Relationship of Faith

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Mary, bearing the news of a lifetime, began the 25-mile journey south to the hill country of Judah. The angel told her that her cousin Elizabeth too was expecting a child. Here an old woman and unlikely to be with child and a very young unmarried girl both find solace in each other’s company. Both women with the most unusual of circumstances are brought together. Perhaps this news brought the two of them closer than they were before. The relationship between them was now more than of family; it was also a relationship of faith. 

Mary had plenty of time to think as she made the usual eight-hour walk to Elizabeth’s. She arrived in record time; haste marked her footprints from her home to Elizabeth’s. There was much to ponder and the walk did her good. This trip was more exercise of the spirit and soul that day than it was physical exercise. 

She had time to consider the angel’s message; there was so much to consider; certainly she pondered these things she journeyed. He had said that she was “…highly favored… blessed among women.” He told her the Lord was with her and she had favor with God. The angel spoke of God’s choice of a mother for His Son. He foretold His gender, name, and His Kingship on earth and of the eternal. The angel told of Jesus’ length of reign as King and His virgin birth. 

The moment of arrival came; Mary came to the door, and Elizabeth was in hearing distance. Possibly the six months of being with child were telling on her older cousin’s body. The sound of Mary’s voice made the forerunner of Jesus leap in Elizabeth’s womb. Elizabeth was delighted to hear from Mary. 

Elizabeth knew this was the mother of her Lord. Both of these women knew what was going on in each other’s lives. It was proper they be together. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, spoke loudly. Elizabeth spoke of Mary’s favor, Mary’s faith, and Mary’s fruit. Mary must have listened in amazement as she received confirmation of the angel’s message. Elizabeth is the first person recorded in Scripture to accept Mary’s account of being with child of the Holy Ghost. 

Scripture records no words from Mary since the angel’s departure, save for her salutation being mentioned. Her first words represent the meditation of her heart and the inspiration of her spirit. “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God, my Saviour.” She spoke with such clarity, conviction, and courage. 

Here, this lovely young woman, selected on earth by Joseph and in Heaven by God, tells her account of the Christmas story in 138 words. There was no manger yet, just a mother being used by God. No shepherds yet, just the announcement of the Lamb of God. No wise men on their way, just a mother worshipping God. Emotionally, Mary was affected by it all, yet God gave her great clarity as she spoke to Elizabeth. You could see the angel’s message touched her soul; his message moved her spirit. This was more than a warm and fuzzy moment; God had kept His word and sent the Messiah to His people and Mary knew it. 

Mary’s words reveal her knowledge of Scripture and her understanding of God’s eternal plan for His people. For Mary, this was a moment of reflection, rejoicing, and redemption. Mary’s innermost person, her soul, magnified the Lord as she recalled His goodness, His grace, and His glory. Mary’s spirit responded with rejoicing; God had remembered Israel with His strength, supply, and security. Mary's relationship with God was changed because of this moment. His Spirit was the Father of the child in her womb and the child in her womb was her Savior. 

This moment, captured in time for all to see, shows how Christ’s story should touch us. God’s plan for Man’s redemption led to this moment. When she considered it all, she said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” (The focus in on His person) “My spirit hath rejoiced in God.” (The focus in on His power/position) “My Savior” (The focus in on His pardon)

When you consider it all this season, is this a time where the testimony of your heart is revealed? Is Christmas the time where your heart reflects upon His person, His power and His pardon? Or is it the people, the presents, and the parties?

The Death of a Marriage

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2 Samuel 6:20-23   Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour. Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

Victory had been sweet that day. The ark of God had come home from Obededom’s house. No one died on this attempt to bring it home, as did the first time with Uzzah. David headed home and on the way, blessed the people, men and women alike. He was elated that he had made it home with the Ark of the Covenant. The shame of the previous attempt was abated and he wanted all Israel to rejoice in the Lord. Thus, he shared with the people bread, wine, and meat.

Michal, David’s wife and Saul’s daughter, saw the manner and deeds of her husband as he rejoiced in the return of the ark. However, Michal did not share in David’s exuberance. When David had come home to bless those of his house with gifts, Michal met David at the door. 

It was victory day yet Michal expressed disappointment in her husband instead of delight. She expressed criticism to him instead of compliments. She expressed irritations instead of inspiration for her husband. When she should have been rejoicing in her husband’s disposition and deeds, she rejected them. Clearly, this is a repetition of her father’s sin of pride.

There was neither mourning nor funeral that day for as there was for Uzzah. But there was a death; something did die that day when David arrived home. The death was not of a man, but was in the marital relationship of David and Michal. She could have stood with, supported, and celebrated with David, but she did not. She dishonored her husband that day and something died between David and Michal. Michal would not have a child as long as she lived.

Wives, have you let pride hinder your cheerful support of your husband’s accomplishments? Have you discouraged him when you should have encouraged him? Have you pouted before him more than you have praised him? Have you undermined him more than you have undergirded him?  Go to him today and make things right. Do not be content to leave it unattended; fix things today!

The Burden of the Ministry

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1 Samuel 15:11, 35   It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. … And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Have you ever seen a picture of a donkey laden with load piled twice its own height? Have you ever watched oxen pull a load greater than its own weight? Even the ant, though smaller in stature, carries many more times its weight. We wonder how do these creatures bear the entire load!

In our focus verse today, we are given insight to the load a Godly pastor bears for his people. The man of God commissioned by God to the church you attend will bear the load of the burdens of his people. Oh, yes, I know we turn our burdens to the Lord for His sustaining. Yet recognize this truth: the pastor has been given the watch care for your soul. He will be burdened for your responses to the commands of the Lord.

Consider this one Samuel had watch care over. Saul had made several egregious errors. Samuel, the OT ministry equivalent in this setting of a NT pastor, is a man of burdens, tears, and prayers. We are tempted to ask, “Is not the ministry not the Lord’s?” “Is not the King answerable to the Lord?” Yes, to both is the answer. But the pastor will carry a heavy burden for the ones God has given him watch care over.

God’s man Samuel, who was assigned to Saul, bore the burden heavily. He knew what it meant for Israel, for her king, when he made his choices. It grieved him, but God’s will had to be done. He had to deliver his last message to the wayward leader. He would do this deed assigned and it would be the last till Saul’s death. Oh, how this added to the load.

You see, some days pastors get to anoint kings. But there are still other days where they have to set them aside. Oh, the burdens they bear for the souls they watch after.

Have you a Pastor bearing a burden? Pray, I urge you. Earnestly plead to God on his behalf for strength, wisdom and comfort. Please pray for the man of God assigned to your life and family; you know he is praying for you and yours.

No Revenge

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2 Samuel 16:7-8   And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial:  The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man. 

David is on his homecoming tour. Absalom is dead. The people want David back. Who shows up again? Yep, you got it: Shimei. 

The entrance is grand; the tribe of Judah is coming to get the king. (19:15) The men of Judah are going to lead the King across the river. 

Shimei knows this. He comes with the men of Judah. He wants to meet the king. (16) He brought a 1035 of his friends (17). He brought Ziba, Saul's servant. He took the ferry over before David could cross this river of such heritage. 

Shimei falls before the king. (18) He asks for forgiveness, pardon, and for the king to remember know more his sin. (19,20) He invokes the name of Joseph. He mentions, “I am here before you even arrive to make this request.” He called David his king and his lord. (20)

Abishai, David's bodyguard and nephew, wants to decapitate him. 

David speaks to Abishai:

1. Seek no revenge. Forgive often and you'll change a generation. 

2. Don't let retaliation get the better of you. Stay focused on God's plan. 

3. Withhold not good to him to whom it is due. His son, Solomon would write later.

Psalm 94:1 O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself. 

David shows his understanding of revenge: 

2 Samuel 19:21-23 “But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’S anointed?  And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel? Therefore, the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him.” 

And Yet Again There was War at Gath

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1 Chronicles 20:6-7   And yet again there was war at Gath, where was a man of great stature, whose fingers and toes were four and twenty, six on each hand, and six on each foot: and he also was the son of the giant. But when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea David's brother slew him.    

Have you ever fought a battle and wondered what good would come from it? Have you ever seen a battle take place AGAIN over the same issues you fought in the past? Consider our verse today.   

Notice carefully the wording of the text.   “War Again ...Son of the Giant...He defied Israel.”   Be careful not to cringe when battles occur in the same areas you saw God give victory for you in the past. Take courage: the battle you fought just a few years ago, a younger generation was watching and learning.   


This time when a giant defied Israel, the son of David’s brother stands up and kills him. Remember well that Shimea’s dad was David’s older brother who challenged David’s desire to come to the battle. Now the nephew draws courage from his Uncle David’s battle and slays the giant’s son.   

You may have fought a battle in the past and you now see it being waged AGAIN. Take courage and cringe not; a younger generation was watching and will be able with that knowledge to stand and defeat AGAIN the “giant’s son” of compromise, deception and self-kingdom building.   


A Care Caster

I Peter 5:7     Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.

Are you a Care-Catcher or a Care-Caster? 

More often than not, most believers actually catch and hold life’s cares.   We are not to catalog, inventory, and review our cares. Believers are not to catch and hold life’s cares.  We have different instructions.

Peter writes we are to be Care-Casters. The cares in your life today over which you fret are not to be managed by you. Our instructions are clear; all our cares are to be cast not caught.

Life will throw cares our way. We can either be a care catcher or a care caster. What is your choice? 

Pasture or Palaces

1 Samuel 17:13,15    And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle…but David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 

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David had lived a unique life. He was the youngest son of Jesse, a simple keeper of sheep. He was a man content to dwell wherever God, his father, brothers, or king of Israel could use him. Not many of his age and rank were ever called to be the soother of the King’s spirit. He was a “pasture man” by preference, but if service called upon him to be a “palace man,” he would go.

However, here’s an interesting thing to note: there came a day when the music playing in the palace was replaced by the vocal challenges of a giant in Shochoh. He could not go to the battlefield, so now he must go from the palace back to the pasture. Yes, there is far more honor and prestige for those who would hold a palace ministry. Yet in our focus verse this day, we see David was content to go back to a pasture ministry.

I wonder, if God changed you from a palace ministry to a pasture ministry, could you keep your pride from ruling your spirit? I know most who hold the office of a pastor might struggle going from a “high profile ministry” to a “no-profile ministry.” I know some who are teachers in a Sunday school class, if they were asked to be sweepers of the same class, would struggle with the new assignment because of pride.

Please, keep in mind the duty you have been given is not because you so wonderful, but rather because God chose to use you there. Do not allow yourself to become convinced that you are too good to go from the palace to the pasture. David had no struggle in switching back and forth between places. When God moves you from palace to pasture, are you content just knowing “The Lord is my Shepherd”? Would to God we could develop that demeanor in our places of service.

“I Loved the Word More!”

Job 23:12   Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

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Recently, I spoke in a service in NC. After the message a woman came up to me and said, “I loved the delivery of the message today; but you should know, I loved the Word more.” 

In 39 years of my Christian experience and 23 years of preaching, I have never heard this said. However, I walked away feeling wonderful inside that she loved the Word of God more than what I had to say.  Often, I have thought, “I do not want people to walk away and say, ‘What a message; but rather, what a Master.’”

If someone is kind enough to express positive feelings about the message I just preached, I am grateful. However, it takes discipline not to accept the praises as my own. Yesterday’s words helped me more than anything. She loved God’s Words more than anything I said. 

That is what I desire. May someone love God’s Word more because of my service to Him this week!

He Remembers

Psalm 132:1 LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions: 

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Have you ever been in mid-sentence and totally forgotten the person’s name with whom you were speaking? Or even forgotten what you were going to say? Some would attribute it to age; others to a lack of concentration: still some would say, “It must not have been important.” No matter the cause, the effect is a struggle.  You have begun to make a statement and now must say, “Oh, I forgot what I was going to say”

Do you realize God has never been in mid-sentence and said “Oops, what was his name again? Nor does He say, “What was he going through?” Know this: He can only remember whom we are and what we are going through.  


The Psalmist pleads, “Lord, remember David and all his afflictions.”  This simple plea from a forefather in the faith is identical to ours today. We cry, “Lord, remember me.” Oh, He remembered Noah in the flood. He remembered Abraham and freed Lot. He remembered Rachel and Hannah and gave them children. He remembered mercy for Israel.  He will remember you.


 

Content with Emptiness

1 Samuel 16:14    But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

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Have you ever walked into a house without a single piece of furniture? Every room seems large without the usual articles that accompany a house. There is a lonely feeling to being in such a house where the owner no longer occupies. You look at it and say, “Something doesn’t look right.”

Saul is certainly a house without furniture. You walk into his life through the pages of Scripture and see no furniture. “Something is not right here,” you say. Yes, it is a house; but it doesn’t look right. You get a feeling of empty loneliness when you look at him. The owner’s belongings have been removed from the premises.

Sad is the day when the Spirit of the Lord’s communion with us is evicted by our sinful choices. ** The Scripture says, “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul.”  The Spirit of the Lord was there no longer. He left. How empty the house of Saul’s life became! 

Today in our churches both in the pew and the pulpit, I have seen empty “houses of the heart” in believers. The believer’s “house of the heart” is no longer filled with the Lord’s Spirit. Many go through the spiritual motions but they are empty personally. It is no wonder why churches gathering for worship in the Lord’s house are empty corporately. There seems to be contentment with the emptiness.

Is the house of your heart empty today? Does the emptiness no longer plague you? Turn to Him. Evict every obstinate way from you heart and seek a fresh filling today of His presence!   


**Our verse for today has sparked many a theological discussion. However, this venue is not to explore the depths and implications of Saul’s eternal relationship with the Lord. Just the emptiness that can come to a believer’s life!

A Chapter of Life

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 2 Samuel 16

If our lives were viewed like a book, there would be chapters that would leave our readers scratching their heads. 

Some chapters of our lives would contain days where we cast a positive reflection of God. Yet some chapters would cast a negative reflection on and of our Lord. 

There would be days we could say, “I did right.” Other days, “I didn't do so well.” There are days where our lives clearly bring glory to God and other days where our lives bring shame on the name or work of Christ.

I am happier with myself on the days I do right and am disappointed when I fail.  

David's life, like many of our lives, has chapters we can be content with and some with which we will not be content. How you handle adversity and adversaries are indicators on how you're doing as a believer. 

I read this morning in my devotions about a moment in David's life that gave me pause. I reflected on David's response when faced with a moment where he could blow it or choose better. 

It was a good chapter in David's life; it's a chapter I want to emulate in my own life. 

I'll call this chapter: Choosing the Honorable

David had a person in his life that wouldn't leave him alone. His name was Shimei who accused, attacked, and even abused David. This bitter man, who could not resolve his ill feelings for the demise and downfall of Saul, now makes it his mission to make David's life miserable. 

You know that there are people God allows in our life who are bitter; they can bring out either the worst or best in us. 

David was on the run. Absalom, his own son, was solidifying his own position in Jerusalem. David was on the move. 

He encounters this bitter man, Shimei. The Bible notes that he is from the house of Saul, the man from whom God removed His hand. 


David and the people are weary. (16:14) 

Notice the behavior of Shimei:

v5 He came forth cursing. He cursed as he came.

v6 He cast stones at the King. 

He cast stones at the servants of the king.

David was surrounded by God's people and God's man.

v7-8 His cursings were nothing more than bringing up his past: misrepresenting his present, and mocking his place and power with God.

v9 Godly men around David said, “Let me kill this dead dog. Let me take off his head.”

v10-11 David speaks

1. Let him curse. (“My own son wants to kill me: I'll not bother with the likes of him.” 

2. Let him alone.

3. Let God work it out.(whether God told him or not)

4. Keep moving.

When the curses fly.

When the stones are cast.

When the accusations are hurled.

When dust is stirred.

When others have the upper position. (along on the hill’s side over against him)

 

Be a Jonathan

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1 Samuel 23:15-17 And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood. And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.

January 4, 1991, the telephone rang in my home at 10:45 pm. The news was unsettling at best. My father had collapsed in his home and was being rushed to the hospital. The next call was the news of his death. The next day I went to be with my mother and siblings. That day following a friend of mine drove over 1000 miles to come and sit with me. For the next 48 hours, all he did was strengthen my hand in God. Those hours I needed a friend and God sent me one.

David, the king anointed, was on the run. Saul had relentlessly been pursuing David to take his life. David represented everything Saul used to be and now was not. Recently David had been in Keilah. When Saul learned of this, he moved immediately to attack. God confirmed in David’s heart that he needed to head to the woods of Ziph. In the woods of Ziph, God knew exactly what David needed. He sent his best friend Jonathan to him. 

Odd, isn’t it? Jonathan could find David, but Saul could not. Jonathan walked into the woods and found his friend. Consider this: he forsook his king and his father’s wishes to find his friend and help him. This visit was a precious reunion. David was at a low point. He and his men had been running. God, knowing this, allowed the heart of Jonathan to have been knit to David’s heart in the early days of the palace. So now Jonathan strongly desired to see him. Jonathan had one thought on his heart: I am going to strengthen my friend in God.

Jonathan arrives with his mission clear. Strengthen my friend’s hand in God. Oh, what a transaction of encouragement! What a moment of tender friendship! Jonathan, though unintentionally, set the role of how a friend should respond to another friend’s distress. Look closely what he did. 

Jonathan sought to replace David’s worries with the Word of God. (Fear not)  

Jonathan assured him that his pursuer would not be successful. (…the hand of my father…) 

Jonathan renewed his hope in the promises of God. (…And thou shalt be king…) 

Have you a friend in distress? Has his burden become so heavy that you feel it personally? Well friend, here is your strategy. Find your friend.  1) Seek to replace his worries with the word of God. 2.) Tell your friend he will make it.  3.) Tell him that God’s promises are sure.

You know this same David would later have a son who learned well this truth from his father. God would allow him to say, “There hath not failed one word of all his good promise.”

Find your friend today and be a Jonathan to him.


 

A Curve Ball

Proverbs 3:5–6    Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Occasionally life throws you a curve ball. You think you understand the game. Then you wake up in the morning and you discover a new pitch. 

What does the Word of God say about days like this?

My responsibility: 

• Total Trust: I learn

• Total Dependence: I lean

• Total Observation: I look

His responsibility:

• Total Direction: He leads

He Intercedes

Romans 8:27   And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  

 

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 As you face this next day, consider this: Christ is praying for you.   

Have you ever felt the strength in your bosom surge when you found out a friend had prayed for you during a struggle? There you were in your spiritual battle and somewhere down the street, or across town, or halfway around the world, someone was beseeching God on your behalf.    

The child of God would do well to consider that even when our prayer partners on this side of the eternal veil may not be able to pray, Christ is praying for us. Oh, how the heart leaps with joy!   

The will of God is how Christ makes intercession for us. He knows our hearts because of His searching of them. He knows the mind of the Spirit because of His relationship with Him in the Godhead. Christ is praying for me!   

You will make it today; Christ is praying for you.   

How Do You Need to be Spoken To?

1 Corinthians 3:1    And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ

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I have always found it funny to watch adults speak with babies and children. I have watched powerful men of ministry and merchandise get on hands and knees, sit on the floor, and say the silliest sounds to little children. Images of hearing these men from the pulpit and watching these men in their industry indicate they are no-nonsense individuals. Yet the moment you see them cooing and babbling with the infant at the baby’s level, you recognize though they could communicate with great oratory and official tones, they are communicating at the level the hearer understands.

Paul too, wanted to communicate to the church in spiritual tones but could not because they were carnal. He found them even as spiritual babes. Many a church has adults who are chronologically grown up, but spiritually infants because of carnality. Paul spoke to them at their growth level.  

They were adults by age but they were infants by their attitudes and actions. They had attitudes that were carnal and their actions were infantile. Verse three defines their carnality. Amongst them were envying, strife, and divisions among them. These were the indicators of their spiritual growth. 

Many church members today need to be spoke to as babes because of their carnal and infant ways. Are you prone to envy of another believer’s accomplishments, abilities, and associations? Are you given to struggling with fellow believers over prestige, possessions, and preferences? Do your words, works, and walk as a believer unite or divide people’s allegiances and associations? 

If you answered, “yes” to any of the above questions, let me speak “baby talk” to you for a moment, “Grow Up!” Do you have the tendency to lean toward carnal behavior? “Grow Up!” We have enough carnal believers and babes in our churches today. Lay aside these things and “Grow Up!”

Give it your B. E. S. T.

1 Corinthians 4:12–13    ...being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat:

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I love staying at a certain chain of hotels. They have a promotion with their employees called, “Catch Me at my Best.” Guests are encouraged to “catch” employees at their best and notify management, by way of a card, so that employee may be commended and rewarded.

Because I travel much, I have many opportunities to witness people at their worst and best. As well as I have many opportunities to catch me at my best and worst. 

As a believer, we have many opportunities for the world to catch us at our best. You know these type of moments of observation come unannounced. Believers and unbelievers watch us often when we are unaware. How are you doing when they do come?

Paul gave advice to the church at Corinth and told them how to be caught at their best.

When people revile you, bless them.
When people persecute you, suffer it.
When people defame you, entreat them.

So, at all times we are to B-less, E-ntreat, S-uffer and T-rust God. How many times this year have you been caught at your best? The last time you were faced with adversity, did you bless the person, entreat him (chose to respect), and just suffered it, all while trusting the Lord?

I hope you catch me at my B E S T.


I Can Pray

Romans 15:30-33 

A dear friend of mine, Danny Whetstone, spoke from Romans 15:30-33 on how we as Believers can “strive together.” The last point of his positive message spoke of striving together in prayer. His message referenced how Paul asked the church at Rome to pray for him. 

Paul requested prayer of the church in three areas. He requested prayer for three things. These should be a help to us when we pray for our missionaries.

1. Protect my missionaries. 15:31a

2. Provide opportunities for my missionaries. 15:31b

3. Prosper my missionaries. 15:32

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Confidence in the Plan and Purpose of God

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Romans 8:28    And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.    

What must have Paul thought as the Holy Spirit laid upon his heart these words to write as he penned our devotional verse for today? Notice his confidence in the plan of God. Note also his confidence in the  purpose  of God. Yet what clear understanding must have been in his heart when he reflected on the day when Stephen was stoned. Though the event made him sorrowful, the verse reveals his contentment and confidence in the purpose and plan of God.  

Stephen was the early church’s deacon and disputer of the enemies of Christ. Yet the day he was stoned for his preaching, an unconverted Saul was watcher of the coats of the stoners. (Acts 7:58) The first verse of the next chapter says he was a willing watcher of his death. 

Yet what good in the plan and purpose of God could come in the death of Stephen? Stephen loved God. Truly, he was a man called according to God’s purpose. Yet in his death, God’s plan made a new defender of the faith: the man whom we call the apostle Paul.  

Faithful servant and lover of God, your difficulty today is in the purpose and plan of God. Never allow life’s circumstances and conditions shake your faith in the purpose and plan of God. Know this: God has a purpose and plan that He is working even in deaths, disasters, and disappointments.   

Are Your Words, Your Words?

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1 Corinthians 2:4-5    And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

The question to the average person may seem silly, but for the child of God called upon to communicate the gospel and doctrine, this question is paramount. Our passage indicates Paul’s inspired testimony to the Corinthians. This testimony certainly establishes an implied and desired goal for every soul winner, preacher, and teacher.

Each time I stand to preach, I must evaluate if what I am going to say is merely enticing words full of man’s wisdom or will I be preaching in demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power? Oh, yes, it is a temptation to offer human wisdom to fix, adjust, or steer a congregation. However, if I speak out of human wisdom, what have I done but placed their faith in my wisdom and not the power of God. 

Consider yourself today. God has placed you in a position to communicate His great love and righteousness. When you communicate, are you doing so by His power and His Holy Spirit? The great danger in attempting to do His work any other way will produce a people who follow what you say and not His word!

Our power is no replacement for Holy Power. 

Our principles are not a substitute for His principles.

Our wisdom is not a substitute for His wisdom.

Our work is not a substitute for His work.

Our intellect is no replacement for His inspiration.


 

A Faith Walker

2 Corinthians 5:7   For we walk by faith, not by sight 

From the moment we are taught to walk, we are told, “watch where you’re walking.” We hear, “look both ways,” along with a myriad of other statements. These phrases all establish you should not venture out unless you can see what’s ahead. 

However, the Word of God gives polar opposite instructions. “For we walk by faith, not by sight:” The believer walks by what God says will be there. That is the condition of being a faith-walker. 

Remember, God’s ways and thoughts are above man’s ways and thoughts. When you can’t see the steps in front of you, don’t revert to human nature. Cling to the Word of God. We walk by faith, not sight.

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