Thursday 12/6 ~ To God, you are mighty!

The scripture for today, December 6 (12/6), is 1st Corinthians 12:6 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Cover-KINDLE-Thumbnail-New“There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

Later in this chapter, Paul explains, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’  On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (12:21f). He further explains, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body….” (12:13).

For ambitious people in the church who “fight” for position, this is hard to take. Standing in front with a microphone are the most sought-after positions in the church.  Such positions have the potential of making you famous. Sorry, folks. Not to God. To God you are dispensable. The church could easily survive without you. God could easily get along without you. So, get control of your ego. Huh?

Do you really and truly believe this? Those who do the seemingly menial works (the “weaker”) are indispensable to God ~ you who take food to the bereaved, who read the Bible to the sick, who clean the bathrooms, who daily pray for members and the lost, who give a tract to a friend, who share a bulletin with a neighbor, who send a thinking-of-you card to a lonely person, who mow the church building lawn, who pray with someone who has just told you of a problem, who watch the nursery, who periodically quote a Bible verse to a friend in distress ~ such works that are in the background ~ the ones that don’t make it into the “schedule of worship,” the bulletin, the newspaper, the church periodicals, the billboards, are the ones who are indispensable.

To you who are jealous of people who get to have a more public position in the church and stand in front of the congregation and” lead” don’t be. Take heart. God is working more in you than them. Further, public approval by people is their reward. Your reward is from God himself.

You may seem weaker to the others. You are nearly invisible and weak to most people. But to God you are strong.  You are mighty.  You are God’s pride and joy.

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Thursday 9/27 ~ Oppression is a good thing?

The scripture for today, September 27 (9/27), is Nehemiah 9:27 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-Michel-COVER-Kindle-Thumbnail“So you handed them over to their enemies who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed, they cried out to you. From heaven, you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.”

What was going on here?  The Jews had started worshipping false gods, putting some of their altars in the temple of God, and even offering their children as sacrifices to the fire god. Jehovah God let their enemies take them captive until they stopped their horrible practices and started praying only to the one true God. Then he rescued them those enemies.

Do you know anyone who could care less about God? The only exception is when they feel oppressed by something or someone in their life? More than likely, they blame God because Satan has convinced them he does not exist and therefore did not cause their problems.  

Wait!  Don’t be so hard on your friends. That can be a good thing. Perhaps they hadn’t given God a second thought since their last calamity. But now they’re thinking about him. They may be angry at God, but at least they’re thinking about him. Now is your chance to approach a broken, desperate, but softened spirit.

Let us thank God for times of oppression. Sometimes that is what it takes for God to get their attention. Then perhaps God can show them he wants to be their friend.

 

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Sunday 9/23 ~ Are you a coward?

The scripture for today, September 23 (9/23), is Luke 9:23 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail” Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’ “

There is another verse similar to this: II Timothy 3:12 ~ “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Have you been playing it safe? Have you been associating only with other Christians and thereby sheltering yourself from persecution? Have you been withholding the gospel from people who might be persecuted if they believe, even if they will be saved by following it?

I know a Christian convert in Afghanistan who keeps telling his Muslim friends about Jesus and his life has been threatened three times now over a period of six years. He says, “I will not stop until they kill me.”  I know a Christian convert in Iraq whose wife’s relatives beat up because he became a Christian. I know a Christian convert in another part of Iraq whose mother-in-law locked her in a room and beat her every day, trying to get her to return to Islam.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). To do that, you must seek out the lost and try to save them, even when they do not think they are lost. It will end in persecution sometimes ~ you, them, or both. That’s a fact.

Dare to not play it safe all the time. Or are you a coward?

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Saturday 9/8 ~ Governments and Martyrdoms

The scripture for today, September 8, is Daniel 9:8 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail“O Lord, we and our kings, our princes, and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you.”

Daniel was what some might call the prime minister of Babylon.  He was part of the government. Before that, he was of the royal house of the Jews in Jerusalem. He was part of the government there too.  Both governments needed prayer. Have you prayed for your government lately?  I Timothy 2:1 & 2 says “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone ~ for kings and all those in authority.”

At the time of this writing, Nero Caesar. The first-century historian Tacitus said this about Nero in his Annals 15:44: “But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called “Christians” by the populace.

“Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.

“Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”

If the Apostle Paul could pray for such a government leader, can’t you follow his instructions? Why don’t you stop and pray for your own government right now?

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Wednesday 8/15 ~ Be brave and rest in God

The scripture for today, August 15 (8/15), is Romans 8:15 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.”

I knew someone a long time ago who went through a period of being afraid of everything, something she just could not control. Then she found this scripture and applied it to all her fears. She had read it many times before, but this time was able to apply it to her constant fear. She thought to herself, “Stop being afraid! You are a child of God! He is right there with you. Be brave now. And rest in God.”

Are there times in your life when you are a slave to fear? Perhaps it is fear of the dark. Or fear of losing health. Or fear of strangers. Or of a certain nationality. Or of losing a job or home. Or of losing a loved one.

Stop being afraid! God is right there with you. Be brave. And rest in God.

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Monday 8/13 ~ Where is the Lord Almighty in my list of gods?

The scripture for today, August 13 (8/13), is Isaiah 8:13f as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

Inside-COVER-lg thumbnail“The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary.”

“Holy” in both the Hebrew and Greek means someone or something set apart as very special. Who or what do you daily set apart as someone or something special? Do you in a sense “worship” that person or thing? Whoever or whatever you worship, you become a slave to. Are you a “slave” to anything in your life? Is there something you cannot control because it controls you? Are you a slave to attention or food or money or power or clothes or houses or cars or etc?

Then, when there is a tragedy in your life, can you rely on those things to get you through? Who or what will be your sanctuary in times of trouble? Will you be able to say, “The Lord Almighty…he will be my sanctuary” even though he is not a sanctuary to people who have put him at the bottom of their list?  Where is the Lord Almighty in your list of gods?

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Thursday 8/2 ~ And he touched him

The scripture for today, August 2 (8/2), is Matthew 8:2 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-LUKE-KINDLE Cover-Thumbnail“A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.’ “

People in Jesus’ day who had leprosy had to live outside of town in what we would call a leper colony. And if someone without leprosy started getting close to them, they were required to call out, “Unclean! Unclean!”

But here was a man who apparently pushed his way through a crowd where he didn’t belong. He didn’t ask Jesus if he could heal him; he asked if he was willing to. After all, he was “unclean”. Remarkably, Jesus said yes.

Then Jesus did another remarkable thing: He touched the man. He touched the leprosy. Not only was he willing to be seen with an unclean man, he was willing to touch him.

Jesus still does this today. When we come to him with a diseased heart wondering if we are good enough, Jesus reaches out across the centuries and touches us. And his voice echoes across the centuries and says, “I am willing.”

No matter how much sin mars your life, Jesus still today wants to say, “Be clean.”

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