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September 22 | Bible in a Year: Ecclesiastes 10-12; Galatians 1
A Risky Detour Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season. 2 Timothy 4:2 READ 2 TIMOTHY 4:1–5
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What a waste of time, thought Harley. Her insurance agent was insisting they meet again. Harley knew it would be yet another boring sales pitch, but she decided to make the most of it by looking for an opportunity to talk about her faith. Noticing that the agent’s eyebrows were tattooed, she hesitantly asked why and discovered that the woman did it because she felt it would bring her luck. Harley’s question was a risky detour from a routine chat about finances, but it opened the door to a conversation about luck and faith, which gave her an opportunity to talk about why she relied on Jesus. That “wasted” hour turned out to be a divine appointment. Jesus also took a risky detour. While traveling from Judea to Galilee, He went out of His way to speak to a Samaritan, something unthinkable for a Jew. Worse, she was an adulterous woman avoided even by other Samaritans. Yet He ended up having a conversation that led to the salvation of many (John 4:1-26, 39-42). Are you meeting someone you don’t really want to see? Do you keep bumping into a neighbor you normally avoid? The Bible reminds us to be always ready—“in season and out of season”—to share the good news (2 Timothy 4:2). Consider taking a “risky detour.” Who knows, God may be giving you a divine opportunity to talk to someone about Him today! By Leslie Koh REFLECT & PRAY Jesus, teach me to see the doors You’ve opened for me to share Your love, and give me the courage to tell others about You. Whom might you meet today? How might there be an opportunity to talk about Jesus? How can you go out of your way to share the good news in a bold but loving, sensitive way?
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SCRIPTURE INSIGHT Paul writes this, his last letter, knowing he’s about to die. So when he says, “I give you this charge: Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:1-2), his exhortation carries even much more impact for Timothy. Bible scholar William Hendriksen tells us that the word for preach literally means “to proclaim before the public.” That is what Paul wants Timothy to do. Significantly, Paul has a specific warning for him, signaled by the words “the time will come” (v. 3). And what will happen at that “time”? “[People] will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (v. 3). In chapter 3, Paul had instructed Timothy to hold to the truth of the Scriptures. Now, he urges him to preach those truths regardless of their unpopularity. His directive to Timothy has not lost its relevance for us today. Tim Gustafson
   

MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Missionary’s Master and Teacher

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am ….I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master…  John 13:13, 16 To have a master and teacher is not the same thing as being mastered and taught. Having a master and teacher means that there is someone who knows me better than I know myself, who is closer than a friend, and who understands the remotest depths of my heart and is able to satisfy them fully. It means having someone who has made me secure in the knowledge that he has met and solved all the doubts, uncertainties, and problems in my mind. To have a master and teacher is this and nothing less— “…for One is your Teacher, the Christ…” (Matthew 23:8). Our Lord never takes measures to make me do what He wants. Sometimes I wish God would master and control me to make me do what He wants, but He will not. And at other times I wish He would leave me alone, and He does not. “You call Me Teacher and Lord…”— but is He? Teacher, Master, and Lord have little place in our vocabulary. We prefer the words Savior, Sanctifier, and Healer. The only word that truly describes the experience of being mastered is love, and we know little about love as God reveals it in His Word. The way we use the word obey is proof of this. In the Bible, obedience is based on a relationship between equals; for example, that of a son with his father. Our Lord was not simply God’s servant— He was His Son. “…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience…” (Hebrews 5:8). If we are consciously aware that we are being mastered, that idea itself is proof that we have no master. If that is our attitude toward Jesus, we are far away from having the relationship He wants with us. He wants us in a relationship where He is so easily our Master and Teacher that we have no conscious awareness of it— a relationship where all we know is that we are His to obey. From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition Bible in One Year: Ecclesiastes 10-12; Galatians 1

Family Talk Night Light for Parents

Duration: 365 days

A NEW ATTITUDE

The lips of the righteous nourish many. Proverbs 10:21

It’s difficult to maintain an encouraging spirit when you’re overwhelmed by problems with your child. We know of a family that faced this predicament. Jenny was a three-year-old who was still acting like a child in the “terrible twos”; nearly every interaction between parent and child was marked by conflict. Yet the father decided that this was as good a time as any for a first “date” with his daughter: breakfast at a local restaurant. As the hot pancakes melted his butter, he felt his own disappointment with his daughter melting away. He began to tell Jenny how much she was loved and appreciated, that he and her mother had prayed for Jenny for years, that they were so proud of her.

The father stopped to eat, but never got the fork to his mouth. In a soft, pleading voice, Jenny said, “Longer, Daddy. Longer.” For a second time he told Jenny why she was special…and a third time…and a fourth. Whenever he stopped, he heard the words, “Longer, Daddy. Longer.”

To follow Christ is “to be made new in the attitude of your minds” (Ephesians 4:23) so that every action and word is “helpful for building others up” (v. 29). It is true with children of all ages, too. Sometimes a problem with misbehavior or rebellion can be lessened by simply taking the time to have fun together and to speak of love in very warm terms. Kids need to hear that they are respected and appreciated. And guess what—so do moms and dads.

BEFORE YOU SAY GOOD NIGHT…

Are you displaying a loving, appreciative attitude toward your kids?

What can you do this week to express this attitude to your children?

Lord, You always see the hunger for affirmation and attention and love in the hearts of our kids. Awaken us, we pray, so that we see it, too. Help us to pour out encouragement to our children as You continue to pour it into us. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Illustration adapted from Leaving the Light On by Gary Smalley and John Trent (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1994).