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Unlocked: Daily Devotions for Teens

English, Religion, 1 seasons, 1908 episodes, 1 day 18 hours 44 minutes
About
Unlocked is a daily teen devotional, centered on God’s Word. Each day’s devotion—whether fiction, poetry, or essay—asks the question: How does Jesus and what He did affect today’s topic? With daily devotions read by our hosts, Emily and Andrew, and questions designed to encourage discussion and a deeper walk with Christ, Unlocked invites teens to both engage with the Bible and to write and submit their own devotional pieces.
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Not Defeated

READ: PSALM 32:1-5; ROMANS 6:12-14; 8:1-4; 1 JOHN 1:9 Do you ever feel down and defeated by things you’ve done that were wrong? Do you find yourself asking God for forgiveness several times before you really feel forgiven? If so, you’re not alone; we all feel this way sometimes. But there is good news. Once we’ve put our trust in Jesus, we can know that God has already forgiven all our sins—past, present, and future—because of Jesus’s death and resurrection. As we walk through life with Jesus, we will continue to struggle with sin until He makes all things new. But even when we stumble and fall, Jesus doesn’t leave us. He is right there with us, inviting us to confess what we’ve do
28/02/20244 minutes 58 seconds
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Waiting on a Promise

READ: GENESIS 12:1-4; 21:1-5 One thing I’ve always had to keep practicing is patience. I’m more patient now than when I was younger, but having to wait for things still irritates me more than I would like. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to wait longer for the things that are important to me. When I was in school, I was surrounded by change, even if it didn’t feel like it at the time. Every year I was in a new grade, with new teachers and new materials to learn. But now, a few years after I’ve graduated from college, things have slowed down. I’ve been at the same job for some time and moved into a house with my husband. Life has slowed down, and now I’m in a waiting and resting period. Waiting is a huge part of God’s story. I don’t a
27/02/20244 minutes 17 seconds
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The Book of Obadiah: Raiding and Rivalries

READ: OBADIAH 1:1-21 I hadn’t read the book of Obadiah until about two years ago. It’s the shortest book in the Old Testament (it’s only one chapter), and it can be confusing. The book mostly centers on poems that cast judgement on the people of Edom, who were related to the Israelites through Abraham’s family and who lived on the opposite side of the Dead Sea from the Israelites. These two people groups had a rocky history that went all the way back to the twin sons of Isaac: Jacob (who would be renamed Israel) and Esau (who would also be called Edom). These twins fought and had a falling out (Genesis 25-28), and even though they had a moment of reconciliation (Genesis 33), their descendants would continue to have conflict throughout the years (Numbers 20:14-21). Thi
26/02/20244 minutes 32 seconds
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Reminders

READ: PSALM 77:10-15 Have you ever made a scrapbook? Whether in digital form or with paper pages, scrapbooks can be a creative way to remind us of the people we love and the things we learn as we go through life. Thinking about scrapbooks can help us understand an important part of our relationship with God. It’s good to take time to remember all the ways God has blessed us, whether by helping us with problems, giving us family, friends, and experiences, or any number of ways we’ve seen His presence in our lives. In the psalms, we find songs and poems that people created to praise and thank God for all He has done. And people in the Old Testament sometimes set up stones as physical reminders of the times God had shown His presence and faithfulness to them (Genesis 28:
25/02/20244 minutes 54 seconds
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The Hummingbird in the Courtyard

READ: PSALM 124:6-8; LUKE 12:22-31 As Valeria and Galena sat in the courtyard, working away at some handicrafts to sell at the market in the next town over, Galena watched the setting sun and pondered their situation. The famine continued with no signs of letting up. Their parents had died several months ago, and the two sisters had to care for each other in their small, impoverished village. “Galena!” Valeria called suddenly. “Can you help me with something?” Galena set down her work, shook away her thoughts, and came over to where Valeria was leaning over a tiny green hummingbird as it flopped around, struggling with a string tangled around its spindly legs. The bird’s needle-like bill tore at the strand, but the string wound arou
24/02/20244 minutes 48 seconds
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From Flat to Filled

READ: ISAIAH 41:8-14; PHILIPPIANS 4:4-20 I gulped. A flat tire? What now? I’d recently joined a ministry to share the good news of Jesus with others. To take on this role, I needed to raise money for expenses. I talked with lots of people in my hometown about supporting me financially, hoping they would partner with me through their donations and prayers. That evening, I’d set up an appointment to speak to Mr. and Mrs. Peters about my ministry plans. I didn’t know them well, but the conversation at their kitchen table went smoothly. But as they walked me out, I spotted a problem. Although I did have my driver’s license, I didn’t own a car. I’d borrowed my grandfather’s old vehicle to travel to the meeting. Then, r
23/02/20245 minutes 30 seconds
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Living Stones

READ: MATTHEW 7:24-27; 1 PETER 2:4-10 Not long ago, we were scattered like pebbles across the ground. Unwanted, forgotten, far from found. That was, until the day He came. Bare feet scudding across the sand, bending down to gently pick us up and place us in His hands. Rejected by others, chosen by Him. He told us that He had been rejected too. Despised, beaten, spit upon, and ultimately killed. After that time of darkness and mourning, His Father raised Him to life, rolling the stone away. Chosen by His Father, precious to Him. For years, we waited for someone we could trust, someone who would speak what is true, about everything, about us. The world said He was a liar, a heretic, an imposter. The Father said He was th
22/02/20244 minutes 57 seconds
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I Rest Securely

READ: PSALMS 16:7-11; 139:1-12; ISAIAH 41:10; 1 JOHN 1:5 I lay to rest, where do my thoughts go? To dangers, to darkness, to fears   Though there’s no light around me I can see the light of my great God   My heart pushes me to find my God To seek Him with prayers as I try to sleep   I set my eyes on the One who saved me Fears can do nothing to shake me   Securely, I rest in the hands of God Knowing my Father holds me with love   When thoughts turn back to darkness I put a stop to them, staying in light   The joy of my God fills m
21/02/20244 minutes 41 seconds
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His Work and Ours

READ: JOSHUA 1:1-9; EPHESIANS 2:8-10 Joshua was given a monumental task. He was told to lead his people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River to their new home, the Promised Land. This happened directly after the death of Moses, the one who had led the Israelites out of Egypt and through the desert for forty years to the brink of the Promised Land. God told Joshua to be “strong and courageous” in Joshua 1:6, again in verse 7, and once more in verse 9. The Promised Land was agriculturally rich and highly desirable, which is why there were already tribes of people there. Joshua’s task was formidable: lead a massive group of people with no military training into a hostile land. But God’s command to Joshua to be “strong and courage
20/02/20244 minutes 50 seconds
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Freedom and Slavery

READ: ROMANS 6:1-23; 8:12-21 At times, the Christian life can feel a bit restrictive. Following God’s good ways means certain things are off limits because sin hurts us and those around us. Yet sometimes, saying no to sin doesn’t make us feel very free. It might feel like we’re missing out. But Romans 6 in the Bible has something else to chip in. It calls our life in Christ one of freedom, and it tells us to submit no longer to the slavery of sin. Slavery? Sin is bad, you might say, but is it really like slavery? Paul, the person who wrote much of the New Testament, says that yes, it is. When we were under the control of sin, we had no options. Sin was our default impulse, and we defaulted to it often. We could not have willingly obeyed Christ if
19/02/20244 minutes 35 seconds
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Not So Different

READ: 3 JOHN 1:5-8; ROMANS 15:7; 1 CORINTHIANS 12:4-6; EPHESIANS 4:1-6 In God’s family, we will encounter people who have different backgrounds, experiences, personalities, likes, and dislikes than ours. And this is a beautiful thing! But it can be challenging as we seek to learn from and be kind to each other through the differences. As fellow Christians, there’s good news. Even if we don’t have much in common with some of our siblings in Christ, we’re still siblings because we both know Jesus as our Savior. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus unites us with all Christians and makes us part of His family, called the church. He is with us thr
18/02/20244 minutes 16 seconds
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Expired

READ: JOSHUA 23:14; 1 PETER 1:3-9; 2 PETER 1:2-4; 3:9 Imagine this. You’ve just arrived at the best theme park in the state. You’re ecstatic to finally have enough money to be here—and you wouldn’t even be going if you hadn’t found a coupon for half-price tickets. But when the woman at the ticket booth looks at your coupon, she shakes her head. “I’m sorry,” she says, “but this coupon has expired. I have to charge you the full amount.” But you can’t pay the full amount…so you can’t get into the park. Can you feel the pain of this disappointment, even though it’s imaginary? This story can help us understand something really important about the gospel, or good news. God ha
17/02/20244 minutes 27 seconds
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Letting Go of Appearances

READ: 1 SAMUEL 16:1-13; MATTHEW 23:23-39; COLOSSIANS 3:1-17 Appearances aren’t everything. We probably know this in our heads, yet how often do we find ourselves getting worried about what others will think of us based on how we look or what we do? Maybe you really care about your clothes, the image you portray to your friends, how you perform in school or sports, or having the latest technology. While caring about these things is not bad, it becomes a problem when we elevate anything to a place in our hearts above God. There’s a story in 1 Samuel 16 that shows us God’s heart on the matter of appearances. The prophet Samuel went to see Jesse’s family because God told him to ano
16/02/20244 minutes 59 seconds
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Hungry

READ: ROMANS 8:18-39; REVELATION 21:1-7 Some days, I end up not eating breakfast. I’m not saying this is something everyone should do, but sometimes it’s what happens to me. I may not eat anything till noon. All morning, my stomach groans and grumbles, communicating its annoyance. And when I finally do eat, I find a lot of joy and satisfaction in my food. My stomach is finally content. Lately, this experience has reminded me of a truth found in Scripture. In Romans 8, Paul (the author of Romans) says that all of creation groans in anticipation of Jesus returning to earth and making all things new. It (and we) long to be free of sin, death, and suffering. There is a holy groaning and grumbling that communicates all is not rig
15/02/20244 minutes 42 seconds
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Always Loved

READ: PSALM 27:10; ISAIAH 49:15; 1 CORINTHIANS 13:4-13; 1 JOHN 4:7-21 People don’t always love each other the way they should. Our world has been broken by sin, and we experience this brokenness in so many ways. You might see divorces happen and witness the heart-wrenching sorrow of two people separating after promising to be joined to one another for life. You might see parents abandon their children. Maybe you suffered a big hurt when someone in your life walked away from you. We don’t always love each other as we should. We mess up and hurt each other, whether intentionally or unintentionally. But God’s love for you is always there. He will never take it fr
14/02/20245 minutes
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Growing in the Light

READ: 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17; HEBREWS 12:1-3; 1 PETER 1:3 Growing up, I would eagerly await Easter. After long stretches of cold winter, I couldn’t wait for warmer months. The Easter season promised planting new flower seeds, hiding Easter eggs, and more time basking in the spring sun. During the six and a half weeks leading up to Easter, some Christians practice Lent, preparing for Easter by giving up certain things, reflecting on Jesus Christ’s suffering, and examining their lives and hearts for sin that needs to be surrendered to Jesus. Where I live, Lent begins while we are still under the snowy veils of winter. I begin Lent in the shadows, reflecting on Christ’s suffering and on
13/02/20244 minutes 33 seconds
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The Book of Nahum: Evil Empires and Innocent Blood

READ: NAHUM 1:1-7; 2:1-10; 3:1-4, 18-19; ACTS 17:24-31 Sometimes I see all the bad in the world and I start to feel hopeless. With things like war and cancer in the world, does God even care? Well, the short book of Nahum in the Bible is a collection of poems that shows how God does address evil and does care about the bad things happening in the world. In it, the prophet Nahum tells about the coming downfall of one of Israel’s enemy nations: Assyria. The Assyrians captured and ransacked Israel in 721 B.C. Eventually, the nation of Babylon would topple the Assyrians, including their capital city of Nineveh. The imagery of the fall of Nineveh in the book of Nahum is vivid and
12/02/20244 minutes 39 seconds
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Worthy is the Lamb

READ: REVELATION 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 17:14; 22:1-5 Worthy, worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the great I am.   He was slain in my stead, Bruised and buried, He rose from the dead.   Ruling now in majesty, Day and night He pleads for me.   Clothed in robes of purest light, The Lamb returns, dispels the night.   King of kings upon His throne, High and holy is the Saving One.   Worthy, worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the great I am.   This poem was inspired by passages in the book of Revelation that show Jesus as the triumphant Lamb of God. In the Old Testament,
11/02/20244 minutes 48 seconds
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Old to New

READ: 2 CORINTHIANS 5:14-17; EPHESIANS 4:20-32; COLOSSIANS 3:5-17 Closet clean-outs can be so satisfying. Getting rid of clothes that no longer fit can help make space for the things we really need—and like—in our closets. Instead of a cluttered and chaotic closet bursting at the seams with clothes that don’t really suit us, we see a space well-ordered with things that are functional and beautiful to us. Getting rid of old things to make room for new things is a lot like how our walk with Jesus goes. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.”
10/02/20244 minutes 5 seconds
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What I Would Say

READ: JOHN 3:16-18; COLOSSIANS 4:3-6; 1 PETER 3:15-16 My niece got me thinking recently. She wrote me a letter asking what I would tell her about Jesus if she didn’t know about Him. She said she wanted to know so that she would know what to share with others. I was surprised when I didn’t have an immediate answer for her. As I spent time thinking, I considered the fact that you really need to know what someone has heard about God and Jesus before you can start sharing with them in a helpful way. You need to know what their beliefs are and how they feel about things. You need to listen to them. I told my niece some of that, and then I told her I would want her to know that God lov
09/02/20244 minutes 56 seconds
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Enough

READ: ISAIAH 64:6; ROMANS 3:10, 23-24; PHILIPPIANS 3:3-11 Arlyn stood in a long line of travelers, each waiting for their turn at the weighing station. She watched the distance between her and the balance scale grow smaller. Her basket of jewels rattled as she tried to control her trembling. When she had gathered them in the dark depths of the mine, the jewels had appeared flawless. Now, against the backdrop of the splendid palace towering over her, she saw cracks marring the stones. She desperately hoped they would be enough. When it was Arlyn’s turn to step forward, she looked over at the curtained doorway beyond the giant scale. People whispered that the king presided over e
08/02/20246 minutes 47 seconds
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Forgiven to Forgive

READ: MATTHEW 18:21-35 Many of us love a good revenge story. In movies, books, and TV shows, we love the story of someone who takes matters into their own hands and gets back at the bad guy—we want to see the bad guys get what they deserve. Many of us have been on the receiving end of bullying or mistreatment, and we know what it’s like to want revenge. But what happens when we’re the ones doing the bullying or mistreating? Well then we may be tempted to think it wasn’t a big deal. We may come up with all sorts of excuses and reasons to explain away what we did: "I was just joking. I was tired. You’re overreacting." Or maybe we try to justify what we did: "Well, I wouldn’t have hurt them if they hadn’t hurt me first!" We may want revenge when we’re the ones who have
07/02/20245 minutes 19 seconds
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Following God

READ: PSALM 25:3; ROMANS 8:31-39; HEBREWS 10:19-23 Have you ever followed a celebrity who ended up in trouble? It can make us feel embarrassed that we were ever supporters of this person as their wrongdoings are exposed. We may regret ever spending time following them. It can be so disappointing. People disappoint us in other ways, too. Maybe you’ve looked up to a parent or other adult in your life, and then they left. Maybe you spent so much time trying to impress them, trying to win their love, but they simply left without a glance back. But even when people let us down, we have this hope: following God is not like following a person. When we know Jesus Christ, He stays a part of o
06/02/20244 minutes 43 seconds
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The Eternal One

READ: PSALMS 90:1-4; 136:1; 2 PETER 3:8-9 We humans were made to be curious creatures. God made us to learn and to always be full of questions about Him and the world He made. One deep question we very quickly reach is: “Who or what made God? If every effect has a cause, what caused God to exist?” The answer is, nobody made God; nothing caused God to exist. He didn’t come from anywhere—He just always was. Our minds are finite and limited, and there are some things we can’t fully understand as humans. It’s hard to wrap our minds around the fact that God is eternal, which means having no beginning and no end. God always existed and always will exist. Perhaps the closest image we have is a circle. Where do
05/02/20244 minutes 15 seconds
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Your Creation into Art

READ: GENESIS 1 Lord, how I long to turn your creation into art. How I long to paint the light, Where there once was dark How I long to sing of the waters, Where there once was nothing   How I long to write of the flowers, Where once no land was found How I long to sketch the stars, Where once the sky was empty   How I long to play a melody the birds would sing, Where the fish will splash along How I long to photograph the animals, Where once nothing trotted   How I long to act as the people before me, Where once no people were alive How I long to be an artist, Where you were the original Artist   Lord, how I long to turn your creat
04/02/20243 minutes 24 seconds
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Constant Changes

READ: MALACHI 3:6; HEBREWS 13:1-8; JAMES 1:17 We live in a world where things are constantly changing. Music, friendships, clothing styles, circumstances—they all change. Some changes are good; some are not so good. But even in the midst of all this change, we can rest knowing that Jesus will always stay the same. He will always love us and always keep His promises. And once we’ve put our trust in Jesus, we can be sure that He will never leave us and that we’ll live with Him forever. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” And Romans 8:35-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from His love. In fact, part of God’s greatness is that He’s always the same. He’s the on
03/02/20244 minutes 8 seconds
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Snow Day

READ: PSALM 145:1-3; ACTS 16:22-25; ROMANS 12:10-18 When you think about snow days, what comes to mind? Maybe sleeping in, then going sledding in all that fresh snow, then drinking hot chocolate to warm up? Snow days can bring unexpected fun and rest, but they can also bring disappointment sometimes. Have your plans ever been derailed by a snow day? While it’s fun to get the day off from school, snow days also mean you probably don’t get to see your friends or do other things you may have been looking forward to because all that snow can make traveling questionable or even impossible. Throughout our lives, we’ll have many days when things don’t go like we expect. But Jesus wants to walk with u
02/02/20244 minutes 8 seconds
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The Trinity Works in Unity

READ: JOHN 10:11-18, 27-30; GALATIANS 1:1-4; 1 PETER 3:13-18 I’ve heard many an argument about who raised Jesus from the dead. The truth of the matter is that God raised Him from the dead. Something important to know about God is that He is one God, and He is also three persons—that’s why we sometimes refer to God as the Trinity (from the Latin word for triple or three at a time). Scripture tells us that all three persons of the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit—raised Jesus from the dead! In Galatians 1:1, Paul says that “God the Father...raised him [Jesus] from the dead.” In John 10:18, Jesus, who is God the Son, takes respon
01/02/20245 minutes 12 seconds
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Stronger Together

READ: ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12; ROMANS 12:15; HEBREWS 10:23-25 When my closest cousin, Jeanna, was barely a young woman, she lost her fight with cancer. I mourned her death with daily tears longer than I expected to. Then I learned of a way to honor Jeanna and others who were battling a cancer diagnosis. I signed up for a walk-a-thon to raise funds for cancer research. Most people taking part in this event had joined teams—from churches, families, or workplaces—and they took turns walking laps along the designated path. I had no team, though. I never thought of asking anybody to share in this effort with me. I just knew I wanted to recognize Jeanna’s life and find an outlet for my grief
31/01/20244 minutes 44 seconds
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Good Shepherd, Good Protector

READ: 1 SAMUEL 17:34-36; PSALM 23:1-6; EZEKIEL 34:11-12, 22 One of Jesus’s names is the Good Shepherd. Throughout the Bible, we find glimpses of what this means, and in John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” I’ve heard teachers illustrate what Jesus does for us by explaining how shepherds care for their sheep by feeding them and making sure they don’t get carried away by a raging river. That’s all true, yet there’s another aspect of being a shepherd that we sometimes forget. We don’t often think of a shepherd as a courageous hero. Think about sheep for a second. They do dumb stuff. And predators, like lions and
30/01/20244 minutes 47 seconds
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The Book of Micah: Rebellion and Melting Mountains

READ: MICAH 4:1-7; JOHN 10:11-18; REVELATION 21:1-5 In the book of the Bible called Micah, the prophet Micah speaks of God’s coming judgment against the nation of Israel: the impending invasion from the nation of Assyria. The book begins with an image of God coming down and bringing judgement. The vivid imagery describes mountains melting like wax (Micah 1:4). All of this because Israel had continued to rebel against God. The prophet Micah even goes through the names of different towns that have turned away from God, and he describes how he is in distress over this rebellion (1:9-16). So, what sort of rebellion deserved all this wrath and judgement? Micah calls out the leaders of Israel for
29/01/20244 minutes 41 seconds
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Sufficient Grace

READ: EPHESIANS 1:7-9; 2:1-10; 3:14-21 When I was young, I didn’t realize the extent of God’s grace. As a child, I prayed over and over asking God to forgive me for my sins. I thought maybe it took a special kind of prayer to be saved from sin and death, and I wanted to make sure I said it. I knew that God loved me, but I just didn’t realize how big His love was. Now I can see God’s love much better, even though it’s still hard to fathom. God knew that I needed to be saved from my sins, so He sent His Son Jesus to live among us and ultimately die on the cross. And then, He rose from the dead, defeating sin and death forever. God knew I couldn’t be perfect and wouldn’t make it on my own, so He made the way through Jesus
28/01/20244 minutes 19 seconds
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Unshaken

READ: PSALM 62; MATTHEW 7:24-29; JOHN 16:31-33 Perhaps you know how it feels to seek shelter from the storms of life. I know I do. We often look for safety and security in anything we can, like sailors trying to cast an anchor. But it soon becomes clear that “everything is futile,” or empty—like vapor that’s here one moment and gone the next (Ecclesiastes 1:2). No matter how hard we try to find the shelter we so desperately desire, when we put our confidence in the world’s unkept promises, we come up empty-handed. Because of sin, the world is often a dark place. Sometimes it’s hard to find light. But God doesn’t leave us alone in the storms. Look at how David begins the 62nd psalm by penning a testimony of
27/01/20245 minutes 8 seconds
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Rock Tumbler Friendships

READ: ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12; JOHN 15:9-17 I used to own a rock tumbler, a machine that takes ordinary rocks and transforms them into polished, gemlike stones. The process would last for days, and the tumbler was so loud I had to keep it in the garage! After I put rocks and grit into the barrel with some water, the machine would spin everything around so the rocks scraped against each other, slowly grinding away the edges. After all the grinding and polishing, I was left with smooth, shiny, colorful stones. Tumbling rocks takes grit and perseverance, and it isn’t a process that can be rushed, but it’s worth it—a lot like friendship. Building friendships is hard work for me. I’m an introvert, and talking to new people doesn’
26/01/20244 minutes 55 seconds
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Questioning Authority

READ: MATTHEW 11:25–12:14; 18:1-17; JAMES 3:1-2 I’m a big rule-follower, but I was more so when I was younger. I really didn’t want to make waves or question anyone who was in charge. It’s something I’m still not really comfortable with to this day. But sometimes the rules we’re asked to follow do not align with our beliefs. And this is where life can get complicated. The same thing happened to Jesus. A group of religious leaders called the Pharisees tried to enforce rules about what people could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath. God commanded His people to rest on the Sabbath, which is the seventh day of the week (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:15), but the Pharisees extended God’s command to includ
25/01/20244 minutes 49 seconds
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Spiritual Scammers

READ: 1 JOHN 2:1-29 Recently, I was buying some pizzas, and when I handed the cashier my money she did something that made me freeze: she held up the dollar bills to the light, examining them closely. She was trying to see if they were authentic. At that moment, I thought to myself, Oh great. Did I get stuck with a counterfeit bill? Fortunately they were not counterfeits, and I got my pizza and went on my way. But counterfeit money is a real problem for businesses, and so cashiers are often trained to recognize fake money. Do you know how they do it? They don’t study fake money. Instead, they learn all about real money. When the Federal Reserve prints dollar bills, they add all kinds of markings that authenticate the true value. That way, no matter how a counterf
24/01/20244 minutes 58 seconds
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Rich Indeed

READ: PSALM 63; JOHN 14:1-6; PHILIPPIANS 3:7-9 A lot of people think money is what makes you rich, but let’s take a closer look at the concept of riches. No matter how much money a person has, it never feels like enough. Just ask any wealthy person! Money won’t bring true satisfaction—and it doesn’t last. We can’t take wealth or status with us when we die. The reality is, what makes us rich—is love. The true and unending love of God. Humans were created to be in relationship with God, but humanity rejected Him to go our own way, and so we’re left searching for something to fill the deep longing that only God can fill. Yet, the good news is that God extends His love to us, even though we could never earn it,
23/01/20244 minutes 36 seconds
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Space for Sale

READ: ISAIAH 33:5-6; MATTHEW 6:19-34; 1 TIMOTHY 6:17-19 Kellen knew that asteroid mining was a risky business. There were hazardous pockets of gas and metals too tough for the drill. For Kellen, though, the money to be made was worth the work. The material in this asteroid alone would fuel his entire home planet for a year. His share would be enough to buy his own mining gear, then he could really start making some cash. Lost in thought, Kellen was startled by the blinking warning light on his monitor, indicating someone had hit a gas pocket. With enough pressure, the entire asteroid could potentially explode—with them on it. Kellen heard his boss shout through the commlink, “We need t
22/01/20247 minutes 14 seconds
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Happy Birthday!

READ: GENESIS 1:27; PSALM 139:13-18 I’m one of those people who likes to make a big deal out of birthdays. Whenever it’s someone else’s birthday, I try to at least send a happy birthday text, or get a gift, or even throw a party. When it comes to my own birthday, I always try to have a fun day planned. I never understood why people would hide or brush off their birthdays. Your birthday is the day that God knew you would take your first breaths! God watched over you as you grew in your mom’s womb. God knew what color eyes you would have, how tall you would be, and what your first word would be. Psalm 139 says that God knit us together. I love thinking about that image. I think of God hunched over, focused on pulling together the thre
21/01/20243 minutes 38 seconds
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Everlasting Candle

READ: MATTHEW 5:14-16; ROMANS 8:35-39 Picture this. The room is dark, and you blink as your eyes adjust to the light created by the glowing candles on top of a birthday cake. “Okay, make a wish and blow the candles out,” your friend says. You nod, close your eyes, and blow out the candles. But when you reach for the cake knife, you notice something strange. Every candle on your cake has started burning again. So, you take a deep breath and try a second time. Once again, all the flames disappear, but one by one the candles spark, and soon they’re burning again. What’s going on? You look at your friend, who’s grinning from ear to ear. You roll your eyes as you realize your friends put trick candles on your cake! These special cand
20/01/20244 minutes 30 seconds
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How Have You Seen God Work?

READ: JOHN 4:1-42 When God amazes us, sharing our story with others can make a real difference. In John 4, we see how Jesus spent time with a Samaritan woman at the well near Samaria. He talked to her about God and also about her life, her husbands, the choices she had made…and about who He was. This woman was surprised at all Jesus knew about her, and when He said He was the Messiah they’d all been waiting for, she went out and told others about Him, saying “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” (verse 29). Because of what she shared, many people met Jesus and believed in Him; they said, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of
19/01/20244 minutes 39 seconds
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Known and Loved

READ: PSALM 139 Have you ever had a moment when you realized that someone really knows you? I had a moment like this with my housemate recently, and it made me feel so loved. I had been feeling overwhelmed and depressed for a few days. My husband took our kids to run some errands so I could get some time to finish up my work for the week and do something restful. I sat on my bed, trying to figure out how best to plan my day. Should I make breakfast and eat it here, or go to a coffee shop to get breakfast while I work? I tried to get my sluggish, exhausted brain to think through the options. I don’t make decisions quickly in the best of times, and I operate even more slowly when I’m not feeling great. My housemate, Jenn, knocked on the bedroom door and told me she
18/01/20244 minutes 19 seconds
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Calling Out

READ: PSALMS 27:7-14; 33:20-22 I keep calling out, God Even though I am tired Even though I don’t see You working yet Even though this life seems to be killing me   I keep calling out, God Because You are my only hope Because You can bring me peace Because You can move into action at any time   I keep calling out, God And my body is tired And my throat doesn’t want to call out And I feel ready to just give up   I keep calling out, God Please answer me Please give me peace Please reach down and rescue me • Emily Acker • Today’s poem is written in the style of a lament psalm. Have you
17/01/20246 minutes 18 seconds
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In God's Embrace

READ: ISAIAH 41:10-14; 49:14-16; 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-11 I saw a young child get off a school bus today— and go right into the waiting embrace of his mom. As she straightened up, he wrapped his arms around her neck, resting his head against her shoulder. I wondered if something had happened at school today, or if maybe he was just tired from being gone from home for several hours. It made me think of how God invites us to go to Him whenever we feel like that little boy, whenever we need someone’s arms to rest in. This broken world we live in can be a scary place. When the darkness around us makes us long for an escape, we can always go to the arms of God and receive comfort. He is “the Father
16/01/20244 minutes 45 seconds
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Does God Care About Evil?

READ: ISAIAH 61:8; JEREMIAH 22:3; MATTHEW 23:23 It’s discouraging to see so much evil in the world. Evil and sin have been a part of the world for a long time, but as I get older, I notice it more than when I was a kid. I hear news about corruption, poverty, or health crises...and it can really get me down. It can be easy to see all this evil and either choose not to believe there’s a God, or to think that God doesn’t care—just look at how bad the world is. But Scripture tells me that God does care. He hates evil. It breaks His heart to see His creation suffering, and one day He’s going to get rid of all evil permanently. I’ve spent a little time in some of the minor prophet books of the Bib
15/01/20245 minutes
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Our Labor in the Lord

READ: MATTHEW 11:25-30; MARK 12:29-31; 1 CORINTHIANS 15:58; GALATIANS 6:9 I walked with determination down the hallway. Maybe this time will be different, I thought, knocking on the classroom door. At the beginning of the year, I’d volunteered to mentor a second grader through a program helping youth with behavioral concerns. Once a week, I arrived at the school during my lunch break to spend time with “Justin” (not his real name) and show him some undivided, positive attention. I embraced this opportunity as a chance to connect with a child needing love. Justin, however, did not embrace this opportunity. Each time I entere
14/01/20245 minutes 30 seconds
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Different, but Alike

READ: GENESIS 1:27; 1 JOHN 4:7-19 You probably already know that snowflakes are remarkably unique from one another. And the reason each snowflake has a one-of-a-kind crystal structure is because every developing flake experiences slightly different atmospheric conditions as it falls from the sky to the ground. But have you ever thought about what they have in common? Even with all their differences, each snowflake is made of frozen water and has six points. It’s like that with people too. No two people are exactly the same or have the same experiences, but we often forget that we’re also alike in many ways. People from different parts of the world have their own languages and customs, but deep down we all have the same feelings and desi
13/01/20244 minutes 32 seconds
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Nightly Routines

READ: PSALM 4:8; MATTHEW 11:28-30; PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7 The sound of white noise as we lay down to sleep can give us comfort and cover up distracting sounds that might keep us awake. A fan going while we rest can help us feel comfortable and breathe easier. Some of us have a particular pillow we need to sleep, and some of us can only sleep in our own beds. There are things we gather and routines we go through to get to sleep…and intentional time with God can also be part of those routines. If we know Jesus, God is always present with us through the Holy Spirit, and getting ready for bed can be a great time to focus on His presence. He loves us so much that Jesus died and rose again to be with u
12/01/20244 minutes 21 seconds
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The Dime that Saved the Day

READ: PSALM 145:8-16; MATTHEW 6:25-33; PHILIPPIANS 4:4-20 One year as summer approached, I needed to buy some shorts. With my budget in mind, I browsed at a second-hand shop and found two pairs in the right size. Including a discount, I could pay for the clothes using a gift card I’d received. It would cover the entire cost…except for eleven cents. But I only had one penny in my wallet. So, what did I do? Did I leave the store empty-handed? Nope. Near the cash register, I noticed lots of loose change in a “leave a penny, take a penny” bucket. Right on top of the pile of coins, I found a dime and then finished paying for the clothes I’d picked out. Even before I needed to use that d
11/01/20245 minutes 10 seconds
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Decision Paralysis

READ: 1 THESSALONIANS 5:12-22; 1 PETER 5:6-11 We are faced with countless decisions every day. What do I want for dinner? Should I read or play video games after work? Where do I go to college? Should I even go to college? Some life decisions are bigger than others, and they require more thought too. I can usually decide what I want for dinner by the end of the night, but larger decisions take more time. So how do I make the big decisions in life? One of the things I do (or try to do) early on is pray about the decision. Throughout the Bible, God invites us to bring our concerns to Him because He cares about what we’re going through (1 Peter 5:7). Jesus Himself would often take time alone to pr
10/01/20244 minutes 9 seconds
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Walking Together

READ: ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12 There are times in life when our need for others becomes clear. If you try to take on a big project, you may quickly realize that you need to ask for help. When trying to learn something new, you probably know that you need to ask an expert for advice if you want to do it right. We can think about following Jesus in a similar way. Like accomplishing a big project or learning a new skill, learning more about the gospel, the Bible, who God is, and how to walk in obedience to Him can feel overwhelming. None of us can do everything ourselves, and God knows this! He invites us to ask for help. We don’t have to be ashamed to ask for help or advice. As Christians, we’re meant to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Somet
09/01/20244 minutes 42 seconds
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God's Temple

READ: EZEKIEL 40:1-19; 1 CORINTHIANS 3:16-17 Chapters 40-42 of the book of Ezekiel may not seem very interesting at first glance. All three chapters are a tour of a future temple. An angel led Ezekiel through this temple in a vision. There are many, many specific measurements included—enough that you may get bored. There is a measurement for everything in the temple, each room and each doorway. There are also specific details mentioned, like carvings of palm trees, cherubim, a lion’s face, and a human face. So, if they aren’t very interesting chapters, why am I telling you about them? Well, because of a sentence in 2 Corinthians 6:16: “For we are the temple of the living God.” There are other verses that say the sa
08/01/20244 minutes 52 seconds
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Never Changing Lord

READ: HEBREWS 13:5-8; 1 JOHN 4:15 This world changes, But You, my Lord, never change The Lord who created the world The Lord who told Noah to build an ark You are the same Lord who lives in me today The Lord who led the Israelites out of slavery The Lord who gave us the commandments You are the same Lord who lives in me today The Lord who cares for the poor The Lord who healed thousands You are the same Lord who lives in me today The Lord who died for my sins The Lord who rose again You are the same Lord who lives in me today This world changes, But You, my Lord, never change • Kimberly Brokish • Do you have a favorite story in the Bible? Just think about how the same God who breathed those words, who was present in that story, is
07/01/20243 minutes 28 seconds
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Not by Sight

READ: JOHN 10:11, 27-30; HEBREWS 11:1-6; 1 PETER 1:8-13 Did you know kittens are born blind? They have to rely on their mother to care for them since they can’t do anything on their own, but how do they know she’ll be there for them if they can’t see her? They use their other senses. Specifically, kittens rely on their sense of smell to let them know their mother is near. As Christians, we live in a similar way. Like helpless newborn kittens, we rely on God to take care of us and be with us through everything we face. Even though we can’t see God, we know He’s there. In a way, we know this because of our other senses. Specifically, we can hear God because He speaks to us
06/01/20243 minutes 47 seconds
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Halves and Pieces

READ: JEREMIAH 17:14; 30:16-18; PHILIPPIANS 1:1-11 I’d been eating the cashews for several days before I stopped to ask why they seemed so small. Then I noticed the label on the canister: halves and pieces. I thought I’d bought the same kind of cashews I usually did—roasted and sprinkled with sea salt—but I hadn’t paid attention to the entire label. Cashews are one of my favorite snacks, and I liked them no matter their size. The halves and pieces offered the same flavor as the whole ones. They were just as filling, just as savory, just as satisfying. Though they were broken, they had just as much goodness to offer. Sometimes I’ve felt like those cashews—crushed to pieces. Difficult circumstance
05/01/20244 minutes 44 seconds
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Ketchup or Mustard?

READ: MATTHEW 22:37-40; LUKE 6:43-45 What comes out when you squeeze a ketchup bottle? Ketchup, of course. And what comes out if you squeeze a mustard bottle? Mustard! Whatever is inside comes out. And it’s the same with us. How we react in a situation says a lot about what’s going on in our hearts. In Matthew 12:34, Jesus says, “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” What we say—and how we say it—shows what’s inside our hearts. When we’re coming from a place of resting in God’s love, what comes out of us will be good and wholesome, like patience and kindness. But when we’re coming from a place of unhealed wounds and self-reliance, what comes out of us will be harsh and bitter. The stresses of life have a way
04/01/20244 minutes 35 seconds
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How Does God See Generation Z?

READ: GENESIS 1:26-31; EPHESIANS 2:1-22 “How does God see my generation?” It’s a good question, and one we don’t often think to ask. We hear a lot of talk about the different generations: what they’re like, what their strengths and weaknesses are, how they’re different from other generations, and on and on. The concept of generations is interesting. In our time, people generally separate us into different social categories based on which set of fifteen years we were born in, and therefore which significant events we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. Those of us who are currently teenagers or young adults are often considered “Generation Z.” In my experience, being part of Gen Z is hard. I often hear people from older generati
03/01/20247 minutes 38 seconds
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Woven by the Maker

READ: JEREMIAH 18:1-6; EZEKIEL 36:26; 2 CORINTHIANS 3:18 Tamora’s orange eyes were wide with excitement. Today, Grandmother would teach her how to weave a sala basket, a rite of passage in her village on a planet in the Cloudina Galaxy. Tamora watched Grandmother’s wrinkled purple hands lift a bucket filled with water and colorful qasab reeds out of the wash basin. “Watch carefully now,” said Grandmother. She demonstrated how to bend the reeds and explained the ancient weaving pattern, more intricate than any Tamora had learned before. Soon Tamora was ready to begin her own basket. “That’s the way,” Grandmother said after Tamora had completed several rows. Tamora beamed and then retu
02/01/20245 minutes
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Intentional Relationships

READ: MATTHEW 14:23; JOHN 15:5-9 I love God and value my relationship with Him, but I have periods in my life when I struggle to make time to focus on being with Him. I do really well when I have a lot of structure surrounding my own faith. This was great when I was in college and I had built-in daily chapels, church on Sunday, and a weekly Bible study with my dorm floor. After I graduated I lost some of that built-in structure, and now I find it more difficult to make time to focus on God’s presence. It can be helpful to think about my relationship with God like other relationships in my life. I love my friends, family, and husband, but spending quality time with them doesn’t happen automatically. It takes intentional planning and time.
01/01/20245 minutes 4 seconds
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Lights in the Sky

READ: GENESIS 1:14-19; PSALM 33:6; ISAIAH 40:26 BOOM! POW! BANG! The thunderous echoes of a fireworks display ring out. The noise isn’t always great, but fireworks sure are beautiful when they light up the night sky. Gasps of “ohh” and “ahh” can be heard as rockets whistle through the air and burst into umbrellas of brilliant, jewel-like sparks. The sky fills with many brightly colored lights, making the dark almost as light as day. And though fireworks shoot up high into the atmosphere, they don’t hold a candle (pun intended) to the shining stars above. When God sees our fireworks, maybe He smiles and says, “Quite impressive, folks, but have you considered the lights I put in the sky? They can be seen
31/12/20235 minutes 13 seconds
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More to Life

READ: MATTHEW 6:25-34; PHILIPPIANS 3:7-21 Lots of things in life can feel important in the moment. You might worry about your grades. You might think you need the most fashionable clothes. Maybe you feel pressure to be the best athlete on your team. Maybe you want to learn to drive and get your license and a car as soon as you can…but what happens when things don’t turn out like you’d hoped? When your grades slip, when you don’t have the money for all the things you want, when you don’t perform well in your sport, when you don’t have the independence you thought you’d have…you might start to worry. You might feel like you’re not good enough. When our circumstances leave us feeling disappointed and frustrated wi
30/12/20234 minutes 50 seconds
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The Leaky Bathtub

READ: PHILIPPIANS 2:1-11; JAMES 1:19-20 I had just entered my first summer in Romania as a missionary, and one morning I discovered a stranger at my apartment door spouting words I didn’t understand. To give some background information, the city had recently turned off the hot water to our apartment buildings, and this lasted for a month over that season. Lack of hot water created a challenge when it came to taking showers. So, instead of using the shower, my roommate and I decided to run cold water from the faucet into the bathtub, and then pour in hot water we boiled on the stove to create a comfortable temperature for baths. It seemed to work—until my downstairs neighbor appeared banging angrily on our door. I c
29/12/20235 minutes
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Part of the Story

READ: ROMANS 6:4-11; COLOSSIANS 3:1-4 Do you have a favorite book or movie that you like to read or watch over and over? Do you ever find yourself wishing you were part of the story? It can be fun to get wrapped up in a good story and imagine ourselves in it. And let’s not forget the epic story we’re already part of—the story of how Jesus saved the world from sin and death and how He will one day make everything right. That story is real, and it’s the greatest story of all. To understand where we are in this massive story, it can help to think about it in four main parts: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. In the beginning, God created all things good—including us. But at the fall, when humanity rejected God to go our
28/12/20235 minutes 35 seconds
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Not Alone

READ: PSALMS 34:15-18; 139:7-12; HEBREWS 13:5 When it all slips away When I am left alone The darkness surrounds me I feel like hiding When it all gets too heavy When life is hard to bear The world is too much for me I remember I’m not alone My Savior is with me He knows my pain My God does not forsake me No matter how hard life gets God loves me and heals me He helps me when I’m weak God is always near me I don’t need to be afraid • Bethany Acker • Even when we feel alone and overwhelmed, God is always there. He will never forsake us in our pain
27/12/20233 minutes 33 seconds
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After-Christmas Letdown

READ: MATTHEW 25:35-40; LUKE 2:15-20 Do you ever get that bored, depressed, or letdown feeling after Christmas ends? When all the fun and festivities come to a close and we wait for the new year to begin, it can be a bit, well, boring. But boredom can be a really cool opportunity to show Jesus’s love. Think about your community. Other people may be feeling bored, depressed, or let down too, especially people who can’t get around easily, like those who are sick and can’t leave their home, whether that be an apartment, a house, an assisted living residence, or a hospital. Sometimes, these people in our communities get lots of attention before Christmas—carolers, visitors, programs, and so on. But when Christmas is over, they may b
26/12/20235 minutes 3 seconds
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Three Gifts for the King

READ: MATTHEW 2:1-12; 2 CORINTHIANS 9:15; JAMES 1:17 Galumph, galumph. The magi had been traveling for weeks. Nothing but sand under their feet and stars in the sky above. Though the heavens were scattered with twinkling stars, one stood out amongst them all. The star. The one leading them to the King of the Jews. It would be unthinkable to come empty-handed. So, before setting out, they had contemplated what gifts would befit this king. “Gold, of course,” confirmed one. “Frankincense would honor his purity,” suggested another. A third observed, “Great power brings great responsibility—and suffering. It is troublesome to be a ruler. Myrrh would sweeten
25/12/20235 minutes 42 seconds
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The Night Everything Changed

READ: GENESIS 4:2-5; EXODUS 3:1-4; 1 SAMUEL 16:11-13; LUKE 2:8-20 Shepherds couldn’t even testify in a court of law. That’s how much people looked down on us. They assumed we were liars. I hated that. Not to mention we were too dirty and “unclean” to enter the temple because we cared for animals, dealing with their manure and blood. But even worse was how people avoided me. They seemed to forget everyone needed lambs for the temple sacrifices. And sheep need to be led and protected. They sometimes do incredibly stupid things. Whenever I complained, my older brother reminded me of our ancestors. “Remember Abel and Moses? They kept sheep. So did Jacob. And D
24/12/20234 minutes 47 seconds
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Longing to Be Loved

READ: LUKE 15:11-32; ROMANS 5:6-8; 15:7; 1 JOHN 4:9 As a kid, the one thing I wanted for Christmas—every Christmas—was a puppy. Sometimes a collie, sometimes a German shepherd, sometimes a cocker spaniel. But always a puppy. Every year I got what was second on my list. One year it was the doll I wanted. One year it was a wristwatch. But never my puppy. Looking back on those days, it’s obvious to me that it wasn’t a puppy I wanted at all. It was love. Someone to happily greet me—no matter what mischief I had been into that morning. Someone to follow me everywhere—even when my best friend wasn’t speaking to me. Love. It wasn’t until years later that I learned every Christmas is a reminde
23/12/20234 minutes 55 seconds
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The Details

READ: MICAH 5:1-4; MATTHEW 2:1-6; LUKE 2:1-15 Are you a detail-oriented person? Some people are, some people aren’t, and some people—like me—can be if it’s something they care about. Did you know God cares about the details? All the way back in the writings of the prophet Micah, He left us specific details about a ruler who would be coming. Micah 5:2 says, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” This ruler of Israel is Jesus. Even though this verse was written hundreds of years before Jesus came, Micah says the promised ruler would be born in Bethlehem… a
22/12/20234 minutes 57 seconds
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Dark Days

READ: 2 KINGS 6:8-23; PSALM 135:5-6 Wars, earthquakes, crime—all kinds of awful things are going on in the world. Sometimes it seems like there’s only bad news. But when things look bleak in our broken world, we can have hope as we remember that Jesus is coming back one day, and when He does, He’s going to destroy sin and death forever, and the world will no longer be a scary place. Instead, Jesus will make everything new and beautiful. Even now, He is working all things “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” and all along the way, He is transforming us to be more and more like Him (Romans 8:28-29). Yes, the sin and death we see in our world are powerful forces. But they are not nearly as powerful
21/12/20234 minutes 36 seconds
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A Baby

READ: LUKE 2:4-7; JOHN 1:1-18 Christmas tends to get a lot of hype as far as holidays go. I love the holiday personally. It’s a time when I get to celebrate with my family, share presents, and eat good food. It’s also a time I get to remember the story about how God became a human. After living through 25 Christmases, I’ve noticed the same themes tend to pop up. I hear stories about Mary and Joseph and how difficult their journey was. I hear about shepherds, magi, or angels. Of course, Jesus is the star of it all—well, not the literal star the magi followed, but still. Baby Jesus is the center of our attention in the manger. As the song “Away in a Manger” goes, “The cattle are lowing / the Baby awakes / but little Lord Jesus / no crying He make
20/12/20234 minutes 55 seconds
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The Disappointment of Christmas

READ: PSALM 62:5-12; MATTHEW 2:1-11; LUKE 2:1-7 From the time we’re young, Christmas can leave us feeling disappointed. As a little kid, you might have longed for a certain gift and gone without it. You might have hoped a family member would be around to celebrate the holiday season with you and found that they were too busy with work or they weren’t able to travel because of weather or sickness. Maybe you hoped Christmas would be more magical than it was, and you ended up feeling disappointed and hurt. As we get older, Christmas can still disappoint us. After all the special foods are eaten, the favorite stories are shared, and the presents get unwrapped, we might be left with a hollow feeling, like
19/12/20234 minutes 43 seconds
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Mary's Joyful Response

READ: LUKE 1:26-56; 2:1-35; 1 TIMOTHY 4:12 In Luke 1, when the angel Gabriel suddenly appeared out of nowhere, Mary was probably no more than sixteen. As if the angel wasn’t terrifying enough, he also brought distressing news: she—still a virgin and engaged to be married—would soon become pregnant with the Son of the Most High God. Talk about rocking your world! Things were different then, and Mary would not have been considered too young to become a mother, as Jewish women often became engaged in their teens. Yet Mary was understandably “confused and disturbed” (Luke 1:29). Just imagine being in her shoes…what would you say? To Joseph? To your parents? To anyone? I mean, angels only spoke to prominent
18/12/20234 minutes 52 seconds
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When He Came

READ: GALATIANS 4:4-5; REVELATION 21:1-5 When He came the first time The world was in dire need Arriving as a newborn baby Not atop a gallant steed This might come to some’s surprise The way He came to us But, Jesus comes with power and love Not with pompous fuss When He came the first time He changed the world forever Now those who trust in Him are His And His love for us He will not sever But, do you know something? He’s coming back again! Just imagine how the world will change Then • Molly McTernan • The word advent means “important arrival.” In the weeks leading
17/12/20233 minutes 43 seconds
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God With Us

READ: ISAIAH 9:1-7; MATTHEW 1:18-23 God with us. Closer than our very breath, YH-WH, “I am,” here (Exodus 3:14). From the seeking of humanity in the Garden of Eden, when we first sinned and God called to us, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). To the seeking in the desert, when the Lord spoke to Hagar and she said: “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:8-13). To the pivotal moment of Love come down in the manger. “Immanuel…‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:23). All the way to the cross, where Immanuel gave up His life and said, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). The whole of history is this beautiful chase. God creating, bending, heart-rending. God reaching, earth crying, hearts breaking, long waiting until the promise was fulfilled: G
16/12/20235 minutes 18 seconds
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Counting Days

READ: PSALMS 39:4-7; 90:1-17 When I was young, my family would visit my grandmother 750 miles away, and at night, she would sit with me on her lap and read from her Bible and tell stories of her life. She often said, “It wasn’t long ago I was your age.” I would look at her gray hair and wrinkles, in disbelief that she could think that. She was in her fifties. For me, a lifetime passed just waiting for Christmas. Fast forward to my senior year in high school. I was driving home from a school activity, thinking about my future and what I might want to do in college. I had always wanted to take ballet, but my parents never would pay for lessons. Should I take ballet in college? Then it occurred to me: I was 17, too old to start a career in ballet. A
15/12/20234 minutes 54 seconds
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Promise Keeper

READ: LUKE 2:25-35 Long ago, God promised Simeon that before he died, he would see the Messiah. And so, Simeon waited. I imagine that, as he grew in years and felt his physical strength lessen, Simeon became weary of anticipating and expecting. The Bible tells us that Simeon looked forward to “Israel’s consolation” (Luke 2:25). No doubt Simeon saw the trials of the nation around him and wondered when God would finally fulfill His promise—when the Messiah would finally come and crush the enemy to the ground (Genesis 3:15). But still, Simeon waited. At some point in our lives, we all wait for something. Sometimes it’s a new job, a relationship, acceptance into college, physical healing, or new friends. Or maybe it’s simply waiting for God to reveal the nex
14/12/20234 minutes 23 seconds
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Protective Layers

READ: EPHESIANS 6:10-20 If you live in a part of the world where the winters get cold and snowy, you’re probably used to putting on layers of warm clothes before venturing outside. Hats, mittens, coats, and boots protect us from the cold and wind, and they can also help us understand today’s Bible passage. In Ephesians 6:10-20, Paul urges the Christians in Ephesus to “put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil” (verse 11). Paul goes on to describe each piece of God’s armor, echoing the words of Isaiah 59:17, when the Lord “put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head.” This Old Testament passage ends with a promise: the Redeemer—who we now know is Jesus—would come to
13/12/20234 minutes 35 seconds
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I Need Your Mercy

READ: PSALM 25:16-18; 1 PETER 1:3-13 Lonely, sad, life isn’t what I hoped Desperate, scared, I feel alone No one is for me, I stand by myself Many are against me, I can’t face them I need mercy, need someone to help I need strength, need to be held I cannot go forward on my own I turn now to cry to You, my God When troubles are big, my heart sad I know You notice and You care When anxiety is great, fears large I know that You offer me peace Going forward, I need You with me Give me peace, show me mercy I need You here, my great God Do not leave me to handle all alon
12/12/20235 minutes 46 seconds
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Sharing in One Another's Needs

READ: ACTS 2:42-47; 4:32-35; 1 CORINTHIANS 12:25-26 For a few years, my family and I lived near enough to our church’s meeting location that we could bike to church services. The youngest ones, too little to bike any distance, could ride in a bike trailer behind a grown-up’s bicycle. I was too big for the trailer, but I didn’t have a bike of my own. Sometimes I would try to keep up with my family on a scooter. That was hard work, though, and I couldn’t scooter fast enough to stay with the rest of the family for long. However, a couple at our church—Ted and Kim—noticed our dilemma and decided to help. They owned a bike that would suit my size, and they weren’t using it at the time. Ted and Kim
11/12/20234 minutes 30 seconds
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Present to His Presence

READ: ISAIAH 53; LUKE 2:1-21 Listen. Can you hear it? That whisper of hope on the horizon? The echoes of an infant King born in a manger. The culmination of hundreds of years of prophecy born in a tiny babe in Bethlehem— Immanuel, God with us. The rush of the season, the crush of life— expectations from within and without. How will we hear if we don’t choose to be still and listen? Advent is about hoping, waiting, rejoicing. Being present to the One who presented His One and Only Son as the one-time atonement for our sins. Being present to the One who is after only one thing: your heart. Colorful lights wink on an evergreen tree. Let it be a reminder of the Light of the World, who gave up His life for you on a tree fashioned into a cross.
10/12/20234 minutes 36 seconds
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Decorating the Tree

READ: JOHN 14:6; TITUS 2:10-14 Have you ever helped decorate a Christmas tree? In many families, this is a yearly tradition, especially in the United States of America. Some families even like to add new ornaments every year! In some cases, each person will make their own ornament, or the family will go to a store together and have each family member pick out one new ornament. Then, they’ll put all the ornaments on the family Christmas tree. What really makes a tradition like this fun is the way the unique personality of each family member comes out in the ornaments each person makes or chooses—in how each person helps decorate the tree. In a way, Christians are kind of like Christmas tree ornaments. In Titus 2:10, Paul says that God’s people
09/12/20234 minutes 35 seconds
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Not the Judge

READ: MATTHEW 7:1-5; JAMES 4:11-12 It’s such an easy temptation. How quick we as humans are to make judgments by pointing a finger at someone else instead of looking at the problems in our own lives. It can be so easy to criticize the way other people live. When was the last time you found yourself judging others for the things they do that are different from what you think is right? It’s easier to point out other people’s shortcomings instead of our own, isn’t it? But that’s not how Jesus calls us to live. He died on the cross and rose from the grave for all sin—including yours—and He’s the only One who can judge. He calls us to focus on living our own lives and leave the judgment to Him. But what if we see somebody do
08/12/20234 minutes 15 seconds
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Mary: Living in Difficult Times

READ: LUKE 1:26-56 At the time of Jesus’s birth, most Jews would have known the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah, including a young virgin from the town of Nazareth named Mary. Then one day, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that God was going to bring the Messiah into the world…through her. He said, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus” (Luke 1:31). Through the Holy Spirit, a virgin would become pregnant. I wonder what happened after Gabriel left. Perhaps Mary sat down to think about what just happened. Maybe she needed a moment to process all this. Was she really chosen to give birth to the Messiah—the same Rescuer that had been promised generations before? Scripture doesn’t tell us what came flooding into her mind
07/12/20234 minutes 48 seconds
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Resting Guilty

READ: GENESIS 2:2-3; EXODUS 10:8-10; DEUTERONOMY 5:12-15; HEBREWS 4:9-11 Have you ever felt guilty for resting? I know I have. When my body tells me I need to take a break and slow down, I always try to fight it. This world is fast-paced, and I always feel like I can’t keep up—rest isn’t going to help that, right? Our society values hustle and non-stop work. We’ve all but forgotten rest. But God hasn’t. The Bible talks about rest—and how important it is—many times. One of the first times is in Genesis 2:2-3, when God took the seventh day to rest after creating the world. What if we all took off one day a week to rest? A while ago, I would h
06/12/20234 minutes 40 seconds
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The Hero of Eternity

READ: NUMBERS 24:17, 19; ISAIAH 42:1-4; MICAH 5:2 The world-famous superhero, the Black Panther, was played by Chadwick Boseman. Every day while filming was in progress, I imagine he would get up, eat breakfast, suit up, and step in front of a camera to thrill us as an action hero. Gal Gadot did the same thing as Wonder Woman. And decades before, Christopher Reeve did likewise before he stepped up to save the world as Superman. Why did they do it? I think there are two reasons. We love a hero, and we long to be rescued. As small children we often see ourselves as the hero—perhaps rescuing a pet, a sibling, or even a toy. As we enter our teen years we may look to various influencers for directi
05/12/20235 minutes 7 seconds
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With Matthew

READ: MATTHEW 1:18-25; 28:16-20 Recently, I was looking up verses about Jesus being with us, and I noticed something really cool. In Matthew’s Gospel—his account of Jesus’s life— Matthew includes two pointed statements about how Jesus is with us, and he places one of these right at the beginning of his account and the other right at the end. It seems like Matthew did this on purpose to sort of bookend the story of Jesus with a key statement about who He is and what this means for us. The book of Matthew starts with a genealogy, showing Jesus’s lineage all the way from Abraham to Joseph. Matthew writes that Joseph was “the husband of Mary…the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah” (Matthew 1:16). Matthew then explains that Mary and Josep
04/12/20234 minutes 39 seconds
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The Gift of Peace

READ: JOHN 14:15-31; GALATIANS 5:22-26; PHILIPPIANS 4:4-9 Advent takes place during the four weeks before Christmas, and it’s a time when some Christians prepare to celebrate Jesus’s first coming and look forward to His return. During Advent, many Christians reflect on different themes each week, and one theme is God’s peace. Peace isn’t something we earn. It’s not something we can work to receive on our own. Peace is a gift Jesus freely gives. We see this truth in John 14, when Jesus comforts His disciples as the time of His death draws closer. He promises them the Holy Spirit, and another thing too—peace. “Peace I leave with you,” Jesus tells His disciples in verse 27. “My peac
03/12/20234 minutes 36 seconds
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Birthright

READ: ROMANS 8:12-17; PHILIPPIANS 2:1-11; COLOSSIANS 1:15-20 Do you have any siblings? And if so, are you the oldest, youngest, or somewhere in the middle? In biblical times, birth order mattered a lot. If you were a firstborn son (sorry daughters) you would inherit the birthright from your father. This could be anything from sheep and property to a kingdom if your father was a king. But even though this was the standard in the ancient world, giving a birthright to the oldest sibling was not God’s standard. In fact, God often elevated a younger sibling above the oldest. Even with the first siblings, we hear that Abel’s offering pleased God, while his older brother Cain’s offe
02/12/20235 minutes 8 seconds
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A Very Bad Day

READ: PSALM 86; 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-9 Have you had a very bad day recently? The kind of day when you’re late to school or work, forgot your lunch at home, and realized you didn’t turn in an important assignment? Or worse, the kind of day when you get really bad news, and all the sudden your world is turned upside down? Sadly, very bad days are so very common in our broken world. But God sees all the struggle and pain we go through, and He doesn’t sit idly by. He shares our pain and weeps with us. He invites us to draw near to Him and receive His compassion and comfort. And He provides trusted people who can help shoulder our heavy burdens (Galatians 6:2). The truth is, God made us for community. We can share our problems, and the accomp
01/12/20234 minutes 15 seconds
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Planted

READ: PSALM 1:1-3; JEREMIAH 17:7-8; JOHN 7:37-39; 15:4-17 Minutes before sunset was my favorite time of day. I sat on an outcropping of rock, dangling my bare feet above a crystalline spring of water. My home, this floating island in the sky, was level with the setting sun precisely at this time. Golden light skimmed the surface of the water as I splashed my feet in, smiling. Overhead, the wind rustled the leaves of the silvery bark tree I sat beneath. The roots of the tree stretched out like fingers, thirsty for the life-giving stream water. It was like this all over the island, roots running to the streams, streams spilling over the rocks, water cascading off the island i
30/11/20236 minutes 20 seconds
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The Perfect Lamb

READ: EXODUS 29:38-45; MATTHEW 27:45-53; JOHN 19:30 When I’d hear the bell go off in school, I knew that class was done. Because we heard the bell every day, we were conditioned to react to this particular sound. Something similar happened in ancient Israel. Twice a day, a priest would kill a one-year-old lamb. Some scholars say this sacrifice was marked by the blowing of a ram’s horn, or shofar. The ram’s horn harkened back to the ram that God provided in place of Abraham’s son Isaac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-18). When the Israelites would hear the ram’s horn being blown, they would know that a priest was sacrificing a lamb, and they would have an opportunity to remember the mercy their
29/11/20234 minutes 29 seconds
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A Listening Ear

READ: PSALMS 32:6-8; 86:1-7; 120:1 Lifeguards are pretty amazing. Even when they’re stationed at a crowded beach or a noisy pool, their eyes and ears are trained to see people in trouble. Before anyone can work as a lifeguard, they have to take a lifesaving course where they learn how to rescue struggling swimmers from the water and perform critical first aid like CPR. When lifeguards are on duty, they continually watch for anyone who might be in trouble and need help. But, while even the most highly trained lifeguards might not hear a call for help, there is someone who never, ever misses one. Someone who always hears His children when they need Him. God is constantly watching over you, attentive to your every prayer. He love
28/11/20235 minutes 55 seconds
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Weary and Burdened

READ: PSALM 116:1-7; MATTHEW 11:28-30 Lord, I need Your help Come I don’t know where else to go Come to me I’m so tired All who are weary This burden is more than I can handle All who are burdened Can You help me? And I will give you rest I want to believe You can I will give you rest I trust You now, take this burden from me I will give you rest I lean on You, my Savior I will give you rest. • Eliana Canfield • Today’s poem is based on Jesus’s words in Matthew 11:28. Jesus has made the way for us to enter God’
27/11/20233 minutes 30 seconds
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God's Art Gallery

READ: PSALM 19:1-6; JOHN 1:1-14; COLOSSIANS 1:15-20 Have you ever gone to an art gallery? For a graphic design class I took this year, I went on a field trip to a large art gallery, and it got me thinking. Art can be difficult to understand at times, especially abstract art! However, as I learned more about art, I began to recognize the works of different artists. It wasn’t just from their names on the wall or their signatures; their styles, mediums, subjects, and themes became distinct and recognizable to me. We can learn a lot about an artist from what they create: their values, passions, quirks, and personalities. Often, artists’ work reflects aspects of who they are. Do you ever think of G
26/11/20234 minutes 20 seconds
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Homemade Bread

READ: EXODUS 16:4-16; JOHN 6:1-15, 25-59 Where I live, making homemade bread was more of a trend during the earlier days of the pandemic, but I’m a little late to the trend. I’ve started making my own bread more recently, and even though I’m new to the hobby I’m growing to love it more each time I do it. Now, it’s difficult to find store-bought bread I like better than homemade. Sometimes as I make bread I think about how frequently bread is mentioned in the Bible. God used it as the subject of multiple miracles, from feeding a poor widow in 1 Kings 17:7-16, to feeding over 5,000 people in the Gospels. Not to mention, He fed all the Israelites with manna in Exodus 16. Even such a simple food can be a
25/11/20236 minutes 9 seconds
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Temporary Treasure

READ: MATTHEW 6:19-34; 22:36-40 What’s your greatest treasure on earth? Maybe it’s a prized collection of vintage postcards, or a beautiful and rare electric guitar, or maybe it’s a sizable bank account. None of these things are wrong or bad—things like these can help us enjoy life and take care of ourselves and our loved ones, which are good pursuits. However, it is wrong to make any earthly treasure so important to us that it comes before loving God or loving our neighbors. Since humans first sinned and brought brokenness into the good world God made, it’s really easy for us to get possessive and even violent about keeping our stuff, so much so that we often begin to block out God and other people, instead of loving them like we’re called
24/11/20234 minutes 24 seconds
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Senses of Thankfulness

READ: PSALM 104; COLOSSIANS 1:15-23 I love seeing the fall colors as the trees turn in autumn, the white snow that falls to the ground in winter, the new sprouts and flowers that come in spring, and how beautiful the lakes look in summer. All the seasons make it easy to see God’s amazingness in creation. But what about our other senses? We can admire His creation through more than just what we see! I enjoy laying down in my hammock every once in a while, closing my eyes, and just listening to the sounds of nature. The birds chirping, the leaves rustling in the wind, and the mosquitos buzzing—those mosquitos are also the reason I usually end my time in the hammock. I imagine you use your sense of touch to enjoy God’s creation w
23/11/20234 minutes 30 seconds
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Always the Same

READ: PSALM 102:25-28; HEBREWS 13:5-8 It can be comforting to have something in your life that always stays the same. You might have dinner with your grandparents every weekend, or you might have a pet who meets you at the door every day when you get home from school. No matter what goes on in your life or what causes you stress, knowing that one part of your life is going to be the same no matter what can be comforting. During 2020, when the world seemed to be falling apart, I remember being comforted by the sound of a train. I live close to train tracks, and while some people would find that annoying, I find it comforting. Every evening, I hear at least one train. I hear the trains now, and I heard them all through the time
22/11/20234 minutes 46 seconds
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Thriving in Exile

READ: DEUTERONOMY 30:1-10; JEREMIAH 29:4-19; MATTHEW 28:18-20 Imagine being exiled from your home where you’ve lived all your life and forced to move to a faraway land…for seventy years. Would you panic? Complain? Would you keep your bags packed just in case you’re allowed to go home earlier? In the Bible, God warned His people, the Israelites, that if they turned away from Him by putting their hope in false gods, oppressing the poor, and doing violence, they would be punished and lose their land. And it all happened just as God said. When Israel was taken into captivity by Babylon, a powerful enemy nation that worshiped idols, the Israelites thought it was the end—that God
21/11/20234 minutes 45 seconds
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Going Through

READ: PSALMS 13:1-6; 23:4 Feeling sad is the worst. It makes me feel helpless, small, and weak. So I try to avoid it. I distract myself, tell myself everything is fine, find something to be angry about instead, or simply ignore it. But one way or another, sadness always comes back—usually stronger than before. So how do we avoid avoiding our sadness? As they say, “The only way out is through.” We can’t skip over feeling sadness; we have to go through it. But we don’t have to do it alone. Once we’ve put our trust in Jesus—believing He died and rose from the grave for us—He is with us through the Holy Spirit. He feels our sadness, and not in a distant way. Jesus knows firsthand what it’s like to be sad. Isaiah 53:3 describes Him as “a man of sorrows, acq
20/11/20235 minutes 12 seconds
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The Story of Lazarus

READ: JOHN 11:1-44; 15:15 As a child, John 11 was one of my favorite Bible passages. I loved listening to the story of Lazarus. Part of it may have been because the town where Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary lived shared my name: Bethany. But the more I heard this story, the more I loved it for other reasons as well. I loved hearing how Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the grave. I loved how Jesus had such a close friendship with these three siblings, and how both sisters believed that if Jesus had been there sooner, their brother would not have died. One verse that always stood out to me was the shortest verse. John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” He was overcome with emotion and cried. He cared so much for His friend that He shed tears for
19/11/20234 minutes 11 seconds
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Why Can't We Be Perfect?

READ: HEBREWS 10:14-18; JAMES 1:2-7; 1 PETER 1:13-16 Sometimes, we feel like we should be perfect, having no faults and never doing anything wrong. We might read James 1:4, which says, “For when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing,” and then throw up our hands in frustration and say, “But I’ve tried lots of times before, and I just can’t do it. I give up—I’ll never be perfect!” Perfection is a tricky concept. Try thinking about it this way: When a baby arrives, people often say, “She’s perfect,” as they cuddle and coo over the new addition to their community. But why? Babies can’t do what adults can do, yet people describe them as “perfect.” B
18/11/20235 minutes 5 seconds
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The Sacred Heart

READ: 1 SAMUEL 16:1-13; LUKE 10:25-37 Just above the sea’s drop off into the cold depths lay the city of Aquis. Turrets of shell and pearl sparkled under the liquid bubble that encased the city, allowing its inhabitants protection and breathable air. Most of the Colo colony had come from above the sea, before the war and fires had burned and destroyed everything they once held dear. The Colo were a proud people, fiercely loyal to their own, and determined to never again be forced from their home. Cor wiped sweat off his face as he completed his morning strengthening routine. His golden skin glistened as waves from a passing pod of dolphins rippled the surface of the bubble. He jumped as Viva popped out suddenly from behind a fof
17/11/20237 minutes 54 seconds
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Wahyo Boon

READ: PSALM 139:1-6; ROMANS 8:26-28 Have you ever had to interpret for a toddler? As little ones learn their words, it can be hard for them to get the pronunciations right. Water might become “wawa.” Dog might become “dah.” Potato might become “bay-yo.” And yellow balloon might become “wahyo boon.” Often, a little one needs an interpreter from their household to explain what they’re saying to any visitors who aren’t used to this toddler’s own personal dialect. In a way, we’re all a little like toddlers. Just like these little ones need help communicating, all Christians need that kind of help sometimes when we pray. We don’t always know what to say or even what to ask God for, but Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to help us. The
16/11/20234 minutes 26 seconds
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Forgotten Legacies

READ: PSALMS 33:12-22; 78:1-8 You may know that the Wright Brothers invented the first functional airplane, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, and Louis Pasteur developed a process that makes milk safe to drink. A lot of people also know Pasteur developed a vaccine for rabies in humans. But few people know that modern physical therapy was introduced by Sister Elizabeth Kenny, a nurse in Australia. It was part of her Kenny Method to treat polio. And regrettably, most people have never heard of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis. Dr. Semmelweis developed an antiseptic method of child delivery. Despite overwhelming proof his antiseptic method greatly reduced the deaths of new mothers, most physicians refused to adopt it until years after his death.</
15/11/20235 minutes 16 seconds
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Not Alone in Anxiety and Worry

READ: PSALM 94:17-19; MATTHEW 6:25-34; 11:28-30 There are a lot of anxious and worried people in the world today, but that’s nothing new. People have been worrying for a long time, otherwise the Bible wouldn’t address worry like it does. We’re not the first people to have days when we feel anxious or nights when we lose sleep because we’re worried about what the future might hold. Moses worried that he wouldn’t know how to speak when God sent him to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3-4). The proverbs talk about how a person can get weighed down with anxiety (Proverbs 12:25). The psalms are filled with verses that were written by people experiencing worry and anxiety. For
14/11/20237 minutes 20 seconds
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The Past

READ: PSALMS 32:5; 103:8-14; EPHESIANS 6:10-18; 1 PETER 5:6-11 Are you ever reminded of something bad you did, and just the memory of it makes you feel like you just did it again seconds ago? Sometimes all I remember is the bad stuff. It pops into my mind and hangs out there. I’ve asked God’s forgiveness, and I know I’ve been forgiven, yet I can’t get this stuff out of my mind. I’m reminded of how mean, stupid, or unforgiving I’ve been. At times I’ve failed to tell someone about Jesus’s great love. As I remember my failures, I feel like I’ve failed all over again. In moments like these, the words of 1 Peter 5:7-9 can help us: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he
13/11/20235 minutes 43 seconds
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Under Your Nose

READ: PSALM 119:14; PROVERBS 2:1-5; JAMES 1:5-11 Have you ever cleaned out an attic in search of treasure? Like an old baseball card that could be worth a lot of money, found in a dusty old box. Or maybe a precious painting worth millions of dollars under a cobwebby tarp. Or maybe a sentimental letter from a long-gone relative tucked away in a faded envelope. You never know what treasures you might find right under your nose. But while dusty, valuable treasure is fun to find, all wealth eventually fades. Money and accomplishments are incredibly fleeting and can often puff us up with pride. By contrast, the riches of God’s Word are worth far more than money. They contain the greatest treasu
12/11/20234 minutes 43 seconds
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Storms

READ: PSALM 46:1-7; MATTHEW 8:23-27 What’s the scariest storm you’ve ever been through? When you’re in the middle of a storm, you never know what could happen. As the wind picks up, trees start blowing wildly. Branches come crashing down. The wind hurtles at the windows and makes a loud shriek. The house feels like it’s shaking—or worse, if you’re driving it feels like the wind might pull your car off the road or into oncoming traffic. When the rain starts pelting down, the sound can be deafening. You wonder if it will let up soon, or if the storm will just worsen. Rain might turn to hail, and hail is terrifying. Chunks of ice are literally falling from the sky. And then there are tornados and floods and hurricanes. The aftermath of these storms can be devastating. We never know what can happen during a storm, just like we don’t know what’s go
11/11/20234 minutes 43 seconds
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Prayer Warriors

READ: EPHESIANS 6:18-20; 1 TIMOTHY 2:1-4; JAMES 5:13-16 One day, I heard a beautician chatting to her colleague as I was selecting a nail polish. She said, “I’m trying to stay strong, but when I’m alone, my husband’s illness overwhelms me.” My heart lurched. Sadness welled up inside, and immediately I knew I needed to pray for both this woman and her husband. Not long after, I overheard a snippet of conversation on the train, from a commuter whose daughter was terminally ill. Again, the thought stirred inside, "I need to pray." Does this happen to you? I often find myself feeling called to pray for someone’s needs. I know that some Christians excel at assisting people in prac
10/11/20235 minutes 4 seconds
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Jesus Answered Confidently

READ: JOHN 8 It can be hard to answer people who question us about our beliefs, especially if they speak aggressively and make us nervous. Studying the Bible can help us have answers in our heads, but getting those answers out can still be an issue. In John 8, Jesus was questioned by some Pharisees, a group of Jewish religious leaders who wanted to trap Him and accuse Him (verse 6). Jesus had an answer for everything they threw His way. He would say one thing, and they would question Him about it, and His answer would lead to more questions from them. He stayed calm and kept responding, knowing just what to say each time. He was able to share so much with them; He was ready with an answer for each question they had. Isn’t it encouraging to know that God is never stumped by our
09/11/20236 minutes 3 seconds
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The Tears of God

READ: JOHN 11:32-36; ROMANS 12:15; HEBREWS 4:14-16 There are a lot of lies in our world, and one of them is that real men don’t cry. But what about Jesus? God became human, and it was well-documented that Jesus cried, including when His friend Lazarus died. In John 11:35, Jesus was crying with grief at His friend’s death. We live in a world where terrible things like death are the norm. This is because humanity’s sin resulted in God’s good creation being broken. So where is God in all this brokenness and sorrow? He’s right here. Jesus is God with us—and He weeps with us. As Christians, we don’t need to be ashamed to show we have feelings. It shows we care about the people and world G
08/11/20234 minutes 40 seconds
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The Fleet of Laioma

READ: EPHESIANS 2:11-22 The village of Koselig had begun building ships. For too long the Blodugur clan had pillaged their tiny coastal town (and they, in turn, had done the same to them) and now the village of Koselig had made plans to leave before more bloodshed. But they are too late. A horn bellows, alerting Koselig to gather. Blodugur approaches, and they must prepare for battle. The people exchange worried glances, drawing their swords. The clan leader runs out in front of them. They stand poised for a rousing speech from their Chief. “People of Koselig!” he shouts. “There, battle awaits.” He points to the Southern Forest where Blodugurian warriors slink along the tree line. “Remember now that when we gather, then our God will fight for us! Trust i
07/11/20238 minutes 7 seconds
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Ensemble

READ: PSALM 66:16-20; JAMES 1:19-27; 3:13-18 Sometimes our orchestra would split into ensembles. In these smaller groups, we’d sit down with our sheet music, then all start at the same speed, or tempo. But sometimes, it didn’t stay that way for long. Soon the cello had sped up, the violin had slowed down, the bass was too loud, and the viola was ready to quit from sheer exasperation. The song did not sound like music. So, how did we get the song to sound…like a song? We had to learn to listen to each other. Our director taught us to know our sheet music so well that we could look up at each other while playing. She trained us to tune our ears to the music. When we focused on listening to the instruments a
06/11/20234 minutes 44 seconds
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The Right Season

READ: ECCLESIASTES 3:1-14 Do you ever feel like you’ve been stuck in the age you are forever? Maybe you have big dreams for the future, but you just don’t have the resources or experience or age to do the things you want to do yet. The teenage season of life has its own challenges and joys. And, just like in every season of life, there will be individual variations on how each person experiences these years between childhood and adulthood. But just like crops won’t grow if they’re planted in the wrong season, it will be difficult for us to grow if we try to live in the wrong season. Think about how the different seasons follow one another: at the end of winter the days will get warmer, then the bare trees will be covered in leaves, then the crops will be ripe
05/11/20234 minutes 51 seconds
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A New Accent

READ: EPHESIANS 5:1-2; COLOSSIANS 3:8-10 When you hear an accent different from yours, do you find yourself slipping into the new accent? For example, maybe you say y’all around your grandparents or brilliant around your British friend. Whatever it looks like, switching accents is a pretty common and often funny phenomenon. Thinking about accents can actually help us understand a truth we find in the Bible. After Jesus died on the cross, rose from the grave, and ascended into heaven, God sent the Holy Spirit to be in Jesus’s followers. Soon after this, Acts 4:13 says that when the Jewish religious leaders interacted with two of Jesus’s disciples, Peter and John, they recognized that they “had been with Je
04/11/20234 minutes 26 seconds
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Issue of Blood

READ: MATTHEW 9:20-22; MARK 5:25-34; LUKE 8:43-48 Drained, the blood flows, Labelled, “unclean” and “lost” Doctors fail, trying everything I don’t care about the cost. “The healer is here, Jesus,” An echo of Your name Sings in my ears. Can He heal my shame? In pain, I scrabble on my hands Battling through loud crowds. Desperately needing You Humbled, by the proud, Crawling in faith, Jesus, I trust in You, Touching Your cloak, trembling, Power surges through, “Daughter,” our eyes connect, No longer unclean, nor outcast, “Your faith has made
03/11/20234 minutes 49 seconds
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Maker

READ: GENESIS 1:9-31; PSALM 119:73 I’ve always loved going on road trips for various reasons, one being that I get to see so much of God’s creation along the way. Traveling gives us an idea of how beautiful and large the world is. Just the United States of America alone is so big that when I road-tripped from Wisconsin to California, it took over thirty hours to get there. The scenery we passed through on our way was amazing. The landscape changes time and time again. God made His world so beautiful. The nature that surrounds us is awesome. God created this stunning, big world that we live in, and He created us too. He made us with just as much care as the mountains out west and the deep oceans. He made us with just as much care as ta
02/11/20234 minutes 8 seconds
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My Psalm

READ: PSALM 116 When I was fifteen, my grandma passed away. I had never dealt with a loss like that before, at least not one I remembered well (I had been much younger when my grandpa passed away). I was devastated. It was a hard time, and I couldn’t imagine her being gone. I wanted more time with her. In the midst of my sadness and grief, I was reading in the book of Psalms and came across Psalm 116. It might not seem like the most significant psalm to everyone who reads it, but at the time, it was just what I needed. I sort of claimed it as my psalm after that. I would read it over and over again. That psalm helped me through some of the hardest days of my teen years. It still has a special place in my heart over a decade later. I love reading Psalm 116 because I remember
01/11/20235 minutes 6 seconds
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Traveling Alone

READ: JOSHUA 1:9; ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12; ISAIAH 43:1-3; MATTHEW 28:20 Einar pushed open the portal door of his new habitat and started down the desert path. He’d only lived on the planet Themisto for a few weeks, and he still wasn’t used to its dry climate—or its moonless nights. Even in the afternoon sun, he shivered at the thought of the nocturnal creatures that came out after sunset. This place was nothing like the frigid moon he had been stationed on most of his life. He was going to visit Leif, his nearest neighbor and newfound friend. They worked together at the research base, and today Leif was going to teach Einar how to grow native vegetables in a shade garden. In the light, Einar loved the desert with its prickly plants, shining rocks, and glittering sand. But at night, arid breezes whistled eerily through the brush. It was easy to imagine bumping into the hard cactus spines, stumbling over a blue neidr snake, or feeling the fuzzy legs of a pry
31/10/20236 minutes 52 seconds
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Temporary Situation

READ: 1 CORINTHIANS 15:42-49; 1 JOHN 3:2 Have you ever been involved in renovating a house? It’s usually pretty chaotic. Maybe there’s a constant dripping in the bathroom sink, the walls are covered with holes, the carpet is old and worn out—plus a long list of other things that need fixing! In the midst of the chaos, we hold onto the hope of how nice it’ll be once our home has had all the renovations it needs. Soon everything will be like new, all in working order as it should be. That’s a good way for Christians to think too. In our world broken by sin, we see many tragic things that seem to have no end. This can be especially disheartening when it’s our own health that’s suffering—whether it’s our physical, mental, or e
30/10/20235 minutes 9 seconds
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God Loves You

READ: ROMANS 8:38-39; 1 JOHN 4:7-11 One thing I wish I could go back and tell my younger self over and over is “God loves you.” It’s something I wish every young person could grasp and believe. Life can be tough, especially when you’re a teenager. You’re trying to learn about yourself. You discover your style, your likes and dislikes, and how you differ from your friends and family. It can be a hard journey, and at times you might not feel good enough. You might feel unsure of yourself or wish you had more confidence. But if I could remind younger me and any younger person of anything, it would be that God loves them. You don’t have to try to impress anyone. You don’t have to worry about all the little things. God cares so
29/10/20234 minutes 43 seconds
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Reflections of the Heart

READ: MATTHEW 12:33-37; ROMANS 12:2; EPHESIANS 4:22-24, 29-32 Take a moment to remember a compliment that has stuck with you. For example, I remember a friend telling me I was very intentional, and I really appreciated that. Now, think of something someone said that was harsh. Maybe it was a biting remark, a lie, or a put-down. Unfortunately, those can come to mind much easier, and the negative things said to us can stick around longer than we want them to. The Bible has so much to say about our words and their power. Our words can calm people down or rile them up; they can encourage or discourage the people around us—whether in person or online (Proverbs 12:1
28/10/20234 minutes 40 seconds
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A Fresh Start

READ: PSALM 32:1-5; ROMANS 3:23-24; 1 JOHN 1:8-9 Have you ever buttoned your shirt wrong? One button off can cause a shirt to hang longer at the bottom on one side than the other…or cause a sagging of extra fabric in the middle. Usually, the only way to fix this problem is to unbutton the entire shirt, start with the top button, and work your way down. No one likes to do a task all over again, but this is often the only way to correct things. It gives you a fresh start. That’s true with shirts and with life. The Bible says we all do wrong (we all sin) and it makes a mess of things. We need a fresh start. On our own, this isn’t possible, but if we trust Jesus and confess the wrong things we do, Jes
27/10/20234 minutes 40 seconds
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Struggling to Follow

READ: PSALMS 39:7; 119:49; LAMENTATIONS 3:13-26 In the Bible, we see over and over again how the Israelites (God’s people) turned away from God, abandoning His good ways and embracing sin. But God still had a great love for His people, even though they sinned and no longer followed His commands. He often sent prophets, people He spoke through supernaturally to remind the Israelites of His love and His good ways. One of those prophets was Jeremiah, who spoke God’s instructions to the people. Yet Jeremiah grew disheartened and full of despair because of the people’s disobedience. He lost hope. His strength grew weak. Overcome by all the sin and wrong, sorrow filled his heart. But in this momen
26/10/20235 minutes 26 seconds
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Limits

READ: MATTHEW 11:28-30; 1 PETER 4:10-11 Do you know what I hate? Limits. I hate that I’m a finite being and I can’t do everything. I hate that I can’t have all the skills, all the energy, and all the knowledge. I can’t do all the things, and I can’t be all the things. And I hate that. But I’m learning not to hate it anymore. I used to think it was valiant to hate limits. I’ve always been told that I can do anything, be anything. And limits keep me from doing everything I want to do and being everything I want to be. So I have to hate them and overcome them, right? Well, sometimes. Some limits do need to be overcome. But not all of them. Because, do you know who gave me these limits? God. And do you know the only
25/10/20234 minutes 59 seconds
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Brokenhearted

READ: GENESIS 16:13; PSALM 34:17-22; 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18). He knows about every one of your heartbreaks, both big and small. God knows when you’ve been having a tough day or year. It’s not always easy to see God during those times, but He sees you. He sees you during a breakup, and He wants to help you through it. He sees you when you lose a loved one, and He is ready to comfort you. God is close when things go wrong. When humanity’s sin brought brokenness to creation, God was heartbroken. Yet He was determined to restore what had been lost and unite us to Himself again. That’s why Jesus came. He is “God with us” (Matthew 1:23), a
24/10/20234 minutes 2 seconds
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The Thief

READ: LUKE 5:17-26; 23:32-43; EPHESIANS 2:1-10 Icy iron chains bind my hands behind me, weighing me down more and more with every step as I’m led toward the throne room. My heart pounds in my chest and sweat slides down my temple. Why did I have to be so foolish?! Why did I think it would be a good idea to steal from the King’s table? What was I thinking! The groan of the great, gold doors of the throne room opening snaps me from my thoughts, and I gulp. Up ahead is the King, full of majesty and glory. With slow, halting steps I make my way toward the foot of the throne. I barely notice the murmurs of the court as I curl into myself. I should have listened to my mother. She told me my thievery would
23/10/20235 minutes 1 second
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Focus

READ: JOHN 10:27-30; HEBREWS 4:14-16; 12:1-3 Click-click-click-click. Drumsticks rose and fell in unison. As drumline leader in our marching band, it was my job to ensure the drummers played tightly together, with sticks all rising up to the same height and hitting the drums with the same intensity. To do this, I had to watch the drum major, who marched ahead of us and kept time. While playing with the whole marching band under the drum major’s lead, I had to make sure that our hits exactly shadowed the drum major’s direction so we didn’t sound as random as a popcorn machine. Otherwise, the entire band might fall apart. The competition field provided plenty of distractions: black-jacketed judges
22/10/20234 minutes 49 seconds
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God of All Nature

READ: PSALM 148 I love getting out in nature and exploring all that God has made. And I’ve always enjoyed traveling and getting to see places and things that are new to me. Over the years, I’ve been able to go to several national parks and see a wide variety of God’s stunning creations. From views of the Atlantic Ocean framed by colorful trees at Acadia National Park in Maine, to gorgeous sunrises over the desert of Death Valley National Park in California, I was amazed by God’s work. God made this world so varied, each different landscape beautiful in its own way. Just think about the variety of trees alone—from palm trees that grow in desert oases to maple trees that change their colors in the fall. As we behold trees, mountains, and oceans, it’s amazing that we can know the God wh
21/10/20234 minutes 9 seconds
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Five Friends

READ: MARK 2:1-12; LUKE 5:17-26; JOHN 15:12-15 I was reading through Mark 2 last night, and I was struck by all that a group of friends chose to do in order to bring one man to see Jesus. Mark 2:3-4 says four men carried a paralyzed man to Jesus. “Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.” The Bible doesn’t tell us very much about these five men, but they seem like a group of friends, and it’s clear that one of them was unable to walk on his own. We don’t know how this man came to be paralyzed. Maybe the friends had been doing something together that they shouldn’t have been doing, a
20/10/20234 minutes 36 seconds
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Where Is the Lamb?

READ: GENESIS 22:1-18; EXODUS 12:12-13, 21-23; 1 JOHN 2:1-2 The story of Abraham taking his son Isaac up to the mountain Moriah to be sacrificed has always been a difficult one for me to read. Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son? And then why does God instead provide a different sacrifice to take Isaac’s place? Even Isaac himself is confused by the ordeal. He sees the firewood but asks his dad, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7). Abraham tells his son that God will provide the lamb. And yet, look at Genesis 22:13. Did you catch the type of animal God provides for the sacrifice? It’s a ram, not a lamb. The Israelites who read this
19/10/20235 minutes 14 seconds
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Instant Changes

READ: JOHN 10:27-30; ROMANS 8:31-39 My favorite baseball team made it to the playoffs one fall, and I was excited to watch the first playoff game with my brother and sister. We were preparing food ahead of time so we wouldn’t have to worry about it during the game, but as I was working in the kitchen my finger slipped—and before I knew it I had a bad cut. I went from excitedly preparing food to crying on the floor, a towel wrapped around my finger. I thought I would have to go to the emergency room. I didn’t know if I would even make it back in time for the game. Just like that, the thing that had been my main focus—the baseball game—wasn’t a big deal to me. I was only concerned about my finger. Have you ever had something happen th
18/10/20234 minutes 19 seconds
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A Fulfilled Promise (Part 2)

READ: MATTHEW 28:1-10; LUKE 24:1-12; JOHN 20:1-18 Elena didn’t have time to walk all the way around the quarry. She had dinner plans with friends. Ever since Rosa had said the mines would re-open, the town had been chaos. Finally, after weeks of debating whether Rosa had actually found the gold nugget, then a few more weeks of arguing if she had actually heard a voice, the mayor finally decided to re-open the mines after thirty years to do some exploratory mining. So the main trail was closed, and Elena had to walk all the way around. Elena had never known life with the mines open. Her grandfather had worked in the mountain’s mines, and her father had too, right before they closed. Elena was los
17/10/20235 minutes 2 seconds
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A Hidden Treasure (Part 1)

READ: MATTHEW 1:18-25; LUKE 1:26-38 As Rosa walked toward town to meet up with her fiancé Antonio, she was passing by the old mines when something shiny caught her eye amidst the rocks and tumbleweeds. She was leaning down to look when suddenly a voice from above rumbled, “Go and take this gold. It is a gift for you and a promise of more to come. I will restore this town and bring it out of poverty.” Shaking with surprise, Rosa said, “Who’s there? Who are you?” “I am the One who watches over you. And I will restore this town, starting with you. Go and tell the people of my promise.” So Rosa picked up the shining object, excitement coursing through her veins. It was a perfect gold nugget. Rosa ran into town, looking for any
16/10/20234 minutes 23 seconds
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Salt and Such

READ: MATTHEW 5:13-16; PHILIPPIANS 2:13; COLOSSIANS 4:2-6 You’re groggy this morning, and you walk barefoot to the kitchen in that foggy, sleepy state. Once you arrive in the kitchen, you mindlessly and wordlessly prepare your oatmeal. Soon you sit down at the table and have the first taste of your handiwork. Ugh. So bland. You add more sugar and try again. Still frown-worthy. You add still more sugar. Blech. You’re about to add even more sugar, when your mind clears and you realize, This needs salt, not sugar! You try a pinch of salt…and the oatmeal finally tastes good. As Christians, it’s good to be reminded of how salt enhances the flavor of
15/10/20234 minutes 25 seconds
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Closer than a Brother?

READ: PROVERBS 18:24; ISAIAH 43:1-2; JOHN 15:15 Do you have a younger sibling? Do they sometimes follow you everywhere and mimic your every move? This can get pretty annoying, but did you know Jesus is kind of like that? He doesn’t annoy you or mimic you, but He is with you wherever you go. Proverbs 18:24 says, “there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.” When Jesus came and lived among us, existing as fully God and fully human, He called us His friends. When things get tough, Jesus wants you to lean on Him. He will see you through each and every storm, trial, and struggle you face. He won’t leave you alone, because He loves you. Joshua 1:9 says, “the Lord your God is with you wherev
14/10/20234 minutes 11 seconds
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Paths Like Pretzels

READ: PSALM 139; ISAIAH 41:10, 13 My life has taken me Down twisting and turning paths Like a pretzel I have never had it easy My path has never been a straight line Through every question and every fear Through every change in my course I have felt You with me I have leaned on Your guidance I have known I am not alone My life has made me wonder And question where I’m going The rocky paths They’ve made me think I need to turn around But I have kept going You have held me through it all You have helped me find my way • Emily Acker • Have you had times in your life when everyth
13/10/20233 minutes 27 seconds
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Prayer Is Powerful...Because God Is

READ: LUKE 11:1-13; HEBREWS 4:14-16; JAMES 5:13-16 Have you ever wanted to help someone who was struggling, but you didn’t know what to do? There is always something you can do, even when you feel like you have nothing to give. When you have nothing else, you can still do the most important thing, and that is to pray. When a friend or family member is going through a difficult situation and you aren’t sure how you can offer to help, you can pray for them. When you see someone struggling financially and you don’t have much money to offer, or when they need some other kind of help that you can’t give them, you can pray for them. Throughout the Bible, God calls us to lift each other up in prayer. H
12/10/20234 minutes 18 seconds
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Seasons of Beauty

READ: JOSHUA 1:9; PSALM 96:11-12; ECCLESIASTES 3:1-8; 1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18 What’s your favorite season? I don’t know if I have one; I always have trouble answering that question. There are things to love—and not love—about every season. In winter I love the snow, the beauty of the world just being covered with a blanket of white. The cold certainly isn’t my favorite thing though. In spring watching the plants sprout and the earth come back alive is rejuvenating. In summer the heat makes it fun to swim and kayak. In autumn watching the trees change color before the leaves begin to fall is beautiful. With every season, I’m reminded
11/10/20234 minutes 13 seconds
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Me, God, and the Fire Chief

READ: DEUTERONOMY 6:4-9; PSALM 1:1-2; MATTHEW 22:36-40 I recently accepted a job working in the office of my local fire department. This was something I never expected to do. I had very little knowledge about how fire departments even worked. But the fire chief knew this when he proposed the plan for me to take over some of his responsibilities. He knew it would be a long journey, but he offered to take the time to teach me. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with my position. I spend hours working with the chief to learn what he does. I have a picture of the firefighters to memorize names and faces. I put military time on my phone to understand how their 24-hour shifts are recorded. I made
10/10/20234 minutes 36 seconds
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Rest Is Productive

READ: GENESIS 2:1-3; EXODUS 20:8-11; MATTHEW 11:28–12:13; MARK 6:27-32 The other day, I heard someone say, “Rest is productive,” and I flinched a little. That can’t be, can it? Resting is the opposite of being productive, right? Sometimes I struggle with feeling guilty when I rest or take a break. Or I’ll remember how productive I was in the past and think I’ll never compare to that now with all the rest I’m taking. But God teaches us that not only do we need rest, but it’s also an important and productive part of becoming more like Christ. God created the Sabbath with the purpose of resting in mind. In the book of Exodus, He commanded His pe
09/10/20234 minutes 55 seconds
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Comprehending God's Love

READ: PSALM 139:6-12; EPHESIANS 3:14-21 We try to comprehend a lot of things in life. And the fact is, God created us with the ability to learn. Knowledge and discovery are gifts from Him. He invites us to explore this vast universe He has made, and He calls us to dig deep into Scripture so that we can understand more and more about who Jesus is and what it means to live in relationship with Him. But can we ever really understand just how much God loves us? Can we ever really know just how much He cares about us? Can we ever wrap our minds around the fact that He never stops loving us, no matter what we do? Ephesians 3:19 says that God’s love “surpasses knowledge.” And yet, throughout the Bible God gives us glimpses of how
08/10/20234 minutes 45 seconds
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The Comparison Game

READ: ROMANS 12:1-11; EPHESIANS 2:8-10; 1 JOHN 4:19 Have you ever found yourself playing the comparison game? When we look around us and see what everyone else can do, it’s easy to try to figure out if we’re better or worse at certain things than others. Maybe your friend Blake is better at soccer than you are, so you might try to make yourself feel better by comparing yourself to Skye, who is a weaker player than both of you. But comparison is a never-ending game, and it leaves us feeling stressed, not satisfied. We all struggle with comparison from time to time, but thankfully we don’t have to keep playing the comparison game. Instead, Jesus frees us to embrace the gifts God has given us.
07/10/20235 minutes 7 seconds
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The Archer

READ: JOHN 3:14-18; 14:5-10; ROMANS 3:21-27 I jumped when the solid oak door slammed behind me, its banging echoing through the empty chamber. The dust from the floor blew up into my nose, and I coughed, the nervous pit in my stomach growing even tighter. Just one shot…one shot… I repeated to myself as I looked up to see the fabled target, glaring down at me from its perch on the wall. One day every year, the king allowed new prisoners the chance to walk free if we could do one thing: shoot an arrow into the very center of this target with only one shot. Each prisoner got to try once. It was either make this shot and rejoin the kingdom with a clean slate, or miss and spend the rest of my li
06/10/20236 minutes 50 seconds
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Broken Is Beautiful

READ: ISAIAH 61:1-3; 64:6-8; 2 CORINTHIANS 4:6-10 Have you ever heard of the Japanese artform called Kintsugi? The word means “golden joinery” or “golden repair.” The art is created when a treasured ceramic, like a clay bowl, is broken. Instead of throwing away the old pieces and making a new ceramic altogether, the artist takes the broken pieces and mends them together by mixing lacquer with powdered metal such as gold. The effect is the same shape as the original beloved ceramic, but with all the cracks now filled in with gold, the cracks become the focus of the clay pot. Repairing the damage in this way creates a stronger and more beautiful object than what existed before. The artfor
05/10/20235 minutes 20 seconds
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Ask Questions

READ: PSALM 119:34; PROVERBS 1:1-7; ACTS 17:10-12; EPHESIANS 1:15-23 As we grow in our faith, it’s good to ask questions. Questions help us dive deeper into the Bible and learn more about God and how He reveals Himself in Jesus. God loves it when we bring our questions to Him. And it’s rewarding to pursue answers that help us live out our faith with wisdom and share the gospel (or good news) with others. The Bible is full of wisdom, mysteries, truth, and life. It tells the story of Jesus: God in flesh coming to live with His people, die on the cross, and be raised from the dead to make the way for us to be with God forever. There are so many things you
04/10/20234 minutes 43 seconds
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He Keeps His Promises

READ: 2 CORINTHIANS 1:18-22; GALATIANS 6:2-5; HEBREWS 10:19-25 On the way home from a road trip, I peered out the window of our minivan and noticed a slogan that said, “Helping the World Keep Promises.” This bold statement emblazoned on the side of a truck advertised the company’s reliability.* I assumed they wanted customers to know they would deliver their cargo on time, every time. We DO need help keeping our promises, I mused. Maybe we need reminders, to-do lists, or a date circled and highlighted on the calendar. Maybe we need to have accountability, a friend or mentor who will check in with us to be sure we’re following through on our commitments and goals.
03/10/20234 minutes 39 seconds
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Desert Years

READ: DEUTERONOMY 8:2-18; PSALM 13; MATTHEW 11:28-30 What are deserts? Many people think of places like the Sahara—rolling dunes of hot sand with no signs of life. Some consider parts of the Arctic to be a desert. It makes sense—rolling dunes of snow with no signs of life. In either case, deserts are big, empty, and hostile. Do you ever feel like you’re living in a desert? I do. Sometimes the season of life we’re living in feels extreme, difficult to bear, and void. We may think: "How could God possibly be working in my life right now? I’m doing nothing but surviving—barely. My life isn’t like the heroes of the Bible. My life is empty." However, nearly all the people in the Bible had
02/10/20234 minutes 26 seconds
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Jesus Prayed for Us

READ: JOHN 17 How amazing is it to think that Jesus took time to pray for His followers, including us? In John 17, we read Jesus’s prayer—a conversation between Jesus, who is God the Son, and His Father in heaven. Jesus knew that He was going to the cross in a matter of hours, that He would die, rise again, and then ascend into heaven while His followers stayed on earth. He knew they would have struggles. He had seen the darkness this broken world holds, the darkness He came to save us from. And though Jesus promised to be with us always through the Holy Spirit, and to one day come again and make all things new, He knew there would be hardships before He returned. So, Jesus asked His Father to look out for His followers and protect them after He ascended. Jesus went on to pray not only f
01/10/20234 minutes 10 seconds
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Come and See

READ: PSALM 34:1-8; JOHN 1:35-51 John 1 is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible. Twice in this single passage, we hear the words, "Come and see." First, the words are spoken by Jesus Himself. John the Baptist is with two of his disciples, and when Jesus passes by, John can't keep the excitement to himself. "Look!" he tells them. "There is the Lamb of God!" (John 1:36). The two disciples immediately follow Jesus. He asks them what they want, and when they ask him where He's staying, Jesus replies, "Come and see" (verse 39). And so, they do. They stay with Him the rest of the day. One of these disciples is Andrew, and he goes to get his brother Simon (also known as Peter). Andrew says, "We have found the Messiah" (verse 41). They can't keep this news to themselves. The next day, Jesus calls another disciple, Philip, saying "Come, follow me" (verse 43). Then, Philip goes to
30/09/20234 minutes 31 seconds
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A Humble Posture

READ: MATTHEW 5:38-42; MARK 15:33-37; PHILIPPIANS 2:1-11 I was reading about different ways Christians have prayed throughout history, and I came across something that struck me. Christians in the early church used several different poses to pray, and each pose was connected to a different type of prayer: lying face-down on the ground was often connected with repentance, standing was associated with praise, etc. But one pose caught my attention. Sometimes, early Christians would pray standing with their arms stretched out to the sides and their heads turned up toward the sky. And while poses like these have been used in different traditions and religions throughout history, early Christians connected this last pose to Jesus's body on the cross. And Jesus wasn't the only one who was crucified. During the time period when Christia
29/09/20234 minutes 52 seconds
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The Field

READ: MATTHEW 13:44-45; PHILIPPIANS 3:7-21 The luxury car went first. Then the jeep. Then the convertible was sold too. Neighbors scratched their heads, and whispers started running through the neighborhood. Lawsuits? Debts? Drugs? No one knew. All the designer clothes went next. And the shoes. Instead of high-end heels, she was seen walking around town in dirty old sneakers, and her shirts and jeans looked worn and outdated. The whispers intensified. Maybe her company was sued and her day in court didn't go well. Maybe drugs were messing with her head. When the house went up for sale, the neighbors were shocked. It had been in her family for generations. She must be desperate, they whispered to one another. The day the new owners were scheduled to move in, she gathered her few remaining items and put them in a plastic bag. She
28/09/20235 minutes 58 seconds
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Helping in Hard Times

READ: JOB 2:11-13; 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-7; 1 PETER 1:3-9 Have you ever tried to cheer someone up, only to accidentally make them more upset? I’ve had times when I wanted to help someone who wasn’t doing well mentally or physically, but when I tried to say something, I felt like I only made the situation worse. Proverbs 27:14 says, “If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.” It’s a funny proverb, but it reminds us that our good intentions can be taken the wrong way when we speak up in the wrong situation. It can be hard to know how to help someone who is hurting. Job’s story in the Bible is a great example of how NOT to help a friend. Job went through tons of hard times: he lost his family, health, and wealth. For a while, his friends sat with him in silence. But when they spok
27/09/20234 minutes 36 seconds
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God Can Change Anyone

READ: ACTS 9:1-31; COLOSSIANS 1:9-14 That person will never change. I just know they won’t. Have you ever had this thought? Sometimes, there are certain people in our lives who seem unchangeable, like they’ve just always been the way they are. They might be angry, mean, or just apathetic. We may long for them to be different, but it can be hard to believe that there’s actually any chance they’ll change. But we can have hope. God has the power to change anyone. Through Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, God has made the way for anyone to come to Him— all because He loves us. And, when we put our trust in Jesus, He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us live lives that reflect Him. The Holy Spirit never gives up helping us
26/09/20234 minutes 59 seconds
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Late to Class

READ: PSALMS 9:7-10; 33:4-5; MICAH 6:8 He almost made it. My friend Cliff had almost sat all the way down in his desk when the tardy bell rang. But still, our ninth-grade civics teacher counted my friend late, and this carried a punishment: a 1000-word essay due the next day. Like most of us in the class, Cliff had arrived well before the late bell rang. He’d sat in his desk and pulled out his books—just like the rest of us. I had wanted to borrow a pen from my friend Melissa, who sat in front of Cliff. He’d offered to pass the pen from Melissa to me. This required him to get up from his desk, and as he returned to his seat he’d gotten caught by the bell. I approached the teacher to explain how Cliff had only
25/09/20234 minutes 45 seconds
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Behind the Scenes

READ: 1 CORINTHIANS 3:5-9; 2 PETER 3:9; 1 JOHN 4:19 Have you ever worked behind the scenes in a theater production? Much of the work that goes into making a show great—designing the set, moving set pieces during the performance, timing special effects, running the sound systems, doing cast members’ makeup and hair, etc.—is not seen or noticed by the audience. All the audience sees is the successful show, not what goes on behind the closed curtains. God often does a lot of behind-the-scenes work too. Have you ever been praying for someone and felt discouraged when you didn’t see any change in that person? Have you done your best to tell someone about Jesus, but it hasn’t seemed to mak
24/09/20234 minutes 21 seconds
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Through Solstices and Equinoxes

READ: GENESIS 8:22; PSALM 46:1-7; 104:19; HEBREWS 13:5-8 Today is an equinox! On two different days every year, day and night are the same length. All around the world, the day lasts twelve hours and so does the night. We call those days equinoxes. There are two different types of equinoxes: vernal and autumnal—one for spring and one for fall. But which one is which depends on what part of the world you’re in because the seasons are flipped in the northern and southern hemispheres of the world. So, because I’m writing from the northern hemisphere of the earth, today is the autumnal equinox for me, marking the beginning of the fall season. Equinoxes are two days th
23/09/20234 minutes 30 seconds
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Forgotten Royalty

READ: JOHN 1:12; GALATIANS 4:4-7; COLOSSIANS 1:9-14 Imagine you were royalty…and didn’t know it. Here’s the scene: you were kidnapped as a baby. Then, after years and years, your family finds you! But even after they do, you’re not sure how to live like royalty. You’re offered a place to live in the palace, but you’re afraid of the change, so you opt to keep on living in an old shack. Your parents, the king and queen, even bring you beautiful new clothes, but you decide not to wear them and choose to keep wearing your dirty, raggedy clothing. Wouldn’t this be strange? Yet, as Christians, we sometimes live out a story like this. When we enter a relationship with Jesus, we become royalty. We are
22/09/20235 minutes
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Repentance

READ: MATTHEW 3:1-17; 4:12-17; JOHN 4:13-14; ACTS 3:19-21 I thought this would quench my thirst I’ve felt so empty And this promised to fulfill But something is wrong I’m so caught up I barely hear the whisper “Repent,” You say I stop in my tracks Realize what I’m doing hurts others Hurts You I feel a pull inside myself An urge to right what is wrong My heart turns toward You My body moves with it My mind knows the truth And now I face the other way And step toward my Savior • Naomi Zylstra • Did you know the word repent means to turn? When we repent, we confess and turn away from our sin, and turn to God. Repentance is a gift from God. Sin is harmful, and God the Holy Spirit moves in us, helping us recognize our sin, and empowering us to turn away from it and receive His forgiveness. What migh
21/09/20233 minutes 49 seconds
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Enough

READ: GENESIS 1:27, 31; EPHESIANS 1:2-10; 3:14-19 You might not believe you are good enough, but to the God who created the universe and every human on earth, you are enough. You might find it difficult to believe you are capable or attractive or talented or special, but the God who made every colorful flower, every sweeping cloud, every gorgeous beach, and every towering mountain is the One who created you too. When you start to doubt your worth, think about who it is who created you. God made everything and everyone in this world. He made it all good, and He made you (Genesis 1:31). And, as a human you are even more important than the flowers, the clouds, the beaches, and the mountains…because you are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). God knows who you are. He made you on purpose. He loves you just for being you. You don’t have to try to be anything special to earn His love. The reality is, you could never do enough to earn it—He gives His
20/09/20234 minutes 38 seconds
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Less Than?

READ: GENESIS 1:27; LUKE 8:1-3; MATTHEW 27:45-56 Sometimes, when I look at our broken world and I see more and more ways that women have been treated as less than men, I just get overwhelmed. Sometimes I wonder, does God see women as less than men? Are we less? One day, I was sitting alone in my car and praying, and this question was once again pressing on my heart. And I was reminded of how Jesus interacted with women. Their stories began to soothe the ache in my core. Jesus is God in human flesh. He reveals the way God sees women. (1) The arrival of the Son of God was announced first to a woman. Her name was Mary, and she lived in Nazareth. The angel Gabriel called Mary “highly favored” and told her that Jesus—who is Immanuel, God with us—would grow in her womb. The Son of God would take His first breath when she gave birth to Him. (Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:26-38) (2) Jesus revealed His identity as the Messiah to a woman. She lived in Samaria, a
19/09/20236 minutes 49 seconds
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Throughout All of History

READ: PSALM 77:11-12; ROMANS 15:4; 2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17 Do you find parts of the Bible boring to read? You’re not alone. The Bible was written by lots of people who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and these different people lived over a long period of time. The Bible is made up of all kinds of different genres, and it includes complicated historical details and complex spiritual ideas. Sometimes, when we’re reading a part of the Bible that goes into a lot of these details—like ancestry or building instructions or accounts of different battles and political changes—it can be a challenge to find these details interesting. We might struggle to see how things that happened thousands of years ago could apply to our lives at all. The good news is that the Bible, complete with all its details, is one unified story. It tells us about how humanity fell into sin, how we were separated from God and each other…and the story continues with God stepping in to reconcile us to Hi
18/09/20235 minutes 3 seconds
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Created for Community

READ: ACTS 2:42-47; EPHESIANS 2:13-22; 1 THESSALONIANS 5:11 When God created Adam, He said that people shouldn’t be alone. And so, God created Eve. From the beginning, God created people for community. God designed Adam and Eve to thrive in fellowship—in companionship and intimacy with one another (Genesis 1-2). But then, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Adam blamed Eve, and she blamed the serpent. No one wanted to take responsibility. Trust was broken. God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and He warned them that life would be different. And it was. Humanity was trapped in sin (Genesis 3). Years later, Adam and Eve’s son, Cain, killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4). After the Fall (when people first sinned), how can we trust each other? Do we even want to live in companionship and intimacy in this broken world? Isn’t it easier to fend for ourselves without depending on others? Maybe it is easier. Bad things continue to happen in relationships. We’ve all
17/09/20234 minutes 37 seconds
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A Prayer for Strength

READ: PSALM 13:1-6; MATTHEW 11:28-30; 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-11; HEBREWS 4:14-16 I am tired, so ready to give in I am weak, I cannot stand on my own I need rest, some way to take a break I need peace, a chance to put away my thoughts I am anxious, so much to get done I am frozen, no way to move forward I need help, some way to push on I need strength, direction to go forward I need to sleep I need to rest I need to know that You are holding me I need Your love I need Your peace I need to know that You will care for me I am tired, so ready to give in Reach down, remind me of your love Let me see the peace and strength You’ve given me • Emily Acker • Have you ever felt like the narrator of this poem? We all go through times when we feel exhausted, anxious, and weak. In these times, God does not scold us—He has su
16/09/20233 minutes 31 seconds
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One Body

READ: ROMANS 12:15; 1 CORINTHIANS 12:12-14, 25-27; GALATIANS 6:2 Have you ever had a really bad ear infection? For such a small part of the body, the ear really makes a big difference! If your ear is infected, your entire body feels bad. In addition to your ear hurting, you might have trouble sleeping—not to mention hearing—and you could also experience headaches, difficulty balancing, or a loss of appetite. Thinking about ear infections can actually help us understand a truth we see in the Bible. As Christians, we are all part of the body of Christ. We need each other, and, like different body parts have different functions, we are each equipped with different spiritual gifts so that we can build one another up and share the good news about Jesus. As people bound together by Jesus’s love for us, we make up a single body. When one member has something to rejoice about, we get to rejoice with them! And when one part of the body of Christ is hurting, we h
15/09/20233 minutes 55 seconds
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Comparison Road

READ: PSALM 139:13-16; PROVERBS 14:30; JOHN 10:7-11 “If only I could be like Carter,” I wished for the millionth time. “Just naturally confident.” Trudging through the crowds on my way home, I thought about all the popular college students. Unlike me. Everyone in front of me seemed to stride with purpose, while a heaviness dragged me down. Without warning, thunder rumbled. Lightening flashed as if ripping the darkening sky in two. Long needles of rain bounced on the ground, but I wasn’t soaked. I was dry. I turned to call out, wondering how I could still be dry in a downpour, but I was alone. Something’s terribly wrong. I shuddered. Where’ve they all gone? “Hello,” I cried out, my throat burning. Silence. The storm stopped. The scenery had changed. Vivid colors from trees and blossoming flowers. A mixture of their perfumes surrounded me. I wanted to stay here in this peaceful beauty forever, but my body was propelled toward a sign: "
14/09/20236 minutes 55 seconds
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Pass the Salt

READ: MATTHEW 5:13-16; COLOSSIANS 4:2-6 In Matthew 5:13-16 and Colossians 4:2-6, we read that Christians are like salt. But what does that mean? What does salt do in practical terms? And how does this apply to our everyday lives? First, salt adds flavor. As Christians, we can add flavor to the lives of the people around us by sharing the love of Jesus. When we add salt to other people’s lives, they get a taste of what Jesus is like (Psalm 34:8). Second, salt makes you thirsty, letting your body know you need water. And like salt, Christians can help people around us become aware of their need for Jesus. When people see what knowing Jesus truly means to us and hear about what He’s done for us, they might become interested in knowing more about Him for themselves (John 7:37). Third, in the days before modern medicine, salt was often used to disinfect a wound. In a similar way, Christians have the good news of Jesus. He has provided the antidote
13/09/20234 minutes 5 seconds
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Un-Recycled

READ: ISAIAH 26:19; EZEKIEL 37:1-14; 1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-20, 51-52 Earth will give birth to you. Your body, as it decomposes, will scatter particles back into the biosphere of our planet. This has happened to all members of the human race, the highborn and the lowly. But this isn’t permanent. A day is coming when Jesus will raise the bodies of the dead, putting all the little pieces back together. Earth will give birth to our bodies again, after absorbing them, like it first gave birth to humanity at the Creator’s touch (Genesis 2:7; 3:19). Our planet is a giant recycling system. Things that die go back into the mix, and more life is created. It seems impossible that, once we die, we could be taken back out of the earth and reassembled. That is, however, the sure hope that God promised through His prophets and will accomplish in Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself was dead, and for three days in the tomb, His broken body began to return to the biosphe
12/09/20234 minutes 32 seconds
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World of Violence

READ: MATTHEW 5:43-47; LUKE 21:9-11; JOHN 14:1; 1 JOHN 4:19 War. Terrorism. Violence of all kinds. In a world that’s broken by sin where these terrible events are the reality—and in an age of unending information in which we constantly hear about them—what are we as Christians to do? First, let’s remember why these terrible things happen. Since humanity fell into sin, grasping for power and rejecting God (Genesis 3), people and nations want to be powerful, and many will do anything to gain that power. That’s the reason we see rampant violence in our world today. So where is the hope? What do we do now? As Christians, we know Jesus. He is the loving God who saw our sin—our power-grabbing, our violence, and our disregard for God and neighbor—and He stepped into our world, becoming human to dwell among us. Then, He died and rose again to beat sin and death. Jesus is the One who weeps with us at the sin that wreaks havoc on the world He made. He i
11/09/20234 minutes 27 seconds
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I Need God

READ: PSALMS 34:1-22; 61:1-2; 121:1-8; 139:1-5 When I whisper Answer me, God When I scream Be the One who hears When I can’t speak Hear my thoughts When I break Put all of my pieces together When I’m lost Bring me home, God When I’m scared Calm my fears When I fail Show me the way When I praise you Accept my praise • Emily Acker • Today’s poem is written in the style of a psalm. Did one of the phrases in this poem stick out to you in particular? Which one? • We can pour out our hearts to God at all times (Psalm 62:8). He is always eager to listen to us and help us. What does your heart long to say to God today? • Throughout the book of Psalms, we can find echoes of the gospel. For example, in Psalm 34:20 we find a prophecy that none of Jesus’s bones would be broken (Jo
10/09/20233 minutes 45 seconds
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I Need God

READ: PSALMS 34:1-22; 61:1-2; 121:1-8; 139:1-5 When I whisper Answer me, God When I scream Be the One who hears When I can’t speak Hear my thoughts When I break Put all of my pieces together When I’m lost Bring me home, God When I’m scared Calm my fears When I fail Show me the way When I praise you Accept my praise • Emily Acker • Today’s poem is written in the style of a psalm. Did one of the phrases in this poem stick out to you in particular? Which one? • We can pour out our hearts to God at all times (Psalm 62:8). He is always eager to listen to us and help us. What does your heart long to say to God today? • Throughout the book of Psalm
10/09/20233 minutes 45 seconds
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Searching and Celebrating

READ: LUKE 15:1-24 I adored the cowboy boots Papa bought me at the feed store. But running in them for gym class had gotten difficult. I just had to find my missing purple sneakers; they were my only other shoes appropriate for school. Now, if I could only remember where I’d left them. For almost two weeks, I searched our house. I looked in our truck, around my grandparents’ home, everywhere I imagined the shoes might be. Then, one day at the end of dance class, I gathered my belongings to go home. Suddenly, I spotted a flash of lavender under my classmate’s coat. Could it be? There, in the corner of the drafty old building where I met weekly for dance class, I located my missing sneakers. My long-absent and much-loved shoes had been found! Happy and relieved, I tossed them into my dance bag, eager to tell my mother the good news. I had a story to tell about shoes
09/09/20234 minutes 16 seconds
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The Virtue of Patience

READ: EXODUS 34:5-7; MATTHEW 18:23-35; ROMANS 2:4 Patience is a virtue we all need. It took me many years to realize my need for this virtue. This realization came to me when I had a misunderstanding with someone I was helping. She was not willing to take a step I thought was right for her, and so I became impatient with her. My friends tried to advise me on how to handle the issue patiently, but I just felt I could not do so. I even started thinking of withdrawing the little help I was giving her. But then one day as I was reading the Word of God, the truth dawned on me that God is patient with us all. I thought of the many times I have not done what God wanted me to do, and yet He has been patient with me and forgiven me, like it says in Romans 2:4, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, no
08/09/20234 minutes 21 seconds
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Tree Problems

READ: JOHN 5:17; ROMANS 8:18-28, 38-39; REVELATION 21:1-5 Have you ever stopped to really look at a piece of wood? Straight lines, intermingled with lots of circles and twists—that’s the diverse beauty you’ll see in wood grain. And those circles and twists, called burls or knots, tell a story. Burls are found where a branch went out from the tree trunk. They can also be caused by a problem in the life of the tree—like when insects invaded a certain section, or when the tree had a disease. Isn’t it interesting that, even though trees experience problems, their Creator brings beauty out of those difficult times? Jesus, who is our Creator God, does the same for us as humans. He sees the brokenness our sin causes in our world, and He weeps with us. Because He is such a good God and is free from sin, He does not sit idly
07/09/20234 minutes 40 seconds
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Evangelism?

READ: COLOSSIANS 4:2-6; TITUS 3:1-9 I love Jesus, and I love talking to people about Jesus. I always have. But I’ve definitely made some mistakes in how I tell non-Christians about Him. So, I’m going to confess some of these mistakes—and what God has taught me through them. Often, I would spend a lot of time and energy trying to get people to believe in particular theological stances rather than the gospel. I would try to argue people into believing in a literal six-day creation (a position not all Christians agree on) instead of telling them about Jesus’s incredible love for them, and the miracle of His death and resurrection. I would try to convince them of the benefits and importance of waiting to have sex until marriage instead of talking about Jesus’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy. I would try to correct a person’s behavior instead of introducing th
06/09/20234 minutes 56 seconds
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Neighborly

READ: LUKE 10:25-37; 2 TIMOTHY 2:23-24 Jesus puts a high emphasis on loving God and loving our neighbors. But sometimes, a person we’re trying to show the love of Christ to has an opinion that we completely disagree with. Maybe they’re even part of an entirely different religion. Are they still our neighbor? In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus made it clear that everyone is our neighbor, not just people we share a lot of opinions with. It can be easy for us to get along with people who think like we do and agree with us on life’s big topics. But when Jesus taught the parable of the Good Samaritan, He showed that God calls us to love everyone—even people we deeply disagree with. The Samaritans and the Jews hated each other, and they disagreed about where and how to worship God. So when Jesus told the parable of a Samaritan taking care of an in
05/09/20234 minutes 36 seconds
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Small Things Count

READ: JOHN 21:1-14 Cooking is an important part of the kingdom of God. Don’t believe me? Jesus Himself used cooking in His ministry. After Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He appeared several times to His followers. But one particular appearance involved a fishy breakfast. The night before it happened, some of Jesus’s disciples went fishing but caught nothing all night. Then, as morning broke, Jesus called from the shore and told them to throw out their nets on the other side of the boat. When they did, the net became so full of fish they couldn’t pull it into the boat—Jesus had done a miracle! And when the tired, hungry Jesus-followers reached shore, Jesus cooked a delicious breakfast of fish for them over an open fire. But why do you think Jesus bothered to cook? Why didn’t He just do another miracle and make cooked food suddenly appear?
04/09/20233 minutes 59 seconds
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Being Real

READ: ROMANS 15:7; COLOSSIANS 2:12-13; 3:9-14; 1 PETER 5:6 If we were real with God, that deep well of frustration, discontentment, or fear could be emptied one putrid bucket at a time and filled with His unfailing love, faithfulness, and grace. Without recognition and an honest emptying of the ugly, how can we make room for the beauty so we can be filled with healing? If we were real with ourselves, allowing the truth of the gospel to seep into the depths of our soul, it would illuminate that which needs change Uncomfortable, exposed, but necessary. Once we let go of the facade, the real work begins Truth, acceptance, change. If we were real with others, perceptions could be past St
03/09/20234 minutes
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Patience Testers

READ: EPHESIANS 4:1-32; COLOSSIANS 3:1-17 There are certain people in our lives who test our patience. When we’re around them, we might find ourselves acting in ways we don’t normally act. For example, we might struggle to spend time with little children, or we might find it difficult to relate to older people. Or there could be certain personality types we have a hard time interacting with, regardless of the person’s age. But when we come across people in our lives who frustrate us and make us feel impatient, we don’t have to respond negatively. Because God is patient and loving toward us, we can be patient and loving toward others. Because Jesus is gentle and humble, and Christians have His Holy Spirit living in us, we can be gentle and humble too (Matthew 11:29). When we’re struggling to get along with someone, we can reach out to God
02/09/20234 minutes 47 seconds
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Family Forever

READ: ROMANS 8:1-2, 15-18, 26-39; 10:9-13 I shouldn’t have done that, you think to yourself after you’ve sinned. I’m a Christian now—or at least I thought I was. Maybe I’m not really saved after all. This is a common worry among Christians, but take heart. If you’ve put your trust in Jesus to rescue you from sin and death, you belong to God’s family. He has adopted you. You’re His child forever. That’s worth repeating: you are His child forever. It’s like being born or adopted into your earthly family. Your parents don’t disown you every time you do something wrong, do they? Hopefully not! Well, our heavenly Father is better than any earthly parent could ever be (Psalm 27:10; Matthew 7:9-11), and He isn’t going to disown us every time we sin either. If He did that, none of us would be His children. We all sin, repeat
01/09/20234 minutes 22 seconds
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Justice and Bell Peppers

READ: GENESIS 1:26-31; MICAH 6:8; 1 CORINTHIANS 10:31 I love food. It’s a wonderful way God sustains us, as well as a source of joy, and it often provides opportunities for community. But sometimes I get bogged down wondering about my food. I’ll pull a bell pepper out of its plastic bag, put the bag in the recycling, and wonder if that bag will end up floating around in the ocean for decades. I’ll start cutting up the pepper, and I’ll wonder if it was grown in a way that nourished God’s precious earth, or in a way that robbed the earth of its resources. As I munch on a slice, I’ll wonder if the people who worked to plant, grow, harvest, package, ship, and stock this bell pepper—people made in God’s image—were treated well and paid fairly for their labor, or if they toiled under unjust employers like the Israelites toiled under an unjust Phara
31/08/20234 minutes 36 seconds
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Who (or What) is In Charge?

READ: GENESIS 1:26-28; ROMANS 8:22-25; COLOSSIANS 1:15-23; 1 PETER 1:3-5 Humans have made a mess of this world. It’s time for them not to be in charge.” I backed away after the android said this, clicking its long metal fingers together. A product of the recent technological singularity, this artificial intelligence was trying to take over the planet. “I hope you will all listen to me,” it said, “and do what I say. We are going to make another world, a better one. But for those who stand in the way…” Its fingers formed into a fist. I had to stall the vile machine, since my friends were furiously cooking up something that might be able to stop it. I cleared my throat nervously. “You can’t make the world better, even if we are the ones who messed it up. Besides, I don’t think you are in charge.”
30/08/20234 minutes 54 seconds
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"God with Us"

READ: MATTHEW 1:22-23; JOHN 8:1-11; ROMANS 8:1 The music blasted, and we sang so loud that dogs started barking. My car full of friends bounced as we moved to the thumping bass. Then—CRUNCH! That wasn’t part of the song. Did I hit a mound of icy snow? I wondered. I opened my door and looked back. I had backed out into the driver’s side door of a pickup truck parked on the other side of the road. The fun video scavenger hunt we were on was officially over, and it was my fault. I sat frozen for a couple minutes, unsure what to do. I had never been in an accident before. My friend suggested we go to the closest house and see whose truck it was. I was scared, and I think I would’ve sat there numb if it weren’t for my friend sitting with me and suggesting some next steps. We knocked on the door and explained the situ
29/08/20234 minutes 45 seconds
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The Storm

READ: MARK 4:35-41 We rocked violently against the waves and wind. The men I had grown to know and love over the last several months huddled together near the mast, what was left of the sail covering over them like a massive cloak. They held it tightly, but still the vicious weather fought to tear it from their backs. “Is all hope lost?” Thomas shouted over the storm. Despite the despair that was plain upon his face, he stayed at my side to help steady the rudder. I wondered if he did so as a kindness to me, or rather if, like myself, he simply could not forfeit the illusion of maintaining control as the wet gale slammed against us and the black sky flashed angrily above. I pushed the wet hair from my face and looked at him. We trembled together and through the fear in my gut, I was selfishly glad that I would not have to die alone. “Should we not wake t
28/08/20234 minutes 59 seconds
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Hey Sheep, Are You Bloated?

READ: 1 CORINTHIANS 3:1-11; 8:1-3; PHILIPPIANS 1:9-11 I was just reading an article about sheep, and I learned about something called sheep bloat. Sometimes a farmer goes out one morning, and there’s this dead sheep laying on its back, feet up in the air. Its belly is swollen tight. And sheep bloat has slain another one. What causes sheep bloat? It happens when a sheep eats too much lush, delectable, protein-rich pasture. The sheep can’t handle the richness, and the gases fill its belly until—pop. It’s dead. What does that have to do with us? God calls us His sheep, and He is our Good Shepherd. And, much like sheep, we have the potential to bloat. Paul tells us that “knowledge puffs up while love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Too much rich knowledge without love can actually hinder our spiritual life. If we haven’t been
27/08/20234 minutes 42 seconds
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Equal

READ: ACTS 10:34-36; 1 CORINTHIANS 12:12-27; GALATIANS 3:28; JAMES 2:1-10 Equal, not just a term that’s used in math Let me see others as equal, God, the way You see them Help me see the celebrity and know they are just another human Help me see the poor and know they have a story Equal, let me look to those struggling in class Let me see them as equal, God, and just as valued as the prodigies Help me see the leaders at my school and know they are like the rest of us Help me see the bullied and the bullies and know they have value, too Equal, something that is hard to grasp Let me see everyone as equal, God, not all perched on different levels Help me see everyone as loved Help me not judge those around
26/08/20233 minutes 38 seconds
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Be Encouraged (Part 5)

READ: PSALM 1; JOHN 1:1-14; ROMANS 15:4 Trying to understand the Bible can be…overwhelming. The more I learn about it, the more I realize I don’t know. And I find myself wondering if I’ll ever truly know the Bible—and the God it reveals. If you’ve ever felt this way too, take heart. The Lord is with you. And He doesn’t expect you to get it all—especially your first time reading it. The Bible is meant to be read and listened to over and over. God designed it for us to discuss at length with others, learning from each other and encouraging one another in our walk with Jesus. Learning Scripture takes a lifetime, and even then, we won’t have everything right. And in this lifelong endeavor to know Scripture, we are not alone. Generations of Christians have studied Scripture, and we can learn from their insights. Books, commentaries, study Bibles, websites, and vide
25/08/20234 minutes 44 seconds
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Genre (Part 4)

READ: ISAIAH 7:13-14; MATTHEW 1:18-23 Another tool that can help us understand Scripture is genre. The Bible has lots of different genres, like historical narratives, parables, poetry, letters, wisdom literature, apocalyptic literature, and more. Today, we’re just going to take a look at one genre: ancient biographies. Specifically, we’ll look at the book of Matthew. Like the rest of the four Gospels, Matthew is an ancient biography about Jesus. And while modern biographies attempt to cover all the facts of a person’s life in chronological order, ancient biographies only cover certain events about a person’s life, and they aren’t necessarily in chronological order. Instead, the author chooses different events and facts about the person and arranges them in a certain order to make a point. For example, Matthew (who was one of Jesus’s disciple
24/08/20234 minutes 50 seconds
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Literary Context (Part 3)

READ: JEREMIAH 29:4-14 Another important piece to consider when interpreting a verse is the literary context. In other words, what’s going on in the Bible before and after this verse? To do this, we have to zoom all the way out to consider where the verse fits into the larger story of the Bible, then zoom in to see where it fits into its book of the Bible, and then where it fits into the surrounding verses. For example, let’s look at Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” First, let’s zoom all the way out. God created everything good, but people sinned and brought brokenness to all of creation. So God promised a future Rescuer who would come through Abraham and His descendants, the Israelites. But the Israelites kept on rebelling against God, so He
23/08/20235 minutes 27 seconds
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Historical-Cultural Context (Part 2)

READ: GENESIS 1-2 One of the most important parts of interpreting the Bible is understanding the historical-cultural context of the text. In other words, asking questions like, “How would the original audience have understood this text? What was the world like for the original audience?” Finding answers to these questions often involves looking at historical texts other than the Bible. The Bible itself rarely includes historical-cultural details because the original audience already knew what it was like to live in their time and place, so they didn’t write it all down. So now we have to figure it out. And when we do, it gives so much more depth and meaning to the text. Let’s look at Genesis 1 and 2 for example. There were many other stories about creation that the original audience would have known. Many of these stories were very violent. In some cases, one god would defeat
22/08/20235 minutes 9 seconds
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Why Do I Need to Interpret the Bible? (Part 1)

READ: PSALM 119:89-96; LUKE 24:13-27; JOHN 20:30-31; 2 CORINTHIANS 1:20 Did you know that you are a biblical interpreter? Whether we know it or not, all of us interpret the Bible when we read or listen to it. We bring our own experiences, assumptions, opinions, and perspectives to the text, and all of that forms how we understand Scripture. So if someone asks why it’s necessary for us to interpret the Bible, I tell them it’s because we’re already doing it. We just may not realize it. The Bible is God’s holy Word, given to us to reveal who Jesus is. It was written over thousands of years by many different authors who were directed by the Holy Spirit. And all these authors are telling the same overarching story—the story of God’s good creation being broken by sin, and God’s work to reconcile His people to Himself
21/08/20235 minutes 10 seconds
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Rescue (Part 2)

READ: JOHN 6:37-40; EPHESIANS 1:3-14; COLOSSIANS 1:9-14 Four months after Marmalade came out of the darkness of his stair home, he found his forever home with me. Last night, as he lay on top of me, loud purr rumbling, I thought about how we are all very much like Marmalade. When we live apart from Jesus, we don’t know there is a better way to live. At first, we are content to live in the darkness, alone in the dirt of our sin. The first step toward life is realizing that we are in need of rescue (Romans 3:23-24). When Marmalade came out from his hiding place and allowed me and my friend to rescue him, he didn’t make us wait while he attempted to clean himself up. He came just as he was: fleas, ticks, matted fur and all. This is the same way God wants us to come to Him. It can be tempting to think, “If I just take care
20/08/20235 minutes 14 seconds
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Rescue (Part 1)

READ: PSALM 91; 1 PETER 2:9-10, 24-25 Sunlight cascaded through green leaves as I descended the stairs at one of my favorite parks off the shores of Lake Michigan. Suddenly, a furry flash of orange and white darted underneath the steps in front of me. Getting on my hands and knees, I peered into the darkness of the stairs to find a pair of large, green eyes staring back at me. From the looks of it, this cat had been living under these stairs for a long time. Fur was everywhere, and there seemed to be a permanent indentation in the dirt where he slept. My heart broke for this cat who looked like a miniature lion, his eyes full of fear. Over the month to come, I made phone calls to people who might be able to help, attempted to cultivate a relationship with the cat, and brought him food and water. Because of the park’s rules, I couldn’t bring in a live
19/08/20234 minutes 30 seconds
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On a Clear Night

READ: PSALMS 19:1-4; 139:14; ISAIAH 40:26 There have been so many moments in my life as a Christian when I’ve doubted the existence of God. Praying just seems silly—like talking to the air. But I have moments when God reveals to me just how plausible His existence is. One especially vivid time happened about a year ago. I was just starting high school and taking an evening walk outside to look at the stars. I lived in the country, so the night sky looked incredible on clear nights like this one. God’s handiwork was on full display for me. Walking in the crisp breeze, all I could do was look up and thank God for the wonder He had put before me. And suddenly, nothing felt ridiculous about this. I was just a creation talking to my Creator. I was instantly so small in the vast universe, and that was okay because I was cared for and loved by the mos
18/08/20234 minutes 37 seconds
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The Reason for Our Hope

READ: JOHN 20:26-29; 1 PETER 3:8-17 As we navigate life, we often hear persuasive voices, each one bringing its own opinions and biases. And sometimes those voices deny the gospel. In 1 Peter 3:15, believers in Jesus are called to be prepared to hear and respond to these voices, but how do we prepare to have conversations with people who don’t believe the gospel? First, and most importantly, we remember to enter these conversations with a heart of love and not a heart of defensiveness. God is capable of defending Himself; He doesn’t need us to do it for Him. Instead, out of love for God and neighbor, let’s seek to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). This preparation doesn’t just automatically materialize though. We learn to trust God when we seek Him out. And on
17/08/20234 minutes 46 seconds
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On the Same Team

READ: PSALM 133:1; EPHESIANS 4:1-6; 1 JOHN 4:19 I got the part; now I needed the costume. At age eleven, I tried out for the role of mascot for my school. The judges picked me, and I prepared to entertain the crowd at football games alongside the cheerleaders. The school didn’t provide a uniform, so my mom sewed me an outfit for my role as The Panther. At games, I would twirl my black cat tail and encourage the audience to roar for the football players. I would jump around, turn cartwheels, and cheer. I also got made fun of—a lot. Football players snickered, made meowing noises, and some guys called me “rat.” Only these weren’t members of the opposing team or students from the rival school. The ones laughing at me were kids from my own school. I expected teasing or trash talk from the competition, but to hear this from my own team surpris
16/08/20235 minutes 1 second
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A Land the Lord Cares For

READ: DEUTERONOMY 11:10-25; 31:8 What kinds of changes have happened in your life so far? Maybe they’ve been small changes, like transitioning to a different school building when you reached a certain grade. Maybe you’ve gone through large changes, like your family moving or someone close to you getting a divorce. In the Bible, the people of Israel went through a lot of changes. They moved to Egypt because of a famine, and later a ruthless Pharoah made them slaves. After generations of slavery in Egypt, God delivered His people and led them to the Promised Land. This was a wonderful thing, but it was also a big change for the Israelites. In Deuteronomy 11, Moses told them that this land was going to be nothing like they knew. The terrain would be very different from Egypt’s, and their farming methods would have to change. Similarly, there are oft
15/08/20234 minutes 38 seconds
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The Greatest and the Least

READ: MATTHEW 23:1-12; LUKE 22:25-26; JOHN 13:1-17, 34-35 Wyran, kitchen servant in the palace of Ardh, studied the king’s table, ensuring that not a single grape was out of place. King Terrian had insisted that everything be perfect for his guest. For months, the territory had echoed with praises for the ruler of the distant kingdom of Beulah and his seemingly supernatural abilities. King Elam. “A formidable foe in war and a valuable ally in peace,” King Terrian had called him. Still, Wyran was sure the stories were mostly fictitious—after all, a king who could control the weather and raise the dead? Just part of some intimidation plot, no doubt. Wyran expected to be run ragged during the foreign king’s entire visit, fetching and retrieving anything this royal desired. In Wyran’s experience, the more powerful a leader was, t
14/08/20236 minutes 25 seconds
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Afraid, but Not Alone

READ: PSALM 139:7-12; ISAIAH 41:9-13 When we’re little, all kinds of things scare us. Maybe we’re afraid of the dark and we need the comfort of a nightlight. Maybe we don’t want to get on the rides at the fair without a parent or older sibling beside us. When we’re young and afraid, we gladly accept help to get through the scary times. But when we get to be a bit older, we start thinking we have to go through things alone. We start believing that if the darkness scares us, we just need to put up with it. But that’s not true. We always have someone beside us, no matter what age we are. Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Because of His life, death, and resurrection, we don’t ever have to be alone. Once we’ve put our trust in Jesus, we can know that we are in fellowship with God. So whenever we’re afraid, we can turn to
13/08/20234 minutes 41 seconds
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Great Is He

READ: PSALM 148; LUKE 19:36-40 The towering oaks, And every blade of grass, Have all spoken. The clouds in the sky, And the birds in the trees, All reply— “Great is He!” Great is the One who made us, Great is the God of gods, Great is the One who loves, And has determined the path we’ve trod. The fox’s tail swishes, Sunset’s colors change, Water teems with splashing fishes. The breeze in the trees, The flowers on the ground— How great is He! Make a joyful sound! • Josefine Engle • What is your favorite part of God’s creation? Have you ever thought about this part of creation praising God? • When we praise Jesus, we join with creation! How do you like to praise Him?
12/08/20233 minutes 22 seconds
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Chewing on the Word

READ: PSALM 119:9-16, 97-105; MATTHEW 11:28-12:8 Have you ever been in such a rush that you gulped down a meal too quickly to really enjoy it? We live in a fast-paced world that doesn’t prioritize taking time to care for ourselves and others. As Christians, sometimes this problem shows up when we spend time reading the Bible. All sixty-six books of the Bible make up a rich, multi-genre love letter from God to His people. It tells us the story of Jesus and unfolds what the good news of His death and resurrection means for us. But, in our busyness, we often feel like we need to rush through reading Scripture. The good news is—even when we feel pressured to get the maximum productivity out of every moment—Jesus gives us rest from all that hurry. What’s one of the ways we can remember the rest He gives us? By taking time to really
11/08/20234 minutes 38 seconds
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Good Emotions

READ: HEBREWS 4:14-16 Anger. Sadness. Fear. These and other emotions can be tough to regulate, and it can make us wonder: are emotions even good? God made us with emotions, and they are good. They help us process hard things we face in our world that’s been broken by sin. And emotions can even help motivate us to find ways to take care of ourselves and others. But, like with all good things in our broken world, there are unsafe and safe ways to express emotions—ways that can hurt us or others, and ways that can help us feel and grow and learn. Through it all, Jesus is always a safe person to talk to about our emotions— remember, He knows firsthand what it’s like to have big feelings. Especially in the Gospels, we see Jesus experiencing lots of emotions. He empathizes with us, and He can also direct us to other safe people—such as parents, therapists, teachers, f
10/08/20234 minutes 26 seconds
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Homesick

Have you ever been really homesick? When we’re traveling someplace far away from loved ones—even if we’re traveling for good reasons—it’s totally understandable that we miss our friends and family. God created us with a need for community with Him and other people. That’s why Jesus said the two most important things He wants us to do are to love Him and other people (Matthew 22:36-40). But in our broken world, sometimes loving others means we feel the pain of being apart from them. In a way, all Christians are homesick…because our home is with Jesus. Even though He is always with us—and He is present in our lives here and now through His Spirit, His Word (the Bible), and His people (the church)—we can’t see Him face-to-face. But one day we will, either when we die or when He returns and restores all of creation. On that day, everyone who knows Jesus will get to live with Him together, and we will never be homesick again. As we continue to live in our world that’s
09/08/20234 minutes 34 seconds
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Blown Glass

Two thousand degrees Fahrenheit. That’s how hot glass has to be heated in order for it to be molded. When professional glassblowers have a glob of this molten material on the end of a tool called a blowpipe, they blow into it to create the shape they want. These artists can form glass into masterpieces. But they only have a limited time to do this. After the glass cools down, it can’t be molded or shaped anymore unless it’s reheated. As Christians, we are kind of like works of blown glass. Before we knew Jesus, our hearts were cold and hard (Ezekiel 36:26). We were dead in sin and immovable in our selfish ways. But when we trusted in Jesus, He made our hearts warm so the Holy Spirit could mold us to become more and more like Him—more kind, more loving, more patient, more courageous… the list goes on (Galatians 5:22-23). Like a glassblower fills their work of art with the breath of their lungs and shapes it for its intended purpose, our Lord fills our hearts with
08/08/20234 minutes 22 seconds
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Release

A vivid sunset reached over the aqua waters of my home on Zakynthos Island. I slid my hand down my pteranodon’s sleek, yet powerful neck as he lifted his wings, carrying me higher into the color-splashed sky. Apostolos had been my constant companion since the night he landed next to me on the beach when I was a child. I was curled up next to the giant rock that resembled a resting brachiosaurus. Sweet Apostolos had seen me weeping, laid his crested head on my lap, and stayed with me until my tears subsided. Reminiscing ceased as Apostolos landed lightly on the shores of the white-sand beach. The limestone caves glinted gold in the light of the setting sun. I settled on the sand with a sigh as Apostolos stretched his magnificent wings beside me. Even in this beautiful place, my mind wandered to memories of my failures. “I keep messing up, Olo. I know what I should do because I have the Book of Life, but I don’t always follow it. Again, I find myself wish
07/08/20237 minutes 30 seconds
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Faith to Fall

"I don’t think I can go any higher.” I glanced down at my friends, saw how far away the floor was, and gripped the handholds more tightly. I was regretting my decision to go rock climbing. “Okay,” my friend Natalie called, “then just push off.” Push off? I doublechecked the clip on my harness and glanced at the ceiling. Could I really count on the automatic belay to hold me when I launched off the rock wall? Natalie had promised that I could trust it. But I wasn’t so sure. Slowly, carefully, I began climbing back down. It was tedious, but surely it was better than letting go of the wall. That was my mind’s one security. As I inched my way down the course, my face flushed with embarrassment. I knew it was foolish to try to climb down. My friends were waiting on me. The best thing to do would be to trust the rope and push off the wall. I hesitated, clinging to the handholds. I knew I could trust the rope, but I didn’t feel secur
06/08/20234 minutes 57 seconds
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No Way to Fix It

Even though I couldn’t understand the words erupting around me, I sensed we were going to be thrown off the tram. I had arrived in Romania to serve for a year in ministry. Earlier that evening, my teammates and I had purchased tickets and boarded a tram to travel from our neighborhood to the city center. I knew just a few words in this language and had much to learn about my new community (and its transportation system). That soon became abundantly clear. As we stepped aboard and the tram began rumbling along its tracks, I slid my thin paper ticket into the ticket puncher on a pole in the middle of the tram. My three teammates did the same. Glancing at my ticket, I realized I hadn’t aligned it exactly correctly in the puncher. I decided to punch it a second time to be sure I canceled out the right spaces on the ticket. We passed a few stops; then a ticket monitor boarded the tram. He asked to check the passengers’ tickets. One at a time, we handed ours over. Then he notice
05/08/20234 minutes 55 seconds
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Ezekiel: Where Is God?

"Where is God when there are wars and sicknesses? Where is God when my friends are hurting?" If you’ve asked these questions, you’re not alone. People have been wondering for thousands of years. One person who responded to these questions was Ezekiel, a messenger to God’s people, the Israelites. Ezekiel preached truths about God and the world, messages of warning and of hope that are written in the book of Ezekiel in the Bible. This book opens with a dramatic vision of God’s holiness. He is the Perfect Creator and Ruler of the universe, far greater than our understanding. And since God is perfect, He cannot ignore sin and evil. Sin goes against God’s good ways and separates us from His goodness. Ezekiel reminds the people that God warned them of the danger of sin. Still, they refused to listen. So, as a consequence, God punished them and let the people go into exile far from home. But there was hope. When everything was going wrong—in the midst of hurt, wars, and
04/08/20234 minutes 35 seconds
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A Patchwork Project

Have you ever seen a patchwork quilt project? When leftover fabric is too small to make something on its own, it can be combined with other leftover fabrics in a patchwork design to create something unique, beautiful…and eco-friendly! Patchwork projects are incredibly versatile—you can make quilts, bags, clothes, and so much more. And each project is so incredibly unique because it’s made of a stunning hodgepodge of colorful and diverse fabrics. And you know what? God is working on a patchwork project too. He is fabricating His family: the church. It’s made up of Christians—people who have put their trust in Jesus to save them from sin and death—who are all different from each other. In God’s patchwork church, some are young and some are old, some are rich and some are poor, some can sing…and some can’t! We all have different abilities and come from different walks of life, but God sews us together as “the body of Christ”—His church (1 Corinthians 12:27).
03/08/20234 minutes 7 seconds
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Unconditional Love

In the Old Testament, the coming of the Messiah was foretold by several prophets. Many Israelites thought the Messiah—the One who would save God’s people—would be a political leader who would restore their freedom and save them from their oppressor, Rome. But when Jesus came as the Messiah, He came to demonstrate God’s unconditional love for sinners, not to give His people political power. Some of the teachers of the Jewish law, called Pharisees, were hostile toward sinners. Rather than extending unconditional love, they were unfriendly to sinners and saw themselves as saints—even when they lived hypocritically. When Jesus talked to the Pharisees, He often used parables to explain key truths. One time He used a parable about a prodigal son to explain the extent of God’s unconditional love. In this parable, there were two sons who had a very influential father. The younger son asked his father for his inheritance early. His father agreed, and after getting it, the
02/08/20234 minutes 46 seconds
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Not a Solo Activity

Have you ever gotten discouraged about living the Christian life? If so, you’re not alone. In our broken world, we face many discouraging things, like temptation, loss, broken relationships, disaster, and tragedies of all kinds. Sometimes we as Christians can get a little weary on the journey of faith. There are times when we need encouragement and help to move us along in our walk with God. When we need help and encouragement, we can always turn to Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30). He has promised to be with us—always. He may use a Bible passage or work through another Christian to encourage us. Whenever we’re feeling down, we can trust Him to be with us and give us the help we need in that moment. Put another way, walking with Jesus is not a solo activity. God is present with us, and He also brings other Christians alongside us to help us when we struggle against the currents of temptation and difficult circumstances. Together, we can run to Jesus Himself, the ultimate
01/08/20233 minutes 46 seconds
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Ever Been a Reverse Hypocrite?

Jesus Christ had a lot to say about hypocrisy. In Matthew 23, He confronted a group of religious leaders, repeating the phrase, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” not once, but six times. Jesus called out their self-righteousness. When we think of hypocrites we imagine people trying to appear better than they are. They make a show of being spiritual. Jesus said these religious leaders were like white-washed tombs filled with bones of the dead (verse 27). They look good outwardly, but inside they are full of death and yuck! We fall into the same trap. We cover our sin and guilt with showy goodness. Our good deeds and Bible studies make it on social media, while the sin in our lives goes unshared. The word "hypocrite" comes from the Greek word for actor, one who is playing a part. It’s someone pretending to be what they’re not. But I think it’s also possible to be a “reverse hypocrite.” Let me give an example. I was with my friends onc
31/07/20234 minutes 40 seconds
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A Letter to the Lord

I will write a letter to You, Lord A letter to say I thank You, for the people You provided me, for the opportunities You allowed me, I thank You, Lord. I will write You a letter, Lord A letter to say I praise You, when life is calm, when life is crazy, I praise You, Lord. I will write a letter to You, Lord A letter to say I need You, for the days my body is hurting, for the days my mind is stressed, I need You, Lord. I will write a letter to You, Lord A letter to say I thank You, for your death on the cross, for taking my sins with you, I thank you, Lord. • Kimberly Brokish • Some people like to pray by writing down their words to God. Have you ever tried writing your prayers in the form of a letter? Are there other ways you like to pray? • If you wrote a letter t
30/07/20233 minutes 24 seconds
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The Bridegroom

As someone who is married, I think the image of Jesus as a Bridegroom to the church is a beautiful comparison. The love, companionship, and union of marriage is designed to mirror the relationship of Jesus and His church. That’s why one name for Jesus in the Bible is the Bridegroom, and we—the church—are His bride. Jesus deeply loves us, He laid down His life for us, and He continues to take care of us. We see this in His Word, the Bible. Jesus, God the Son, took on human flesh to live among us on earth, and He died and rose again to save us. Then He ascended to heaven, promising to return. Yet He is still with us through His Holy Spirit living in us, and even now, He is taking care of us—providing for our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical needs. His self-sacrificial love and service to the church is mind-blowing. In a marriage, there is also supposed to be self-sacrificing love and service to each other. On most days, this kind of love shows up on a sma
29/07/20234 minutes 15 seconds
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Relational God

God loves being in close relationship with us. That’s why He invites us to be in communication with Him and enjoy the closeness and unity we have with Him. The Trinity is the perfect example of unity. God is one, and God is also three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 6:4; 2 Corinthians 13:14). The Trinity is characterized by love, and from that love God created the whole universe—especially making humans in God’s own image to be in relationship with Him. While Jesus was living among us on earth, He often spoke with the Father. He would take time to be alone and pray, continuing to lean into His relationship with the Father. Praying isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone, but the Holy Spirit helps us and Jesus gives us instructions on how to pray, showing us that prayer is relational. When Jesus begins His prayers with the word “Father,” this is a reminder of the close connection they have. As Christians, w
28/07/20234 minutes 32 seconds
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The Plans of My Heart

As a young child, I dreamed of many variations of my future: a ballerina (which I was told I could never accomplish), or a nurse who flies in helicopters to help with medical emergencies, or an environmentalist who protects God’s creation. I also fantasized about opening a shop that sold used books, bouquets of flowers, and had a café. I had a vivid imagination. None of these aspirations have come true. As time went by, I changed my mind about what I would pursue for my future. I studied environmental biology, but I never established a career in that field. I also dreamed of being a missionary—something God did give me opportunities to do. I served for twenty-two years in a mission organization, sharing the gospel as I lived on three different continents. Something I didn’t imagine doing with my life though? Becoming a writer. Now, my writing has been published in a number of different magazines. When we follow Jesus, our lives often—or, honestly, almos
27/07/20234 minutes 33 seconds
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Inclined Toward Love

Do you ever feel like you’re failing in your relationships? I do. I often find myself asking God to help me be a better friend, daughter, wife, mother, church member, coworker, and so on. And while these prayers have good intentions, I would often spend more time berating myself for my failures and thinking about human solutions than asking God to change my heart. Because the root of the problem isn’t my behavior—it’s my heart. My actions and words flow from my heart, so simply modifying those actions and words doesn’t fix the problem (Luke 6:45). My heart is still inclined toward selfishness, grumpiness, and impatience. To fix the problem, I need Jesus to change my heart. So, I’ve recently started changing the way I pray in these situations. First, I process my feelings with God. I bring Him my feelings of anger, frustration, grumpiness, and irritation. He cares about these feelings, and He wants to bring healing. Relationships are complicated, and sometimes I n
26/07/20234 minutes 54 seconds
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Outbid

Elle’s dragon, Thon, had run away many times. But never before had he been missing for more than one rotation of the two moons. Elle had hand fed him from his hatching, taught him to fly, nursed him through dragon pox. Loved him. Elle sat up on her bed. The annual dragon market was today at the junkyard for old time machines. Perhaps Thon would be there. She must hurry. At the auction, she saw him almost at once. Shoulders slumped. A tear in one eye. Her telepathic device was only fourth generation, but it sensed Thon’s despair. “Thon!” she called. He turned his mighty head. If only she could explain her circumstances to the auctioneer before he started the bidding! But she was too late. She was only halfway up the aisle when the first bid rang out. More than she could possibly earn in a lifetime. She shouted out a higher number anyway. Outbid again. Still, she went higher. “450,000 drachs!” An astronomical sum. The other bidder stayed silent. “Sold!” The auction
25/07/20234 minutes 45 seconds
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What Is Worship?

What do you think of when you hear the word "worship"? For me, I tend to think of worship music, my personal devotional time, or maybe a worship service at church. However, worship as the Bible describes it is much bigger than a song or something we participate in a few moments each week. As Paul writes to the church in Rome, as we consider the mercies of God, offering our bodies and our lives as a living sacrifice, that is our true worship (Romans 12:1). Then Paul says that God calls us not to conform to the world around us, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. What does it look like to have our minds renewed? We get some clues in the following verses, where Paul describes the kind of life God calls us to live, urging us to love others—even our enemies. In another letter Paul wrote, this time to the Colossians, he highlights some more specific characteristics and qualities that would describe someone who is living a sacrificial lifestyle of true worship: “c
24/07/20234 minutes 48 seconds
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Family Traits

On the night before Jesus went to the cross, He told His followers, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Have you ever had the opportunity to share your faith because people noticed Jesus’s love shining through you? Sometimes, before we say anything about how we belong to God’s family, people can see there’s something different about us. Why? Think about it this way: when you’re part of an earthly family, you take on family traits. If you were born into your family, you may have the same build or hair color as your relatives. And whether you were adopted or born into a family, you may also have other family traits—like facial expressions, mannerisms, sense of humor, work ethic, a knack for helping others, etc. When we’re part of an earthly family, it’s often easy to see we belong to our family because we share these traits. Being part of God’s family is like that
23/07/20234 minutes 52 seconds
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A Chance to Grow

Imagine for a moment you were caring for a newborn baby, and then, the day after their birth, you just expected them to be able to walk. That would be ridiculous, right? Babies can’t do everything right away when they’re born. They grow up gradually, learning a little at a time. It’s the same way with Christians. The Holy Spirit helps us grow in our faith throughout our whole lives. As we go to church, read the Bible, pray, and spend time with other Christians, we learn more about Jesus and how to live the way He calls us to. And one of the ways Jesus calls us to follow Him is by being patient with others, not giving up on people but encouraging them. Sometimes, we as the body of Christ are less than kind to baby Christians— siblings in Christ who have only recently put their trust in Jesus and been “born again” into God’s family (John 3:1-17). If we’ve grown up in the church and trusted Jesus since we were little, we sometimes expect new Christians to immediatel
22/07/20234 minutes 21 seconds
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Your Love Is Great

Your love is so great I can’t stop talking about it I want to sing it loud I want to share the news I want others to see what You have done Your love has touched the world I want those living everywhere to hear about it I want everyone to know they can receive it I want to share it with all You made the heavens and Your love goes higher than them It is bigger than the world It is greater than the sea It is more amazing than anything You made You sit over all May you be praised May you be lifted high May we see Your love and worship You • Emily Acker • God revealed His enormous love for us when He came to live among us. Jesus is fully God and fully human, and He gave His life for ours, dying on the cross. Then He rose from the dead so we could be saved from sin and death. God loves us so much that He made the way f
21/07/20233 minutes 33 seconds
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Which Way Should I Go, God?

When I worked in Japan as a young international schoolteacher, I often spent weekends exploring Tokyo’s neighborhoods or other parts of Japan. Sometimes, I’d get lost and have to ask strangers the way in my simple Japanese: “Migi? Hidari? Massugu?” (Right? Left? Straight?) Their rapid, fluent answers often left me confused. Do you ever get lost or confused when trying to follow Jesus? He called Himself “the way” (John 14:6), and early Christians were called people “who belonged to the Way” (Acts 9:2). Yet, for thousands of years, people have wondered: How can I discover God’s will for my life? After three years of teaching in Japan, I prayerfully tried to discern if I should move back to the United States. I was feeling confused and unsure, but this verse comforted me: in Acts 9:11, the risen Jesus literally gives Ananias a street address: “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street”! Then the Lord continued, “and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is
20/07/20234 minutes 51 seconds
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Choose To...

There are times when I get on my knees to pray, and I don’t feel like praying. There are times when I talk to God, and it doesn’t feel like He’s listening. There are times when I’m in a tough spot, and I feel like screaming, “God! Don’t You even care?” One thing I love about God is that He can handle my feelings, no matter how unruly they may be. Especially when we feel overwhelmed and alone, it’s easy to withdraw into ourselves and avoid talking to God, but that’s not what God wants. He invites us to be totally honest with Him about what we’re experiencing. Lots of psalms show us how to do this—for example, Psalm 13 begins with the words, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (verse 1). Don’t hesitate to express your frustration to God… but don’t stop there! As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, so we can choose to turn our hearts, our minds, and our actions toward the Lord no matter what we’re going through. He invites us to come to H
19/07/20236 minutes 49 seconds
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Fair Trial

Do you know anyone who has been on a jury in the United States of America? In the USA, a person accused of a crime has the right to a trial by jury. That means other American citizens are randomly selected to hear the evidence and decide whether or not the person accused of a crime is guilty. Their final decision is to be based solely on the evidence given in court. For that reason, jury members are not allowed to talk about the case with anyone outside of the jury. Since people who are not jurors haven’t heard all the evidence, they might offer information they think is true, but this information may not be correct or relevant to the case. Then someone else’s opinion might sway a jury member’s thinking, and their decision could be based on wrong information. While everyone on the jury may want to be fair and make the right decision, it can often take quite a while before all the jurors are able to agree on the issues in a case. And sometimes, even with the best
18/07/20235 minutes 6 seconds
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Conflict Resolution

How do you deal with conflict? I may have an unpopular approach, but I tend to address conflict head on, right away. I don’t like using the silent treatment or leaving passive aggressive notes. But I think my approach can be a little intense sometimes, so I’m learning to give others time to process disagreement and conflict. When I’m practicing better conflict management, I try to remember how Jesus dealt with conflict. He stepped into conflict, but His purpose was to bring shalom. "Shalom" is a Hebrew word that can sometimes be translated as "peace," but a more comprehensive translation would be closer to reconciliation, making all things as they should be, or making broken things whole. Jesus is a maker of this kind of peace—not just the absence of conflict, but the presence of wholeness without fear or anxiety. And when Jesus returns, He will bring all things into shalom, making everything whole so all things work together the way they were designed to. To mak
17/07/20234 minutes 52 seconds
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Not All Potatoes

Not all Christians are potatoes. Let me explain. Let’s say you have a vegetable garden filled with carrots, potatoes, beans… and then you combine all those colorful and delicious veggies into a great vegetable soup. .But what if the scenario changed? What if all you had in your garden were potatoes? In this new scenario, you couldn’t make that flavorful, colorful, nutritious meal. .We can think of the church (all Christians everywhere) like this: as a vibrant, diverse vegetable soup. But as Christians, sometimes we forget we’re not all meant to be potatoes. Just as God gives each vegetable a different taste, He gives each of His children different spiritual gifts to build up the church. Another way to think about this is to remember that God calls us the body of Christ and says we are each a different part, but we all belong to the same body. In the family of God, we are all different, but we are united through faith in Jesus. .So, instead o
16/07/20234 minutes 32 seconds
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Not All Potatoes

Not all Christians are potatoes. Let me explain. Let’s say you have a vegetable garden filled with carrots, potatoes, beans… and then you combine all those colorful and delicious veggies into a great vegetable soup. But what if the scenario changed? What if all you had in your garden were potatoes? In this new scenario, you couldn’t make that flavorful, colorful, nutritious meal. We can think of the church (all Christians everywhere) like this: as a vibrant, diverse vegetable soup. But as Christians, sometimes we forget we’re not all meant to be potatoes. Just as God gives each vegetable a different taste, He gives each of His children different spiritual gifts to build up the church. Another way to think about this is to remember that God calls us the body of Christ and says we are each a different part, but we all belong to the same body. In the family of God, we are all different, but we are united through faith in Jesus. So, instead of comparing our
16/07/20234 minutes 31 seconds
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Utter Nonsense

I have always prayed before bed; it’s something my parents started doing with me when I was little, and it stuck. But there’s one problem with this: I’ve lost count of the number of times when, by the time I go to bed, my brain is so scrambled that all the words I have left seem like utter nonsense. .I feel guilty for this sometimes because I want to be able to talk to God, to coherently thank Him for my day and ask for His advice and His help. But I have to remind myself there’s no need to feel guilty, because even when I speak utter nonsense, God knows exactly what I mean. He wants to hear from me—and from all His people—no matter what we have to say or how coherently we are able to say it. .In Jeremiah 33:2-3, God reminds His people that He is the One who made the earth. Right after that He says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (verse 3). The Creator of the earth—of the entire universe—asks
15/07/20234 minutes 22 seconds
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Utter Nonsense

I have always prayed before bed; it’s something my parents started doing with me when I was little, and it stuck. But there’s one problem with this: I’ve lost count of the number of times when, by the time I go to bed, my brain is so scrambled that all the words I have left seem like utter nonsense. I feel guilty for this sometimes because I want to be able to talk to God, to coherently thank Him for my day and ask for His advice and His help. But I have to remind myself there’s no need to feel guilty, because even when I speak utter nonsense, God knows exactly what I mean. He wants to hear from me—and from all His people—no matter what we have to say or how coherently we are able to say it. In Jeremiah 33:2-3, God reminds His people that He is the One who made the earth. Right after that He says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (verse 3). The Creator of the earth—of the entire universe—asks His people
15/07/20234 minutes 22 seconds
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Fully Human, Fully God

Over two thousand years ago, Jesus was born. God became human and lived on earth with other humans. Stop for a moment and think about that. Isn’t that amazing? The One who was present at the beginning of time—the One who created all things, including humans—came down to His creation and experienced it as a human… because He loves us..Jesus grew up with the people around Him. He went through puberty, had younger siblings, and even experienced betrayal. How amazing is that? Out of His great love for us, our God experienced a human life like us. But let’s not forget Jesus is also fully God, and He had a special purpose in His life, ministry, death, and resurrection here on earth..Jesus came to rescue the world from sin and death, because when the first humans rejected God and sinned against Him, we became separated from our loving Creator. But God wants us to be with Him again. Though sin is like a chasm between us and God, Jesus became the bridge between hu
14/07/20234 minutes 52 seconds
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Fully Human, Fully God

Over two thousand years ago, Jesus was born. God became human and lived on earth with other humans. Stop for a moment and think about that. Isn’t that amazing? The One who was present at the beginning of time—the One who created all things, including humans—came down to His creation and experienced it as a human… because He loves us. Jesus grew up with the people around Him. He went through puberty, had younger siblings, and even experienced betrayal. How amazing is that? Out of His great love for us, our God experienced a human life like us. But let’s not forget Jesus is also fully God, and He had a special purpose in His life, ministry, death, and resurrection here on earth. Jesus came to rescue the world from sin and death, because when the first humans rejected God and sinned against Him, we became separated from our loving Creator. But God wants us to be with Him again. Though sin is like a chasm between us and God, Jesus became the bridge between humankind
14/07/20234 minutes 51 seconds
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"I AM"

A scorching sun beats down from a red sky, hot sand making my throat and nose raw. I cough wheezily, my chest tight and vision blurry. Hours have passed since I got separated from the caravan, and I am all but spent. My vision spins and I fall to my knees, panting. Slowly, I regain my balance only to stare in surprise at what’s in front of me. A man in a white robe and sandals stands there, smiling gently as he holds out a hand for me to take. With shaking fingers I grasp his hand, standing. “Who are you?” I ask in surprise. .The man merely smiles. “I AM,” he replies, and I blink. .“What? That—” I stutter, completely confused. .“Come,” says the man, and I follow with wobbly legs. After a few minutes there’s a gust of wind, blowing up a wave of sand, and he disappears from my sight. .“Wait!” I cry, my voice cracking. “Don’t leave!” Just as panic begins to overtake me, the sand settles, and the man reappears. .“I’m
13/07/20234 minutes 43 seconds
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"I AM"

A scorching sun beats down from a red sky, hot sand making my throat and nose raw. I cough wheezily, my chest tight and vision blurry. Hours have passed since I got separated from the caravan, and I am all but spent. My vision spins and I fall to my knees, panting. Slowly, I regain my balance only to stare in surprise at what’s in front of me. A man in a white robe and sandals stands there, smiling gently as he holds out a hand for me to take. With shaking fingers I grasp his hand, standing. “Who are you?” I ask in surprise. The man merely smiles. “I AM,” he replies, and I blink. “What? That—” I stutter, completely confused. “Come,” says the man, and I follow with wobbly legs. After a few minutes there’s a gust of wind, blowing up a wave of sand, and he disappears from my sight. “Wait!” I cry, my voice cracking. “Don’t leave!” Just as panic begins to overtake me, the sand settles, and the man reappears. “I’m right here,” he says kind
13/07/20234 minutes 42 seconds
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Tennis: Tough Calls (Part 3)

The ball was out, right? It all happened so fast that I couldn’t tell. Did it touch the line? I tried to replay it in my head, but the decision wasn’t becoming any clearer. .This was the biggest tennis game of the season. If we won, we would advance, but if we lost, the season would be over. Worse yet, I was playing doubles—which meant I had a teammate. My partner was staring at me. I looked back down at the line, wanting so badly to call it “out,” which would mean the other team wouldn’t get the winning point. I could feel the pressure from my partner, the anticipation from our opponents, and the sweat streaming down my temples. During one of our early season practices our coach had told us, “If it’s too close to call, then it’s in.” She said this was “proper tennis etiquette.” At that moment I despised her words. Why couldn’t it have been clear! I didn’t even care if the ball was in or out at this point! I just wanted it to be clear, but it wasn’t..Only
12/07/20234 minutes 50 seconds
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Tennis: Tough Calls (Part 3)

The ball was out, right? It all happened so fast that I couldn’t tell. Did it touch the line? I tried to replay it in my head, but the decision wasn’t becoming any clearer. This was the biggest tennis game of the season. If we won, we would advance, but if we lost, the season would be over. Worse yet, I was playing doubles—which meant I had a teammate. My partner was staring at me. I looked back down at the line, wanting so badly to call it “out,” which would mean the other team wouldn’t get the winning point. I could feel the pressure from my partner, the anticipation from our opponents, and the sweat streaming down my temples. During one of our early season practices our coach had told us, “If it’s too close to call, then it’s in.” She said this was “proper tennis etiquette.” At that moment I despised her words. Why couldn’t it have been clear! I didn’t even care if the ball was in or out at this point! I just wanted it to be clear, but it wasn’t. Only a couple
12/07/20234 minutes 49 seconds
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Tennis: Failure and Growth (Part 2)

SMASH! TWANG! I picked up my tennis racket off the sidewalk and moped toward the bus. Surprisingly, throwing my racket to the ground hadn’t broken it. I had lost another match. My mind raced. “How could I miss that backhand? It should’ve been so easy!” I reviewed every mistake over and over, thinking about how much better I should be by this point in the season..Coach came and sat beside me and said, “You played well today!” I screamed in my head, paused, then muttered, “How could you say that? I made so many mistakes.”.“But look at how far you’ve come,” said Coach. “You only started playing a month ago!” “But I just keep making mistakes!” I fired back..Looking at me intently, Coach said, “You can’t expect to be perfect right away—or ever. Getting better at tennis requires hard work over time.” My frustration began to subside as Coach’s words sunk in. The next thing I had to do was apologize to the team..This experience reminds
11/07/20234 minutes 53 seconds
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Tennis: Failure and Growth (Part 2)

SMASH! TWANG! I picked up my tennis racket off the sidewalk and moped toward the bus. Surprisingly, throwing my racket to the ground hadn’t broken it. I had lost another match. My mind raced. “How could I miss that backhand? It should’ve been so easy!” I reviewed every mistake over and over, thinking about how much better I should be by this point in the season. Coach came and sat beside me and said, “You played well today!” I screamed in my head, paused, then muttered, “How could you say that? I made so many mistakes.” “But look at how far you’ve come,” said Coach. “You only started playing a month ago!” “But I just keep making mistakes!” I fired back. Looking at me intently, Coach said, “You can’t expect to be perfect right away—or ever. Getting better at tennis requires hard work over time.” My frustration began to subside as Coach’s words sunk in. The next thing I had to do was apologize to the team. This experience reminds me of
11/07/20234 minutes 52 seconds
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Tennis: New to the Game (Part 1)

The tennis team needed help. A lot of help. They desperately needed more players, and that’s why they asked me to join. I had never even held a tennis racquet before my first practice! Some of the rules of the game came pretty easy. Possessing what I would call an average amount of hand-eye coordination, I was able to pick up the general game play. I understood “hit the ball over the net” and “keep the ball within the lines.” But some things about tennis just didn’t make sense to me. The first day of practice my friend yelled from across the net, “Love, love!” Before I could say, “Love you too, bro,” he smacked the ball and it screamed past me! What just happened? He explained that “love” means zero, so “love, love” (zero, zero) was the score. That’s weird, I thought to myself as I nodded. He yelled, “Fifteen, love,” and fired another shot! Pretty confused, I asked how he had fifteen points already. Walking up to the net he said, “One point equals fifteen, two po
10/07/20234 minutes 55 seconds
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Tennis: New to the Game (Part 1)

The tennis team needed help. A lot of help. They desperately needed more players, and that’s why they asked me to join. I had never even held a tennis racquet before my first practice! Some of the rules of the game came pretty easy. Possessing what I would call an average amount of hand-eye coordination, I was able to pick up the general game play. I understood “hit the ball over the net” and “keep the ball within the lines.” .But some things about tennis just didn’t make sense to me. The first day of practice my friend yelled from across the net, “Love, love!” Before I could say, “Love you too, bro,” he smacked the ball and it screamed past me! What just happened? He explained that “love” means zero, so “love, love” (zero, zero) was the score. That’s weird, I thought to myself as I nodded. .He yelled, “Fifteen, love,” and fired another shot! Pretty confused, I asked how he had fifteen points already. Walking up to the net he said, “One point equals fifte
10/07/20234 minutes 55 seconds
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God Hears

God hears when I talk to Him His ears are always open No matter what I have to say He hears .God hears me when it is late at night When I can’t sleep No matter what is on my mind He listens .God hears me in the early hours When no one is awake No matter if I talk out loud or silent He hears .God hears what is going on He always cares for me No matter what I need He listens and helps me • Bethany Acker.• Do you ever wonder if God hears you when you pray? This is totally normal. Thankfully, God knows we need reminders that He is listening, and He provides many throughout His Word. Consider taking a moment to re-read today’s Bible verses, and maybe even choose a favorite..• The Bible often says God listens to “the righteous” (Psalm 34:15). The good news is, while none of us can be righteous on our own, God makes us righteous in His si
09/07/20233 minutes 37 seconds
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God Hears

God hears when I talk to Him His ears are always open No matter what I have to say He hears God hears me when it is late at night When I can’t sleep No matter what is on my mind He listens God hears me in the early hours When no one is awake No matter if I talk out loud or silent He hears God hears what is going on He always cares for me No matter what I need He listens and helps me • Bethany Acker • Do you ever wonder if God hears you when you pray? This is totally normal. Thankfully, God knows we need reminders that He is listening, and He provides many throughout His Word. Consider taking a moment to re-read today’s Bible verses, and maybe even choose a favorite. • The Bible often says God listens to “the righteous” (Psalm 34:15). The good news is, while none of us can be righteous on our own, God mak
09/07/20233 minutes 37 seconds
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He Makes Us Strong

We all want to be strong and able to get through the tough things in life without falling apart. You might be someone who prides yourself in your strength, or you might be someone who often feels weak. You might enjoy the challenge of doing hard things, or you might be afraid to face hard things because of how much it tires you out. No matter how strong or weak we are on our own, we serve a God who is able to make us strong. .God is all-powerful (or omnipotent), and throughout the Bible, God “gives strength to his people” (Psalm 29:11). When we are not strong enough on our own, we only have to reach out to God, and He will come beside us and help us do whatever He is calling us to do. .I can’t do everything on my own, and neither can you. We all need God’s strength. It’s usually easiest to see this when we go through difficult times. And in those times when we become aware of our own weaknesses and limitations, we don’t need to be ashamed. God knows we ne
08/07/20234 minutes 27 seconds
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He Makes Us Strong

We all want to be strong and able to get through the tough things in life without falling apart. You might be someone who prides yourself in your strength, or you might be someone who often feels weak. You might enjoy the challenge of doing hard things, or you might be afraid to face hard things because of how much it tires you out. No matter how strong or weak we are on our own, we serve a God who is able to make us strong. God is all-powerful (or omnipotent), and throughout the Bible, God “gives strength to his people” (Psalm 29:11). When we are not strong enough on our own, we only have to reach out to God, and He will come beside us and help us do whatever He is calling us to do. I can’t do everything on my own, and neither can you. We all need God’s strength. It’s usually easiest to see this when we go through difficult times. And in those times when we become aware of our own weaknesses and limitations, we don’t need to be ashamed. God knows we need Him, an
08/07/20234 minutes 26 seconds
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Staying above the Waves

One of my family’s favorite summer activities is going boating. The water sport we do most often is wake surfing, which is like surfing on the ocean, only behind a boat. The smoother the water, the easier it is. .On a trip we took to the lake one day, the water was extremely choppy, making it incredibly difficult to stay on my board behind the boat. It took all my concentration to hold my position and stay in that pocket (the part of the wave that pushes the surfer forward). .I began to notice that when my focus was on the boat in front of me, the unfailing source that kept me moving, I was able to maintain my balance. But the moment I looked at the waves around me, I was distracted and lost my balance. I would start falling out of position, and I could only find the pocket again when I returned my focus to the steady boat ahead of me. Looking at the huge waves would alarm me, but if I just focused on the boat, which remained the same, I would relax and s
07/07/20234 minutes 54 seconds
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Staying above the Waves

One of my family’s favorite summer activities is going boating. The water sport we do most often is wake surfing, which is like surfing on the ocean, only behind a boat. The smoother the water, the easier it is. On a trip we took to the lake one day, the water was extremely choppy, making it incredibly difficult to stay on my board behind the boat. It took all my concentration to hold my position and stay in that pocket (the part of the wave that pushes the surfer forward). I began to notice that when my focus was on the boat in front of me, the unfailing source that kept me moving, I was able to maintain my balance. But the moment I looked at the waves around me, I was distracted and lost my balance. I would start falling out of position, and I could only find the pocket again when I returned my focus to the steady boat ahead of me. Looking at the huge waves would alarm me, but if I just focused on the boat, which remained the same, I would relax and stay uprigh
07/07/20234 minutes 53 seconds
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Incredibly Ordinary

Jesus has a habit of taking something ordinary and making it incredible. Take bread and wine, for example. During Jesus’s life on earth, bread and wine were normal, everyday foods. They would be present at virtually every meal, and people of virtually any income level could afford them. And when Jesus was about to die, He took these ordinary things and did something amazing with them. He gave them to His disciples to communicate the sacrifice He was about to make. And we still practice this today. We take bread and wine (or juice), share it with the people of God, and together we remember Christ’s loving sacrifice. We call this communion or the Lord’s Supper. .Isn’t it just like Jesus to use something so simple, so accessible, to communicate His love and presence? He doesn’t require us to seek out something rare or expensive. He meets us where we are, with whatever we have, and uses it to make something wonderful. Through something as ordinary as bread and wine or juic
06/07/20234 minutes 56 seconds
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Incredibly Ordinary

Jesus has a habit of taking something ordinary and making it incredible. Take bread and wine, for example. During Jesus’s life on earth, bread and wine were normal, everyday foods. They would be present at virtually every meal, and people of virtually any income level could afford them. And when Jesus was about to die, He took these ordinary things and did something amazing with them. He gave them to His disciples to communicate the sacrifice He was about to make. And we still practice this today. We take bread and wine (or juice), share it with the people of God, and together we remember Christ’s loving sacrifice. We call this communion or the Lord’s Supper. Isn’t it just like Jesus to use something so simple, so accessible, to communicate His love and presence? He doesn’t require us to seek out something rare or expensive. He meets us where we are, with whatever we have, and uses it to make something wonderful. Through something as ordinary as bread and wine or juice, He
06/07/20234 minutes 55 seconds
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Church of Sinners

"We’ve got churches of Christians. I’d like to see a church of all sinners!” my coworker joked. I stopped and looked at him. He and another coworker laughed. .“But… but that’s what a church is,” I tried to say. “That’s… that’s the point.” Neither man is a church go-er. But they both grew up in church and stopped attending as they reached adulthood. Had they both missed this essential part of Christianity? That we are ALL sinners, including those in the church? .Romans 3:23-24 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Every church is packed with sinners. None of us are perfect (Romans 3:10). The Bible isn’t full of perfect people. Rahab was a prostitute. David used his power as king to have sex with Bathsheba, then have her husband killed. Paul hunted down and killed Christians. And God welcomed them into the church. We are the church. Only Jes
05/07/20235 minutes 3 seconds
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Church of Sinners

"We’ve got churches of Christians. I’d like to see a church of all sinners!” my coworker joked. I stopped and looked at him. He and another coworker laughed. “But… but that’s what a church is,” I tried to say. “That’s… that’s the point.” Neither man is a church go-er. But they both grew up in church and stopped attending as they reached adulthood. Had they both missed this essential part of Christianity? That we are ALL sinners, including those in the church? Romans 3:23-24 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Every church is packed with sinners. None of us are perfect (Romans 3:10). The Bible isn’t full of perfect people. Rahab was a prostitute. David used his power as king to have sex with Bathsheba, then have her husband killed. Paul hunted down and killed Christians. And God welcomed them into the church. We are the church. Only Jesus’s death
05/07/20235 minutes 3 seconds
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Samson and Jesus

The story of Samson’s life is really fascinating, and it contains many parallels to the story of Jesus’s life. Let’s take a closer look. .In Judges 13, we see God visiting Manoah’s wife through His angel to proclaim to her that she would have a child! The angel also told her what her child’s purpose would be. In this way, Samson’s birth was similar to that of Jesus; before His birth the angel Gabriel visited Mary to tell her she would have a child, and he told her what the child’s purpose would be. Manoah’s wife was barren, and Mary was a virgin, so the conception of both these babies was miraculous. Samson grew and was blessed by the Lord (Judges 13:24), similar to how Jesus grew in the Lord’s favor (Luke 2:52). Both Samson and Jesus were sent to deliver Israel from their enemy; Samson, through his sacrificial death, delivered Israel from the Philistines, and Jesus came to deliver Israel and the whole world from sin and death, also through sacrificing His own life. </
04/07/20234 minutes 44 seconds
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Samson and Jesus

The story of Samson’s life is really fascinating, and it contains many parallels to the story of Jesus’s life. Let’s take a closer look. In Judges 13, we see God visiting Manoah’s wife through His angel to proclaim to her that she would have a child! The angel also told her what her child’s purpose would be. In this way, Samson’s birth was similar to that of Jesus; before His birth the angel Gabriel visited Mary to tell her she would have a child, and he told her what the child’s purpose would be. Manoah’s wife was barren, and Mary was a virgin, so the conception of both these babies was miraculous. Samson grew and was blessed by the Lord (Judges 13:24), similar to how Jesus grew in the Lord’s favor (Luke 2:52). Both Samson and Jesus were sent to deliver Israel from their enemy; Samson, through his sacrificial death, delivered Israel from the Philistines, and Jesus came to deliver Israel and the whole world from sin and death, also through sacrificing His own life.
04/07/20234 minutes 44 seconds
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God's Delight

My twelfth-grade English teacher taught me to love Haiku, a form of poetry that originated in Japan. These short, three-line poems are traditionally drawn from nature, and they’re only seventeen syllables long. He described Haiku as transforming a visual image into a “word snapshot.” For example, after reading Psalm 42, I wrote this Haiku poem: ."Beneath the fearsome waves I wait, breathless and still… then, Your light breaks through." .In Scripture, I think there are snapshot glimpses into God’s nature. For example, the writers of Psalm 42 feel forgotten and earnestly voice their complaint to God, yet they console themselves with images of God’s faithful love: “I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your…surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs…” (verse 7-8). .Other passages show us vibrant images of God’s love, like Zephaniah 3:17, where God
03/07/20235 minutes 6 seconds
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God's Delight

My twelfth-grade English teacher taught me to love Haiku, a form of poetry that originated in Japan. These short, three-line poems are traditionally drawn from nature, and they’re only seventeen syllables long. He described Haiku as transforming a visual image into a “word snapshot.” For example, after reading Psalm 42, I wrote this Haiku poem: Beneath the fearsome waves I wait, breathless and still… then, Your light breaks through. In Scripture, I think there are snapshot glimpses into God’s nature. For example, the writers of Psalm 42 feel forgotten and earnestly voice their complaint to God, yet they console themselves with images of God’s faithful love: “I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your…surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs…” (verse 7-8). Other passages show us vibrant images of God’s love, like Zephaniah
03/07/20235 minutes 5 seconds
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Why Do Devotions?

Why are you reading this devotional? I remember being told that if I didn’t do my devotions I would have a bad day. “So, if you want a good day, do your devotions.” I gotta be honest; there were many days I didn’t do my devotions and that day was just fine. There were other days when I did my devotions and the day was terrible. .Should we be taking time to interact with God’s Word every day? Absolutely. But if our motivation is to have a better day, we’re going to be disappointed. I’ve met Christians who do “Christian stuff” because they think that then God will do what they want. This way of thinking is sometimes called the Health and Wealth Gospel or the Prosperity Gospel. Here’s a very simple example of this kind of logic: "Obey God so your knee feels better and you get richer." .But this is not the true gospel. The word "gospel" means good news, and the idea that we could get God to do what we want when we do religious activities—and that He won’t hel
02/07/20237 minutes 5 seconds
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Why Do Devotions

Why are you reading this devotional? I remember being told that if I didn’t do my devotions I would have a bad day. “So, if you want a good day, do your devotions.” I gotta be honest; there were many days I didn’t do my devotions and that day was just fine. There were other days when I did my devotions and the day was terrible. Should we be taking time to interact with God’s Word every day? Absolutely. But if our motivation is to have a better day, we’re going to be disappointed. I’ve met Christians who do “Christian stuff” because they think that then God will do what they want. This way of thinking is sometimes called the Health and Wealth Gospel or the Prosperity Gospel. Here’s a very simple example of this kind of logic: Obey God so your knee feels better and you get richer. But this is not the true gospel. The word gospel means good news, and the idea that we could get God to do what we want when we do religious activities—and that He won’t help us if we don
02/07/20237 minutes 4 seconds
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Where Is He?

So… where is He? .It’s been 2,000 years since Jesus ascended into heaven, promising to return the same way He ascended and to set the world to rights. The church has grown since then, spreading all across the globe, but there has been no sign of Christ. .Some say He isn’t coming back, that we misunderstood. “The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom,” they say, “living inside our hearts. When we die, our souls will be with God, but He isn’t coming back into this world.” .The early Christians struggled to believe that Christ would return and bring heaven to earth. The resurrection of the body was hard to accept, and the “spiritual kingdom” solution seemed like an easy way out. Today many feel the same way. .But the truth can be found in the words of Peter. In his second epistle (or letter) to the church, he denounces those who scoff at the bodily return of Jesus. He points out that the God who created the world will certainly co
01/07/20234 minutes 3 seconds
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Where Is He?

So…where is He? It’s been 2,000 years since Jesus ascended into heaven, promising to return the same way He ascended and to set the world to rights. The church has grown since then, spreading all across the globe, but there has been no sign of Christ. Some say He isn’t coming back, that we misunderstood. “The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom,” they say, “living inside our hearts. When we die, our souls will be with God, but He isn’t coming back into this world.” The early Christians struggled to believe that Christ would return and bring heaven to earth. The resurrection of the body was hard to accept, and the “spiritual kingdom” solution seemed like an easy way out. Today many feel the same way. But the truth can be found in the words of Peter. In his second epistle (or letter) to the church, he denounces those who scoff at the bodily return of Jesus. He points out that the God who created the world will certainly come again to make it n
01/07/20234 minutes 2 seconds
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Our Eyes Are on You

Hebrews 12:1-2 holds some of my favorite words in the Bible: “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”.I’ve always loved this idea of fixing our eyes on Jesus. But in our everyday lives, we probably don’t think too much about where we direct our focus. Maybe we should start paying more attention. Because where we fix our eyes changes our entire perspective..When we go through our lives without thinking about where we’re setting our sights, we’ll spend most of our time looking at what’s right in front of us. We might orient ourselves around our work, our commitments, our adventures, our friends, our families... and those aren’t bad things—in fact, they’re good gifts from God. But they can’t ultimately give our lives purpose or fulfillment. All created things will eventually let us down..What changes when we fix our eyes intentionally on Jesus? Hebrews 12:2-3 goes o
30/06/20235 minutes 1 second
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Our Eyes Are on You

Hebrews 12:1-2 holds some of my favorite words in the Bible: “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” I’ve always loved this idea of fixing our eyes on Jesus. But in our everyday lives, we probably don’t think too much about where we direct our focus. Maybe we should start paying more attention. Because where we fix our eyes changes our entire perspective. When we go through our lives without thinking about where we’re setting our sights, we’ll spend most of our time looking at what’s right in front of us. We might orient ourselves around our work, our commitments, our adventures, our friends, our families…and those aren’t bad things—in fact, they’re good gifts from God. But they can’t ultimately give our lives purpose or fulfillment. All created things will eventually let us down. What changes when we fix our eyes intentionally on Jesus? Hebrews 12:2-3 goes on to say, “For
30/06/20235 minutes 1 second
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Troubled Heart

Why do we worry when we know that God loves us? Why do we let our hearts become troubled when we know that Jesus warns us against that very thing? I wish I could say I never have a troubled heart. I wish I could say I easily and naturally surrender my worries to God. But I do worry—many of us do. Why do we deal with worry, fear, and other struggles? Shouldn’t we be able to leave these behind when we follow Jesus?.The reality is, we still live in a broken world. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The good news is that Jesus is with us, even in the midst of struggles, and He wants to help us. I wonder what would happen if we got into the habit of seeking the Lord at the very first sign of a troubled heart..In Psalm 34:1, David writes, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Always. We can choose to praise God always, in the good times and the bad, in
29/06/20234 minutes 54 seconds
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Troubled Heart

Why do we worry when we know that God loves us? Why do we let our hearts become troubled when we know that Jesus warns us against that very thing? I wish I could say I never have a troubled heart. I wish I could say I easily and naturally surrender my worries to God. But I do worry—many of us do. Why do we deal with worry, fear, and other struggles? Shouldn’t we be able to leave these behind when we follow Jesus? The reality is, we still live in a broken world. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The good news is that Jesus is with us, even in the midst of struggles, and He wants to help us. I wonder what would happen if we got into the habit of seeking the Lord at the very first sign of a troubled heart. In Psalm 34:1, David writes, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Always. We can choose to praise God always, in the good times and the bad, i
29/06/20234 minutes 53 seconds
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When People Misrepresent God

Maybe you know someone who claimed to love God but hurt you or someone you care about. Maybe you watched in the news as a pastor got arrested for hurting someone or pulling off some big scheme. Maybe you know people who make Christians look really bad..Humans are fallen and sinful, and we don’t always represent God well. And when we see people who claim to know God acting in sinful ways, this can cause us to get some false ideas about what God is like. But one of the best ways to avoid getting a warped image of God from those who misrepresent Him is to really know who God is and what He is all about..When we learn from the Bible about how much God loves, we can see that those who are unloving are not following God’s way (1 John 4:7-8). When we learn how God is honest and good and righteous, we can spot those who are misrepresenting Him when we see their lies and greed and selfishness (Exodus 34:6). Scripture tells us how wonderful God is..Wh
28/06/20234 minutes 37 seconds
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When People Misrepresent God

Maybe you know someone who claimed to love God but hurt you or someone you care about. Maybe you watched in the news as a pastor got arrested for hurting someone or pulling off some big scheme. Maybe you know people who make Christians look really bad. Humans are fallen and sinful, and we don’t always represent God well. And when we see people who claim to know God acting in sinful ways, this can cause us to get some false ideas about what God is like. But one of the best ways to avoid getting a warped image of God from those who misrepresent Him is to really know who God is and what He is all about. When we learn from the Bible about how much God loves, we can see that those who are unloving are not following God’s way (1 John 4:7-8). When we learn how God is honest and good and righteous, we can spot those who are misrepresenting Him when we see their lies and greed and selfishness (Exodus 34:6). Scripture tells us how wonderful God is. While we can n
28/06/20234 minutes 36 seconds
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One Step at a Time

"I just keep sinning even though I know Jesus—I’ll never get it!".Have you ever been frustrated with yourself for sinning? Have you felt like you should be able to get it right, but you just can’t? Lots of us feel this way. Here’s the good news: as Christians, we don’t have to “get” anything. Jesus already did. He got everything right—He never sinned. He is the only One, and He died for our sins so that we could be totally cleansed from sin. If we’ve put our trust in Jesus, we will continue to struggle with sin—but our sins cannot define us anymore. Because we are in Christ Jesus, we are forever forgiven. God sees us as His blameless children, and He has compassion on us when we stumble..It may be helpful at this point to think of a toddler who is just learning to walk. At first, they fall all the time. Actually, at first they can’t even stand! But when they lose their balance and fall flat on the ground, everyone who loves them will run to help and cheer
27/06/20234 minutes 32 seconds
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One Step at a Time

I just keep sinning even though I know Jesus—I’ll never get it! Have you ever been frustrated with yourself for sinning? Have you felt like you should be able to get it right, but you just can’t? Lots of us feel this way. Here’s the good news: as Christians, we don’t have to “get” anything. Jesus already did. He got everything right—He never sinned. He is the only One, and He died for our sins so that we could be totally cleansed from sin. If we’ve put our trust in Jesus, we will continue to struggle with sin—but our sins cannot define us anymore. Because we are in Christ Jesus, we are forever forgiven. God sees us as His blameless children, and He has compassion on us when we stumble. It may be helpful at this point to think of a toddler who is just learning to walk. At first, they fall all the time. Actually, at first they can’t even stand! But when they lose their balance and fall flat on the ground, everyone who loves them will run to help and cheer
27/06/20234 minutes 32 seconds
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Book of Remembrance

Do you ever wonder what you were like when you were a baby? In addition to photos stored on computers, phones, and in albums, some families keep a remembrance book where they keep special details about their children, along with mementos from their growing-up years. A footprint from when they were a month old. A piece of their first baby blanket. A note of when they first walked and talked. The list goes on..In a way, God has a book of remembrance too. When we put our trust in Jesus, we become a member of God’s family. And God, our good Father, remembers all His children by name. Because when we put our trust in Jesus, He writes each of our names in His book and deletes the record of our wrongdoing—all our sins are forgiven. As Christians, we are totally blameless in God’s sight (Ephesians 1:4)..Of course, sin does have consequences, and when we do something wrong, Jesus calls us to admit we’ve sinned and repent by turning away from sin and turning toward
26/06/20234 minutes 52 seconds
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Book of Remembrance

Do you ever wonder what you were like when you were a baby? In addition to photos stored on computers, phones, and in albums, some families keep a remembrance book where they keep special details about their children, along with mementos from their growing-up years. A footprint from when they were a month old. A piece of their first baby blanket. A note of when they first walked and talked. The list goes on. In a way, God has a book of remembrance too. When we put our trust in Jesus, we become a member of God’s family. And God, our good Father, remembers all His children by name. Because when we put our trust in Jesus, He writes each of our names in His book and deletes the record of our wrongdoing—all our sins are forgiven. As Christians, we are totally blameless in God’s sight (Ephesians 1:4). Of course, sin does have consequences, and when we do something wrong, Jesus calls us to admit we’ve sinned and repent by turning away from sin and turning toward Him. B
26/06/20234 minutes 52 seconds
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If I Were There

If I were thereWould I just stareAs they bound my Savior?.If I lived during that time Would I denyThat I ever knew Him?.If I witnessed all they did to Him Would I have offered to take it on me The carrying of the cross?.If I watched Him dieWould I have criedAnd been too heartbroken to carry on?.If I had heard Him sayHe’d rise again in three days Would I believe He’d do just that?.If I saw the empty graveAnd saw Him alive againHow would I have felt? • Bethany Acker.• Have you ever imagined what it would have felt like to live during Jesus’s time on earth? As we hear the stories of people who interacted with Jesus face-to-face, how could it be helpful to imagine ourselves in these people’s places? .• When Jesus told His followers that He would be put to death but then rise from the grave three days later,
25/06/20233 minutes 57 seconds
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If I Were There

If I were there Would I just stare As they bound my Savior? If I lived during that time Would I deny That I ever knew Him? If I witnessed all they did to Him Would I have offered to take it on me The carrying of the cross? If I watched Him die Would I have cried And been too heartbroken to carry on? If I had heard Him say He’d rise again in three days Would I believe He’d do just that? If I saw the empty grave And saw Him alive again How would I have felt? • Bethany Acker • Have you ever imagined what it would have felt like to live during Jesus’s time on earth? As we hear the stories of people who interacted with Jesus face-to-face, how could it be helpful to imagine ourselves in these people’s places? • When Jesus told His followers that He would be put to death but then rise from the grave three days later, they didn’t understand. When Jesus was arrested, all His followers abandoned Him and ran away. Yet Jesus
25/06/20233 minutes 56 seconds
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Always Good

I was out of ideas for where to look. Finally, I pulled out my journal, grabbed a pen, and wrote, “Lord, please help me find my grammar textbook.”.About a week before, I’d misplaced a schoolbook. I had already been reprimanded about not having the textbook for English class and had borrowed a friend’s book once. I couldn’t keep that up indefinitely. What was I to do?.I searched everywhere I could envision the book might be hiding—under my bed, in my locker, in our family’s minivan. I just couldn’t locate it. However, within a day or so of asking God to help me find it, the book appeared—right there on a shelf in the school’s band hall. Relieved, I thanked God for leading me to the missing book..But what if I hadn’t been able to locate it? What if I’d had to pay the school for the lost textbook? Would I still have thanked the Lord? Would I still have considered God to be good?.Often, I notice statements from people on social med
24/06/20234 minutes 26 seconds
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Always Good

I was out of ideas for where to look. Finally, I pulled out my journal, grabbed a pen, and wrote, “Lord, please help me find my grammar textbook.” About a week before, I’d misplaced a schoolbook. I had already been reprimanded about not having the textbook for English class and had borrowed a friend’s book once. I couldn’t keep that up indefinitely. What was I to do? I searched everywhere I could envision the book might be hiding—under my bed, in my locker, in our family’s minivan. I just couldn’t locate it. However, within a day or so of asking God to help me find it, the book appeared—right there on a shelf in the school’s band hall. Relieved, I thanked God for leading me to the missing book. But what if I hadn’t been able to locate it? What if I’d had to pay the school for the lost textbook? Would I still have thanked the Lord? Would I still have considered God to be good? Often, I notice statements from people on social media, sharing abou
24/06/20234 minutes 25 seconds
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Eyes on the Skies

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the beauty of the sky? Whether it’s the rolling clouds on a summer day, a golden sunset, or the twinkling stars at night, the skies above our heads are beautiful. Artists and painters try to imitate the beauty of the sky, but even their artwork isn’t as awesome as the real thing..God is a master Artist. He has made the world a beautiful place, and it all reflects His greatness. Today’s verses tell us that the heavens and the skies “declare” God’s glory. Not everyone will read the Bible, but everyone can see the sky. Even though we don’t often realize it, the sky is telling us about God. Without words, the sky tells us how great our God is. The heavens are a beautiful reflection of God’s creativity, power, and wisdom..How often do we actually look at the sky? It’s easy to get busy down here on earth, going to school, working, and just moving about our lives. But in these verses, God is calling us to look up—up to the skies
23/06/20234 minutes 28 seconds
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Eyes on the Skies

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the beauty of the sky? Whether it’s the rolling clouds on a summer day, a golden sunset, or the twinkling stars at night, the skies above our heads are beautiful. Artists and painters try to imitate the beauty of the sky, but even their artwork isn’t as awesome as the real thing. God is a master Artist. He has made the world a beautiful place, and it all reflects His greatness. Today’s verses tell us that the heavens and the skies “declare” God’s glory. Not everyone will read the Bible, but everyone can see the sky. Even though we don’t often realize it, the sky is telling us about God. Without words, the sky tells us how great our God is. The heavens are a beautiful reflection of God’s creativity, power, and wisdom. How often do we actually look at the sky? It’s easy to get busy down here on earth, going to school, working, and just moving about our lives. But in these verses, God is calling us to look up—up to the skies, where we see Hi
23/06/20234 minutes 27 seconds
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Sin Is Like Sickness

Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” This verse is beautiful and important, but what does it mean? How was Jesus made to “be sin for us”—especially since we know that Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15)? It might help to consider an illustration. Imagine for a minute that you encountered a person who had a deadly disease. And what if, in this scenario, in order to really help this person, you had to get sick? What if you had the power to allow all their sickness to flow into your body, and let all your strength and health flow into theirs? Would you do that? Here’s the thing: that’s what Jesus did for us. When we were sick with sin, God became human to dwell among us (John 1:14). Jesus never sinned, but He was willing to take all our sin upon Himself and die on the cross to take our punishment. And that wasn’t all. After He died, Jesus defeated sin an
22/06/20234 minutes 18 seconds
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Sin Is Like Sickness

Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” This verse is beautiful and important, but what does it mean? How was Jesus made to “be sin for us”— especially since we know that Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15)?.It might help to consider an illustration. Imagine for a minute that you encountered a person who had a deadly disease. And what if, in this scenario, in order to really help this person, you had to get sick? What if you had the power to allow all their sickness to flow into your body, and let all your strength and health flow into theirs?.Would you do that?.Here’s the thing: that’s what Jesus did for us. When we were sick with sin, God became human to dwell among us (John 1:14). Jesus never sinned, but He was willing to take all our sin upon Himself and die on the cross to take our punishment. And that wasn’t all. After He died, Jesus de
22/06/20234 minutes 18 seconds
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Like the Ocean

The ocean makes me nervous. I really don’t like movies where people are lost at sea—especially if they’re stuck on some sort of tiny raft and no one knows how to find them. How awful would that be? The sky, huge above you, could release a storm at any moment. The waves stretch out in every direction, with no end in sight. And you know the water goes down, down, down for miles, and there are thousands of creatures you can’t see or even imagine—some of which might like to eat you. Did I mention the ocean makes me nervous?.But there’s a Bible passage, that I really like, that actually reminds me of the ocean. In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he says, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).</
21/06/20234 minutes 55 seconds
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Like the Ocean

The ocean makes me nervous. I really don’t like movies where people are lost at sea—especially if they’re stuck on some sort of tiny raft and no one knows how&nbsp;to find them. How awful would that be? The sky, huge above you, could release a&nbsp;storm at any moment. The waves stretch out in every direction, with no end in sight. And you know the water goes down, down, down for&nbsp;miles, and there are thousands of creatures you can’t see or even imagine—some of which might like to eat you. Did I mention the ocean makes me nervous? But there’s a Bible passage, that I really like, that actually reminds me of the ocean. In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he says, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to&nbsp;know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of&nbsp;all the fullness of God” (
21/06/20234 minutes 54 seconds
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Through the Valley of the Shadow

As Ronan neared the end of his journey, he entered the Valley of the Shadow. It was so dark he could barely make out the path. The moon hid behind the clouds, casting weird shadows on the waving grass. Empty moans emanated from the trees that covered the cliffs and encroached on the valley’s winding path. Ronan’s heart thumped, and his knees felt weak. "Shadows can’t hurt anyone," he told himself. "Shadows can’t hurt anyone.".“Ronan?” a voice called from the darkness. For a second, Ronan’s heart almost stopped, but then he recognized the familiar voice..“Teacher!” Ronan said, his voice shaking. “It’s so good to see You—or at least, it’s good to hear You. It’s so dark, I can hardly see anything.”.“I know. I’ve been walking with you the whole time,” the Teacher said, His words surrounding Ronan like an embrace. “I will be with you as you walk through this darkest of valleys.”.With the Teacher beside him, Ronan’s fears began to qu
20/06/20234 minutes 54 seconds
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Through the Valley of the Shadow

As Ronan neared the end of his journey, he entered the Valley of the Shadow. It was so dark he could barely make out the path. The moon hid behind the clouds, casting weird shadows on the waving grass. Empty moans emanated from the trees that covered the cliffs and encroached on the valley’s winding path. Ronan’s heart thumped, and his knees felt weak. &#8220;Shadows can’t hurt anyone,&#8221; he told himself. &#8220;Shadows can’t hurt anyone.&#8221; “Ronan?” a voice called from the darkness. For a second, Ronan’s heart almost stopped, but then he recognized the familiar voice. “Teacher!” Ronan said, his voice shaking. “It’s so good to see You—or at least, it’s good to hear You. It’s so dark, I can hardly see anything.” “I know. I’ve been walking with you the whole time,” the Teacher said, His words surrounding Ronan like an embrace. “I will be with you as you walk through this darkest of valleys.” With the Teacher beside him, Ronan’s fears began to quiet.
20/06/20230
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Like a Mother Bird

Life can be so hard sometimes. Maybe you&#8217;re facing a challenging situation at school, or your parents are getting a divorce, or you got a scary medical diagnosis..In our world that&#8217;s broken by sin, we can quickly get discouraged because of all/the messed-up stuff we face. But the good news is, as Christians, we have hope: Whatever we&#8217;re facing, Jesus is always with us. Nothing can separate us from His love. Nothing can get in the way of Him accomplishing His good purposes. Nothing can shake His promise to be present with us and to make all things new one day (Matthew 28:20; Romans 8; Revelation 21:1-5)..In short, we can take comfort in the fact that God loves us, and He cares for us like a mother bird cares for her chicks. Now, comparing God to a mother bird may seem odd when we think about how awesome and infinitely powerful God is, but in/the Bible He really does compare Himself to a mother bird—more than once..Throughout the Psalms, God invites us to take refuge
20/06/20230
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Like a Mother Bird

Life can be so hard sometimes. Maybe you’re facing a challenging situation at school, or your parents are getting a divorce, or you got a scary medical diagnosis..In our world that’s broken by sin, we can quickly get discouraged because of all the messed-up stuff we face. But the good news is, as Christians, we have hope: Whatever we’re facing, Jesus is always with us. Nothing can separate us from His love. Nothing can get in the way of Him accomplishing His good purposes. Nothing can shake His promise to be present with us and to make all things new one day (Matthew 28:20; Romans 8; Revelation 21:1-5)..In short, we can take comfort in the fact that God loves us, and He cares for us like a mother bird cares for her chicks. Now, comparing God to a mother bird may seem odd when we think about how awesome and infinitely powerful God is, but in the Bible He really does compare Himself to a mother bird—more than once..Throughout the Psalms, God i
19/06/20234 minutes 51 seconds
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Walking with My Father

Recently, as I was sitting on the porch enjoying the sunshine, I watched my dad start walking down the driveway. I instantly thought of running to catch up with him and join him as he walked. When I walk with my dad, I get to spend time talking with him and just enjoying his presence..In that moment, a thought hit me—this is what a believer&#8217;s relationship with God is like! Once we&#8217;ve put our trust in Jesus, we get to walk with our heavenly Father on/the journey of life. I find it so beautiful that having a close relationship with God is/described as walking with God (Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5-6). But when Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God as He came walking in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). Sin destroyed the beautiful walk with God we were created to have./But, because of Jesus&#8217;s sacrifice on the cross, God has made the way for us to be/adopted as His children (Romans 8:15-16). Our opportunity to walk with God has been restored!.This simple picture is p
19/06/20230
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Walking with My Father

Recently, as I was sitting on the porch enjoying the sunshine, I watched my dad start walking down the driveway. I instantly thought of running to catch up with him and join him as he walked. When I walk with my dad, I get to spend time talking with him and just enjoying his presence..In that moment, a thought hit me—this is what a believer’s relationship with God is like! Once we’ve put our trust in Jesus, we get to walk with our heavenly Father on the journey of life. I find it so beautiful that having a close relationship with God is described as walking with God (Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5-6). But when Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God as He came walking in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). Sin destroyed the beautiful walk with God we were created to have. But, because of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, God has made the way for us to be adopted as His children (Romans 8:15-16). Our opportunity to walk with God has been restored!.This simple pi
18/06/20234 minutes 37 seconds
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Our Relationship with God Lasts

One thing I&#8217;ve learned is that the people who are in our lives at one point in time may not be around later on. As we go through life, we lose some of the people who mean the most to us. We also meet new people and let them into our lives. Sometimes, we bond with friends or family members or mentors who eventually leave our lives or even abandon us. Other times our loved ones pass away, and our hearts are left aching as we long to be with them again..The relationships we have are constantly changing, and we&#8217;re going to lose some of the people who mean a lot to us. But, as Christians, the relationship we have with God will remain. Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave for us, everyone who has put their trust in Jesus is God&#8217;s child and His friend, forever. We will never be abandoned by God. He is never going to pass away. We will have God&#8217;s presence with us no matter what we go through (Matthew 1:23)..I know what it&#8217;s like to be close t
18/06/20230
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Our Relationship with God Lasts

One thing I’ve learned is that the people who are in our lives at one point in time may not be around later on. As we go through life, we lose some of the people who mean the most to us. We also meet new people and let them into our lives. Sometimes, we bond with friends or family members or mentors who eventually leave our lives or even abandon us. Other times our loved ones pass away, and our hearts are left aching as we long to be with them again..The relationships we have are constantly changing, and we’re going to lose some of the people who mean a lot to us. But, as Christians, the relationship we have with God will remain. Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave for us, everyone who has put their trust in Jesus is God’s child and His friend, forever. We will never be abandoned by God. He is never going to pass away. We will have God’s presence with us no matter what we go through (Matthew 1:23)..I know what it’s like to be close to
17/06/20234 minutes 43 seconds
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Wedding Waiting (Part 2)

When Jesus comes back, He’s going to make all sin go away. But you might ask, “How is He going to do that exactly? If doing wrong things is the problem and Jesus fixes it, what if someone sins again after that? I mean, I still sin even though I’m a Christian.”.If you’ve ever thought about these questions, you’re not alone. All Christians do things that are wrong. We’ll struggle with sin as long as we’re still living in a sinful world, but even so, we can live knowing that Jesus has saved us and He has promised us something better..But how can we be sure that God will complete the work He started in us? Funny as it might sound, wedding dresses can actually help us understand this. The Bible uses the image of wedding outfits to show how God saves us from sin by clothing those who trust Jesus as their Savior with His righteousness, or sinlessness. That means even though we still do wrong things, God sees us as righteous because Jesus already lived a sinless
16/06/20234 minutes 34 seconds
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Wedding Waiting (Part 2)

When Jesus comes back, He&#8217;s going to make all sin go away. But you might/ask, “How is He going to do that exactly? If doing wrong things is the problem and Jesus fixes it, what if someone sins again after that? I mean, I still sin/even though I&#8217;m a Christian.”.If you&#8217;ve ever thought about these questions, you&#8217;re not alone. All Christians do things that are wrong. We&#8217;ll struggle with sin as long as we&#8217;re still living in a sinful world, but even so, we can live knowing that Jesus has saved us and He has promised us something better..But how can we be sure that God will complete the work He started in us? Funny as it might sound, wedding dresses can actually help us understand this. The Bible/uses the image of wedding outfits to show how God saves us from sin by clothing/those who trust Jesus as their Savior with His righteousness, or sinlessness. That means even though we still do wrong things, God sees us as righteous because Jesus already live
16/06/20230
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Wedding Waiting (Part 1)

Have you ever been to a wedding, and when the ceremony was over and it was time for the reception, you had to wait a long time to eat? At the weddings I’ve been to, it’s often the custom to wait to serve the reception meal until the bride and groom arrive, and this can mean a long wait for guests because the bride and groom usually have to take pictures between the ceremony and the reception..Sometimes, all you can do is keep your hunger at bay with mints, reminding yourself that better food is coming even as your stomach growls loudly! This wedding waiting—complete with a groaning stomach—always reminds me of Romans 8:22, which mentions that creation is “groaning” until Jesus comes back. This verse is referring to how the whole world is waiting for Jesus to return..But how is creation groaning? It’s not like we hear trees crying when we go for a hike. While it’s true that we don’t typically hear creation groaning, we do see lots of things in the world th
15/06/20234 minutes 46 seconds
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Wedding Waiting (Part 1)

Have you ever been to a wedding, and when the ceremony was over and it was time for the reception, you had to wait a long time to eat? At the weddings I&#8217;ve been to, it&#8217;s often the custom to wait to serve the reception meal until the bride and groom arrive, and this can mean a long wait for guests because the bride and groom usually have to take pictures between the ceremony and the reception..Sometimes, all you can do is keep your hunger at bay with mints, reminding yourself that better food is coming even as your stomach growls loudly! This wedding waiting—complete with a groaning stomach—always reminds me of Romans 8:22, which mentions that creation is “groaning” until Jesus comes back. This verse is referring to how the whole world is waiting for Jesus to return..But how is creation groaning? It&#8217;s not like we hear trees crying when we go for a hike. While it&#8217;s true that we don&#8217;t typically hear creation groaning, we do see lots of things in the wo
15/06/20230
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Our Identity in Christ

I was born into a family of Chinese-Singaporeans who immigrated to the United States. Throughout my life, I was exposed to different cultures and customs. My parents wanted me to know my heritage, while at school I was taught values that were more American. For example, in Chinese culture, it’s considered rude to open a gift in front of the giver, while in American culture, this is done quite often. Sometimes, I wasn’t sure how to act or how to perceive things. I didn’t know what my ultimate identity was. Should I follow the Eastern or Western way of doing things?.When I came to know Jesus, I learned that He accepts anybody as His child no matter what background they are from. There are Christians around the world speaking different languages, yet in the end, they are all children of God. So, while I can step into both familiar and unfamiliar cultures, I identify first and foremost as a Christian. I don’t have to decide between human-made cultures and borders because I
14/06/20235 minutes 11 seconds
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Our Identity in Christ

I was born into a family of Chinese-Singaporeans who immigrated to the United/States. Throughout my life, I was exposed to different cultures and customs./My parents wanted me to know my heritage, while at school I was taught values that were more American. For example, in Chinese culture, it&#8217;s considered rude/to open a gift in front of the giver, while in American culture, this is done quite often. Sometimes, I wasn&#8217;t sure how to act or how to perceive things. I didn&#8217;t know what my ultimate identity was. Should I follow the Eastern or Western way of doing things?.When I came to know Jesus, I learned that He accepts anybody as His child no matter what background they are from. There are Christians around the world speaking different languages, yet in the end, they are all children of God. So, while I can step into both familiar and unfamiliar cultures, I identify first and foremost/as a Christian. I don&#8217;t have to decide between human-made cultures and borders
14/06/20230
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A New Day

Here I am, LordFalling into the darknessWaiting for someone to hear my cryHere I am, wandering and brokenDealing with the pains of my past.I want to see a comebackI want to feel Your songMy soul needs to hear a note of hope.Here I am, calling to the LightFeeling Your life reachingTo my broken and healing soulFighting for a fresh, new start.Just because I’m brokenDoesn’t mean I can’t be fixedMy past is goneThere’s a brand new futureI know there’s hopeDarkness can’t stayYou’ve given me this brand new day • Corinna Kahrs.• Have you ever felt like you were stuck in darkness, longing for a new day to start? Even in those dark places, Jesus—the Light of the world—is walking with you. He loves you, and someday He will return and His light will fill the whole earth, destroying darkness forever. How could these truths bring us hope a
13/06/20233 minutes 13 seconds
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A New Day

Here I am, LordFalling into the darknessWaiting for someone to hear my cryHere I am, wandering and broken Dealing with the pains of my past.I want to see a comebackI want to feel Your songMy soul needs to hear a note of hope.Here I am, calling to the Light Feeling Your life reachingTo my broken and healing soul Fighting for a fresh, new start.Just because I&#8217;m brokenDoesn&#8217;t mean I can&#8217;t be fixedMy past is goneThere&#8217;s a brand new futureI know there&#8217;s hopeDarkness can&#8217;t stayYou&#8217;ve given me this brand new day• Corinna Kahrs.• Have you ever felt like you were stuck in darkness, longing for a new day to start? Even in those dark places, Jesus—the Light of the world—is walking with you. He loves you, and someday He will return and His light/will fill the whole earth, destroying darkness forever. How could these truths bring us hope and comfort in difficult times?/.• Jesus doesn&#8217;t want us to walk through difficulty alone. When you are going th
13/06/20230
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Pretend Perfection

Several years ago, I came down with the flu. Throughout the day I could feel all the classic symptoms coming on—fever, body aches, headache, cough—but I sure didn’t want to believe it. I commanded my body, “Thou shalt not be sick!” And after work I decided to climb a mountain (a small one) to sweat that sickness right out of my system. I forced my body up the trail with a heavy backpack and even ankle weights strapped on. Sweat poured off me, my head pounded, and I finally collapsed against a boulder with my vision swimming. I could not make it to the top of that mountain, and I could not pretend that I wasn’t sick. Somehow, by God’s grace, I made it back down to the trailhead and drove home, where I staggered into bed and promptly fell asleep. I wasn’t fit to go out again for a week!.This experience reminds me of the apostle Paul in the Bible. The harder Paul tried to prove he was a good and worthy person by keeping the strict religious laws, the more obvious his fail
12/06/20235 minutes 10 seconds
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Pretend Perfection

Several years ago, I came down with the flu. Throughout the day I could feel all/the classic symptoms coming on—fever, body aches, headache, cough—but I sure didn&#8217;t want to believe it. I commanded my body, “Thou shalt not be sick!” And after work I decided to climb a mountain (a small one) to sweat that sickness right out of my system. I forced my body up the trail with a heavy backpack and evenankle weights strapped on. Sweat poured off me, my head pounded, and I finally/collapsed against a boulder with my vision swimming. I could not make it to the top of that mountain, and I could not pretend that I wasn&#8217;t sick. Somehow, by God&#8217;s grace, I made it back down to the trailhead and drove home, where I staggered into/bed and promptly fell asleep. I wasn&#8217;t fit to go out again for a week!.This experience reminds me of the apostle Paul in the Bible. The harder Paul tried/to prove he was a good and worthy person by keeping the strict religious laws, the more obv
12/06/20230
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At-One-Ment

How often do you think about words? Words are tools for describing reality, and sometimes, the reality is so deep and important, whole books of words hardly scratch the surface of the idea’s fullness. In that case, we sometimes try to come up with a single word to wrap all the parts of an idea in a tidy package..One of these big words is "atonement." This one word holds the fullness of God’s plan for your own life—and everything else in all creation. Every time we come across the word atonement, we get to remember the good news about Jesus. Something should fire in our minds about the deeper meaning of this word, our eyes open to a world where Jesus is the atonement..The English word "atone" comes from the two words: "at one." So, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be pronounced “ah-tone-ment.” Instead, we should say “at-one-ment” because atonement is reconciliation with God and being “at one” with Him. It reminds us of how Jesus’s death and resurrection turn ba
11/06/20235 minutes 11 seconds
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At-One-Ment

How often do you think about words? Words are tools for describing reality, and sometimes, the reality is so deep and important, whole books of words hardly scratch the surface of the idea&#8217;s fullness. In that case, we sometimes try to come up with a single word to wrap all the parts of an idea in a tidy package..One of these big words is/&#8221;atonement.&#8221; This one word holds the fullness of God&#8217;s plan for your own life—and everything else in all creation. Every time we come across the word atonement, we get to remember the good news about Jesus. Something should fire in our minds about the deeper meaning of this word, our/eyes open to a world where Jesus is/the/atonement..The English word/&#8221;atone&#8221;/comes from the two words:/&#8221;at one.&#8221; So, in my opinion, it shouldn&#8217;t be pronounced “ah-tone-ment.” Instead, we should say “at-one-ment” because atonement is reconciliation with God and being “at one” with Him. It reminds us of how
11/06/20230
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One Little Drop

I watched as a droplet of shimmery liquid slipped to the floor. Regrettably, I realized too late that I shouldn’t have painted my nails while sitting on the carpet. What would my landlord say about this mistake? The carpet had looked new when I moved into the apartment. Would he charge me extra for marring the property?.I tried to blot the nail polish with a tissue but then made a happy discovery. The pattern of grays, tans, and browns in the carpet seemed to welcome the cinnamon-brown polish. That one little drop fit right in, and, once it dried, it was impossible to notice the stain—for anybody except me, of course. The carpet had hidden my blunder..It’s natural to want to hide the evidence of our failings, especially if we fear punishment. But if we’ve trusted in Jesus Christ, He doesn’t just cover our sin... He completely removes the punishment of our sin and its power over us (Psalm 103:12). So now, we can live differently. We don’t have to be afraid
10/06/20234 minutes 22 seconds
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One Little Drop

I/watched as a droplet of shimmery liquid slipped/to the floor. Regrettably, I realized too late that/I shouldn&#8217;t have painted my nails while sitting on the carpet. What would my landlord say about this mistake? The carpet had looked new when I moved into the apartment. Would he charge me/extra for marring the property?.I tried to blot the nail polish with a tissue but then made a happy discovery. The pattern of grays, tans, and browns in the carpet seemed to welcome the cinnamon-brown polish. That one little drop fit right in, and, once it dried, it was impossible to notice the stain—for anybody except me, of course. The carpet had hidden my blunder..It&#8217;s natural to want to hide the evidence of our failings, especially if we fear punishment. But if we&#8217;ve trusted in Jesus Christ, He doesn&#8217;t just cover our sin&#8230; He completely removes the punishment of our sin and its power over us (Psalm/103:12). So now, we can live differently. We don&#8217;t have to be
10/06/20230
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Filled Jars

Have you ever visited a bulk food store for groceries? More and more of these environmentally-conscious shops are popping up as a way to help reduce waste and save money. There are lots of items you can buy in bulk from big bins and dispensers, instead of buying these same items in small, disposable packages. In many cases, when people go to a bulk food store they bring their own glass jars or other reusable containers so they can get exactly how much they need and no more..The other advantage of these kinds of shops? They also make grocery shopping really beautiful. Rows of big bins full of rice, beans, and pasta. Colorful crates overflowing with fruits and veggies. Walls lined with dispensers filled with golden honey, crunchy cereals, and dried fruit. Shelves with dispensers of things you can’t eat but still need—like liquid shampoo and dish soap. And finally, a cart full of glass jars as colorful as the store..Whenever I go bulk shopping, I’m reminded
09/06/20234 minutes 55 seconds
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Filled Jars

Have you ever visited a bulk food store for groceries? More and more of these environmentally-conscious shops are popping up as a way to help reduce waste and save money. There are lots of items you can buy in bulk from big bins and dispensers, instead of buying these same items in small, disposable packages. In many cases, when people go to a bulk food store they bring their own glass jars or other reusable containers so they can get exactly how much they need and no more..The other advantage of these kinds of shops? They also make grocery shopping really beautiful. Rows of big bins full of rice, beans, and pasta. Colorful crates overflowing with fruits and veggies. Walls lined with dispensers filled with golden/honey, crunchy cereals, and dried fruit. Shelves with dispensers of things you can&#8217;t/eat but still need—like liquid shampoo and dish soap. And finally, a cart full of glass/jars as colorful as the store..Whenever I go bulk shopping, I&#8217;m reminded of 2 Corinthians
09/06/20230
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Heavy Burdens

Have you ever had an ache or pain that wouldn’t go away? It can be utterly exhausting—physically, mentally, and emotionally..I experienced this when I was pregnant with my son. Especially in the last few months of pregnancy, my belly was HUGE. It was so big that people wouldn’t believe me when I told them I still had a couple months until my due date, and they would often ask if I was having twins. When my son was born weighing just shy of ten pounds, nobody was surprised..Those last few months of pregnancy were miserable. Pain constantly shot through my back and legs from supporting the weight of my gigantic belly. No matter how I stood or sat or laid down, I was always uncomfortable. And I was tired of it..One day, in the midst of this pain and exhaustion, my husband and I went on a mini-getaway and decided to go swimming in the pool. The water was cold, but I gave it a try anyway..And as I slowly stepped down into the pool,
08/06/20234 minutes 39 seconds
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Heavy Burdens

Have you ever had an ache or pain that wouldn&#8217;t go away? It can be utterly/exhausting—physically, mentally, and emotionally..I experienced this when I was pregnant with my son. Especially in the last few months of pregnancy, my belly was HUGE. It was so big that people wouldn&#8217;t believe me when I told them I still had a couple months until my due date, and they would often ask if I was having twins. When my son was born weighing just shy of ten pounds, nobody was surprised..Those last few months of pregnancy were miserable. Pain constantly shot through my back and legs from supporting the weight of my gigantic belly. No matter how I stood or sat or laid down, I was always uncomfortable. And I was tired of it..One day, in the midst of this pain and exhaustion, my husband and I went on a/mini-getaway and decided to go swimming in the pool. The water was cold, but I gave it a try anyway..And as I slowly stepped down into the pool, I felt relief seep through my body for/the f
08/06/20230
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By What We Say and Do

Have you ever wondered how to go about sharing your faith with friends and family? It can be scary and a bit confusing, but God isready to help us..Sharing Jesus with others involves more than talking. It involves the ways our whole lives—both our words and our actions—show the good news of Jesus. In very practical terms, it’s important that while we share our faith we don’t try to change people. Instead, we let our actions show them how Jesus is changing us. As we do this, we can rest in God’s love. Our lives can impact those around us, not because we make anything happen inside them, but because God is the One doing the work in each of us (1 Corinthians 3:6-8)..Sharing our faith isn’t about being perfect either. In fact, because we still have our sinful natures until Jesus returns, we will absolutely mess up—in both what we say and what we do. But the good news is, when we fail to love God and others well, all we need to do is talk to Jesus, apol
07/06/20234 minutes 8 seconds
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By What We Say and Do

Have you ever wondered how to go about sharing your faith with friends and family? It can be scary and a bit confusing, but God isready to help us..Sharing Jesus with others involves more than talking. It involves the ways our whole lives—both our words and our actions—show the good news of Jesus. In very practical terms, it&#8217;s important that while we share our faith we don&#8217;t try to change people. Instead, we let our actions show them how Jesus is changing/us. As we do this, we can rest in God&#8217;s love. Our lives can impact those around us, not because we make anything happen inside them, but because God is the One doing the work in each of us (1 Corinthians 3:6-8)..Sharing our faith isn&#8217;t about being perfect either. In fact, because we still have our sinful natures until Jesus returns, we will absolutely mess up—in both what we say and what we do. But the good news is, when we fail to love God and others well, all we need to do is talk to Jesus, apologize to th
07/06/20230
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The Cure for War

Have you ever wondered why there is always a war going on somewhere? War causes so much death, so much destruction. It ravages the land, destroying plants, animals, and towns... but the greatest tragedy of war is the loss of human life. From powerful leaders to low-ranking soldiers to defenseless civilians—including the elderly, small children, and even infants—so many people are killed in the chaos of the fighting. And even the survivors are left with scars, both visible and invisible. God sees all this suffering, and He weeps..War might be described as a sickness caused by sin. Sin infected our world when humans first rejected God. Now, hatred and violence and greed are wreaking havoc everywhere. And yet, God has not abandoned His creation. He still loves us, and He wants to make us well and forgive all our wrongdoing. That’s why God became human and lived among us. Jesus came into our sin-sick world, and when His followers realized He was the Messiah, the Rescuer wh
06/06/20237 minutes 7 seconds
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The Cure for War

Have you ever wondered why there is always a war going on somewhere? War causes so much death, so much destruction. It ravages the land, destroying plants, animals, and towns&#8230; but the greatest tragedy of war is the loss of human life. From powerful leaders to low-ranking soldiers to defenseless civilians—including the elderly, small children, and even infants—so many people are killed in the chaos of the fighting. And even the survivors are left with scars, both visible and invisible. God sees all this suffering, and He weeps..War might be described as a sickness caused by sin. Sin infected our world when/humans first rejected God. Now, hatred and violence and greed are wreaking havoc/everywhere. And yet, God has not abandoned His creation. He still loves us, and He wants to make us well and forgive all our wrongdoing. That&#8217;s why God became human and lived among us. Jesus came into our sin-sick world, and when His followers realized He was the Messiah, the Rescuer who Go
06/06/20230
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Cord of Three Strands

Standing on the peak of the mountain outcropping, Shalish scanned the battlefield. The noonday sun glinted off armor as the battle raged on in the valley below. Lord Nissi, the great voice who had led them through both sea and desert, had trained Shalish and several of her friends for years. But the throes of their first combat were more taxing than they had imagined..Yet Shalish was positioned above the battlefield for a reason. Lord Nissi had given her a gold cord to wear around her wrist, saying, “My presence goes with you. Remember me.” Now, when Shalish kept her cord raised above her head, their victory seemed sure. But her right hand had long since fallen asleep, and her muscles spasmed as she struggled to keep her wrist high above her head. She trembled at the thought that keeping her gold cord raised would be the difference between victory and defeat..When she had momentarily lowered her hand an hour ago, it had almost cost Ezrah his life. Shalish
05/06/20237 minutes 24 seconds
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Cord of Three Strands

Standing on the peak of the mountain outcropping, Shalish scanned the/battlefield. The noonday sun glinted off armor as the battle raged on in the valley/below. Lord Nissi, the great voice who had led them through both sea and desert, had trained Shalish and several of her friends for years. But the throes of their first combat were more taxing than they had imagined..Yet Shalish was positioned above the battlefield for a reason. Lord Nissi had/given her a gold cord to wear around her wrist, saying, “My presence goes with you. Remember me.” Now, when Shalish kept her cord raised above her head, their victory seemed sure. But her right hand had long since fallen asleep, and her muscles spasmed as she struggled to keep her wrist high above her head. She/trembled at the thought that keeping her gold cord raised would be the difference between victory and defeat..When she had momentarily lowered her hand an hour ago, it had almost cost/Ezrah his life. Shalish could only watch in hor
05/06/20230
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The Good Shepherd

Shepherds were not held in high regard in ancient Israel. They spent most of their time outdoors, the sheep didn’t smell great, and the job could be pretty dull... until it wasn’t. One part of a shepherd’s job was to defend the flock against wild animals looking for a meal. Shepherds had to protect the sheep and guide them to safe pastures..In the Old Testament, David was a shepherd before he was Israel’s king. When God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons, David had to be called in from the field because he was watching the sheep. As the youngest son, he wasn’t even around when Samuel first arrived to see Jesse’s family and anoint the future king. After all, someone had to watch and defend the sheep, and that job fell to the youngest son, David..In the New Testament, Jesus is frequently called a shepherd. Hefulfilled Old Testament prophecies of a Messiah who would shepherd God’s people, including a poem/song written by David: Psal
04/06/20234 minutes 7 seconds
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The Good Shepherd

Shepherds were not held in high regard in ancient Israel. They spent most of their time outdoors, the sheep didn&#8217;t smell great, and the job could be pretty dull&#8230; until it wasn&#8217;t. One part of a shepherd&#8217;s job was to defend the flock against wild animals looking for a meal. Shepherds/had to protect the sheep and guide them to safe pastures..In the Old Testament, David was a shepherd before he was Israel&#8217;s king. When God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint one of Jesse&#8217;s sons,/David had to be called in from the field because he was watching the/sheep. As the youngest son, he wasn&#8217;t even around when Samuel first arrived to see Jesse&#8217;s family and anoint the future king. After all,/someone had to watch and defend the sheep, and that job fell to the youngest son, David..In the New Testament, Jesus is frequently called a shepherd. Hefulfilled Old Testament prophecies of a Messiah who would shepherd God&#8217;s people, including a poem/song writt
04/06/20230
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Does God Really Love Me?

"Does God really love me?” If we’re honest, this is a question we ask often. And the answer is a resounding yes! God loves us very much! But what do we do when it doesn’t feel like God loves us? One thing we can do is remember the evidence of God’s love for us. After all, He knows we need reminders, and He doesn’t scold us for needing to hear it again and again. In fact, God loves to remind us of His love..1. God made us. And that’s just one of the reasons why we can know that He loves us and we matter to Him. He created each of us on purpose, and He was delighted to do it..2. God’s love for us is unstoppable. God didn’t stop loving us when humanity rejected Him. Just the opposite. His great love for the world compelled Him to give Jesus, His very own Son, to die on the cross to save us from sin. Nothing, not even death, could stop His love. We know this because after three days, Jesus rose from the dead, defeating sin and death forever!.3.
03/06/20234 minutes 55 seconds
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Does God Really Love Me?

&#8220;Does God really love me?” If we&#8217;re honest, this is a question we ask often. And the answer is a resounding yes! God loves us very much! But what do we do when it doesn&#8217;t feel like God loves us? One thing we can do is remember the evidence of God&#8217;s love for us. After all, He knows we need reminders, and He doesn&#8217;t scold us for needing to hear it again and again. In fact, God loves to remind us of His love..1. God made us./And that&#8217;s just one of the reasons why we can know that He loves us and we matter to Him. He created each of us on purpose, and He was delighted to do it..2. God&#8217;s love for us is unstoppable./God didn&#8217;t stop loving us when humanity rejected Him. Just the opposite. His great love for the world compelled Him to give Jesus, His very own Son, to die on the cross to save us from sin. Nothing, not even death, could stop His love. We know this because after three days, Jesus rose from the dead, defeating sin and death fore
03/06/20230
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Messing Up

I am a full-fledged adult, and I still don’t feel like I know what to do when I let people down. Of course, I understand that we live in a world that’s been broken by sin so we all hurt others, whether intentionally or unintentionally. That’s just part of life until Jesus returns. But letting others down still gets to me. As a Christian, I know that I’m supposed to be reflecting Jesus, but when I let the people around me down, I feel like I’m failing both them and Jesus..Sometimes, we just mess things up entirely. Sin gets in the way, and we let down the people we love. What then? We can apologize and seek forgiveness, but what if we still feel gross? Then we can look again to Jesus and be reminded of the value He sees in us. In fact, looking toward Jesus should be the first thing we do when we fail.Jesus died on the cross for us, knowing that we all mess up again and again. That didn’t stop Jesus from sacrificing His life and inviting us to join in His resurrec
02/06/20235 minutes
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Messing Up

I am a full-fledged adult, and I still don&#8217;t feel like I/know what to do when I let people down. Of course, I understand that we live in a world that&#8217;s been broken by sin so we all hurt others, whether intentionally or unintentionally. That&#8217;s just part of life until Jesus returns. But letting others down still gets to me. As a Christian, I know that I&#8217;m supposed to be reflecting Jesus, but when I let the people around/me down, I feel like I&#8217;m failing both them and Jesus..Sometimes, we just mess things up entirely. Sin gets in the way, and we let down the people we love. What then? We can apologize and/seek forgiveness, but what if we still feel gross? Then we can look again to Jesus and be reminded of the value He sees in us. In fact, looking toward Jesus should/be the first thing we do when we fail.Jesus died on the cross for us, knowing that we all mess up again and again. That/didn&#8217;t stop Jesus from sacrificing His life and inviting us to join
02/06/20230
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Made By God

The human body is amazing! Did you know that the human heart, which is only about as big as a clenched fist, pumps over 4,000 gallons of blood a day? Or that human eyes are protected by seven interlocking bones? Or that the palms of your hands are sort of skid-proof so you can get a grip on things? God created the human body in His image with the ability to do amazing things..His great handiwork is nothing to laugh about. But sometimes, we as humans say things that aren’t respectful about the human body, even mocking others whose bodies look different from ours..That’s not how God wants us to treat the people He created. He loves us so much, He sent Jesus to live among us as a human, physical body and all. Out of love, Jesus died for us. When we put our trust in Jesus, He gives us new hearts—not physical hearts that pump blood, but hearts that are cleansed from sin, no longer hard and stubborn but tender and responsive, eager to follow God’s good ways (Ez
01/06/20234 minutes 42 seconds
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Made By God

The human body is amazing! Did you know that the human heart, which is only about as big as a clenched fist, pumps over 4,000 gallons of blood a day? Or that human eyes are protected by seven interlocking bones? Or that the palms of your hands are sort of skid-proof so you can get a grip on things? God created the human body in His image with the ability to do amazing things..His great handiwork is nothing to laugh about. But sometimes, we as humans say things that aren&#8217;t respectful about the human body, even mocking others whose bodies look different from ours..That&#8217;s not how God wants us to treat the people He created. He loves us so much, He sent Jesus to live among us as a human, physical body and all. Out of love, Jesus died for us. When we put our trust in Jesus, He gives us new hearts—not physical hearts that pump blood, but hearts that are cleansed from sin, no longer hard and stubborn but tender and responsive, eager to follow God&#8217;s good ways/(Ezekiel 36:2
01/06/20230
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Bitterness Trap

Have you ever dealt with an ant infestation? If you start noticing a couple ants creeping in the cracks, it might not seem like a big deal. But if you ignore the problem, it will only get worse. Soon you’ll have ants all over—in your bathroom, in your bedroom, in your kitchen, even in your food! An ant infestation is a big problem; it can even make people sick. So, what can you do to handle an infestation? One way is to set a certain kind of trap that has poison inside. The ants think the poison is food, so they bring it home for all the other ants to eat, and it kills them..Bitterness is a lot like an ant infestation. Bitterness can creep in when we face a difficult or hurtful situation and we’re not able to process it. If we try not to feel the pain of a hard situation, it doesn’t work. That’s like trying to kill ants one by one—they keep coming back!.Instead, when we experience the beginnings of bitterness, we can go directly to whatever its source may
31/05/20234 minutes 54 seconds
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Bitterness Trap

Have you ever dealt with an ant infestation? If you start noticing a couple ants creeping in the cracks, it might not seem like a big deal. But if you ignore the problem, it will only get worse. Soon you&#8217;ll have ants all over—in your bathroom, in your bedroom, in your kitchen, even in your food! An ant infestation is a big problem; it can even make people sick. So, what can you do to handle an infestation? One way is to set a certain kind of trap that has poison inside. The ants think the poison is food, so they bring it home for all the other ants to eat, and it kills them..Bitterness is a lot like an ant infestation. Bitterness can creep in when we face a/difficult or hurtful situation and we&#8217;re not able to process it. If we try not to feel the/pain of a hard situation, it doesn&#8217;t work. That&#8217;s like trying to kill ants one by one—they keep coming back!.Instead, when we experience the beginnings of bitterness, we can go directly to/whatever its source may be.
31/05/20230
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Wired for Work

Did you know that work is part of God’s loving plan for us? Work is a good thing. The first thing God did after He created Adam and Eve was give them work to do. It was only after humans sinned that work became difficult—and sometimes frustrating—but that doesn’t mean we can’t find joy and satisfaction in our work. God Himself works, and since He created us in His image, work is one of the things we’re wired for (John 5:17). Our work isn’t futile, because God uses the work of those who love Him for His good purposes. Even everyday tasks that don’t seem very important are valuable in His kingdom..Work done well and with justice also points to the new reality of God’s kingdom, His loving reign over His people and His restored relationship with them. Jesus (who is God) announced that the kingdom of heaven has come near. Because He wants us to be part of His kingdom, Jesus died and rose again, defeating sin and death, and He will return someday to make all things new, free
30/05/20234 minutes 42 seconds
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Wired for Work

Did you know that work is part of God&#8217;s loving plan for us? Work is a good thing./The first thing God did after He created Adam and Eve was give them work to do. It was only after humans sinned that work became difficult—and sometimes frustrating—but that doesn&#8217;t mean we can&#8217;t find joy and satisfaction in our work./God Himself works, and since He created us in His image, work is one of the things we&#8217;re wired for (John 5:17). Our work isn&#8217;t futile, because God uses the work of those who love Him for His good purposes. Even everyday tasks that don&#8217;t seem very important are valuable in His kingdom..Work done well and with justice also points to the new reality of God&#8217;s kingdom, His loving reign over His people and His restored relationship with them. Jesus (who is God) announced that the kingdom of heaven has come near. Because He wants us to be part of His kingdom, Jesus died and rose again, defeating sin anddeath, and He will return someday t
30/05/20230
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Final Resting Place

The tomb was not Jesus’s final resting place. When He was killed on the cross, that was not the end..Three days later, Jesus rose to life again. The stone that had been placed in front of the tomb was rolled away, and His body wasn’t there anymore. Jesus lived..The disciples were amazed when they found out about this—even though Jesus had told them He would rise again on the third day. It was hard to believe that it could be true..When you hear the story of Jesus’s death on the cross and how He came back to life three days later, does it fill you with hope?.God invites us to remember this good news, to tell it to each other over and over again, to behold how amazing and powerful Jesus is. The story of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross is one that should fill us with awe. He loves us so much that He died for us, to take away our sins..Jesus died once for all so that we don’t have to perish. God wants us to live foreve
29/05/20234 minutes 31 seconds
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Final Resting Place

The tomb was not Jesus&#8217;s final resting place. When He/was killed on the cross, that was not the end..Three days later, Jesus rose to life again. The stone that had been placed in front of the tomb was rolled away, and His body wasn&#8217;t there anymore. Jesus lived..The disciples were amazed when they found out about this—even though Jesus had told them He would rise again on the third day. It was hard to believe that it could be true..When you hear the story of Jesus&#8217;s death on the cross and how He came back to life three days later, does it fill you with hope?.God invites us to remember this good news, to tell it to each other over and over/again, to behold how amazing and powerful Jesus is. The story of Jesus&#8217;s sacrifice on the cross is one that should fill us with awe. He loves us so much that He died/for us, to take away our sins..Jesus died once for all so that we don&#8217;t have to perish. God wants us to live forever with Him in the new heavens and the ne
29/05/20230
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It Shall Not Last

Merrick lifted the candle as he clutched his tunic. He felt the sand underfoot as shadows danced on the cave walls. “Beautiful, yes?” Father’s voice comforted him and pushed him to ignore the darkness. Yes, it was breathtaking—like a hidden world. “All this time,” Merrick said, fixing his eyes on the glittering ceiling, “the cave went farther than we imagined.”.“How about going farther now?” Father asked. Merrick took a deep breath and continued forward. Now was not the time to fear. The candle was near, as was Father. Besides, exploring was fun. He kept the candle outstretched and stepped after Father’s form. Suddenly, the flame flickered and with a whoosh, the candle went out. “Father!”.“I’m here, son. Stay calm.” He heard Father’s voice but could feel the panic seeping inside and eating his breath. Merrick reached Father and threw himself against him..“Are we to die in here?” With the ink of night polluting his vision?.Fathe
28/05/20234 minutes 49 seconds
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It Shall Not Last

Merrick lifted the candle as he clutched his tunic. He felt the sand underfoot as shadows danced on the cave walls. “Beautiful, yes?” Father&#8217;s voice comforted him and pushed him to ignore the darkness. Yes, it was breathtaking—like a hidden world. “All this time,” Merrick said, fixing his eyes on the glittering ceiling, “the cave/went farther than we imagined.”.“How about going farther now?” Father asked. Merrick took a deep breath and continued forward. Now was not the time to fear. The candle was near, as was Father. Besides, exploring was fun. He kept the candle outstretched and stepped after Father&#8217;s form. Suddenly, the flame flickered and with a whoosh, the candle went out. “Father!”.“I&#8217;m here, son. Stay calm.” He heard Father&#8217;s voice but could feel the panic seeping inside and eating his breath. Merrick reached Father and threw himself against him..“Are we to die in here?” With the ink of night polluting his vision?.Father wr
28/05/20230
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The Greatest Love

There is no greater way to show love than to be willing to give up everything for someone else. That’s what Jesus did for us. He loved us so much that He gave up everything, including His life, for us..Romans 5:7 says it’s rare for someone to give up their life for a deserving person, but it’s even more rare for someone to give up their life for a person who doesn’t deserve it in any way. Jesus gave His life for us even though we were undeserving..The next verse goes on to say that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. He didn’t wait for us to do anything before He sacrificed it all. He knew that we are helpless to save ourselves, and He loves us so much that He was willing to go through death for us, even when we were living in sin..Jesus showed the utmost love for us when He willingly died on the cross. His death and resurrection was the most important event in the cosmos because He saved us—and His entire creation—from sin and d
27/05/20234 minutes 5 seconds
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The Greatest Love

There is no greater way to show love than to be willing to give up everything for someone else. That&#8217;s what Jesus did for us. He loved us so much that He gave up everything, including His life, for us..Romans 5:7 says it&#8217;s rare for someone to give up their life for a deserving person, but it&#8217;s even more rare for someone to give up their life for a person who doesn&#8217;t deserve it in any way. Jesus gave His life for us even though we were undeserving..The next verse goes on to say that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. He didn&#8217;t wait for us to do anything before He sacrificed it all. He knew that we are helpless to save ourselves, and He loves us so much that He was willing to go through death for us, even when we were living in sin..Jesus showed the utmost love for us when He willingly died on the cross. His death and resurrection was the most important event in the cosmos because He saved us—and His entire creation—from sin and decay and dea
27/05/20230
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God Is Patient with You

"Just be a little more patient with me... all I’m asking is that you let me figure things out, let me grow, let me work on myself a little and become better at this...".Have you ever been in a place where it felt like everyone was pushing you and no one had any patience when it came to your growth? Have you ever felt like you needed to do something great, and quick, or else everyone was going to cut you out?.When it feels like people are pushing you and refusing to be patient with you, know that God has a patience that goes beyond anything we could imagine. The Bible tells us that God desires for everyone to be saved. He wants all of us to put our trust in Jesus. He wants to transform us through the power of the Holy Spirit and guide us in doing the good works of His kingdom (Ephesians 2:10). He wants to work in our lives and help us become all we are meant to be. Yet, He is patient as He waits for us to grow..God is not going to push you to
26/05/20234 minutes 15 seconds
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God Is Patient with You

&#8220;Just be a little more patient with me&#8230; all I&#8217;m asking is that you let me figure things out, let me grow, let me/work on myself a little and become better at this&#8230;&#8221;.Have you ever been in a place where it felt like everyone was pushing you and no one had any patience when it came to your growth? Have you ever felt like you needed to do something great, and quick, or else everyone was going to cut you out?.When it feels like people are pushing you and refusing to be patient with you, know that God has a patience that goes beyond anything we could imagine. The Bible tells us that God desires for everyone to be saved. He wants all of us to put our trust in Jesus. He wants to transform us through the power of the Holy Spirit and guide us in doing the good works of His kingdom (Ephesians 2:10). He wants to work in our lives and help us become all we are meant to be. Yet, He is patient as He waits for us to grow..God is not going to push you to move quicker th
26/05/20230
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Guilt and Freedom

Weighed downBy a wrong I should not have done Trying to hide itHoping no one will ever knowGuilt eating meGuilt over secrets on top of the wrong.Can’t go on like thisSpending my life lying is no way to live I let You inGod, I’ll share my secret with YouThis is what I’ve doneI’m sorry and I want to move on.Released from the shameI feel free to go forward with life nowFreedom from guiltI have my sins forgiven and I am alive • Emily Acker.• Keeping our sins a secret and hiding the wrong things we’ve done can be hard on us. In Psalm 32, how did David feel when he tried to hide his sin? How did he feel after confessing it? .• Through Jesus, God has made the way for us to be forgiven. Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave, everyone who has put their trust in Jesus is totally forgiven from all their sins—past, present, and futu
25/05/20234 minutes 12 seconds
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Guilt and Freedom

Weighed downBy a wrong I should not have done Trying to hide itHoping no one will ever knowGuilt eating meGuilt over secrets on top of the wrong.Can&#8217;t go on like thisSpending my life lying is no way to live I let You inGod, I&#8217;ll share my secret with YouThis is what I&#8217;ve doneI&#8217;m sorry and I want to move on.Released from the shameI feel free to go forward with life nowFreedom from guiltI have my sins forgiven and I am alive/• Emily Acker.• Keeping our sins a secret and hiding the wrong things we&#8217;ve done can be hard on us. In Psalm 32, how did David feel when he tried to hide his sin? How did he feel after confessing it? .• Through Jesus, God has made the way for us to be forgiven. Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave, everyone who has put their trust in Jesus is totally forgiven from all their sins—past, present, and future! Yet, as Christians, we will continue to struggle with sin until Jesus returns and makes all things new. Whenever
25/05/20230
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Song of Songs: God of Love

Today we’re looking at a book in the Old Testament called Song of Songs. Many readers are confused when they find this love poem in the Bible. It talks about the passionate love between this husband and wife, written in a way that no one speaks today. But the poem honestly shows love and sexual desire without embarrassment or shame..Some scholars made a connection between the love between this husband and wife and the love we experience with Jesus, who is God. In Scripture, we see God pursuing His people with an unceasing love, culminating in Jesus’s death and resurrection. He did this to unite us to Himself, and this unity will be completed when Christ returns to bring heaven to earth and live forever with His people. So we can think of Jesus’s love for us when the bride in Song of Songs says, “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty
24/05/20234 minutes 27 seconds
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Song of Songs: God of Love

Today we&#8217;re looking at a book in the Old Testament called Song of Songs. Many/readers are confused when they find this love poem in the Bible. It talks about the passionate love between this husband and wife, written in a way that no one speaks today. But the poem honestly shows love and sexual desire without/embarrassment or shame..Some scholars made a connection between the love between this husband and wife and the love we experience with Jesus, who is God. In Scripture, we see/God pursuing His people with an unceasing love, culminating in Jesus&#8217;s death and resurrection. He did this to unite us to Himself, and this unity will be completed when Christ returns to bring heaven to earth and live forever with His people. So we can think of Jesus&#8217;s love for us when the bride in Song of Songs says, “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death,/its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a
24/05/20230
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Canning the Word

Have you ever canned food? Throughout much of history, people have canned and preserved food—often in glass jars. This has been an important way for people to get nutrition, even in less-than-ideal times like winter or natural disasters..In a way, memorizing Scripture is like “canning” truth from God’s Word to store in our hearts so that we always have it with us. Memorizing words from the Bible is a spiritual practice that Christians have done for centuries. It provides us with the opportunity to feast on God’s Word, even when we don’t have easy or convenient access to a Bible, or when we just want to meditate on Scripture without using a screen..The reason the Bible is so important to us as Christians is because every single verse is “God-breathed,” and it’s a gift from God to us (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible tells us all about Jesus: He is our Savior, God, and King—and He is also our Shepherd, Advocate, and Friend. When we learn Bible passages, these can
23/05/20235 minutes 11 seconds
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Canning the Word

Have you ever canned food? Throughout much of history, people have canned and preserved food—often in glass jars. This has been an important way for people to get nutrition, even in less-than-ideal times like winter or natural disasters..In a way, memorizing Scripture is like “canning” truth from God&#8217;s Word to store in our hearts so that we always have it with us. Memorizing words from the/Bible is a spiritual practice that Christians have done for centuries. It provides us with the opportunity to feast on God&#8217;s Word, even when we don&#8217;t have easy or convenient access to a Bible, or when we just want to meditate on Scripture without using a screen..The reason the Bible is so important to us as Christians is because every single verse is “God-breathed,” and it&#8217;s a gift from God to us (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible tells us all about Jesus: He is our Savior, God, and King—and He is also our Shepherd, Advocate, and Friend. When we learn Bible passages, these
23/05/20230
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A New Name

Do you know what your name means? Across cultures, names have meanings, and when we give names to babies, those meanings can be a beautiful way to communicate love and care for the newest members of our families..Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” But here’s the thing: we don’t choose our own names. We receive them when we’re born into our families..Similarly, there is another name we can receive, separate from the one given to us at birth. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, we become part of His family and receive His name: we are called "Christian," which means “little Christ.” This name means that He has made us new people and we belong to Him. God has poured out His great love on us through Jesus’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. Now, He invites us to imitate Him as dearly loved children imitate their parents, by loving others as He loves us (Ephesians 5:1-2)..Sometimes, when God
22/05/20234 minutes 4 seconds
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A New Name

Do you know what your name means? Across cultures, names have meanings, and when we give names to babies, those meanings can be a beautiful way to communicate love and care for the newest members of our families..Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” But here&#8217;s the thing: we don&#8217;t choose our own names. We receive them when we&#8217;re born into our families..Similarly, there is another name we can receive, separate from the one given to us at birth. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, we become part of His family and receive His name: we are called/&#8221;Christian,&#8221; which means “little Christ.” This name means that He has made us new people and we belong to Him. God has poured out His great love on us through Jesus&#8217;s death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. Now, He invites us to imitate Him as dearly loved children imitate their parents, by loving others as He loves us (Ephesians 5:1-2)..Sometimes, when G
22/05/20230
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Unfailing Love

Unfailing love....We sin and sin again. We mess up and try to put the blame on someone or something other than ourselves. We fail to help the hurting. We fail to take our eyes off our own needs and see the needs around us. We don’t do what God calls us to do, but....Unfailing love....Our sin separated us from God, but He wanted to draw us near. Our God gave His Son for us. Jesus willingly sacrificed Himself by dying on the cross and risingfrom the grave so that everyone who puts their trust in Him can be forgiven and adopted into God’s family. Our God wants us to feel loved; He wants us to know that His love is always there. Our God knows that we’ve sinned and that we will sin again, but He loves us anyway. There is no way for us to earn His love; He gives it to us freely..Unfailing love....Human love is a gift from God, but only God’s love is unfailing. People will let us down, and those closest to us might even
21/05/20234 minutes 26 seconds
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Unfailing Love

Unfailing love&#8230;.We sin and sin again. We mess up and try to put the blame on someone or something other than ourselves. We fail to help the hurting. We fail to take our eyes off our own needs and see the needs around us. We don&#8217;t do what God calls us to/do, but&#8230;.Unfailing love&#8230;.Our sin separated us from God, but He wanted to draw us near. Our God gave/His Son for us. Jesus willingly sacrificed Himself by dying on the cross and risingfrom the grave so that everyone who puts their trust in Him can be forgiven and adopted into God&#8217;s family. Our God wants us to feel loved; He wants us to know that His love is always there. Our God knows that we&#8217;ve sinned and that we will sin again, but He loves us anyway. There is no way for us to earn His love; He gives it to us freely..Unfailing love&#8230;.Human love is a gift from God, but only God&#8217;s love is unfailing. People will let us down, and those closest to us might even stop loving us. Though we can
21/05/20230
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When Facing Temptation

How can we resist temptation?.As Christians, when we encounter something we know Jesus wouldn’t want us to do, we have a choice. Will we give in to the temptation? Or will we trust Jesus to empower us to do the right thing?.Sometimes, trusting Jesus is easier said than done. But it can help to remember why Jesus can be trusted. Jesus is fully God, and when He became human, He didn’t withhold Himself from any kind of human hardship. He personally faced temptations to sin when He was on earth, and yet, He resisted every time. Jesus never sinned. He can empathize with us because He knows firsthand what temptation is like..Whenever we’re tempted, we can cry out to Jesus with confidence because we know that He understands what we’re facing. But even more than that, He has power over sin. If we’ve put our trust in Jesus, His Holy Spirit is inside us, so we can depend on Him to help us not give in to temptation. And even when we do give in, He’ll a
20/05/20234 minutes 52 seconds
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When Facing Temptation

How can we resist temptation?.As Christians, when we encounter something we know Jesus wouldn&#8217;t want us to do, we have a choice. Will we give in to the temptation? Or will we trust Jesus to empower us to do the right thing?.Sometimes, trusting Jesus is easier said than done. But it can help to remember why Jesus can be trusted. Jesus is fully God, and when He became human, He didn&#8217;t withhold Himself from any kind of human hardship. He personally faced temptations to sin when He was on earth, and yet, He resisted every time. Jesus never sinned. He/can empathize with us because He knows firsthand what temptation is like..Whenever we&#8217;re tempted, we can cry out to Jesus with confidence because we/know that He understands what we&#8217;re facing. But even more than that, He has power over sin. If we&#8217;ve put our trust in Jesus, His Holy Spirit is inside us, so we can depend on Him to help us not give in to temptation. And even when we do give in, He&#8217;ll always
20/05/20230
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Loved Like a Kitten (Part 2)

It might seem odd, but I often think of kittens when I consider a very hard question: “Where is God with all the hurt going on?”.It’s a question I ask a lot, especially since my husband is a news reporter, so I often get a front-row seat to the heartbreaking and scary things happening in the world..But that’s where kittens come in. When they’re brand new, they can’t even open their eyes. They’re helpless. All they know is that their mom is with them. They can’t see her, but they know she’s present and she cares for them..I don’t have an answer for why bad things happen. All I know is that our world is broken because of sin, but Jesus is with us, and He’s working to fix all this. I’m like a kitten who just has to trust that I’m loved, that I’m not alone, and that my suffering won’t last forever. I recall how Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything
19/05/20234 minutes 23 seconds
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Loved Like a Kitten (Part 2)

It might seem odd, but I often think of kittens when I consider a very hard question: “Where is God with all the hurt going on?”.It&#8217;s a question I ask a lot, especially since my husband is a news reporter, so I often get a front-row seat to the heartbreaking and scary things happening in the world..But that&#8217;s where kittens come in. When they&#8217;re brand new, they can&#8217;t even open their eyes. They&#8217;re helpless. All they know is that their mom is with them. They can&#8217;t see her, but they know she&#8217;s present and she cares for them..I don&#8217;t have an answer for why bad things happen. All I know is that our world is/broken because of sin, but Jesus is with us, and He&#8217;s working to fix all this. I&#8217;m like a kitten who just has to trust that I&#8217;m loved, that I&#8217;m not alone, and that my suffering/won&#8217;t last forever. I recall how Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see things/imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in
19/05/20230
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Loved Like a Kitten (Part 1)

I think being a professional kitten rescuer might be one of the cutest jobs in existence. But the practical realities of the job are anything but cute. .When a rescuer receives foster kittens into their home, these tiny rescue kittens need lots of attention, and the care they need is often pretty gross, including special flea baths. Even after the fleas are gone, the kittens still need round-the-clock care, like special feedings and medicine from the vet. Not to mention cleaning up their messes if they feel sick and need to throw up or have diarrhea. But it’s all worth it. If everything goes well, the kittens begin to grow, becoming healthier, stronger, and cuter by the day..When you see kittens who have passed this threshold—happily exploring, climbing, and cuddling—it’s amazing to consider how well they are doing compared to the bad shape they were in when they arrived. It’s sobering to realize that these now-healthy kittens would have died if people ha
18/05/20234 minutes 1 second
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Loved Like a Kitten (Part 1)

I think being a professional kitten rescuer might be one of the cutest jobs in/existence. But the practical realities of the job are anything but cute./.When a rescuer receives foster kittens into their home, these tiny rescue kittens need lots of attention, and the care they need is often pretty gross,/including special flea baths. Even after the fleas are gone, the kittens still need/round-the-clock care, like special feedings and medicine from the vet. Not to mention cleaning up their messes if they feel sick and need to throw up or have diarrhea. But it&#8217;s all worth it. If everything goes well, the kittens begin to grow, becoming healthier, stronger, and cuter by the day..When you see kittens who have passed this threshold—happily exploring, climbing, and cuddling—it&#8217;s amazing to consider how well they are doing compared to the bad shape they were in when they arrived. It&#8217;s sobering to realize that these/now-healthy kittens would have died if people hadn&#8217;t
18/05/20230
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United by the One Who Saved Us

We don’t always fully agree with everyone who shares our faith in Jesus Christ. Some people might judge us, and we might fall into judging them too. The decisions that we make don’t always line up with what others think is right, and we are going to see other Christians doing things that we would never do. However, no matter what our differences are, our belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus unites us. And He loves all of us..We come from different places in life, raised either in a comfortable, happy home environment or in a struggling, tense one—or maybe somewhere in between. We have gone through things that others can’t imagine, and others have gone through things that we can never fully understand. But Jesus has saved all of us—rich and poor, people dealing with issues from the past and people who are fully happy with the way they were raised. Jesus unites us..When Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected from the dead, He did that for all
17/05/20234 minutes 27 seconds
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United by the One Who Saved Us

We don&#8217;t always fully agree with everyone who shares our faith in Jesus Christ. Some people might judge us, and we might fall into judging them too. The decisions that we make don&#8217;t always line up with what others think is right, and we are going to see other Christians doing things that we would never do. However, no matter what our differences are, our belief in the/death and resurrection of Jesus unites us. And He loves all of us..We come from different places in life, raised either in a comfortable, happy home environment or in a struggling, tense one—or maybe somewhere in between. We have gone through things that others can&#8217;t imagine, and others have gone through things that we can never fully understand. But Jesus has saved all of us—rich and poor, people dealing with issues from the past and people who are fully happy with the way they were raised. Jesus unites us..When Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected from the dead, He did that for all kinds of p
17/05/20230
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Nice to "Meat" You

I sat down at a table lavishly spread with traditional Romanian foods. And that was the day I began eating meat again..Years ago, at age sixteen, my best friend and I ordered steak sandwiches while on a school trip. Our meals arrived undercooked. Even though the staff remedied the problem, we decided afterwards to try being vegetarians for a week. We lasted a year on this plan together. Then my buddy chose to return to eating meat while I continued down the vegetarian path..Over six years later, I was preparing for a year of ministry with college students in Romania. During our two-week briefing in Hungary, I sensed the Lord nudge me to abandon my vegetarian ways. As a visitor, I wanted to enjoy meals with Romanians, to eat what they ate and what they served us. By the time I entered Romania, I’d decided to give up being a vegetarian..About a week later, a Romanian family invited me and my three ministry teammates to an extravagant lunch at
16/05/20234 minutes 49 seconds
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Nice to “Meat” You

I sat down at a table lavishly spread with traditional Romanian foods. And that was the day I began eating meat again..Years ago, at age sixteen, my best friend and I ordered steak sandwiches while on a school trip. Our meals arrived undercooked. Even though the staff remedied/the problem, we decided afterwards to try being vegetarians for a week. We lasted a year on this plan together. Then my buddy chose to return to eating meat while I continued down the vegetarian path..Over six years later, I was preparing for a year of ministry with college students in Romania. During our two-week briefing in Hungary, I sensed the Lord nudge me to/abandon my vegetarian ways. As a visitor, I wanted to enjoy meals with Romanians, to eat what they ate and what they served us. By the time I entered Romania, I&#8217;d decided to give up being a vegetarian..About a week later, a Romanian family invited me and my three ministry/teammates to an extravagant lunch at their apartment. One of the dishes t
16/05/20230
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Search for You

When I search for You You’re not hard to find When I need a friendYou are always kind.When I ask for helpYou are always there Whenever I’m in a mess You still show me You care.When others do me harm You hold and comfort me In the times I feel alone By my side, You’ll be.When I need my SaviorI simply call to YouYou always come to me And help me with all I do • Bethany Acker.• Have you ever felt God’s nearness, like a close friend? What was it like? If you haven’t experienced this, you can ask God to show you His love and nearness anytime. .• God invites us to come to Him with all our needs, but sometimes, it can be hard to ask God for help when we need it. If you struggle to be vulnerable with God like this, who are some trusted Christians you can talk to about it, such as parents, counselors, pastors, or friends?.• Th
15/05/20233 minutes 35 seconds
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Search for You

When I search for You/You&#8217;re not hard to find/When I need a friend/You are always kind.When I ask for helpYou are always there Whenever I&#8217;m in a mess You still show me You care.When others do me harm You hold and comfort me In the times I feel alone By my side, You&#8217;ll be.When I need my SaviorI simply call to YouYou always come to me And help me with all I do • Bethany Acker.• Have you ever felt God&#8217;s nearness, like a close friend? What was it like? If you haven&#8217;t experienced this, you can ask God to show you His love and nearness anytime. .• God invites us to come to Him with all our needs, but sometimes, it can be hard to ask God for help when we need it. If you struggle to be vulnerable with God like this, who are some trusted Christians you can talk to about it, such as parents, counselors, pastors, or friends?.• This poem mentions that sometimes others harm us. If you&#8217;ve experienced harm and want someone to talk to, you can speak to a
15/05/20230
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Maranatha, Come Soon

One semester, while my friend was taking a seminary class on Tuesday mornings, I’d watch her two-year-old daughter. These mornings were typically filled with coloring, reading books, eating snacks, and other fun things my friend’s daughter and I enjoyed doing together..One morning though, this dear little toddler was really missing her mom. As we played all her usual favorite games, she would occasionally get very quiet and say, “Mama home soon.” When this happened, I would say, “That’s right. Mama will be home soon. She loves you so much and can’t wait to come back to see you.” Sure enough, her mom did arrive soon, and both mother and daughter were so happy to see each other..This interaction with my friend’s daughter kind of reminded me of what it’s like waiting for Jesus to come back, and how excited I’ll be when I finally see Him face-to-face! But right now, we live in a world that’s broken by sin and its effects. We see all that brokenness and sadnes
14/05/20234 minutes 54 seconds
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Maranatha, Come Soon

One semester, while my friend was taking a seminary class on Tuesday mornings,/I&#8217;d watch her two-year-old daughter. These mornings were typically filled with/coloring, reading books, eating snacks, and other fun things my friend&#8217;s daughter and I enjoyed doing together..One morning though, this dear little toddler was really missing her mom. As we played all her usual favorite games, she would occasionally get very quiet and say, “Mama home soon.” When this happened, I would say, “That&#8217;s right. Mama will be home soon. She loves you so much and can&#8217;t wait to come back to see you.” Sure enough, her mom did arrive soon, and both mother and daughter were so happy to see each other..This interaction with my friend&#8217;s daughter kind of reminded me of what it&#8217;s like waiting for Jesus to come back, and how excited I&#8217;ll be when I finally see Him face-to-face! But right now, we live in a world that&#8217;s broken by sin and its effects. We see al
14/05/20230
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Wages

Veena had to hold herself back from running to the fruit stand. She’d finished her first week on the job—pulling weeds from the pine-melon fields—and now after a long week, she’d saved enough money to buy one of her own. The deep green melons shone in the morning sun, each one perfectly ripe. It would make the perfect breakfast..Veena carefully looked over the melons and picked out the best one. She handed her large silver coins to the vendor and awaited her change. Something was wrong. The vendor scowled at the coins and then turned that scowl to Veena..“Where’ja get these?” He held up her wages..“I just got paid this morning. I-I work on the pine-melon farm,” Veena stuttered, panic creeping into her voice..“These...” The vendor clinked the coins on the counter for emphasis. “Are fakes. How’d you even get your hands on these? And what kind of establishment do ya think I’m running here that I wouldn’t recognize fake coin?” Now
13/05/20235 minutes 37 seconds
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Wages

Veena had to hold herself back from running to the fruit stand. She&#8217;d finished her first week on the job—pulling weeds from the pine-melon fields—and now after a long week, she&#8217;d saved enough money to buy one of her own. The deep green melons shone in the morning sun, each one perfectly ripe. It would make the perfect breakfast..Veena carefully looked over the melons and picked out the best one. She handed her large silver coins to the vendor and awaited her change. Something was wrong. The vendor scowled at the coins and then turned that scowl to Veena..“Where&#8217;ja get these?” He held up her wages..“I just got paid this morning. I-I work on the pine-melon farm,” Veena stuttered, panic creeping into her voice..“These&#8230;” The vendor clinked the coins on the counter for emphasis. “Are fakes. How&#8217;d you even get your hands on these? And what kind of establishment do ya think I&#8217;m running here that I wouldn&#8217;t recognize fake coin?” Now
13/05/20230
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Abounding in His Comfort (Part 5)

Do you have a favorite place to think or pray? I do. Most mornings I grab my coffee and head to the back porch. There, I meet with God in prayer, asking to be led by His Spirit and asking for grace to face the day. This is one way He brings me comfort. Along with prayer, Scripture reveals other ways we can know Christ’s comfort..First, we have God’s people. Scripture teaches believers that we “belong to each other” (Romans 12:5) and make up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). Thus, we can say that God is present, comforting believers through one another (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)..Second, we find comfort in God’s Word. John 1 teaches that Christ is the Word made flesh who has “revealed God to us” (verse 18). What an unfathomable comfort. And Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word is “sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword... It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Because of this, we can take comfort in being fully known and completely loved by C
12/05/20235 minutes 17 seconds
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Abounding in His Comfort (Part 5)

Do you have a favorite place to think or pray? I do. Most mornings I grab my/coffee and head to the back porch. There, I meet with God in prayer, asking/to be led by His Spirit and asking for grace to face the day. This is one way He brings me comfort. Along with prayer, Scripture reveals other ways we can know Christ&#8217;s comfort..First, we have God&#8217;s people./Scripture teaches believers that we “belong to each other” (Romans 12:5) and make up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). Thus, we can say that God is present, comforting believers through one another (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)..Second, we find comfort in God&#8217;s Word./John 1 teaches that Christ is the/Word made flesh who has “revealed God to us” (verse 18). What an unfathomable comfort. And Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word is “sharper than the sharpest/two-edged sword&#8230; It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Because of this, we can take comfort in being fully known and completely love
12/05/20230
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It's All Good (Part 4)

I once saw a bowling team that called themselves, "It’s All Good." Wouldn’t it be awesome if the saying "it’s all good" were true? Sadly, troubles abound on earth. But even as we acknowledge these troubles, let’s also explore a promise that offers real hope for truly good endings..In Romans 8:28, Paul plainly states that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God.” And, because Paul’s readers were suffering persecution, he also poses the hard question: “Does it mean he [God] no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity...?” (verse 35). Earnestly, Paul replies, “No, despite all these things [i.e., pain and persecution], overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (verse 37)..I wonder if what God calls “good” in Romans 8:28 doesn’t always match our idea of good? My idea of good might mean all my problems are gone immediately. But what does God mean by good? Romans 8:29 provides a clue. It hinges on the phr
11/05/20234 minutes 40 seconds
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It’s All Good (Part 4)

I once saw a bowling team that called themselves,/&#8221;It&#8217;s All Good.&#8221;/Wouldn&#8217;t it be awesome if the saying/&#8221;it&#8217;s all good&#8221;/were true? Sadly, troubles abound on earth. But even as we acknowledge these troubles, let&#8217;s also explore a promise that offers real hope for truly good endings..In Romans 8:28, Paul plainly states that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God.” And, because Paul&#8217;s readers were suffering/persecution, he also poses the hard question: “Does it mean he [God] no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity&#8230;?” (verse 35). Earnestly, Paul replies, “No, despite all these things [i.e., pain and persecution], overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (verse 37)..I wonder if what God calls “good” in Romans 8:28 doesn&#8217;t always match our idea of good? My idea of good might mean all my problems are gone immediately. But what does God mean by goo
11/05/20230
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Suffering Has Significance (Part 3)

Let’s continue our study on suffering. Suffering exists because God’s good world has been broken by sin. Today, we’ll talk about how, for believers, suffering has significance—or meaning—for our lives, both in the present and for eternity. Scripture reveals this in a couple of ways. First, the apostles (people who walked with Jesus while He was on earth) taught that believers are called to share both in Christ’s comfort and in His sufferings (1 Peter 2:21). Because we follow a suffering Savior, we can expect to suffer as well. These authors also pointed out that when believers suffer, it’s intimately connected to Christ’s own suffering, using phrases like “share his suffering” (Romans 8:17). So, we can remind ourselves that our suffering as the body of Christ has unique significance because it’s connected to the suffering of Jesus. In our suffering, we can look to Jesus—who suffered the cross on our behalf, then resurrected from the dead—and find comfort in His presence. We are neve
10/05/20235 minutes 33 seconds
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Suffering Has Significance (Part 3)

Let&#8217;s continue our study on suffering. Suffering exists because God&#8217;s good world has been broken by sin. Today, we&#8217;ll talk about how, for believers, suffering has significance—or meaning—for our lives, both in the present and for eternity. Scripture reveals this in a couple of ways. First, the apostles (people who walked with Jesus while He was on earth) taught that believers are called to share both in Christ&#8217;s comfort and in His sufferings (1 Peter 2:21). Because we follow a suffering Savior, we can expect to suffer as well. These authors also pointed out that when believers suffer, it&#8217;s intimately connected to Christ&#8217;s own suffering, using phrases like “share his suffering” (Romans 8:17). So, we can remind ourselves that our suffering as the body of Christ has unique significance because it&#8217;s connected to the suffering of Jesus. In our suffering, we can look to Jesus—who suffered the cross on our behalf, then resurrected from the dead
10/05/20230
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God Does Not Ignore Our Pain (Part 2)

When I was thirteen, I attended my first church camp. I experienced life-changing things, like when I encountered 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” I’d never noticed this verse before, but that week 1 Peter 5:7 sank into my soul. Because, like most teens, I had worries and cares! Problem was—exactly HOW do you give them to God?.Well, over time I learned that giving our cares to God isn’t an event—it’s a process..First, I remember who I am coming to: Jesus—God in flesh—who also suffered. In fact, Hebrews 5:8 tells us that Jesus “learned obedience from the things he suffered.” Hmmm... that’s mind-boggling. Even though Jesus’s suffering and obedience are different from ours, it’s incredible to ponder Jesus learning obedience from His suffering..Then, I think about why Jesus suffered on the cross and rose again—out of His great love for me, He chose to personally redeem me, both from sin and (when He
09/05/20234 minutes 53 seconds
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God Does Not Ignore Our Pain (Part 2)

When I was thirteen, I attended my first church camp. I experienced/life-changing things, like when I encountered 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” I&#8217;d never noticed this verse before, but that week 1 Peter 5:7 sank into my soul. Because, like most teens, I had/worries and cares! Problem was—exactly HOW do you give them to God?.Well, over time I learned that giving our cares to God isn&#8217;t an event—it&#8217;s a process..First, I remember who I am coming to:/Jesus—God in flesh—who also suffered. In fact, Hebrews 5:8 tells us that Jesus “learned obedience from the things he suffered.” Hmmm&#8230; that&#8217;s mind-boggling. Even though Jesus&#8217;s suffering and obedience are different from ours, it&#8217;s incredible to ponder Jesus learning obedience from His suffering..Then, I think about why Jesus suffered/on the cross and rose again—out of His great love for me, He chose to personally redeem/me, both from sin and (wh
09/05/20230
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Sharing in His Suffering (Part 1)

At age seventeen, Joni Eareckson Tada awoke after a diving accident—paralyzed from the shoulders down. Thus began her new life—from a wheelchair. Over time, Joni became known for her contagious joy and her compassionate ministry to others..As a teen, Joni’s story made me think hard about suffering. Should tragedy strike, how would I react? Where is Jesus in all of this? And so began a lifelong look at suffering in Scripture. We know that sin and suffering invaded God’s good world after humans chose to rebel against God, but what else does Scripture say? Eventually, I noticed some intriguing themes. Today we’ll introduce three themes, and over the next few days we’ll explore each one more deeply. Then we’ll wrap up with a glimpse at the comfort Christ promises. So, let’s dive in!.Theme one: God does not explain suffering, but He never ignores it. Indeed, through Jesus, He invites us to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
08/05/20235 minutes 26 seconds
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Sharing in His Suffering (Part 1)

At age seventeen, Joni Eareckson Tada awoke after a diving accident—paralyzed/from the shoulders down. Thus began her new life—from a wheelchair. Over time, Joni became known for her contagious joy and her compassionate ministry to others..As a teen, Joni&#8217;s story made me think hard about suffering. Should tragedy strike, how would I react? Where is Jesus in all of this? And so began a lifelong look at suffering in Scripture. We know that sin and suffering invaded God&#8217;s good/world after humans chose to rebel against God, but what else does Scripture say? Eventually, I noticed some intriguing themes. Today we&#8217;ll introduce three themes,/and over the next few days we&#8217;ll explore each one more deeply. Then we&#8217;ll wrap up/with a glimpse at the comfort Christ promises. So, let&#8217;s dive in!.Theme one: God does not explain suffering, but He never ignores it./Indeed,/through Jesus, He invites us to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1
08/05/20230
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With Love

Why do we do kind things for other people? If we really examine our motives, is it so we’ll win points with them and make them like us? Or do we think doing good deeds will win us points with God?.In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is writing to the Christians in Corinth, and he says: no matter how much good we do, if we don’t have love in our hearts, our good deeds just sound like an annoying, ever-clanging cymbal (verse 1). In other words, doing good things doesn’t mean much if these actions aren’t done out of genuine love—the kind of love God has for us..But here’s the great news. Love is not something we muster up inside ourselves. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” If God didn’t love us first, none of us could love Him or each other. But Romans 5:5 says, “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Love is a gift straight from God..God’s love for us and others is so great
07/05/20234 minutes 51 seconds
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With Love

Why do we do kind things for other people? If we really examine our motives,/is it so we&#8217;ll win points with them and make them like us? Or do we think doing good deeds will win us points with God?.In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is writing to the Christians in Corinth, and he says: no matter how much good we do, if we don&#8217;t have love in our hearts, our good deeds just sound like an annoying, ever-clanging cymbal (verse 1). In other words, doing good things doesn&#8217;t mean much if these actions aren&#8217;t done out of genuine love—the kind of love God has for us..But here&#8217;s the great news. Love is not something we muster up inside ourselves./1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” If God didn&#8217;t love us first, none/of us could love Him or each other. But Romans 5:5 says, “God&#8217;s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Love is a gift straight from God..God&#8217;s love for us and othe
07/05/20230
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Look at the Stars

When you start worrying about things happening in your life or in the world around you, look at the stars..If it isn’t dark out and you can’t see the stars, then look at the wildflowers..If it’s too cold for wildflowers, then look at the snowflakes that fall from the sky..There are endless stars in the sky, too many to count. The wildflowers are so vibrant and vast; you could never pick them all. So many snowflakes fall that they make large piles of snow and cover entire mountains. But God made each one of them..God created each star in the massive universe, and He also created you. In Matthew 6, Jesus says we don’t need to worry about anything, reminding us that God made each wildflower beautiful even though it so quickly dies. He cares about every little problem and difficult situation you face. God decides when the snow falls, and He made each snowflake unique and stunning to look at. Similarly, He made you on purpose, and y
06/05/20234 minutes 40 seconds
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Look at the Stars

When you start worrying about things happening in your life or in the world around you, look at the stars..If it isn&#8217;t dark out and you can&#8217;t see the stars,/then look at the wildflowers..If it&#8217;s too cold for wildflowers, then look at the snowflakes that fall from the sky..There are endless stars in the sky, too many to count. The wildflowers are so vibrant and vast; you could never pick them all. So many snowflakes fall that they make large piles of snow and cover entire mountains. But God made each one of them..God created each star in the massive universe, and He also created you. In Matthew 6, Jesus says we don&#8217;t need to worry about anything, reminding us that/God made each wildflower beautiful even though it so quickly dies. He cares about every little problem and difficult situation you face. God decides when the snow falls, and He made each snowflake unique and stunning to look at. Similarly, He/made you on purpose, and you are precious to Him..Ultimate
06/05/20230
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Royalty

When you were little, did you ever dress up as royalty—making paper crowns, walking around in old fancy clothes from a dress-upbin, or sitting on imaginary thrones and bossing around the people of your pretend kingdom?.While the imaginary kingdoms of our youth weren’t real, as Christians, we can know that we belong to God’s very real kingdom. When we trust in Jesus as our Savior, we can know that God is our Father, and He is the King of the universe. And so, because we are the children of the King, we are royalty..As God’s royal children, we have the privilege of inviting others into the kingdom of God by sharing the good news: that Jesus, our God and King, became human, lived among us, died on the cross and rose from the grave to beat sin and death... and is returning one day to make all things new. In His kingdom, love and righteousness rule instead of sin. We have the honor of sharing this true story— through our words and our actions—with every
05/05/20234 minutes 32 seconds
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Royalty

When you were little, did you ever dress up as royalty—making paper crowns, walking around in old fancy clothes from a dress-upbin, or sitting on imaginary thrones and bossing around the people of your pretend kingdom?.While the imaginary kingdoms of our youth weren&#8217;t real, as Christians, we can know that we belong to God&#8217;s very real kingdom. When we trust in Jesus as our Savior, we can know that God is our Father, and He is the King of the universe. And so, because we are the children of the King, we are royalty..As God&#8217;s royal children, we have the privilege of inviting others into the kingdom of God by sharing the good news: that Jesus, our God and King, became human, lived among us, died on the cross and rose from the grave to beat sin and death&#8230; and is returning one day to make all things new. In His kingdom, love and righteousness rule instead of sin. We have the honor of sharing this true story— through our words and our actions—with everyone around us
05/05/20230
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The Wait

Wind colder than the day before swarmed into the shallow mountain cavern and bit at the exposed skin on the back of Mior’s neck that she hadn’t been able to cover with her cloak. She shivered, readjusted the cloak, then clasped her hands together to finish her prayer..Footsteps scratched the rock at the entrance. The stench of a Karith swelled into the cavern. Mior froze, cold sweat dripping down her back..A girl her age stepped into view, sword gripped tightly in her hand. The scent of the Karith invaders clung to her clothes, and blood stained her shoulder and sword arm, though it was too dark for Mior to tell if it was red or purple..Mior relaxed and gave a nod to the girl as she entered. “Zeela. Find anything?”.“Corpses. Empty orchards. Karith—got ambushed by one inside town.” Zeela sheathed the blade and grabbed a withered apple from their pitiful mound of food. She narrowed her eyes at Mior. “What were you doing? Praying
04/05/20236 minutes 1 second
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The Wait

Wind colder than the day before swarmed into the shallow mountain cavern/and bit at the exposed skin on the back of Mior&#8217;s neck that she hadn&#8217;t been/able to cover with her cloak. She shivered, readjusted the cloak, then clasped her/hands together to finish her prayer..Footsteps scratched the rock at the entrance. The stench of a Karith swelled into/the cavern. Mior froze, cold sweat dripping down her back..A girl her age stepped into view, sword gripped tightly in her hand. The scent of the Karith invaders clung to her clothes, and blood stained her shoulder and sword arm, though it was too dark for Mior to tell if it was red or purple..Mior relaxed and gave a nod to the girl as she entered. “Zeela. Find anything?”.“Corpses. Empty orchards. Karith—got ambushed by one inside town.” Zeela/sheathed the blade and grabbed a withered apple from their pitiful mound of food. She narrowed her eyes at Mior. “What were you doing? Praying to your precious Lord again?”.Mi
04/05/20230
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Saul, Also Known as Paul

Do you know the story of Paul? He was not a good guy when he was young, and he went by the name Saul. He had Christians arrested. In Acts 7:54–8:2, we see how Saul stood by in support while Stephen was being stoned to death. Saul had plans to do all kinds of bad things to the Christian people of his day. But God had other plans for him..When Saul was on the road to Damascus, a bright light shone all around and blinded him. Jesus talked directly to him and changed the course of his life..When you start to think that it’s too late for you to change after you’ve done something wrong, or that God could never forgive you, remember Saul/Paul. When you see someone else doing bad things and you start to judge them and think that God could never forgive them, remember Saul/Paul. While we certainly don’t have to approve of the wrong things people are doing, God calls us to see everyone as someone He loves, someone Jesus was willing to die for..It’s no
03/05/20234 minutes 35 seconds
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Saul, Also Known as Paul

Do you know the story of Paul? He was not a good guy when he was young, and he went by the name Saul. He had Christians arrested. In Acts 7:54–8:2, we see how Saul stood by in support while Stephen was being stoned to death. Saul had plans to do all kinds of bad things to the Christian people of his day. But God had other plans for him..When Saul was on the road to Damascus, a bright light shone all around and blinded him. Jesus talked directly to him and changed the course of his life..When you start to think that it&#8217;s too late for you to change after you&#8217;ve done something wrong, or that God could never forgive you, remember Saul/Paul. When you see someone else doing bad things and you start to judge them and think that God could never forgive them, remember Saul/Paul. While we certainly don&#8217;t have to approve of the wrong things people are doing, God calls us to see everyone as someone He loves, someone Jesus was willing to die for..It&#8217;s not too late for a
03/05/20230
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Going with the Flow

One of my favorite parts of our family vacations at the beach was boogieboarding. My sister and I picked out boogieboards with colorful designs at the store, packing them into the car loaded with our luggage. Every summer, we looked forward to bringing those boards with us on our ocean getaways, the promise of another exciting adventure on the horizon..Upon arriving at the beach, however, the tall waves cresting in the distance could be intimidating. Waiting on my board, I watched as the waves curled ever closer. It seemed like every wave was more enormous than the last. What if one rolled right over me, leaving me spluttering, salt burning my eyes? Just how far from the shore should I go—should I inch even further into the ocean, or stay closer to the sand where the waves petered out?.Ultimately, I decided to hang on, keeping my balance, remaining at the ready, then coasting with each of the waves, letting them carry me back to the shore. I discovered th
02/05/20235 minutes 3 seconds
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Going with the Flow

One of my favorite parts of our family vacations at the beach was boogieboarding. My sister and I picked out boogieboards with colorful designs at the store, packing them into the car loaded with our luggage. Every summer, we looked forward to bringing those boards with us on our ocean getaways, the promise of another exciting adventure on the horizon..Upon arriving at the beach, however, the tall waves cresting in the distance could be intimidating. Waiting on my board, I watched as the waves curled ever closer. It seemed like every wave was more enormous than the last. What if one rolled right over me, leaving me spluttering, salt burning my eyes? Just how far from the shore should I go—should I inch even further into the ocean, or stay closer to the sand where the waves petered out?.Ultimately, I decided to hang on, keeping my balance, remaining at the ready, then coasting with each of the waves, letting them carry me back to the shore. I discovered that timing was everything. In
02/05/20230
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The Best Choice

I struggle with making decisions. I have some perfectionistic tendencies, so I spend too much time thinking about choices that don’t matter much in the long run. And in the past, I’ve let myself sit in these decisions for far too long, going back and forth and seeking out every expert, trying to pick the absolute right thing. .But one thing God has been teaching me lately is that when we make the best choice of all, the other parts of our lives tend to fall into place. And even if they don’t, it’s okay. Because after we make the best choice, we can know that we are never alone..When someone becomes a Christian, they begin a relationship with God through Jesus. God is showing me that when I choose to trust Him, He gives me peace. When I surrender my control to Him, He gives me freedom. And friends, those gifts of peace and freedom change everything. As we lean into relationship with Jesus, He releases us from the burden of perfectionism. He helps us see th
01/05/20234 minutes 40 seconds
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The Best Choice

I struggle with making decisions. I have some perfectionistic tendencies, so I spend too much time thinking about choices that don’t matter much in the long run. And in the past, I’ve let myself sit in these decisions for far too long, going back and forth and seeking out every expert, trying to pick the absolute right thing. .But one thing God has been teaching me lately is that when we make the best choice of all, the other parts of our lives tend to fall into place. And even if they don’t, it’s okay. Because after we make the best choice, we can know that we are never alone..When someone becomes a Christian, they begin a relationship with God through Jesus. God is showing me that when I choose to trust Him, He gives me peace. When I surrender my control to Him, He gives me freedom. And friends, those gifts of peace and freedom change everything. As we lean into relationship with Jesus, He releases us from the burden of perfectionism. He helps us see that we don’t even have the ab
01/05/20230
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What I Want My Life to Be

Let my life, here, nowBe about You, let me follow.Let my future, each step, decision Be about You, not my own opinion.Let the air I breathe, filling me Be air from You, fresh and free.Let my heart, my plansBe about You, in Your hands.Let my goals, my dreams, my reason Be what You want for this season.Let my hurt, my misery, my pain Be healed by You as You sustain.Let my contacts, my family, my friendsBe in good standing, let me make amends.Let my trust, my beliefs, my coreBe always deeper, pressing into You more • Emily Acker.• Once we’ve put our trust in Jesus, believing He died and rose from the dead, we can know that God is always with us through His Holy Spirit, His Word, and His people. He shapes every moment of our lives. How could this truth affect the way we live day-to-day?• Consider taking
30/04/20233 minutes 31 seconds
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What I Want My Life to Be

Let my life, here, nowBe about You, let me follow.Let my future, each step, decision Be about You, not my own opinion.Let the air I breathe, filling me Be air from You, fresh and free.Let my heart, my plansBe about You, in Your hands.Let my goals, my dreams, my reason Be what You want for this season.Let my hurt, my misery, my pain Be healed by You as You sustain.Let my contacts, my family, my friendsBe in good standing, let me make amends.Let my trust, my beliefs, my coreBe always deeper, pressing into You more • Emily Acker.• Once we’ve put our trust in Jesus, believing He died and rose from the dead, we can know that God is always with us through His Holy Spirit, His Word, and His people. He shapes every moment of our lives. How could this truth affect the way we live day-to-day?• Consider taking a moment to read this poem again, and then pray your own prayer to God. .Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
30/04/20230
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When Others Hurt You

We’ve all been hurt by others. Sometimes, it’s a family member or a friend. Sometimes, it’s a stranger. When we are hurt, it can be hard to know how to react. As we deal with our pain, there are some things that can be helpful to do and some that can cause more harm..Avoid lashing out in response. Try not to do something in anger that you will regret later. It’s normal to want to repay someone by treating them the same way they treated you, but that will only cause more hurt..Instead, ask God for help and healing. Express your anger to Him, letting Him know how mad and hurt you are. When you are in deep pain because of what was done to you, you can turn to our loving God and ask Him to hold you. He loves you, and He will never leave you..Avoid isolation. You may be tempted to believe the lie that you are all alone. It’s normal to want to pull away from others when you’ve been hurt, but isolation will only make the pain worse. You might think
29/04/20235 minutes 3 seconds
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When Others Hurt You

We’ve all been hurt by others. Sometimes, it’s a family member or a friend. Sometimes, it’s a stranger. When we are hurt, it can be hard to know how to react. As we deal with our pain, there are some things that can be helpful to do and some that can cause more harm. . Avoid lashing out in response. Try not to do something in anger that you will regret later. It’s normal to want to repay someone by treating them the same way they treated you, but that will only cause more hurt. . Instead, ask God for help and healing. Express your anger to Him, letting Him know how mad and hurt you are. When you are in deep pain because of what was done to you, you can turn to our loving God and ask Him to hold you. He loves you, and He will never leave you. . Avoid isolation. You may be tempted to believe the lie that you are all alone. It’s normal to want to pull away from others when you’ve been hurt,<
29/04/20230
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More than a Playground

I am writing this from La Presa, a small town in Atenas, Costa Rica. There are mangos, star fruits, and bananas scattered across the lawn. Toucans are perched in the trees, and iguanas are sunbathing on the roof. It rains every day—a beautiful, cooling rain. We’re surrounded by mountains and tropical rainforests. There’s no air-conditioning and no hot water, but somehow everything feels incredibly fresh..While I’m here, I spend my weekdays studying ecology and ecosystem conservation at the School for Field Studies, and in doing so, I’ve been exposed to an incredible amount of literature on environmentalism. To be honest, environmentalism had never really interested me before. But as I read and learn about all sorts of methods of sustainability and conservation, I can’t help but wonder about the relationship between environmentalism and Christianity..God’s charge regarding our relationship with nature actually begins in Genesis, the very first book of the
28/04/20234 minutes 52 seconds
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More than a Playground

I am writing this from La Presa, a small town in Atenas, Costa Rica. There are mangos, star fruits, and bananas scattered across the lawn. Toucans are perched in the trees, and iguanas are sunbathing on the roof. It rains every day—a beautiful, cooling rain. We’re surrounded by mountains and tropical rainforests. There’s no air-conditioning and no hot water, but somehow everything feels incredibly fresh. . While I’m here, I spend my weekdays studying ecology and ecosystem conservation at the School for Field Studies, and in doing so, I’ve been exposed to an incredible amount of literature on environmentalism. To be honest, environmentalism had never really interested me before. But as I read and learn about all sorts of methods of sustainability and conservation, I can’t help but wonder about the relationship between environmentalism and Christianity. . God’s charge regarding our relationsh
28/04/20230
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Grammar and the Bible

What school subject do you like the least? Even though I love to write, I always loathed English class—especially grammar. Diagraming sentences, parts of speech, verb tenses... it wasn’t my thing. So imagine my surprise when I realized that what I had learned about grammar could help me study the Bible..Take Ephesians 5:18 for example: “...be filled with the Holy Spirit.” This verse is telling us to submit our lives to God and let Him fill us with His Holy Spirit..The grammar lesson here is in the words “be filled.” First, the object of this command is plural. This means that these words apply not only to a single reader or listener of this verse, but to everyone who believes! After all, Paul (the author of Ephesians) was writing this letter to the whole church in Ephesus, not just one person. So, not only does God fill each of us with the Holy Spirit individually, but He also fills the church as a whole with the Holy Spirit..Second, these w
27/04/20234 minutes 27 seconds
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Grammar and the Bible

What school subject do you like the least? Even though I love to write, I always loathed English class—especially grammar. Diagraming sentences, parts of speech, verb tenses&#8230; it wasn’t my thing. So imagine my surprise when I realized that what I had learned about grammar could help me study the Bible. . Take Ephesians 5:18 for example: “&#8230;be filled with the Holy Spirit.” This verse is telling us to submit our lives to God and let Him fill us with His Holy Spirit. . The grammar lesson here is in the words “be filled.” First, the object of this command is plural. This means that these words apply not only to a single reader or listener of this verse, but to everyone who believes! After all, Paul (the author of Ephesians) was writing this letter to the whole church in Ephesus, not just one person. So, not only does God fill each of us with the Holy Spirit individually, but He also f
27/04/20230
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Reflections

I lived in a city of mirrors. As I attempted to amble surreptitiously down the street to my destination, I nervously adjusted my mirrored glasses. Everyone wore them in the city. In fact, removing your glasses bordered on appalling..Figuring a mocha might jump-start my day, I squeezed in line at a local cafe. The girl in front of me turned, and our mirrored eyes met. The person I saw reflected back at me was anxious, fidgeting, trying to untangle a knot of hair. Too much frizz. Was that leftover breakfast in my teeth? I sighed. Who would want to hang out with me anyways? I turned my head in defeat and the girl turned away.."Everyone must see exactly what I see—a disaster!" I thought. Blinking back tears, I hurried down the street. "If only I didn’t have to look in one more mirror..." Suddenly, I saw a pair of sandaled feet blocking my path. I stopped short and slowly raised my head... I gasped. His eyes, kindness radiating from them, and smile lines that
26/04/20234 minutes 26 seconds
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Reflections

I lived in a city of mirrors. As I attempted to amble surreptitiously down the street to my destination, I nervously adjusted my mirrored glasses. Everyone wore them in the city. In fact, removing your glasses bordered on appalling. . Figuring a mocha might jump-start my day, I squeezed in line at a local cafe. The girl in front of me turned, and our mirrored eyes met. The person I saw reflected back at me was anxious, fidgeting, trying to untangle a knot of hair. Too much frizz. Was that leftover breakfast in my teeth? I sighed. Who would want to hang out with me anyways? I turned my head in defeat and the girl turned away. . &#8220;Everyone must see exactly what I see—a disaster!&#8221; I thought. Blinking back tears, I hurried down the street. &#8220;If only I didn’t have to look in one more mirror&#8230;&#8221; Suddenly, I saw a pair of sandaled feet blocking my path. I stopped short an
26/04/20230
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Part of the Same Body

Sometimes, it’s easy to become intimidated or even jealous of other Christians. "Alondra is so good at teaching—would I be a better Christian if I could teach like she can? Blake always knows how to show mercy to people—why is that so hard for me? Is it bad that I can’t lead people in worship like Jade?".God has equipped His people in so many different ways, and that’s a good thing. We don’t need to compare ourselves to other Christiansbecause we belong to the same God. It’s not a competition—we’re all on the same team. As 1 Corinthians 12 puts it, we are all part of the body of Christ. Even though different body parts have different functions, they all work together as a whole..Similarly, Christians are equipped with different spiritual gifts, but these gifts “are the work of one and the same Spirit” (verse 11). God doesn’t leave anyone out. All of us are important in the body of Christ, each of us tremendously and equally loved by God. He demonst
25/04/20234 minutes 35 seconds
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Part of the Same Body

Sometimes, it’s easy to become intimidated or even jealous of other Christians. &#8220;Alondra is so good at teaching—would I be a better Christian if I could teach like she can? Blake always knows how to show mercy to people—why is that so hard for me? Is it bad that I can’t lead people in worship like Jade?&#8221; . God has equipped His people in so many different ways, and that’s a good thing. We don’t need to compare ourselves to other Christians because we belong to the same God. It’s not a competition—we’re all on the same team. As 1 Corinthians 12 puts it, we are all part of the body of Christ. Even though different body parts have different functions, they all work together as a whole. . Similarly, Christians are equipped with different spiritual gifts, but these gifts “are the work of one and the same Spirit” (verse 11). God doesn’t leave anyone out. All of us are important in the
25/04/20230
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Not Alone

Until recently, I didn’t realize how often Paul had help writing his letters to the churches in the New Testament. I knew that God inspired and directed Paul to write these letters, but it never occurred to me that he had human help too. And Scripture spells it out clearly for us!.Skim through the first verses in 1 & 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. In each of these letters, Paul names people who helped him write: Sosthenes, Timothy, and Silas. More than half of Paul’s letters were collaborative efforts..That blew my mind! But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. God has designed us to lean on each other and work together..I see this every day in my job. I work here at Keys for Kids Ministries, editing and writing devotional content for "Unlocked." And while my name is listed at the end of this devotion, I didn’t write it alone. Even as I write this first draft, the ideas and thoughts
24/04/20235 minutes 4 seconds
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Not Alone

Until recently, I didn’t realize how often Paul had help writing his letters to the churches in the New Testament. I knew that God inspired and directed Paul to write these letters, but it never occurred to me that he had human help too. And Scripture spells it out clearly for us! . Skim through the first verses in 1 &#038; 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 &#038; 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. In each of these letters, Paul names people who helped him write: Sosthenes, Timothy, and Silas. More than half of Paul’s letters were collaborative efforts. . That blew my mind! But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. God has designed us to lean on each other and work together. . I see this every day in my job. I work here at Keys for Kids Ministries, editing and writing devotional content for &#8220;Unlocked.&#8221; And while my name is listed at the end of this devotion,
24/04/20230
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Still Learning

Have you ever had to help a toddler learn a basic task, like putting on shoes or using a fork? While the process can be cute, it can also be long and frustrating. But no matter how challenging the journey might get, when we love little ones, we know that the time spent helping them learn and grow is worth it—even if the process takeslots of twists and turns..In the Bible, Christians are often called children of God. Even as adults, we are God’s kids, and our spiritual growth and learning can be just as twisting and turning as the average toddler’s quest to grow up..As Christians, we can rest in the truth that Jesus knows we have a lot to learn. He loves us, and He won’t give up on us. We can trust Him to be patient with us and give us strength as we learn to love others the way He has loved us (1 John 4:19)..Simply put, God is always patient and loving with His children. We can know this is true because He demonstrated His love for us
23/04/20234 minutes 16 seconds
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Still Learning

Have you ever had to help a toddler learn a basic task, like putting on shoes or using a fork? While the process can be cute, it can also be long and frustrating. But no matter how challenging the journey might get, when we love little ones, we know that the time spent helping them learn and grow is worth it—even if the process takes lots of twists and turns. . In the Bible, Christians are often called children of God. Even as adults, we are God’s kids, and our spiritual growth and learning can be just as twisting and turning as the average toddler’s quest to grow up. . As Christians, we can rest in the truth that Jesus knows we have a lot to learn. He loves us, and He won’t give up on us. We can trust Him to be patient with us and give us strength as we learn to love others the way He has loved us (1 John 4:19). . Simply put, God is always patient and loving with His children. We
23/04/20230
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Litter Bug

"Ninety-eight, ninety-nine... and that makes one hundred,” I counted aloud while another volunteer added the total to the app on my phone. My family and I had volunteered to pick up trash surrounding a lake in our community. One of our tasks involved tracking the number of various kinds of items we collected in our clean-up efforts. Even before the end of our shift, my team and I had retrieved over 100 used, stubbed-out cigarettes from the ground near the lake. We knew this place needed some attention, but until we joined the clean-up crew, we hadn’t realized how carelessly it had been treated..Many of us may have noticed signs instructing us not to litter. But for those who seek to follow Jesus, our motive for caring for God’s creation goes deeper than simply following human rules..When we put our trust in Jesus, we begin a relationship with God as our loving Heavenly Father. Our lives take on a new direction; the Holy Spirit works in us so our actions a
22/04/20234 minutes 14 seconds
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Litter Bug

&#8220;Ninety-eight, ninety-nine&#8230; and that makes one hundred,” I counted aloud while another volunteer added the total to the app on my phone. My family and I had volunteered to pick up trash surrounding a lake in our community. One of our tasks involved tracking the number of various kinds of items we collected in our clean-up efforts. Even before the end of our shift, my team and I had retrieved over 100 used, stubbed-out cigarettes from the ground near the lake. We knew this place needed some attention, but until we joined the clean-up crew, we hadn’t realized how carelessly it had been treated. . Many of us may have noticed signs instructing us not to litter. But for those who seek to follow Jesus, our motive for caring for God’s creation goes deeper than simply following human rules. . When we put our trust in Jesus, we begin a relationship with God as our loving Heavenly Father.
22/04/20230
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A Worm with a Purpose

What are worms good for? Well, they help the earth breathe. As worms burrow through the ground, they let fresh air through the soil. The more they eat and digest the soil, the better it is for growing things. In little details like these, we can see glimpses of how amazing God is. The Creator has intricately woven His creation to work together, all of it bringing honor to Him..Take the sun as another example that shows us God’s goodness. It’s just the right distance away from planet Earth so we can live. If we were just a little closer, animals and plants couldn’t survive the heat. But if we were a little farther away, we couldn’t survive the cold. And that’s not all—as the Earth moves around the sun in an elliptical orbit, the seasons follow one another in splendorous order. Only God could have fashioned everything so well..The beauty and complexity of nature points to our loving God, the One who made everything and makes it all work together. And, even
21/04/20234 minutes 13 seconds
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A Worm with a Purpose

What are worms good for? Well, they help the earth breathe. As worms burrow through the ground, they let fresh air through the soil. The more they eat and digest the soil, the better it is for growing things. In little details like these, we can see glimpses of how amazing God is. The Creator has intricately woven His creation to work together, all of it bringing honor to Him. . Take the sun as another example that shows us God’s goodness. It’s just the right distance away from planet Earth so we can live. If we were just a little closer, animals and plants couldn’t survive the heat. But if we were a little farther away, we couldn’t survive the cold. And that’s not all—as the Earth moves around the sun in an elliptical orbit, the seasons follow one another in splendorous order. Only God could have fashioned everything so well. . The beauty and complexity of nature points to our loving God,
21/04/20230
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The Bigger Story: Seeing Christ Clearly

In those Dark Ages before smartphones, streaming, and DVDs, there was VHS, which is what I grew up with. Whenever I wanted to watch my favorite movies, I would pop the VHS (video home system) tape into the VCR (video cassette recorder). .While I may be nostalgic about VHS now, I would always dread when the tape would start to skip and the movie would blur into staticky incoherence. When that happened, it was my signal to clean the VCR. This whole process reminds me of spending time with Jesus in prayer..Prayer helps to clear our minds. When there’s a sense of spiritual blurriness or fuzziness surfacing inside, and we’re unsure of how to go forward, it’s time to pray. Much like how I would clean my VCR to see my movies more clearly, prayer can clear our minds so we can focus on what God is telling us. If the static of life is deafening, we can hone in on the quiet sanctuary of prayer within, listening to what God wants us to know about His love in this pre
20/04/20234 minutes 40 seconds
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The Bigger Story: Seeing Christ Clearly

In those Dark Ages before smartphones, streaming, and DVDs, there was VHS, which is what I grew up with. Whenever I wanted to watch my favorite movies, I would pop the VHS (video home system) tape into the VCR (video cassette recorder). . While I may be nostalgic about VHS now, I would always dread when the tape would start to skip and the movie would blur into staticky incoherence. When that happened, it was my signal to clean the VCR. This whole process reminds me of spending time with Jesus in prayer. . Prayer helps to clear our minds. When there’s a sense of spiritual blurriness or fuzziness surfacing inside, and we’re unsure of how to go forward, it’s time to pray. Much like how I would clean my VCR to see my movies more clearly, prayer can clear our minds so we can focus on what God is telling us. If the static of life is deafening, we can hone in on the quiet sanctuary of prayer wit
20/04/20230
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Message from a Prison Cell

Have you ever prayed and prayed for something to happen, something that you know is good and right, something that—by all logic—seems like it should happen... and it doesn’t? What then? Well, John the Baptist was in a similar situation. He knew that Jesus was the Messiah. In fact, John was the one who baptized Jesus and saw the Spirit descend on Him like a dove (Matthew 3:13-17; John 1:29-36). But John still sent messengers to Jesus, asking if Jesus was truly the Messiah. Why would he do that? Did John, of all people, have doubts?.John was in prison at the time he sent the messengers, and he had been imprisoned by Herod the tetrarch for quite some time at this point (Luke 3:19-20). And Jesus knew that John was in prison. I can see how some doubt about Jesus’s identity would creep in. I can just imagine John murmuring to himself in jail, “I know Jesus is Lord, but how could He just leave me here?”.So, what’s Jesus’s answer? He quotes parts of the Old Testa
19/04/20234 minutes 40 seconds
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Message from a Prison Cell

Have you ever prayed and prayed for something to happen, something that you know is good and right, something that—by all logic—seems like it should happen&#8230; and it doesn’t? What then? Well, John the Baptist was in a similar situation. He knew that Jesus was the Messiah. In fact, John was the one who baptized Jesus and saw the Spirit descend on Him like a dove (Matthew 3:13-17; John 1:29-36). But John still sent messengers to Jesus, asking if Jesus was truly the Messiah. Why would he do that? Did John, of all people, have doubts? . John was in prison at the time he sent the messengers, and he had been imprisoned by Herod the tetrarch for quite some time at this point (Luke 3:19-20). And Jesus knew that John was in prison. I can see how some doubt about Jesus’s identity would creep in. I can just imagine John murmuring to himself in jail, “I know Jesus is Lord, but how could He just leave me he
19/04/20230
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Motivated by Jesus's Love: Corrie ten Boom

When we see injustice in the world, what should motivate us to act?As Christians, we believe God loves every person. God revealed His love for us on the cross—the place where Jesus gave up His life. Jesus suffered more injustice than anyone, and His self-sacrificing love is what motivates us to show that same love to others. We love because we have been loved first by Jesus..This is what motivated Corrie ten Boom. As a Christian woman living during World War II, she was a part of the Dutch resistance, and she helped many Jewish people escape during the Holocaust. While earning her living as a watchmaker in the Netherlands, Corrie worked in secret with other members of the Dutch resistance to create a hiding place for Jewish refugees inside her family’s home and watch shop. Their efforts saved many people from death, but one day Corrie—and members of her family—were caught and arrested by the Nazis. Corrie was eventually released, but several of her family member
18/04/20234 minutes 31 seconds
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Motivated by Jesus’s Love: Corrie ten Boom

When we see injustice in the world, what should motivate us to act? As Christians, we believe God loves every person. God revealed His love for us on the cross—the place where Jesus gave up His life. Jesus suffered more injustice than anyone, and His self-sacrificing love is what motivates us to show that same love to others. We love because we have been loved first by Jesus. . This is what motivated Corrie ten Boom. As a Christian woman living during World War II, she was a part of the Dutch resistance, and she helped many Jewish people escape during the Holocaust. While earning her living as a watchmaker in the Netherlands, Corrie worked in secret with other members of the Dutch resistance to create a hiding place for Jewish refugees inside her family’s home and watch shop. Their efforts saved many people from death, but one day Corrie—and members of her family—were caught and arrested by the Na
18/04/20230
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What Is Treasure?

What does treasure mean to you? Is it money you save up? Is it valuables you hide in the rooms and closets of your home... or put on display for others to admire? Is it good grades, or likes on a screen? There are lots of things we can treasure. But in Matthew 6:20, Jesus invites us to a different way. He says, “Store your treasures in heaven.” But what does that mean?.Jesus explains, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth” (verse 19) where everything falls apart or gets stolen. Instead of being devoted to earthly treasure, our loving God wants our hearts to be devoted to Him (verse 24). He is our true treasure. Knowing Him is the only thing that will fill our deepest longings—He treasures us, and we don’t need to do anything to earn His love..If we’ve put our trust in Jesus, we are God’s people, and now everything we do out of love and service to Him builds on the treasure we already have in knowing Him and being part of His eternal kingdom (Ephesians 1
17/04/20234 minutes 57 seconds
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What Is Treasure?

What does treasure mean to you? Is it money you save up? Is it valuables you hide in the rooms and closets of your home&#8230; or put on display for others to admire? Is it good grades, or likes on a screen? There are lots of things we can treasure. But in Matthew 6:20, Jesus invites us to a different way. He says, “Store your treasures in heaven.” But what does that mean? . Jesus explains, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth” (verse 19) where everything falls apart or gets stolen. Instead of being devoted to earthly treasure, our loving God wants our hearts to be devoted to Him (verse 24). He is our true treasure. Knowing Him is the only thing that will fill our deepest longings—He treasures us, and we don’t need to do anything to earn His love. . If we’ve put our trust in Jesus, we are God’s people, and now everything we do out of love and service to Him builds on the treasure we alre
17/04/20230
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Breathing Prayers

Prayer has never been easy for me. It’s not that I don’t know how to pray, but it takes a lot of discipline for me to stick to praying even when I don’t feel like it. I’ve heard stories of people in the Bible and missionaries who had ground-shaking prayer lives... but that’s never happened for me. However, as I pushed through my insecurity about prayer and just started doing it, I found out that I don’t need to have all the answers. My life became so much more peace-filled when I interacted with God regularly in prayer..For me, one of the best things about praying is that I can do it anytime, anywhere. More than that, I can choose to have a constant conversation with God. This has been such a beautiful part of my walk with Him. When I’d have to make a split-second decision, I’d whisper “God, help me,” and then, often, I would have clarity. When I saw something beautiful, like a waving flower or a singing bird, I’d smile and pray, “Thank You, God.” These simple prayers
16/04/20235 minutes 2 seconds
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Breathing Prayers

Prayer has never been easy for me. It’s not that I don’t know how to pray, but it takes a lot of discipline for me to stick to praying even when I don’t feel like it. I’ve heard stories of people in the Bible and missionaries who had ground-shaking prayer lives&#8230; but that’s never happened for me. However, as I pushed through my insecurity about prayer and just started doing it, I found out that I don’t need to have all the answers. My life became so much more peace-filled when I interacted with God regularly in prayer. . For me, one of the best things about praying is that I can do it anytime, anywhere. More than that, I can choose to have a constant conversation with God. This has been such a beautiful part of my walk with Him. When I’d have to make a split-second decision, I’d whisper “God, help me,” and then, often, I would have clarity. When I saw something beautiful, like a waving flower
16/04/20230
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Confidence in God

"She must really want this job,” I told my roommate. All throughout our dorm, posters promoted a candidate for dorm treasurer who I’ll call “Millie.” Each time we entered or exited the building we spotted these well-made campaign signs..Other people were competing for positions on the leadership board of our dormitory, but nobody had plastered as many notices as Millie. I assumed she would serve well in the position because she seemed serious about taking on this role. When it came time to vote for dorm leaders, a majority of residents voted for Millie as treasurer..We paid our dues to help support fun dormitory activities, and it was the treasurer’s responsibility to maintain these funds. We hoped this money would cover an extravagant end-of-year party in May. The first semester ended in December without any special celebrations..When we returned after Christmas, we discovered that Millie had not come back to campus. She also didn’t return
15/04/20234 minutes 19 seconds
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Confidence in God

&#8220;She must really want this job,” I told my roommate. All throughout our dorm, posters promoted a candidate for dorm treasurer who I’ll call “Millie.” Each time we entered or exited the building we spotted these well-made campaign signs. . Other people were competing for positions on the leadership board of our dormitory, but nobody had plastered as many notices as Millie. I assumed she would serve well in the position because she seemed serious about taking on this role. When it came time to vote for dorm leaders, a majority of residents voted for Millie as treasurer. . We paid our dues to help support fun dormitory activities, and it was the treasurer’s responsibility to maintain these funds. We hoped this money would cover an extravagant end-of-year party in May. The first semester ended in December without any special celebrations. . When we returned after Christmas, we dis
15/04/20230
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The War Is Over

How could He just storm the gates like that?” “Do we have a plan?” “Is the war over?” Hundreds of questions attacked from all sides as we stared at the broken gate. “This was a fortress—no one should have been able to break through.” “Today we were supposed to revel in our victory!” “Didn’t we all hear the Savior cry out for the last time? Didn’t we see Him take His last breath? He was dead.” “So, how could He have broken through the gate and stolen the key?” “Not only that, but He stared us in the face and declared victory—over death itself!”.“ENOUGH! Not another word,” the Great Darkness ordered. Then the voice dropped dangerously quiet. The Great Darkness was not in the mood for questions. “Today, the Chosen One from above thinks He has won, but we will wreak havoc on all His land until the end. If we cannot defeat Him personally, we will attack that which is most precious to Him... His people.”.As we prepare for war, we can’t help but shudder. The gat
14/04/20234 minutes 41 seconds
Episode Artwork

The War Is Over

How could He just storm the gates like that?” “Do we have a plan?” “Is the war over?” Hundreds of questions attacked from all sides as we stared at the broken gate. “This was a fortress—no one should have been able to break through.” “Today we were supposed to revel in our victory!” “Didn’t we all hear the Savior cry out for the last time? Didn’t we see Him take His last breath? He was dead.” “So, how could He have broken through the gate and stolen the key?” “Not only that, but He stared us in the face and declared victory—over death itself!” . “ENOUGH! Not another word,” the Great Darkness ordered. Then the voice dropped dangerously quiet. The Great Darkness was not in the mood for questions. “Today, the Chosen One from above thinks He has won, but we will wreak havoc on all His land until the end. If we cannot defeat Him personally, we will attack that which is most precious to Him&#8230; His pe
14/04/20230
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A Grave Situation (Part 2)

"So, let me get this straight.” Petronius glared at the two Roman soldiers sitting across from him. “There was a bright light, and you were knocked to the ground, and when you got up, the seal was broken, the two-ton stone was rolled away, and the body was gone?”.“There was also a roaring sound,” Justin added. He glanced over at Lucius, who was staring at the table in silence, still in shock..“A roaring sound,” their commanding officer repeated. “Like a lion?”.“No, like scraping—” Justin stopped to think. “But yes, also like a lion.”.Petronius threw his reed pen down in frustration. “A scraping sound that roared like a lion. Do you know how crazy that sounds? Honestly, if it weren’t for the other soldiers on guard last night with similar nonsensical stories, you two would be on your way to the execution block for sleeping on the job, because this all sounds like a crazy dream!”.Justin saw Lucius cringe. “I know ho
13/04/20237 minutes 19 seconds
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A Grave Situation (Part 2)

&#8220;So, let me get this straight.” Petronius glared at the two Roman soldiers sitting across from him. “There was a bright light, and you were knocked to the ground, and when you got up, the seal was broken, the two-ton stone was rolled away, and the body was gone?” . “There was also a roaring sound,” Justin added. He glanced over at Lucius, who was staring at the table in silence, still in shock. . “A roaring sound,” their commanding officer repeated. “Like a lion?” . “No, like scraping—” Justin stopped to think. “But yes, also like a lion.” . Petronius threw his reed pen down in frustration. “A scraping sound that roared like a lion. Do you know how crazy that sounds? Honestly, if it weren’t for the other soldiers on guard last night with similar nonsensical stories, you two would be on your way to the execution block for sleeping on the job, because this all sounds like a cr
13/04/20230
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A Grave Situation (Part 1)

"Glad that business is over,” Lucius said as he tapped the base of his spear against the huge stone in front of the tomb..Justin nodded in agreement. “I just hope it doesn’t cause a revolt or something,” he said quietly so the other guards stationed nearby wouldn’t overhear..“Nah,” Lucius replied. “Did you see how many Jews were at the crucifixion? Yet only a handful of them wept. Most were screaming, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ I don’t think the Jews are going to cause any trouble over this. Their leaders were the ones who brought him to Pontius Pilate to be crucified, after all.”.“Then why are we here?” asked Justin. “Why have this many soldiers guarding the sealed tomb of a man crucified as a criminal by his own people? It makes no sense.” .Lucius shrugged. “Some of the Jewish leaders are afraid his followers will try to steal the body—something about a prophecy he made about rising from the dead. But trust me, no one’s gett
12/04/20235 minutes 52 seconds
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A Grave Situation (Part 1)

&#8220;Glad that business is over,” Lucius said as he tapped the base of his spear against the huge stone in front of the tomb. . Justin nodded in agreement. “I just hope it doesn’t cause a revolt or something,” he said quietly so the other guards stationed nearby wouldn’t overhear. . “Nah,” Lucius replied. “Did you see how many Jews were at the crucifixion? Yet only a handful of them wept. Most were screaming, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ I don’t think the Jews are going to cause any trouble over this. Their leaders were the ones who brought him to Pontius Pilate to be crucified, after all.” . “Then why are we here?” asked Justin. “Why have this many soldiers guarding the sealed tomb of a man crucified as a criminal by his own people? It makes no sense.” . Lucius shrugged. “Some of the Jewish leaders are afraid his followers will try to steal the body—something about
12/04/20230
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The Resurrection: A Historic Event

Christianity is based on faith in Jesus and the factual, historical events of His life, death, and resurrection. Because of eyewitness reports, we can know these things really happened in time and space. Without the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity would be nothing but fairy tales. It would be nothing more than humanity’s attempt to explain reality..When Jesus died on the cross, the Pharisees and the High Priest knew of Jesus’s claim that He would rise from the dead. They were afraid His disciples would steal the body and tell people that Jesus had resurrected. If that happened, everyone would follow Jesus instead of their teachings. So the Pharisees asked Pilate to secure Jesus’s tomb. Pilate gave them a Roman guard unit—soldiers from the best trained military force in the world at that time. If any of these guards fell asleep at their post, they would be executed. The Roman officials also put a seal on Jesus’s tomb. If this seal was broken, the p
11/04/20235 minutes 4 seconds
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The Resurrection: A Historic Event

Christianity is based on faith in Jesus and the factual, historical events of His life, death, and resurrection. Because of eyewitness reports, we can know these things really happened in time and space. Without the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity would be nothing but fairy tales. It would be nothing more than humanity’s attempt to explain reality. . When Jesus died on the cross, the Pharisees and the High Priest knew of Jesus’s claim that He would rise from the dead. They were afraid His disciples would steal the body and tell people that Jesus had resurrected. If that happened, everyone would follow Jesus instead of their teachings. So the Pharisees asked Pilate to secure Jesus’s tomb. Pilate gave them a Roman guard unit—soldiers from the best trained military force in the world at that time. If any of these guards fell asleep at their post, they would be executed. The Roman offic
11/04/20230
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The End of the Story

On Good Friday, many Christians remember how Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Then on Easter Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection—how He rose from the grave, defeating sin and death forever! On Monday, lots of people resume everyday life—going back to school, friends, homework, part-time jobs, sports—but Easter is not the end of the story..When Jesus died on the cross, His followers were not only saddened, but very confused. Then He rose from the dead and showed Himself to His followers, opening their minds to understand that the Messiah had to suffer on the cross and rise from the dead so that our sins could be forgiven and we could live with God forever (Luke 24:44-47). Then they finally understood and were overjoyed!.But that’s not the end of the story either. The ascension of Jesus Christ—when He was taken up to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father—finishes up the most important series of events in the universe: the Son of God died
10/04/20235 minutes 9 seconds
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The End of the Story

On Good Friday, many Christians remember how Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Then on Easter Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection—how He rose from the grave, defeating sin and death forever! On Monday, lots of people resume everyday life—going back to school, friends, homework, part-time jobs, sports—but Easter is not the end of the story. . When Jesus died on the cross, His followers were not only saddened, but very confused. Then He rose from the dead and showed Himself to His followers, opening their minds to understand that the Messiah had to suffer on the cross and rise from the dead so that our sins could be forgiven and we could live with God forever (Luke 24:44-47). Then they finally understood and were overjoyed! . But that’s not the end of the story either. The ascension of Jesus Christ—when He was taken up to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father—finishes up the
10/04/20230
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Empty and Full

Mary Magdalene pressed a hand against her aching heart. "How do I still have tears left in me?" She had been mourning for three days, along with others who were Jesus’s friends, followers, and family, but the realization was still sinking in: he was actually gone. It was dawn on the third day, and Mary couldn’t wrap her mind around it—her heart was empty, and so was the tomb. She couldn’t even anoint his body for burial; someone had taken it away.."I don’t understand," Mary wept, "You were strong enough to cast the seven demons out of me—you set me free. Why did you have to die? Why didn’t you put a stop to that crucifixion? Where are you now?" Mary clutched at the cold stone of the tomb to steady her shaking knees. She bent to peer into its emptiness once more..Mary gasped. The tomb wasn’t empty! Two angels dressed in brilliant white were sitting where Jesus’s body had been, one of them perched by the cloth that had been wrapped around her Lord’s head. T
09/04/20236 minutes 41 seconds
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Empty and Full

Mary Magdalene pressed a hand against her aching heart. &#8220;How do I still have tears left in me?&#8221; She had been mourning for three days, along with others who were Jesus’s friends, followers, and family, but the realization was still sinking in: he was actually gone. It was dawn on the third day, and Mary couldn’t wrap her mind around it—her heart was empty, and so was the tomb. She couldn’t even anoint his body for burial; someone had taken it away. . &#8220;I don’t understand,&#8221; Mary wept, &#8220;You were strong enough to cast the seven demons out of me—you set me free. Why did you have to die? Why didn’t you put a stop to that crucifixion? Where are you now?&#8221; Mary clutched at the cold stone of the tomb to steady her shaking knees. She bent to peer into its emptiness once more. . Mary gasped. The tomb wasn’t empty! Two angels dressed in brilliant white were sitting whe
09/04/20230
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