Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Being Jesus-Conscious

BEING JESUS-CONSCIOUS

Romans 8:28:  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

            The opening Scripture encourages whoever messes up in life.  “Don’t worry.  God promises to work all things together for good!”

            This passage intends to draw people close to God every day.  When read carefully though, people may claim they’re “not called according to God’s purpose.”  The truth is that every person God creates is alive specifically to accomplish His purpose and form a relationship with Him!

            Believers grow in God consciousness.  We know who God is and that we’re accountable to Him.  People who live in fear are sin-conscious.  The harder sin-conscious people try being good, the more they fail.  Sin-conscious people listen to the devil’s lies that they’re no good.

            Instead of being sin-conscious, living Jesus-conscious guarantees success—and that God WILL work all things together for good BECAUSE you love Him!  Believers who are Jesus-conscious also realize that every one of their sins has been forgiven!   Jesus-conscious Believers know that we’re seen as the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

            Joseph didn’t know Jesus (Genesis 37-42).  Joseph was the favored son of twelve.  While his dad spoiled him above his brothers, Joseph didn’t realize how bitterly he was hated. 
            He understood after they sold him to traveling merchants. 

            Watching from the back of the caravan he was riding to his new life, Joseph saw   everyone and all that he knew disappear from view.  Not one brother shed a tear.  As far as Joseph knew, he was dead to them.
            Yet, their dad Jacob—who God renamed Israel—raised his family to know God (Genesis 32:28). 

            Joseph should have felt utterly deserted.  However, he remembered to whom he belonged.  God was with him!  Instead of being circumstance-conscious, Joseph 
insisted to remain God-conscious. 

            Because Joseph continued praying and crying out to God, their relationship was tight.  God welcomed Joseph into his embrace when life was the hardest.  And God also made all things work together for good for Joseph.  Check out the lesson linked below to see Joseph’s flip-tables-on-his-brothers happy ending.      
                       
Take Home Nugget

            Like Joseph was God-conscious, Believers can be Jesus-conscious and build a tight relationship with Him.  We can live gratefully, lifting up praises regardless of circumstances.  We may claim Jesus’ righteousness and purity.  Led-by-His-Spirit Believers are guaranteed that God will work all things together for good in our lives, too. 

            Fishermen reaped net-breaking boat-sinking load of fish, followers gathered twelve baskets of left-over food.  Being Jesus-conscious will explode good in your life, too!

Thank You for leading me through life, Lord—all the way to seeing all things work together for good BECAUSE I love You!   Amen.

Adapted from “God is in it With You” by Joseph Prince.  August 8, 2016.  www.JosephPrince.org
J.D. Griffith





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Friday, August 19, 2016

One Utterly Believing Person

ONE UTTERLY BELIEVING PERSON

Romans 3:3-4a:  “What if some did not have faith?  Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?  Not at all!”

            “People are so rude!” Cassie’s mom quipped while steering their grocery cart past another cart parked in the middle of the aisle.  She said it pretty loud, so Cassie looked at the faces of the couple.
            The man looked agitated.  Cassie smiled at him.  The man said, “Wellll, excuuuse me!”
            Cassie asked innocently, “Aren’t we supposed to drive our carts in the grocery store like our cars on the highway?” 
            The man jerked his cart to the right side of the aisle, behind Cassie’s cart.  “Happy now?” he asked sarcastically.
            “Yes, thank you!” Cassie happily replied.

            Cassie’s soft response melted the tension, and the woman smiled at Cassie.

            It takes just one person to create a problem.  And it takes only one person to diffuse anger.  God watches these encounters.  Individuals make a world of difference in our world every day. 

            God watched Sodom thousands of years ago.  Sodom was past rude.  Sodom was downright evil.   God was sorry that He allowed Sodom to thrive.  He vowed to utterly destroy Sodom—to wipe it and everyone living there off the face of the earth. 

            Abraham had a problem with God’s plan.  His problem was that his brother Lot lived in Sodom.  Abraham did something that no one had ever done: Abraham prayed to God to spare Sodom from destruction.  Check out the lesson, linked below.

            God heard Abraham’s prayer and actually considered his plea.  Genesis 18:17 shows God’s mercy:  “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?”

            Abraham remained before God after the three men departed.  Abraham asked God, “Will You sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  What if there are fifty righteous people in the city?  Will You really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of fifty righteous people in it?  Far be it from You to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, … Will not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:23, 25).

Take Home Nugget

            God replied to Abraham, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole city for their sake.”

            Abraham negotiated further until finally God said, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”  (Genesis 18:26-32). 

            God left Abraham then.  Doesn’t our heavenly Father sometimes act like an earthly dad?  “Okay, okay,” haven’t you heard dad say, “We will go out for ice cream!  Now leave me alone!”

            The point is that it only takes one Believer to change everything with prayer. 

Believer, ask.  Believer, seek.  God opens the door when Believers knock!

Adapted from Streams in the Desert devotion by L. B. Cowman on June 26, 2016.  www.StreamsInTheDesert.com

J.D. Griffith






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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Let Joy Carry Us Through

LET JOY CARRY US THROUGH

Isaiah 55:12:  “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountain and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

            “I can’t wait until my birthday!” ten-year-old Shakira sang, clapping her hands and dancing around the picnic table. 

            “Why, what do you hope to get on your birthday?” twelve-year-old Cassie asked. 
            Shakira laughed.  “Lots of stuff!  You’re invited, too.”

            “Then I can’t wait for your birthday, either!” Cassie admitted.

            Growing up, I often heard my dad say, “Every day is “Children’s Day.”  My parents used to give us kids small gifts on ”Children’s Day,” one particular Sunday in spring between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
           
            Remember that today is called the present.  “Right now” is a gift to be opened and enjoyed to the fullest.  God actually commands in Psalm 118:24:  “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” 

            Joy is not a destination, but a way.  We never go to joy.  We go through life with joy.  Happiness doesn’t happen when ________ (fill in the blank).  Happiness is now.  

            Isaiah wrote the opening Scripture to the Jewish people as they came out of exile toward the Promised Land.  The play on words is fun:  “Exile” is both a state of mind (figurative) and a physical (literal) place.   

            Both meanings of exile represent something less than awesome.

            Everyone is striving toward a personal promised land.   Once there, we can be our true selves and live our best lives.  Isaiah teaches that the way from exile to redemption—or from broken to redeemed lives or even from awful to awesome lives—is through joy. 
            Joy is a state of happiness—the key that unlocks all doors.  People can decide to make joy a way of life.  Let’s never waste one day searching for joy.  Joy can’t be found in any place, event, or future time!

Take Home Nugget

            Not everyone understands this.  The world is full of nonbelievers who demand that circumstance must be awesome before people can be happy.  But living joyful lives CAN exist even when personal circumstances are awful.   

            We can wake up each day drawing close to God through prayer.  That inner joy is significant because it WILL carry us through each day happily.  When people begin each day with happy thoughts, joy becomes the way from awful lives towards awesome.  
  
            God wants His kids to live happy lives, even during awful circumstance.  He graciously offers us joy to carry us from awful through to awesome.

Thank You Father, for Your Spirit empowering us to begin each day with joy!

Adapted from “Go Through Joy” by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  June 1, 2016.  www.HolyLandMomentsDaily devotional. 
J.D. Griffith





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Friday, August 12, 2016

Surpassing Greatness


SURPASSING GREATNESS

Philippians 1:29-30:  “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.”

            Believers often wonder in confusion when reading the opening Scripture.  Is Apostle Paul serious that suffering is granted to Believers in Christ?  Granted, as though it’s something we want?  Really? 

            Surely, something is hidden that Paul wants to teach.  The Greek language uses different words to express different meanings.  Charizomai is a Greek verb used in this passage that implies something is freely given for someone else’s benefit.  Paul uses this verb frequently in his many books in the New Testament.

            “When you were dead in your sins …, God made you alive in Christ.  He forgave us all our sins.” (Colossians 2:13).  Paul uses charizomai here expressing God freely makes us alive in Christ when we were dead in our sins.

            Paul urges Believers to be kind, compassionate, and forgive each other, “just as in Christ, God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32).  In 2 Corinthians 2:7, Paul writes to forgive others freely and expansively: “Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”

            Paul attaches blessings received to sufferings endured.  Read about a shipwreck in Acts 27: beginning in verse 13.  A stubborn centurion ignored Paul’s warning not to go to Rome.   A storm surged, threatening lives.  Panic followed.

            An angel appeared to encourage and bless Paul in verse 23-24: “he said, ‘Do not be afraid Paul.  You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given [granted] you the lives of all who sail with you.’” 
            Paul’s “I told you so speech” uses the verb charizomai in Acts 27:21-26.  God “granted” that all those who sailed with Paul would arrive alive.

            See the lesson linked below to see the stiff backbones, daring speech, and strength Paul and others in Christ attained following this shipwreck experience.  Then identify the “surpassing greatness” blessing.    
                               
Take Home Nugget

            If that ship would have lost Paul and all on board, including his good friend doctor Luke—the books of Luke and Acts (count the number of “we” pronouns in Acts) wouldn’t exist.  Paul stood trial before Caesar before taking the Gospel to the most famous city in the Roman Empire.   

            It is likely that Paul wrote to the Philippians soon after his ship was smashed on the rocks in Acts 27:41.  God granted Paul “Romans” and “Philippians” churches and these books in the Bible!  That explains why suffering is granted—as a gift.

Sometimes, gifts granted from suffering are only seen in the rear-view mirror of life.

Adapted from “The Wonderful Gift of…Suffering?” by John Upchurch.  July 21, 2016.  www.crosswalk.com

J.D. Griffith






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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Shelter of the Living God

THE SHELTER OF THE LIVING GOD

Psalm 125:1-2

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.”

            The previous devotion, Faith Walk, dares God’s kids to trust God’s indwelling Spirit to lead us in life.  That sounds weird, though.  If we mention this “dangling from a tree limb” adventure, non-believers won’t understand.  “Why?” is one expected comment we’re challenged to answer.  How can Believers appear realistic in this fallen world? 

            Maybe we don’t the mention sanctification [sank-tif-i-KA-shon] process aloud?  After all, transforming Believers into Christ-likeness takes our lifetimes.  Jesus loves us too much to stop daring us to grow.  Believers aren’t scaredy-cats.  We take up Jesus’ challenge!
            Faith walking grows our faith.  That’s the whole point, isn’t it?  Faith walking is Spirit-led, heading where we can’t see with our eyes.  That’s adventure! 

            If people want safety, they should have remained inside mom’s womb.  Where’s the excitement in that?  We dared to be born and now we’re “out there” in the big cruel, yet awesome world.  Our heavenly Father understands that we came from dust.  Jesus understands the challenges and trials we endure—YET—He dared to be born, too! 
            The shelter of the Living God offers Believers the best of both worlds.  We are safe, yet we enjoy the adventure and excitement of living by faith, led by God’s Spirit.  Daily trials wear people down.  We search for a place where we’re welcome.  A place where we can just be still and safe. 
            Our minds can take a break and flee to God’s shelter. 

            God’s shelter is real.  Like the pillars of clouds surrounding the children of Israel in the desert, God’s shelter welcomes His kids 24/7.  Check out a map of the Middle East to see how God protects His Jewish nation of Israel.  The tiny country of Israel is surrounded by hostile enemies on all sides except one.  There, she is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea. 
            The surrounding Arab world is 800 times larger than Israel.  Now, check out Israel’s capital of Jerusalem.  A topographical map shows Jerusalem surrounded by mountains.  Like a love poem, Jerusalem’s face is encircled by petals of mountains, like a rose.   God’s protection of her is graceful and beautiful. 

            Those mountains symbolize God’s protection that exist all around us!

Take Home Nugget

            Just as mountains provide a physical barrier protecting Jerusalem from invading forces, God Himself serves as a barrier between His kids and our enemies—now, and always! 
            Who are God’s kids?  “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.” 

Thank You, Living God, for protecting and offering us shelter! Amen.

Adapted from “Surrounded by Grace” by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.  May 29, 2016.  Holy Land Moments Daily Devotional
J.D. Griffith





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Friday, August 5, 2016

Faith Walk


Faith Walk

Hebrews 11:1-31

Hebrews 11:13-14: “All these people were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.  And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.”
                                                                       
              Trust is always the issue for faith walking. 

              People make countless decisions every day.  How many solutions are led by God’s indwelling Spirit?   How many are reached by human reasoning?  How many are determined by self-reliance?  Living by faith is trusting Christ.  Living by faith requires action. 

              Following His lead.
              Allowing Him to lead grows our faith.

              When we allow Him to lead, our faith grows.  When God leads, we ALSO walk with confidence!  Trust is always the issue because allowing God’s Spirit to lead means people must give up to God free will over our lives. 

              Thank God that He is loving and patient!  His Word clearly teaches that sanctification [sank-tif-i-KA-shon] is the process of transforming Believers into people like Christ.  Fortunately, when people stumble during that process, we get as many do-overs as is necessary to grow into Christ-likeness. 

              Kids learn to walk one step at a time.  When they tumble to the ground, others help them back up, or they find ways to pull themselves up.  The point is that they get back on their feet and take another step.

              Faith walking is no different.  God’s Spirit shows us how to live according to our   faith in Him.  When we make mistakes, falling and getting back on our feet is part of the sanctification process.  Our role is to make progress by taking another step.

              Our responsibility is to get into God’s Word and learn from His Book.  Learn God’s nature.  Learn His promises.  Pick a promise and pray for God to make it real in your life.  Believe it.  Lean on God.  Depend on God to make choices that require us to believe Him and trust Him. 

              Let’s take a faith walk--together.  I dare you!   

Take Home Nugget

            Feel the excitement!  Faith walking is like balancing on a high rope.  The pole we use to keep our balance is continued prayer.  God will not let us fall from that high rope. 

Experience Christ!  Praise God for every provision.  Thank Him for being dependable.  Feel faith stretching to see you safely to the rope's end.  Check out the lesson linked below for faith walkers’ fulfilled promises.
           
Holy Father, Enable us to step out on that high rope of faith with only prayer and dependence on You keeping our balance and preventing us from falling.  Grow our trust to walk confidently led by Your Spirit!

Adapted from “Walking with Greater Confidence.”  Dr. Charles Stanley.  December, 21 2015.  In Touch Magazine.  Georgia.
J.D. Griffith





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