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Free Download: CU’s Seeking God Lifestyle Bible Course Manual

A 66-page, in-depth study on seeking God: Five lessons; each is broken down into five devotional/studies.
April 4, 2020

But Take Heart

Saturday, April 4, 2020 One of my favorite attributes of God is His sovereignty. It has brought not only a deep sense of comfort in hard moments, but provided a lens to see all of life through. I think back to conversations I had with my unbelieving dad about what God was doing in my mind and heart when I first became a Christian at age 24. He would listen and often say, “Well, that’s great to hear, Pumpkin.” As time went on, he began to ask questions about eternity, salvation, morality, science, etc. He was being drawn to the things of heaven. For his 58th birthday, I felt emboldened to purchase a large-print (he liked anything large-print) Bible. I went through this Bible and highlighted answers to many of the questions and conversations we had. I put tabs that said topics like heaven, suffering, hope, salvation, science, and miracles.

April 3, 2020

Maintaining Our Emotional Health in a Hazardous World

Friday, April 3, 2020 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.      - Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV) Dear Praying Friends,   This is the fourth anxiety-addressing devotional thus far, with yet another scriptural trail to God’s peace in a hazardous world (see also Days 7, 10, and 14). The passage above is my personal favorite. Committing it to memory many years ago has paid off as the Apostle Paul’s aim is much higher than merely reducing our heart rate. 

April 2, 2020

Giving Self-Indulgence a Rest

Thursday, April 2, 2020 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.    If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. - Col 2:20-3:2 (ESV) What’s so bad about a little cookie?! How many of you have sworn you’d only eat 1 cookie, but 10 minutes later you had lost count somewhere between 5 and 10? The reality is the appetites of our flesh are ravenous and relentless in their demands. They want to be satisfied now!  In one of my favorite novels, A Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde malevolently quips, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself …”   

April 1, 2020

Pray: Relent of Anger and Revive Us Again

Wednesday, April 1, 2020Lord, you were favorable to your land;    you restored the fortunes of Jacob.You forgave the iniquity of your people;    you covered all their sin. SelahYou withdrew all your wrath;    you turned from your hot anger.Restore us again, O God of our salvation,   and put away your indignation toward us!Will you be angry with us forever?    Will you prolong your anger to all generations?Will you not revive us again,    that your people may rejoice in you?Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,    and grant us your salvation.             - Psalm 85:1-7 (ESV) Does your understanding of God allow for Him to be angry at you or other Christians from time to time? Just because God is incredibly gracious, and the blood of Jesus covers the sins of Christians does not mean He does not get angry sometimes. Take a look at Jesus’ life when he got mad at the businessmen in the temple and overturned their tables (Matthew 21:12, 13), condemned whole cities (Luke 10:10-16), and threatened judgment on Christian communities in entire cities (Revelation chapters 2 and 3). Both before the cross and after the cross, Jesus demonstrated his anger in certain circumstances. Revulsion at sin is part of God’s character, which is seen in the life of Jesus, but also by God in the Psalms as well.

March 31, 2020

Cast Your Anxieties on Him, Because He Cares for You

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  - 1 Peter 5:6-11 (ESV) Dear praying friends,   Thank you so much for banding together to cry out to God. The plague is in our cities and the overwhelming, global ripple effects are challenging even seasoned prognosticators. As we continue to consider what our godly response should entail, I am grateful that following Jesus does not mean we are amazing all of the time (yes Google, I am not a robot). I have personally been grappling with an undercurrent of anxiety in the past week that has been as relentless as the tide. On the contrary the Apostle Paul, in a refreshingly transparent way, recalled a time when he and his ministry companions “were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8-11). It was only after this admission that he framed his experience within God’s redemptive purposes.

March 30, 2020

Teach Us to Number Our Days

Monday, March 30, 2020So teach us to number our days     that we may get a heart of wisdom.- Psalm 90:12 (ESV) Reflecting back to January 2020, I don’t recall anyone’s “Word for the Year” being “quarantine,” “pandemic,” or something similar. I saw most blogs, Facebook posts, and tweets claim goals and themes revolving around the notions of happiness, self-care, growth, and transformation. And yet, within a matter of weeks, here we are, experiencing a global hardship that very few saw coming. What words will our current culture cling to for hope and inspiration now? If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, you’ve probably read the journey of the Israelites being brought out from the slavery of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Because of their lack of obedience and faith in God, their quest was much longer than they anticipated with more trials than they imagined. In a rare psalm written by Moses, he gives his fellow Israelites a reality check as he laments to God. He reminds them in the midst of difficult circumstances who God is, how powerless we really are, how quickly life goes by, the weightiness of God’s anger, and the hope that is found only in Him. After Moses reminds the audience of these truths, he transitions into an ask. He pleads with the Lord to “...teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” In many Bible translations, the titled authorship of Psalm 90 acknowledges him as “The Man of God.” Moses had a direct, personal relationship with God. It’s interesting to note that with this type of access, he does not petition God to change their circumstances in the wilderness or meet a physical need. He asks for something much different; much greater. He asks for help to live in light of eternity.

March 29, 2020

Confronting Casual Christianity

Sunday, March 29, 2020“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” - Revelation 3:14-22 (ESV) The story is told that an Apathy Club was formed on a college campus. The officers for the club advertised a meeting of membership. Not one person showed up! Now that might make you laugh. Too apathetic to attend. Yet that same attitude is not all that funny when we consider the dead and listless form of Christianity. The dictionary defines apathy as “lack of feeling or emotion; impassiveness; lack of interest or concern; indifference.” Maybe you've heard it summed up in the expression: “whatever.”

March 28, 2020

When Disaster Looms, Our Eyes Are on You

Saturday, March 28, 2020“[W]e are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” - 2 Chronicles 20:12 (ESV) Jehoshaphat spoke these words as the armies of Ammon and Moab came against Judah. It was too much. Against an unstoppable foe, the King of Judah was afraid. God’s people assembled together and sought the Lord. And this was their King’s prayer. This is repentance: turning to the Lord.  Earlier in Jehoshaphat’s prayer, he says “If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you…” (v. 9). “Pestilence” is defined as a fatal epidemic disease. In facing COVID-19 we are in a season that could be described as unnerving. Unsettling. Weird. Many people are afraid. Most people are confused. What is this coronavirus and what is the cure? Why is this happening?

March 27, 2020

The Perfect Peace of God

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” - Isaiah 26:3-4 (ESV) Ever since our expulsion from God’s Garden of Eden, humanity has always lacked perfect peace. We strive, we groan; we are hurt and we hurt others. As sinners, by nature and choice, we regularly fail God, ourselves and one another. We feel far from God, the earth yields thorns and thistles, and life disappoints us. We do sometimes experience moments of calmness; work is temporarily finished, our day of rest is here, and maybe life’s demands settle down. But how fickle is that kind of peace? Because, truly, there is always more work to do, more people to help, more demands on our time, more things to get done and more chores to be finished. We need real peace. One that can’t be stolen from us the next time we hear bad news. The kind that can’t be shaken when life gets hard. We need the perfect peace that comes only from God.

March 26, 2020

Confronting Casual Christianity

Thursday, March 26, 2020“[F]or my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” - Jeremiah 2:13 (ESV) One of my guilty pleasures when I have nothing else to do, is to mindlessly watch survivalist shows on the nature channels. I love to see how people will respond and survive when dropped into a foreign environment. As a contestant, you must get your bearings, find and build shelter, and maybe the most critical, you must find a water source. Food can wait for a time, but water is essential for life. And water that is fresh and will not make you sick is of the most importance.   Now, imagine if a contestant was dropped into an area, and right beside where they made their shelter, they discovered a crystal-clear spring flowing from the earth. Now imagine the survivor walking past the spring and instead opting to gather water from the large watering hole where the animals gather to drink, bathe, and relieve themselves. If we are watching the show, we might find ourselves yelling at the television, demanding that they return to the spring to drink. Why would anyone give up a fresh, life-giving water source in order to drink from a stagnant, sickness-inducing water hole?

March 25, 2020
Christian Union's Response to COVID-19; Return to God in Disaster; 8 Works of Fiction Every Christian Should Read; Blessed To Be a Blessing; 9 Ways to Love Your Neighbor in this Pandemic; Admit it: Control, Certainty and COVID-19 and more, in this issue of Christian Union's bi-monthly email brief.  Return to the Lord your God,for he is gracious and merciful,slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;and he relents over disaster.— Joel 2:13

March 25, 2020

The Doctrine of Tolerance: Quenching Its Hellfires with the Burning Eyes of the Son of God

Wednesday, March 25, 2020And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: 'The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. "'I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. - Revelation 2:18-20, 24-25 (ESV) The Son of God has eyes like a flame of fire, and His eyes are not deceived by the false mirage of culture. His holy eyes burn with accurate judgment. Though the Beloved Disciple had spent years in close friendship with Jesus and had reclined on His earthly chest, when John glimpses Jesus in His glory, he tells us in Revelation 1:17 that he “fell at His feet as though dead.” The eyes of Jesus that wept tears of compassion in the Garden of Gethsemane are now looking upon us as flames of fire. The “virtue” of tolerance has become one of the foremost idols of western culture. Surprisingly, Jesus does not hold judgment out only for those who participate in sexual immorality and eating food sacrificed to idols (other forms of cultural influence).

March 24, 2020

Seek God and You Will Be Free from Worry

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. - Matthew 6:25–34 (ESV)

March 24, 2020

A Simple Admission

The following is a blog post written by Ana Yee for a personal student blog. Ana is a junior at Harvard College and serves on the student executive team of HCFA, the ministry Christian Union resources at Harvard. This article is used here by permission.  It was just two weeks ago that I got home from a busy day of class and meetings– to my roommate cancelling a huge conference she had planned for months because of the spreading coronavirus. That was the first big cancellation that made the illness feel like a more immediate threat. It was also what made me realize that my long-awaited summer plans– to go back to Ethiopia– might be compromised. At that point, the possibility seemed small. And now, just fifteen days later, everything has changed. In the course of a week I applied to domestic summer opportunities, packed up all of my stuff, moved off campus, and said goodbye to beloved friends, teachers, and spaces. Some of those goodbyes were temporary; others were more permanent, like the ones to seniors who would not be returning in the Fall. I called off my plans for Ethiopia and took a job in Colorado. COVID-19 went from being a distant, abstract figment on the news to a very near, very disruptive threat. Social distancing became the new norm and everything has been canceled. It’s wild how everything changed so fast.

March 23, 2020

Return to God in Disaster

Monday, March 23, 2020 The situation seems impossible. The effects would be immediately felt by the people of the region and the consequences would be far-reaching. There was no escaping, and no way to hide from the devastating results. This is not referring to the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, but instead to the Jewish people living in the Persian Empire circa 450 B.C. A legal decree went out stating that the Jewish people would be destroyed and their homes plundered. How could they be saved?  When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry. He went up to the ­­entrance of the king's gate, for no one was allowed to enter the king's gate clothed in sackcloth. And in every province, wherever the king's command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes. - Esther 4:1-3 (ESV)

March 22, 2020

In the Shadow of His Wings

Sunday, March 22, 2020He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”   For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.  - Psalm 91:1-6 (ESV) My parents’ neighbors have chickens. Over Christmas, my dad, my twin daughters and I would walk up the street, past the ditch, and into their yard to watch the spectacle of hens chasing one another, a rooster crowing out of turn, and my daughters gasping with delight. Like most animals, chickens have a way of protecting their young, and as a mother of two-year old twins, I can relate. 

March 21, 2020

Jesus Says, “Repent of Sexual Immorality”

Saturday, March 21, 2020"And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: 'The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. "'I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.' - Revelation 2:12-17 (ESV) The Book of Revelation opens with John’s encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. Instead of martyrdom, John the Apostle was placed in isolated exile on the island of Patmos.

March 20, 2020

Repenting of Losing Our First Love

Friday, March 20, 2020“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ - Revelation 2:1-7 (ESV) In a time of uncertainty and crises, the Christian’s natural response is to seek God to make sure everything about his life is pleasing to Him. This is needed because through the years it can be easy for Christians to drift away from their full devotion to Jesus Christ. It’s striking that within a few years of the establishment of the church in the city of Ephesus, the Christians, even though commended for their rejection of heresy, had grown cool toward God. Jesus tells them plainly what they need to do, and the current American church should take heed as well.

March 19, 2020

According to Jesus, All People Must Repent

Thursday, March 19, 2020 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."  – Luke 13:1-5 (ESV) Wide-scale disasters are a reminder of the mortality of life, the coming Day of fire, and the need for everyone everywhere to repent and trust Christ. 

March 18, 2020

A 35-Year Reflection from New York City 

When my wife Marya and I arrived in New York City in 1984 I used three adjectives to describe the city. The Big Apple was broke, violent, and under-churched in many communities. The front page of the October 30, 1975, Daily News read: “Ford to City: Drop Dead” after President Ford denied federal assistance to spare New York from bankruptcy. In 1984, a decade of racial violence began when Bernard Goetz, a German, shot five unarmed African-American men on the subway. In 1994, the murder rate spiked at twenty-four hundred murders, or eight a day for a year. According to Jeffrey Burke, the NYPD chief forensic dentist, the city morgue simply ran out of room.