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A Story of God and All of Us Reflections
100 Daily Inspirations based on the Epic TV Miniseries "The Bible"
By Roma Downey, Mark Burnett
FaithWordsCopyright © 2013 Roma Downey Mark Burnett
All rights reserved.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
These are the opening words of the greatest book the world has ever known: the Bible. Several years ago, we decided to bring this story to the world in dramatic form. Why? Because there is a God, and he is real. He is the Creator, and he has spoken. We can know him! Everyone deserves to be told the story, to be inspired by it, to be touched by it—it is the story of God and all of us.
The word for Bible simply means "book." But this is THE book! It tells the story of God and his people—all of us! It proclaims that life has meaning and purpose. We are not simply the result of matter, time, and random cosmological events. God created the universe, life, and humanity. God created us because he loves us.
When you love someone, you want to communicate with them. Because God loves us, he wants to communicate with us. God speaks to us through the Bible. It is a compilation of those things God wants us to know about him, life, love, meaning, and purpose.
Our lives take on meaning when we open our hearts to God and enter into relationship with him. When that happens, spending consistent time with him is how we cultivate that relationship. We have put this devotional book together as a tool. We also hope you will see some of the deeper meaning behind the stories contained in The Bible series. Think of it as a love letter, in the same way the Bible is a love letter from God to all of us. May you remember today and every day, "God loves you." Roma&Mark
Father, thank you for loving us. We want to better understand how our lives are a part of your plan. We open our hearts to you. Thank you for giving us the Bible. We are grateful that you have left us such a great treasure through which you can speak to us. Help us experience your love and presence today. Amen.
"Be still, and know that I am God."
I need regular quiet times in my life. The world is so noisy. Between the TV, computers, and mobile phones, it is hard to do what God tells us to do in today's verse. Be still. For me, that means finding some quiet space. It is in the quiet space that I hear God speak.
I try to take time daily to wait, listen, and feel. For most of us, God's voice doesn't come as a burning bush experience. At times, I wish it did. I've often wished "Monica" could show up for me, like I did for all those people on Touched by an Angel. It usually isn't that clear.
And yet, if we really have the ears to hear and eyes to see, God's voice is strong. Over time, you learn to know and hear it. As Mark and I worked on The Bible series, we prayed every day that we would have access to that knowing. We prayed that God would bring us the right people, and that he would provide solutions to challenges we faced. We watched and listened carefully.
When we are still, we are to know that God is God. That requires trust. We have learned to trust God. We had to trust him when the journey of The Bible began, and we learned to trust him throughout the process. It has deepened our spiritual journey.
We are glad that you are reading these devotional thoughts. For you, this might be your quiet time and space. We hope that you will seek to hear the voice of God speaking to you through what you read. And we pray that as you learn to listen, you will grow in your confidence that he is God. He loves you and wants to be part of your life today and every day. R
Heavenly Father, help us take time to get alone with you in a quiet place. Teach us to hear you when you speak. You speak through the Bible. You speak by your Spirit. You have created us with the capacity to hear your voice. Help us be still so we can know you and hear you in our hearts. Guide us and help us trust in you. Amen.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
We consider our love and our children to be among the good gifts God has given us. Our story is a beautiful example of how God works when you pray for his will in your life.
We had both met with disappointment in relationships before. We came to a point where we needed God's help and wisdom in meeting and choosing a life partner. I asked God to choose for me. I actually made a list of suggestions for God! I wrote out the qualities that were important to me and then handed them over to God to find a husband who would be my soul mate, my lover, my best friend, and life partner.
I did ask God to let me know when my answered prayer was here. I knew God would send him, but I wanted to make sure I recognized him when he arrived! God sent Mark. I knew he was the answer. Just to make sure, I introduced Mark to Della Reese. In classic Della fashion, she put Mark through his paces and then came and told me, "Baby girl, he is the one!"
I don't know what you need in your life. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish needs from wants. But I know God has good gifts for you. I'm sure he has already given you many. But ask him for what he wants for you. Turn your needs over to him and ask for his best. Trust his love for you. Ask him not to give you anything that would not be good for you. Trust his timing—it is always perfect. And always be sure to give him thanks for every good and perfect gift he bestows! R
Heavenly Father, thank you for all your good gifts in our lives. Help us seek what you desire for our lives. Teach us how to pray in a way that releases the treasures of heaven. Thank you for your greatest and most loving gift: Jesus. Amen.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.
DO NOT MERELY LISTEN TO THE WORD, and so deceive yourselves. DO WHAT IT SAYS.
When we read the Bible thoughtfully, with an open heart and mind, or hear it being taught or preached with the same openness, God will speak to us. The Holy Spirit uses the Bible as a means through which God communicates directly with us. When we sense God is speaking to us, it is important that we respond to what he is saying! Hear and respond. That is the intended pattern. James says that if there is not a response, we are deceiving ourselves about having authentic faith.
Information is not the only purpose of the Bible. It is intended to produce transformation. Transformation requires actually doing the things God's Word teaches us.
We encourage you to take some time today and get away to a quiet place. Read the Bible. If you don't know where to start, try reading the chapter in James from which today's verse is taken. Ask God to speak to you. If you sense him speaking through the text, ask what you need to do to respond. Then do it! M
Heavenly Father, help us hear your Word. Make the Bible come alive and use it to speak to us. Teach us what you would have us do. Give us grace and strength through your Spirit to put into practice the things you teach us. Amen.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I love butterflies. A friend once told me that they are "the wink of God." I can't begin to tell you how often, just when I needed a little encouragement, God sent a butterfly. We even had butterfly designs woven into the arbor we stood under when we exchanged our wedding vows. They have a special significance to us.
Butterflies also have a big lesson to teach us. God is in the business of transformation. The word metamorphosis is actually derived from a Greek word Paul uses in today's verse. The process of spiritual transformation is not unlike a caterpillar's transformation into a butterfly.
I once heard a story of a young child who found a caterpillar's cocoon with a butterfly struggling to emerge from it. In an attempt to help the butterfly, the child ran into the house and found a tiny pair of scissors with which the child cut the remaining part of the cocoon to free the butterfly. What the child couldn't have known is that the struggle of emerging from the cocoon is a critical part of the process that enables the butterfly to fly. In attempting to ease the struggle, the child had accidentally ruined the process of metamorphosis.
I've found the same to be true in my life. When I face challenge and difficulty, I want God to rescue me and free me from the struggle. But sometimes it is the very difficulty that we are trying to overcome that gives us strength to fly. This is our metamorphosis and how we become strong. Next time you are struggling, pray that God would send a butterfly to remind you he loves you and is transforming your life to make you stronger—so you can spread your wings and soar. R
Heavenly Father, thank you for all the times you send "butterflies" into our lives to let us know you are there and you care. When we are in times of struggle, help us remember that you use these things to make us into the kind of people you created us to be—strong and with wings to soar. We love you and praise your name. Amen.
I am my lover's and my lover is mine ...
SONG OF SOLOMON 6:3
I have an amazing wife. We met while both living in California. A friendship turned into a romance, and a romance into deep love. We both had a growing sense that God had brought us together. On a moonlit night in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, on a torch-lit beach, we became engaged.
The words of today's verse are words that reflect our commitment to each other. I am Roma's, and she is mine. She is my beloved. Marriage is used in the Bible as a metaphor for our relationship with God. Some scholars believe that the importance of today's verse is that it symbolically reflects the intimacy of relationship we should have with God. I like that thought.
I love God. He loves me. He doesn't just want me to know about him. He wants me to know about him. I knew a great deal about Roma before we met. Both of our series were currently on CBS. I had watched episodes of Touched by an Angel and admired her gentleness, and although beautiful, she exuded grace and humility. We had only met in passing at TV events. And when I met her, I wanted to know her, personally. I wanted to have a relationship. And eventually I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.
This is what God desires for each of us. He is ready and willing. It is up to us to reach out and begin to know him. M
Father, I am amazed at the magnitude of your love. I want to know you better. I want to love you more. Help me grow my love of you. Amen.
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 CORINTHIANS 4:18
For some people the journey of life can be long and hard, the road is stormy, and they have burdens to carry that few could ever manage. Dreams have been lost, loved ones have passed away, bills outnumber paychecks, and challenges outweigh strength. It's easy to feel tired and discouraged and hard to see the light at the end of the journey. You want to go on, but some days the road just seems too long and too dark. But be encouraged. God never said that the road would be easy, but he did say that the light at the end of the road would shine brightly and that the arrival would be worthwhile. R&M
Dear Father, we know that no matter how long or bumpy the road may seem that you are with us every step we take. You bring light out of darkness, and for this we are always grateful. Amen.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
You might think of the Book of Psalms as containing "God's Greatest Hits." The words of the psalms are actually lyrics to songs that were sung in the Temple in Jerusalem when the people came to worship. David, the king of Israel, wrote about half of the psalms contained in the Bible. The first psalm is actually about the Bible itself. The words poetically describe how our engagement with the Scriptures can produce a life of prosperity.
These lyrics say that prosperity is the result of avoiding bad counsel and delighting in the truth contained in the Bible. As David paints a brief picture of the person who is prosperous, he notes that this is someone who meditates on the truth of the Bible day and night.
It is important to remember that prosperity from God's perspective is not the same as the idea of prosperity in our modern culture. In biblical terms, the idea is much more about living a life of meaning and purpose. It carries the sense of being successful in experiencing God's plans and purposes for our lives.
God wants us to prosper. He wants us to discover and successfully live out his reason for creating us. He wants us to live blessed lives. To that end, he has given us the Bible. As we read the Bible and meditate on it throughout the day, we allow the truth we discover to guide our day; then we will prosper! M
Father, thank you for the Bible. Thank you for the great truths contained in the psalms, and the beautiful way they are expressed. Help me today to think and pray and meditate on your Word. Help me live a life that is pleasing to you. Amen.
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
We live by the ocean; we have always been drawn to it. We find it calming as well as beautiful. The tides roll in and out; the constant ebb and flow of the waves is like a massage of the mind and of the spirit.
Living by the sea opens our hearts as well, as the scale of the ocean reminds us of God's love. It's just so big.
Recently a girlfriend of mine came to visit and took her little boy to the beach. She was expecting him to be overjoyed and exhilarated by the waves, but the ocean terrified him. He was overcome and could not stop crying. He wouldn't even put his feet in the sand, and he would not go anywhere near the water's edge. "I am scared," he said, "because the ocean is so big and I am so small."
The truth is there have been some days since we began work on The Bible series when this work just feels so BIG and we feel so small. We feel unworthy, filled with self-doubt, and fearful we will be swept away and drown in failure or criticism. We feel small, anxious, and sometimes it even makes us take our eyes off of what is real and true. Reality gets distorted.
That's what happened to Peter. For a moment, he was walking on water, literally walking on water; then doubt seeped in, and he became afraid and began to sink. We love this biblical story because Peter is so human, so like us. Peter is bold and willing to take risks on the one hand, and fearful and full of doubt on the other. He shows us what it means to be caught midway between faith and doubt.
Someone sent me a tweet recently that I just loved: "When you feel like you are drowning in the sea of your life, remember that your lifeguard walks on water!" I LOVE THAT.
Jesus told Peter, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." R
Dear God, please help us to have courage and trust in you, for your love is deeper than the ocean and wider than the sea. You are BIGGER than fear and doubt. You are always there for us. Amen.
"You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
Excerpted from A Story of God and All of Us Reflections by Roma Downey, Mark Burnett. Copyright © 2013 Roma Downey Mark Burnett. Excerpted by permission of FaithWords.
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