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Jesus Will Provide by Beth

I love reading through the gospels—especially the Gospel of John. I have spent some time recently reading back over the Gospel of John, especially during these quarantine times we find ourselves in due to the coronavirus. We read in John 21:1-14 that the disciples find themselves waiting, afraid, a little confused, and anxious. Are you experiencing these kinds of feelings today? For the disciples, they were not yet appointed to preach the resurrection of Jesus. As Matthew Henry describes it, “Their commission was in the drawing, but not perfected. The hour for entering upon action was to come. It was probable that their Master had directed them to say nothing of his resurrection till after his ascension, not till after the pouring out of the Spirit, and then they were to begin in Jerusalem.” Here in John 21:1-8 we read of a third time Jesus manifested himself to a group of the disciples early one morning, after a very unfruitful night of fishing:

“After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will also come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you do not have any fish, do you?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.’ So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.”

There are several things I want us to glean from this passage. First of all, Jesus knows what’s going on in our lives. He knows all that we are going through and He stands victorious in it. He knows where we are, what we are doing, and what our need is. He sees us. He is intimately acquainted with all of our ways. He has not left us to fend for ourselves. Even though our feelings may dictate how we respond in this pandemic, it has not caught our Lord by surprise. Our relationship with Jesus is not based on how we feel. It is based on the Person of Jesus Christ.

Secondly, not only does Jesus know, He also cares. He cares deeply. James 4:5 says, “…He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.” He desires deeply to take care of us because we who are IN Him are HIS. We are his children, and He loves us with an everlasting love. Jesus is going to take care of his children. It may not look the way we think it should look, but He is going to take care of us because we belong to Him. The disciples had been fishing all night and had not caught one fish. Not one! As a small-time (very small-time) fisherman, I know the defeat of not catching anything. Jesus knew the disciples had not caught anything all night. They were defeated and tired. “…Jesus said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.’”

“Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.” John 21:11

Oh sweet friends, Jesus wants us to trust him in this season. There is victory in this season. Because of the finished work of Christ on the Cross, we are victorious. So we operate in this season from a place of victory. Jesus knows what is going on in your life and mine. Let me encourage you to read His word. He speaks to us through His word. He gives us instruction on how to navigate through every season of life just like He did for the disciples that morning. Jesus is at work. He knows. He cares. He sees. He has a plan. He will provide.

What Matters Most by Laura

JESUS SAID… to his disciples,

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.

INSTEAD, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
Luke 12:22-31

Are you anxious about your life? Jesus says, don’t be! These last weeks in the midst of this pandemic have been extremely different from any we have ever lived. The Spirit has whispered these lyrics in my heart and mind over and over. “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” We hear this biblical truth in Jesus’ words. His words are truth and as I look out my window and consider the birds and the flowers, I see that truly, God does feed and clothe them. Of how much more value are you than the birds, He asks! Do not be anxious about your life, He commands! Your Father knows your needs, He reminds.

God meets the needs of every living thing. (Psalm 145:15-16)

Jesus tells his disciples that life is more than food and the body more than clothing. He is pointing them to the heart of the matter as He always does. He desires that we live from the inside out. His instructions are, not to worry but instead, to seek His kingdom. How is the Kingdom of God defined in scripture? “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Our focus should not be on this physical life but on the spiritual life we will live forever. Your true life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3) It is referred to as the hidden person of the heart (I Peter 3:4). Jesus tells us to stop worrying about the physical things in this temporal life. INSTEAD seek God’s Kingdom and the physical needs will be added.

Be encouraged by these words from Jesus about what matters most in these unique days. Seek His kingdom – righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. How do we do that? Be still before Him, acknowledge the truth that He is God. Ask Him to speak to your heart, to examine your heart as you read and meditate on His Word and listen for Him. Consider what He says to you about His kingdom and write it down. “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing” (Luke 12:23).

Don’t Let Mildew Take Over by Miriam

I’m reading through the Bible again this year. In the past, every time I get to Leviticus and Numbers, I’ve always struggled to see how it applies to me. Of course, the more I’ve read God’s word and studied it, I’ve come to realize the Bible is about God. The more I read His word, the deeper I come to know Him. As a result of this, the more I’ll know about myself.

As I’ve read through the first few books of the Bible, each year I learn more and more about the Holy God we serve and why He gave the instructions He did to the Israelites. So this year, as I read through Leviticus 13 where God is giving Moses and Aaron instructions for the Israelites, I came to verses 47-52 where God is telling them what to do if their clothing gets contaminated with mildew. In verses 51 and 52 it says, “On the seventh day he is to examine it, and if the mold has spread in the fabric, the woven or knitted material, or the leather, whatever its use, it is a persistent defiling mold; the article is unclean. He must burn the fabric, the woven or knitted material of wool or linen, or any leather article that has been spoiled; because the defiling mold is persistent, the article must be burned.”

As I read those words a lightbulb went off — it was like the Lord was saying to me, “Miriam, sin is like this in your life. If you don’t deal with it right away, it is persistent and will get its roots deeper in you until it ruins something.” I wrote at the top of the page in my Bible, “Sin in our life is like a destructive mildew. Deal with it immediately!”

Over the years I have prayed and asked the Lord to convict me quickly of sin and help me to confess it and not allow satan to have a foothold in my life. This passage in Leviticus was such a great reminder of why this is important. How about you? Are you allowing the “mildew” in your life to take over? Don’t give it one more “article of clothing” or one more “wall in your house.” Confess it to the Lord. Ask Him to forgive you. He will. 1 John 1:9 says, “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Being Intentional by Beth

“Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hand held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amelek in battle.” Exodus 17:12-13

I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions. What I ask of the Lord at the beginning of a new year is that He would show me, through my daily walk with Him, what would bring Him the most glory. As I prayed, read His word, communed with other believers, “be intentional” kept coming to mind. Just as Aaron and Hur were intentional about holding up the arms of Moses, I too, want to be intentional to hold up my brothers and sisters in Christ. Especially in the area of prayer with those who are struggling. Exodus 17:11 says, “As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage.”

I am thankful that today, you and I have the precious and powerful Holy Spirit who fights our battles for us. When we are feeling powerless or tired or feel like we are failing at life, we can have confidence, as a believer, that we are not alone. We can start each day knowing the Holy Spirit is there to help us. He is the power that sustains, energizes, and keeps us in Christ Jesus.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, I want to be intentional in loving my family, even if we don’t always see eye-to-eye on things. I want to be intentional to pray for my brothers and sisters in the faith. I want to be intentional in sharing the gospel.

Paul encourages us in Ephesians 5:15-17 to “look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Let me encourage you to make the best use of your time this year. For me, it’s being more intentional, and as Paul admonishes us in Ephesians, “understanding what the will of the Lord is.”

New Mercies…New Beginnings by Laura

But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:21-22).

At the beginning of a new year – a new decade, I have been so aware of new mercies. Divine favor from our merciful LORD never ceases to amaze and encourage me. Reading the prophet Jeremiah has opened my heart to the deep meaning of his words in Lamentations 3. The book of Jeremiah is filled with extreme messages he delivers from the LORD to His people. The Old Testament prophets spoke for the LORD to the people of Israel and in Jeremiah’s case, these messages brought dire consequences.

In the first 20 verses of Lamentations 3, he is recounting trials, tests and afflictions he has experienced because of His prophetic messages. We read in verse 20, “My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.” Then we come to verse 21 and a wonderful word in scripture…”But”. This change of direction reveals Jeremiah’s mental decision to remember something that gives Him hope even in the midst of his drastic situation. It is the steadfast love of Yahweh. The “chesed” (Hebrew word) of the covenant keeping God. This steadfast love is loyal love. This steadfast love is eternal and brings new mercies every morning from our faithful Father. Experiencing this love gives us hope in the midst of anything we may encounter in the new year.

My guess is that most of us have not endured anything near the kinds of experiences Jeremiah endured due to our speaking the truth of God’s Word. However, we are not without tests and trials in this life. You may be in a place of discouragement. You may feel as if your soul is bowed down within you. You may feel hopeless. You may have never known the “chesed” love of God. Hear God speaking through Jeremiah to remind you that there is hope in His great love. God demonstrated this great love by sending Jesus to die on the cross, shedding His perfect blood to forgive your sin. Cry out to Him today for His new mercies. Call to mind His steadfast love and experience a new beginning in 2020!!

Love One Another by Miriam

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

These were some of Jesus last words to His disciples before He was crucified. Over and over in God’s word we are told to love one another. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:2 to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Then in 1 John 3:23 we are told, “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”

As I pondered the passage in John 13 recently, I asked myself, “Do people know I am a follower of Jesus by the way I love others?”. And by others, I don’t just mean my immediate family or close friends. Although they are definitely part of the ones I should love, I’m pretty sure that Jesus meant much more than that. Do I show love for those who are not as easy to love?

I’m asking the Lord to help me to see others as He sees them — as someone for whom He gave His only son (John 3:16) — and to love them. I want people to know I am a follower of Jesus by the way I love others. How about you? Do people see your love for others and think, “They must be a follower of Jesus because they love others so well.”?

A Bright Sunny Place (Excerpt from 31 Days of Encouragement – Beth)

“BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART, FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD.”
Matthew 5:8

One of my favorite places to sit with the Lord in the early hours of the morning is at my kitchen table. It is a bright sunny place overlooking a small pond in my backyard. A few weeks ago, as I sat in this place with the Lord, I could barely see through my own tears. My spirit was broken and my heart was hurting. The day before, I had left the special Bible that my mother gave me on the kitchen table. This particular Bible was so special to me because my mother had written love notes to me and highlighted special passages as she read through it the year before she gave it to me. I enjoyed using that Bible during my quiet times with the Lord for over four years. It was one of my most precious possessions. My heart sank when my family and I returned home from church the day before to discover that our new puppy had shredded and half-eaten my special Bible. When I saw the Bible scattered and torn all over the kitchen floor, it was as though the breath was knocked right out of me. I fell to the floor, weeping and trying to gather all of the pieces. The Bible could not be salvaged.

The next morning, as I sat in my usual sunny place, my spirit felt dry and empty. This beautiful sunny place suddenly became a sad, dark place for me. I wept many times over my loss. I battled an empty feeling for several days as I sat in my special place. My emotions began to consume me as I grieved for my Bible. It was during one of these times with the Lord that I sensed Him speaking to me. In a voice as clear as the words on this page, I heard Jesus say to me, “My precious Beth, you have been worshipping the time and routine of spending time with Me. I want you to worship ME.” My choked response was, “Lord, what did you say?” Again, the Lord said to me, “I want you to worship Me in spirit and in truth.” I fell on my face before the Lord that morning and confessed my selfish heart. The words of Deuteronomy 8:5 rang true that “you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.” At that moment, the dry and empty place within me began to warm up and become sunny again. This was a life changing moment for me.

According to scripture, those who worship the Lord “must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Friend, are you worshipping the habit of meeting with the Lord or are you worshipping HIM? There is a significant difference between the two ideas.

How Will You Answer His Call? by Laura

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, more than likely, there will come a time when He invites you into a leadership role. It is a beautiful truth from His Word that He chooses to use us as His vessels, His ambassadors, His witnesses.   You may be considering a call to service as you are reading this devotional.  If so, as you ponder this invitation, would you accept a challenge and spend some time in prayer? 

The challenge …

Embrace God’s Call!  Expect God to Equip You!

READ ALOUDHebrews 13:20-21 (NLT) “Now may the God of peace-who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood-may he equip you with all you need for doing his will.  May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.”

Hear the Spirit speak to you through God’s Word. 

Write down anything that captures your heart or mind as you read and listen.

Embrace God’s Call…    

To be a leader, as you are being led by Jesus

To point others to Jesus, as you disciple

To live out the gospel message, with integrity and dependence on Christ

To stand for truth, in hard situations

To be courageous, when you are fearful

To be generous, investing in others

To be a mentor and a role model, by the Holy Spirit’s power

To maintain upright character, living above reproach

To boldly ask God for direction, trusting Him

To be committed, welcoming accountability

To be a life-giving leader, extending grace

To depend on Jesus, fixing your eyes on Him

Make a list of things that might be difficult or challenging about God’s call to lead.

Make a list of blessings you might receive from answering God’s call to lead.

Expect God to Equip You…

I Thessalonians 5:24 “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”

2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…”

Prayer

Take some time to talk to the Lord about embracing His call on your life. His invitation to lead.  Regardless of how you feel, the truth is that He is your helper and will equip you with all you need for doing His will…for His glory!!  May you answer with a resounding, “Yes, Lord.  Here I am!”

Does Your Playlist Keep Your Eyes on Jesus? by Miriam

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

I have a playlist on my phone of songs that help me keep my eyes on Jesus. The playlist is actually titled, “Keep My Eyes on Jesus” and is full of songs that point me to Jesus. If something is troubling me or causing me to lose sight of the Lord, I quickly tap that list and songs that remind me of who God is and His faithfulness start filling the air around me. One of those songs is “I Lift My Eyes” by Laura Story.

Recently I was burdened in my heart about something and was just talking to the Lord about how I saw things and what I thought needed to happen. I was in my car and hit my “Keep My Eyes on Jesus” playlist and “I Lift My Eyes” came on. When the song got to the part where it says:

My help comes from
The one who formed my heart
The one whose promise is forever

The words, “the one who formed my heart” just jumped out at me. I thought, “Lord, you formed my heart. You know exactly how I’m feeling. More than that, You know exactly what needs to happen in this situation and what is best.” Because music is a big part of me, God often uses it to speak truth to my heart. At this moment, He used this song to remind me to trust Him — the One who formed my heart.

Spending time daily in God’s word and in prayer is always the best way to keep your eyes on Jesus, but it never hurts to have other things that help you, too. For me, it’s music. This world is full of distractions that will snatch our eyes off of Jesus in a split second. What helps you keep your eyes on Jesus?

You’ll Get Through This by Beth

We hear this often. “You’ll get through this.” Your fear is you won’t. You fear you are stuck in this rut. You begin to believe this gray sky will never be bright again; this load you are carrying will never lighten up. You feel stuck, trapped, and locked in. Will you ever exit this pit?

YES!

I love what Max Lucado writes in his book, God Will Use This for Good, “Deliverance is to the Bible what jazz music is to Mardi Gras: bold, brassy and everywhere. Out of the lion’s den for Daniel, the prison for Peter, the whale’s belly for Jonah, Goliath’s shadow for David, the storm for the disciples, disease for the lepers, doubt for Thomas, the grave for Lazarus, and the shackles for Paul.”

Jesus is the One who gets us through. Lucado goes on to write, “through is a favorite word of God’s; Through the Red Sea onto dry ground (Ex. 14:22), through the wilderness (Deut. 29:5), through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4), and through the deep sea (Ps. 77:19).”

Are you in a place today where your mindset is, “I am not going to get through this.”? Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Emphasis mine.)

You are never alone. The scriptures tell us as we are walking through whatever situation we are facing, God will be with us. It won’t be quick. If you recall the life of Joseph, he was seventeen years of age when his brothers sold him into slavery. He was at least in his thirties when he realized what the enemy had meant for evil God intended for good. How long will God take with you? Let me remind you, “God’s history is redeemed not in minutes but in lifetimes.” (Lacado)

This is where our faith kicks in. We either trust God through “this” or we don’t. There is no middle ground. John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

As a believer, you and I live from a place of victory. We don’t have to strive or work towards victory. We are victorious because of Jesus and the finished work on the cross (Hebrews 4:3).

You will get through this…