Keep Looking Up!

Many of us face challenges in this life, either personally or through the lives of family and/or friends very near and dear to us. We sometimes worry about whether there is any hope or good expectation that might come out of the situations that concern us. Until we open the Word of God and are suddenly reminded that things are looking up for the child of God who places his/her faith in the Creator of this universe. He’s still in charge and because He owns it all, He knows exactly what will occur next. That’s our God!

DATE WRITTEN: Wednesday, 2020-03-11
WRITTEN AT: Paul B Johnson State Park, Hattiesburg, MS

Bible Reference: Acts 27:21-22
Translation: The Message (MSG)

Bible Text: With our appetite for both food and life long gone, Paul took his place in our midst and said, “Friends, you really should have listened to me back in Crete. We could have avoided all this trouble and trial. But there’s no need to dwell on that now. From now on, things are looking up! I can assure you that there’ll not be a single drowning among us, although I can’t say as much for the ship—the ship itself is doomed.

OBSERVATION: Many of us face challenges in this life, either personally or through the lives of family and/or friends very near and dear to us. We sometimes worry about whether there is any hope or good expectation that might come out of the situations that concern us. Until we open the Word of God and are suddenly reminded that things are looking up for the child of God who places his/her faith in the Creator of this universe. He’s still in charge and because He owns it all, He knows exactly what will occur next. That’s our God!

APPLICATION:  Paul and his friends faced a very serious scenario out on the ship on which they were traveling. Their ship had traveled that course many times in the past, but they never faced the challenges like they faced on that fateful night detailed in our Scripture. However, one other thing was different also, they had a passenger who knew the Master of the sea and of the wind and the waves. In fact, he stepped forward to encourage the sailors with a word that he received from an angel during the night. Now I want you to stop and compare this story with the challenges that you face. You too will also face challenges that are unheard of, and you also receive warnings, that also compare to those that Paul offered the boat captain before they set sail. Think about it, we are challenged by our pastor, Sunday School teacher, Christian friends, and even family members, to set aside our life of sin and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the only One who could rescue us from the trenches of everyday sin, and keep us safe through the toils of life and the temptations of this world. But what do we do with these challenges? Way too often we continue our independence, our selfish and often obnoxious attitudes, and we snarl at anything shared with us to the contrary. This is precisely what the ship’s crew did, they had no desire to change their plans because of one man’s warnings. Unfortunately, we often face obstacles along the way, much like Paul’s hardened audience faced, and unfortunately these obstacles can sometimes be catastrophic. Sometime we may survive the catastrophes and are able to hear the warnings once again, as we are given a second chance. Notice how Paul finally got the attention of the boat crew after they had tried everything they knew to do? It is so unfortunate that some folk are only open to God after they have tried everything else. Too often our idea of having time to try ‘one more thing’ has very little surety, just as the ship could have easily been destroyed prior to Paul having another opportunity to speak with the sailors. Our take away on this story is that we should never delay responding to God. I have had young friends who have been called from this life very unexpectedly – in the prime of their lives, where it was really important for them to properly raise their young families. I’m sure they never dreamed that they would not have time for one more prayer before their lives were taken. Not all of us can count on the second chance that these sailors were blessed with. Are you ready to meet Your Maker? How will you answer the question “Why should you be accepted into God’s heaven”? Because you are reading this devotional, it means that you have been given another opportunity to surrender your life to Jesus and give Him control of your life. But friend, the warning is clear throughout God’s Word that you have no assurance of your next minute or hour. Therefore, I am very motivated to encourage you into making a decision to invite Jesus into your life, right now. Today is the day of salvation, friend. The sailors paid no attention to Paul’s warnings and almost lost their lives without Christ. Please learn a lesson from this story and delay your decision no longer.

PRAYER: Dear God, I am so thankful that You send messengers into our lives, like You did with Paul to those sailors. This story is a warning to those of us who read it, that we must listen and obey the warnings You send our way. Please help us to see the need to open our hearts and allow You to govern our lives, our desires, our wants and our future. You loved us enough to sacrifice Your very own Son so that we might enjoy eternal life with You. Lord, may we love You enough to live our lives in obedience to Your commands. I pray that my unsaved/uncommitted friends that may meditate on this devotional, may catch a glimpse of Your love and subsequently make a decision to invite You as Lord and Savior of their lives this very day. Jesus, this is an awesome task that can only be accomplished by You, so I ask this in Your most worthy, and all powerful name, AMEN!

FOOTNOTE: There are two more pages on my blog that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’. If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please click on the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog might indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to Nuggets From God’s Word and read more, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Sebring, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would encourage you to visit my home church, Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

Pay Attention Folk

The Holy Spirit impacted me when I read through these verses, but as I went back and meditated on these verses, something really popped out off the pages of my Bible. Jesus said in verse 41 that His angels will gather from HIS kingdom – meaning HIS children, in other words – those who claimed to belong to the Master, and they would be taken out and thrown into the flaming furnace. We need to really meditate on, and understand, this today.

Monday, 2019-02-11

Bible Reference: Matthew 13:41-43
Translation: Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Bible Text:  41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everyone who does wrong or causes others to sin. 42 Then he will throw them into a flaming furnace, where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. 43 But everyone who has done right will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. If you have ears, pay attention!

OBSERVATION: The Holy Spirit impacted me when I read through these verses, but as I went back and meditated on these verses, something really popped out off the pages of my Bible. Jesus said in verse 41 that His angels will gather from HIS kingdom – meaning HIS children, in other words – those who claimed to belong to the Master, and they would be taken out and thrown into the flaming furnace. We need to really meditate on, and understand, this today.

APPLICATION: To read that there are thorns among the wheat, and how these thorns will stunt the growth of the wheat if left there during the growing period, yet we are told that the thorns should remain there. What do we make of this? I believe we would understand it very clearly if the Scripture said that those thorn bushes must be removed and burned, so that the wheat would mature without hindrance from the weeds. But that’s not exactly what Jesus said, is it? In my studies, I found out that back in verse 24 and following, Jesus told His audience that these weeds were planted to look just like the wheat, among which the weeds were planted. Now, to consider this idea in its proper context, let us consider our beautiful, plush and proper churches today. Wouldn’t it be extremely challenging to look out over our congregation, or even rub shoulders with them, and try to imagine who might be the ‘wheat’ among us, and who are the ‘weeds’. But I believe that Jesus is reminding us that because everyone walking through our doors are dressed just like us, look just like us, sing just like us, and may even give to the ministry just like us, we must not conclude that they are children of the kingdom. In Psalm 1:5, we are told that “sinners will have no place among the saved” on Judgment Day. So let’s try and conclude what Jesus is teaching here. Friends, I believe that way too often we look at what our coworker is succeeding at, or how happy that new Sunday School member seems to be in their life, and we start emulating their lifestyle, or we join them in the things that seem to successfully bring joy in their life. But Jesus is teaching us today that we have only one role model, one Savior and one Lord. He tells us throughout His Word how we are to seek His righteousness, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim. I believe that when we start desiring what another person has – whether it’s happiness, a great spouse, wonderful children, a healthy lifestyle, an expensive car, etc., then we are permitting ourselves to seek our happiness and pleasure in another person (wheat or thorns), rather than in the joy, peace and wisdom of our almighty God, who proved His love for us on Calvary. Our times of meeting at church, or any gathering, with fellow believers, or those we assume are fellow believers, we tend to lift up and encourage each other. We are supposedly there for one purpose – to corporately lift up the name of Jesus and worship Him from the very depths of our heart. It’s a given fact that some of these folk may have more knowledge than us about the teachings of God, and some may even have experienced miracles from God, but if you miss your one-on-one encounter with your maker, and if you confuse His direction that He has planned for your life, by following the lead of your fellow worshipper, then you are missing out on the importance of growing closer to the Master. Remember, He has laid out a plan for you, and that plan will involve experiences that you may totally miss, if you receive your guidance and leadership from a friend. We all must accept Jesus individually, and we all must seek His perfect will for our individual lives, if we are to live the perfect life He has in store for us. How are you doing with that my friend? Do you have a really intimate relationship with Jesus, and listening to His every command for your life? If not, let me encourage you to seek Him while He may be found. Draw close to Him, my friend, and He will draw near to you. You are the apple of His eye. He loves You and would like nothing better than to welcome you through the gates of Heaven when He calls you out of this world. Sure things up today, won’t you?

PRAYER: A challenging parable, but a much needed message for each of your children, dear God. Thank You for speaking to us in such unexpected, but important ways throughout Your Word, O Lord. Thank You for drawing our attention to the real source of revival in our land. It’s not my brother, or my sister, but it’s me oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer and needing to draw even closer to You. Please speak to the hearts and souls or Your people today, draw them to yourself, so that all doubt will be removed whether they are Yours – redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Lord, may Your children be reassured of their stance with You today, so they may proceed with Your work, designated for them individually. People need the Lord – yes especially those who feel comfortable in church, even without ever having experienced You in their lives. May today be the day that they are introduced to the Master, and may they surrender their whole being to You and Your will for their life. AMEN!

FOOTNOTE: There are two more pages on my blog that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’. If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please click on the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog might indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to Nuggets From God’s Word and read more, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Sebring, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

Satisfied!

THE HOLY BIBLE (The Contemporary English Version – 1 Timothy 6:7-10): We didn’t bring anything into this world, and we won’t take anything with us when we leave. 8 So we should be satisfied just to have food and clothes. 9 People who want to be rich fall into all sorts of temptations and traps. They are caught by foolish and harmful desires that drag them down and destroy them. 10 The love of money causes all kinds of trouble. Some people want money so much that they have given up their faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.

THOUGHTS: Life seems so simple when one has nothing, doesn’t it? I once heard an international missionary say about the poor people in the area they served: “but the people are happy, because they don’t know about what they don’t have”. That made me think back to my earlier childhood days, especially when I now hear my parents talk about the rough times we had back then. But the truth is: I never noticed that we were poor and were going without many of the things that others thought were so important to life. In this scripture today, and through his mentoring to Timothy, Paul is teaching us to be very careful to not let our ‘want-to-haves’ overpower our good sense. We are often taught in the Bible that our God will meet our ‘needs’. Paul is teaching us that basic needs are food and clothing. And although he didn’t mention it, I believe that shelter is also important. Way too often I believe that humans are caught in a growing need to want more, whether money or ‘things’. To achieve these, we fight over job positions, and often tear down another person to build ourselves up, or we find ways to use them as a stepping stone for us to move beyond them. We wind up being such a slave to our employers that we work ungodly hours that often keeps us away from family and church or relationship time with God. Friends, when we are lacking in these areas of our lives, everything worthwhile falls apart around us. Yet the one thing that we hold on to – our jobs, are quickly filled with a replacement when we fail to produce like we’ve always done! When we allow the busyness of life to affect our homes and/or our relationship with God, and yes this is evident in our church attendance, then we must stop and challenge ourselves what then are we really striving for? What is there that offers value to my life beyond my usefulness to my boss? Please don’t get me wrong, I am a devoted businessman, but I pray that I will always be a more devoted husband, father and worker for the Lord in His vineyard here on earth. I’m reminded of a gospel song that speaks about just this, listen as you finish reading! But how about you friend, what’s your status on priorities? Please take time to re-evaluate your life today and be sure that you have a right balance in these areas of your life!

PRAYER: Father in heaven, I believe that this scripture this morning probably applies more to the times we are now in, than ever before. For while many might be greedy towards making more money, in spite of the millions they would probably never live long enough to enjoy, yet there are some who worry about the financial aspects of their retirement years and therefore see the need to work at least one more year to ‘top off’ that spendable income during retirement. Not knowing how much longer we will live, I realize that this is just Satan’s way of pushing our families further apart, and closing down even more churches because of lack of attendance and/or commitment. I am convinced that You never intended life to be this stressful and complicated, so I plead with You today to help me keep the main things in life the main thing. Please continue to lead me into more quality time with my family. More quality time in Your Word and in faith building efforts around Your saints here on earth. May I be the person You can use to grow Your kingdom through the witness I might display while around others. Please touch the lives of my readers today and allow Your Word to penetrate their lives and impact them in a way that they too will seek Your perfect God-designed will for their lives. Please have Your will and way in our lives today, is my humble prayer that I ask in the name of Your Son, Jesus my Lord, with thanksgiving, AMEN!

FOOTNOTE: If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com so that we can pray with you and give you help and or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Any words underlined above will indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to blogger.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, Sebring, FL! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

Being Brought To Our Senses

The Holy Bible

8 …… We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

12 We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness (honesty) and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you.

(Bible Translation and Location: New Living Translation – 2 Corinthians 1:8-12)

Thoughts:

I believe that what Paul was really saying at the beginning of these verses is something that we struggle with more often than we might care to acknowledge. It seems like many times we wait to seek God’s favor, help and/or direction until we have given up all hope of trying to handle the situation ourselves. The great apostle Paul was guilty of the same thing, because he declared in verse 9 that basically when they had exhausted all effort and hope for survival, then they stopped relying on self and turned the matter over to God. Friends I believe that stories like this were intentionally placed in the Bible under God’s leadership, because He knew that there would be another set of Christians just like Paul, who would follow the same stubborn path. Why is this? I believe that there may be several reasons: 1). It may be due to lack of communion with God. I have found that when my wife and I go through times of extreme busyness and don’t take time to communicate like we should, often there are things that I forget to share with her. You and I have allowed our lives to become so busy because of over committing ourselves and lack of priority, that the thing that screams most at us, gets our attention; 2). It may be due to us not wanting to bug God for every little thing, so we wait until items are totally out of our control (like Paul and Timothy did). Perhaps this study will serve to remind us that we build confidence in God through talking with Him and seeing answers to the little stuff and, that major items never grow into such. And 3). It may be that God intentionally uses times like these to wake us up from our sleepiness and distractions that interfere in our relationship with Him, and while He has our attention, perhaps deals with us about other spiritual/Godly things that require attention. Please also look closely at verse 10, for Paul tells us that this experience gave them confidence to know that God will rescue them in the future, because of the miraculous rescue and answer to prayer in the current application. Like Paul said in verse 12, having experienced God’s wonderful power, we must learn to depend on God’s grace at all times, and not our own wisdom. When the world sees that, then they will know whose we are! Lord, may they always see Jesus when they look at His kids!

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank You for being my God, my Deliverer, my Healer, my Friend and Savior. May I be very open in my relationship with You, yet very dedicated to time with You, so that we may communicate at all times. Thank You for bringing Paul and Timothy to their senses, opening their eyes to Truth and reminding them of who’s in charge. Thank You for leading me to this passage this morning, because I desperately need Your guidance and overwhelming power in my life even today, I am guilty of trying to settle/handle the little things myself. Please keep me awake and willing to share with You every little life experience and challenge, so that You may show Your power, before the ‘big’ things ever develop. Lord, this will be very foreign to those that may read this without a close relationship with You. Please open their spiritual eyes to the Truth, Your Word that should direct our path every day. I love You Lord! Thank You for who You are, and for claiming me as Your very own Son! I celebrate Your goodness, and plead for Your ongoing grace, in the wonderful name of Your Sin, Jesus. AMEN!

FOOTNOTE: If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com so that we can pray with you and give you help and or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Any words underlined above will indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to blogger.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each days devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, Sebring, FL!

Attention Please?

Unfortunately there are times in the lives of individuals that, although God made them to love Him, Worship Him and Obey Him, yet in their minds, confused and controlled by Satan, they decide to do their own thing. In doing the opposite of what they think God might want from them, they often attack the people and things of God – Christians and the church as a whole. Saul was a good example of this. But also in my Old Testament reading this morning another such character is identified – Manessah (2 Chronicles 33:1-20).  In Manessah’s case, God got his attention by allowing his enemy to attack him and badly hurt him (almost to the point of death). While in a vulnerable position, he pleaded to God for help and, because of God’s mercy and love, He forgave him and Manessah made a 180 degree turn/change in his life’s direction and purpose. In Saul’s case, God boldly got his attention while on the road to his next mission to destroy the Christians in Damascus. He, also, made a 180 degree turn/change in his life. I feel compelled to remind Christians that there are misguided folk that we come into contact with every day. I challenge you to be that forgiving, loving, accepting, life-changing representative of God that will help them to make that same 180 degree change that Saul and Manessah made. It will make the difference of eternal death or eternal life to them, and you will then boldly stand before Jesus on the day of His return and not be ashamed of having obeyed Him, even in challenging circumstances. I also feel compelled to warn those who have not yet accepted Jesus as Lord of their life that it is important that you listen and obey the voice of Jesus when He touches your life. Just as He was powerful enough to touch the lives of these two men whose mission it was to destroy God’s work, He too can lift you up from the evil things that you may be involved in. Remember, there is only one God, and He alone is powerful enough to help you make a 180 degree change in the way you are living your life. He is seeking your attention and wanting to see you on the right path that He sacrificed His life to provide for you. Won’t you stop, listen and obey today? Jesus loves you right where you are at, just let Him work in you friend!

Book cover

As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed round him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” he asked. “I am Jesus, whom you persecute,” the voice said. “But get up and go into the city, where you will be told what you must do.”

The ‘Right Words’ – From God

Scripture: Matthew 10 

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

….don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.  Matt 10:19-20 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

I believe that one of the greatest fears that we have as Christians, is wondering if we will have the right words to say when we witness to someone about Jesus. In these verses Jesus told His disciples, who He was readying to send into the world as His witnesses, “don’t worry about that, because it won’t be you doing the speaking, but the Spirit of the heavenly father”. This is the peace that we need to have when we approach others. First of all. I believe that our personal ‘witness’ would have already been evident to them, because they would have looked at our actions long before thinking about listening to us. Secondly, when we represent Jesus, He will, like He did with His first disciples, allow His Holy Spirit to speak through us. So really, all we need to do is to be obedient and share His love with others around us and leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. Let’s not mess it up by adding our two cents. Jesus knows the heart, mind and condition of the individuals we approach, so it is extra fitting that we allow Him to take control and speak the right words through us. This should take all the stress out of witnessing!

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Father I believe that You know all that goes on around us, and You know the stress that we place on ourselves when we try to do the work that You have told us to leave up to You. Please help me to surrender this stress to You and allow You to speak the words through me in those opportunities that I have to share Your love and salvation. I know that it’s no different today than it was with Your first disciples, so please get my attention when I try to blurt out the wrong words (those of self) so that I may stop and give You the controls where the right words will flow and the effectiveness of Your Holy Spirit will be very evident to the one with whom I am trying to witness to. You alone are God! Thank You!

Blessings that are showered on Us!

Scripture: Genesis 32

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’10 I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps!   Gen 32:9-10 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

Jacob had worked very hard for his father-in-law Laban over the years, and because of his hard work he was rewarded with a lot of livestock. This never went to his head, but at this time when Jacob was worried about the possibility of there being trouble ahead for him, and especially knowing that he was following God’s instructions, he stopped to pray again to God for some reassurance. This was admirable for Jacob to do this, but what caught my attention was the humbleness of his prayer. He felt unworthy of all the blessings that God had showered on him over the years. While I don’t feel like I am anywhere near the humility level of Jacob, I often reflect on the poor around me and wonder in amazement about the ways that God has seen fit to bless me. I am convinced that God is in control and that He loves us so much that if we would only open our hearts to Him and surrender our stubborn selves over to the control of His mighty hand, we will stand back, like Jacob, in amazement and count our blessings and give God the praise that He alone deserves. Whether we live in what some may consider ‘a mansion’ , or whether we live in what some may consider ‘a shack’ let us thank God for His awesome mercy and blessings on our lives. Our pausing to recognize our blessing before God may never be recognized in print like Jacob’s experience was, but what is important is for God to know that our hearts are filled with amazement and thanksgiving for all that He does for us each and every day. Our God is awesome, there is no one like He is!

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Thank You Father for all that You do for me each and every day. I can’t imagine what I must do to deserve Your love, Your protection, Your provision and Your will manifesting itself in and through me. The amazing thing is, that I don’t need to understand all this, but rather just to know that You love me so much that although You sent Your one and only precious Son to die for me, You would go to any extent to continue extending Your love towards me. Thank You for all that You do for me, thank You for providing the means for me to one day worship at Your feet in glory! I have so much to look forward to today and every day because of Your love. Thank You Jesus!

Intent of the Heart and Obedience to the Word

Scripture: Matthew 5

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.20 “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!  Matt 5:17-20 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

I believe that today we know many who try everything to get around the law, or they try to see how close they can come in doing something without getting arrested or caught for actually doing the crime. Take for instance speeding on the highways. We know that we could get a pricy ticket if we are caught, so we purchase a ‘fuzz buster’ to tell us when we are approaching a highway patrolman. Now in God’s records, can we be accused of breaking the law of the land? Of course we can. Just because we may hide behind a ‘fuzz buster’ or a lie, or anything else, God knows what actually took place. In fact, Jesus taught that even if we are angry enough to murder, we have sinned, even if we didn’t actually pull the trigger, or plunge the dagger. These were the type of folk that Jesus was teaching in this passage, and I believe that as I described, our folk that He would be teaching today. Even though I can’t think of how this applies to me, what caught my attention is verse 19, where Jesus teaches that if we ignore in the least, one of His commands, and we teach others to do so, then we would be considered one of the least in His Kingdom. I trust that I will be devoted to serving Christ to the fullest and obeying His commands each and every day, and that this will be so evident in my life that others will not be misled. If our hearts have been hardened to the Word of God, may we be blessed with a man of God to preach the Word to reveal our shortcomings this week.

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

Father I know that many times we will do something often enough until we will lose sight of whether it is wrong or not. I pray today that You will open my mind and my understanding to anything that I may do that is not in line with Your Word and in obedience to Your commands. I pray that my every word and every action will be from a heart devoted to You and with the intent of leading others to know You and understand Your teachings. Please touch my heart daily and give me the desire to obey Your commands, followed by the actions that would display the intent of Your Word.

Speak in Boldness, But with a Humble Spirit

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Matthew 3

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Matt 3:8 (NLT)

13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.14 But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” Matt 3:13-14 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

Two things in particular caught my attention in this passage this morning:

  1. The boldness of John the BaptistHe was on mission for God and seems like he said what he felt led of God to say to the people that he preached to, without fear of repercussion from the government of that day, or the leaders (Pharisees and Sadducees). It seems like today we have become so politically correct in our churches in order to not hurt anyone’s feelings (and I don’t believe for a minute that we can only speak the truth if we know that someone’s feelings got hurt), but it just seems like we are afraid to say it like it is. An old saying that I always remember is that ‘if the shoe fits, wear it’, in other words if something that was said speaks to issues in your life, then obviously God is dealing with you through His spoken Word. As a people we have become so ‘thin-skinned’ that we retaliate when our feelings are hurt by holding back on our tithes, or not attending church, or gossiping about the preacher, etc, etc. Assuming that we have all prayed earnestly for the man of God, that he may discern God’s will and Word for us when he stands in the pulpit before us, are we then not challenging God Himself when we retaliate against the preaching or even God’s written Word? How dare us?
  2. The humbleness of John the Baptist – A man known for his boldness in speaking out, yet when Jesus comes to be baptized, John the Baptist said that in no way is he worthy to baptize the Savior of the world. How true this is. No matter how close we feel like we have become to God, we are but dirty rags compared to the only pure and Holy One of God. I believe that this is well worth keeping foremost in our minds so that we don’t let self pride come in the way. We are nothing without Christ, and we personally can do nothing miraculous, such as winning a lost soul or healing a sick person, but only through prayer and humble submission to the power and will of God. We should always pass any praise or glory straight on up to God for anything accomplished through us. It is encouraging for us to see lives touched by God because of something He may have said through us, but may our Words and actions be so filled with His love and His power that He may accomplish great things for the kingdom in spite of our human shortcomings.

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)

I believe that much could be accomplished through us and our churches today if we used the boldness displayed by John the Baptist, yet the humble spirit that he displayed in the presence of the Holy Son of God. Lord Jesus, it is You that I serve and You that deserves all the praise for anything accomplished in Your name here on this earth. Please may I find boldness in serving You, but be ready to step aside and let the glory all go up straight to You. Please have Your will and way in my life today, and may  there be opportunities for Your glory to shine through in something that I may say or do today so that Your kingdom may be fulfilled. Opportunities will come and go, and so will my words, but I believe that as You use me as Your humble servant today, Your words spoken through me will touch the hearts of Your people with lasting power and effectiveness. To God be the Glory for all that will be accomplished in Your name today!

Our God Who Cares For Us!

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Genesis 2

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one.20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening.22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.  Gen 2:18-22 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

A very familiar passage from Genesis, but I was reminded about how much my God really cares for us, His children. I could only imagine how often He must look down on us and see a need in our lives, then proceeds to provide for us, as He did in the case of Adam. We bring so much on ourselves, and we place ourselves in so many situations that could harm us or prove to be inappropriate for us  in our Christian walk. I can’t even begin to imagine how often God must shake His head and wonder why we are not listening to Him, why are we not doing what He told us in His Word to do, and then redirecting us back on the right path. I can only praise God this morning for a God that is patient with me, who loves me enough to redirect me and show me the right path, in spite of myself and all my personal shortcomings.

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because of what He said here today?)

Thank you Father for loving me enough to get my attention from a world of sin and self, to see the need for a Savior and a hope for eternity. You created Adam, saw every need he had, and provided everything You knew that he would need to fulfill his life and I have no doubt that You still have that same love and caring for myself and Your other children today, and that You provide for us each and every day. I know that I could, and often do, make plenty enough mistakes on my own, thank You for reminding me that I have a Savior that watches over me every day and provides for me in ways that I could hardly imagine. I was reminded of this same things through a small comic-type photo this morning also, and I will attach it for all to reflect on!

He cares for the birds