Do you realize how much He loves you? Do you realize that He isn’t after your money? Do you realize He isn’t after your stuff? Do you realize that He is after your heart? He… More
Is there something missing in your life? Does it feel like there is a hole in your heart? Are you wondering what’s missing because you think there should be more to life? Are you trying to fill it with things and stuff? Are you trying to fill it with wrong or bad relationships? Are you searching for love, real love? Do you realize that the answer and only thing that can fill that hole is God?
Are you thirsting for more?
37On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
–from John 7
Are you hungering for more?
Jesus answered, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst. –from John 6:35
Jesus is the answer! Invite Him into your heart and into your life!
1. Fruit and favour … Proverbs 11:29-12:7
Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading from Proverbs as follows…
Do you want your life to make a difference? Do you realise that your life can be a source of blessing to other people every day?
‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life’ (11:30). As we look back at Proverbs 11, we can see all the fruit of the Spirit that the apostle Paul describes in Galatians 5:22:
- Love (Proverbs 11:23)
- Joy (v.10)
- Peace (v.8)
- Patience (v.16)
- Kindness (v.17)
- Goodness (v.17)
- Faithfulness (v.6)
- Gentleness (v.2b, GNB)
- Self-control (v.12)
The image of a ‘tree of life’ (v.30) is a beautiful depiction of God’s favour. It recurs again and again in Scripture, and is also closely linked to the work of the Spirit in our lives (see Ezekiel 47:1–12; Revelation 22:1–2). It is the Spirit who enables and helps us to live the kind of righteous life that is described and to enjoy ‘favour from the Lord’ (Proverbs 12:2).
–from Day 132: Bible In One Year 2017
2. Fullness … John 7:14-44
Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading from John as follows…
We all know what it is like to be physically thirsty. Our mouths go dry, our throats are parched, our strength fades and we crave water. How satisfying it is to drink when we are thirsty.
To be spiritually thirsty is to be dried up inside, to feel totally empty and in anguish. In this golden passage, Jesus describes how your spiritual thirst can be quenched (the hole in your soul filled) and the effect that this can have on your life.
Jesus anticipates what will happen on the day of Pentecost. He speaks about the transformation by the streams of living water that the Holy Spirit brings to your life: ‘By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified’ (v.39).
It was ‘the last and greatest day of the Feast’ (v.37). This was the day when the people anticipated that the great river prophesied in Ezekiel 47 would flow out from Jerusalem. ‘Jesus stood’ (John 7:37). The usual custom was to sit when teaching, but the words Jesus had to say were so significant that he wanted to be seen and heard by all the people. He cried out ‘in a loud voice’ (v.37). His message was only twenty-four words in the Greek language, but it is a life-changing promise that you can still experience today.
- Who makes this promise?
The people were amazed by Jesus’ teaching. He had never even been to Bible school or theological college! (v.15). He received his teaching from God (v.16). And he says anyone who ‘chooses to do the will of God’ (v.17) will recognise this.
Jesus calls for a response. Some thought: ‘Surely this man is the Prophet’ (v.40). However, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, Jesus did not leave that option open. There are really only three options: that someone who said the sort of things Jesus said would either be insane or ‘the Devil of Hell’. Or the only third possibility is that ‘this man was, and is, the Son of God’. We see these three options demonstrated in today’s reading:
1. Some thought him ‘the Devil of Hell’: ‘You are demon-possessed’ (v.20)
2. Some thought him insane: ‘He is… raving mad’ (10:19)
3. But others recognised, ‘He is the Christ’ (7:41)
- To whom is the promise made?
Jesus said, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink’ (v.37). It is made to every human being. It applies to Robbie Williams. It applies to all who have never experienced the Holy Spirit. But it also applies to those who feel dissatisfied spiritually. Do you feel like a failure in your prayer life? Do you feel frustrated at your level of holiness? Do you long for a closer relationship with God? If you do, you are spiritually ‘thirsty’ and the promise applies to you, today.
- What is the promise?
Jesus says, ‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flowing from within’ (v.38). The Feast of Tabernacles was anticipating the river that would flow out of the temple in Jerusalem as prophesied in Ezekiel 47 (which was read and enacted at the feast). Jesus tells them that this has been fulfilled, not in a place but in a Person.
The river flows out of the heart of Jesus (out of his ‘koilia’ – the pit of his stomach or his innermost being) and out of every Christian (John 7:38) through our personal, heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus.
The river flows into you and out of you. The river will flow into the little ‘Dead Seas’ of our hearts and out from our ‘innermost being’. Superficially, life may not be easy, but deep down the Holy Spirit constantly flows like a ‘river of living water’.
This river does not flow once in a while. It flows continuously. It is not supposed to be blocked up. It should be constantly bubbling up and flowing out of us.
As Father Raniero Cantalamessa put it, ‘A Christian in whom the Holy Spirit dwells is not exempt from having to experience struggle, temptations, disorderly desires, rebellious feelings… [the difference is that all these things come] upon him against his will.’ They are on the surface. Yet there is a ‘peace in the depth of their hearts. That is like a deep-ocean current always flowing steadily regardless of the wind and the waves on the surface’.
- How do you receive the promise?
Jesus says let them ‘come to me and drink’ (v.37). It is a promise for ‘whoever believes in me’ (vv.38–39). It is as simple as that. It can flow from you as you come to him and drink today.
You become like Jesus. Through your love, your words, your presence, you will transmit the Spirit you have received from Jesus. You will quench the thirst of the poor, the lonely, the needy, those in pain and anguish and will give them life, love and peace in their hearts.
–from Day 132: Bible In One Year 2017
3. Freedom … Judges 14:1-15:20
Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading from Judges as follows…
Are there habits in your life from which you long to break free? Are there thought patterns you need to change? Are there spiritual bondages from which you need to be released?
If anyone was ‘wild at heart’ it was Samson. He had extraordinary strength, might and ability. But his life was hardly a model. The story of Samson’s life is bizarre, extraordinary and perhaps a bit embarrassing.
However, Samson is highlighted in the New Testament as one of the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:32). God uses all types of people. He uses us in spite of our sins and weaknesses.
In this passage we see that Samson’s strength and successes are the result of his being filled with the Holy Spirit. On three occasions in today’s passage we read that, ‘The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power’ (Judges 14:6,19; 15:14).
It is amazing what can happen when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon people ‘in power’. As so often, what God did in the Old Testament in a physical way he did in the New Testament in a spiritual way.
On the third occasion that ‘the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands’ (15:14). This can be seen as a picture of release from our bad habits, obsessions and addictions. The power of the Holy Spirit can release us from the things that bind us.
–from Day 132: Bible In One Year 2017
Do you realize there is a source? Do you realize it goes beyond food? Do you realize it goes beyond working out? Do you realize it is more about what you believe than what you do? Do you realize it’s available? Do you realize He is right here, right now wanting to help? Do you realize strength can be in 3 forms? Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional!
The answer to it all is the Holy Spirit! Just like the Holy Spirit gave Samson physical strength! Just like the Holy Spirit gave the prophets spiritual strength! Just like the Holy Spirit gave other emotional strength! He is able to give us the strength we need too! He provided the power for Jesus to be risen from the dead!
Have you asked Jesus into your life? Have you received the Holy Spirit into your life?
Have you ever read the Message version of the Bible? Today’s topic aligns with our topic in the book of Ephesians where it says…
15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!
–from Ephesians 1 (MSG)
1. O my strength … Psalm 59:9-17
Consider today’s reading (Psalm 59:9-17) and then reflect on today’s devotional which says…
Are you struggling with some issue in your life? Do you feel deeply troubled?
Like David, who was in deep trouble, call out to God today: ‘O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God’ (vv.9–10a).
The psalm ends in triumph: ‘But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God’ (vv.16–17).
2. A tough call … John 6:60-7:13
Do you ever find the teaching of Jesus very hard to live out? Do you sometimes find it difficult to be a Christian, in the workplace, for example? Do you sometimes find people seem to dislike you for no good reason? Do you ever feel like giving up following Jesus?
If you want an easy life I don’t recommend following Jesus. It was not easy then. It’s not easy now. Alice Cooper, the rock singer said, ‘Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s real rebellion.’
Following Jesus is a tough call. And yet, at the same time, it is the way to life in all its fullness. This fullness of life comes, Jesus explains, from the Holy Spirit.
The teaching of Jesus is not easy. The disciples said, ‘This is a hard and difficult and strange saying… Who can stand to hear it?’ (6:60, AMP). In fact, some of the teaching of Jesus was so hard that ‘many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him’ (v.66). The chapter begins with many people following Jesus. It ends with many people turning away from him.
It is not so much that the hearers found Jesus’ teaching difficult to understand, but that they did not like its content. They actually found his teaching offensive (v.61). It seems that they were particularly offended by Jesus’ huge claims on their lives. He claimed to be ‘the bread of life’, he called them to believe in him and he offered eternal life.
Not only was this teaching ‘hard’, it was ‘hated’. Jesus says, ‘The world… hates me because I testify that what it does is evil’ (7:7). He was accused of being a deceiver (v.12). There was a very high cost in following someone who was hated in this way.
When many turned back and no longer followed him, apparently, deeply wounded in his heart, Jesus asked the Twelve, ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Simon Peter, the spokesperson for the group, answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God’ (6:67–69).
This is such a powerful truth. Jesus has the words of eternal life. He is the Holy One of God. He is the only one to go to.
In this passage we see the whole Trinity. Peter recognises Jesus as ‘the Holy One of God’ (v.69). Jesus is unique. He embodies the holiness of God. He is divine. He speaks about the Father (v.65). He also speaks of the Holy Spirit (v.63).
He says, ‘The Spirit gives life’ (v.63a). Just as physical flesh gives birth to physical life, so the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. He says, ‘The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life’ (v.63b).
All this takes place just before the ‘Festival of Tents’ (7:2, ISV). Families would leave their homes and live in tents for eight days of joyful celebrations (rather like our Focus church holiday!). They would give thanks to God for water that brings life – this was the setting Jesus chose to teach them about his life-giving Holy Spirit.
When Jesus speaks of eternal life, he is speaking of a quality of life that starts now and goes on forever: ‘life in all its fullness’ (10:10). This is the kind of life that the Holy Spirit brings. That is why, although there is a cost in following Jesus, the benefits far outweigh the cost. In fact, there is no real alternative. Only Jesus can give you the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus can give you fullness of life.
3. His extraordinary power … Judges 12:1-13:25
Do you ever get frustrated by the length of time God seems to take to answer your prayers? God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time.
We see in this passage God’s elaborate preparation for the birth of Samson, whose extraordinary power was to save the people of his day. But this only prefigured something that would take even longer. Hundreds of years later, John the Baptist arose (who was in many ways like Samson) to prepare for the ultimate Saviour of the world.
God often specially blesses the children of those who have waited a long time to have children and have thought it was an impossibility, for example Sarah with Isaac and Elizabeth with John the Baptist.
Samson was like John the Baptist in many ways:
- In both cases, it was thought that the mother could not have children and something of a miracle was required (Judges 13:3; Luke 1:7)
- In both cases, the angel of the Lord spoke clearly to the parents (Judges 13:7; Luke 1:13)
- Both children were set apart for God from birth (Judges 13:7; Luke 1:14–17)
- Neither of them was allowed to touch any alcohol (Judges 13:7; Luke 1:15)
- The Spirit of the Lord came upon both of them from a very early moment in their lives (Judges 13:25; Luke 1:15).
Again, we see a hint of the whole Trinity in this passage. We read of ‘the Lord’ (Judges 13:1), but we also hear about the awesome ‘angel of the Lord’ who appeared to Samson’s parents (vv.3,6) and who then ascended towards heaven in a flame (v.19).
Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground… Manoah realised that it was the angel of the Lord: ‘“We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife. “We have seen God!”’ (vv.19–22). (Thankfully he had a ‘sensible wife’!, v.23, AMP.)
Could ‘the angel of the Lord’ be the second person of the Trinity? Jesus uses the language of the Son of Man ascending (John 6:62). Earlier in John’s Gospel we read of ‘the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man’ (John 1:51).
The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is clearly at work here at the birth of Samson: ‘The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him…’ (Judges 13:24–25). The Holy Spirit gave Samson extraordinary and unusual strength and power.
Ever noticed how many things tried to rush the knowledge of Jesus as God? Ever noticed how Jesus stopped them? Ever noticed how He would tell them to be quiet because it isn’t time yet? That is because Jesus knew the plan and the timing so that He would be able to complete the prophecies – every prophecy of the messiah. So rather than allowing the devil to try and cut his time short – because such a declaration which did get Him crucified would have had Him killed sooner, but it wasn’t time yet. Some may question why He would quiet the evil spirits who would call out that Jesus was the messiah, but it was so that all that He had come to do would be accomplish to the very last thing at the very right time!
God’s timing is perfect! God’s timing isn’t our timing and so we need to trust Him and lean on His understanding! God’s plan is for good and not for evil, so we need to trust Him! In trusting Him, we need to trust His timing! God’s plan is to give us a hope and a future! This journey through life may not be easy, but it will be worth it! So let’s trust God! Let’s seek Him for wisdom! Let’s lean on Him for patience! In this world we will have troubles, but we can take hope because Jesus has overcome the world! We can consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds because thanks to God we know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance and letting perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Do you know what it is? Do you know why it is? Do you know how it is? Do you know when it is? Do you know where it is? Have you given it up to Jesus?
Do you realize that when you give it up to Jesus, He can bring strength in the midst of weakness?
Ever discovered the power of perseverance? Ever discovered the power of Jesus’ grace?
If we give it all up to Jesus in our weakness, Jesus will be there.
When Jesus is all we have because we are weak, we have all that we need because He is there!
1. Faith and opposition … Psalm 59:1-8
We need to remember this fact that our devotional speaking to today’s reading shares:
God is your strength in times of difficulty. Belief in God is not the recipe for an easy life. In fact, the reverse is the case. You are likely to face all kinds of opposition.
–from Day 130: Bible In One Year 2017
Today’s reading about David’s trial and in his weakness trusts in God…
1Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. 2Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood. 3See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, Lord. 4I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight! 5You, Lord God Almighty, you who are the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. 6They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. 7See what they spew from their mouths—the words from their lips are sharp as swords, and they think, “Who can hear us?” 8But you laugh at them, Lord; you scoff at all those nations.
–from Psalm 59
Today’s devotional in conclusion to this reading shares:
Cry out to God for help in times of personal difficulties. ‘Arise to help me; look on my plight’ (Psalm 59:4b). You can also cry out to God for help at times of international crisis. The very next sentence is a prayer for the nation (v.5a). At whatever level the opposition appears, ask the Lord for his deliverance, help and intervention.
–from Day 130: Bible In One Year 2017
2. Faith and emptiness … John 6:25-59
To be able to give up our weakness to Jesus, we need to believe in Him! We need to empty ourselves so that there can be more of Him! It’s about our belief and our faith, it’s not about our achievements. So let’s walk out in faith this life we have been given so that God may be glorified in Jesus’ name! Let’s be filled! Let’s open up our hearts and our lives so that the emptiness can be filled up with Jesus! Let’s be satisfied! Let’s not continue to thrive but rather let’s be satisfied spiritually through Jesus!
Today’s devotional speaks to this point as follows:
Faith in Jesus fills the emptiness you experience and satisfies your spiritual hunger for purpose, permanence and pardon.
Physical bread is not enough. Material things alone do not satisfy. Money, homes, cars, success and even human relationships do not satisfy our desire for ultimate purpose in life.
The bread that does satisfy is the ‘bread of life’. This is not a commodity that Jesus supplies. He is the gift and the giver. The words, ‘I’ or ‘me’ appear thirty-five times in this discussion. ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (v.35).
It is easy, even once you have put your faith in Jesus, to get caught up in material things or the trappings of religion. But it is actually only a relationship with Jesus that satisfies our spiritual hunger.
The expressions, ‘Believe in me’ (v.29), ‘Come to me’ (v.35), ‘Look to the Son’ (v.40), ‘Eat my flesh and drink my blood’ (v.53 onwards) describe living in an intimately close relationship with Jesus.
We are all going to die. Death is the great unmentionable reality. Jesus says this life is not the end: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever… I will raise them up on the last day’ (vv.51,54).
Jesus promises to raise you up at the last day and that you will live forever. You can have absolute assurance that your relationship with Jesus will outlast death.
There is both a present and a future dimension to this eternal life. They said, ‘From now on give us this bread’ (v.34). Jesus says it can be received immediately (v.35 onwards). Yet he also made clear that it will last forever (vv.50–51).
Forgiveness is actually our greatest need. The atheist philosopher, Marghanita Laski, said, ‘What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness. I have no one to forgive me.’ We all want to know that we are pardoned for all that we have done wrong.
Jesus said, ‘This bread is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world’ (v.51). His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins. Every time you receive communion, you are reminded that Jesus gave his life so that you could be forgiven.
How do you receive this bread? Jesus says, ‘I tell you the truth, whoever believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life’ (vv.47–48). While there is no separate account of Jesus’ institution of Holy Communion in John’s Gospel, here we see Jesus’ teaching on communion set in the context of faith.
Among other things, communion is a visible sign that helps us receive Christ by faith (vv.53–58). It reveals and nourishes the friendship Jesus wants to have with us. It is a gift of his love and a sign of his desire to dwell in us all the time.
–from Day 130: Bible In One Year 2017
God’s Word is the bread of life! Let’s take time to read it and meditate on it daily!
3. Faith and fallibility … Judges 10:1-11:40
We need to have faith! We need to lean on God and trust in Him! We need to realize our weakness and trust in and serve God alone! We are but human and so we have weakness and are fallible! So we need God! So let’s trust Him! Let’s believe in Him! Let’s walk with Him! Let’s live our lives as living sacrifices dedicated to Him!
We can see looking back the roller coaster of life! The believing! The trials! The return! We need to have Jesus with us and at our side so instead of trying to go through the troubles and trials and life alone we can go with it with Jesus who has overcome the world! With Jesus by our side, we can hold onto these truths…
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” –from John 16:33
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. –from James 1
Today’s devotional speaks to the belief and crying out to be saved vs the disbelief and the troubles and curses that came that way. Let’s consider the story of Jephthah and how he was used through God’s hands…
Jephthah is described as a ‘mighty warrior’ (11:1). His mother was a prostitute (v.1). His half-brothers drove him away (v.2). He gathered a group of adventurers around him (v.3). He became a remarkable leader. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him (v.29), and he was used by God to secure victory over the Ammonites – ‘the Lord gave them into his hands’ (v.32).
However, there is an incident in his life that is almost unbearable to read. He made a vow to God that if God gave him victory, he would sacrifice whatever came out of the door of his house to meet him upon his return. It was his daughter, his only child. And, it appears, that is what he did (vv.29–40).
It is important to note that God never asked him to make this vow. Nor did he ask him to carry out the sacrifice. Indeed, it went against all the teaching of the Old Testament, which forbade child sacrifice. Jephthah never actually seeks God’s will in this situation. It seems to be his own pride that drives him to put his reputation above the life of his daughter. This shows the fallibility of even great people of faith.
In spite of his weakness, he is listed in the book of Hebrews as one of the great heroes of faith whose weakness was turned into strength (Hebrews 11:32–34).
–from Day 130: Bible In One Year 2017
Will you trust God? Will you obey God? Will you walk in belief?
You realize the principles of reaping and sowing right? Are you living a life that sows into the lives of others? What are you sowing into the lives of the people around you? Are you sowing love? Are you sowing hate? Are you sowing hope? Are you sowing worry? Are you sowing trust? Are you sowing anxiety? Are you sowing blessings? Are you sowing troubles? Do you realize just like when a farmer plants seeds in the ground, the expectation is that there will be a harvest where they can reap from it. So make sure you are sowing good stuff!
Are you watering too? Were you tilling the soil first? Were you preparing? Are you nurturing?
Even as I think about this subject I remember a time back at diabetic camp where they told a story about warm fuzzies and cold pricklies and the reality of when we are able to live and give good things to others, it returns to us and helps grow the day to be better rather than cold pricklies which cause people to get down on life.
So, what about generosity? Do you sow generosity too?
If you will reap more than you sow — make sure you are planting good seed or you will end up with more bad than you had to start with…
Today’s devotional points out these truths…
- You reap what you sow
- You reap later than you sow
- You reap more than you sow
–from Day 129: Bible In One Year 2017
1. Sow justice … Psalm 58:1-11
- Consider the children and the youth who have fallen into Foster Care and what has happened to them. They are our orphans and we need to sow justice into their lives.
- Consider the children and the youth who have fallen into slavery through human trafficking. We need to sow justice into their lives and look for ways to not only save them but to prevent these acts from taking place in the first place.
- Cry out to those in authority to step up and stand up for justice!
- Let’s look to set into place leadership that sow justice!
- Today’s reading speaks to this truth as follows:
- “Leadership is key in any society. A leader who sows injustice will reap terrible consequences. They are sowing poison: ‘Their venom is like the venom of a snake’ (v.4). They create an unstable society and will eventually be ‘swept away’ (v.9). When this happens there will be great relief all round. They reap what they sow. Likewise, ‘the righteous… are rewarded’ (v.11a). When we see this principle at work we say, ‘there is a God’ (v.11).” –from Day 129: Bible In One Year 2017
- Today’s reading speaks to this truth as follows:
- Don’t lose hope! Don’t give up! Even if it takes till Jesus’ return, put your trust in Him and continue to sow justice in and through your life. Live in and for justice and righteousness!
2. Sow generously … John 6:1-24
Will you be prepared before you walk out into today? Will you contemplate the plan for today by seeking wisdom from God so that you are prepared in advance for the good work God has prepared in advance for you to accomplish? Will you be prepared to be generous? Will you prepare to be generous with your time? Will you sow generously into the lives God brings into your day today? As I consider today’s devotional, I grab hold of the following…
One of these is the principle that those who sow generously will also reap generously.
Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him. ‘He said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith’ (vv.5–6a, MSG). Faith is like a muscle, it grows by stretching.
In fact, although Jesus asked the question ‘he already had in mind what he was going to do’ (v.6b). This shows that it is alright to ask questions to which you already know the answer. (In fact, when I was practising as a barrister I was taught only to ask questions to which I already knew the answer!)
‘Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples… spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”’ (vv.7–8).
This boy’s act of generosity will never be forgotten. Jesus is able to do a lot with a little. The boy gave generously all that he had. It was not very much – it was ‘a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this’ (v.8, MSG).
However, it multiplied in the hands of Jesus. At least 5,000 were fed and there was plenty left over. Jesus said, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted’ (v.12). If it needed a biblical basis, here is a biblical basis for not wasting food – it always seems a terrible waste if food is thrown away unnecessarily.
The world produces enough food to feed everyone. Yet 870 million people (1 in 8 of the world’s population) are suffering from chronic undernourishment. At the same time, around a third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted. Individually and corporately we need to act urgently on Jesus’ instruction: ‘Let nothing be wasted’ (v.12).
What you give to Jesus, he multiplies. The apostle Paul wrote, ‘Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously’ (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Make it your aim to be the most generous person you know. Be generous with your money, your possessions, your time and your love. You cannot out-give God. The more you give the more you will harvest and the more you will enjoy the favour of God on your life.
Straight after this amazing miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, the disciples find themselves in a storm (John 6:18). Jesus calls his disciples to move from a faith based on a very visible miracle that fulfilled their physical need to a faith that is a total trust in him and his words.
Miraculously, Jesus walks on the water towards them. They were ‘scared senseless’ (v.19, MSG). Jesus says to them, ‘It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid’ (v.20, MSG). Following Jesus is not always easy. There are storms and other challenges of life, but Jesus’ presence with us is transformational. No wonder the crowd went ‘in search of Jesus’ (v.24).
–from Day 129: Bible In One Year 2017
3. Sow loyalty … Judges 9:1-57
Who can you trust? Who do you trust? Who can trust you? Are you loyal? Do you show and live out loyalty? Can you be trusted? Are you showing good stewardship? Are you a servant leader? Are you looking out for others?
Today’s reading and devotional speak to this in a very interesting way…
I have noticed, over the years, how those who sow loyalty to their leaders reap a high degree of loyalty when they themselves come into positions of leadership. On the other hand, those who refuse to come under another’s leadership and who stir up trouble, invariably reap the same attitude of disloyalty if they themselves come into a position of leadership.
In this passage we see the disastrous consequences of the disloyalty of Abimelech to his father and to his brothers. Abimelech sowed violence. ‘He hired some reckless, riffraff soldiers… and killed his half brothers… seventy men!’ (vv.4–5, MSG). The youngest managed to hide – the only survivor.
Again, we see this biblical principle at work: we reap what we sow. Abimelech sowed disloyalty and violence. He reaped disloyalty and violence. Initially, he was in cahoots with the citizens of Shechem (v.2 and following). But three years later bad feeling arose between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, who had acted treacherously against Abimelech.
Abimelech reaped what he had sown. Shechem’s leaders ‘worked treacherously behind his back. Violence boomeranged: the murderous violence that killed the seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal, was now loose among Abimelech and Shechem’s leaders, who had supported the violence’ (vv.23–24, MSG).
Abimelech showed no loyalty to the people of Shechem. He used them when he needed them (v.2). However, he had no hesitation in wiping them out (vv.42–49).
Ultimately, they all reaped what they had sown, and Abimelech himself was ingloriously killed soon after (vv.53–54). The writer sums it all up: ‘God avenged the evil Abimelech had done to his father, murdering his seventy brothers. And God brought down on the heads of the men of Shechem all the evil that they had done’ (vv.56–57, MSG).
–from Day 129: Bible In One Year 2017
Let’s go beyond being alive to living! Let’s take hold of life and be able to live it out to the full, live it abundantly, live it open-heartedly, live it enjoying the richness of life!
The devil has a plan for your life which is to come steal, kill and destroy it! Take your life back from him and give it up and over to Jesus so that instead of the devil’s plan you can step up to God’s plan which is that we may have life, and have it to the full! God’s plan is good and it is to give us a hope and a future! God’s plan was so big He sent Jesus! He didn’t send Jesus to condemn the world but rather thru Jesus the world could be saved!
So let’s live our lives out in a way that is that is richer, bolder, and more vibrant! Let’s live out our lives in HD or 4K … let’s live lives that get the most out of them and share the best with others! We need to live lives of faith and trust in God! We need to live live lives believing in Jesus, building our relationship with Him and living a life that is worthy of being living sacrifices to God!
Don’t forget all God has done, is doing, and is about to do according to His Word!
Live your life in high def!
1. Enjoy the HD life … Proverbs 11:19-28
Today’s devotional speaks to God’s Word from proverbs as follows…
The book of Proverbs sets out two paths: one leads to ‘death’ (v.19b); the other leads to ‘life’ (v.19a). The path that leads to death is the path of evil (v.19b), perversity (v.20a), wickedness (v.21a), meanness (v.24b), hoarding (v.26a) and trusting in wealth (v.28a).
The path that leads to life is for those who are righteous (vv.19,21). You are ‘righteous’ through your faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22).
In this passage we see a description of what this life is like. It is not mere existence. It is high-definition living. It means enjoying God’s delight (Proverbs 11:20b). It is a life of freedom (v.21b). It ‘ends only in good’ (v.23).
When you are generous, you are ‘enriched’. When you ‘refresh’ others, you are ‘refreshed’ (v.25).
This does not mean that life is without its difficulties, challenges and suffering. But ultimately, you will be crowned with blessing (v.26b). You will find goodwill (v.27a) and will ‘thrive like a green leaf’ (v.28b).
–from Day 128: Bible In One Year 2017
2. Encounter Jesus daily … John 5:31-47
Today’s devotional speaks to the importance of a relationship with Jesus and today’s reading from God’s Word as follows…
If we fail to see that the Bible is about Jesus and a relationship with him, reading it can easily become a dry, academic and arid activity. Once you understand that it is all about Jesus, and you see that studying the Bible is a way to grow in your relationship with him, it becomes the source of life (v.40).
The way to find life is to come to Jesus. On numerous occasions, especially in John’s Gospel, Jesus refers to this life as ‘eternal life’ (for example, v.39). Eternal life comes from this relationship (v.40). It starts now and goes on forever. It is the high-definition life.
How can you know that Jesus really is who he says he is? As if in a court of law, Jesus calls four witnesses, as evidence, to support his case.
- The first witness Jesus calls is other people – in particular, John the Baptist (vv.31–35). John came as ‘a witness to testify’ (1:7). Today, there are more people than ever before (over 2 billion) pointing to Jesus as witnesses.
- The second witness Jesus calls is his own life work. This is a ‘weightier’ witness than the first one – it is the ‘very work the Father has given me to finish’ (5:35), which culminates in the resurrection of the crucified Christ who cries out on the cross, ‘It is finished’ (19:30).
- The third witness Jesus calls is the Father’s direct testimony (5:37). You too can experience his direct testimony today through his Spirit in your heart (15:26).
- The fourth witness Jesus calls is the Scriptures. The whole Bible is about Jesus and about coming into a relationship with him. Jesus says, ‘These are the Scriptures that testify about me’ (5:39). He says, ‘Moses… wrote about me’ (v.46).
It is possible to ‘study the Scriptures’ but miss the whole point. Jesus says to religious leaders, ‘You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life’ (vv.39–40).
Even though there is ample evidence about Jesus, ultimately coming to him is an act of the will. And some, Jesus says, ‘refuse to come to me to have life’ (v.40). Why would anyone refuse?
First, some are not willing to put God first in their lives (v.42). Others are more concerned about what people think than about what God thinks (v.44). Still others simply refuse to believe in spite of the evidence (v.47). ‘If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me’ (v.46, MSG).
Jesus touches our fundamental sin. We are continually seeking honour, glory and admiration from one another – seeking our own glory.
Do not worry about what other people think. What God thinks is what matters. Encounter Jesus again today and enjoy the full, abundant, spacious, open-hearted, high-definition life which Jesus offers.
–from Day 128: Bible In One Year 2017
3. Examine the biblical examples … Judges 7:8b-8:35
Today’s devotional speaks to our reading from Judges about Gibeon as follows…
Gideon is listed in the New Testament as an example of someone who lived ‘by faith’ (Hebrews 11:32–33). He, therefore, received a foretaste of this ‘HD’ life.
Gideon knew the Lord, who spoke to him and told him he was going to give him victory over the Midianites (Judges 7:9). Gideon ‘worshipped God’ (v.15) even before he had won the battle. This demonstrated his faith and inspired the others.
As Joyce Meyer writes, ‘Learning to worship God before the battle gets His attention, demonstrates our faith, and inspires us to boldly enter any challenge we face.’
Such was Gideon’s faith that he went into battle with only 300 men – each with a torch in one hand and a trumpet in the other (‘leaving no chance to use swords’, v.20, AMP). Faith and confidence was not in themselves but in God, who gave them a great victory.
Whatever battles you are facing today, put all of your confidence and trust in God instead of in your own ability to cope. Whatever God has asked you to do may seem impossible for you, but it is not impossible for him.
Learn from studying the example of Gideon.
- Wisdom in dealing with criticism
When ‘the Ephraimites asked Gideon… “Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?” they criticised him sharply’ (8:1). Gideon dealt with this criticism with great charm and tact. He said to them, ‘What have I accomplished compared to you?… What was I able to do compared to you?’ (vv.2–3a). And we are told, ‘At this, their resentment against him subsided’ (v.3b).
On the whole, people want to be valued for what they do. They want to be included in God’s plans. Criticism may flow from a person who is feeling underused or undervalued. Once the Ephraimites realised that Gideon valued them and rated them highly, their criticism subsided.
Sometimes, I forget the wisdom of this example. I respond to criticism in the wrong way. But I have been struck by how often, if we go to people and say, ‘I need your help’ (in effect, ‘what have I accomplished compared to you?’), their criticism subsides.
- Determination when exhausted
‘Gideon and his 300 men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit…’ (v.4). There are times in life when we feel exhausted. Most often it is wise to stop, rest and get refreshed. But there are some occasions when you just have to keep going. Presumably, Gideon’s strength came from the fact that the Spirit of the Lord had come upon him (6:34).
The life of Gideon is an inspiration. But there is also a warning. After his great victory, he became overconfident and failed to consult God. He thought of a nice idea and went ahead. It turned out to be a disaster. He made a golden ephod that became ‘a snare to Gideon and his family’ (8:27).
Although Gideon, like us all, was a fallible human being, he is listed in Hebrews as one of the great people of faith. Yet, you are better off than Gideon: ‘God had planned something better for us…’ (Hebrews 11:40). You can enjoy an even better life than Gideon. You can enjoy full, abundant, spacious, high-definition living by faith in Jesus.
–from Day 128: Bible In One Year 2017