or a warning by observing you?

April 6, 2019

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Read – John 1

What does it say?
John the Baptist was a witness to the true Light – the Word, who was with God from the beginning. Jesus was baptized and called his first disciples.

What does it mean?
John the Baptist recognized the eternal, divine nature of Jesus when many religious leaders failed to do so. John consistently turned attention from himself to Christ, the Lamb of God. People weren’t drawn to John because of his speaking ability or his personal charisma. He reflected the Light of Jesus as the moon reflects the sun. John understood that the message was more important than the messenger. As John pointed to Christ, Andrew heard and believed; then he brought his brother Peter to Jesus.

How should I respond?
“It’s all about me!” is today’s mantra. Everyone wants the spotlight for his or her 15 minutes of fame. Even Christians fall into the trap of seeking accolades for service to their church or community. But like John the Baptist, God asks followers to reflect His Son rather than draw attention to self. How can you reflect the light of Christ this week at home, work, or school? Ask God to turn your focus outward and look for those who need the “true Light.” Who knows, there may be an Andrew or Peter watching you. Your faith may start a chain reaction that turns others to Jesus.

April 6, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 24:11-22

What does it say?
Do not steal from the righteous, gloat over an enemy’s fall, envy evil men, worry about the wicked, or join with rebels. Rescue those being led away, fear the Lord and the king.

What does it mean?
Today’s passage addresses how to relate wisely in human relationships as well as to the Lord. When proper time and attention are given to godly pursuits, there’s little time left to fret about other people or join them in doing wrong. Instead, the wise person allows God and established authorities to deal with the actions of evil and wicked people. Even laughing over the failure of an enemy might cause God to take pity on him. The person who fears the Lord doesn’t try to claim ignorance regarding the hardships of others, but he steps in and does what he can.

How should I respond?
Each of us has only 1440 minutes in a day – no matter who we are. How you spend your time is largely influenced by whom you choose to think about the most throughout the day. Recognizing evil in the world isn’t wrong, but worrying about what others are doing or gloating when they fail is a waste of time. Ask God to show you how to be proactive in your community. Look for ways to help victims of injustice or oppression through local organizations or missions efforts within your church. How will you choose to spend the minutes left in your day?

April 5, 2019

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Read – Luke 24

What does it say?
Jesus appeared four times to His followers after His resurrection. At Bethany, He gave the commission to spread the gospel, blessed them, and then ascended into Heaven.

What does it mean?
On the road to Emmaus, Jesus demonstrated the power in the truth of Scripture. By questioning the two men, He created in them the need to know truth. He used Old Testament Scriptures to explain the redemption story. Jesus could have made Himself known to these disciples in any number of ways, but He chose to reveal His identity through the truth of Scripture, causing their hearts to be set ablaze through the understanding of divine truth. The illumination of Scripture changed two discouraged, confused disciples of Christ into vibrant believers, full of joy with a testimony to share.

How should I respond?
Is your faith grounded in the living Word of God? As we study the Bible, God’s Spirit illuminates our hearts and minds with His truth and fills us with a burning desire to receive more. How often do you recognize the Lord Jesus as He speaks to your heart and opens your spiritual eyes? Take a moment to think about the ways your life has been changed by the truth God has graciously imparted to you through His Word. If your heart has been fueled by God’s truth, then you have a story to tell someone else today.

April 5, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 24:1-10

What does it say?
A wise person builds and gains strength, but a fool plots and schemes evil.

What does it mean?
Proverbs once again contrasts the wise and the foolish. A wise man has strength for whatever he undertakes because he doesn’t rely solely on his own knowledge. He seeks to understand more by listening to the counsel of others. The arrogance of a foolish person, however, keeps him from comprehending wisdom when he hears it. When people of knowledge and understanding talk, he has nothing to contribute. He instead falls in with those who talk about making trouble. Because foolish people rely on their own knowledge, they prove to be weak when difficulties come their way.

How should I respond?
Although our culture places value on self-made men, today’s passage supports the idiom that there is strength in numbers. Relying on your own knowledge and power can only get you so far, even with the noblest of intentions. What endeavors are you undertaking at the moment? Has pride kept you from listening to or accepting help from other people? One of the main lessons from Proverbs is to regularly ask God for wisdom to deal with everyday life. As you grow in wisdom, you’ll begin to recognize wisdom when you hear it. Whose advice do you need to seek today? Remember, relying on your own understanding is weakness, not strength.

April 4, 2019

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Read – Luke 23

What does it say?
Jesus was tried before Pilate, found innocent, but sentenced to death. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world; Joseph of Arimathea placed His body in a new tomb.

What does it mean?
The religious leaders desperately wanted Jesus tried and executed; however, neither Pilate nor Herod found Him guilty of anything. Pilate played the political game of compromise, and Herod seemed to view Jesus’ trial as personal entertainment. Pilate repeatedly stated the innocence of Christ, but his desire to protect himself and his political position overcame his desire to see justice carried out. Upon sentencing Jesus to die, Pilate condemned himself and the Jews who demanded His crucifixion. Nevertheless, God’s sovereign plan was being fulfilled.

How should I respond?
Each of us will be faced with many decisions as we go through life. We have the opportunity every day to choose to do right, but we sometimes lack the courage to make that choice. Just as in Pilate’s situation, you will have consequences and social pressures with which to deal. How willing are you to choose to do the right thing no matter what the cost? As you pray for guidance and base your decisions on the Word of God, you can have peace and full confidence that you are making the right choices. Will you resolve to honor God in the choices you make regardless of the outcome?

April 4, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 23:12-35

What does it say?
The Sayings of the Wise warn against envying sinners who indulge in drunkenness, gluttony, and promiscuity. The wise son applies truth, discipline, and understanding.

What does it mean?
Today’s passage looks at a wise father’s desires for his son. He instructed his child to spend time in pursuits that have lasting value rather than temporary pleasures that would eventually trap him. Listening to and following the father’s instructions would result in wise choices. He taught his son to have a proper view of the Lord and to accurately assess the consequences of rejecting godly wisdom. The father used discipline to keep his child from physical and spiritual danger. Both parents anticipated the joy of watching their son choose wisdom and righteousness over a lifestyle of sin.

How should I respond?
Parenting is both exhausting and exhilarating. No other role brings such joy. But parents must first help kids navigate the minefield of adolescence and early adulthood. What is your greatest desire for your children … happiness or holiness? If you only want them to be happy, you’ll find yourself giving in to their latest whim, tantrum, or mood. Directing children toward holiness, however, must be done intentionally. How does your parenting style match up with the wise father in Proverbs 23? What discipline is needed for your child’s physical or spiritual protection? Ask God for the wisdom to raise wise children.

April 3, 2019

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Read – Psalm 35

What does it say?
David asked the Lord to cause ruin and shame to those who had repaid his good with evil. He looked forward to publicly praising the Lord for vindicating him.

What does it mean?
Psalm 35 is an imprecatory psalm in which David not only asked God to defeat his enemies but also to utterly destroy them. King Saul’s royal court was full of people who were whispering lies about David in Saul’s ear. Men he had considered his friends were mocking and increasing his distress. It’s important to keep in mind that the emotions David expressed were very human but were also in alignment with God’s ultimate justice for those who reject His purposes. Since David was God’s anointed king, he embodied God’s future purpose for Israel. Therefore, this was a plea for God’s name and cause to be upheld. David pointed out the injustice to His just God and prayed according to God’s will that the wicked would not triumph over the righteous.

How should I respond?
As a child you probably played “gossip” or “telephone,” a game in which a whispered phrase is repeated around a circle, only to be embellished and miserably distorted by the end. The same thing happens in life. No matter how many hours you spend talking, tweeting, and posting, it’s almost impossible to unravel the damage of malicious talk. Plus, if you become consumed with what others are saying about you, you’ll likely be distracted from your God-given purpose. Spiritual battles are best fought with spiritual weapons – prayer and time in God’s Word. How do your prayers for God’s defense need to sound more like David in today’s passage? Are you motivated by a desire for justice or for revenge? Are you more concerned about your reputation or God’s? Search Scripture in order to pray according to God’s will, and then leave the matter with Him.

April 3, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 23:1-11

What does it say?
The next five Sayings of the Wise warn against gluttony, overwork, hypocrites, fools, and stealing from the fatherless.

What does it mean?
The five sayings considered in this passage tell the reader how to deal wisely with his own desires as well as how to relate to different types of people. Many of the 30 Sayings of the Wise are warnings and start with “do not,” followed by a reason for the warning. While anyone can benefit by following the warnings and wise counsel in Proverbs, those who seek to live godly lives should pay particular attention. Throughout Proverbs, wise living and godly living are synonymous.

How should I respond?
Few of us like to hear the words, “do not.” The human spirit typically rebels against being told what attitudes and behaviors are acceptable. When the Bible says, “do not,” it isn’t simply for the sake of behavior modification; it is rooted in God’s reasoning. How do you respond to the “do not’s” in Scripture? Do you trust God’s character to set your pattern for moral and ethical living? As you read the 30 Sayings of the Wise, stop and consider the reasons given for the warnings. Then ask God to show you which bits of wisdom need to be applied to your current circumstances. Whether dealing with your own desires or relating to others, godly wisdom always has your best interest at heart.

April 2, 2019

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Read – Psalm 34

What does it say?
David praised the Lord for delivering him from all of his fears and afflictions.

What does it mean?
David wrote this psalm after learning a valuable lesson about trusting God. He had become so fearful of Saul that he ran to the enemy for protection instead of trusting the Lord (1 Sam. 21). He found himself dangerously positioned in the enemy’s camp and outside of God’s will. After narrowly escaping, David realized how foolish he had been. He handed down what he had learned to the next generation: God sees the troubles of the righteous, hears their prayers, and stays close to the brokenhearted. Life wouldn’t be free of trouble, but the Lord is able to deliver, even sending His angels to encamp about the righteous. David overflowed with praise for the Lord, his only true refuge.

How should I respond?
Fear can cause us to do foolish things. No matter how out of control life may seem, it is always dangerous to take matters into your own hands. At what point in your life might you have panicked and turned elsewhere for security? How has God seen you through after a foolish decision? The lessons you learned during those times are too valuable to hide. Who is God prompting you to tell about how He has worked in your life? Someone in your circle of influence needs to hear that God sees his or her troubles and is able to deliver. Will you share the lessons you’ve learned and praise God’s faithfulness today?

April 2, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 22:17-29

What does it say?
When wise, true, and reliable teaching is applied to the heart, it increases trust in the Lord and provides a person with sound answers.

What does it mean?
Solomon compiled 30 true and reliable sayings from other wise men to impart knowledge and wisdom to his readers (22:22 – 24:34). Even though he was considered the wisest of the wise, Solomon listened to what others had to say. He gave his reader four actions to take: pay attention, listen, apply the teaching, and keep the truths in your heart. Life change isn’t created by simply listening to wise and godly teaching – it must be pursued by meditating on the passage of Scripture and putting into practice what you learn. As a result, trust in God increases, and trustworthy advice can be given to others.

How should I respond?
To whom do you turn for advice? What is their source of knowledge and wisdom? If those you turn to are getting their answers for life anywhere other than Scripture, their advice is risky. So how can we follow Solomon’s prescription for wisdom today? First, recognize that God’s Word is the only reliable source of wisdom. Pay attention to what it says and listen to others who trust Scripture as the final authority for their lives. Then really think about the implication of a particular passage. How can you put it into practice immediately? Knowledge comes from reading and listening, but wisdom is the result of applying that knowledge.

April 1, 2019

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Read – Luke 22

What does it say?
Jesus celebrated Passover with His apostles in the upper room. After praying on the Mount of Olives, Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested.

What does it mean?
Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives revealed His complete submission to His Father’s will. Even though Jesus prayed fervently for God to remove this cup from Him, He also prayed that the will of the Father be done. He would experience the most painful and disgraceful of deaths; and, far worse, He would be made sin and endure total separation from God in order to provide salvation for all who believe. When faced with the most agonizing decision, Jesus submitted His will to the will of God. Through prayer, He willingly accepted the Father’s perfect plan and received the strength to carry it out.

How should I respond?
Do you diligently ask God for strength to remain faithful to His will, or do you only call on Him when your plan isn’t working out so well? We also need to spend time alone with the Father, just as Jesus did. It’s helpful to choose a specific place and time of day that you can set aside for that purpose. The submissiveness of Jesus’ prayer in today’s passage serves as a model for those times when difficult circumstances arise, and you need wisdom, courage, and strength to make the right decisions. Ask the Lord to make you sensitive to His will in your life, and then resolve to submit your will to His.

April 1, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 22:1-16

What does it say?
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it. Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

What does it mean?
Verses 6 and 15 address the training and discipline of children. Training is intentionally narrowing down a child’s conduct to what pleases God, while discipline is the correction of foolish and wrong behavior. Consistent with other Proverbs, “the way” a child should be trained is in the wisdom of God. The aim should be to develop a godly heart and mind, which leads to godly conduct. It is important to remember that Proverbs are “wise sayings,” not promises. Every child has free will to choose whether or not to follow God. In general, most kids follow their parents’ example when those parents promptly exercise their authority with love (13:24) while modeling godly lives.

How should I respond?
The ultimate goal of parenting is to work yourself out of a job by preparing your kids to be responsible adults. As Christian parents, we also want our children to live godly lives. Godly behavior is the result of a godly worldview. How are you intentionally training your children to follow the Lord? It takes steadfast resolve to be consistent in disciplining foolish or rebellious behavior. Ask God to help you act promptly with patience and love. Remember, the life you model at home will outweigh any lesson or sermon at church.

March 31, 2019

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Read – Luke 21

What does it say?
Jesus noted the poor widow’s offering, spoke of the coming destruction of the temple, and revealed the signs of His return. He warned His disciples to remain ready.

What does it mean?
While the rich flaunted their piety with gifts for the temple treasury, a desperately poor widow gave two small coins worth less than a cent. Yet Jesus declared that she gave more than all the rest combined because it cost her more than anyone else. The rich had plenty left over, but she did not. Jesus didn’t measure the gifts by the amount given, but by the personal cost to the giver. This poor widow unknowingly became a timeless illustration of true sacrificial giving.

How should I respond?
Everyone has financial needs and obligations; God understands that. He knows exactly how much you have and precisely how much you have left over after you give back to Him. The heavenly Father doesn’t expect you to give away everything you possess, but He does want you to give as He leads. You have been blessed with time, gifts, talents, and resources. How pleased do you think God is with the proportion of your “giving” with your “keeping”? If you’re having a difficult time opening your wallet to God, check to make sure your heart is open to Him, and then look for an area where you can give beyond your current comfort zone. How will you give sacrificially to the Lord today?

March 31, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 21

What does it say?
God sees the hearts of both the wicked and the wise and righteous. No human wisdom or plan can succeed against the Lord.

What does it mean?
This chapter begins and ends with God’s sovereign control over all, including the most powerful people. Any human effort that opposes God’s plan will ultimately fail. He knows the human heart even better than the individual knows himself; His assessment of a person’s motives is always correct. A clear contrast is drawn between the wicked and the righteous. The wicked – described as arrogant, hypocritical, violent, mean, and deceitful – will be punished because they refuse to do what’s right. The righteous – marked by love, wisdom, generosity, and justice – are blessed here on earth and rewarded eternally.

How should I respond?
The cause of those who oppose Christ is advancing at an alarming pace. Prayer and Scripture are being systematically removed from our culture. The number of Christians being martyred for their faith has doubled in recent years. At times evil may seem to be winning, but its momentary success will ultimately fall to the Lord’s triumph. The ungodly may plot and plan, but God’s purposes will succeed. When God looks at your heart, are you among the righteous or the wicked? You may not be violent or mean, but are you guilty of being arrogant, deceitful, or hypocritical? Ask God to show you the truth about your own heart; then allow Him to use you to accomplish His purpose and plan.

March 30, 2019

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Read – Luke 20

What does it say?
Religious leaders questioned Jesus’ authority. He told a parable and questioned them.

What does it mean?
Jesus posed a perplexing question to the religious leaders after their failed attempts to discredit Him. He quoted Psalm 110:1 to declare the Messiah’s deity, claiming it as His own. The only way the Messiah could be David’s Lord and son is by being the eternal God who became man. He is David’s Lord because He is God, and He is David’s son as a descendant of the Davidic line. The Holy Spirit revealed to David that the Messiah would be God in human form (Mark 12:36). Jesus was giving them one final invitation to accept His deity and repent. The religious leaders knew what Scripture said, but refused to accept Jesus as the truth of Scripture.

How should I respond?
The most critical issue of life is what a person believes about Jesus Christ. Is Jesus God, or was He just a man? Many people view Him as a good man, wise teacher, compassionate healer, and miracle worker. They don’t deny that Jesus lived, but they don’t believe that He is God. As followers of Christ, we believe and proclaim that Jesus is Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God. What do you believe about Jesus? How does what you profess to believe affect how you live? Allow God to use you today as a witness of the truth found in Jesus Christ.

March 30, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 20:13-30

What does it say?
The Lord watches and examines the motives of individuals. It isn’t necessary to seek revenge; the Lord will see that justice is accomplished.

What does it mean?
Stealing, gossip, and dishonesty are detestable to the Lord. Those who do such things may seem to get away with their actions for a little while. But anyone who disregards God’s directions can only ignore Him for so long. The Lord sees everything that happens and knows every hidden motive. Wait for the Lord to make an offense right.

How should I respond?
The natural response when someone has wronged us is to get back at that person. However, the Lord makes it very clear in His Word that we are to wait for Him to handle the matter. No sin can be kept secret from the Lord; He sees every wrong done to you as well as your offenses toward others. He is sovereign over every situation and relationship in your life. Will you choose to trust God’s timing for justice? Then, ask the Lord to reveal any areas of your life that might be offending others or distancing you in your relationship with Him. We can be sure that He will judge justly – whether punishing the wicked or rewarding the righteous. What will He see as He searches your heart today?

March 29, 2019

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Read – Luke 19

What does it say?
Zacchaeus trusted Jesus for salvation. Christ rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, wept over its lost condition, and cleared the temple.

What does it mean?
Zacchaeus had been scheduled for a divine appointment; he just didn’t know it when he climbed that sycamore tree. Jesus knew his name, his location, and his greatest need. Zacchaeus’ saving faith was in his confession of Jesus as Lord; his promise to generously make restitution was evidence that God had transformed his heart. Even though he was Jewish by birth, it was Zacchaeus’ faith in Christ alone that made him a true son of Abraham. Salvation literally came to his house that day in the person of Jesus. Zacchaeus’ experience illustrates Jesus as the Savior who seeks the lost.

How should I respond?
Before you became a follower of Christ, you were in the same position as Zacchaeus – in need of the Savior. Jesus sought you by name so you could receive God’s gift of salvation and a transformed heart (2 Corinthians 5:17). Transformation always accompanies salvation. What changes have occurred in your life as a result of your faith in Jesus? Can others see evidence of Christ’s power through your testimony? Pay attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit as you read God’s Word. What changes is He prompting you to make today?

March 29, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 20:1-12

What does it say?
Even a child’s character can be known by whether or not his conduct is pure and right.

What does it mean?
People reveal their character by what they do. A person of understanding uses the eyes and ears that God gave him to discern with whom to enter into personal or business relationships. Although no one is completely without sin, some character flaws are danger signals to potential relationships. Those who engage in drunkenness, quarreling, laziness, and dishonesty can have devastating effects on the people around them. A wise person associates with others who have high moral character, keep their word, and honor their commitments.

How should I respond?
First impressions are important. However, they’re not always accurate. Lots of people talk a good game, but you later find out that it’s just that … talk. So what should you do at the outset of a potential new relationship? Observe. What someone does tells you more than what he says. We all have character flaws of some kind, but the kinds of behavior Solomon warned about in today’s passage point to deeper spiritual issues. Your closest circle of friends will impact your life. Ask God today for discernment in your relationships. Remember, words can be deceptive, but actions can’t be hidden.

March 28, 2019

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Read – Luke 18

What does it say?
Jesus taught about prayer, blessed children, addressed the hindrance of wealth, and foretold His death and resurrection. On the way to Jericho, He healed a blind beggar.

What does it mean?
The parable about the Pharisee and tax collector clearly portrays justification by faith. Both men came to the temple, believed in God, and prayed; but only one left justified in God’s eyes. The Pharisee smugly celebrated his own superiority. Even his prayer was self-serving. In contrast, the tax collector recognized his sinfulness, knew that he needed atonement for his sins, and begged God for mercy. Because he repented, the tax collector left the temple – forever thereafter righteous before God. Self-exaltation leads to eternal judgment, but humility leads to eternal glory.

How should I respond?
Countless people believe they can earn their way into Heaven. They think that doing the right things will make them good enough to stand before God, but only He can impart righteousness to people who have repented of their sin and placed their faith in the atoning sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). Do you have family members or friends who are counting on their good outweighing their bad? Will you look for open doors to have conversations that will help bring them to faith in Christ?

March 28, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 19:11-29

What does it say?
Wisdom gives the patience to overlook an offense. Unfailing love is what is desired.

What does it mean?
Several verses in this passage explore the dynamics of family life as Solomon offered wisdom on how to have harmony at home. The relationship between husband and wife sets the tone for everything that happens. A nagging wife combined with a lazy or hot-tempered husband is a recipe for disaster. Likewise, undisciplined, disobedient children who argue with their parents create a toxic atmosphere. Harmony is achieved when each family member chooses to overlook the routine offenses of family life and offer one another unfailing love.

How should I respond?
Facebook is full of smiling faces displaying only their best moments. But behind the posts, there are no perfect families. Disagreements are bound to occur when people continually live in close quarters. So how can your family experience unity? Show one another the same unconditional love that God has shown to you. This kind of love drives each person to be more like Christ through accountability and the willingness to immediately forgive the irritations that happen on a daily basis. Have a family meeting to openly and calmly discuss issues that need to be addressed. When each person chooses to love and forgive, then everyone can say, “There’s no place like home!”

March 27, 2019

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Read – Psalm 33

What does it say?
Those who trust in God have reason to rejoice because His Word is true, He is faithful in all He does, His purposes are fulfilled, and the earth is full of His unfailing love.

What does it mean?
There is always reason to praise the Lord, starting with the fact that He spoke, and the world and everything in it came to be. Also take into account that the Creator of Heaven and Earth has revealed His thoughts to His creation through His Word – the Bible. Scripture reveals God’s righteous, just, merciful, and faithful nature since time began. The Lord’s purposes for the future are as certain as history; no human being can stop His plans. The person who trusts God and places all of his or her hope in what is written in His Word can be joyful, even while waiting on His plans to come to pass.

How should I respond?
It’s been said that music is a universal language; it has the power to unlock our emotions and allows for personal expression. Musical tastes differ, however, even within the church. We can get so hung up on the style of songs chosen that we miss the reason for singing in the first place. God’s attributes, actions, and purposes are all the reason we need to break out in praise, whether it’s with a hymn from days gone by or a newly written praise chorus. Pay closer attention this Sunday to the words in each song you sing – they are full of truth from God’s Word. If you’re not quite used to singing in public, focus on softly saying the words to God as an offering of praise. How can we remain silent when we have so many reasons to praise Him?

March 27, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 19:1-10

What does it say?
People who rush into foolish behavior cause their own ruin. Yet they get angry with God for the outcome.

What does it mean?
Enthusiasm needs to be tempered with wisdom. Passion and eagerness are good qualities, but they must be supported by knowledge. Acting out of ignorance, even with the best of motives, can be as disastrous as acting foolishly. Ironically, people who refuse to consult or wait on the Lord often blame Him for the results of their own foolish actions.

How should I respond?
At some point we’ve all rushed into something, only to regret the results of our decision. Poor choices are usually the result of rushing into an idea without seeking godly wisdom or spending time in prayer. Acting impetuously, without a clear God-given path, causes blunders in our personal, spiritual, and professional lives. In what area do you need more information before you act? Who can offer you wise counsel? Preparation is part of God’s plan. Submit your enthusiasm to His will, and ask for the patience to do it right.

March 26, 2019

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Read – Psalm 32

What does it say?
David was forgiven when he confessed his sin to the Lord, who surrounds those who trust Him with unfailing love and gives them songs of deliverance.

What does it mean?
This psalm describes David “before” and “after” he confessed his sin of adultery with Bathsheba. He tried to cover it up, but He could not hide his sin from God. The guilt of his wrongdoing was heavy, and the conviction of God’s Spirit was strong. Once he made the decision to confess his sin to the Lord, it was like a weight was lifted from his chest. Fellowship with his Lord was immediately restored. David’s gladness returned, and he could again enjoy God’s guidance and counsel. The Lord put a song of praise back into the heart of the psalmist. David had reason to sing God’s praise indeed.

How should I respond?
If you are a child of God, He will not allow you to live comfortably with known sin in your heart and life. You can try to ignore it, hide it, or lie about it, but the truth is laid bare before God. He will discipline you in order to make you a reflection of His holiness and righteousness (Hebrews 12:5-11). What sin is sapping your joy and effectiveness for the kingdom of God? You may consider it a much smaller issue than David’s sin of adultery, but any sin that you allow to linger will drain you spiritually – it may even affect you physically. Allow the conviction of the Holy Spirit to soften your heart right now and confess any wrong thought, attitude, or action that is weighing you down.

March 26, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 18:10-24

What does it say?
The Lord is a strong tower for the righteous, but the rich imagine their wealth as a fortified city. Pride is a man’s downfall, but humility leads to honor.

What does it mean?
The illustration of God’s name as a strong tower pictures a place of refuge, protection, and security. The righteous know the Lord can be trusted, and they run to Him for shelter when difficult times come. In contrast, the rich person tends to place his trust in material wealth. He imagines his wealth will last and protect him from the dangers and uncertainties that others face. Having wealth gives him an attitude of superiority and a false sense of security. The proud may have to suffer a downfall to learn humility.

How should I respond?
Everywhere you look, there are financial gurus spouting their latest plan to help you prepare for the future. But it’s impossible to plan for every financial scenario life may bring. On what or whom are you relying? While it’s wise to plan responsibly for your later years, our security should be in the Provider of everything we have, not in the provision itself. God alone knows the future and promises to meet your every need as you turn to Him for refuge. In what situation are you in danger of trusting anything other than the Lord? In times of trouble, God is to be our first line of defense – not our last resort.

March 25, 2019

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Read – Luke 17

What does it say?
Jesus taught His disciples about forgiveness, faith, duty, the kingdom of God, and His Second Coming. Ten lepers asked Jesus for mercy, and He miraculously healed them.

What does it mean?
Rather than heal the lepers immediately when they cried out to Him, Jesus chose to test their faith and uphold the law by sending them to the priest (Lev. 13-14). All ten were healed, yet only one returned to thank Jesus and glorify God. The Samaritan knew he was in the presence of God, worshiped at Jesus’ feet and received salvation through faith in Him as the Christ. Although the other nine were also blessed with healing, they had no desire to glorify Jesus as God. The Samaritan man pictures Gentiles who truly believed, and the nine lepers picture the Jewish nation, who largely rejected Jesus as God even though they benefited from His goodness.

How should I respond?
Can you even imagine being one of the nine lepers and not returning to Jesus in gratitude? As difficult as that may be to comprehend, the same thing happens countless times every day. All of humanity benefits from God’s blessings (Matt. 5:45), but only those who recognize the Lord as the Giver of all good things are motivated to thank, worship, and praise Him. How often do you thank the Lord? How can you express your gratitude today? A grateful heart that glorifies God will be blessed with His joy in return.

March 25, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 18:1-9

What does it say?
A foolish person is quick to share his opinion. His words are his undoing, bringing trouble into his life. The words of a gossip go down into one’s innermost being.

What does it mean?
Today’s passage describes various aspects and consequences of communication. Foolish people care more about being heard than listening and learning. Thoughtlessly airing personal opinions tends to repel others. At times it even results in physical confrontation. The person who gossips lures others in with the promise of hearing something that not everyone else knows. True or not, words of gossip are heard as truth and are hard to forget. But the words of a wise person are refreshing and clear, like water from a fountain. Wise speech is kind, cautious, and encouraging.

How should I respond?
Words matter. As believers, what we say should reflect that we follow Christ. What do your words say about you? Have your conversations this week been marked by wisdom or by foolishness and gossip? If we’re not careful, we can think too highly of our own opinion, ignoring the opinions and feelings of others. Ask God to help you in your conversations today. Determine to listen more than you talk. Pray that your words will be encouraging and laced with God’s wisdom.

March 24, 2019

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Read – Luke 16

What does it say?
Jesus talked about a shrewd steward, a rich man, and Lazarus.

What does it mean?
Jesus used parables to teach the proper perspective of wealth. Both the steward and the rich man used money to secure their own comfort, but it was only temporal. About to lose his job, the shrewd steward used his position and his master’s assets for his own benefit. The rich man was just as shortsighted as the dishonest steward; his earthly wealth ceased to have worth after he died because he never thought about life beyond this world. Jesus emphasized faithfulness in handling wealth – whether one’s personal wealth or the possessions of others. A person’s resources have eternal value only when they are invested in furthering the kingdom of God. Jesus encouraged His disciples to love God wholeheartedly and use wealth according to His will.

How should I respond?
Everything that we have actually belongs to God. As His stewards, each of us will give an account one day of how we handled the resources He entrusted to us. How are you using what He’s given you to invest in His kingdom? Reaching others for Christ by serving at church, giving to missions, distributing Bibles, etc., gives eternal value to your time and money. Is your perspective more temporal or eternal? What are you personally willing to sacrifice so that others may come to know the saving grace of Jesus?

March 24, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 17:23-28

What does it say?
A person with knowledge and understanding is even-tempered and shows restraint in his use of words. Even a fool is considered wise if he stays quiet.

What does it mean?
As in previous Proverbs, today’s passage contains a caution regarding one’s speech. All knowledge isn’t meant to be shared, especially when situations cause tempers to rise. People with God-given understanding stay calm and know how to stop before saying something unnecessary. As a matter of fact, being quiet gives the appearance of wisdom, even for a foolish person.

How should I respond?
In our culture, the use of social media has almost completely removed restraint from speech. Some people feel the need to post their stream of consciousness for everyone to read, laying out every thought and aggravation throughout the day. Think back through your written and spoken communications yesterday. Were you a good listener? Or did your whole conversation focus on your own thoughts and opinions? Ask God to help you know what to say and when to say it. Take time to really listen in order to gain true understanding of what is happening in any given situation. Others are more likely to ask for your thoughts and opinions if they are spoken less often. Always be prepared to make the most of those God-given opportunities (Col. 4:5-6).

March 23, 2019

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Read – Luke 15

What does it say?
Jesus told the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son.

What does it mean?
Jesus’ parables portrayed how God diligently pursues the lost and rejoices when they are found. The shepherd who looked for his lost sheep and the woman who searched for her lost coin illustrate God’s seeking heart for lost sinners. He does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). The watchful father of the prodigal is a beautiful picture of God’s forgiveness when His children show genuine repentance. God’s utmost desire is for all to repent and believe in His Son, Jesus Christ; therefore, He continues to seek. When a lost one is found, the heavenly Father’s joy is so overwhelmingly great that all of Heaven joins in the celebration.

How should I respond?
Christ’s followers should have the same compassionate heart that God has. As God’s messengers we carry the responsibility of bringing unbelievers to Jesus. By living out your faith, sharing what God has done for you, inviting others to church activities, and helping support the spread of God’s Word, you are offering opportunities for the lost to be found. Make a list of family members or close friends who do not know Christ and keep it in your Bible. Will you commit to persistently pray for their salvation? Our heavenly Father never gave up the search for us, and we should not give up on others.

March 23, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 17:17-22

What does it say?
A true friend loves at all times. A cheerful heart is like medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

What does it mean?
Several verses in this passage read like a recipe for friendship: staying close when times are tough, avoiding arguments, and being truthful. When all of these ingredients are present in a relationship, it serves to bring hope and optimism, which are beneficial to the body as well as the mind and spirit. Healthy relationships aren’t built on deceit or characterized by constant fighting.

How should I respond?
What traits do you look for at the onset of a friendship? No doubt, the characteristics mentioned in today’s passage should be important to all of us. Think about your closest relationships. Are they based on truthfulness and mutual encouragement? Carefully examine any relationship that is marked with constant strife. Ask God to help you love that person the way that He does. That kind of love chooses to stand by a friend when others choose to walk away. What friend or family member do you need to contact today? Your voice or presence may be just the medicine that person’s heart needs.

March 22, 2019

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Read – Luke 14

What does it say?
Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and taught about humility and the kingdom of God. He warned the crowd of the high cost of discipleship.

What does it mean?
Jesus’ parable to the host and guests at the dinner revealed a great spiritual truth about His message. He taught that only those who humble themselves by following Him would have a place in the kingdom of God. There is no room for pride or self-promotion. God will lift up those who come to Him in true humility. Embracing those who cannot reciprocate is evidence of a humble heart; such selfless acts of generosity demonstrate true righteousness, which God will reward. Exalting oneself leads to humiliation, but humility results in being exalted by God.

How should I respond?
Jesus Christ modeled the greatest example of humility when He humbled Himself to become our sacrifice for sin (Philippians 2:7-8). As His followers, we should honestly assess our humility in comparison to His. Prayerfully ask the Lord to empty you of any self-interest and give you a humble servant’s heart so His Holy Spirit can work through you. What abilities and gifts has God blessed you with? Will you commit to graciously and humbly minister to others, serving as Jesus served?

March 22, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 17:1-16

What does it say?
Solomon described the actions of those who are evil. He stated that grandchildren are a crown of glory, and parents are the pride of their children.

What does it mean?
Solomon gave warnings concerning the behavior of the foolish – those who have left God out of their lives and do not desire wisdom. His purpose was to prepare his sons to be godly leaders and to be ready for what they would face in the real world. Children who grow up in godly, peaceful homes often have no experience with the different facets of evil around them. To avoid the influence of evil, they need discernment and guidance to make right decisions. Children who embrace their parents’ training and choose God’s way of wisdom bring joy to the hearts of their parents and grandparents.

How should I respond?
The home is where lives are developed. The challenge for parents is to display authentic Christianity and encourage their children to develop godly character, choose godly friends, and make right decisions. Investing in their lives is more than watching them excel in academics, sports, or the arts … it’s appealing to their spirits to develop a relationship with the Lord and seek His wisdom. How are you passing on the wisdom found in Proverbs to your children and grandchildren? It takes time to help them apply what Proverbs teaches, but it will prepare them for their future home and family.

March 21, 2019

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Read – Luke 13

What does it say?
Jesus called people to repent, taught about the kingdom of God, and explained the only way to enter the kingdom. He mourned over Jerusalem’s desolate condition.

What does it mean?
Jesus made it perfectly clear that only those who “strive to enter through the narrow door” will be in His kingdom. “Striving” consists of repenting and believing Jesus’ message by trusting in and receiving Him. Christ Himself will close the door when the time of grace has ended. Those who are relying upon anything other than a true relationship with Him will be denied entrance and will spend eternity in great torment. The invitation to God’s kingdom is open to all; the only way is through the “narrow door” which is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the time to enter is limited.

How should I respond?
The greatest need any person has is salvation, and that is only possible through the “narrow door” Jesus provided by His death, burial, and resurrection. You enter into salvation and become a citizen of Heaven when your heart is broken over your sin to the point of true repentance. Then, by grace through faith, you begin an eternal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Self-righteousness, good works, and religion – among numerous other things – will never earn your salvation. Have you become a kingdom citizen? Who among your family and friends needs to be set free from sin’s deception?

March 21, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 16:21-33

What does it say?
The wise are known for their understanding and controlled tempers, whereas scoundrels gossip, stir up dissension, and hurt others by what they say.

What does it mean?
Proverbs has a lot to say about what and how a wise person speaks. This passage reiterates the way a wise person carefully uses words and then shows the impact of his speech on others. Gracious, winsome language has a way of drawing people in. A discerning person with controlled emotions has the opportunity to persuade others. The key to this kind of influence is having a heart of wisdom to guide the mouth. Wisdom rightly leads away from worthless speech that promotes mischief, strife, and division.

How should I respond?
What if someone secretly recorded everything you said yesterday and played it back to you now? Would you have reason to be concerned? This passage challenges us to pay attention to what we say because our words have profound influence – either positive or negative. It’s impossible, however, to simply control our mouths (James 3:8). Jesus taught that everything we say is an overflow of what is in our hearts (Luke 6:45). What do your most recent conversations reveal about the condition of your heart? Ask God to guide your heart with wisdom to enable you to speak soothing words, drawing people closer to Him. End today with a clear conscience regarding what you’ve said.

March 20, 2019

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Read – Psalm 31

What does it say?
David called on God for guidance and mercy while praising God’s goodness and unfailing love.

What does it mean?
This psalm vacillates between David’s expressions of grief and praise. The causes of his anguish varied from affliction to his body, conspiracy against his life, and the betrayal of his friends. With reason for concern in so many areas of life, David was bombarded with emotion. However, David’s trust in the Lord overshadowed the temporary concerns of his life. When David submitted his feelings to his faithful God, he once again felt hope.

How should I respond?
At some point you may have used the expression, “When it rains, it pours” to describe the multiple causes of stress and grief in your life. When one challenge after another keeps rolling in, your emotions can get frayed, and your temper may grow short. While God created us with emotions, He never meant for our emotions to control us. What feelings do you need to submit to the Lord right now – worry, anger, fear, jealousy? Putting your trust in the Lord to help you in each situation will get you off an emotional roller coaster and keep you grounded in hope.

March 20, 2021

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Read – Proverbs 16:10-20, 28

What does it say?
Pride will eventually bring a person to disaster. It is better to have a poor and lowly life than to have much and be proud.

What does it mean?
Pride and humility cannot co-exist. The irony of pride is that it causes the opposite of what the proud person desires. The intent is to elevate one’s status, when in reality pride is the very thing that leads to a great loss or failure. A “haughty spirit” involves an attitude of superiority and a belief that others, maybe even God, are not needed to achieve success. Humility, on the other hand, involves being teachable and having a willingness to live without worldly status symbols. Humility, not pride, brings honor (Prov. 18:12; 29:23).

How should I respond?
As Christians, we are to be clothed with humility because that is how we identify with Christ (Col. 3:12; Phil. 2:5-9). For some, the personal relationship with the Lord Jesus becomes the very thing that causes a superior attitude toward unbelievers. It’s essential to guard against the belief that we are better than other people in any way. Only by regularly acknowledging our position before God are we properly positioned to be used by Him. What part has pride played in a downfall in your life? Humbly ask God to reveal any hidden areas of pride. True humility will result in honor and blessing from our gracious Lord who promised, “Whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt. 23:12).

March 19, 2019

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Read – Psalm 30

What does it say?
God helped David when he called for help. His weeping was turned to dancing, and his mourning was turned to joy so that he could sing God’s praise and give thanks forever.

What does it mean?
Evidently, David had experienced God’s discipline in the form of a serious physical illness, perhaps after his sin of numbering the people (1 Chron. 21) – although we can’t be certain. When David humbly asked for mercy, the Lord forgave him and restored his health. The effect of being forgiven was the polar opposite of allowing sin to remain in his life; crying was replaced with joy, and mourning turned to songs of praise. David could not be silent about God’s mercy and faithfulness.

How should I respond?
Too many times we miss opportunities to be a witness of God’s goodness because doing so would mean revealing something from our past that’s painful or embarrassing. Think about a time when God’s faithfulness was evident during a dark period of your life. Maybe it was an unsuccessful business venture, the loss of a child, or a moral failure. How did you see Him working in your circumstances and in your heart? It’s good to praise God privately, but sometimes He wants us to talk openly about how He has worked in our lives. Stop right now and praise God for what He has done for you, and then look for an opportunity to tell someone else. Will you break your silence today?