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Our 365 Daily Readings and Devotionals for 2018

July 23

House Rules
by Kevin Clark
 
It is “game night” with friends, and to your dismay, you find yourself at odds over the rules. The rules to the game you know well have been altered. Suggesting an examination of the original rules are quickly dismissed as they insist on following “house rules.”
In our reading today, Jesus is being questioned about rules. To the surprise of the self-appointed rule monitors, He instead challenges the accusers. He said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.” (Mark 7:9 NLT) He questions the condition of their heart by insisting, “it’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.” (Mark 7:15 NLT)
My wife would identify this condition as “corrupt perception.” They are rule followers who haven’t properly evaluated the sin in their own heart. It is certainly not pleasant to have motivations of the heart examined. But eternity weighs in the balance. Jesus is not only the “judge of our soul” He is also “the lover of our soul.” Surrender to His saving rebirth of your heart and allow the beauty He brings to spring forth.

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July 21

“The Bread of Life”

by Tom Willey

John 4:22-40

To quote Oprah, “I LOVE BREAD.”

Carbs in general – ask my wife – I could pretty much eat spaghetti for dinner every night and be a perfectly happy man.

Pasta, rice, breads – yup, all good. Granted, maybe not so good for my waistline, but tasty and satisfying.

Bread has that kind of universal appeal – virtually every culture throughout history had it as a staple. It was the base of the food pyramid we learned in school – heck, loaves of bread have even been found buried in the actual pyramids!

Why bread? As I said earlier: it is satisfying – it fills you up. 

I’ve tried those no carb diets.  I remember going out to dinner and eating a huge steak with a side of broccoli but no carbs,  and you know what? It felt like something was missing – it may have been “filling,” but it wasn’t fulfilling.

Jesus knew this about us, which is why he used bread as an analogy for himself. If you look around, you can see the world trying to stuff themselves silly with all kind of things to get some feeling of spiritual fulfillment, and like that steak and broccoli, they end up stuffed but not satisfied, and, in the end, they are often more miserable than when they started.

God created us to hunger after Him – He is the fuel we run on – He is supposed to be our staple and base of our spiritual food pyramid. If we are not in a relationship with Him, then we are not doing the very thing we are created to do, and therefore will stay hungry, unsatisfied, unfulfilled.

Is Jesus your bread?


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July 20

Powerful Compassion in Our Panic

by Alana Willey

Matthew 14:13-36https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+14%3A13-36&version=NLT

Have you ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner?  It can take days or even weeks to plan and prep for the meal, and that is just for our individual families. 

I can only imagine the sheer panic the disciples may have experienced, looking at thousands of hungry families, when Jesus nixed their suggestion that they send the people away to buy their own food.  “That’s not necessary.  You feed them,” Jesus said.  What?  Not even a potluck for a crowd this size?

True, the disciples themselves couldn’t feed 5,000 plus people with the meager resources they had.  Only through God’s power is the impossible possible.  But what stands out to me is not simply the power of Jesus, but His divine compassion that goes along with it.  He had compassion not only for the crowds of sick and spiritually dying, but for his followers who were at a loss on how to solve the problem, providing them a solution that they never could have dreamed of.

Later in the text, he had compassion for Peter who, because of his panic, was starting to falter after initially walking on water, catching him and saying, “Take courage!  Don’t be afraid.” 

Next time you feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges and your apparent lack of resources or abilities, know that Jesus has compassion for what you are going through. Remember, Peter and the disciples were only able to do the impossible when they kept their eyes on Jesus and stopped being terrified of the situations and storms around them.


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July 19

Fake News

by Andy Avalos
 

At some point in our lives, we’ll be faced with the choice of telling the truth and sometimes telling the truth carries consequences. Sharing the truth can be challenging. I’m surprised how easily people will accept a lie over the truth. It takes guts to tell the truth.  John the Baptist shared a simple truth, and it cost him his life. Sharing the truth may not cost us our life, but are we willing to be ridiculed or judged for sharing the truth? Jesus praised John the Baptist, and surely he will receive his reward in God’s Kingdom.

Fake news is everywhere. It’s hard to believe anything these days. But one truth will never change…the truth that’s in the Word of God.

Man continues searching for satisfaction and peace that can only be found in Jesus Christ. “For whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.”

A simple truth that needs to be shared.  Are we willing to share the truth about Jesus Christ?


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July 18

Life is a Song

by Valery Dierdorf

 

Excuse me, if you know much about me, you’ll know I think in musical lyrics a lot of the time. I speak in lyrics or answer with a song lyric. I really have to guard myself in some surroundings. So that being said, I have the perfect song in my head for this passage!

And, yes, I do hope you look it up and listen to it on YouTube. I’ll give the title at the end.

This is an interesting passage that really is divided in four sections.

  1. Persecution will come…oh, joy! Then the instructions come. Although I’m sending you out like sheep in the middle of the wolves, be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. The world will not be your friend. The key here is V.19 & 20. Do not be anxious about what you will say, for it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you! And even when you are hated for my name’s sake keep spreading the word.
  2. Don’t be afraid…the truth will be brought into the open. Proclaim the truth loudly. And don’t be afraid of those who can kill your body and not your soul, but fear those who can destroy both soul and body in hell. V. 30 reminds us even the hairs on our head are all numbered. He doesn’t give an estimate, he knows exactly the number, and if he sees the sparrow fall from the sky he again reminds us we are more valuable. I think he has our backs!! And he encourages us to talk about him and his love to those around us because if we do, he will acknowledge us before his Father in heaven. Remember, the other is true also. If we deny him here, he’ll deny us in heaven.
  3. Peace vs Sword…we often like to think that Jesus came to give us peace and joy and a spiritual Disney. The happiest place on earth! Although his gifts and grace and mercy and patience are amazing every day we have to also look at V34-39, and I believe it is speaking about being wise knowing that Satan will use those closest to us at times to discourage and divide and conquer the children of God. When you choose to serve God and give him your life and make him Lord, he must be first no matter what. No matter who! See V.39 sums it up by saying,” Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for MY sake will find it”. Set your eyes on the eternal reward.
  4. Rewards…oh, now this is always fun to talk about. Based on the previous scriptures if we have our focus set correctly on him, and he’s reassured us we can have the Spirit’s wisdom and he’ll be with us, then we can move with confidence towards the reward.

Reward 1-whoever receives you, receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.

Reward 2-the one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.

Reward 3- he who receives a righteous person will receive his reward.

Now this is exciting because I’d like to remind you to think of every scripture you can on how we are to treat children. I’d also like to remind you of how God placed this church right by a school bus stop. Now read the next reward.

Reward 4- and whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by NO means lose his reward!

Now to my song simply titled, “Send Me Out”, by Steve Fee.

 


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July 17

“Blue in the face”

by David Voight

Mark 6:1-13

Have you ever heard the term, “argue till you’re blue in the face”?  Seems like a strange saying when you’re a little kid, but my mom would use that expression about me to describe how stubborn I could be. She would argue with me till she was blue in the face. Funny, I don’t remember her turning blue but I sure remember red!

In today’s reading, we see Jesus trying to convince the people he grew up around who he was. But in his frustration, he had a hard time understanding their disbelief.

What strikes me as so interesting are the instructions that he gives to his disciples as they head out to spread the gospel. His instructions for their food, clothing and lodging are such that the example they show would always point to their faith in God to provide their needs.  But it isn’t the details about what they should or shouldn’t bring that grabs my attention.  It’s what Jesus says to the disciples in verse 11. “But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”  It’s not our job to argue with someone until we’re “blue in the face.”  It’s our job to tell God’s story and for the Holy Sprit to do the job of conviction.  Don’t let our frustration get in the way of God doing His will.  Share the Good News and rejoice with those that accept it.  For the others, be prepared to walk away.  It may seem harsh, but we have a job to do.  Stay focused on the task at hand and don’t “get blue in the face.”


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July 16

Seeing is Believing

By Jason Akers

Matthew 9:27-38

 

A few practical things we discover in these verses:

Blind men followed Jesus.

These men heard the good news that there was a healer in their community. They sought Him, they found Him, and they followed Him. The saying “seeing is believing” could not apply to them for they were blind. They simply believed, and they simply followed.

Are we people who believe in Jesus? Do we follow Him even if we are hurt, in pain, persecuted, abandoned by family/friends, or any other tragedy, perhaps blindness all of our lives?

Do I blame God for my problems or do I seek/follow Him? These men followed Jesus. Am I as courageous?

Are we this persistent? Do we easily quit? Are our prayers heard, yet we reject the Savior thinking He never heard us?

Blind men came to Jesus.

He did not say “What do you want?” He had already heard their cries. He knew their request. He proves this by asking them His authority in their life.

He asked “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Their quick response was “Yes, Lord.” Do we place the same amount of trust in Jesus? Or, do we reserve our trust for ourselves, our parents, our pastor, our leaders, our boss, our best friend, really good book/author, culture to evolve etc.

Today I will follow Jesus.

I will cry out to Jesus.

I will be persistent. (even when life ‘feels’ unfair.)

I will come to Jesus. (even when I ‘feel’ like He went in the house, ignoring me.)


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July 14

Who wants to go fishing!?

By Michael Dunn

Matthew 13:47-50

I don’t know about you, but I love to fish. The kind of fishing I love to do is more of a pleasure fishing. You know, sitting on a dock or a boat, casting a line in the water hoping for a bite but knowing it’s not the end of the world if you come home empty-handed. The fishing we read about today is not pleasure fishing, it’s work!

The net here is a seine net, or a dragnet. It is different from a casting net. A dragnet is a special kind of net that’s fitted with floats along the top while weights were placed on the bottom so that when it goes into the water, it would spread out.

This type of fishing has good and bad aspects to it. The good is you could catch lots of fish within a small period of time. A downside to this fishing was the fishermen could not be selective while catching the fish. They would return to the shore with their mixed catch, and they would spend the time sorting out the good fish from the bad fish.

There are some really deep concepts in this parable, but I’m going to keep it simple. Just like the fishermen kept the good fish and threw back the bad fish; when Christ returns for the final time, angels will do this to the human race. Now that may sound scary, but if you are a follower of Christ, you are a “good fish”. That being said, what kind of fish is your neighbor, coworker, or friend? The reality is this will happen someday, and, until then, let’s go fishing!

 


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July 13

Hidden Treasure

By Kristen Clark

Matthew 13:44-46

 

Rumor has it that the family who previously lived and worked on our property hid some form of treasure somewhere on our land. Of course, our girls love to run with this story and have created archeological digs all over the yard! To find “the treasure” in your own backyard is their ultimate dream!

If you are already a Christian, then you possess the ultimate dream, the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a treasure so worth the cost that we should no longer desire the world’s treasure, but we should seek after the Kingdom, above all else. In verses 44 and 45, we see two men who are willing to sell everything they own just to acquire the treasure in the field, the pearl, the Kingdom of Heaven.

What are you willing to do so that you can live fully for the kingdom? Have you accepted the treasure that is being offered?


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July 12

Radical

by Kevin Clark

Mark 4:1-29

“Everything in moderation” seems like a wise rationale, and it has

certainly become a popular mantra. A little of this and a little of

that. Balance in all things might really be dabbling but never fully

committing to anything. What if that limited approach rationalization

was really doing us harm?
 

In today’s passage, Jesus is teaching through the story of a farmer

planting seeds. This story is repeated in the gospels and is well known

but not always understood. Often the modern reader is threatened by the

implications of the story and misses a wonderful truth. I am grateful

Jesus clearly explains the meaning. He taught His disciples that, “the

farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others.” (Mk 4:14) The person

who listens casually or is distracted by the cares of this world loses

the opportunity to grow in their understanding. A few verses later,

Jesus says, “pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you

listen, the more understanding you will be given–and you will receive

even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will

be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little

understanding they have will be taken away from them.” (Mk 4:24-25)

The productive nature of the good news grows in a fertile heart fully

inclined to listen. Our understanding increases as we set aside the

moderate approach to our faith journey and instead fully devote

ourselves to hearing and understanding the teaching of Jesus. Moderation

is dangerous. Live a radically fully devoted life of faith and allow the

teachings of Jesus to grow to full maturity in you.

Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Mk

4:14,24-25). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.


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