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Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Blessing of Encouragers - Our Daily Bread Ministries daily devotion 22 September

But Barnabas took [Saul] and brought him to the apostles. Acts 9:27
The 2010 movie The King’s Speech tells the story of England’s King George VI, who unexpectedly became monarch when his brother abandoned the throne. With the country on the brink of World War II, government officials wanted a well-spoken leader because of the increasingly influential role of radio. King George VI, however, struggled with a stuttering problem.
I was especially drawn to the film’s portrayal of George’s wife, Elizabeth. Throughout his struggle to overcome his speech difficulty, she was his constant source of encouragement. Her steadfast devotion provided the support he needed to overcome his challenge and rule well during the war.
The Bible highlights the stories of encouragers who gave powerful assistance during challenging circumstances. Moses had Aaron and Hur’s support during Israel’s battles (Exodus 17:8–16). Elizabeth encouraged her pregnant relative Mary (Luke 1:42–45).
After his conversion, Paul needed the support of Barnabas, whose name literally means “son of encouragement.” When the disciples were fearful of Paul, Barnabas, at the risk of his own reputation, vouched for him (Acts 9:27). His endorsement was essential to Paul being welcomed by the Christian community. Barnabas later served as Paul’s traveling and preaching companion (Acts 14). Despite the dangers, they worked together to proclaim the gospel.
Believers in Jesus are still called to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). May we be eager to offer encouragement to help support others, especially as they face difficult circumstances.
The encouragement of a friend can make all the difference.
By Lisa Samra | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

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

Why You Need a Church Family BY RICK WARREN — SEPTEMBER 21, 2018

”[Christ’s] love has the first and last word in everything we do. Our firm decision is to work from this focused center” (2 Corinthians 5:14 The Message).
You cannot fulfill the five purposes (worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism) on your own. Life is not a solo act. You were created for community. The only way you can fulfill God’s five purposes is with people in your life who are giving you spiritual input. You need a church family!
Why? Because the church helps you center your life on God.
God didn’t put you on Earth to live a self-centered life. His purpose for you is to build your life with him at the core. You were planned for God’s pleasure. He made you to love you, and he wants you to love him back. God says, “I want to be the hub of your heart. I want to be the focus of your attention. I want to be the center of your life. I want to be the axis of your existence.”
The Bible says, “[Christ’s] love has the first and last word in everything we do. Our firm decision is to work from this focused center” (2 Corinthians 5:14 The Message).
How can you tell when Christ is at the center of your life? You stop worrying. Philippians 4:7 says, “It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (The Message). There’s a word for this: worship. Whenever you focus your life on God, that’s called worship. And worship is the antidote for worry. If you want to worry less, worship more.
When are we supposed to worship? The Bible says, “You have six days when you can do your work, but the seventh day of each week is holy because it belongs to me. No matter where you live, you must rest on the Sabbath and come together for worship” (Leviticus 23:3 CEV). God says, “Once a week I want you to come together with other believers to refocus, recalibrate, and re-center your life on me.”
Where are you supposed to do it? Acts 2:46 tells us, “They worshiped together regularly at the Temple” (TLB). For us, that means to gather at our local church—wherever that may happen to be.
Can you see that God meant for you to be a part of a church family? When you are, it helps you focus and center your life on God so that you can fulfill his purpose for you.
Talk It Over

  • Worship is the antidote for worry. If you want to worry less, worship more. This week, when you start to worry, worship and praise God instead.
  • How do you think your life would change if Christ were consistently (or more consistently) at the center?
  • How can a church family help you refocus your life on God?

Friday, September 21, 2018

Unexpected Ways - Our Daily Bread Ministries 21 September

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. John 14:9
In 1986, five-year-old Levan Merritt fell twenty feet into the gorilla enclosure of England’s Jersey zoo. As parents and onlookers cried out for help, a full-grown male silverback, named Jambo, placed himself between the motionless boy and several other gorillas. Then he began to gently stroke the child’s back. When Levan began to cry, Jambo led the other gorillas into their own enclosure as zoo-keepers and an ambulance driver came to the rescue. More than thirty years later Levan still talks about Jambo the gentle giant—his guardian angel who had acted in a shockingly unexpected way, changing his perception of gorillas forever.
Elijah may have expected God to act in certain ways, but the God of gods used a rock-shattering wind, a powerful earthquake, and raging fire to show His prophet how not to think of Him. Then He used a gentle whisper to show His heart and to express His presence (1 Kings 19:11–12).
Elijah had seen God’s power before (18:38–39). But he didn’t fully understand the One who wants to be known as more than the greatest and most fearsome of gods (19:10, 14).
Eventually, that quiet whisper found fullness of meaning in the powerful gentleness of Jesus, who said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Then He quietly allowed Himself to be nailed to a tree—an unexpected, compassionate act by the great God who loves us.
Father in heaven, please help us to find courage in Your whisper—and in the ways of Your Son. Have mercy on us for not seeing beyond Your power to a love we’ve barely begun to know.
God won’t shout if we only need a whisper.
By Mart DeHaan | See Other Authors

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Don’t Just Learn from the Bible; Remember It! BY RICK WARREN — SEPTEMBER 15, 2018

”Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body” (Proverbs 4:20-22 NLT).
The Bible says this about wisdom in Proverbs 22:17-18: “Listen, and I will teach you what the wise have said. Study their teachings, and you will be glad if you remember them and can quote them” (GNT). Notice four key verbs in that Scripture: listenstudyremember, and quote. Those are marks of wisdom.
You can’t just learn something and become wiser; you’ve got to remember it. And you can’t just remember it; you’ve got to reinforce it. Because if you don’t remember and reinforce it, you end up having to learn the same lesson over and over.
You have to retain it to remember it so you can review it so you can apply it.
People say, “I can’t remember anything!” Oh, yes you can. You remember what’s important to you. You remember what you love. You remember what matters to you.
For instance, maybe you say, “I can’t memorize the Bible.” But you remember every baseball or football statistic for the last season. Or you say, “I can’t remember the Bible,” but you can quote all kinds of lyrics to popular songs or every step to a favorite recipe or something else you care about. You remember what’s important to you.
When the truth becomes important to you, you will remember it. You will remember it and you will rehearse it and you will reinforce it and you will review it in your life. Then it can change your life.
“Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body” (Proverbs 4:20-22 NLT).
Talk It Over

  • What things do you easily remember, and why?
  • Why is it important to memorize Scripture? How have you seen the value of memorization in your life?
  • What is one thing you could do to help you memorize Scripture?

SEPTEMBER 20, No More Same Old Same Old - Joyce Meyer Ministries daily devotion


In today's Scripture, God says He is doing a new thing. As you move into the future He has for you, you will encounter all kinds of new opportunities, and challenges. The days ahead will be full of new expe­riences, things you have never done before. You may not know how to do them, but you will learn. Everything you are doing today was new to you at one time—and look, now you can do it. 
Continuing to face new challenges and develop new abilities is extremely important to your growth and maturity. As you walk with God into your future, you will hear Him say, "You have not done this before, but don't be afraid. I'm taking you to a place you have never been before. I'm going to ask you to do something you don't know how to do!" God has already been where He is leading you, and He has prepared the way. Step out in faith, and you will experience the faith­fulness of God. 
We think and say, "It's time for a change! I need something new," and then we hesitate to embrace that new thing when it comes. If you are ready for something new and fresh, don't be afraid to embrace it when it comes. 
Don't stay trapped in the past. Let go of what lies behind and press into the great future God has planned for you. I can promise you: God is with you. He will lead you. He will strengthen you. He will help you.   
Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for constantly bringing about change and new beginnings. Help me to embrace every new thing You bring into my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Where to Find Hope - Our Daily Bread Ministries daily devotion 20 September

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5
Elizabeth struggled for a long time with drug addiction, and when she recovered wanted to help others in return. So she started writing notes and anonymously placing them throughout her city. Elizabeth tucks these notes under car windshield wipers and tacks them on poles in parks. She used to look for signs of hope; now she leaves them for others to find. One of her notes concluded with these words: “Much love. Hope sent.”
Hope with love—that’s what Jesus gives. He brings us His love with each new day and strengthens us with that hope. His love is not rationed out to us drop by drop but flows out of His heart freely and is poured lavishly into ours: “We know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:5 nlt). He desires to use the hard times to develop perseverance and character and bring us a satisfying, hope-filled life (vv. 3–4). And even when we’re far from Him, He still loves us (vv. 6–8).
Are you looking for signs of hope? The Lord gives hope with love through inviting us to grow in a relationship with Him. Our hope for a fulfilling life is anchored in His unfailing love. 
I’m grateful, God, for the love You lavishly pour on me. Please bring me contentment in You and confidence in what You are doing in me.
Read Hope: Choosing Faith Instead of Fear at discoveryseries.org/q0733.
Hope is the anchor of the soul.

By Anne Cetas | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

Sometimes the truth of the gospel—that Jesus offers a new, guilt-free life for all who believe (Romans 8:1)—might feel a bit too good to be true. If all we’ve ever known is emptiness, hatred, and despair, how is it even possible to learn to live with love and hope?
It’s possible because it doesn’t depend on us. God’s love reaches deeper than our brokenness, loving us completely even when we’re far from Him (5:8). As we surrender to Him, we can experience His love and hope as the Spirit transforms every aspect of our life (vv. 3–5).

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Fitting Time - Our Daily Bread Ministries daily devotion 19 September


He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11
Yesterday I purchased an airline ticket to send my firstborn child to college. I’m surprised the keyboard on my computer still functions, given the waterworks my eyes unleashed on it during the flight selection process. I have so enjoyed my eighteen years of daily life with her that I am saddened by the prospect of her departure. Yet I wouldn’t rob her of the opportunity that lies ahead simply because I’ll miss her. At this juncture in her life, it is fitting for her to embark on a new journey to discover adulthood and explore another part of the country.
As this season of my parenting draws to a close, another one begins. It will undoubtedly bring both new challenges and new delights. Solomon, Israel’s third king, wrote that God appoints “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We humans have little control over the events of our lives—whether we view those events as favorable or not. But God, in His mighty power, makes “everything beautiful in its time” (v. 11).
In seasons of heartache, we can trust God to bring something good from them in time. Our comforts and joys may come and go, but God’s works “will endure forever” (v. 14). We may not relish every season—some are quite painful—yet He can bring beauty to them all. 
Father, You have permitted this season in my life. Help me to be content in the midst of it, and to recognize Your power and might are at work.
God brings beauty from all seasons.
By Kirsten Holmberg | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

For further study on the book of Ecclesiastes, check out this free online course at christianuniversity.org/OT224.

The Blessing of Encouragers - Our Daily Bread Ministries daily devotion 22 September

But Barnabas took [Saul] and brought him to the apostles.  Acts 9:27 The 2010 movie  The King’s Speech  tells the story of England’s...