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“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”
“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will
reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.”
1 Peter 3:14
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy
in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:1
Although it was many years ago, I still vividly remember the first
time I witnessed the power of a victorious spirit over physical challenges. I
met Felicity at a laundromat where I went to do my laundry. New to town and
lonely, I was drawn to her friendly smile like a moth to a flame. She invited
me to join her, and before long, we were chatting like old friends.
It was only when we transferred our laundry from washers to dryers that I noticed the curve in her spine that affected her gait when she walked. But her lack of self-consciousness put me right at ease. By the time the laundry were folded, Felicity knew more about me than anyone had bothered to learn since I’d moved there.
Looking back, I wonder why she even bothered with me. Older and a college graduate, Felicity had lots of friends. Yet, she took this shy nineteen-year-old girl under her wing, brightening my days. She invited to her house and visited mine.
Although she bore significant surgical scars, I never heard her complain or show any sign of self-pity. The only reference she ever made to her surgeries was when her daughter was born with a crossed eye. Undaunted, Felicity declared she already knew the wonders surgery could accomplish. When the time was right, her daughter had that surgery and her eye was straightened.
Upon reflection, I’m not surprised my friend was so confident and happy. Her very name means happiness, contentment, joy, and blessed. What a beautiful testament to her parents’ trust in their loving God on that long-ago day when she came into this world.
Dorothy writes from her home on a ridge overlooking the Arkansas River in Little Rock. She has been involved in women’s ministries for nearly forty years, teaching Bible studies. Her passion is for people, especially women, to understand their value in Jesus.
More of Dorothy Johnson: http://reflectionsfromdorothy.blogspot.com/
Citizens of Heaven -
by Theodore Epp
All of us who have believed in Christ, like the patriarchs, are "looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:10, NASB).
Believers of old were "seeking a country of their own" (v. 14, NASB), and we, too, are seeking a heavenly country. Even though we reside on earth, our legal residence is in heaven.
Therefore, our minds should be on that which originates in heaven rather than on that which originates on earth.
Paul told of those whose minds were on earthly things. He referred to them as "enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things" (Phil. 3:18,19, NASB).
In contrast to this kind of people, the believer is to follow the injunctions of Colossians 3:1-3: "If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (NASB).
Jesus Himself prayed, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). Jesus was concerned about God's will being carried out, not just in the end times but also now in the believer.
So whereas the pattern of our life is heavenly, the practice is here on earth.
"And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming" (1 John 2:28).
This appeared here and is shared with permission.
Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website.
More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions
God Can Use You -
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the LORD had done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. —Mark 5:18-20
If you want to read a great Bible story, take a moment to ponder Mark 5:1-20. It shows how Jesus and His disciples were out on the Sea of Galilee. They were headed in a Southeasterly direction out of Capernaum. The disciples asked Jesus where they were heading and for what purpose. Jesus answered, “Oh, we’re heading toward the are of the ten Greek cities, the Decapolis.”
The disciples asked, “What for?”
He replied, “We’re going to get the message of the Kingdom out throughout that entire region.”
“My,” Peter said. “That’s quite a task. How many weeks will we be there? I didn’t really come prepared.”
“You don’t understand,” said Jesus. “We’ll just be there a few hours, maybe the better part of the day.”
“Well, frankly, LORD, I’m totally confused. How in the world can we get the message out in such a short time?” asked another.
“Oh, I’ve got it all figured out,” said Jesus. “I’ve got a man picked out over there. We’ll be meeting him a bit after we land. He’s going to spread the word.”
“Well,” said Peter, “now I understand. Is it anyone we know?”
“No, you’ve never met this fellow before.”
“He must be quite a guy if he’s going to take on this territory all by himself. He must have some charisma or training. I’ll bet he’s one of those sharp, well-educated young Pharisees who was converted down at the seminary in Jerusalem during our last visit there! Right?” someone asked.
“No,” Jesus said. “Actually, he hasn’t had any training at all. And frankly, he hasn’t gone to school much either. As a matter of fact, mostly he has just been hanging around the cemetery lately.”
“The cemetery? What is he, a funeral director? Or a gravedigger? What does he do at the cemetery?” a disciple demanded.
“Well, mainly he runs around breaking chains, cutting himself and banging his head on the stone markers. As a matter of fact, right now he’s full of the devil and running around half nuts.”
Do you get the idea? Only God knows the power and potential within each one of us. Isn’t it amazing that He uses ordinary people like you and me to accomplish His plans? If God can use a demon-possessed man to spread the word (see Mark 5:20), then He can surely use you as well. What about you? Will you allow yourself to be an ordinary person whom God uses to do extraordinary things?
1. Why do you think Jesus used regular people—or even very needy people, as opposed to the most talented people of His day—to further God’s kingdom?
2. How can this story be meaningful in your life?
Jim Burns is President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family @ Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Jim’s radio broadcast is heard on over 800 stations a day and heard around the world via podcast at HomeWord.com.
Some of his recent books include: Faith Conversations for Families; Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers, Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together, Confident Parenting, The Purity Code and Creating an Intimate Marriage. Jim and his wife, Cathy and their three daughters Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi live in Southern California.
More of Jim Burns: www.homeword.com
Looking at Where You've Been
This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden
Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” —Deuteronomy 1:29-31
After living in England for a year, I had a new appreciation for rowing. One day, we convinced a friend to take us out on the boat to give it a try. We were assigned positions within the boat, and our coxswain was seated ready to guide and steer us through the River Thames. We learned how to stroke and move our bodies in rhythm with the other rowers. The hardest part for me, however, was not being able to see where we were going. My job was to row, while it was the coxswain’s job to watch where we were headed. “Life’s a lot like rowing,” a friend once told me. “You only know where you’ve been.”
The Israelites had traveled through the desert for more years than they probably wished to count. Spies had been sent out to inspect the Promised Land. Upon returning, the men reported that the people were larger and stronger, and the people of Israel were scared. They cried out to Moses and asked why God had brought them there to die.
Then, Moses said something that I often have to remind myself of, the gist of what he said was: Quit looking forward and being paralyzed in fear. God will fight for you! Look at all He has done in the past. He carried you in your time of need. He guided you in the darkness when you couldn’t find your way and was with you in the light when things seemed easier and clearer. Trust in Him!
We may not know what lies ahead, but we know where we have been. Wherever you are in your journey, whether a time of light or a time of darkness, God is with you. As the Israelites demonstrated to us over and over, it is often too easy to forget how God has carried us in the past when challenges face us ahead.
If you find yourself wondering where God is, or becoming paralyzed with fear over what is next, hold tight to this: The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in _______. (Fill in the blank.) God will carry you as He has done before, as He always will.
1. What makes it difficult for you to fully put your trust in God when it comes to the future?
2. Make a list of at least three ways God has delivered you in the past.
Deuteronomy 1; Psalm 13; Romans 15:13
This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.
More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/