Replacing Fear with Boldness (Oct 22)

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October 22
Replacing Fear with Boldness

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 119:1-8 | Jeremiah 39:1- 41:18 | 2 Timothy 1:1-18 | Proverbs 26:1-2

Today’s Scripture Focus: 2 Timothy 1:1-18

“Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:6 NIV).

Fear keeps many of us from accomplishing the great things God has for us. We feel intimidated by others–sometimes even pushed around and controlled. We back off from doing what we know we should do. It especially affects our attempts to share the good news with others. Paul calls it a “spirit of fear,” and it is. It is one of Satan’s best tools in keeping us from being fruitful and effective in the kingdom.

Standing in the victory of Christ, we can resist the spirit of fear. Empowered by the Spirit we can find boldness in our walk with Christ, and in our witness.

Paul urged Timothy, not be intimidated, but to rely on the Holy Spirit who had given him the spiritual gifts to do the ministry he was called to. He is encouraged to “stir up the gifts given by the laying on of hands.” The key to boldness is the power of the Spirit. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31). As he empowers, anoints and gifts us he enables us to overcome our fears and accomplish the ministry he has given us to do.

God chose to use “timid Timothy” to be a bold witness and leader in the church. He often choses the “foolish things to confound the wise.” Perhaps you think God could never use you and you give in to your fears, remember Paul’s advice to Timothy and find the victory that is yours in Christ to overcome the spirit of fear and to walk in the power of the Spirit.

Remember: “He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Father, let me walk in the power of your Spirit and not in a spirit of fear. Fill me with power, love and self-discipline and enable me to be bold in testifying about Jesus. Amen.

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Money Matters (Oct 21)

moneymatters

Quote from Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

October 21
Money Matters

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 118:22-29 | Jeremiah 37:1-38:28 | 1 Timothy 6:1-21 | Proverbs 25:28

Today’s Scripture Focus: 1Timothy 6

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8 NIV).

Money can be a major stumbling block or a major blessing. The scripture has much to say about how we handle it.

On the one hand, Paul tells us, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (9-10). Clearly, loving money too much gets us into all kinds of trouble.

Instead of covetousness and greed (being consumed with making more and more), Paul suggests contentment. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Whatever our situation, we should be thankful and content. We look to God for our daily bread and to meet our needs and we learn to trust him.

But Paul also recognizes that money can be a source of blessing and an opportunity for us to bless others. He has advice for those “who are rich in this present world” encouraging them “not to be arrogant or put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us everything for our enjoyment.” He goes on to encourage them to be generous and willing to share knowing that as they do they lay up treasures for themselves in heaven.

Thanksgiving, contentment, generosity and willingness to share: these are attitudes that keep money a blessing rather than a stumbling block. Understanding that God is the source of every blessing puts all things in perspective. Our hope is not to be placed in money, possessions or things. Our hope is in God and God alone.

Father, thank you for your provision and blessing. Enable me to be a wise steward in the handling of possessions, laying up treasures in heaven rather than being consumed by the treasures of earth. Root out greed, and the idolatry of money and things. Plant generosity and gratitude firmly in my heart instead. Amen.

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My Strength and My Song (Oct 20)

mystrength

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverosn

October 20
My Strength and My Song

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 118:5-21 | Jeremiah 35:1-36:32 | I Timothy 5:1-25 | Proverbs 25:25-27

Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalms 118:5-21

“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation” (Psalms 118:14 NIV).

The Psalmist describes his situation: he feels overwhelmed, surrounded, pushed back and about to fall. Have you ever been there?

In his anguish he cries out to God. He calls Him “my helper” (6), “my strength and my song” (14).

He is “my helper.” Where there is no other place to turn, he is there and he promises to help. When I am aware of His presence, I have no reason to fear. “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (5) With God as my helper, I can anticipate a triumphant victory (7).

He is “my strength.” It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man, or to trust in Princes (8). He is the one who can “set us free” (5), “save us” (14) and help us through those times when everything seems against us. “His right hand is lifted high; His right hand has done mighty things” (16).

He is “my song.” For the Psalmist, the Lord’s intervention brought songs of joy and victory (15). God’s answer to his prayer—his intervention—caused Him to overflow with shouting and singing. He rejoices in the Lord, and the Lord is his reason for singing—the Lord has become “his song.”

What is your situation today? Remember that the LORD with you. He is your helper. He is your strength. He is your song. He has become your salvation!

Lord, when life feels overwhelming remind me that you are there as my helper, my strength, and my song. Deliver me from my troubles and put a song in my heart. Amen.

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A Good Example (Oct 19)

setanexample

October 19
A Good Example

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 118:1-4 | Jeremiah 33:1-34:22 | 1 Timothy 4:1-16 | Proverbs 25:23-24

Today’s Scripture Focus: 1 Timothy 4:1-16

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV).

Paul had mentored young Timothy and sent him out on a mission to Ephesus to stand up to some false teachers. There is some indication that he was timid by nature, so this may not have been an easy job for him. Nonetheless, he was Paul’s choice for the job. He tells him not to be intimidated by others, but instead to set an example for them.

First, he was to be an example in speech—the tongue betrays the true condition of our hearts. His whole lifestyle, too, was to set an example and was to show the reality of the truth within. He was to be an example in love—especially showing love to those who were opposing him and causing controversy. His example also was to extend to issues of faith and to purity.

Paul also urges him not to neglect his spiritual gifts. He should preach and teach and read the scriptures publicly. He cannot do this in his own power; he needs to rely on the Lord for his strength and empowering.

Perhaps you are a young person, like Timothy. Don’t be intimidated. Set an example in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. You will be a shining light to your generation—and an encouragement to us all.

Yet whatever your age, the principle rings true (Indeed, it would have been a given to Paul that we should look to the example of those older than us). We live in a day looking for people of integrity—examples we can follow. Take Paul’s advice to heart:

“Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Father God, help me to set an example to others believers in my speech, in my life, in my love, in my faith and in purity. Amen.

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The Praise of All Peoples (Oct 18)

praiseofallpeoples

October 18
The Praise of All Peoples

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 117:1-2 | Jeremiah 31:27-32:44 | 1Timothy 3:1-16 | Proverbs 25:18-19

Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalm 117:1-2

“Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him all you peoples. For great is his love toward us and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” (Psalm 117:1-2 NIV).

Why is missions important? It is important because God loves the world–all the nations, all the peoples. He longs for each nation and each people group to hear the message of good news. He rejoices as each person comes to know and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord.

All the cultures of the world with their own languages, music, arts and craftsmanship have a unique beauty. Each in a unique way shows us a glimpse of what it means to be created in “His image.” All the races, languages and cultures reflect the wisdom and glory of their creator. He finds beauty in each one and looks to the day when people from all nations will gather around his throne in heaven and all that beauty will come together to create a glorious symphony of praise:

“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9).

God loves the nations; he loves all peoples. He shows his faithfulness to all peoples. That is the primary reason why prejudice has no place in his Kingdom or in his Church. It is also the driving force of evangelism and missions–the reason we must pray, give and go.

Father, thank you for the diversity of the body of Christ. Thank you for the New Creation which breaks down barriers, eliminates prejudice and brings deep unity amidst diversity. Break down barriers and walls until we all reach unity and fill our hearts with your love. Amen.

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Devoted to Closeness (Oct 17)

devotedtocloseness

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

October 17
Devoted to Closeness

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 116:15-19 | Jeremiah 30:1-31:26 | 1 Timothy 2:1-15 | Proverbs 25:18-19

Today’s Scripture Focus: Jeremiah 30:1-31:26

“Who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?” (Jeremiah 30:21b NIV).

Jeremiah speaks the word of God to the people of Judah. He reminds them that though they will go through a time of judgment, God will not forget them. One day, he will break their bonds of oppression and bring them back to Judah. Their captivity will not last forever.

God offers them hope of a fresh start. He extends another chance to live in the blessings promised to God’s chosen people when they live according to the covenant.

One of the things he promises them is a leader like David, a man after God’s own heart; A ruler who followed God with his whole heart. “They will serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them” (9).

He describes the leader this way: “He will be one of their own; the ruler will arise from among them. I will bring him near and he will come close to me.” Then God asks a haunting question: “Who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?”

What is God looking for in his people? He is looking for people who are devoted to be close to Him. What is God looking for, especially in leaders? He is looking for leaders who are devoted to be close to Him.

God continues to look for those who walk close to him. He continues to draw near to those who are men and women “after His own heart.” Those who are devoted to closeness are those who walk closely to Him, who hear his voice and feel his heartbeat. They are the ones who can dream God’s dreams and see God’s vision. They are the ones who walk in the authority that flows from intimacy. It is a necessary quality for great leadership.

“Who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?” I want to answer, “I will.” I hope that you will answer the same.

Lord, I long to devote myself to prayer that I may grow in your grace and in knowledge of Jesus Christ. Help me to be devoted to be close to you. Amen.

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How Could We Ever Repay the Lord for His Goodness? (Oct 16)

howcouldweever

Quote from Open Up Your heart

October 16
How Could We Ever Repay the Lord for His Goodness?

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 116:7-14 | Jeremiah 28:1 – 29:32 | 1 Timothy 1:1-20 | Proverbs 25:17

Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalms 116:7-14

“How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:12-13 NIV).

I am always excited when I see God answer prayer. Especially when he does something I’ve been praying about for a long time. In such times we say with the Psalmist: “Be at rest, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.”

God is good. He is benevolent, loving and generous in his nature. He loves to do good things for his people. “I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul” Jeremiah 32:41 (ESV). He has good plans for his people (Jeremiah 29:11). He demonstrates that goodness in many ways, but especially by answering prayer.

When he shows his goodness and answers our prayers, often in ways more gracious and wonderful than we have asked or imagined, we ask (like the psalmist) “what can I do to repay you?”

The question is rhetorical, in one sense. There is nothing we can do to repay him of course. You just can’t “outgive” God. How could we even try?

Thanksgiving would be an appropriate response, and nothing in his response takes away from that, but even it just doesn’t seem adequate to express all the gratitude we feel in our hearts in such times.

So what can we do to repay him? We can “lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.” In other words, we can continue to honor him as God, not only by rejoicing in his answer (his salvation), but also by continuing to cry out to him for further answers to prayer (call on his name).

Isn’t that an amazing answer? The only real repayment is found in our continuing to come back to him again and again with our needs. When we do so, we rejoice in his goodness and honor him as God. He is glorified and his name is lifted up as we continue to call out him in prayer for even more of his goodness in continuing to answer our prayers. Our continued prayerful dependence—our longing for his continued goodness—brings him delight.

“Thanks Lord for the answer, now I lift up my cup again and call out to you for another answer to my prayers.” Isn’t he good?

Father, how can I repay you for all your goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. Amen.

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