Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Impossible Success

   
IMPOSSIBLE SUCCESS

Part four of six devotions in Resurrection Power series

Matthew 14:13-21

Matthew 14:15-17:  “As evening approached the disciples came to Him and said, ‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late.  Send the crowds away, so they can go into the village and buy themselves some food.’

“Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away.  You give them something to eat.’

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish.”

            Jesus uses this moment to teach His disciples—and us—impossible (resurrection power) success.  The Father impresses us when we decide problems are impossible to solve.   The lesson linked below shows hidden truths as we learn more about impossible resurrection power success.

            John the Baptist had just been beheaded when Jesus rowed with His apostles to solitude in Bethsaida.  “Father, my heart is heavy.  Your servant John is at peace, with you in paradise.  While I long to be with you, empower Me to finish the work you gave Me to do.  Amen.”

            (Scripture doesn’t record Jesus’ prayer).  But when people recognized Jesus, they ran ahead to meet Him.  Moved with compassion, Jesus said, “So many sheep who need a shepherd!” 

            A boy packed five loaves of bread and two fish that day.  Jesus acknowledged His Father’s provision when He said, “Bring them to Me.”  After the crowd sat down, Jesus looked into heaven.  Presenting God the two fish and five loaves, He prayed, “Thank you Father, for this food!  May it strengthen and nourish us all.  I ask for your awesome power and provision today. Thank you.  Amen.”  Breaking the loaves, he shared the food amongst His disciples, instructing, “Feed the people.”

            When everyone was satisfied, Jesus directed His apostles, “Gather up the leftovers.”  They filled twelve baskets with leftover food—after having fed around five thousand men, women and children. 

            That’s impossible success!

            What math figures that miracle?  
                        
            Then Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14:25).

            !!! 

            Jesus promises in John 14:12-14, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do as I have been doing.  He will do even greater things then these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do anything you ask in My name, so that the Son will bring glory to the Father.”  
       
Take Home Nugget  

            The disciples were lost after Jesus died.  Does that sometimes describe you when you face impossible problems?  Jesus’ resurrection was only possible with God.  Jesus conquered death by His own death and resurrection!

            Believers can expect Papa to challenge our faith when we ask for Jesus’ resurrection power in our lives.  Trusting God yields greater lives than we can imagine!

Praise God for impossible success His kids receive with Jesus’ resurrection power! 

Adapted from “Are you ready to experience the resurrection power every day?” by Lesli White.  www.beliefnet.com.  June 13, 2017. 

J.D. Griffith
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Friday, September 15, 2017

Every Step Is Guarded

EVERY STEP IS GUARDED

Part three of six devotions in Resurrection Power series

Psalm 91:4, 11-12:  “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings will you find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

“For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”


            Christians are sojourners—travelers during lives spent on earth.  Everyone searches for the same things: meaning, purpose, value, and love.  Our heavenly Father created us in His image (Genesis 1:27), so He gets what makes us tick.  He installed the gear that drives us forward.
 
            Adam and Eve felt valued and loved as God’s first kids.  They understood their meaning and purpose.  Papa turned them loose to enjoy lives of ruling over both land and sea creatures.  When hungry, all they had to do was pick fruit from trees and bushes.  They were commanded to populate the earth.  Papa visited then daily in person; God spoke to His beloved kids after walking in the garden during the cool of each day.

            One day, they disobeyed God.  Embarrassed from nakedness, confused how to handle the situation and frightened what Papa would do, they hid.  God judged their disobedience.  He cursed the snake and the ground.  Then God slammed the garden closed to people.  (Genesis 1:28-29, 2:15-17, 3:6-8, 14, 17, 24). 

             From then on, people have rambled, drifting toward whatever tickles our senses.  Thankfully, believers-in-Christ know whose we are.  Although we claim our covenant inheritance from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we depend on Jesus’ resurrection power for victory.

            We often find ourselves in trouble that we can’t solve and want to hide.  Frequently we do the wrong thing and suffer ridicule or rejection.  Psalm 91 gives us a ticket to enter into a safe place.  Check out the lesson linked below where to find it and why it’s secure.

            Believers may fantasize that since we’re God’s beloved in Jesus, life ought to be smooth and easy.  That’s simply not true.  Often our trials are too much to bear.  Family members suffer.  Life is fierce and breaks our hearts.  But every one of our steps is guarded by resurrection power! 

            When we’ve had enough, maybe tomorrow will be better.

Take Home Nugget

            Jesus promises in Matthew 6:24, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

            Thanks a lot, Jesus.

            Buck up, child of God! We may not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds our future!   

Thank You, Papa, for guarding my every step.  Your resurrection power is personal love that keeps me steady.  Amen. 

Adapted from “Are you ready to experience the resurrection power every day?” by Lesli White.  www.beliefnet.com.  June 13, 2017. 

J.D. Griffith

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Basis For Victory

BASIS FOR VICTORY

Part two of six devotions in Resurrection Power series

1 Corinthians 15:19, 54-55: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
‘Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?’”


            Jesus’ resurrection changed everything!  Jesus’ death was real (Matthew 27:50).  The devil began dancing, celebrating three days what he thought was his victory.  Then there was an earthquake.  Mary Magdalene was the first one on earth to hear about Jesus’ resurrection and see Him personally (Matthew 28:2-9).

            The devil stopped dancing.  1 John 3:8b says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”  The devil IS defeated.  John 14:30 shows Jesus’ words, “I will not speak to you much longer, for the prince of this world [the devil] is coming.  He has no hold on Me.”

            Apostle Paul says in the first Scripture reading, “if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are to be pitied.”  Believers’ hope stretches beyond this earth and grasps victory in heaven (Matthew 25:31-34).  Believers can stand firm.  Christ died for our sins.  He was buried.  Then He rose back to life on the third day. 

            See the lesson linked below to learn how Believers will also live again.  Jesus’ resurrection power is the basis for our hope of victory, too.

            This hope is real.  We can stare down death and smile.  We know that Jesus’ resurrection power will break us out of the prison of death.  And…we can share this hope for victory with others…because we believe and trust Jesus’ resurrection power.  The good news of the Gospel carries resurrection power.  The good news of the Gospel brings eternal value to people everywhere. 

            Our faith is useless without resurrection power.   Resurrection power is the foundation, the basis, the very source for our hope of victory from death.  Because Jesus is alive today at the Father’s right hand, that hope is secure.             (Ephesians 1:20).

Take Home Nugget

            Reread the beginning Scripture and imagine what if…what if Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead?  Without the resurrection, Christian faith would be stupid.    Without the resurrection, there wouldn’t be a gospel message.  Without the resurrection, we’d never be saved for eternal life.

            Without the resurrection, we’d have no hope for the future.  This life would be all there is. 
 
            Praise God for resurrection power!

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

Adapted from “Are you ready to experience the resurrection power every day?” by Lesli White.  www.beliefnet.com.  June 13, 2017. 

J.D. Griffith

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Friday, September 8, 2017

God Brings Us Through What He Brings Us To

GOD BRINGS US THROUGH WHAT HE BRINGS US TO

Part one of six devotions in Resurrection Power series

Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
           
            Jesus is with us.  Matthew 1:23 calls Him Immanuel.  His resurrection assures us of that.  Are you ready to experience Jesus’ resurrection power?

            Whatever is happening today, God is in it with you.  When people surrender themselves to Christ, He lives through us.  Even those who don’t have a clue that an infinite God oversees their lives are never alone. 

            That’s either creepy or comforting.

            Rough times find everyone.  No one escapes awful situations or people.  And how we respond to rough times ought to evolve [e-VOLV].  We learn to develop better tactics to seize victory.  Kids react knee-jerk or with immediate, instinctive revenge.  As we grow older, we learn to reject our first response.  Hurting someone physically or hurling curses is childish.  Instead of swearing, we can choose to respond thoughtfully and calmly.
 
            Another option is to simply walk away.

            Jesus’ resurrection power provides strength to think clearly.  It controls mouths to shut up.  It empowers us to run from danger.  Avoiding fires and people whose goal is to harm are both dangerous.  We learn what ought to be dodged completely.  When we suspect danger, those who are childish dance around the edges—and get burned.

            Again, who’s there?  Jesus.  Rough times teach us to grow up.  Of course we made a mess of the situation.  Nothing makes sense anymore.  Instead of wringing our hands in frustration, we can pray.  Naturally, people never want to admit making mistakes.  But Jesus is right there.  He knows what you did.  He sees the mess.  We can choose to swallow our pride and ask Him for help.  
                                                                        
Take Home Nugget

            Awful times teach spiritual growth best.  Then, we press hard into God.  We pray more urgently.  Because we have to.  A relationship with God begins or grows more intimate.  Believers-in-Christ know that prayer is the smart choice to survive.  We know that Jesus is the only path to victory.  We trust God and are comforted. 

            The silver lining is the opening Scripture.  Whatever we messed up God can fix.   Whatever His kids muddle, Papa can make turn out for good—for those who love Him.  People who come to Christ are called by God (according to His purpose) and may claim Jesus’ resurrection power.  Then, we end up with the greatest blessing ever!

            Check out the lesson linked below to see many other blessings God gives us.

Holy Father, thank You for the many promises that Your kids may claim—including Jesus’ resurrection power! Amen. 

Adapted from “Are you ready to experience the resurrection power every day?” by Lesli White.  www.beliefnet.com.  June 13, 2017. 


J.D. Griffith

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Working Out Salvation

WORKING OUT SALVATION

Philippians 2:12: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence but not so much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

            Apostle Paul wanted to teach the difference between “earning salvation by doing” or “working out salvation” by choosing spiritual growth and development.  Salvation is not a gift received once, but an ongoing process.  The student, a Believer-in-Christ tirelessly strives for growing up in the faith.  “Fear and trembling” is reverence toward the God of creation—our awe responding to God’s grace. 
 
            “Working out salvation” consists of choices people make.  

            Our Savior Jesus Christ already accomplished the impossible “work” of salvation!  Whoever confesses heartfelt belief that: 1) Jesus was born as God in the flesh, 2) who lived a sinless life, 3) died on the cross as payment for human sin, AND 4) rose back to life again—has salvation after death. 

             Believers’ hope is also being resurrected from the dead with glorious bodies like Jesus.  Our Father’s breathtaking promise of eternal life in heaven with Him is what salvation is all about!

            “Growing up in the faith” or spiritual development means that we choose to live by faith obeying God’s Spirit.  After confessing the 4 beliefs above, the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside our hearts.  From that point, He’s the boss.  Believers become works-in-progress who grow spiritually every day.

            That’s called sanctification; [SANK-tif-i-ka-shon] means “set apart”.  Our Father planned for His kids to grow up more and more like His Son Jesus.  He wants Believers to be set apart from all others in the world. 
  
            Every person must choose for him or herself to make God 1st place in life.  
Everything or everyone else that battles for 1st place is an idol.  

            Jesus never leaves us to figure things out for ourselves.  He teaches Martha in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this?”

            The lesson linked below shows why Jesus wanted to teach this truth.

Take Home Nugget

            I truly hope that your Labor Day—celebrated in the USA Monday, September 4, 2017—was fun.  Whether you’re back in school or back at work now, please consider working out salvation as a privilege offered only to God’s kids.  Choosing God as #1 isn’t hard.                   
            Our Father never meant for us to work so hard that we refer to it as a chore.  Work was always meant to be activities that satisfy us through each day. 
  
Heavenly Father, empower me to grow spiritually into the likeness of Your precious Son with reverent fear and trembling.  Amen. 

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Today's Manna

TODAY’S MANNA
Matthew 6:34:  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

            Twelve-year-old Cassie whined aloud.  “Labor Day is Monday.  My family is hosting a cook out and the weather forecast is stormy!”

            Her school mate Jeremy heard her complaint and said, “No prob, Cassie.  Monday is light-years away!” 

            Jeremy’s correct.  Jesus may return before Monday and He changes everything!

            People will continue to plan lives and worry about what can go wrong.  God didn’t create worry.  But God did create people—in His very image (Genesis 1:27).  His kids created worry when we realize all that is beyond our control.   Papa never intended for His kids to worry nor to live stressed out.

            Thousands of years ago the Israelites whined to Moses a lot.  As they traveled toward their Promised Land, their grumbling grew louder.  Genesis 16:3 says,
            “If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in Egypt!  There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted.  But you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

            Did Moses worry or stress out about the problem?  No!  Moses couldn’t solve their unhappiness, so he took it to the One who could.

            The Father solved that problem, ending their grumbling.  Genesis 16:4-5 says: “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.  The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.  In this way I will test them and see if they will follow My instructions.  On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on other days.”

            What a perfect way to solve the peoples’ frustration!  No one need worry about tomorrow because when tomorrow came, the bread from heaven was there again.                 
Take Home Nugget

            “The Israelites called this bread from heaven “manna”.  “It was like white coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.” (Exodus 16:31).  In fact, Bible scholars said manna tasted like what every person was hungry for.

            Today, God’s manna is new grace He pours on us every day.  When His kids worry—maybe something happening tomorrow—His grace delivers whatever the situation calls for.  Let’s always remember to pray our worries away!

            Our Father wants us to simply rest in His ability to heal, deliver, favor, protect, enable, and provide for our needs each day. 

            See the lesson linked below for awesome grace Papa delivered to King Jehoshaphat when the Israelites were surrounded by enemies.  They actually lived how Psalm 118:24 advises:
“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Amen.

Adapted from “Fresh Grace Every Day” by Rev. Joseph Prince.  www.JosephPrince.org.  August 9, 2017.
 J.D. Griffith

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