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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…

Focused Prayer by Laura

In my early adult years, it became obvious to me that I could not pray for all that God had put on my heart at one time.  The Lord led me to divide the focus of my prayer into the days of the week.  This form has been helpful to me over the years as the Lord teaches me to pray and provides a clear focus for each day.

Daily – urgent requests that require daily attention/immediate family
Sunday – church/pastors/ministries/missionaries
Monday – my husband/my calling/supporters-we raise support/1 on 1 discipling
Tuesday – my children/spouses/grandchildren/my home
Wednesday – extended family (relatives)
Thursday – Christian friends
Friday – the world/our nation/leaders/lost friends
Saturday – schedules/upcoming events
Miscellaneous – sermon notes/quotes/”remember and be blessed”
Journal -prayers/thoughts/conversations with the Lord Most High

Ask the Lord and He will guide you to the form that will help you focus your praying life.  You are His child and He initiates prayer with you!  Your communicating – God knows your language – the language of your heart.  Call to Him –He will answer!  Listen as He tells you great and mighty things which you do not know! (Jeremiah 33:3)

This definition of prayer from Henry Blackaby I find very Biblical and life giving.  Just keep in mind that the form you choose to organize your praying life is not nearly as important as the fellowship with the Lord in prayer.

 “Prayer does not give you spiritual power.  Prayer aligns your life with God so that He chooses to demonstrate His power through you.  The purpose of prayer is not to convince God to change your circumstances but to prepare you to be involved in God’s activity.  The fervent prayer of the people at Pentecost did not induce the Holy Spirit to come upon them.  Prayer brought them to a place where they were ready to participate in the mighty work God had already planned.  Prayer had prepared the disciples for their obedient response.  Prayer is designed to adjust you to God’s will, not to adjust God to your will.”
~~Henry Blackaby

Encourage One Another

“Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16)

I was reading in 1 Samuel 23 recently where David is hiding out in the hill country of Ziph because Saul is continuing to hunt him “day after day” (verse 14). In fact, David gets word that Saul is headed to Ziph to find and kill him (verse 15). The very next verse says, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.”

There are times in our lives when we all need encouragement from a brother or sister in the Lord to continue to stay strong in our faith. Recently, our family has had some struggles—some very difficult and some just not that fun—and there were many days the Lord used dear sisters in the Lord to encourage me to keep my eyes on Jesus. They texted or called me to see how I was doing or to say they were praying for me or a member of my family. Often they would send text messages with scripture in them. What an encouragement this was to me and my family!

The next time someone you know is going through a difficult time or maybe just having a hard day, reach out to them and encourage them to stay strong in the Lord. Maybe they just need a reminder to keep their eyes on Jesus instead of their circumstances.

Breakfast with Jesus by Beth

“Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’” John 21:12

One of my favorite meals of the day is breakfast. I have a place near my home and work where I love to eat breakfast.  I have eaten breakfast there for years–twenty to be exact.  For ten of those years, I had the same waitress most mornings.

There is a passage in scripture that I have come to love. It’s about Jesus making breakfast for his disciples.  I love the passage in John 21:1-14. Especially verse 12, “Jesus said to them, ‘come and have breakfast.’”

Here is the account of that morning:

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. So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” 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. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

 

Some things to ponder about this passage that spoke to my heart:

Jesus will meet us where we are — The disciples were fishing. They had not caught anything. “Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you do not have any fish, do you?’ They answered Him, ‘No’”.  Jesus knows what we are going through. What our current circumstances are. Whatever season we are in, Jesus will meet us right there.

He will supply and meet our need — He had breakfast waiting for them!  However, He used some of the fish they caught. “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” He will use what we have! It’s out of His supply that He will meet our needs.

Take a few minutes and thank Jesus for meeting your need in His time and in His way. Look for Him! Expect the unexpected. Jesus can meet your need and my need simultaneously.  Praise Him!

The Coffee Scoop by Laura

“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:5

Have you ever taken time to ponder how God has used His people to impact your life? When I do this, He always brings to mind life-giving, life-changing examples and it leads me right back to Him in thankfulness and praise. This is the beautiful body of Christ in motion. Those redeemed by the precious blood of Christ who live all over the world are part of this amazing family. Paul refers many times in his writings to believers in a familial way. He sees himself as a spiritual father and calls his fellow believers brothers and sisters. I love this!! I so agree with Paul and feel the same about those who have impacted me in the family of God.

One of my “sisters” I would like to tell you about is Sarah. She is many years my senior and is known as a woman of prayer. I met her over 20 years ago, yet her impact on my life continues daily. It’s interesting how simple truths are often sown into our lives through conversations and the Holy Spirit brings great increase from the sweet, life-giving seed of truth. Sarah shared with me a prayer reminder the Lord gave her as she was asking Him to bring her son a mate. She made coffee every morning and used the same measuring scoop. One morning as she was looking at the scoop, she saw it with spiritual eyes. She would begin to pray for her son’s mate every time she scooped her coffee for the morning!

In case you don’t know, I LOVE COFFEE and yes, I make a pot almost every morning. Over all these years, I have followed Sarah’s example, praying for godly mates for our two daughters each time I scoop. God answered my prayers when he brought us Tyler and Austin. These men who love Jesus will love our girls and lead them to the feet of Jesus! Now, my scoop reminds me to pray for godly mates for my grandson, Titus, and others the Lord allows to be born into our family.

This simple prayer reminder from my sister has impacted my life in ways I never would have considered. I shared this with Sarah years ago to encourage her. I want to encourage you as you are in this “praying” life as a child of God and a member of the body of Christ. Let your daily activities lead you to prayer. Ask your Heavenly Father to give you prayer reminders like my coffee scoop. Then share with your brothers and sisters in your spiritual family to encourage them, trusting that the Spirit will produce in them a great spiritual harvest building up the body of Christ.

Only Five Loaves of Bread and Two Fish by Miriam

“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. (Matthew 14:17 NLT)

Sometimes I struggle getting past what I see, which may not seem like enough to me, and seeing how God can take what I see and make it enough and then some. I’m often like Jesus’ disciples who only saw “five loaves of bread and two fish” and knew that would not be enough to feed the crowd who had gathered to listen to Jesus.

Whether it is “five loaves of bread and two fish” or the last $100 in our checking account, God can take little and make it much. As Jim and I have trusted the Lord for almost 17 years to provide for our needs through His people as we are 100% supported through the ministry Jim is on staff with, we have seen Him take what seems like “little” to some and do great things with it. However, I still struggle at times when something happens and there doesn’t seem like we will have enough to take care of whatever it is. I was having one of those days when I read this very scripture and it stopped me in my tracks. 

I had to confess to the Lord that I was struggling to see past the little I saw for the big task ahead of us. God faithfully provided — not at all how I expected — and I am so thankful! Just like the disciples who had been around Jesus and saw Him perform many miracles, yet struggled to trust Him to take their meager offering and feed the multitude, I can do the same. I’ve had years of trusting Jesus, and I have story after story of how He has been faithful, yet I can still have times of doubt. However, I’m learning to take those doubts to Him more quickly and trust Him to take what I have, bless it, and distribute what he wants to through me. (Matthew 14:18-21)

Do you struggle to trust the Lord to take what little you have and do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine? (Ephesians 3:20) Then my prayer for you and myself is we will remember He is able.

Peace in the Storm by Beth

One of my favorite times of the day is very early in the morning before the sun comes up. You will find me sitting with the Lord, a cup of coffee in one hand and my Bible in the other.  On this particular morning, as I was about to begin my quiet time with the Lord, I began reflecting on the promises of Jesus. As I reflected, I remembered taking a picture of the Sea of Galilee while in Israel. The day was beautiful with little to no wind. The thing is, the picture depicted fairly calm waters, the sun shining, etc. However, we know from scripture that often a storm would arise, “…for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” (Matthew 14:24) The winds and waves would toss the boat back and forth causing great fear among those on board. These were strong, seasoned fishermen who became fearful. They were also disciples of Jesus!

On an occasion they found Jesus sleeping in the stern. They woke Jesus up saying, “Don’t you care if we drown?” Y’all, this sounds like me! “Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” (Mark 4:35-41)

Oh friend, may you know the peace of Jesus today. The wind and waves still obey his voice!!

With One Voice by Laura

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”– Romans 15:5-6

This benediction brings to mind my two beautiful friends and ministry partners. Beth, Miriam and I have been singing together as One Purpose for over 27 years.  This one fact is in itself amazing and rare. Three unique women with very different personalities and backgrounds, we have the most important life goal in common. To glorify God in all we do. We have had many discussions as to why we have been blessed by this longevity in ministry and we know that it is only by God’s grace.  God has truly granted us to live in harmony with one another as we have made it our purpose to glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our voices are very different yet when we sing, we are often asked who is singing what part of the harmony and some have commented that when singing in unison we sound like one voice. We have definitely spent many hours over the years practicing, but sometimes I sense the Lord just gives us one voice!  What are some of the ways we live in harmony with one another?  Prayer binds our hearts together.  There have been few times when we get together that we do not pray for each other.  We have shed many tears in prayer. Tears of joy and sadness. The Holy Spirit has knit our hearts together into a precious sisterhood. God’s Word is our guiding truth. Each of us has a deep devotion to Jesus!  We read and study the Bible individually and we share often what the Lord is teaching us when we are together.  We are not ashamed of the gospel and seek to live in accord with Christ Jesus. Music is our common love and we are so grateful to have had the privilege of expressing worship to our Lord in this way.

What about you? Think about those with whom you minister. Be reminded of all the relationships you have in the body of Christ. Ask the Lord to reveal truth to you concerning how you are relating to your brothers and sisters. Maybe He will call you to a change of attitude or maybe He will confirm your attitude of harmonious living.  Do whatever He tells you trusting His leading. He grants you this grace!

My prayer is that God will continue to pour out His endurance and encouragement on us and that as we pray together, looking to His Word for guidance, and sing with one voice for His glory, He will grant us many more years of ministry! May He do the same for you!