GIVE YOUR FAITH A TARGET …
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see – Hebrews 11:1, NLT
So many people today are depressed and discouraged simply because they only focus on their present circumstances. They’re constantly dwelling on their problems, what they don’t have, and what’s wrong with them. They don’t realize it, but they’re allowing the enemy to steal their hope. This negative frame of mind is what keeps people from moving forward in life.
Understand today that faith is confidence and assurance about the things we hope for according to the promises of God. Like an arrow, your faith points to the target of hope. If you don’t have hope, that arrow of faith will just drop to the ground. It won’t accomplish anything. But when you keep your hopes up, when you keep expecting and believing, it’s as if that target gets larger and larger—easier to hit!
Choose today to live with an attitude of expectancy. Get your hopes up! Start by taking captive any negative thoughts you may have one at a time. As you focus on God’s goodness and faithfulness, you’ll feel that hope inside you growing. You’ll give your faith a target, and you’ll move confidently into the blessings and peace the Lord has in store for you!
REMAIN STEADFAST IN THE FAITH
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith…1 Peter 5:8–9
When I was a teenager, I was taught that if I wanted to resist the devil, I had to rebuke him. So whenever an evil thought came to my mind or I was tempted, I found myself saying, “I resist you, devil, in Jesus’ name! I bind you, devil! Go away from me, devil! I rebuke you in Jesus’ name!”
This went on until God showed me one day that though I had “resisted” the devil, I had spent more time talking to him than to God! I was more conscious of the devil than of God throughout the day.
I checked the Word of God and realized that we resist the devil not by focusing on resisting him, but by being established in the faith that we are made right with God through Jesus’ blood, that we are the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Yes, the devil will continue to remind you of your mistakes, failures and sins. And he will tell you that because of these things, you cannot receive your healing, that you will have to pay for your mistakes or that something bad will happen to your family. He will accuse you, condemn you and try to persuade your heart to believe that he can do bad things to you.
But the truth is that the devil cannot enforce anything in your life if he cannot persuade your heart. And your heart cannot be persuaded if it is “steadfast in the faith”, if it is established in righteousness. God says that once you are established in righteousness, “You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you”. (Isaiah 54:14)
So now that my heart is established in righteousness, I can boldly declare, “Yes, I may have these problems in my life, but I am not guilty in God’s eyes. I am justified in God’s eyes by faith because of what Christ has done. I am righteous by Jesus’ blood!” My friend, that is how you resist the devil and become undevourable!
JESUS LOVES YOU UNCONDITIONALLY
‘…God so loved the world…’ John 3:16 NKJV
David said, ‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.’ (Psalm 32:1 NKJV) No matter how hard we worked, we could never pay off our sin debt. And thank God we don’t have to, because ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but has everlasting life.’ Years ago a congregation decided to honour one of its retired pastors. He was ninety–two, and some people wondered why the church even asked the elderly man to speak. After a warm welcome and introduction, he rose from his chair and walked with great dignity and effort to the pulpit. Leaning on the podium to steady himself, without notes of any kind, he began to speak: ‘When your pastor invited me here, he asked me to talk about the greatest lesson I’ve learned in fifty–plus years of preaching. I’ve thought about it for a few days, and boiled it down to the one thing that has made the most difference in my life and sustained me through all my trials. The one thing I can rely on when tears, heartbreak, pain, fear and sorrow paralyse me… the one thing that always comforts me: Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.’ You could hear a pin drop as the old man shuffled back to his seat. It’s something the congregation never forgot. And it’s something you should never forget either—Jesus loves you unconditionally. That’s so today, tomorrow, and forever!
BAKING WITH JESS
Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life. —John 6:27
One morning as Lilia prepared for work, her 4-year-old daughter Jess set to work too. The family had purchased a conveyor toaster, and the concept of cycling bread through the small countertop oven fascinated Jess. Minutes later, Lilia discovered a loaf and a half of toast piled on the counter. “I’m a very good baker!” Jess declared.
It’s no miracle that an inquisitive girl could turn bread into toast. But when Jesus transformed a boy’s five loaves and two fish into a meal for thousands, the crowd on the hillside recognized the miraculous nature of the event and wanted to make Him king (see John 6:1-15).
Jesus’ kingdom, of course, is “not of this world” (John 18:36), and so He slipped away. When the crowd found Him the next day, Christ identified a flaw in their motives: “You seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (6:26). They mistakenly thought “King” Jesus would give them full stomachs and national freedom. But Jesus counseled them, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life” (v. 27).
An earthbound view will cause us to treat Jesus as a means to an end. He is, in fact, our Bread of Life.
Lord, our cares and worries can keep us from a genuine relationship with You. May we see You as our very food and not only as our divine problem-solver.
Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you. Jesus
HE GIVES STRENGTH …
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. – Isaiah 40:29, NIV
Have you ever felt backed into a corner about a particular situation, and you couldn’t see a way out? We’ve all felt overwhelmed at one time or another. Be encouraged today because the Bible says that when you cry to God for help He will hear you and answer you! He will give you strength when you are weary and power when you feel weak.
No matter what is going on in your life today, God is greater than any obstacle or difficulty you may be facing. Do you need strength to overcome a challenge in your life? Do you need power to stand strong in the midst of a storm? Call on Him and He will hear you. The answer is on the way while the words are still on your lips! Open your heart today, receive His strength, and let Him empower you to live in victory all the days of your life
‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…’ Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
When you’re in the middle of a crisis, what you really believe manifests itself in your words, attitude and actions. When Lazarus died and his sister Martha said, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died’ (John 11:21NCV), she was voicing past–tense faith. When Jesus said, ‘[Lazarus] will…live again’ (John 11:23 NCV) and she replied, ‘I know that he will…live…in the resurrection…’ (John 11:24 NCV), that was future–tense faith. And when she said, ‘…Even now God will give You anything You ask’ (John 11:22 NCV), she was demonstrating ‘now’ faith, which is present–tense. As believers, the Bible tells us not to ‘…look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen…’ (2 Corinthians 4:18 NKJV) ‘Now’ faith stakes its claim on ‘something…even if we do not see it.’ (Hebrews 11:1 NCV) Paul says, ‘…we walk by faith, not by sight.’ (2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV) Too often we base our feelings on what we see, instead of what God says in His Word. But as Jon Walker writes: ‘When we believe that reality is confined to what we see, we become trapped into thinking the only truth is what we see. We become prisoners of our own perceptions; we cease walking in faith… For those who walk by faith, appearances are never the ultimate reality… Reality extends beyond what you can see… the things we do not see are eternal [time and circumstance do not diminish or alter them] (2 Corinthians 4:18). Even though things may appear bad, God is working things out for our good (Romans8:28). He knows how the story ends, so fix your eyes on the unseen and not on what you see.’ SoulFood: 2 Chr 1–4, Mark 6:30–44, Ps 119:81–88, Prov21:17–19