December 20, 2018 Psalm 119; Luke 15

“There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 (NLT) The heart of this ministry is to inspire a love for God’s Word and encourage the discipline of daily Bible reading and SOAP journaling. These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.

Printable reading plan: Discover One Thing Reading Plan

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Holiday | Marisa Hartman

S~ Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. Psalm 119:49-50 (NIV)

O~ Everyone experiences some kind of suffering. John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (emphasis mine) His promises of redemption and unconditional love makes the hard times a bit easier.

A~ It’s holiday time. I am so excited to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I love all the lights, parties, food… but, this time of year is often hard for me. I know that it is hard for other families as well. Family tension, the pressure to spend money, missing those that have left the earth, and the strive for a “Pinterest worthy” gathering makes the season not-so bright.  Being a split family at Christmas is a struggle for me. I selfishly want my children home for every tradition and fun outing we can cram in. Their father deserves his time with them though too. My children are blessed to have two sets of people that adore them. They get to do things that I couldn’t provide.  I think about the families that are missing people they love for the first time this Christmas and realize how blessed I really am.  I have a happy, healthy family. We have everything we need. My “suffering” is small, but when I do feel hurt, worried or dismayed I have His promises to sustain me. His word is true- all the time- regardless of my circumstances.

P~ Father, thank you for the promise of salvation. Thank you for sending Jesus to us as a baby to give us redemption and a model of how to live for You. This holiday, I choose to only praise You. My holiday is worship. My time is remembering how much you adore me. My heart is yours. Amen

Crucible of Suffering | Kelley Deases

S~ It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. Psalm 119:71 (NIV)

O~ “It is crucial to accurately recognize how God is working in you during times of suffering. There is a greater temptation to see the pain in your life as something happening to you, rather resting in a great God who is doing something in you.”

A~ My husband and I have uttered a desire for our son — half tongue-in-cheek, half in earnest — that he needs more problems! What we mean by this is that sometimes having only blessings (two devoted, married parents; good friends; nice house; material things; good health; academic success) and the absence of any real hardship can result in an attitude of entitlement, selfishness, and lack of compassion. Well, now he is facing his first real trial ……. and so are we, as his parents. After getting all A’s last year and enjoying mostly ease and success in all previous years, this year the academic bar has been raised A LOT! So much so, no students are pulling all A’s, including ours. What’s worse, he has been called out and scolded for various behavior issues, which is unprecedented for him. In fact, the degree of harshness and failure to extend grace has been more than a little demoralizing for him. As his parents, we have seriously considered a transfer to another school to spare him. But when his dad and I put it to prayer and opened our Bibles, we were both given assurance we should keep him where he is. In fact, we believe this is that “problem” we praying FOR to help grow his humility and build his character. We certainly do not relish seeing the tears, having him be made to feel beat down rather than inspired toward success, but we trust in a God who can use even this for his good. He is in a safe place, this Christian school, and this will be a year for him to rise up and persevere through a less than ideal circumstance.

P~ Father, What a confirmation to my husband and me that You spoke to us individually and gave us the same answer. Thank You for showing us You care for us by being in the midst of the decisions in our home, letting us know, yet again, that when we seek You, You will be found.

God meets me where I am. | Kimi Miller

S~ …And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.  Luke 15:20 (NLT)

O~  I love this illustration Jesus paints with his words about the prodigal son returning home.  Jesus tells us that when the son was still a long way off his father saw him coming. How true that is for all of us!  God sees me – even when I am a long way off!  When he sees us returning – with our hearts turned back to Him – even when we are still a long way off – He has compassion on us, and He meets us where we are.

A~ Sometimes, I think I have to get myself “cleaned up” before I can come to God.  When I’ve sinned, or neglected my time with Him, the enemy tells me I’m too far gone now to go back to God.  But that’s not what Jesus tells us.  I must never think that I am too far away from God for Him to meet me where I am.  Once I’ve turned my life over to Him, He promises He will never leave me.  I must never forget that He met me (and continues to meet me!) when I was still a long way off.  The journey “home” will be long, but God will walk with me – that’s why He ran to meet me where I was… and am.

P~ Thank you, Lord Jesus, for meeting me where I am.  Thank you for seeing me when I am still a long way off – and loving me still.  Please let me be reminded daily of your love for me.  In Your precious name, Amen.

A prodigal life | Tara Wiley

S~ So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. Luke 15:20 (NLT)

O~ “While he was still a long way off…”   Some days I feel a long way off… a long way off from being a Christian whose every action is directed by the Holy Spirit. A long way off from responding with grace when people (my children!) irritate or offend me. A long way off from being disciplined, more organized, a better manager of my time and home so I can have more time to devote to serving Jesus and others… I live a prodigal life, squandering the wealth I’ve been given by Christ.

Oh, the truth that You see me, stumbling towards You with the vestiges of my sin still hanging around my shoulders, and you RUN, filled with love and compassion, ready to embrace me, to bless me, to clothe and celebrate… me. This is more than I can fathom. I am so humbled, so grateful, so hopeful.

A~ When I feel paralyzed by guilt, I will remember this word picture…. When I turn to Him, He runs to me, filled with love and compassion.

P~ Lord, sometimes I feel so stuck in my ways, afraid I’ll never change. I know this is a lie of the enemy – because You are making me new every day. When I look back over the years I’ve walked with You, I can see that You are changing me. Today, I choose to turn towards You and accept Your loving, compassionate embrace. I will remember that I am clothed by You. I will live in the joyful freedom that knowledge provides. I will live – not a prodigal life, but a redeemed life.

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