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Bible Minute

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Mar 18, 2013

Topic: Jesus

Who Am I?

In a hospital waiting room, one rather self-important individual became impatient. Unwilling to wait any longer, he barged in and demanded to be seen by the doctor. "Don't you know who I am?" shouted the man.

The secretary calmly pressed the button on the microphone of her loudspeaker system and asked the waiting patients. "I have a gentleman here who doesn't know who he is. Can someone please assist him in finding out? Thank you."

Surprisingly enough, many people today don't know who the real Jesus is. Some think He is a great prophet, a wonderful teacher or just a kind and thoughtful man. But are they right? Let's let the Bible assist us in finding out.

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"He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'" (Matthew 16:15-16, ESV).

"And demons also came out of many, crying, 'You are the Son of God!' But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ" (Luke 4:41, ESV).

"Jesus said to her [Martha], 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world'" (John 11:25-27, ESV).

Whom do we find in these verses acknowledging Jesus as the Christ?

In addition to being Christ, what else do they confess about Jesus?

Because He is the Christ, what promise do we find Jesus making in John 11:25-27?

Reflect

Christians can disagree on many things and not affect their salvation. They can disagree about the day of worship, the mode of baptism (immerse, sprinkle or pour) or the timing of the Rapture (pre, mid or post). But we'll all get to heaven. What we can't disagree on is who Jesus is. It is because Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) that He can say, "Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die" (John 11:26).

From before the foundation of the world, God planned on sending His Son as the Messiah (see Revelation 13:8 )--the one who would reconcile sinners with the Father (see 2 Corinthians 5:19). A great prophet, a wonderful teacher, a good man would not be sufficient because all have sinned and fall short of God's perfection (see Romans 3:23). Not even an angel would be good enough (see Job 4:18-19). It took Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, to accomplish our salvation.

Respond

Who do you say Jesus is? Are you confessing Him with your life as well as your lips? List three facts about your life that indicate you truly believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Mar 19, 2013

Topic: Salvation

Trust the Promises

Have you ever heard someone use the expression, "The honeymoon is over"? Whether referring to an actual honeymoon or not, it's that time after the emotions of something new have worn off and the routine of life sets in.

Many new Christians experience the same thing. When they first trust Jesus and His promise of a new life and eternity with Him in heaven, it is a wonderful, joy-filled time. But that joy often fades eventually and newborn Christians are left wondering, "Am I really saved?"

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As we look at what God says about this in the Bible, let's first notice what He doesn't say. The Bible never says that our emotions are an indication of our salvation. Your new birth as a child of God is as certain as your first birth as a human being. How you feel doesn't change that.

So, now that the honeymoon is over, can you be certain that you are saved? Absolutely. Here's what John wrote in his first letter. "Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself....And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:10-12, ESV).

Ask a married couple how they can be certain they are married, and they'll point to their anniversary date. Ask a Christian how they can be certain they are saved, and they can point to the time they trusted in the promises of Jesus. Your salvation doesn't depend on what you feel today, it depends on what Jesus did in your life on the day you believed.

Let's look more at what this means for us today, and how we can respond on days when we feel uncertain.

Reflect

As you read our verses for today, think about the following questions:

1. Describe the "testimony".

2. Where is the "testimony"?

3. What do you have when you have Jesus that you don't have when you don't?

4. What would it say about God if our salvation could somehow be lost?

5. In what ways should your salvation be evident in your life?

6. How can you respond when you don't "feel" your salvation?

Respond

It's true, there are a lot of married couples out there who are married in name only--they feel nothing of the love they once held for each other. In our relationship with God, it's a bit more one-sided. God's love and God's care for us never waver, but sometimes we drift away. Maybe you're just having a bad day today but looking over the last week or month, how much of your time have you spent with God? What are some ways you can draw nearer to Him in the coming days? Write out an action plan to do just that.

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Mar 20, 2013

Topic: Salvation

Eternal Life

Outside the head office of the White Star Line in Liverpool after the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic sank two lists were posted. The lists were not divided between "British" and "Other Nationalities" or by prominence and obscurity or by wealth, race, gender or reputation. On one list were the names of those who had died, and the other list reported the names of survivors.

The Bible says that God also divides the people He created into only two lists: those who are alive in Christ, and those who perish for eternity.

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"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15, NLT).

Who was seated on the throne according to verse 11?

Who was standing before the throne?

What was opened?

Who was judged by what was written in the books?

What happened to someone whose name was not in the "book of life"?

How can you find your name written in the Book of Life so that you will be in heaven with Jesus? The Bible teaches us:

"For it is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day" (John 6:40, NLT).

"And anyone who believes in God's Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn't obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God's angry judgment" (John 3:36, NLT).

"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life" (John 6:47, NLT).

Who has eternal life?

Whose will is this?

What must someone do to have eternal life?

Reflect

I cannot think of anyone who would not want to be on God's list of those who will live for eternity. Can you? Could you think of one reason that someone would willingly face the consequences?

Respond

Do you have the certainty of eternal life in Christ? He is the only One in all creation who can assure you of life everlasting. Jesus does not have the answer. He, and He alone, is the answer.

"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me! (John 5:39, NLT).

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23, NLT).

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Mar 21, 2013

Topic: Faith/Trust

Facing Problems God's Way

When Jesus called His disciples, He knew the tremendous odds they would face in their future. He planned to send them into the whole world to preach the good news of salvation. They would be scorned, slandered, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and killed for their faith.

The Lord, therefore, spent much of His earthly ministry training the disciples to trust in Him. Living by faith was something they would all have to do. Furthermore, the very heart of the message they would one day proclaim to the lost world was that belief in Jesus Christ is essential for eternal salvation.

The same is true for believers today. Let's see what God tells us in His Word.

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Read John 6:1-7 (ESV): "After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, 'Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?' He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, 'Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.'"

Why was the huge crowd following after Jesus?

What did Jesus ask Philip?

Why did He ask the question?

Was Jesus interested in Philip's answer or his attitude?

Do you believe Philip's answer was based on the circumstances or his faith? Why?

Did Philip give the answer that Jesus was looking for?

Read Hebrews 11:6 in your Bible. Why is faith so important?

After listening to Jesus teach some difficult lessons on life, what was the response of the apostles (Luke 17:5)?

Reflect

Faith is not a vague thing. It must have an object. You trust a chair when you plop down in it. You have faith that it will hold you without breaking. It is trustworthy. Saving faith is also based on two absolutely trustworthy objects: One is the revealed, written Word of God, the Bible; the other is the person of Jesus Christ, the one and only Savior. Faith for the Christian life is necessary not only for the big challenges but also the daily routine.

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13. With what attitude did the believers in Thessalonica accept the Word of God? What does it do in those who believe?

See Galatians 3:26. What is necessary to become a son of God?

Respond

Read the great "Faith Chapter" in the Bible--Hebrews 11. As you meet each person in this "Hall of Fame of Faith," ask yourself, Did this person base life's decisions on circumstances and visible facts or on the living God?

How do you live your life? Do you feel like Philip and say, "It just can't be done"? Or do you trust the Lord, who already knows what He is going to do?

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Mar 22, 2013

Topic: Faith/Trust, Bible Study/Theories

Memory Loss

Do you have a problem with short-term memory loss? I don't mean the glitches that come with (gulp!) getting older; I mean the kind of memory loss that affects your faith, the kind you get when stressful circumstances make you to forget everything God has already done. Let me give you an example.

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One of Jesus' disciples was a man named Philip. When he first met Jesus, he was eager to go when Jesus said, "Follow Me" (see John 1:43-45). Philip's willingness showed significant faith. But later, in a crowd on a hillside, Philip didn't exhibit the same trust in the Lord. Let's see what happened.

In John 6:5-7, we read, "Lifting up his [Jesus'] eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, 'Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?' He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, 'Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little'" (ESV).

Philip saw the crowd, knew the limits of their grocery budget and promptly forgot all the extraordinary things he'd seen Jesus do (or knew Jesus did). Flip through John 1-5 and look at the power Jesus had already demonstrated: the power to read the heart of a man (1:46-51); the power to turn water to wine (2:6-11); the power to cleanse the temple (2:13-17); the power to offer living water and changed lives (4:7-41); the power to heal at a distance (4:46-54); and the power to make the lame walk (5:1-17).

Yet somehow, when the circumstances grew beyond his comfort level, Philip forgot all he'd learned about Jesus.

Now, Jesus had a reason for asking Philip that question that day on the hillside. John 6:6 tells us, "He [Jesus] said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do" (ESV). He wanted to help Philip understand where his faith needed to grow. Would Philip put his faith in Jesus who had the power to do all things? Or would he be defeated--and forget all Jesus had done in the past--because of the circumstances?

Well, you can read the rest of the story to see how it all worked out. But Philip failed this test. He failed to take everything he knew about Jesus and apply it to this new situation.

Like Philip, we should apply the lessons that past trials have taught us about the Lord and His power to each new challenge. That's the way faith works. Each test and learning experience increases faith. And whenever it's exercised, it expands and grows.

Reflect

Hebrews 11 recounts examples of people whose faith was tested by their circumstances. Read Hebrews 11:7-40 and jot down some of the people and the circumstances you find there.

What's the common description or action you see in their stories?

Where did they place their faith?

What did they receive from God?

Hebrews 12:2 describes Jesus as "the founder and perfecter of our faith" (ESV). How does that provide solidity or certainty to your faith?

Second Corinthians 5:6-7 says, "So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight" (ESV).

How did Philip walk?

Which way of walking best describes you?

How does faith give you courage?

Respond

When the circumstances of your life overwhelm you, do you have trouble remembering what God has done for you in the past? Does your faith falter because it feels like Jesus' power has "expired" or it's inadequate for the job?

Instead of living by sight as Philip did, follow the example of Andrew in John 6:8-9: "One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 'There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?'" (ESV). Andrew saw the same situation Philip did, but he took what was at hand and offered it to Jesus, to do whatever He would with it. Andrew recognized that Jesus had the power to do a lot with even a little. That's faith.

So, what do you already know about Jesus? What have you seen Him do in your life?

How can you apply that knowledge, in faith, to your present circumstances? When you do that, you're exercising your faith, giving it a chance to grow and not succumbing to short-term memory loss.

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Mar 25, 2013

Topic: Faith/Trust, Christian Living/Situational

Tested for Strength

Vance Havner observed: "How long you've been a Christian tells you how long you've been on the road, but it doesn't tell you how far you've come."

How can you tell how far you've come in your walk with Jesus--how much you've matured and grown in your faith? You might not like the answer.

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"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12, NASB).

That's what the Bible says. It teaches that often the ordeals and trials we experience are tests of our faith. Read on.

"These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world" (1 Peter 1:7, NLT).

Reflect

Reread 1 Peter 4:12 and 1 Peter 1:7; and then answer the following questions:

1. What are we not to be surprised about?

2. Why will we face trials?

3. What will be the result if our faith remains strong?

4. When will we see that result?

5. Are you facing a "fiery trial" right now? Indicate what it might be.

6. In what ways has this trial surprised you?

Respond

Since God's Word says your faith will be tested, consider how you can prepare for the trials you will face. Look at the instructions given by the apostle Paul below:

"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm" (Ephesians 6:13, ESV).

Discover how to take up your armor by studying Ephesians 6. Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. List the various components of your armor in one column and; in the other, list what that part of armor is used for.

Since the best time of preparation is before the testing comes, and you don't know when that might be--right now is the time to begin.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Mar 26, 2013

Topic: Christian Living/Situational

It's Your Personality, Not an Excuse

I've met, and gotten to know, a lot of people in my life so far. Some remind me of others I know, but all of them are unique. That's never more evident than when comparing personalities. I tend toward the introverted side of the spectrum. I enjoy working with others but have a hard time just socializing. Other people I know are different and opposite and mostly the same and partially alike.

But whatever our personalities, I've learned that we can miss some golden opportunities to grow in our faith when we make our personality our excuse.

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Philip, one of the twelve disciples passed on a wonderful opportunity to introduce some Gentiles from Greece to Jesus. We can read about it in John 12. "Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus" (vv. 20-22, ESV).

It's hard to find fault with Philip here. It's easy to read these verses without noticing that something went wrong because, really, nothing did go wrong. Philip wasn't wrong for talking to Andrew. For all we know, Philip had a perfectly legitimate reason for going to Andrew first. But it makes you wonder, Did Philip miss an opportunity to grow in his faith?

For some people, it's easier to work in the background, away from the spotlight. For others, the spotlight is all they know and stepping out is the hard thing to do. But some of the best opportunities to grow in faith occur when we allow God to pull us out of our comfort zones--when we trust in Him and not ourselves.

Yes, your personality is a defining aspect of who you are. But don't let it become the excuse that holds you back from knowing more fully the love and provision of God.

Reflect

As you read through the story of Philip's encounter with the Greeks, think about the following questions:

1. How would you have responded in Philip's situation?

2. How might Philip had grown in his faith if he had gone straight to Jesus?

3. What opportunities has God placed in your life for you to grow?

Respond

Try to remember the last time you had to do something that you weren't comfortable doing. Spend some time writing about how you felt; write down some of the arguments you may have directed at God. And then ask God to show you how He used that opportunity to grow you. Praise God for the work He's done in your life.

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Mar 27, 2013

Topic: Faith/Trust

Faith Walk

Many places are set aside to honor people who have made outstanding achievements especially in sports. There is the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts; the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana; the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Then there's the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in Indianapolis, Indiana; the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island; the NFL Hall of fame in Canton, Ohio, and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

But the most important Hall of Fame is not found in any of these places. It's found in Hebrews 11. It's called "God's Hall of Fame." Let's see what it takes to become a part of this hall of fame.

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"By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."

Hebrews 11:5-6 (ESV).

How did Enoch qualify for God's Hall of Fame?

What is necessary to please God?

What two beliefs are essential to draw near to God?

Reflect

Many athletes spend years of hard work and sacrifice hoping some day to be honored by being included in their sport's hall of fame. While athletic excellence is the qualification for these earthly halls, the Bible tells us that it's faith that will earn us a spot in God's Hall of Fame. How, then, can we develop the faith that earns us this honor? Consider the verses below:

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17, ESV).

How does faith come?

What are we supposed to "hear"?

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13, ESV).

What must we do keep our faith growing?

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6, ESV).

How is this faith shown?

Respond

Enoch walked with God by faith; we are to walk the same way. Second Corinthians 5:7 says, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." What circumstance in your life is requiring that you "walk by faith"?

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Mar 28, 2013

Topic: Salvation

Beyond the Facts

Suppose a friend gives you a book about Abraham Lincoln. You're happy to get the book because you've really wanted to learn about such a great man. So, you read the book and devour all the facts that you can about Lincoln. But you feel something is missing. You check other books out of the library and watch some biographical movies hoping that you can get to know Lincoln better. Then, one day you realize you will never perfectly know Lincoln as he really was because he died early in the morning on April 15, 1865. To truly know him, you would have to meet him personally.

Some people read the Bible like that. They search the Scriptures to find the facts about Jesus Christ because they want to know all they can about Him. They learn that the Old Testament foretells His coming and the New Testament reveals Him. They read the book, but they never meet the Savior who, unlike Lincoln, arose from the dead, is living and may be known today personally.

It is possible to know tons of facts about Christ and yet fall short of finding a saving relationship by faith in the Person that the facts point to. You come to know God by trusting Christ, not just by knowing the facts about Him. Read below about some people who knew plenty of facts:

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In John 5:39-40, Jesus was speaking to some Jewish leaders and scholars who didn't believe Him. Look up the verses in your Bible and answer these questions:

Why were they searching the Scriptures?

What did they fail to see?

What did they refuse to do?

What did they lose sight of because of their unbelief?

Reflect

Philip was one of Jesus' disciples. And he knew a lot of facts about Jesus, even before he met Him, but Philip followed and observed Jesus for a long time before he saw the Lord as He truly is. Only then did he come to the personal relationship with Christ that is necessary for salvation.

Here are a few events in Philip's life. Read about them and answer the related questions.

John 1:43-45 (At the beginning of Jesus' ministry)

What facts did Philip know about Jesus at the time he started following Him (v. 45)?

John 6:5-7 (About a year into Jesus' ministry)

What was Jesus' question to Philip (v. 5)?

Why did He ask it (v. 6)?

What does Philip's answer reveal about his grasp of who Jesus really was (v. 7)?

John 14:1-11 (Near the end of Jesus' earthly ministry)

Who is able to come to God the Father (v. 6)?

What do you have to know in order to know God the Father (v. 7)?

What did Philip want Jesus to do (v. 8 )?

What essential truth about Christ had Philip missed (vv. 9-11)?

Philip's experience shows us the patience Christ has with honest seekers. We know that Philip came to understand God's truth about Jesus. He found a personal salvation in Him. The Bible tells us that Philip was with the believing disciples in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost (Acts 1:12-14; 2:1-4).

No one can have a personal relationship with Christ without believing the truth that is written of Him in the Word of God, but it is possible to read the Bible and miss the Person the Bible reveals. It is Him you need to know and love if you are to be saved.

Respond

Memorize the words of Jesus in John 14:24 (ESV):

"Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me."

If you are not certain that you know Jesus as your personal Savior, take time now to read the Meet Jesus page.

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Bible Minute by Woodrow Kroll

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Mar 29, 2013

Topic: Christian Living/Situational

The Christ in Christian

There's a phrase that gets used during the Christmas season, "Keep the 'Christ' in Christmas." It's a call to remember what the season is all about--the birth of Christ, our Savior.

Here's another phrase that's just as important: "Keep the 'Christ' in Christian."

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On the final night before His Crucifixion, Jesus shared with His disciples many things. Among them is this memorable verse: "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.'

"Philip said to him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father'" (John 14:6-9, ESV).

Jesus is essential for our salvation. Who He is and what He has done for us provide the pathway to a relationship with God. He is the reason we are called Christians--followers of Christ.

There are people today who say, like Philip, "Show us God, and that's enough." But if we don't appreciate Jesus' person, and we don't appreciate Jesus' words and we don't appreciate the works of God done through Jesus, we can say we're Christians, but are we?

Let's keep the Christ in Christian. Let's not be content with having obtained salvation; let's live like Jesus lived. Let's take that message of love and forgiveness to a world that needs to hear it. And let's model those principles in our own lives. Let's be "Christ"ians.

Reflect

Read John 1:1-14 and think about the following questions:

1. How might Jesus respond to someone who says he can know God apart from Christ?

2. How has Jesus promised to help those who follow His example?

3. How do you keep the "Christ" in Christian? How do you take the message of love and forgiveness to those around you?

Respond

What does it mean to you to be a Christian? Is it just another label or does it define your life? Spend some time today and write out a "mission statement." What do you want your life to be about as a Christian? What are your goals as a Christian? Keep your statement in your Bible or somewhere you'll see it often.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 1, 2013

Topic: Christian Living/Situational

Faith That Grows

Is salvation the end of the Christian life? If it is, on earth it's the front end.

The Bible teaches us that the faith we begin with is to be a faith that is growing and maturing.

Receive

Read the two scripture passages below and write down (in column form) at least three characteristics of those who have not grown in their faith (immature) and three characteristics of those who have (mature).

"Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

"Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church" (Ephesians 4:11-15, NLT).

"You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's Word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn't know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong" (Hebrews 5:12-6:1, NLT).

Reflect

What three characteristics are in your first column? How about your "mature" column? It's likely you want to be a growing, maturing follower of Christ. But how do you grow in your faith? Hebrews 12:1-2 gives this instruction:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne" (Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT).

Answer these questions when you've finished reading the scripture above:

How are you supposed to deal with sin?

What "race" are you running?

What does "run with endurance" mean to you?

Who should you stay focused on while you are running this race?

Now, look at Romans 10:17:

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ."

Where does faith come from?

What does staying in the Word have to do with your faith?

How many times a week do you read your Bible?

Would you like to read it more days? If so, make the commitment today to make that one small change in your life.

Respond

Faith is primarily a personal relationship with God that determines the priorities of one's life. As you stay focused on the Lord and stay in the Word, your faith grows. As your faith grows, you become more focused on Jesus and hunger more for His Word. Amazing how that works, isn't it?

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 2, 2013

Topic: Faith/Trust

Defining Faith First

In today's Bible Minute radio feature, Dr. Kroll defines faith as "a confidence in the righteous character of God that fosters trust and hope when our circumstances foster doubt and despair." That's a good thing to have in writing. And it's based on how we see faith develop and act throughout the Bible.

Receive

Faith begins to grow in us when we recognize the righteous character of God. You see it in action in the Bible when people choose to put their confidence in Him, no matter what their circumstances.

For example, Job was a man who was "blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil" (Job 1:1, ESV). The foundation of his faith was related to the righteous character of God. When his world came crashing in, he held fast to his faith in God's character. Job 1:20-21 tells us "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD'" (ESV). And in the midst of his suffering he could still say,

"'Though he [God] slay me, I will hope in him'" (Job 13:15, ESV).

Like today's working definition, Job placed his confidence in the righteous character of God and found hope, even when his circumstances brought nothing but doubt and despair.

In David's Psalms, we see the same kind of faith in action. David had plenty of experience with setbacks, enemies and troubles that overwhelmed him. Yet his faith started early and served as the core for the rest of his life. In 1 Samuel 17:37, David said to Saul, "'The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine'" (ESV). He already had faith in God's character to deliver him. And that never changed throughout his life. Read Psalm 31 or 59 and look for both his circumstances and his faith. You'll see that it's faith that always wins out.

When you start with confidence in the righteous character of God, you'll find what you need to face life with hope rather than despair.

Reflect

Hebrews 11 offers this pattern of "faith first." Read 11:4-40 with these questions in mind:

What did each person do "by faith"?

What circumstances were they in? (See references below.

How do you see their faith in handling those circumstances?

How is God's righteous character reflected or active?

Hebrews 11 doesn't give all the details so look up these additional references if needed, or pick several to examine their story more closely.

Abel: Genesis 4:1-16

Enoch: Genesis 5:21-24

Noah: Genesis 6:11-22; 7:1-10; 8:15-22

Abraham: Genesis 12:1-6; 15:1-6; 17:15-21; 21:1-7; 22

Sarah: Genesis 18:9-15; 21:1-7

Isaac: Genesis 27

Jacob: Genesis 48

Joseph: Genesis 50:22-26

Moses: Exodus 2:1-15; 12:1-28; 13:3-16

Rahab: Joshua 2; 6:25

Gideon: Judges 6:11-24; 7:19-23

Barak: Judges 4-5

Samson: Judges 13; 16:23-31

Jephthah: Judges 11:1-28

Samuel: 1 Samuel 3; 7:3-17 (much of 1 Samuel)

David: see 1 & 2 Samuel.

Respond

Faith is not dependent on our circumstances or even our feelings but on the character of God. Faith in God comes first. If you choose to anchor yourself to Him, you're choosing faith. So, do a little evaluation of your faith condition today:

What do you know about the righteous character of God?

How much do you put your confidence in Him?

Is there someone or something else you occasionally place your confidence in?

What circumstances cause doubt and despair in your life?

What can you do today to shift your confidence to God and allow for hope instead?

What would you like to do "by faith" in your life?

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 3, 2013

Topic: Faith/Trust

Faithful Failures

Many popular preachers are teaching that if you have faith, nothing bad can befall you. You can be healed of all your diseases; delivered from all your financial woes and be blessed with every good thing.

But is that what the Bible teaches? Let's look at some "men of faith" to find out.

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"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, ESV).

What did God permit to keep Paul humble?

What was Paul's response?

What did God provide instead of healing?

What was Paul's response when God chose not to heal him?

"And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head'" (Matthew 8:20, ESV).

What did Jesus lack?

How is this contrary to popular teaching today?

Reflect

When we look at the examples of people of faith in the Bible, we find their lives were filled with hardships and difficulties like everyone else. In addition to Paul and Jesus, there was Abraham who left his friends and family to live in the desert. Moses spent 40 years herding sheep and then 40 years leading a ragtag group of rebellious grumblers. David lost one son in infancy and two adult sons by murder. Timothy suffered stomach problems (1 Timothy 5:23). Epaphroditus became so ill he almost died (Philippians 2:27). Trophimus had to be left behind at Miletus because he was too sick to travel (2 Timothy 4:20).

If you are having difficulties, don't blame your lack of faith. Faith doesn't prevent problems; it helps you survive them.

Respond

What are you doing to increase your faith? Based on your study today, indicate one step that you are going to take in this next week to increase your faith.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 4, 2013

Topic: Faith/Trust

What Faith Is

In order to develop a flourishing faith, we need to first understand what faith is. In some cases, the word faith is used as a synonym for religion when speaking of the Christian faith. In other cases, faith is used to describe a strong desire or expectation. But faith is much more than that. Let's look at Hebrews 11, one of the defining chapters of the Bible on the topic of faith.

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Hebrews 11:1 is one of the most concise definitions of faith in the entire Bible. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (ESV). How often have you heard the words assurance and conviction used in relation to faith? Not often. Faith is often portrayed as standing against assurance and conviction--when you can't be sure of something or someone, you are told, "Have faith." That's not what the Bible says.

"For by it [faith], the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible" (11:2-3, ESV).

If all we had were other people to put our faith in, then, of course, we couldn't have much reason for confidence. Even the best of us break our promises on occasion. But when we put our faith in God, we put our faith in the eternal, unchanging Creator of the universe. God declared, "I the LORD do not change" (Malachi 3:6, ESV). And it's because of His unchanging nature that we can have confident assurance that He will keep His promises.

How do we know what God has promised? We read what He has promised us in the Bible. We get to know God and draw near to Him. We learn what pleases Him. And then, like Abel, we will know the right sacrifice to bring to God; like Enoch, we will know the way to walk with the Lord.

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6, ESV). A faith that is just a label you wear or is just a vague hope that things might get better is no faith at all. But a flourishing faith is a faith that takes God at His Word; a faith that knows God's Word.

Reflect

As you read Hebrews 11:1-6 again, think about the following questions:

1. What was it that caused Abel and Enoch to be commended?

2. How did they express their faith in God?

3. Hebrews 11:6 says that we must believe that God "rewards those who seek him." Look up the word rewards in a Bible commentary and learn what kind of rewards you can look forward to.

Respond

One of the benefits of faith is certainly the assurance of the promises of God.How many promises could you list right now? Go ahead and try. As you study the Word this week, pay particular attention to God's promises. Try making another list in a week and again in a month. Ask God to help you always remember the promises He has for you.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 5, 2013

Topic: Faith/Trust

Promises, Promises

A promise is only as good as the person who makes it. Someone has observed: "America is always a land of promise during an election." The political candidate who promises jobs and a utopia but can't deliver; the bridegroom who promises lifelong commitment, then is unfaithful to his wife; the soldier who pledges loyalty to his country but goes AWOL--all demonstrate that promises can be empty.

Receive

God promises, however, are never empty. They are totally trustworthy. It seems like you can find gracious promises on almost every page of His Book. Though many of His promises are already completed, there are loads more yet to be fulfilled. God made promises to the first couple as soon as He created them, assuring them of His provision and His purposes (Genesis 1: 26-29).When they broke faith with their Creator and sinned, their future seemed hopeless. But God promised them a Savior (Genesis 3:15). And His promises endured and flourished down through the generations of Old Testament history. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and others received promises from God, assuring them of a wonderful future, although they often didn't see the fulfillment during their lifetimes.

Now is a good time for you to take your Bible and turn to Hebrews 11:1-13. Note especially verses 8-10 and verse 13.

What was Abraham's response to God's promise (11:8 )?

What was Abraham looking for in the future (11:10)?

If Abraham and others didn't see the fulfillment, what good was the promise? Well, God's promises are the soil in which faith grows. Look at Hebrews 11:13.

Does it say they died hopeless? How did they die? What had they seen in the promises God gave them? How did it make them look at this life?

Why does God delay the fulfillment of many promises? Read Hebrews 11:39-40 very thoughtfully. What does it say about "us," we who also wait in faith?

Reflect

Because of the birth and ministry of Christ Jesus, you, as a believer, share in God's promises. Try to find the promises that include you in each of the following verses. Jot them down.

2 Peter 1:3-4

Ephesians 1:13

James 1:12

James 2:5

2 Peter 3:13

Respond

The psalmist expressed something in Psalm 119:123 that all believers should look for--the final outcome of our salvation. Memorize this short verse from the ESV:

"My eyes long for your salvation

and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise."

And read 2 Peter 3:4-9. Our Lord is coming! Are you ready?

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 8, 2013

Topic: Faith/Trust

Flourishing Faith

When we experience the goodness and the greatness of God, we get all excited--perhaps we even want to express it with music like the composers of these well-known songs.

"Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow"

"O For a Thousand Tongues"

But is there anything about us that excites the Lord?

Receive

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, "'I tell you the truth, I haven't seen faith like this in all Israel!'" (Matthew 8:10, NLT ).

Read Matthew 8:5-10 and answer these questions:

What was happening in these verses?

What makes the fact that the centurion was a Roman significant?

What reason did the soldier give for his faith?

What words did Jesus use that showed He was excited?

When our faith is flourishing, the Lord is pleased. And not surprisingly the opposite is true.

"And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?" (Matthew 8:26, KJV).

"Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" (Matthew 6:30, KJV).

"Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matthew 14:31, KJV).

What phrase does Jesus use again and again in these verses?

Why do you think in every scripture listed above Jesus asked a question?

From what Jesus says in these verses in Matthew, how do you think He is feeling?

Reflect

Read the following verse and answer this question: Why do you think Jesus wants your faith to flourish?

"The Lord answered, 'If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, "May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea," and it would obey you!'" (Luke 17:6, NLT).

After reading the questions and verses above, you might be wondering, How can I help my faith grow? Dr. Kroll, Bible Teacher and author provides some help.

Our faith flourishes when it's placed in the power of God. "'With God [Me],'" Jesus says, "all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26, NKJV). So, if you have faith in the power of God, God will do things that you don't even believe possible in your own life."

The power of God is one of three places to put our faith so that it will flourish and increase. Here are the other two: the Word of God and the promises of God.

Respond

Where do you begin? Paul tells us:

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17, NKJV).

The Word will reveal the promises of God that lay the foundation for your faith. In the Word, you will discover the greatness of God's power and that will strengthen and encourage your faith. Your faith can not only grow, it can flourish when placed in God's Word, God's promises and God's power.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 9, 2013

Topic: Faith/Trust, God

Trusting God's Program

You've likely seen the adventure movies where the hero's in a sticky situation and his sidekick worries out loud about getting through it alive. How does the hero respond? "Trust me, I have a plan." (But you and I both know he's really just making it up as he goes.)

God is not that kind of hero. He has a plan, a perfect plan designed to accomplish His goals for His glory--and for your good. Faith is all about trusting God, no matter what. As you get to know Him better through His Word, the Bible, you'll begin to see that He can be trusted even when you wonder about His program.

Receive

John the Baptist had been a good and faithful servant of God carrying out a demanding mission which came at a high price. Yet, even John had a few questions about God's plan. In Luke 7, we read that John, in prison, sent a message to Jesus. "And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, 'Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'" (Luke 7:18-19, ESV). How John understood his mission depended on the answer to his question.

Jesus' response was simple: "And he answered them, 'Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me'" (Luke 7:22-23, ESV). He tells John to be confident in what he knows and believes because Jesus was doing exactly what Scripture said the Messiah would do.

Hebrews 11 offers us many examples of men and women who, like John, had questions about the plan of God (for example, Abraham in his desire for a son; Moses leading people out of slavery, etc.) but who, in faith, confidently obeyed and trusted God to work out His plan perfectly. They couldn't know all that God would do to accomplish His purposes, but they exercised faith that flourished and was commended. That's what we need too.

Reflect

Look what Hebrews 11 says about each of the following men; then review the original story.

Noah--Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 6:9-7:24.

What was God's command or plan for Noah?

If you were in Noah's shoes, what would make you question God's plan?

How did Noah respond?

Moses--Hebrews 11:23-29; Exodus 3; 12:1-28; 14.

What was God's mission or assignment for Moses?

What do you think might make Moses question God's plan?

How did Moses respond?

Gideon--Hebrews 11:32-34; Judges 6:1-27; 7

What did God ask of Gideon?

If you were in Gideon's position, what would make you question God's plan?

How did Gideon respond?

Respond

We've looked at just a few examples of people who put their faith in God and trusted His plan, even when it seemed impossible.

What do you learn from these men about God's plan, even when it's hard to understand?

How does this challenge your faith in God?

Where do you need to exercise your faith even though you don't understand?

In reality, you're not taking a big risk by doing this because God is completely trustworthy. Everyone from Hebrews 11 would tell you that, along with many others found in God's Word.

The more you know Him, the more you'll understand that faith in Him is a secure anchor. And while it's okay to wonder, don't let the questions keep you from growing in your faith and stepping out in trust. Remember what the Lord says in Isaiah 55:8-9:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts" (ESV).

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 10, 2013

Topic: God

The God of Details

At the Eutaw Street entrance to Oriole Park in Baltimore, Maryland, stands a nine-foot, 800-pound statue of Babe Ruth in bronze. Every detail had been painstakingly researched. Did the Babe wear his belt buckle on the left or the right? Was his hat cocked to the side or worn straight? No detail was overlooked except one. The statue shows the famous baseball player leaning on a bat and clutching on his hip a right-handed fielder's glove. The real Babe Ruth was a lefty.

It seems like there's always some little detail that fouls us up. But God is different; He never lets a detail slip by. We see that in the genealogy of Jesus.

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"Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God" (Luke 3:23-38 ).

How old was Jesus when He began his ministry?

Notice carefully how Luke begins this genealogy. What is the implication here?

Whose genealogy is this? Why is it included in these verses?

Reflect

God promised David that He would give him a descendant who would sit on his throne forever (1 Chronicles 28:4,7). Through hundreds of years of births and deaths, God never lost sight of that promise or the details needed to fulfill it. Even though Satan was able to corrupt that part of the lineage which produced Joseph (see Jeremiah 22:24, 28-30), Jesus, as the adopted son of Joseph, still had a legal claim through His adopted father to the throne. And through His mother, Mary, a descendant of David through another son, Jesus had a biological claim to the throne as well.

It is mind boggling to consider the myriad of details God kept track of through the centuries to produce a Messiah who met His promise to David. Without the use of computer software or even a PDA, God fulfilled every detail of what He had promised. You can be sure He will do the same for your life.

Respond

It's good to pay attention to details. Making sure you pay the bills on time, follow traffic laws and fulfill your responsibilities at work are details that you can control. And you should. But there are other details that are beyond your control. You can't control (usually) the way others choose to respond, the outcome of lab tests, the ups and downs of the stock market--these are details you need to leave with God.

List five "details" that you are concerned about right now. Indicate after each detail whether this is something in which you have control over or whether it's something only God can deal with. Lift these details up in prayer asking for strength and wisdom to fulfill what you're responsible for--and God's peace concerning the details that only He can control. Memorize Philippians 4:6-7.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 11, 2013

Topic: Events/Holidays

Out of Egypt

There are more than 38.7 million refugees and displaced persons in the world. Fourteen and a half million have been forced to leave their homelands for another country. The rest remain within their countries but have fled from their cities or villages because of danger. What's truly tragic, however, is that 80 percent are women and children.

But this is nothing new. From the beginning, people have had to leave their homelands for a variety of reasons (it could be argued that Cain was a refugee). But the most famous refugee was a baby called Jesus.

Receive

"Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.' And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, 'Out of Egypt I called my son'" (Matthew 2:13-15, ESV).

What triggered this event (see the preceding verses)?

Why were Jesus and his family refugees?

What had to happen before they could return?

Reflect

If you answered that Jesus and His family were refugees because of Herod, you're only partially right. Matthew says this happened to fulfill what God had said approximately 750 years before through the prophet Hosea (see Hosea 11:1). In the immediate context, Hosea is writing about the faithfulness of God to the people of Israel. Even though they'd lived in Egypt 400 years and suffered many things, God never forgot them. At the right time, He brought them out with a mighty show of power (Deuteronomy 6:21). Under the leadership of Moses, God called His people out of Egypt.

But this scripture finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. God did the same for His Son as He had done for His people approximately 1,600 years before. What may have looked like a setback to some became an opportunity for God to show once again His faithfulness to His promises. At the right time, God brought back Jesus and His family and positioned them right where they needed to be (see Matthew 2:22-23).

Are you a refugee in the land of Egypt? Probably not literally, but perhaps figuratively you are. It could be you've been forced out of your job by cutbacks and layoffs. Possibly economic necessity has caused you to leave family and friends. It might be that you're alienated from someone special to you.

If you're living in your own version of Egypt, remember God's faithfulness. He will never forget you (Isaiah 49:16). At the right time, He will call you out of Egypt and back to where you belong.

Respond

What evidence do you see in your life of God's faithfulness? Write it down and share it with someone for his or her encouragement.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 12, 2013

Topic: Salvation, Jesus

Lion of Judah

Have you ever looked up your family genealogy? Perhaps you have one of those big family Bibles that list your family tree for several generations. Some people point proudly to the fact their ancestors came over on the Mayflower or they are related to the royal families of Europe.

But none of our genealogies are as well-documented or as important as that of the One who was the "Lion of Judah." Let's look at the Bible to find out why.

Receive

Look up the following verses to learn some of the prophecies of Jesus, given thousands of years before His birth:

Born of the seed of woman: Genesis 3:14-15

Born of Abraham: Genesis 12:2

Born of Isaac: Genesis 26:4

Born of Israel (another name for Jacob): Numbers 24:17

Born of Judah, one of Jacob's 12 sons: Revelation 5:5; Hebrews 7:14

Born of David to sit on his throne forever: Jeremiah 33:14-15

Remember that this is the Messiah's earthly lineage. Today on the Bible Minute, we talked about the narrowing process this represents. The Messiah of Israel had to meet all the Old Testament requirements listed above.

Write out Galatians 4:4 and underline the portion that indicates Jesus met the first requirement. Look up Luke 2:1-6 and list at least three details about this birth.

The genealogy of Jesus found in Matthew 1:1-16 shows that Jesus met all the other requirements even as the line through which He must come narrowed from "born of a woman" to "descended from Judah"--one of Jacob's 12 sons. Read the following verses and note which of the above requirements was met.

Matthew 1:1

Matthew 1:1-2

Matthew 1:6

Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecies. He fits every category the Bible says is necessary to be the Messiah of Israel.

Reflect

Jeremiah prophesied this about Jesus:

"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.'

"For thus says the LORD: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel" (Jeremiah 33:14-17, NASB).

God made a promise to whom (according to the verses above)?

What would the "righteous Branch" do?

What name would the "righteous Branch" be called?

How did Christ fulfill that promise?

This "righteous Branch" would come from the tribe of Judah; that's why He's sometimes called the "Lion of Judah." Read the following verses and answer the questions:

"Judah is a lion's cub;

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He stooped down; he crouched as a lion

and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,

until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples" (Genesis 49:9-10).

What did God promise would not "depart from Judah"?

How did that align with God's promise that a descendant of David's would sit on the throne of Israel forever?

Respond

Jesus is portrayed in a variety of ways in the verses above (as a lion, a branch and a baby). Draw one of these images or another image that you associate with Jesus' birth. Label your drawing and indicate why you find that image meaningful.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 15, 2013

Topic: Jesus

The Promised Messiah

When the baby Jesus was about six weeks old, Joseph and Mary took Him to Jerusalem, where they made an offering for Mary's purification and presented the child to the Lord. While they were at the temple, they met a godly man named Simeon. Simeon had received a promise from the Holy Spirit that he would not die without seeing the long-awaited Messiah, the "consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25-26, ESV).

Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed Him with these wonderful words found in Luke 2:29-32 (ESV):

"Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,

according to your word;

for my eyes have seen your salvation

that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel."

How did people like Simeon know that this child was the promised Christ or Messiah who was to come? If you had been there, could you have known?

The answer is that they believed the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament Scripture, and they waited for the "Coming One" who would fulfill them. Let's look at an interesting set of prophecies that Simeon and others would have known.

Receive

Here is an Old Testament prophecy of the coming Messiah:

"In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel" (Isaiah 4:2, ESV).

The verse doesn't say, "Messiah" but instead speaks of the "Branch of the Lord." There are several other prophecies, as well, that mention the "Branch," and it becomes very clear that this "Branch" indeed speaks of Christ. Here are four other references for you to look up in your Bible. Write down the answers to the questions:

Jeremiah 23:5. For whom will the Branch be raised up? What will His position be? What three features will mark His reign?

Isaiah 11:1-2. Whose "stump" does the Branch come from (note Matthew 1:6 and Luke 3:31-32)? What seven characteristics do you find about the Spirit who rests upon the Branch?

Zechariah 3:8. What is the Branch called in this verse?

Zechariah 6:12. The Branch is not an angel or a spirit, so what is He? What will He build (see Ephesians 2:18-22)?

Reflect

You may want to look at samples of some other prophecies, not directly related to the Branch but clearly looking forward to the Messiah.

Zechariah 9:9--The coming King

Isaiah 42:1-4 --The coming Servant

Genesis 3:15--The coming Man

Isaiah 9:6--The coming God

Respond

The clock ticks nearer to the hour when another New Year will appear. Fresh calendars adorn your home, replacing the tattered ones of the passing year. Thoughts of trying to do better next year cross your mind. You wonder what the New Year may bring into your life.

Now is a good opportunity to reflect on some of the Bible's promises and prophecies that are yet unfulfilled, such as the next prophesied event--the return of Christ for His Church. You can't know the time, but you can be certain the event is coming (1 Corinthians 15:51-58 ). Like Simeon, are you eagerly awaiting the Lord's coming?

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 16, 2013

Topic: Jesus

Jesus, Son of David

As Matthew begins his Gospel, he identifies Jesus as "the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1, ESV). As a descendant of Abraham, Jesus fulfilled the blessing God had promised. And as a descendant of David, Jesus fulfilled another promise God made: one of David's descendants would sit on Israel's throne forever.

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"Son of David" is an important name because it shows that Jesus is the rightful heir to Israel's throne. Jesus could trace His biological ancestry through His mother, Mary, back to King David and that meant He fulfilled the promise God had made.

In 2 Samuel 7:12, the Lord promised David, "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom" (ESV). He went on to talk about Solomon but there was more: "And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever" (2 Samuel 7:16, ESV).

Through generations of turmoil, exile and destruction, even divine judgment, God reminded the Israelites of this promise. For example, Jeremiah 33:17 says, "For thus says the LORD: 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel'" (ESV). And in Psalm 132,

"The LORD swore to David a sure oath

from which he will not turn back:

'One of the sons of your body

I will set on your throne'" (132:11, ESV).

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, His people were oppressed and fragmented, eagerly hoping and praying for a king to sit on David's throne. So, when the angel made his announcements to Joseph, Mary and the shepherds of Bethlehem, his message referred to this promise. Just look at Luke 1:30-33, "And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end'" (ESV, emphasis added).

Reflect

This name didn't disappear after Jesus' birth. He was frequently called "Son of David" during His ministry. Here are a few examples:

Matthew 9:27-31 Matthew 15:21-28

Luke 18:35-53 Matthew 21:1-11

In each example, look for:

Who was addressing Jesus?

Why do you think they used this title?

What was requested?

How did Jesus respond?

What results do you see?

How does this scene reflect Jesus as King?

Respond

Being called the "Son of David" reflects Jesus' humanity and His right to be King of Israel. However, His kingship is ultimately over an eternal kingdom. One reference to Jesus as the Son or "Root" of David is in Revelation 5. There is a scroll, and only One is qualified to open the scroll. John records, "And one of the elders said to me, 'Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals'" (Revelation 5:5, ESV).

So, what does it mean for you to know Jesus as the Son of David today? Well, one day we will all bow before Jesus the King. As King, He will conquer the evil one; He will wipe out death and sin; and His kingdom will last forever. He's the ultimate King, the one you can submit to without fear, trust with every concern and worry and celebrate forever. Take some time today to praise and thank Jesus for being your King and make sure your heart is ready for His eternal kingdom.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 17, 2013

Topic: Faith/Trust, Christian Living/Situational, Service/Servanthood

Confidence in Christ

Do you struggle with confidence? Not just for your day-to-day responsibilities but confidence to serve the Lord? To speak up for Him? To do all that He gives you to do? Well, you're not alone. We each need confidence--a sure and certain trust--to accomplish our service. But we need to find it in the right place, and that's only Jesus Christ. Through faith in Him, you tap into confidence--and everything else you need--to do whatever He calls you to do.

Receive

In Ephesians 3:7-12, Paul talks about the ministry he was given by the grace of God. And though he was "the very least of all the saints" (3:8, ESV), he could preach the Gospel, build up the church and spread the light of Christ because "this was according to the eternal purpose that he [God the Father] has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him" (3:11-12, NLT, emphasis added).

Paul's only secret (and yours too) is to put your faith in Jesus; He gives you that confidence. You can rely on Him for the power, strength, wisdom and whatever else you need because He has it all--and He can always be trusted. In 2 Corinthians 3:4-5, Paul writes that "such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God" (ESV). Jesus is our sufficiency, our "enough," and that gives us confidence. It makes us secure and bold in coming to God and in our service, just as Paul was.

Jesus goes beyond giving confidence; He is our confidence. He is your security and certainty in a frightening and uncertain world as Proverbs 3:24-26 shows you:

"If you lie down, you will not be afraid;

when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Do not be afraid of sudden terror

or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,

for the LORD will be your confidence

and will keep your foot from being caught" (ESV).

Reflect

Read Philippians 3:3-9.

What does Paul say he could draw on for his confidence?

What does he choose instead?

How does he view those other sources? What value do they have?

Each of these verses tells you what you get when your confidence is rooted in Christ.

Hebrews 4:16, Hebrews 10:19, Hebrews 10:35 1 John 5:14

What do you gain?

How does this help you approach God? Deal with your life today?

Respond

So, let's go back to our earlier question: Do you struggle with confidence? Where do you need it most? What are you drawing on for the day-to-day certainty you need? Are you looking in the right place?

If you're trying to muster up confidence on your own or you depend on the encouraging words of others, you're always going to feel inadequate and uncertain. But when you turn to Jesus, He is your "enough"--He's all you need. His confidence is a gift of certain hope that will never fail. Take a few moments today to ask for His confidence to pour into your life. Maybe there's one area, an opportunity to serve or to speak up for Christ, where you've held back. Ask for His specific help in that area, and then get ready to follow through.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 18, 2013

Topic: Christian Living/Situational

Balancing Your Confidence

When you rely on your own powers and abilities to get things done, you are said to have "self-confidence." If you don't have it, there are plenty of books, college courses, websites and seminars out there just waiting to help you get it. Is it a bad trait or a good trait? Is it Christian or something to avoid?

What can we learn from people in the Bible about the characteristic of self-confidence? And how should a believer view it?

Receive

There are some Bible people who got into trouble because of overconfidence in themselves. Take a look at two instances in Simon Peter's life:

Mark 8:31-33.

What shows that Peter's confidence was in his own opinion?

What does Jesus say about that attitude?

Mark 14:27-31

What shows that Peter's (and the other disciples') confidence was in their own strength?

Now look at Mark 14:66-72. What was the painful outcome for Peter?

Saul, the first king of Israel, had several qualities that could have made him a great leader, but his overconfidence in himself caused him to grievously disobey the Lord and lose the kingdom. What did Samuel tell him in 1 Samuel 15:24-28?

There is another person in the Bible, however, whose lack of confidence led to a confrontation with the Lord. When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, this future leader balked at the assignment.

Exodus 4:10-14

How did Moses feel about his ability to lead the people?

What did God point out to Moses in verses 11-12?

What was Moses' response to God's assurance (verse 13)?

What does this indicate about Moses' confidence in God?

How did God react to Moses' lack of confidence (verse 14-15)?

It appears that the Lord is not pleased with too much self-confidence or with too little. If you have overconfidence in yourself, you will fail and crash; if you lack confidence in God, you may find yourself unable to function as you should.

How can Christians find a balance that keeps them in a right relationship with the Lord and lets them be true to themselves?

In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about the confidence he has in carrying out the tasks God gave him to do, in spite of grinding hardships that would have stopped many lesser persons. In 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (ESV) he says, "Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God."

It is clear that God expects us to trust Him totally. But it is also clear that we are to use the strength and gifts God gives us to serve Him. Paul again speaks of the balance in his ministry in Colossians 1:28-29 (ESV): "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me."

Who does the proclaiming?

Who has the wisdom to do the proclaiming?

Who toils and struggles?

Whose energy powerfully works within Paul to accomplish the work?

Reflect

In Philippians 3:3, Paul tells his readers that he worships in the Spirit of God, glories in Christ Jesus and puts no confidence in the flesh. Then he goes on to say in Philippians 3:4-7(ESV): "Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ."

Someone has defined "flesh" as, "Everything a person is without God." Paul could have leaned on his own background and strengths. He seemed to have everything going for him, and he had the self-confidence to follow that path, but in Christ he found a balance. His confidence that he could do a task wasn't lost, but his trust was in the Lord for the results, not in the flesh. Reliance on one's flesh never reaps any eternal reward from God.

Respond

Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher, said, "Self confidence is acceptable only if it is rooted in God-confidence."

Where is your confidence placed? Here is a good Bible verse to keep in your memory bank:

Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Apr 18, 2013

Topic: Christian Living/Situational

Balancing Your Confidence

When you rely on your own powers and abilities to get things done, you are said to have "self-confidence." If you don't have it, there are plenty of books, college courses, websites and seminars out there just waiting to help you get it. Is it a bad trait or a good trait? Is it Christian or something to avoid?

What can we learn from people in the Bible about the characteristic of self-confidence? And how should a believer view it?

Receive

There are some Bible people who got into trouble because of overconfidence in themselves. Take a look at two instances in Simon Peter's life:

Mark 8:31-33.

What shows that Peter's confidence was in his own opinion?

What does Jesus say about that attitude?

Mark 14:27-31

What shows that Peter's (and the other disciples') confidence was in their own strength?

Now look at Mark 14:66-72. What was the painful outcome for Peter?

Saul, the first king of Israel, had several qualities that could have made him a great leader, but his overconfidence in himself caused him to grievously disobey the Lord and lose the kingdom. What did Samuel tell him in 1 Samuel 15:24-28?

There is another person in the Bible, however, whose lack of confidence led to a confrontation with the Lord. When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, this future leader balked at the assignment.

Exodus 4:10-14

How did Moses feel about his ability to lead the people?

What did God point out to Moses in verses 11-12?

What was Moses' response to God's assurance (verse 13)?

What does this indicate about Moses' confidence in God?

How did God react to Moses' lack of confidence (verse 14-15)?

It appears that the Lord is not pleased with too much self-confidence or with too little. If you have overconfidence in yourself, you will fail and crash; if you lack confidence in God, you may find yourself unable to function as you should.

How can Christians find a balance that keeps them in a right relationship with the Lord and lets them be true to themselves?

In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about the confidence he has in carrying out the tasks God gave him to do, in spite of grinding hardships that would have stopped many lesser persons. In 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (ESV) he says, "Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God."

It is clear that God expects us to trust Him totally. But it is also clear that we are to use the strength and gifts God gives us to serve Him. Paul again speaks of the balance in his ministry in Colossians 1:28-29 (ESV): "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me."

Who does the proclaiming?

Who has the wisdom to do the proclaiming?

Who toils and struggles?

Whose energy powerfully works within Paul to accomplish the work?

Reflect

In Philippians 3:3, Paul tells his readers that he worships in the Spirit of God, glories in Christ Jesus and puts no confidence in the flesh. Then he goes on to say in Philippians 3:4-7(ESV): "Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ."

Someone has defined "flesh" as, "Everything a person is without God." Paul could have leaned on his own background and strengths. He seemed to have everything going for him, and he had the self-confidence to follow that path, but in Christ he found a balance. His confidence that he could do a task wasn't lost, but his trust was in the Lord for the results, not in the flesh. Reliance on one's flesh never reaps any eternal reward from God.

Respond

Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher, said, "Self confidence is acceptable only if it is rooted in God-confidence."

Where is your confidence placed? Here is a good Bible verse to keep in your memory bank:

Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.

That was a great one! :heart:

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