GOD IS IN IT WITH YOU …
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Do you feel misunderstood and forsaken by the people you love? Have you been falsely accused and stripped of everything, without a dime to your name? Maybe today, you feel that you have hit rock bottom and you wonder if you can ever rise again.
Joseph, who was sold by his brothers into slavery (Genesis 37:28), went through all these experiences and emotions. Still, he was conscious that God was in it with him every step of the way. Though his life was a “mess”, he believed that it was not an accident. Though the things that were happening to him were not good, he believed that God was making all things work together for his good. And it was indeed so—Joseph eventually rose to occupy the most powerful position in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. (Genesis 41:40)
Probably, this consciousness that God was in it with him was the reason he forgave his brothers when he met them again later in his life. Joseph told them, “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5)
So like Joseph, whatever you are facing now, be conscious that God is in it with you. Be Jesus-conscious. Though you may have nothing or not much now in the natural, the truth is that you have everything when you have Jesus!
The same Jesus who went around blessing others with 12 baskets full of leftovers, a net-breaking, boat-sinking load of fishes, and who never impoverished anybody, will empower you to succeed in life. The same Jesus who went about doing good will cause good to explode in your life. The same Jesus who went about healing the sick and never giving anyone sickness will keep you in divine health and protect you from harm.
Beloved, because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), as He was with Joseph, He is with you right now. And He will empower you to live the high life—the abundant life in which you will see God’s promises manifest!
CONFESS GOD’S TRUTH …
Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. – John 11:14
Jesus spoke of Lazarus being asleep instead of dead because that is really a much better description. Death, to their carnal minds, would be final; whereas the word “sleep” would not. When the disciples misunderstood what He was saying, He clarified the situation by saying plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”
This looks like a contrary statement to what Jesus was going to do (raise Lazarus from the dead) and indeed it would have been if He had left it at that. But He went on to say in verse 15, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe.” This was referring to Lazarus being raised from the dead and it turned Jesus’ statement of a negative fact into a positive confession of faith.
Many people have been confused over this very issue. Many times people will refuse to speak of or acknowledge any situation that is contrary to a promise that God has given them. It is certainly desirable to avoid talking about our problems and there is scriptural precedent for this (2 Ki. 4:20, 26). In this very instance, Jesus avoided using a word to describe Lazarus’ situation that would have instilled fear into His disciples’ hearts. But when dealing with people who didn’t understand, He didn’t deny the natural facts.
A true, positive confession doesn’t deny natural truth. It just refuses to stop at the natural realm and speaks forth the greater spiritual truth. This is what Jesus did and we should follow His example. Therefore, it is not wrong to acknowledge a physical problem such as sickness just as long as we acknowledge to an equal or greater degree the spiritual truth, “by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). Don’t deny that problems exist, just deny those problems the right to continue to exist in your life by confessing your faith in God.
I HAVE COME TO HELP
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. —James 1:22
Reporter Jacob Riis’s vivid descriptions of poverty in 19th-century New York City horrified a generally complacent public. His book How the Other Half Lives combined his writing with his own photographs to paint a picture so vivid that the public could not escape the certainty of poverty’s desperate existence. The third of fifteen children himself, Riis wrote so effectively because he had lived in that world of terrible despair.
Shortly after the release of his book, he received a card from a young man just beginning his political career. The note read simply, “I have read your book, and I have come to help. Theodore Roosevelt.” (This politician later became a US President.)
True faith responds to the needs of others, according to James (1:19-27). May our hearts be moved from inaction to action, from words alone to deeds that back them up. Compassionate action not only aids those mired in life’s difficulties, but it may also make them open to the greater message from our Savior who sees their need and can do so much more for them.
O Lord, it is so easy to be overwhelmed, or to judge and therefore to refrain from helping others. Lift our eyes above our own thoughts and circumstances, and let us care as You care.
Others will know what the words “God is love” mean when they see it in our lives.
BE STRONG IN THE LORD
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. – Ephesians 6:10, NIV
Everyone has times when they feel weak or discouraged, but you weren’t meant to live that way day in and day out. You don’t have to walk around feeling defeated or depressed. You can have joy and peace no matter what is going on. God has a good plan for you and strength for the journey!
God wants to give you his supernatural joy because His joy is strength! His joy isn’t based on circumstances. It isn’t based on the news, the stock market or the housing economy. God’s joy is based on Him and who He is.
Take a moment and think about all God has done for you—He’s given you life; He’s cast your sins as far as the east is from the west; He has a good plan for you—those are reasons to get happy! Ask Him to fill you with His joy today as you meditate on His goodness. Put a smile on your face and rejoice in the Lord no matter what is going on around you. The joy of the Lord will give you strength so you can embrace the victory He has prepared for you
THE POWER OF VISION (1)
…men shall dream dreams [and]…see visions. – Joel 2:28NKJV
A boy supposedly once asked Michelangelo why he was working so hard chipping away on the block of marble that would become his greatest masterpiece: David. The artist replied, ‘There’s an angel inside this rock and I’m setting him free.’ The power of vision enables you to see a potential masterpiece in what others overlook or consider worthless. It also helps you discover things within yourself you never knew were there. It brings out the best in you. Many of the people God used in Scripture looked like losers before they looked like winners. After the disciples fished all night and caught nothing, Jesus told them, ‘…Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.’ (Luke 5:10 NKJV) They did, and they ended up: (1) building a church that’s still thriving two thousand years later; (2) writing history’s greatest books; (3) having our sons named after them. Does that mean you can just dream a dream and God will fulfil it? No. Paul says, ‘…You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God…’ (1 Corinthians 6:19–20 NIV) Belonging to Christ means you lost the right to take your talents, opportunities and experiences and run off in any direction you please. But why would you even want to? What could possibly be more fulfilling than God’s purpose for your life? And what could be more tragic than missing it? You can’t wring enough meaning out of secular accomplishments to satisfy your soul. The hole you’re trying to fill has an eternal dimension only Christ can fill. That’s why you must pray, ‘Lord, show me Your vision for my life
THE POWER OF VISION (2)
…acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. – Proverbs 3:6 NKJV
Having God’s vision for your life gives you four things:
(1) Passion. It makes you wake up in the morning and bound out of bed because there’s something out there you love to do; something you believe in and are good at; something bigger than you; something you can hardly wait to get at.
(2) Motivation. Author Richard B. Edler said: ‘Safe living generally makes for regrets later on. We are all given talents and dreams. Sometimes the two don’t match. But more often than not we compromise both before ever finding out. Later on, we find ourselves looking back longingly to that time when we should’ve chased our true dreams and talents for all they’re worth. Don’t be pressured into thinking your dreams or talents aren’t prudent. They were never meant to be… They were meant to bring joy and fulfilment to your life.’
(3) Direction. Vision simplifies decision–making. Anything that moves you closer to your vision gets a green light; everything else should be approached with caution. Vision brings what’s important to the surface, and weeds out anything that stands in your way. Without vision, good things will keep you from achieving great things. People without a clear vision are easily distracted. They’ve a tendency to drift aimlessly from one thing to another. They’ve no spiritual, relational, financial or moral compass. Consequently, they make decisions that rob them of their dreams.
(4) Purpose. Having vision is like getting a sneak preview of things to come. It says, ‘If you don’t show up, something important won’t happen. Your life matters. Without you, what could be—won’t be.’
FRESH GRACE EVERY DAY
Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
“I am concerned about the big business deal that I have to close tomorrow.” “I am worried about tomorrow’s job interview.” “My medical test results will be out tomorrow. I am afraid it won’t be good.”
God does not want you to worry about tomorrow. He wants you to know that He gives you all the help you need for today, and when tomorrow comes, so will fresh help from Him.
This is God’s principle even in the Old Testament. When the children of Israel were in the desert, God gave them fresh manna from heaven every morning. (Exodus 16:13–16, 31) They did not have to worry about tomorrow because when tomorrow came, there was fresh manna again. He was their provision every day.
Today, God’s manna is the grace He gives you every day. If you are worried about a situation tomorrow, know that there will be sufficient grace for that situation when it comes. God wants you to simply rest in His ability to heal, deliver, protect and provide for you every day.
In the Old Testament, when the armies of Moab and Ammon came against King Jehoshaphat, God told the anxious king, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed…for the battle is not yours, but God’s…You will not need to fight in this battle…stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…” (2 Chronicles 20:15–17)
When the next morning came, King Jehoshaphat saw how God caused such confusion to come upon his enemies’ camp that it brought about their own slaughter. Amid all that fighting in the enemy camp, God’s people merely stood still and saw Him fight the battle for them just as He had promised.
My friend, when you see a problem looming in your tomorrow, don’t be afraid or dismayed. Look to the Lord, and see His grace and salvation deliver you.
God wants you to live a stress-free life, not one filled with worries about tomorrow’s problems. When tomorrow comes, His grace will be there for you as your help, protection, favor and enabling!
OUR RESURRECTED BODIES
Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. – John 11:11-14
There are many scriptures where death is spoken of as sleep, however, the disciples thought Jesus was speaking of Lazarus simply resting. Jesus eventually clarifies their misunderstanding by using the word “death,” but that was not His first choice. This is because God’s perspective is different than ours. Death is final to natural man but not to God. There will be a resurrection.
In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul uses natural illustrations to explain the resurrection. He speaks of seeds that are buried in the ground and “die.” Then they are resurrected as a plant. The plant and the seed bear no resemblance but they are actually the same. The plant is just in a resurrected state. Likewise, our physical bodies will die but they will be resurrected just as surely as seeds produce plants.
In the same way that a seed is different than the plant that it produces, likewise our resurrected bodies will be different. Our glorified bodies will be very similar to our physical bodies in appearance. This can be said because of what the scriptures reveal about Jesus’ glorified body. He still looked human, He ate food, had the print of the nails in His hands and feet, and He said He had flesh and bones. Yet he could appear and disappear. Our resurrected bodies will be immortal (i.e. not subject to death). Our resurrected bodies will be like Jesus’ resurrected body.
In the same way that our present physical bodies are a miraculous creation, so our glorified resurrected bodies will have their own glory. We can rest assured that God never serves dessert first. If this physical body is wonderful, our resurrected body will be even better.
BATTER IN THE BOWL
Please let me glean . . . after the reapers among the sheaves. —Ruth 2:7
My daughter and I consider brownies to be one of the seven wonders of the culinary world. One day, as we were mixing the ingredients of our favorite chocolate treat, my daughter asked if I would leave some batter in the bowl after pouring most of it into the baking pan. She wanted to enjoy what was left over. I smiled and agreed. Then, I told her, “That’s called gleaning, you know, and it didn’t start with brownies.”
As we enjoyed the remnants of our baking project, I explained that Ruth had gathered leftover grain in order to feed herself and her mother-in-law Naomi (Ruth 2:2-3). Because both of their husbands had died, the women had returned to Naomi’s homeland. There Ruth met a wealthy landowner named Boaz. She asked him, “Please let me glean . . . after the reapers among the sheaves” (v. 7). He willingly consented and instructed his workers to purposely let grain fall for her (v. 16).
Like Boaz, who provided for Ruth from the bounty of his fields, God provides for us out of His abundance. His resources are infinite, and He lets blessings fall for our benefit. He willingly provides us with physical and spiritual nourishment. Every good gift we receive comes from Him. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt
Dear God, thank You for the blessings I enjoy! You minister to Your children out of Your limitless abundance. I worship You as my provider.
Our greatest needs cannot exceed God’s great resources.
FIND REST …
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:29
Sometimes, the day-to-day pressures of life can cause unnecessary stress. In fact, many people lose sleep worrying about things or people in their lives. But God doesn’t want us to live stressed out and overwhelmed. He wants us to live a life of rest and peace.
When Jesus walked on this earth, He took time for Himself. He got away from the crowds. He spent time with the Father. That’s how He found rest. He was gentle and humble in heart. Do you ever notice that when you are stressed out or worrying about something, you’re less tolerant of others? You’re more likely to say something you don’t really mean. Today, God wants you to cast your cares on Him and live with a gentle and humble attitude. Release your burdens to Him. Follow the example of Jesus, and you will find rest for your soul.