Need Some Advice?

August 2, 2020

August 2, 2020 • Emily Tenter • READ: JAMES 1:1-8

Where do you turn when you need advice? With smartphones, we carry around more information in our pockets than most people throughout history have ever had access to. But here’s the problem: our lives are not filled with identical, cookie-cutter problems. No quick video can fix our every relationship problem. No search engine can pull up articles for the exact struggles we face day in and day out. James offers a solution in chapter one of his letter to the church. He starts out by saying we all face hard times in this broken world. But he also tells us where to turn when we don’t know what to do. When we need wisdom in our lives, James gives us real hope and clarity by reminding us that God has the wisdom we need and gives it without holding back or holding it against us. Jesus isn’t stingy with His help but wants us to have what we need. To take hold of this wisdom, James explains that, as Christians, we simply need to go to Jesus and ask for it in faith. The word faith carries the concept of being proactive in seeking wisdom because we have confidence God will follow through. James points out that this confidence in Christ means we must not doubt. This is because Jesus is faithful, and we can trust Him to provide what we need. When we seek God’s wisdom, we seek it confidently—without doubting. God has given us everything we need to live godly lives in the knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 1:3). He fully equips us for life through His Word, the Bible, because it shows us the good news of Jesus and the way it affects every facet of our lives (2 Timothy 3:14-17). Therefore, let’s confidently run to Christ for His wisdom (Hebrews 4:14-16). • Phil Cox • What decisions are you facing right now? What questions do you have? • Have you talked with Jesus about these decisions or questions? • One way God gives us wisdom is through Christian friends. Who are wise Christians you can reach out to when you’re facing tough decisions? If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 (NIV)

Fully Known

August 3, 2020 • August 3, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Recently, a friend told me I walk really loudly. My other friends heartily agreed: they could always tell when it was me walking because my steps were so loud. To be honest, I was caught off guard and a little embarrassed. I’d gone twenty-two years of my life without knowing about my distinctive gait. Even though I thought I knew myself well, here was a fact I was totally oblivious to. The whole thing got me thinking though. However much my friends know about me, God knows so much more. God knows the things I know about myself—like how much I enjoy chocolate or that I love dogs (even though I’m allergic). But God also knows the things about me that I don’t know. He even knows things about me that only He—as my Creator and Savior—knows. He knows my victories and my failures better than myself or anyone else. This knowing makes Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross all the more special. It wasn’t a sacrifice for a stranger. Jesus’ death and resurrection was for someone fully known. In His love, He died for me, even when I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8). My faith is in Him for all He has done, as I rest in the fact that I am fully known and deeply loved in Christ. • Naomi Vroegop • How well do your friends and family know you? • How does that compare to how much God knows you? • When was the last time you learned something about yourself? Did it change anything? • To learn more about putting your faith in Jesus, check out our "Know Jesus" page. I [Jesus] am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. John 10:14 (NIV)

Busting Out of the Familiar

August 1, 2020 • August 1, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

How well do you know the streets around your home? As you drive by, you probably know by heart that there’s a gas station on the right and, up ahead, there’s an old blue van that’s been parked in the same spot since the beginning of time. But have you ever noticed something new on that familiar route? Maybe a neighbor painted their shutters a wild shade of avocado green, a coffee shop just took over that abandoned building, or "Wait! Did I just see a giant flamingo statue in that backyard?" If you grew up in church, learning Bible stories and verses week after week, it’s hard to find the motivation to read God’s Word. Every time you open it, you think, "I already know this story. Why should I read it again?" It all seems like the same old, same old. This may be true about other books, but the Bible is different. God’s words are “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). If you’re in Christ, you’re in a living and active relationship with the God who wrote the words. That means you’re a part of the story you’re reading—God’s story of good news and rescue. Through the Holy Spirit, you’ll see new aspects of the gospel every time you read. But, practically, how can you see these? The secret to seeing the new things God is waiting to show you from His Word is to start asking questions. Here are a few to try: • “God, will You open up my eyes to understand what Your Word says?” • “Is there anything about this passage that doesn’t make sense to me?” • “What do these verses say about the big picture of the gospel and what Jesus has done?” As you ask these questions, remember you are never alone. In Christ, you have the Holy Spirit to guide you as you seek to deepen your understanding of God’s Word (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2). • Mandy Desilets • Do you struggle to find the motivation to read the Bible? What’s the biggest reason behind that struggle? • Sometimes when we ask questions, we end up with more questions! Who is one person you could go to with your questions about the Bible as they come up? For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (WEB)

Are You Secure?

July 31, 2020 • July 31, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

"I am so stupid! How could I mess up like that? I know better. I’m just no good. I can’t do anything right!" None of us are perfect, so at some point we all think these kinds of thoughts about ourselves. And the scary part is, they’re partly true: none of us are good on our own because we all sin (Romans 3:23). But these thoughts are missing an important part of the picture. Jesus—who is fully God and fully human—made and loves us, but sin separates us from Him and leads to death (Isaiah 59:2; John 1:1-14; Romans 6:23). So He stepped down to rescue us. In His love, He died on the cross and rose from the grave so that we could be free from sin and death (John 3:16). If we put our faith in Him, we are no longer separated from Him, and we look forward to dwelling with Jesus and His people forever (Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 21:1-5). Whatever our failures are, we find true acceptance when we become part of God’s family through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection (John 1:12). When we put our trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit makes us new (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Christ—even if your failures threaten to overwhelm you and you feel like no one wants to be with you—God’s love for you never stops (Romans 8:38-39). You can talk with Him about anything you’re facing (1 Peter 5:7). Enjoy talking with Him, and reading His letter to you, the Bible (Psalm 119:76; 2 Timothy 3:15-16). No one else loves or cares for you as much as Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16). He is always ready to forgive you and help you when you mess up (1 John 1:9–2:1). When others reject you, focus on who God is and who you are in Him. If your worth comes from what others think, you will be insecure, because in our broken world, people are fickle. Jesus is always the same though, so if your trust is in Him, then you can be truly secure (Hebrews 13:8). • Hosanna Krahn • What things make you feel insecure? • What truths from today’s devotion stuck out to you? How can you remember these truths when you feel insecure? • To learn more about becoming a part of Jesus’ family, check out our "Know Jesus" page. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (CSB)