Adventures through the Holy Bible – Week of July 5

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God Knows…When My Faith is Shaky – Part 3   

One day, Jesus was preaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. A terrible shriek interrupted him. Everyone turned to see what caused the commotion. A madman, his eyes glaring with the fire of insanity, rushed forward, shouting, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:34).

Christ heard the man’s inner call for help. Speaking with authority, the Savior set the captive free: “Be quiet, and come out of him!” Now, his eyes beaming with intelligence and overflowing with thankful tears, the man praised God for his freedom. Everyone who observed this was amazed. They exclaimed, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”

Jesus’ authority was something new to the people. Their religious leaders depended on the traditions and teachings of others: “So and so said that…” “It’s our custom that…” But when Jesus spoke He was the absolute authority, the one who knew, the expert.

Faith Grows

Where does faith come from? How can we help it grow?

Faith is the hand that reaches out to take hold of God’s help. Paul wrote: “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith is taking God at His word. So the more we learn of God’s Word, His promises, His action in the past, the more our faith will grow. God’s Word is the surest thing in the universe. In it we learn that He loves us, that He knows better than we do what is for our good. We learn that He made us and that He is present with us. In God’s Word is plenty of evidence for our faith.

If we exercise our arm of faith, nourish it with the Word of God, it will not be a flimsy, shaky arm. It will not be weakened by the disease of doubt. With this arm, we can take hold of God’s promises, His power, His love, His gift of salvation. Anyone who trusts the Word of God can—“do all things through Christ” (Philippians 4:13). At every step, He says, “I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand…Fear not, I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13).

Where to find the story: Mark 1, and Luke 4

Your Story Hour
PO Box 15
Berrien Springs, MI 49103
1-800-987-7879
info@yourstoryhour.org

For more information about this ministry please visit their website YourStoryHour.org or listen to their radio program on OnePlace.com.

So Why Do We Suffer?

 
 
NIV DEVOTIONAL FOR MOM

Verse:  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Additional Scripture Readings:

Romans 8:28-29

1 Peter 4:12-13

 

 

What purpose does an all-powerful, loving God have in allowing suffering among the very people he created in his image and then died for? Tough question, isn’t it?

Noted theologian A.H. Strong wrote, “God can do all that he wills, but he will not do all that he can.” That helps some.

Two implications of this truth help us cope with the incomprehensible suffering all around us.

First, God’s power is always conformed to his purpose. Our God endures for a time the sinful condition of our world so that eventually he can accomplish his higher purpose of redeeming the human race.

Second, God clothes his power in love. It is in the form of a man—born in a cattle shed, walking the shores of Galilee, mocked and spit upon and killed on a cross—that God extends his power. His power never stands naked. It is always clothed with love.

God can do all that he will, but he won’t do all that he can—because his power is conformed to his purpose and clothed in his love.

This devotion is from the NIV Mom’s Devotional Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.

 
 

Prison Letter: It’s time at last to tackle the grandest question of all

 
BIBLE STUDY FOR STUDENTS
 

Verse: Ephesians 2

Ephesians 2:22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Some of the world’s most famous literature originated in, of all places, a prison cell. John Bunyan wrote his Pilgrim’s Progress there. Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s vast output had its conception behind barbed wire, as did Dostoyevsky’s. Parts of the Bible were written in prison as well, including Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.

Perhaps surprisingly, these books represent some of the brightest, most hopeful books of the Bible. There’s a good reason: Prison offers Paul the precious commodity of time. He is no longer journeying from town to town, stamping out fires set by his enemies. He can devote attention to lofty thoughts about the meaning of life.

Looking Up

 

 

A prisoner who survived 14 years in a Cuban jail tells how he kept his spirits up: “The worst part was the monotony. I had no window in my cell, and so I mentally constructed one on the door. I ‘saw’ in my mind a beautiful scene from the mountains, with water tumbling down a ravine over rocks. It became so real to me that I would visualize it without effort every time I looked at the cell door.”

The letter to the Ephesians gives a hint as to what the apostle Paul “sees” when he lets his mind wander beyond the monotony of his place of confinement. First, he visualizes the spiritual growth in the churches he has left behind. Most of his prison letters begin with a burst of thanksgiving for the vitality of the church he is addressing. Then, as he spells out in Ephesians, he seeks to open the eyes of their hearts (see Ephesians 1:18) to even more exalted sights.

Cosmic Questions

Ephesians is full of sensational good news. Unlike Paul’s other letters, Ephesians does not address any urgent problems. With a sigh of relief, the apostle turns to the grandest question of all: What is God’s overall purpose for this world? Paul answers the question this way: “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1:10). He raises the sights far above his own circumstances to bigger issues, cosmic issues.

Ironically, it takes a stint in prison to free Paul up for this happy endeavor. The book of Ephesians can hardly introduce a new thought without bursting into a song or a prayer. It is no wonder the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge would later call the book “the divinest composition of man.”

Life Questions

What do you find most encouraging about Paul’s joyous message?

This devotion is from the NIV Student Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.

 
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