Have you ever played the telephone game? One person whispers a sentence in someone’s ear. That person whispers it in another’s ear and so on and so on, until it reaches the last person. That person then shares the distorted mumbo jumbo that finally made it through the whispering line. Then, laughter breaks out at the nonsense. It’s hard to believe how quickly the truth can be distorted. And here’s the amazing thing. Because of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is not distorted. Its words were God-breathed through the writers God called. And, today, He guides translators and publishers as they work to bring that Word into other languages. The Bible is our source of truth because it is God’s Word, and He does not lie. But why does the Bible matter? The Bible is the truth straight from God. It is the true story of God’s work in His world—the history of the human race and our relationship with our Creator. The Bible matters because it is how we get to know our Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ. Because it is filled with the truth about Jesus, the Bible is the only place with eternal promises that never get broken (Titus 1:2). Jesus—who is God—is perfect and will not fail, even when we do (2 Timothy 2:10-13). The Bible is the grandest love story, and we are the ones loved through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. If it weren’t for the Bible, how would we know the truth and extent of God’s love? The Bible reminds us that, without Christ, we are spiritually starved. It leads us to the Bread of Life: Jesus, the only Savior from sin and death (John 6:35). • Tracie Lobstein • Throughout Scripture, God promised us a Savior: Jesus. What are some promises from the Bible that point to Him? • The world is full of partial truths and things that appear true, but God’s Word is the truth because it shows us the One who is the truth (John 14:6). As Christians, how does the Holy Spirit help us decipher lies from the truth (John 14:23-26; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16)? All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
Why Is the Bible Important?
May 23, 2020
May 23, 2020 • Andrew Stevens • READ: ACTS 10:43; 2 TIMOTHY 3:14-17; TITUS 1:2
August 6, 2020 • August 6, 2020 • Andrew Stevens
Editor’s Note: Today’s devotional reading discusses suicide. Suicide is a very real issue in our world. It’s the result of brokenness in our hearts, minds, and relationships. Satan loves to convince us that we are completely alone and without hope and that the only way out is death. Dear friends, that is a lie. You are not alone. In today’s reading, we see the psalmist feels completely hopeless and abandoned. They feel like God has left them. These feelings can seem like the truth, and if you’ve felt them before or are feeling them right now, you certainly aren’t the only one. But, in Romans 8, we find the truth: in Christ, nothing, nothing, NOTHING can ever separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:39). When Satan tries to convince you God is a thousand miles away, you can fight back against his lies with the truth: God is right there with you. He knows your hurts. He feels your pain. He weeps with you. God has no condemnation for you in Christ—because, through faith in what Jesus did on the cross, we find forgiveness for all sin we have ever and will ever commit (Psalm 103:12-13; Romans 8:1; Ephesians 1:7). If you are having suicidal thoughts, talk to a trusted Christian adult about it right away. Tell them how you feel. Seek biblical counseling. Opening up can be hard, but pray God will give you the words to say and trust Jesus—who lives in you—to give you the strength to say them. You don’t have to suffer alone. God created community for us to share our burdens together and to fight Satan’s lies for one another when we can’t fight for ourselves—so reach out to your church, to your friends, and to other trusted people in your life. As people made in the image of God, we are made for community because God lives in community; He is not alone but lives in constant relationship as three Persons in one. If God doesn’t live independently, why should we try to? We are not designed to go through hard times on our own. If you suspect your friend is having suicidal thoughts, tell a trusted Christian adult immediately. They can help you support your friend through this time and direct them to help. In the same way that we aren’t designed to go through hard times by ourselves, we aren’t designed to help others by ourselves. By leaning on God’s grace and the people He has placed around you, you can begin to heal. These feelings won’t last forever, but Jesus’ love will. And, one day, He will return to make all things new, defeating Satan and destroying death and sin and brokenness permanently. • Taylor Eising • If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also talk with someone via web chat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ • If your situation is potentially life-threatening, call 911 (or the emergency number for your area) or go to the local hospital emergency room right away. • If you need someone to talk to but are not in need of immediate help, you can set up an appointment for a one-time complimentary phone consultation with a Christian counselor through the Focus on the Family Counseling Service. In the United States, call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) to set up an appointment. In Canada, book your appointment by calling 1-800-661-9800 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) and ask to speak with the care associate. • Have you ever felt like the psalmist in today’s reading? What (or who) helped you get through that time? • Are you feeling like the psalmist right now? How can you bring your pain to God, like the psalmist does? If you feel like you can’t even pray right now, who in your life can help you bring your pain to Him? • Asking for help is hard. Often, we feel ashamed, like we should be able to handle everything on our own, but that is a lie. How can you combat that lie with the truth of God’s Word (Romans 12:9-16; 1 Corinthians 12:25-27; Galatians 6:2)? In Christ, what are some truths from Scripture you can rest in when you feel overwhelmed by the lies (Romans 8; Ephesians 1:3-14; Philippians 4:4-9; Hebrews 4:14-16)? No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39 (NLT)
God Wants Me To Do What!?
August 5, 2020 • August 5, 2020 • Emily Tenter
Aburning bush. God speaking to Moses, giving him a frightening but important calling. As you read today’s verses, you might have been thinking, "Does God still use His people in miraculous ways like He did with Moses?" Yes! In Ephesians 3:20-21, we read: “Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” God is always at work in His people for His good kingdom purposes— whether that involves a burning bush experience or just everyday ministry to others (Romans 8:28-39). But here’s the thing. When God completes His projects, He doesn’t need us to work His plan because He’s already immensely powerful (Romans 1:20)! But, in His goodness and wisdom, He chooses to use us—to deepen our relationship with Him and with others. But do we need perfection for God to use us? No! Think back to Moses: when God called him, he came up with every excuse in his brain not to go to Pharaoh. He felt like he wasn’t fit for the job, and, the truth is, we aren’t by ourselves. But, in Christ, we are a fit for the job because Jesus is with us (Matthew 28:20)! His Holy Spirit will lead us to the right paths to take (Proverbs 3:6). What’s more? In Christ, we are “holy, faultless, and blameless” (Colossians 1:21-23). That’s because He sent Jesus, who was sinless, “to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We don’t even have to worry about how we compare to others (Galatians 6:4). As believers in Jesus, we are God’s precious children, and He wants to work through us, which is possible because we are in relationship to Him (John 1:12; Ephesians 2:8-10). • Tiara Lamb • Have you seen God move through yourself or others? • Is there anything you feel led by God to do? If so, who are trusted Christians you can talk with—such as pastors, counselors, or youth leaders—to seek wisdom about what to do next (Proverbs 11:14)? For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 (CSB)
Know Your History
August 4, 2020 • August 4, 2020 • Andrew Stevens
When I visited Gettysburg for the first time, my imagination whirred to life. I wanted to know the men who fought there. I wanted to hear their stories, to comprehend their politics, to peek in at their way of life. Because the events that happened on that field directly impact the world I live in now. By understanding the past, I can better understand today. The same can be said of the many events related in the Bible. God’s Word isn’t a collection of disjointed stories. It’s composed around a framework of history. By teaching ourselves biblical chronology, we are able to place stories in context, gain a logical understanding of sequence, and see the full scope of God’s plan. Here are some broad historical markers and round dates to help you begin lashing individual stories into a sequential history. The prophets, books of poetry, books of law, and epistles all hang within this outline: • Creation, the Flood, and earliest history: Genesis • Patriarchs of the Israelite people (2000–1550 BC): Genesis • Formation of the Israelite nation (1550–1380 BC): Exodus–Joshua • Leaders of Israel up to the Exile (1380–539 BC): Judges–2 Chronicles • Return from the Exile (539–474 BC): Ezra–Esther • 400 years of silence • Birth of Christ and the early church (AD 5–90): New Testament When you use this framework as a general guide, you’ll begin to see human history as God has revealed it. You’ll also notice right away that the Israelite people figure prominently within the story He tells. That’s because He used that particular family line to reach the Bible’s (and history’s) climax—the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The next time you read from a particular book of the Bible, find out who wrote it and when. Then fit it into this rough history. You’ll soon find random stories fitting together in a comprehensive whole—one redemption story centered on Jesus Christ, the only Savior from sin and death. • Michelle Isenhoff • Can you think of more reasons why it’s important to understand biblical chronology? • Why can we view Jesus as the focal point of history? All the prophets testify about him [Jesus] that through his name everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins. Acts 10:43 (CSB)