Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty – and I will meditate on your wonderful works. Psalm 145:3–5, NIV
Lord God, our Helper, we thank you for walking among us and for letting many experience your protection. Even when we are dying, you protect and help us so that we need not pass into death but may enter into life. So may our hearts be lifted up to you. Grant that the light in us remains undimmed, and that we may come before you in sincerity. Lord God, create good out of evil. Let light dawn in the darkness. Fulfill your promise, for our hearts are not concerned with human desires but with your promise. You will carry it out, and we will be able to say, “Our faith was not in vain, our hope was not in vain. Lord our God, you have blest us a thousandfold.” Amen.
Caffeine for your conscience
TODAY’S DAILY DIG
Verse of the Day
Thoughts on Today’s Verse…
The Holy Spirit, who lives in us, is our guarantee of a greater glory that is to come (cf. 2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5). The Spirit is the firstfruits of that glory that is to be revealed in us (cf. Rom. 8:18). Our current state is only a foretaste of what lies ahead for us; we yearn to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling and to be at home with God (2 Cor. 5:1-8).
Dear Father, you have blessed me with so many wonderful blessings. I thank you for each and every one of them. At the same time, dear Father, I do long to be brought into your presence in glory as your child. The pain and heartache of the world, the fragility of my body, and my frustration with my own vulnerability to sin keep we longing for the day that your Son returns in glory. Until that day, help me as I try to be your holy child. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Quote of the Day
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
How Can Your Testimony Help You Evangelize?
A time-honored, effective method of evangelism is your personal testimony. Just telling about your spiritual pilgrimage. The skeptic may deny your doctrine or attack your church, but he cannot honestly ignore the fact that your life has been cleaned up and revolutionized.
Now, I’m not talking about some stale, dragged-out verbal marathon. That kind of testimony never attracted anyone! I’m speaking of an effective, powerful missile launched from your lips to the ears of the unsaved. Consider these five suggestions:
1. You want to be listened to, so be interesting. It’s a contradiction to talk about how exciting Christ really is in an uninteresting way. Remember to guard against religious clichés, jargon, and hard-to-understand terminology. Theologians, beware!
2. You want to be understood, so be logical. Think of your salvation in three phases and construct your testimony accordingly: (a) before you were born again—the struggles within, the loneliness, lack of peace, absence of love, unrest, and fears; (b) the decision that revolutionized your life; and (c) the change—the difference it has made since you received Christ.
3. You want the moment of your new birth to be clear, so be specific. Don’t be vague. Speak of Christ, not the church. Emphasize faith more than feeling. Be simple and direct as you describe what you did or what you prayed or what you said. This is crucial!
4. You want your testimony to be used, so be practical. Be human and honest as you talk. Don’t promise, “All your problems will end if you will become a Christian,” for that isn’t true. Try to think as unbelievers think.
5. You want your testimony to produce results, so be warm and genuine. A smile breaks down more barriers than the hammer blows of cold, hard facts. Let your enthusiasm flow freely. It’s hard to convince someone of the sheer joy and excitement of knowing Christ if you’re wearing a face like a jail warden. Above all, be positive and courteous. Absolutely refuse to argue. Nobody I ever met was “arm wrestled” into the kingdom. Insults and put-downs turn people off.
Ask God to open your lips and honor your words . . . but be careful! Once your missile hits the target, you’ll become totally dissatisfied with your former life as an earthbound, secret-service saint.
Taken from “Sharing Your Testimony” by Insight for Living Ministries (used by permission).
Seek help from foes (chap. 7); golden calves (chap. 8). Reap what you sow (8:2-7). Lord’s love (chap. 11); Anger (chap. 13). Sacrifice/praise (chap. 14).
And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before My face (Hos. 7:2).
Our Lord knows our ways. He created us. Every little detail of who we are was planned out by Him. A dimple in a chin, a fiery little temper that causes the stomping of a five year old’s foot, a sweet smile that resembles their mother’s, all are examples of how God carefully and wonderfully made all the pieces that make up who we are. We may not understand why we were born with some traits or afflictions, but our Creator knows why.
Everything is for a purpose. We are made in God’s image and are born to live for Him and His purpose. Once we are here though, it has to be our choice to do so. We would be mindless robots if God had not given us the gift of free will. He gives us the freedom to choose either His path or our own. Oftentimes, we turn to Him once we realize that our own path has become destructive and lacking. We may search trying to fill that void in our life, not realizing that what we are lacking is Jesus. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).
God knows our hearts, and our hearts are filled with wickedness. It is our choice whether we embrace the wickedness or turn to Him for His cleansing power. He will allow us to fall into our own pits and turn completely from Him. He will listen as we deny His existence and yet still reach out His hand in His mercy the moment we turn our eyes toward Him and acknowledge He is God. His marvelous grace knows no bounds.
Often we place one sin higher than another. Pride, murder, jealousy, greed, deceit, they all lead to a bitter end. God sees our sin and knows what it will develop into if it goes unchecked. He knows our every thought. He knows what lies unsaid in our hearts, eating away at our very soul. He sees every fleeting thought, both the ones acted on, and the ones not acted on. Even so, His hand of mercy reaches down waiting for us to reach back.
God does not put one of us higher than the other. We all have the same opportunity to accept God’s grace. How surprised we may be if we reach heaven and see a murderer that has been changed by the grace of Jesus, but we do not see an elder from our own church or a neighbor who was always willing to lend a helping hand. Salvation is not about what we do; it is about what Jesus did for us and how we accept it. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour (Titus 3:5-6).
When we repent and accept Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts to lead us and guide us. Even after this occurs, we may still choose to sin. This grieves the Holy Spirit within us, who then urges us to turn from our sin and back to God’s plan for our lives.
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Rom. 6:21-22).
Thought for Today:
God says He will forgive our sins but only if we forgive those who sin against us.
In the son who was called out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1). This prophecy is twofold: one is a historical reference pertaining to Israel (Ex. 4:22-23); and the other is prophetic, looking to the sojourn of Christ as a child in Egypt (Matt. 2:14-15).
9:1 hast gone a whoring, have committed spiritual adultery and idolatry, were unfaithful to God (Israel was regarded as the wife of Jehovah. Isaiah 54:5; 62:4-5); cornfloor, threshing floor; 10:5 calves, golden calf idols; 10:11 to ride, to put in harness; 11:12 yet ruleth with God, is still considered faithful to God.
Pray for Country: Trinidad and Tobago (1 million) two islands seven miles off the coast of Venezuela • Major languages: English and Hindi • Religious freedom • 34% Protestant; 29% Roman Catholic; 25% Hindu; 7% Muslim • Prayer Suggestion: Know that God answers prayer (Ps. 118:5).
Memory Verse for the Week: Psalms 145:10
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20
The Dangerous Culprit
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (v.7).
After feeling a stinging sensation on my left leg, I discovered three tiny bite marks. I thought the culprit was some harmless insect and didn’t pay much attention to it. After a few days, however, the site of the bite turned deep red and was surrounded by a larger pink area. Within a week a blister formed, the skin hardened, and pain set in. I became concerned and decided to see a doctor. It turned out that the insect had been a poisonous spider—a brown recluse! To combat the effects, I was immediately given some strong antibiotics.
The painful and scary process of my wound getting worse and worse reminds me of the “sin that so easily trips us up” (Hebrews 12:1). At first, a small wrongdoing is just that, small. We might feel a sting to our conscience, but it’s not something we’ll pay much attention to. Very soon, however, a “small” wrongdoing can lead to an even larger one. And before we know it, we can find ourselves tripping over the same sin again and again.
The good news? There’s a way out. James’ prescription presents a pattern for us to follow. The people he was writing to had “evil desires” and were hurting others in order to satisfy those desires (James 4:1-2). Drawing from Old Testament Scriptures his readers were familiar with, James gave them a recipe for freedom: Humble yourselves before God, choose to resist the devil, adopt a pure and moral lifestyle, and repent of your wrongdoing (vv.7-9)—all through God’s power.
Let’s seek freedom from sin as God empowers us. The Holy Spirit helps us identify our sin, resist temptation, and enjoy friendship with Him. As we do, God promises to extend grace, draw close to us, and “lift [us] up in honor” (v.10). —Estera Pirosca Escobar
Read Genesis 39:1-12 and notice the choices Joseph made when faced with temptation.
In what areas of your life have you been struggling with temptation? How can you “come close to God,” knowing that He’ll meet you where you are and “lift you up”? (James 4:8,10).
The Big Picture of the Old Testament
When it comes to describing “the theology of the Old Testament,” not everyone is convinced that there is a single theology represented in these diverse books. Many scholars have, however, tried to find a point of unity for all the books, often by proposing a single unifying theme, such as covenant, or the kingdom of God, or the Messiah, or God himself. These proposals do provide genuine insights, but they are often too oversimplified to do justice to the variety of materials in the Old Testament.
It will be more fruitful to understand the Old Testament as a whole in terms of an unfolding story, with a number of basic components: monotheism, creation and fall, election and covenant, covenant membership, and eschatology. This chapter will first explain these components, so that we can summarize the overarching story. Then we will consider briefly how the various parts of the Old Testament relate to this unfolding story, and consider how this provides a link to the New Testament authors’ stance toward the Old Testament. The goal is to articulate some of the beliefs that will enable careful readers to profit more fully from reading the Old Testament books themselves.
The Components of the Story
1. Monotheism. There is only one true God, who made heaven and earth and all mankind. He made a material world that he is happy with, and he made it a fit place for human beings to live, and love, and serve. Every human being needs to know and love this God, whose spotless moral purity, magnificent power and wisdom, steadfast faithfulness, and unceasing love are breathtakingly beautiful. This one God rules over all things, and he will vindicate his own goodness and justice (in his own time). In ruling, God has not limited himself to working within the natural properties of what he has made, for he can go (and has gone) beyond these properties to do mighty deeds both in creation and in caring for his people.
The Old Testament invites Israel not simply to acknowledge the existence of this one true God, but to commit themselves to him in exclusive loyalty and love, centering their lives on the inestimable privilege of knowing him (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). The fundamental character of this God is explained in Exodus 34:6-7, which focuses on his steadfast love and mercy (a passage frequently echoed in the rest of the Old Testament). The Old Testament also affirms that God is “righteous,” that is, morally pure and perfect. Although this righteousness certainly results in God’s work of punishing evildoers and vindicating his own moral character, the term commonly emphasizes God’s reliability in keeping his promises (e.g., Psalms 71:2; Psalms 116:5).
The Old Testament does not explicitly describe God as a trinity. Rather, with its references to God’s Spirit (e.g., Genesis 1:2), its use of “us/our” for God (e.g., Genesis 1:26), and its indications or hints of a divine Messiah (e.g., Psalms 110:5; Isaiah 9:6; see Ezekiel 34:15-23), it lays the groundwork for the fuller declaration of divine triunity that is found in the New Testament (Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
2. Creation and fall. The one Creator God made the first human beings, Adam and Eve, with dignity and purpose; their calling was to live faithfully to God and to spread the blessings of Eden throughout the earth. Because Adam and Eve betrayed God’s purpose, all people since the fall are beset with sins and weaknesses that only God’s grace can redeem and heal.
3. Election and covenant. The one true God chose a people for himself and bound himself to them by his covenant (Exodus 19:4-6; Deuteronomy 7:6-11). This covenant expressed God’s intention to save the people, and through them to bring light to the rest of the world, in order to restore all things to their proper functioning in the world God made. The land of Israel was to be a kind of reconstituted Eden, which would flourish as the people’s faithfulness flourished (or languish if the people were unfaithful). God’s covenants generally involve one person who represents the whole people (e.g., Adam, Noah, Abraham, David); the rest of the people experience the covenant by virtue of their inclusion in the community represented. The representative is required to embody the ideal of covenant faithfulness as a model for those on whose behalf he has acted.
4. Covenant membership. In his covenant, God offers his grace to his people: the forgiveness of their sins, the shaping of their lives in this world to reflect his own glory, and a part to play in bringing light to the Gentiles. Each member of God’s people is responsible to lay hold of this grace from the heart: to believe the promises (see Paul’s use of Abraham and David as examples of faith in Romans 4; see also Hebrews 11), and then to grow in obeying the commands, and to keep on doing so all their lives long. Those who lay hold in this way are the faithful. These people, as distinct from the unfaithful among them, enjoy the full benefits of God’s love. Each Israelite is a member of a people, a corporate entity; the members have a mutual participation in the life of the people as a whole. Thus the spiritual and moral well-being of the whole affects the well-being of each of the members, and each member contributes to the others by his own spiritual and moral life. Thus each one shares the joys and sorrows of the others, and of the whole. Historical judgments upon the whole people often come because too many of the members are unfaithful; these judgments do not, however, bring the story of God’s people to an end but serve rather to purify and chasten that people (often by removing unbelieving members).
It is important for Christian readers to sharpen their grasp of how the Old Testament uses words such as “salvation” and “judgment.” When the Old Testament speaks of God “redeeming” his people (e.g., Exodus 15:13) or “saving” them (e.g., Exodus 14:30), it refers to God’s gracious dealings for the sake of this corporate entity, the people: he calls it, he protects it, he purifies it, in order to foster the conditions under which the life of its members may flourish. The Old Testament can also speak of God giving “salvation” or “redemption” to particular persons (e.g., Psalms 3:2-7; Psalms 19:14). Generally in the Old Testament, however, such expressions refer to members of the people experiencing the benefits of covenant membership, whether that be forgiveness of sins, or deliverance from some trouble or persecution, or something else—tracing everything back to the grace of God that led him to make the covenant originally and now to keep it in effect. When Christians speak of personal salvation, they usually are thinking of individuals in isolation, and so have a much narrower meaning in mind; they should consider whether the New Testament usage is closer to the Old Testament usage than they might have realized hitherto, including both every aspect of their lives and their connections to other believers, and thus extending to a wider range of experience than simply their souls.
The “law,” given through Moses, plays a vital role in the Old Testament. It is uniformly presented as an object of delight and admiration (e.g., Psalms 119), because it is a gift from a loving and gracious God. The law is never presented in the Old Testament as a list of rules that one must obey in order to be right with God; rather, it is God’s fatherly instruction, given to shape the people he has loved and saved into a community of faith, holiness, and love, bound together by mutual support and care. The various laws, with their penalties for infractions and provisions for repayment, were designed to protect that community from the failures of its members, and the moral guidelines gave specific form to what the restored image of God would look like in the agrarian culture of ancient Israel. Right at the heart of this system is worship at the sanctuary, with its provisions for atonement and forgiveness for those who have gone astray. Sadly, only in a very few instances in the Old Testament do we see anything that even remotely matches this ideal, whether on a large scale (Joshua 22 is an excellent example, distinctive for its rarity) or on a small one (e.g., Boaz in the book of Ruth, who embodies the Lord’s own kindness to a foreign-born “proselyte”). The prophets anticipated an era, after Judah’s return from exile in Babylon, in which God’s people would really take the law into their own hearts (e.g., Ezekiel 36:25-27); the covenant renewal that the postexilic community experienced was, however, only a brief foretaste of that expectation. (Interpreters debate the way in which this relates to the spread of Christianity among the Gentiles—is it focused primarily on Israel laying hold of the covenant properly, or does it describe the new arrangement that Jesus’s resurrection brought in?—but that is outside the scope of this chapter.)
5. Eschatology. The story of God’s people is headed toward a glorious future in which all kinds of people will come to know the Lord and join his people. This was the purpose for which God called Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), and for which he appointed Israel (Exodus 19:4-6). It is part of the dignity of God’s people that, in God’s mysterious wisdom, their personal faithfulness contributes to the story getting to its goal (see Deuteronomy 4:6-8).
The Old Testament develops its idea of a Messiah (eventually clarified as the ultimate heir of David) in the light of these components. The earliest strands of the messianic idea speak of an offspring who will undo the work of the Evil One and bless the Gentiles by bringing them into his kingdom (Genesis 3:15; Genesis 22:17-18; Genesis 24:60); the idea that kings will descend from Abraham (Genesis 17:6-16) and Jacob (Genesis 35:11) becomes focused on the tribe of Judah, to which the obedience of the peoples will be brought (Genesis 49:10). The kings in David’s line carry this idea forward. They are to embody the people: just as the people as a whole is God’s son (Exodus 4:22-23), so also the Davidic king is God’s son (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalms 89:26-27). The promise of a lasting dynasty for David (2 Samuel 7:16) becomes the expectation that a final heir of his line will one day arise, take his Davidic throne (in “the last days”), and lead his people in the great task of bringing light to the Gentiles (e.g., Psalms 2:8; Psalms 72:8-17 [using Genesis 22:18]; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-10; see Isaiah 42:1-9).
The Parts of the Old Testament in Relation to the Story
The Old Testament is thus the story of the one true Creator God, who called the family of Abraham to be his remedy for the defilement that came into the world through the sin of Adam and Eve. God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt in fulfillment of this plan, and established them as a theocracy for the sake of displaying his existence and character to the rest of the world. God sent his blessings and curses upon Israel in order to pursue that purpose. God never desisted from that purpose, even in the face of the most grievous unfaithfulness in Israel.
This overarching story serves as a grand narrative or worldview story for Israel: each member of the people was to see himself or herself as an heir of this story, with all its glory and shame; as a steward of the story, responsible to pass it on to the next generation; and as a participant, whose faithfulness could play a role, by God’s mysterious wisdom, in the story’s progress.
Some who have seen this category of Israel’s story as a key to Old Testament theology have argued for reading the entire Old Testament as a story. This does not help the reader, for the very obvious reason that not everything in the Old Testament is narrative or “story.” For example, there are laws (in the Pentateuch), whose purpose was to protect equity and civility in the theocracy by guiding judges in what penalties to impose and by specifying the minimum standard of behavior necessary to preserve the theocracy (many of the specific laws do not intend to spell out the moral ideal for the members of Israel, which comes from likeness to God in the creation account and from the goal of community holiness; the “perfection” of the laws consist in the way they serve the social fabric of God’s people); there is wisdom (in the books of Job 1, Proverbs 1, and Ecclesiastes 1, as well as in the Psalms 1), which helps the members to live well daily; there are songs (esp. the Psalms 1) that the people of God should sing in corporate worship; there are poems (esp. the Song of Solomon 1; see Proverbs 5:15-20) celebrating such wonders as romantic love; and lots more. Therefore it is better to speak of reading the parts of the Old Testament in relation to its overarching story. That is, we can see the parts in relation to the Big Story that unifies the whole. The Proverbs 1 help people to live their little stories in such a way as to contribute to the Big Story. The Psalms 1—many of which explicitly recount parts of the Big Story—help people live as faithful members of the worshiping corporate entity, the people of God. The Prophets keep recalling the Big Story, the direction in which Israel’s story is headed, calling their audiences to live faithfully in its light. The Big Story tells us that God’s purpose is to restore our humanity to its proper function, and thus it reminds each person of the human nature he shares with every other human being, and of the duty and benefit of seeking the good of others. For example, enjoying the love of a faithful spouse is a way of experiencing renewed humanity—a way that displays God’s goodness to the rest of the world (as in the Song of Solomon 1).
All of these factors explain why it is possible for the New Testament authors both to say that the Sinai covenant is done away with (see below), because it was focused on the theocracy, which had an end in mind from the beginning (when the Gentiles would receive the light in large measure)—and at the same time to affirm that this covenant has embedded in it principles that cannot pass away, because they are part of the larger story of which the Sinai covenant is one chapter.
The Old Testament as Christian Scripture
The Old Testament presents itself, then, as a story that is headed somewhere. The Old Testament closes with both anxiety and hope under Persian rule (see Malachi 1). The books of the Second Temple period (between the Old and New Testaments) continue this notion of Israel as God’s people chosen for a purpose, but not all strands of this material make clear what that purpose is. Some of these Second Temple books offer endings for the story (e.g., in the Qumran community as the elect); but the faithful were looking for more. (For more information on the Second Temple period, see ch. 6.) The New Testament authors, most of whom were Jewish Christians, saw themselves as heirs of the Old Testament story, and as authorized to describe its proper completion in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the messianic era that this ushered in. These authors appropriated the Old Testament as Christian Scripture, and they urged their audiences (many of whom were Gentile Christians) to do the same. There is debate over just how the New Testament authors used the Old Testament as Scripture, but the simplest summary of the New Testament authors’ stance would be to say that they saw the Old Testament as constituting the earlier chapters of the story in which Christians are now participating.
This construct, of earlier and later chapters in the story of God’s work for his people, allows us to understand how the Old Testament era and the Christian era will have elements both of continuity and of discontinuity. The Old Testament had looked forward to an internationalized people of God, without explaining exactly how that would connect to the theocracy of Israel (see Psalms 87:4-6). The theocracy defined the people of God as predominantly coming from a particular ethnic group in a particular land; Gentile converts (“sojourners”) were protected (Exodus 12:49; Exodus 20:10; Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:10) but could not be full-status members of the theocratic community (see Deuteronomy 14:21; Deuteronomy 15:3. Numbers 34:14-15 shows that land was allocated to Israelites alone). The New Testament abolishes the distinction (Ephesians 2:19), because the theocracy as such is no longer in existence and many of its provisions are done away with (see Acts 10:34-35; Hebrews 9:11-14). At the same time, the character of the one Creator God, and his interest in restoring the image of God in human beings, transcends the specific arrangements of the theocracy; hence, the moral commands of God apply to Christians as they did to the faithful in Israel (see Romans 13:8-10).
Taken fromUnderstanding the Big Picture of the Bible: A Guide to Reading the Bible Well, edited by Wayne Grudem, C. John Collins, Thomas R. Schreiner. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.
From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
TRY TO SEE THINGS more and more from My perspective. Let the Light of My Presence so fully fill your mind that you view the world through Me. When little things don’t go as you had hoped, look to Me lightheartedly and say, “Oh, well.” This simple discipline can protect you from being burdened with an accumulation of petty cares and frustrations. If you practice this diligently, you will make a life-changing discovery: You realize that most of the things that worry you are not important. If you shrug them off immediately and return your focus to Me, you will walk through your days with lighter steps and a joyful heart. When serious problems come your way, you will have more reserves for dealing with them. You will not have squandered your energy on petty problems. You may even reach the point where you can agree with the apostle Paul that all your troubles are light and momentary, compared with the eternal glory being achieved by them.
Proverbs 20:24; 2 Corinthians 4:17–18
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What’s Wrong With Grownups
Fathers, do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged. – Colossians 3:21
“What’s wrong with grownups?” This was a question posed by a Sunday school teacher to a class of ten-year-olds. See if you recognize yourself in any of these complaints.
1. Grownups make promises, then forget them, or say it wasn’t a promise, just a “maybe.”
2. Grownups don’t do the things they tell their children to do–like pick up their things or always tell the truth.
3. Grownups don’t listen. They decide ahead of time what they’re going to answer.
4. Grownups make mistakes, but won’t admit them. They pretend they weren’t mistakes at all–or that somebody else made them.
5. Grownups always talk about what they did and what they knew when they were ten-years-old, but they don’t try to think what it’s like to be ten-years-old right now.
If you’re like me, right now you’re thinking, “Ouch!” Children are perceptive, and they are much more pure in heart than we give them credit for. Take time for them, be honest with them, don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry”.
“Nothing you ever do for a child is wasted.” – Garrison Keillor (1942- )
THE WORD MADE FLESH
The Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us.
FROM THE FATHER’S HEART
A GRATEFUL RESPONSE
For more from Rebecca, please visitwww.rebeccabarlowjordan.com
DAILY DEVOTIONAL SEPTEMBER 20, 2017
‘A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!’
Gideon ordered his men to do two things: Covering up a torch in an earthen pitcher, he had them, at an appointed signal, break the pitcher and let the light shine. Then he had them blow the trumpet, crying, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”
This is precisely what all Christians must do. First, you must shine: Break the pitcher that conceals your light, throw aside the container that has been hiding your candle, and shine. Let your light shine before men; let your good works be such that when men look at you, they will know that you have been with Jesus.
Then there must be the sound, the blowing of the trumpet. There must be active exertions for the gathering of sinners by proclaiming Christ crucified. Take the Gospel to them. Carry it to their door; put it in their path; do not allow them to escape it; blow the trumpet right against their ears. Remember that the true battle-cry of the church is Gideon’s watchword, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” God must do it; it is His own work.
But we are not to be idle; He uses instruments–“A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” If we only cry, “A sword for the LORD!” we will be guilty of idle presumption; and if we shout, “A sword for Gideon!” alone, we shall display an idolatrous reliance on man: We must blend the two in practical harmony: “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” We can do nothing in ourselves, but we can do everything by the help of our God; let us, therefore, in His name determine to go out personally and serve Him with our flaming torch of holy example and with our trumpet blasts of sincere declaration and testimony, and God will be with us, and the enemy will be put to confusion, and the Lord of hosts will reign forever and ever.
The Daily Word of Hope Devotional
Bible Fun Fact: Four angels are mentioned in the Bible by name: Gabriel, Michael, Lucifer, and Abaddon.
The Unnamed Servant
Let it happen, that the young lady to whom I will say, ‘Please let down your pitcher, that I may drink,’ then she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink,”let her be the one you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master. Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah came out. Genesis 24:14 WEB
This man was a servant of Abraham, sent on a quest by his master, and is not even named in scripture. He is merely called ‘The servant.’ In Genesis 24, this servant traveled to Nahor to find a wife for Isaac. He stopped at a well just outside the city with his ten camels, and he prayed for success. He asked the Lord for a sign: That the right girl would come by, and offer to draw water for his ten camels, which could drink up to twenty gallons each (200 gallons of water).Before he had finished speaking, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her shoulder, and did just as he had asked.
I find it comforting that the Lord heard the prayer of the servant. Abraham is the ‘Chosen One’ in this story. Yet, the Lord answered this servant’s prayer to the letter, while he was still praying it.
When I first began attending church and learning about Jesus, I felt that I was insignificant. The pastor and the elders were on the inner circle and always had a word from the Lord, while I must have been on the outer ring. I believed that God knew ‘about me’ but I was unsure that He actually knew me by name.
Then He began showing up in my work place, and people began to get saved around me. He would show up in smoky bars where I was playing music and give me scriptures and words of knowledge for people. Yea I know, it was hard for me to believe as well at the beginning. As my church row filled with new visitors, the pastor and elders began asking me what I had heard from the Lord during the week.
The world always has a class system that ranks people according to status or position. When Jesus came to earth, He ignored all of that, and He began to eat with the sinners, the tax collectors, and the servants. The ‘King of All Kings’ had friends in low places.
Never think that you are insignificant or that the Lord does not hear you because you are not the ‘Chosen One’ for He hears the prayers of the servants as well. Continue on taking it one day at a time and include Him in your life. You don’t need to understand it all yet. Just let your relationship with Him grow over time. In His eyes, we are all His children, and if He has done it for someone else, He will do it for you.
Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for all that You have done for me. Help my faith grow and lead me into spiritual adventures. Speak to me and through me Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NIV)
Thoughts for Today
Satan’s tactics with Eve show us how, from the beginning, we’ve been tempted to listen to the wrong voices about what’s good and right for our lives. About what choices draw us closer to God or push us further away.
Our enemy is a deceiver who tries to convince us to reject God and stop listening to him. But Satan doesn’t care about our future or God’s truth. His objective? To separate us from God for all eternity. His most effective strategy? His deadly game of doubt.
Satan wants us to question God’s care and love for us. He engages in character assassination of God’s essential good nature and loving heart.
Consider this …
Satan came to Eve twisting the truth. He misquoted God: “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1 NLT). Eve took the bait. Satan exploited his distorted picture of God by adding an outright lie: “You won’t die!”(Genesis 3:4 NLT).
In the same way, abortion rhetoric rejects the truth of what God says about the value of every human life with an outright lie: “It’s not a life at all!”
But now our hearts know better.
Maybe we didn’t resist the lies back then. We made a terrible choice. But we can choose to resist the lies now. Satan wants us to think all is lost. That God doesn’t care. Or that he could never forgive what we’ve done. Don’t listen to the lies. Resist the devil. Turn to God.
Here is the truth: God loves you. He cares. Jesus died on the cross so your sins could be forgiven. In him, you do have hope.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:8-11 NLT)
Lord, I’ve listened to Satan’s lies too long. I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me for every sin, including the sin of abortion. Restore my friendship with you. In Jesus’ name . . .
The Pitfall of Being Entrepreneurial
“When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and He struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark…” 1 Chronicles 13:9-10
There are good things we can do, but only God-things we should do. Those activities not born out of the Spirit will result in wood, hay, and stubble. What seems good in our eyes may be an abomination in God’s eyes. For instance, if you decide to build an orphanage but God has never directed you to do so, then God will not see that work as good; it was born out of your own strength, even though it was a “good work.”
The most difficult challenge a Christian workplace believer will ever have is to know what things to be involved in and what things not to be involved in. Many workplace believers have a great ability to see opportunity. What appears to be a “slam dunk” may come back to haunt us if God never ordains us to enter that arena. There are many good things we can be involved with. However, there are God-things we are supposed to be involved with. Uzzah was a good man in David’s sight. It was a time of celebration, and David and the people were transporting the ark of God. However, the ark hit a bump, and Uzzah reached for the ark to hold it steady. He touched the ark, and he immediately died. David became very upset with God about this situation; he questioned whether he could serve God.
God’s ways are not our ways. The most important quality God desires to develop in us is our dependence on Him and Him alone. When we begin to make decisions based on reason and analysis instead of the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit, we get into trouble with God. David later learned the importance of this principle in his own life. This encounter was one of the stepping-stones in his pilgrimage. David was an extraordinary entrepreneur. He ran the nation very successfully, but he, like each of us, had to learn the difference between “good things” and “God-things.”
Are you involved in anything in which God has not directed you to be involved? Do you seek God about every decision, every action before you take it? This is where God wants you and me to be. Ask Him to show you how to walk with Him in this way.
In the ongoing aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I wanted to share these encouraging words from an updated post. I hope these thoughts will encourage you today, wherever you are.
When you find yourself in a storm of impossible circumstances, how do you get through it? What encouraging words do you need to hear?
Are you one of these?
You may find yourself in one of those categories, or in none of them. Maybe you know someone who’s struggling in a storm or wilderness right now and needs encouragement. While watching the news coverage of Hurricane Harvey, my husband and I found ourselves wishing we still had a larger boat so we could go down and help rescue victims of the flooding.
Each of us long to help in some way when we hear of others’ suffering. Because we’ve all experienced pain in one form or another. But even if we can’t go or be there physically, we can all give of ourselves in some way: through gifts of time or money, through praying, through practical help, or just offering friendship and love.
I’m not sure who needs these encouraging words, but I’m guessing all of us have experienced a wilderness or storm at one time or another in our lives. Maybe you’re still there. So, whoever you are, these encouraging words are for you.
Encouraging Words For You
Here are the verses God impressed me to share with you as I was reading from Isaiah 35:1-3, 10.
Isaiah lived in disturbing times, when God’s people imprisoned themselves in their own deserved judgment, following endless cycles of disobedience. Yet God promised hope and those words of encouraging words to balance their impending judgment: a light, as it were, at the end of the tunnel.
I’m sure Joshua needed encouragement as well, even though he had just emerged from a literal wilderness with Moses for 40 years. But he was moving into unconquered territory now. He, too, needed encouraging words, just to believe God’s promises to him and to God’s people. What God told him was not an option, but a command:
“I command you–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord Your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NLT).
Job held on to his hope and faith in God even though he lost his entire family, his livelihood–and almost his health.
God further promises that hope does not disappoint. (Romans 5:4; Isaiah 49:23, NIV). Wherever you are, whatever “wilderness” you’re in right now, cling to those encouraging words. Cling to Jesus.
Earthly hope will let us down. But true hope, wrapped up in a personal relationship and belief in Christ will never disappoint. In His word, God offers us hope in impossible situations. That kind of hope is rooted not in circumstances, but in Christ alone.
A Personal Prayer for You
Lord Jesus, please hear the cries of those still struggling in a storm or wandering in the wilderness of difficult or discouraging circumstances. Comfort weary, fearful hearts, and come alongside those who desperately need your companionship, counsel, and intervention. You have promised your presence, and I ask you to make Your presence real in every reader’s heart today. Give them hope and light wherever they are. You are the only One who can truly help. Be their refuge and strength. Encourage them today, and in the weeks and months to come, as only You can. Help them to run to Your arms of love. Let them know, that in You, all things are possible. Help us to carry one another’s burdens, Lord, wherever we are, giving whatever we can, whenever we can. Pour out a love in us that crosses all barriers. Thank You for Your encouraging words, Jesus!
It’s Your Turn
What about you? Are you in a storm or in the wilderness right now? What encouraging words or Bible verses are strengthening you? How did God help bring you out of a stressful times? I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below, or send me your stories through the message section on my contact page. You might encourage someone today!
It’s that time again…..for me to just talk about, well, ME! Each day, I sink lower and lower…into myself, into my depression……..I don’t know how to stop it from happening….my two sons and my fella all tell me that I have to force myself to think about other stuff and to not let “them” control me this way, but how do I accomplish this? I try……..today, I woke up and I felt like I’d never been to bed! I know it’s starting to show on my face……and my hair is falling out!
My son, Steven, is saying the Rapture is coming this month…..I hope so, because it may be the end to all my pain…
Of course, “they” don’t believe any of this probably……they go to their Catholic Church each Sunday but it’s just for show…..no real Faith or Spirit involved…….the Catholic Church is still what it mostly was when I was growing up and attending it….money grubbers……the Priests live off the people, and they live VERY WELL. And, my loved ones go to the Irish Catholic Church….they’re not Irish……..they should be going to the Polish one…on Oak Street……..but, this one is a poorer Parish, and the Irish one is for the wealthier people, a real status symbol……oh well…..
Well, my fella didn’t get to come home last home…..he had to take a motel……but he’ll be home early tonight, I hope. I plan to make a new casserole dish for dinner….either a Baked Taco, Baked Unstuffed Peppers, or Baked Pizza……but, I don’t have the pepperoni needed for the pizza one so I guess it’s between the other two….oh, wait, there’s also a Baked Loaded Sloppy Joe one…mmmmm!
Well, have a good day, y’all!!!!