How will you make a difference?

We are all here for a reason! We’ve all been created for a purpose! We’ve all been created on purpose! We’ve all been given a choice as to how we will live out our lives! We’ve all been given the choice of how we will serve! We’ve all been given the opportunity to make a difference!

What will you do today to impact the lives of the people around you? What will you do today to impact the lives of those who are in need? What will you do today to make a difference in the lives of the people that you interact with? The choice is yours! Will it be a positive impact? Will it be a negative impact? Will you be an encourager or a discourager? Will you be an ambassador of peace? We each get to choose! We each will have different opportunities come across our lives today and we will each need to choose how we will respond! Will we speak up? Will we speak out? Will we step in? Will we step out? Will we step up? Will we choose to make a difference? Will we choose to make something beautiful out of our lives?

Day 44: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Proverbs 4:20-27, Matthew 27:45-66, Exodus 13, Exodus 14

Today’s devotional is titled:

Make Something Beautiful Out of Your Life

Will you choose to cooperate with God’s plans for your life? Will you choose to join forces with God to accomplish the plans and purpose He has for your life? Will you choose to accept God’s  help to complete the purpose for which you were created? Will you choose to be obedient to God’s calling upon your life? Will you choose to walk with Him daily so that together in your imperfection and His perfection something beautiful will be made out of your life? Will you get off the sidelines and get onto the field allowing your actions to speak for the faith and the hope that is inside of you because of Jesus? Jesus wants us to walk with Him daily to walk out the plans and purpose He has created us to accomplish! Will you allow Him to be a partner in your daily life? Will you choose to cooperate and respond to the still quiet voice, the prompting of the Holy Spirit in each situation that God could be glorified? Will you take hold of Romans 8:28…

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

So let’s reflect on all of this through the key points from today’s devotional:

1. Walk wisely … Proverbs 4:20-27

20My son, pay attention to what I say;turn your ear to my words. 21Do not let them out of your sight,keep them within your heart; 22for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. 23Above all else, guard your heart,for everything you do flows from it. 24Keep your mouth free of perversity;keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25Let your eyes look straight ahead;fix your gaze directly before you. 26Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

–from Proverbs 4

From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks! It’s not what goes into us that taints us or tarnishes us, but what is in our heart that overflows into the words we say that impairs or contaminates us! We need to allow God’s Word and God’s Commandments to be written on our hearts! We need to invite Jesus into our heart so that He can help clean up the past and help us walk out our present so that we can arrive at the future that we can hope for that He has gone ahead of us to prepare and has promised. Let’s not allow the storms or the challenges to take our eyes off of God! Let’s keep our eyes on Him for our God is greater than any problem that could come our way! Let’s walk out this life in alignment to His will and His calling upon our lives! It will impact where we look! It will direct what we say! It will guide us in what we see! It will instruct in where we go!

Today’s devotional shares the following in relation to today’s reading and first key:

You have a part to play in responding to God’s call, staying on his paths, living wisely and thereby making something beautiful out of your life. In this passage we see four areas in particular that you need to watch if you want to enjoy victory over temptation:

  • What you think about
    You can choose what you think about. This is of first importance because the life you lead will flow from your heart. ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life’ (v.23). You are to fill your hearts with good things – especially the words of God (vv.20–21). They bring ‘life’ and ‘health’ (v.22). Think about ‘things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy’ (Philippians 4:8).
  • What you say
    Your words are powerful. Use them carefully. ‘Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips’ (Proverbs 4:24). It is said that the words of the tongue should have three gatekeepers: ‘Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?’
  • What you look at
    Guard your eyes. Be careful what you look at (especially in this age of TV and internet). ‘Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you’ (v.25). Jesus warned that if you look at the wrong things, your ‘whole body will be full of darkness’. But he also said, ‘If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light’ (Matthew 6:22–23).
  • Where you go
    You will avoid a lot of temptation if you are careful about where you go. ‘Make level paths for your feet… keep your foot from evil’ (Proverbs 4:26–27). The writer of Hebrews quotes from this verse. He urges us to ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for us’ with our eyes fixed ‘on Jesus… “Make level paths for your feet”’ (Hebrews 12:1–2,12).

from Day 44: Bible In One Year 2017

2. Give generously … Matthew 27:45-66

45From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 47When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” 55Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. 57As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. 62The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

–from Matthew 27

Jesus suffered so much in order that we could receive and experience the presence of God! Not only did He give up His life on the cross but also He had to deal with abandonment for our sake! He put it all on the line so that God’s perfect will could be accomplished! We couldn’t never do it in our own strength and God had to take things into His own hands in order to make a way when there didn’t seem to be a way! Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, nobody comes to the Father except through Him! He bridged the gap that sin had created and had caused a separation between God and man!

So we need to make a choice! We have the freewill to choose whom we will serve! Have you decided to follow Jesus yet? If not, why not make today your day?

Today’s devotional shares the following in relation to today’s reading and second key:

Jesus experienced appalling suffering and real separation from God in order that you could enjoy the presence of God.

Jesus was abandoned by the religious leaders, by his own family, by the crowds, by his disciples and finally, ‘Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”’ (v.46, MSG).

Jesus’ words of agony express a real sense of alienation from God. He is quoting from Psalm 22:1, which is a cry of suffering, lament and alienation from God. In the book of Job we saw how Scripture engages with the difficulties and complexities of human suffering. At the cross though we see God’s ultimate answer to our suffering – he chooses to enter into it and take it upon himself.

John Stott reflects on suffering and the cross: ‘I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the cross… in the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?’

Yet Jesus’ embrace of our suffering on the cross goes beyond mere solidarity. His words reflect how he came ‘to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:28). He died so that you could go free. Jesus was abandoned so that you and I might be accepted by God.

We see the reality of this acceptance by what happens at the moment of Jesus’ death: ‘the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom’ (27:51). The symbolism of this is explained in the book of Hebrews. The curtain separated the people from the ‘Most Holy Place’ – that is the presence of God (Hebrews 9:3).

Now, through Jesus and because of his death on the cross for you, you can experience God’s presence and an intimate friendship with him. Even the very detail that the curtain was torn from the top to the bottom reminds us that it was the work of God, and not of humans, that enabled our acceptance into God’s presence. You can know God’s acceptance and presence because of Jesus’ abandonment and suffering.

Even at the moment God acted decisively in human history through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he included human beings in his plans. He used a rich man called Joseph of Arimathea, who had become a disciple of Jesus, to buy the tomb where Jesus was to be buried and then resurrected (Matthew 27:57–60).

What matters is not so much whether you are rich or poor; but how you respond to what Jesus has done for you and what you do with what you have. Joseph gave generously and God made something beautiful out of his life that has been remembered for all time.

from Day 44: Bible In One Year 2017

3. Trust totally … Exodus 13:1-14:31

Consecration of the Firstborn

1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”
3Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. 4Today, in the month of Aviv, you are leaving. 5When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites—the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey—you are to observe this ceremony in this month: 6For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the Lord. 7Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. 8On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.
11“After the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your ancestors, 12you are to give over to the Lord the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the Lord. 13Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.
14“In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’ 16And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

Crossing the Sea

17When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.
19Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”
20After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

Exodus 13

1Then the Lord said to Moses, 2“Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. 3Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ 4And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.
5When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” 6So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. 7He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. 8The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. 9The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.
10As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
13Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
15Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
19Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.
21Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
23The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
26Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
29But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Exodus 14

God made a way when there didn’t seem to be a way! He showed first at the Red Sea and finally through the cross! Share the Good News with the people around you! Make a difference today! Share the hope that is within you! Make today beautiful!

Today’s devotional shares the following in relation to today’s reading and third and final key:

God’s deliverance through Jesus is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. As God opened the way into his presence through the tearing of the curtain, so God opened a way through the sea by the parting of the waters.

All the way through, we see God’s initiative in delivering his people out of Egypt: ‘The Lord brought you out… Tell your children, “I do this because of what the Lord did for me”… For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand… The Lord brings you into the land… with a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery’ (13:3–16).

God led his people all the way – although, interestingly, he did not take them the shortest route (v.17). Sometimes, instead of taking us the easy way, God takes us a longer and more difficult way to prepare us for the battles ahead. Even though they were now out of Egypt they were going to have to fight one battle after another. They needed to learn to rely totally on God’s strength and guidance.

He guided them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (v.21); he guided them constantly. This is what we need individually and as the community of the people of God – his constant guidance.

Sometimes we get into situations where there seems to be no way out. The Egyptians were behind them and the sea was in front of them, ‘they were exceedingly frightened’ (14:10, AMP). Yet Moses totally trusted in God to deliver them. He said, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today… The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still’ (vv.13–14). I often come back to these verses when I find myself in a situation where I cannot, humanly speaking, see a way out.

Moses had to play his part (‘Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea’, v.16a), God’s part was rather harder; he divided the waters. When we pray, for example, for someone to be filled with the Holy Spirit, God uses us. You have to stretch out your hands and pray. But God fills people with his Spirit – he does the hard part. Nevertheless he involves you in his plans.

God’s part was to bring rescue and salvation: ‘The Lord saved Israel’ (v.30). Your part is to trust in God: ‘the people put their trust in him and in Moses his servant’ (v.31).

God wants you to cooperate with him. This is the way that he has designed his creation – whether it is the natural world (where we plant and God gives the growth) or the kingdom of God (where God brings about his kingdom, yet you have a part to play).

from Day 44: Bible In One Year 2017


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