Do you realize how important you are to God?


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 wants to have a relationship with You! It’s personal! It’s intimate! It’s real! He doesn’t want people who will be robots! He wants to be our friend!

Don’t go walking around with that empty feeling, invite Jesus into your heart! Don’t walk around without purpose, invite Jesus into your heart!

Wondering what God wants? what God desires? He wants you!


All He Wants is You –Day 135: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalms 61, John 8:31-59, Judges 20, Judges 21


1. Be led by God … Psalms 61

In this life we will face trials and troubles but we don’t have to lose hope but instead we can turn to God and lean on Him! Because of our hope and our trust in God, we can consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds! Because of our hope and our trust in Jesus, we can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world! So don’t be led astray but rather be led by God! Don’t be led by fear but instead be led by God!

Feeling overwhelmed or like fainting? Turn to God! Be a servant leader and be led by God because to lead others, we need to be led by God! Let’s take hold of this and join David in His prayer…

1Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
2From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
4I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
5For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
6Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.
7May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
8Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
and fulfill my vows day after day.

–from Psalms 61

 

2. Be liberated by Jesus … John 8:31-59

Are you living your life in true freedom? Are you living a life that is free? Have you received Jesus? “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” he told them in today’s reading. Jesus went on to tell them “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.“. Do you want to be liberated from the traps of this world? Do you want to be liberated from the power of sin/ Do you want to find true freedom?  Call on Jesus! Ask Him in! Read and hear His Word and take hold of it and walk it out! Through our relationship with Jesus we are free to meet directly with God! Let’s build our relationship with Jesus and walk out life with freedom and integrity! We may not know it all but similar to how we can have a framework based on natural scientific laws, Jesus and God’s Word give us a framework to investigate the spiritual realm.

Today’s reading speaks to the following…

Without Jesus Christ, all of us are slaves to sin. But, ‘if the Son liberates you, then you are really and unquestionably free’ (v.36, AMP).

    • Freedom from guilt
      Jesus sets you free from guilt and shame. He died so that you could be forgiven and your guilt and shame could be taken away.
    • Freedom from addiction
      He sets you free from addiction – being ‘a slave to sin’ (v.34). On the cross the power of addiction was broken. Although you may still fall from time to time, the power of the addiction to sin is broken when Jesus sets you free. While some may receive complete freedom from a specific addiction when they come to Jesus, for others it may be a longer process.
    • Freedom from fear
      Jesus sets you free from fear. He came so that ‘by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death’ (Hebrews 2:14–15). Jesus says here, ‘I tell you the truth, whoever keeps my word will never see death’ (John 8:51).

      Death is not the end for those whom Jesus has set free. Rather it is the gateway to heaven. When Jesus sets you free from the fear of death, he also sets you free potentially from all other fears.

    • Freedom to know God
      Jesus sets you free to have a relationship with God like his own. Jesus is the supreme example of a person who is led by God. He says of himself, ‘I heard from God’ (v.40). But he also goes on to say, ‘Whoever belongs to God hears what God says’ (v.47). It is possible for us all to hear from God.

      Jesus says, ‘I know him’ (v.55). He makes it possible for you to know God.

    • Freedom to be yourself
      Jesus sets you free to be your true self as God intended you to be. He sets you free intellectually, morally and emotionally.
    • Freedom to love
      Jesus sets you free to love (the opposite of the self-centredness of sin). This is true freedom: ‘if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’ (v.36).

–from Day 135: Bible In One Year 2017

 

3. Be loyal to God … Judges 20, Judges 21

Don’t lose hope because there are trials or troubles, loses or attacks! Put your trust in God! Let’s live lives that will glorify God! We have freewill and so we should do things that are producing good fruit – let’s live by living our lives with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Let’s live our lives in ways that show our loyalty to God! Not sure what to do? Cry out to God and ask Him for wisdom and discernment in the situation! Let’s ask God before we go into it rather than waiting to see the outcome and ask for His help and reinforcements! We are human and even when we try to do it in our own strength, don’t give up but rather turn back to God! Seek His will! Pursue His purposes! So that in and through it all we can bring Him praise, honor, and glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 


 

Impossible isn’t a word, it’s an excuse not to try!


I remember that morning driving into work and a song came on the radio that spoke just that…

Nothing is impossible with God! With God all things are possible! Do you have faith to believe? Do you have the faith to get back up when you fall? Do you have the faith to press on beyond and not give up? Do you have the faith to look for the silver lining? Do you have the faith to dream big? Do you have the faith to move mountains?

I am so glad that I had an encounter with God and received Jesus into my heart and had the revelation that it is beyond rituals and routines but that it is all about having a relationship with Jesus! There we so many times I felt drawn to God but it wasn’t till I realized it was about the relationship that my life was transformed as I am now able to talk with Him and hear from Him at the mountain tops and in the lowest valleys. I can hear Him speaking through His Word, through music, through people talking and know He is speaking to me. God is so good and so faithful! God is still in the business of doing miracles! Consider how many you may be missing because you aren’t looking for them! Consider how many you have had because you weren’t looking for them! Consider how times God showed up to accomplish something and realize you have experienced a miracle!

I know my children are miracles from God! I know that the fact that my kids have gotten to grow up knowing God is a miracle! I know that God has incredible plans for each of us! I know God has great plans for you and for me – they are good – they are to help us – they are to give us a hope and a future!

So if you haven’t started your relationship with Jesus, why not start today! Until you do, life can seem to make no sense and there will seem to be a void in your heart.


It’s Possible With God — Day 134: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalms 60:5-12, John 8:12-30, Judges 18, Judges 19


1. Gain the victory … Psalm 60:5-12

To gain victory, we need God! So today ask Jesus into your very situation! So today ask Jesus into your life! Start the journey with a relationship with Jesus!

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s Word from Psalm as follows…

Compared with God’s help, human help is worthless. ‘With God’, David says, ‘we shall gain the victory’ (v.12). He was speaking about physical battles. The apostle Paul writes that our main battles are not physical. They are not ‘against flesh and blood, but… against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:12).

David prays, ‘Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered… Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we shall gain the victory’ (Psalm 60:5,11–12a).

–from Day 134: Bible In One Year 2017

 

2. Give God pleasure … John 8:12-30

Let’s live out our lives in the light of Jesus! Let’s live out our lives under the cover of Jesus’ blood! Let’s live out our lives in ways that will please God! Let’s trust Him and walk in alignment with His Word and His Will so that we can bring joy and pleasure to God the Father!

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s Word from John as follows…

Do you realise that you can give God pleasure? Jesus says, ‘I always do what pleases him’ (v.29). This should be our aim in life – to please God.

Jesus models for us a life with God. He says, ‘I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me’ (v.16). He says, ‘The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone’ (v.29a). Throughout this passage, we discover something about Jesus’ relationship with his Father.

Jesus says, ‘I know where I came from and where I am going’ (v.14). So many people struggle in life because they don’t know where they came from or where they are heading. They struggle with a lack of purpose and direction in their lives. In a close relationship with God, you can know where you came from and ultimately where you are heading.

Jesus’ relationship with the Father was also the source of his purpose and direction day by day. He says, ‘I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me’ (v.28). He says, ‘The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone’ (v.29a).

This is the model for us. God was with Jesus. Jesus knew he was never alone. There was not a single thing he did without God. At every moment his desire is to please God: ‘I always do what pleases him’ (v.29b). This is what gave his life such power and effectiveness. ‘Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him’ (v.30).

Not only was Jesus with God, he was God.

Twice in today’s passage Jesus says, ‘I am he’ (8:24,28). The words translated ‘I am he’ are the same words that are used in the Greek translation of Exodus 3:14–16. There, God revealed himself to Moses as ‘I AM WHO I AM’. This name came to express both the identity of God and the closeness of God to his people.

Jesus uses this name himself. We do not possess existence. We are born and we die. We receive our existence. Jesus is existence. He is telling the people that God has once again come near to them in him. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.

It is as we look to the cross that Jesus says we have the clearest demonstration of his identity: ‘So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be.”’ (John 8:28).

Jesus had complete confidence in his own identity. The key to Jesus’ confidence and identity lay in his relationship with the Father. The same will also be true for you. As you spend time with the Father in prayer, in worship, or in reading the Scriptures, your sense of identity and confidence in who you are in God will grow. You can know where you have come from and where you are heading.

No matter what people say about you, you can walk confidently with head held high. Your identity is in Christ. It is rooted in what he says about you and his presence with you.

–from Day 134: Bible In One Year 2017

 

3. Shine God’s light … Judges 18:1-19:30

With a relationship with God we can turn to Him for wisdom and discernment! We can turn to Him and ask Him what and how we should live! Let’s live out life His way so that God’s light will shine into the lives of the people around you and you can point others to Him so that in all you think, say, and do will bring God the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name! Will you choose today to allow the God to lead you and guide you! We need to do what is good, what is right, what is just in love! We can’t go thru life silent! What comes to mind is the quote about all it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing…

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Today’s devotional speaks to today’s Word from Judges as follows…

The shocking atrocities committed by Daesh – beheading and crucifixion of innocent victims, widespread abuse of children, the terrible evil of human trafficking and modern day slavery – we live in a dark world. But we are not without hope. With God, light can drive out darkness.

Israel was in a dark period of its history. The people were called to walk in a close relationship with God – under the direct rule and reign of God as their King. Had they lived like this they would not have needed a human king.

However, they were now living in the worst possible scenario. They were not living under the kingship of the Lord, and did not even have a human king to keep order and restrain the chaos.

These were bleak days. ‘In those days Israel had no king’ (18:1; 19:1). They turned to idol worship (Chapter 18). We read a terrible and distressing account of the evil excesses of a lawless land. The appalling rape and abuse and dissection of a woman caused everyone who saw it to say, ‘Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Think about it! Consider it! Tell us what to do!’ (19:30). This was a time of utter darkness, of life without God.

Terrible as this atrocity was, it is not unique in the history of the world. Appalling atrocities can happen when a society rejects God and his laws: it sometimes descends into utter chaos.

Lt Gen Romeo Dallaire, who was part of the UN mission to Rwanda and witnessed the genocide, was asked how he could still believe in God. He replied: ‘I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him, I have smelled him and I have touched him. I know the devil exists, and therefore I know that there is a God.’

In Biblical language, ‘darkness’ is not only the night but also the forces of evil that can seduce us and lead us away from walking in the right direction, towards the light of life – Jesus who brings light into this dark world.

In a staggering claim, Jesus naturally puts himself in the place of God, and says that he is ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12). A world without God is a world of darkness. Yet Jesus said, ‘Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (v.12).

When you turn to Jesus you come out of the darkness of life without God into the light of life with him. He leads us out of darkness, conflict and death into the light of life and love. He gives meaning and direction to your life. Not only that, but as we live with God, seeking to please him, we embody together the ‘light of life’ to bring light into our dark world.

You really can make a difference to the world around you. Your life, in Christ, can shine like light in the spiritual darkness in the world around you. As Martin Luther King put it, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’

–from Day 134: Bible In One Year 2017


 

Do you realize how many people around you are in need of hope, light and a future?


Do you hear about it over lunch? Do you hear about it near the water cooler? Do you hear it in the restroom? Do you hear about it in conversations around your desk or office? Do you hear about it on the streets? Do you hear about it in your neighborhood? Do you hear about it in your community?

Are you listening? Are you listening to answer or listening to understand?

Are you ready to share the hope that is within you? Are you will to share the light that shines within you? Are you willing to share the plans of God to give people a hope and a future? Are you willing to tell people what Jesus is doing and has done in and through your life?

Do you realize there are desperate situations taking place around you? Are you willing to open your eyes, your mind, and your heart to know what’s going on? Are you willing to listen to what others have to say in order to understand better what is going on? Are you willing to come alongside them and help them along their journey? Are you willing to share Jesus who is the answer to giving people hope, giving people light, and giving people a future that goes beyond this lifetime!

As we prepare to jump into our reading for today, remember and consider the highs and lows of David’s life and how much he leaned on God in those desperate times! Consider where you are at and lean on Jesus! Consider where you are at and share Jesus with the people in need around you! Remember Jesus is the answer that gives people hope, light, and a future!


How to Deal with Desperate Times — Day 133: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalms 60:1-4, John 7:45-53, John 8:1-11, Judges 16, Judges 17


1. Hope despite apparent defeat … Psalm 60:1-4

Don’t lose hope…put your trust in God! Keep your focus on God and trust in Him as He will get you through the valleys, through the storms, and whatever is thrown your way when you try to walk in out in His strength! There are times when we will face trials of many kinds, but when we walk it out with Jesus, we can consider it pure joy! There are times when we will face troubles, but when we walk it out with Jesus, we can have hope because Jesus has overcome the world!

Today’s devotional speaks to what we have read from Psalms as follows…

Sometimes it appears God’s people are being defeated. While there is a great revival in many parts of the world, such as Asia; in Western Europe, for example, church attendance has been in decline. Churches get closed. Christian morals are no longer seen as important.

There are desperate moments in the history of the people of God. This psalm is a national lament after a conquest by their enemies. The people of God felt rejected. David says, ‘You have shown your people desperate times’ (v.3a).

He uses the image of an earthquake to describe the desperation and uncertainty they faced: ‘You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking’ (v.2). The same image is used today to describe turmoil in all spheres of life. The instability of the economy, corporate institutions, marriage and community are all often portrayed as shaking and fractured.

Yet, there is hope. David writes, ‘But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow’ (v.4). The Lord has designated a place where his people may find refuge under his protection and be confident in the Lord – even in desperate times.

–from Day 133: Bible In One Year 2017

 

2. Love rather than condemnation … John 7:45-8:11

There will be many people who are out for blood! There will be many people who are looking to condemn rather than forgive! There will be many people who lead with condemnation rather than love! But Jesus shows us that this isn’t His way! Consider the woman from today’s story! Consider the accusers who left from oldest to youngest, most likely because they had more wisdom about what they have done! Consider what Jesus might have been writing in the sand! Consider Jesus’ response to not only forgive her in love, but also to instruct her to go and live a new life! We can be our own worst critics! We know what things we have done and the devil is trying to rob us of the hope, the light, and the future God has for us by getting us to dig a hole for ourselves and to setup roots that would keep us from being able to move forward and grow up in the ways of the Lord! So let’s consider what Jesus is teaching us today and consider how we can take hold of the love, the light, and the future He has planned for us to be with Him forever!

Today’s devotional speaks to this reading as follows…

Is sex outside marriage acceptable? Or is it sinful? If it is, what should our attitude be to those who are guilty of sexual sin?

The debate about sexual ethics continues to fill our newspapers and other media today. The words of Jesus are as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago.

The words of Jesus were the greatest words ever spoken, the kind of words you would expect God to speak. The temple guards declared, ‘No one ever spoke the way this man does’ (7:46). (It is so sad that some religious leaders failed to recognise him and regarded those who did believe in him as ‘this mob’, v.49.)

This woman, caught in the act of adultery, must have felt absolutely desperate. Despair can come from defeat. It can also come from moral failure. She must have been experiencing both – filled with guilt, shame and fear of death.

The condemners tried to ‘trap’ Jesus with a question (8:6). Jesus gives one of the most brilliant, memorable and often quoted replies in the history of the world: ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her’ (v.7).

Jesus did not condone her adultery, nor did he regard it as the unforgivable sin. He demonstrated how easy it is to condemn others while being guilty of the same sins in our own hearts (vv.7–9). This can be applied to many areas of our lives. Before we criticise others it is worth asking ourselves whether we are ‘without sin’ in that area that we are about to criticise in another.

When we judge, accuse and condemn others, we project on to them what we refuse to see in ourselves.

As is often said, ‘People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.’ In the context of the debate about sexual ethics, as we look at our own hearts there is often a lot of glass around.

In the account of the woman caught in adultery, each of the condemners is convicted by Jesus’ words until eventually ‘only Jesus was left’ (vv.7–9). Jesus asks her, ‘Has no one condemned you?’ (v.10). When she replies, ‘No one, sir’, he says, ‘Then neither do I condemn you… Go now and leave your life of sin’ (v.11).

Guilt is a horrible emotion. Condemnation is a terrible state to be in. How amazing it must have been to hear the words of Jesus: ‘Then neither do I condemn you’ (v.11). Since he was without sin, Jesus was the one person there in a position to ‘throw stones’, but he did not.

There is an extraordinary balance and almost unique combination in the words of Jesus – full of wisdom and grace, mercy and compassion. Jesus could not be clearer that adultery is sin. Yet he does not condemn her in any way. This is the message of the New Testament. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). As a result of Jesus’ death for us on the cross, you and I are totally forgiven, however far we may have fallen.

Yet, this is not a reason to go on sinning. Jesus does not condone her sin. He says to her, ‘Leave your life of sin’ (v.11). Jesus does not condemn us. But he does say to us, as he said to her, ‘Leave your life of sin.’

Jesus’ words, as always, are motivated by love and compassion. We are called to follow his example.

It is easy to fall into one of two opposite extremes. Either we condemn people or we condone sin. Love does not condemn nor does it condone sin, because sin leads to people getting hurt. If we love, like Jesus, we will neither condone sin nor condemn people, but lovingly challenge people (including ourselves) to leave sin behind.

The Greek word for ‘to forgive’ also means ‘to liberate’. Jesus came to liberate us by the power of his Holy Spirit. We are liberated to love as God loves us. Forgiveness is at the heart of every relationship. It is the essence of love.

–from Day 133: Bible In One Year 2017

 

3. Faith in the midst of chaos … Judges 16:1-17:13

Remember Jesus saying “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.Remember Jesus saying “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” In the midst of the chaos, in the midst of the troubles, in the midst of the trials, we need to put our faith, our hope, and our trust in Jesus!

Will  you walk in obedience to God’s will and God’s way in order to walk under His covering and blessings and protection? Will you walk in obedience to God’s will and God’s way in order that in your weakness God’s strength will be revealed?

Today’s devotional speaks to this reading as follows…

These were desperate times. There is a refrain that runs through the book of Judges: ‘In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit’ (17:6). This was a time of chaos.

In these desperate times God raised up judges like Samson. He led Israel for twenty years (16:31). He was one of the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:32).

Anointed by the Holy Spirit, God used him powerfully. However, he also had a weakness that led to immorality (sleeping with a prostitute, Judges 16:1–3) and deception (vv.4–10). Eventually, he pushed God to the limit through his persistent disobedience and ‘the Lord… left him’ (v.20).

Samson received extraordinary strength from God. But it was directly related to his obedience. God had told him not to cut his hair. So long as he obeyed God he would have supernatural strength.

However great a person of God may be, it is vital to remember that strength comes from God alone. Jesus said, ‘Without me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5, NKJV). Never rely on past victories but rather on God who gave them.

After persistent temptation, Samson gave in and told Delilah the secret of his strength – although it must have been obvious to him by then that she would take advantage of him. She cut his hair and his strength was gone.

Not only was the society chaotic, but also Samson reached a point of utter desperation in his own life. He was in captivity, he was blind and his captors were about to make a spectacle of him (Judges 16:21–25).

In the midst of his despair, Samson prayed to the Lord: ‘O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more’ (v.28). And God heard his prayer of faith. Even after all his failures, God still answered Samson’s cry. No matter what the situation, and no matter what you have done, it is never too late to turn back to God.

–from Day 133: Bible In One Year 2017

 


 

Are you feeling emptiness?


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!


The Wonderful Holy Spirit — Day 132: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Proverbs 11:29-31, Proverbs 12:1-7, John 7:14-44, Judges 14, Judges 15


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 know how to get the strength and energy you need?


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)


Endless Energy, Boundless Strength — Day 131: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 59:9-17, John 6:60-71, John 7:1-13, Judges 12, Judges 13


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).

–from Day 131: Bible In One Year 2017

 

2. A tough call … John 6:60-7:13

Consider today’s reading (John 6:60-71, John 7:1-13) and then reflect on today’s devotional which says…

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.

–from Day 131: Bible In One Year 2017

 

3. His extraordinary power … Judges 12:1-13:25

Consider today’s reading (Judges 12, Judges 13) and then reflect on today’s devotional which says…

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.

–from Day 131: Bible In One Year 2017

 


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.