Just What I Need

Just What I Need

By: Dave Branon

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

We can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

As I stood in the back of the room at a senior citizens’ center in Palmer, Alaska, listening to my daughter’s high school choir sing “It Is Well with My Soul,” I wondered why she, the choir director, had chosen that song. It had been played at her sister Melissa’s funeral, and Lisa knew it was always tough for me to hear it without having an emotional response.

My musings were interrupted when a man sidled up next to me and said, “This is just what I need to hear.” I introduced myself and then asked why he needed this song. “I lost my son Cameron last week in a motorcycle accident,” he said.

Wow! I was so focused on myself that I never considered the needs of others, and God was busy using that song exactly where He wanted it to be used. I took my new friend Mac, who worked at the center, aside, and we talked about God’s care in this toughest time in his life.

All around us are people in need, and sometimes we have to set aside our own feelings and agendas to help them. One way we can do that is to remember how God has comforted us in our trials and troubles “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:4). How easy it is to be engrossed in our own concerns and forget that someone right next to us might need a prayer, a word of comfort, a hug, or gift of mercy in Jesus’ name. 

Lord, help me to see where help is needed, and help me to provide that help. Thank You for the comfort You give; help me to share it.

Comfort received should be comfort shared.

Insight
Today’s reading gives special attention to how believers are to serve one another in humility. During our Lord’s time on earth He provided the ultimate example of ministering to others. Now the Holy Spirit indwells believers and gives us the power to show that kind of self-sacrifice to the body of Christ.

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The Wrong Kind of Hate

One night I was watching a story on CNN about a group of individuals. The leader of this particular group makes mention of what qualifies you to be in the group. The leader proceeds to say you have to be a particular color, a good Christian and a non Jewish person because Jews are a dirty race of people. 😮 (the sound when the record abruptly stops) Now, I’m floored because in order to be a “Christian” a person is supposed to be “Christ-like” in manner and character.

Many who profess to be Christians are demonstrating hatred towards the wrong people and things. The scripture says in Genesis 1:26-27, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

When we display hatred towards God’s creation, we are letting him know that we do not approve of what He has done. When we begin to show hatred towards a group of people whom God loves dearly, we are showing extreme displeasure towards His creation because He reminds us constantly that everything He made is good. When begin to call God’s creation bad, we are saying He is bad, and we know that is a lie.

Our warfare is not against flesh and blood like so many have made it to be, but our warfare is against spiritual wickedness in high places, and those imaginations which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. (2 Corinth. 10:3-4; Eph. 6:10)

1 John 3:15 (KJV) Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

1 John 4:20 (KJV) If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

This let’s us know we can’t harbour hatred in our hearts and expect to remain in heaven. The things that we should hate are: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among his brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19

Now Christ came to the Jews first, He was also called the King of the Jews, the woman at the well knew Him to be a Jew, and I can go on and on, but how can we say we’re Christ like and dismiss Christ and the fact the scripture says we are Jews through the circumcision of the heart. I am only focusing on the blindness of the mind of the people who need Christ. There is no Greek or Jew, but we’re all one in Christ. In the end, LOVE with a pure heart (which means without dissimulation) is the true mark and character of a Christian.

We cannot attack people because all souls belong to the Lord, however, we have to deal with the Spirit of error people speak, so they can find salvation in Christ

Great Sacrifice

Great Sacrifice

By: Bill Crowder

Hebrews 10:5-18

The Lord Jesus Christ . . . gave himself for our sins to rescue us. Galatians 1:3-4

W. T. Stead, an innovative English journalist at the turn of the 20th century, was known for writing about controversial social issues. Two of the articles he published addressed the danger of ships operating with an insufficient ratio of lifeboats to passengers. Ironically, Stead was aboard the Titanic when it struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912. According to one report, after helping women and children into lifeboats, Stead sacrificed his own life by giving up his life vest and a place in the lifeboats so others could be rescued.

There is something very stirring about self-sacrifice. No greater example of that can be found than in Christ Himself. The writer of Hebrews says, “This Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God . . . . For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:12,14 nkjv). In his letter to the Galatians, Paul opened with words describing this great sacrifice: “The Lord Jesus Christ . . . gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age” (Gal. 1:3-4).

Jesus’ offering of Himself on our behalf is the measure of His love for us. That willing sacrifice continues to rescue men and women and offer assurance of eternity with Him.

God of love and grace, words can never capture the wonder of the sacrifice that Christ offered on our behalf. May our love respond to You with faith and worship—for Your Son who was slain is worthy of our praise.

Jesus laid down His life to show His love for us.

Written on Our Hearts

Written on Our Hearts

Lawrence Darmani

Deuteronomy 6:1-12

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

Deuteronomy 6:6

In my neighborhood, religious inscriptions abound—on plaques, walls, doorposts, commercial vehicles, and even as registered names of businesses. By the Grace of God reads an inscription on a mini-bus; God’s Divine Favor Bookshop adorns a business signboard. The other day I couldn’t help smiling at this one on a Mercedes Benz: Keep Off—Angels on Guard!

But religious inscriptions, whether on wall plaques, jewelry, or T-shirts, are not a reliable indicator of a person’s love for God. It’s not the words on the outside that count but the truth we carry on the inside that reveals our desire to be changed by God.

I recall a program sponsored by a local ministry that distributed cards with Bible verses written on both sides that helped people memorize God’s Word. Such a practice is in keeping with the instructions Moses gave the Israelites when he told them to write the commandments of God “on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deut. 6:9). We are to treasure God’s Word in our hearts (v. 6), to impress it on our children, and to talk about it “when [we] walk along the road, when [we] lie down and when [we] get up” (v. 7).

May our faith be real and our commitment true, so we can love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength (v. 5).

Father, may Your words be more than nice sayings to us. May they be written on our hearts so that we will love You and others.

When God’s Word is hidden in our heart, His ways will become our ways.

Today’s passage begins with three verses of instruction about the benefits of keeping the commands of the Lord. Moses begins verse 4 with “Hear, O Israel.” Hear doesn’t mean “listen”; it means “understand” or “know.” The Israelites were to “know” the Lord—and so are we.

You First

You First!

Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Philippians 2:1-11

[Jesus] humbled himself.

Philippians 2:8

Tibetan-born Sherpa Nawang Gombu and American Jim Whittaker reached the top of Mount Everest on May 1, 1963. As they approached the peak, each considered the honor of being the first of the two to step to the summit. Whittaker motioned for Gombu to move ahead, but Gombu declined with a smile, saying, “You first, Big Jim!” Finally, they decided to step to the summit at the same time.

Paul encouraged the Philippian believers to demonstrate this kind of humility. He said, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4 nkjv). Selfishness and superiority can divide people, but humility unites us, since it is the quality of “being one in spirit and of one mind” (v. 2).

When quarrels and disagreements occur, we can often diffuse them by giving up our right to be right. Humility calls us to show grace and gentleness when we would rather insist on our own way. “In humility value others above yourselves” (v. 3).

Practicing humility helps us to become more like Jesus who, for our sake, “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death” (vv. 7-8).
Following in Jesus’ footsteps means backing away from what is best for us and doing what is best for others.

Jesus, You gave up Your life for me. Help me to see each sacrifice I make as a reflection of Your humility. In putting others first, let me honor You.

Humility promotes unity.

The church at Philippi, established by Paul during his second missionary journey (Acts 16:6–40), was a growing and faithful church that had actively supported Paul’s ministry (Phil. 1:5; 4:15–19). In this thank-you letter, Paul encouraged the Philippians to continue to grow and mature in their faith even in the midst of persecution (1:9–11, 25–30; 4:1). In today’s reading Paul describes what mature Christians look like. They are not selfish or proud, but genuinely care for others (vv. 3–4). Presenting Christ as their perfect model, Paul urged the believers to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (v. 5)—to live as Jesus did with humility, unquestioned obedience, and sacrificial service (vv. 6–8).

Ringing Reminders

Ringing Reminders

Bill Crowder

Psalm 37:21-31

Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Psalm 37:24

The clock tower at Westminster, which contains the bell known as Big Ben, is an iconic landmark in London, England. It is traditionally thought that the melody of the tower chimes was taken from the tune of “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” from Handel’s Messiah. Words were eventually added and put on display in the clock room:

Lord, through this hour be Thou our guide;

So by Thy power no foot shall slide.

These words allude to Psalm 37: “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand” (vv. 23-24 nlt). Notice how intimately involved God is in His children’s experience: “He delights in every detail of their lives” (v. 23 nlt). Verse 31 adds, “The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.”

How extraordinary! The Creator of the universe not only upholds us and helps us but He also cares deeply about every moment we live. No wonder the apostle Peter was able to confidently invite us to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). As the assurance of His care rings in our hearts, we find courage to face whatever comes our way.

Loving Father, thank You that every part of my life matters to You. Encourage me in my struggles so that I might walk in a way that reflects Your great love and honors Your great name.

No one is more secure than the one who is held in God’s hand.

The words of hope, protection, and promise in the Psalms are not simply “big picture” hopes and dreams; they relate to everyday life. David confirms this in today’s psalm. He claims that he himself is a witness to God’s protection. Notice the words of verse 25. The blessing of the Lord is not just spiritual and future; David says it is here and now and he has seen it. Throughout his life, David had witnessed the reality of the Lord’s blessing on the lives of the righteous.

The Problem Lies at the Root

Earlier in the month I wrote about the importance of hearing God in your brokenness. Now I am going to mention the root of the problem. When Moses encouraged the Children of Israel that He was going to bring them out, it was hard for them to receive the information through Moses because they had been in a place of disparity for such a long time. What we have to understand is this; before God brings us out of a thing, He will tell us what He is going to do, but He will also instruct us to do something else.

Usually when it comes time for us to move into a new place with God, He will instruct us to deal with some things which may be a hindrance in our lives in order to move us to the next level. Freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint (oxford dictionary 2015). There must be a level of freedom in our lives in order to experience the fullness of God,

Things may seem hard for you right now, but it is hard for a reason. That reason is because we have pharaoh’s in our lives that do not want to let us go. Some of our pharaoh’s could be abuse; rejection; abandonment; alcohol; molestation; divorce; offense; lust; pornography; or the love of money. This list can go on and on. What we have to look at is this: anything that holds you captive is a pharaoh in your life. God desires all of His children to be free from their personal pharaoh’s. Pharaoh didn’t want to let the Children of Israel go because they were a huge benefit to him. Your pharaoh doesn’t want to let you go neither because it is using you to help build his kingdom.

In Exodus 6:11 the Lord spoke to Moses instructing him to tell pharaoh to let His people go. In verse 12 Moses responded like many of us “Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?” God will come to us and instruct us to deal with some hidden issues in our lives, and we will respond like Moses in a manner of defeat. He didn’t think anyone would listen, and there are times we believe no one will listen to us when we are trying to right our wrongs.

The Lord may have instructed you to forgive your father who has never loved you, and you may think it is impossible to do it, but God would never instruct you to do something that His grace can not carry you through. The un-forgiveness towards your father may be the very thing that causes you to behave in a way that is unpleasant to others who are in authority. The lust for other people who are not your spouse has left an emptiness in your heart that only God can heal. Even in this there is a root to the problem , and that problem could stem from many abusive and hurtful things that has damaged our hearts as children, or even teenagers.  As you read further into Exodus 6 God is still instructing Moses to deal with the problem, Pharaoh. As much as Moses felt he was inadequate to handle that pain, God was more than able to sustain him through the deliverance process.

As you read the next several chapters in Exodus, you will see God is instructing Moses to deal with the problem. Our deliverance lies at the root of  our problems. The more Moses dealt and kept talking to that problem, the more God kept showing Himself to be mighty. The more you keep working on the inner pharaoh that may have you in bondage, God will continue to show Himself strong in your life and deliver you. He desires to bring you into a place flowing with milk and honey, but we have to deal with the root of our problems. Once the root is removed, we will not have to worry about that situation again.

So, take a moment and ask the Lord to show you the pharaoh in your life that has hindered you from receiving the fullness of His love. What is it that causes you to react to people in an aggressive way when they say something to help you? What is it that won’t allow you to forgive a loved one, friend, or co-worker for a wrong you believe they have done? There are problems we all must face, big or small, but God is able to give us the grace to face the problems.

Pray this prayer: Psalm 139:23-24 “23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Jeremiah 17:14 “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.”