The Parables of the Lost Sheep and Coin
~ In today’s devotional, the last in our series on the parables, we’ll be looking at the parables of the lost sheep and coin.
If the core of Jesus’ teachings on the gospel could be summed up in two stories, they would be the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. Both stories illustrate one crucially important truth: God pursues us. Both clearly display God’s heart for us in that He willingly and passionately comes down to meet and help us wherever we are. As we look at these important parables today, open your heart and allow the reality of God’s pursuit of you to “transform” the way you relate to Him and stir up your desires to seek His face in return.
Jesus says in Luke 15:4-7 –
“What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.”
Then Jesus teaches in verses 8-10 –
“Or what woman who has 10 silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls her women friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”
Jesus tells two parables to re-emphasize a perspective-shattering truth. The One, True God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, so values us that He leaves everything behind to pursue relationship with us. So great is God’s desire for restored relationship with you that He came down off his throne, left transcendent perfection, and lived His earthly life in total service to us, thereby leading Him to an unjustified and sacrificial death.
• Has the reality of that truth been fully realized in your heart?
• Has both the grandeur and love of our God hit home to the point that the depth of God’s love is your chief reality?
Too often we pass by the core message of the gospel because we have heard it before, and we don’t allow it to stretch past our mind into our heart. It’s when truth rests in our heart, impacts our emotions, and becomes real to us that it transforms our life. You were the helpless and lost sheep. You were the coin that was so valuable God worked and searched until He had it back in His possession. You are of the highest value to the only One who truly decides the essence of worth. Don’t let that truth pass you by today. Instead, grab hold of it, reflect on it, and wrestle with it until it becomes the foundation for every decision, thought, and action in your life.
Let’s respond to the depth of God’s pursuit with our own. Let’s allow God to bring every part of our lives entirely into His possession. Let’s be the reward of Jesus’ sacrifice. In Psalm 27:8 David says, “You have said, ‘Seek My face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek.'” God is calling out to you, saying, “Seek My face.” He waits patiently for your reply, excited at the notion that you would live your life receiving the abundance made available to you by Jesus’ sacrifice.
Spend time in prayer meditating on God’s pursuit of you and responding to Him by daily seeking His face.
The chief characteristic that marks those who live life in the Spirit is their continual pursuit of God. Psalm 34:10 promises us that “those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” God will always respond to your pursuit of Him because His greatest desire is relationship with you. You don’t have to be scared to seek Him, wondering if you will find Him to be real and responsive. He’s already promised that to you. Take Hebrews 11:6 and live your life in obedience to His Word. Have faith and believe that He “exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” May you discover a deeper reality of His nearness, love, and pursuit of you today as your respond to God’s Word in faith.
~ published by: First 15
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
~ As we dig into this rich, beautiful parable, may our hearts and minds be enlightened. Take a moment even now to ask God to give you fresh revelation.
Jesus tells a beautiful parable of the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13:31-32. He teaches us:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
Trees are beautiful pictures of God’s ability to take what we view as weak or insignificant, a seed, and make a magnificent and life-giving creation out of it. And Matthew 13 reveals how trees can be viewed as pictures of the very kingdom of their Creator. It’s remarkable that God would begin His kingdom small and grow it by His faithful stewardship into a beautiful and life-giving creation.
God took the seed of the death of one man, Jesus, to create a beautiful tree of salvation for all of humanity.
John 3:17 says:
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
Our heavenly Father’s wrath over our sin poured out on Jesus allowed God to free the rest of us from eternal condemnation. And through the seed of Jesus’ death, God has been creating a powerful and eternal global movement, bringing people to restored relationship with Himself across thousands of years. Just as the mustard seed grows large enough to become a tree in which birds make their home, the kingdom of God has transferred our citizenship to a new home with Him.
Philippians 3:20 says: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
John 15:19 says: “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
The Kingdom of God established through Christ has saved us from slavery to this world and ransomed us back into restored relationship with our heavenly Father.
Not only does the parable describe the incredible expanse of God’s kingdom from a few to many, it can also illustrate the seed of salvation planted within each of us that God intends to grow into a beautiful and fruit-bearing tree.
Luke 17:21 says: “The Kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
God’s kingdom is not built of brick and mortar, but of human hearts.
And 1 Peter 2:2 commands us: “Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it.”
God’s desire is to water the seed of salvation He’s planted in us with the Spirit and the Word. He longs to mold and shape us into the likeness of Jesus, that we might live lives that bear incredible life-giving fruit.
Hosea 14:4-7 illustrates God’s heart beautifully when it says:
“The Lord says, ‘Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; My love will know no bounds, for My anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon. My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.”
God wants to constantly steward this gift of salvation in each of us, as He does with the global advancement of His Kingdom, that we might bear the wonderful fruit of the Spirit in every area of our lives.
And God is so patient with us. The earth illustrates His patience. Trees grow year after year, season to season by His faithful stewardship. Flowers never begin as beautiful as they are in full bloom. The earth is constantly undergoing abundant transformation as God’s creation grows and changes. You and I are no different. God’s plan has always been to mold us into beautiful pictures of His love. He’s always longed to fashion us until we walk in full, restored relationship with Him. And by the life and death of Christ, He’s paved the way for His desires to come to fruition. All that’s left is for us to engage fully in this wonderful process He’s created for us. Engage in the growth He longs to birth in you by spending time in His presence and His Word. Allow His gaze to transform you into His likeness. Live in obedience to the Word, and allow it to lead you to an un-conformed life in this world. Follow the guidance of the Spirit as He brings healing to your heart and fruit in your life.
Spend time in prayer allowing God to work in your heart today.
How great is God’s love for us that He doesn’t leave us where we are, but is always transforming us! In the blink of an eye, God sees who we’ve been, who we are, and who we will be. He knows your form, how He’s created you, and what you were born to do. The more time you spend allowing Him to transform you, the more you will understand yourself. May you discover and engage with all that your heavenly Father wants to do in you through His love today.
~ published by: First 15
The Parable of the Good Shepherd
Have you ever experienced a sense of grand perspective where you realize your smallness in comparison to the earth’s grandeur? Have you ever contemplated your small stature in light of how colossal the universe is? Every now and then, when I get a sense of my smallness, I am overcome by the fear of being lost. I think, “Who will show me my path in this seemingly increasing world? Who will guide me through the various trials and changes that will undoubtedly come my way? Who will help me?”
One of my favorite metaphors in Scripture is God as the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the most equipped guide we could ever have. He holds all of creation in the palm of His hand, and yet He knows the number of hairs on our head. He is the God of the gigantic and a lover of every little detail about us. And He longs to lead us to safe pasture. As we look at the parable of God as the Good Shepherd today, allow your faith and affections to be stirred by God’s promise to guide you into the matchless life He has in store for you.
John 10:14-15 says:
“I am the good Shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.”
Jesus paved the way for us to enter into the most amazing pasture of all: the very presence of the living God. He laid down His life as our Good Shepherd that we might eat of the fruit of His death and resurrection. But God didn’t only lead us to heaven; He continually leads us as our Good Shepherd day in and day out.
In the famous Psalm 23 David writes:
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I will not be in need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He guides me along the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
God’s staff is meant to comfort us. As our Good Shepherd He promises to lead us daily to the plans He has for us. That doesn’t always mean that we will be led out of “the valley of the shadow of death,” but that in the valley He will be with us. Our great comfort is the fact that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). As Psalm 139:9-10 says, “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” God is with us in times of trouble. He will protect us, provide for us, and lead us to still waters.
God longs to guide you today.
• What trouble is before you?
• Where do you need guidance?
• Where do you need help?
God promises to be your Good Shepherd. You have the most high God on your side. You can trust in His leadership. Jesus was faithful to come and die so that you might have eternal life. He is faithful to lead you to heaven, and He will certainly lead you through whatever trial you are going through now.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6
Your God is a trustworthy Shepherd. Enter into prayer with expectancy that He will guide you perfectly in His perfect timing. Cast your cares on Him and trust Him. Allow Him to “guide you on the right paths” as you follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
“Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus — the great Shepherd of the sheep — with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen.” ~ Hebrews 13:20-21
~ published by: First 15
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
There isn’t a single passage of Scripture that better illustrates the heart of our heavenly Father than the parable of the prodigal son. So as to not miss any of the details of this life-changing passage, open your heart to the Spirit as you read it in its entirety:
“Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So, his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.”
“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” So, he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’”
“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So, the party began.”
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” (Luke 15:11-32)
The life-changing core of the gospel is that when we feel far from God, He is never far from us. The moment we turn back toward Him, He runs out to meet us. The moment we lower ourselves in response to our sin, He exalts us, calls us His child, and throws a party in our honor.
Sometimes the most important truths are the simple ones. Sometimes the very word we need most is the truth we’ve heard thousands of times. My prayer for you today is that you wouldn’t extend yourself past the foundation of the gospel. God’s desire is that we would linger in the revelation of the aftermath of Jesus’ work, that through His life, death, and resurrection we have been raised to newness of life (Romans 6:4). Get lost today in the profound grace of your loving God. Of no work of your own, you have been set free from the bonds of this earth and brought back into the fold of your loving heavenly Father. Through the sacrifice of King Jesus, you have been crowned as a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).
Take time today to simply rest in the foundational truth of the gospel. Run toward God with all humility and allow your heart to be raised up as He exalts you. Humble yourself in light of His majesty and allow Him to pour out a joy over you like you have never felt before. God has every reason to condemn you, but out of His overwhelming love He has chosen to call you His beloved child. Meditate on this life-changing truth and respond to His love with the offering of your life.
There is nothing you could do that could separate you from the love of your heavenly Father. The prodigal son sinned against his father in the worst way a son could. And still the father ran out to meet him at first glance of his son’s return. Your heavenly Father runs to meet you anytime you turn toward Him. Don’t let the enemy spread lies to you that you are too dirty for God, or that you have to fix yourself before you can spend time in His presence. Your relationship with God is based completely on grace, not on works. He loves you because He loves you, not because of what you do. Go out today in the knowledge that you are eternally loved by your heavenly Father. And may His love spur you toward a life lived in the abundance of restored relationship.
~ published by: First 15
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
~ May we today begin a fresh revival of humility in the church as we humble ourselves before God in prayer and honest worship. I want to encourage you to be open and vulnerable as you approach the Lord today.
The ministry of Jesus was one of life-giving transformation. His life, death, and resurrection ushered in a completely new way of relating to God: the way of grace. One of the best examples of Jesus shifting paradigms comes in His parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
Luke 18:10-14 says:
“Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people — cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give You a tenth of my income.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Let’s open our hearts and allow the Spirit to guide us to live life more like the tax collector than the Pharisee. Let’s allow Him to lead us to a life lived in the new covenant of grace.
In the time of Jesus, God’s people were completely starved for relationship with Him. Judaism had become a religion of regulations rather than relationship. God’s people believed that their lives were totally based on their works, placing the religious Pharisees at the top of the totem pole stretching up to God. The Pharisees believed they were justified before God because of their works, as if they could earn their way into right standing with God. So, imagine the shock of Jesus’ listeners when He says that the tax collector, the most hated of all Jews, went home justified before the Lord as the result of his humility. Imagine the shock and anger of the Pharisees in learning that all they had worked for, all the rules and regulations they had lived by, actually placed them lower in stature than any other Jew in the sight of God.
The parable of the Pharisee and tax collector offers amazing news for each of us. The principle Jesus teaches here in Luke 18 is that the greatest posture of our heart is one of humility, not perfection. The way to God is not one of works, but of grace. Jesus teaches that whatever weakness you have, whatever sin you struggle with, all God asks of you is that you come before Him and ask for His mercy. All He requires of you is a repentant heart.
You see, the Lord is always after your heart. All the works of the Pharisees were birthed out of their own pride. In their egotism they thought they could earn relationship with the one, true, and holy God. All of their religious deeds were done not out of their love for God, but out of their love for their own reputation. However, the tax collector had nothing to boast about. He lived his life robbing his own people to fill the pockets of the Romans who enslaved them. He was made wealthy by stealing from his own people. But in his desperation, he cried out to God for help, and God heard his cry.
Know that God hears your cry today when it comes out of the reality of your need for Him. He answers your need for forgiveness and relationship with the overwhelming power of His presence.
So, ask yourself today:
• What do you value most?
• Do you value your own reputation or God’s opinion?
• Are you living in light of God’s grace or trying to earn it?
• Are you going through the motions of religion in order to earn your way into relationship with God, or are you living in response to the wealth of love you’ve freely received in Christ?
Wherever you are, know that it is never too late to come before your heavenly Father in humility. It is never too late to repent of any area in which pride has been your motivation and decide to live your life on the foundation of grace. It is never too late to posture your heart to receive the depths of love and mercy your heavenly Father longs to give you. Christ came to usher in the path of grace, not of works. He came so that you might live in His strength, not your own. The price of His mercy is a humble heart because humility is the key that unlocks the depths of your soul to receive the free gift of His grace. God won’t fill what you believe is already full. He won’t help where you don’t truly believe you need Him. But if you’ll cry out to Him and ask Him for His mercy for your sin and His love to satisfy your need, He will fill your life with the gift of His unending presence.
Posture your heart like that of the tax collector as you pray. Follow his model of humility and find satisfaction for the places of your heart that are in need of God’s love.
Christ’s Humility and Exaltation
Philippians 2:3-7 says:
“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead, He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross.”
If God Himself lived His life in total humility, then we must follow His example in order to walk in the favor and abundance God longs to bestow on us. Look to Christ as your example, and discover God’s desire to exalt you as you bow yourself before Him as your Lord and King.
~ published by: First 15
The Parable of the Lamp on a Stand
~ As we continue to look at the profound, life-transforming concepts Jesus shared through parables, today we’ll focus on the parable of the lamp on a stand.
Reading Matthew 5:14-15 used to stress me out. Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” How can we with all our mistakes, misgivings, and failures be “the light of the world?” How could God in all His wisdom choose to use us to reveal Jesus, the only hope of eternal salvation, to a lost and dying world?
As I grow in my knowledge of God’s heart, I grow in the revelation of His desire to use me. Passages like Matthew 5:14-15 used to focus my attention on my own sin and darkness rather than God’s grace and love. But faithfully in His love, He guides my thoughts to what matters: the overwhelming reality of the Holy Spirit transforming me into the image of the God who created me. Today, let’s allow the Spirit and the Word to transform the way we view ourselves and how God in His infinite wisdom would use us to change the world.
Ephesians 2:10 says:
“For we are His [God’s] creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
At salvation your identity changed. You are now “created in Christ Jesus.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 says it this way:
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
You are a new creation not by your own doing, but by the powerful finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross. At salvation your sins were wiped away, cast off as far as the east is from the west. Such was the transformation that took place in your heart at salvation that you could be filled with God Himself.
Jesus says in John 14:16-17:
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of Truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.”
God Himself “dwells with you” and through salvation now lives inside you.
Passages like the parable of the lamp on a stand used to stress me out because I didn’t understand what God wanted to reveal through me to the world. I used to think God wanted to reveal perfection in me, that I had to act perfectly to demonstrate Christ. What I didn’t realize is that the greatest revelation I could give a broken and needy world is that God, through the immeasurable depth of His love, meets me in my brokenness and continually makes me whole. I realized that God, only by His grace, is taking what was lost, weak, selfish, and lonely and is filling me with unimaginable love and security through restored relationship with Him. God doesn’t want you to reveal perfection. He wants to reveal the fact that in your imperfection He has loved you from the beginning with an everlasting love.
Because you are weak and in need of God, you are the absolute best person to lead others to Jesus. If you act like you have everything together, as if nothing is wrong, then those distant from God will have no reason to believe God desires relationship with them. But in revealing your imperfection, in being honest and real with those around you, you will offer hope to a world that has none. You will reveal the core of the gospel: that God has incredible works prepared for those who simply come to Him in need and cry out for His help. In your imperfection you are a perfect example of Jesus’ love that comes only by grace.
God desires to shine the light of His love through you today in powerful ways. He longs to reveal to others how deeply He has loved you in His grace. He has incredible plans in store for you if you will simply be real with a world that desperately needs relationship with their Creator. Have the courage to be yourself and to be honest and vulnerable. Honesty is all your heavenly Father asks of you. In your honesty, God will reveal a greater love than this world has ever known. In the reality of who you are, God will shine forth hope, guiding those who are lost to the safe shores of restored relationship with Him. May you find peace in the fact that God longs to use you. May you find purpose in the works He has set before you to do. And may you find joy in the revelation of God’s immeasurable love poured out on you through His grace.
~ published by: First 15
Happy Thanksgiving Day!
Thanksgiving Day is about uniting all of the American people in the same day annually - to stop what we are doing - and to give the Lord God praise and thanks for all that He has done for us. Secular society would have us believe that it is about the early pilgrims having a feast with the Native American peoples - but that is merely a distraction to attempt to turn our focus away from God, and His gracious mercy upon us as a nation and people.
Although the first President of the United States - George Washington - had the first Day of Thanksgiving, it was not established as an annual Day of Thanksgiving until the sixteenth President - Abraham Lincoln - proclaimed it as a national event. The following is President Lincoln's proclamation:
"It is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scripture and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord."
"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
"It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
It is worth noting that President Lincoln established the Day of Thanksgiving during the worst period (to date) of the United States of America - the Civil War in 1863. Let this also be a reminder to us - that no matter how dark or bleak our current situation would seem - we are to give God thanks for all that He has brought us through, and to trust Him to bring us through this day, and all future days that are ahead of us.
Living in the Present
~ Encouraging others in their Christian walk is a daily work with eternal impact.
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:23-25
Many of us spend a great deal of energy in the present moment dwelling on the past and the future. We know that the past is beyond our control, but we worry about it. We tend to believe the future belongs to us, yet we fret about what it holds and whether it will bring joy or pain.
The gospel urges us to entrust both the past and the future to God. That mindset frees us to live for the Lord in the only moment we can: the present. Yes, there is an aspect of God’s kingdom that is not yet — its fullness hasn’t yet arrived. But at the same time, we live in His kingdom here and now.
In Hebrews 3:13, the call to encourage one another every day isn’t just a suggestion; it’s a vital practice for spiritual growth. We need the regular support of Christian brothers and sisters to help us successfully navigate each day’s challenges and opportunities. Encouraging each other can be a beacon of light and hope to those around us.
That’s the author’s focus in Hebrews 3:13. If we want to guard against our hearts being “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin,” we should give and receive encouragement. It is good to speak words of affirmation, hope, and accountability regularly. But even when offered just once, they can have a long-lasting effect, far beyond the present moment.
~ published by: In Touch Ministries
A Life Without Lack
~ The longer we follow Jesus, the more we discover that He is all we truly need.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 23
“How much is enough?” a reporter once asked John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil and the first American billionaire. “Just a little bit more,” Rockefeller said. While few of us have the resources of the super wealthy, we face the same question. Our world is obsessed with getting more, spending more, doing more. But at the root of an answer like Rockefeller’s is a misunderstanding about who provides for us.
David understood that God was his provider. “I will not be in need,” he wrote in verse 1 of Psalm 23. In other words, because he belonged to the Lord, he was able to experience a life without lack.
We can think about this in two ways:
First, we can expect God to give us everything we think we need. And when we don’t get it, we look for someone — or Someone — to blame. Or, as Jesus and His followers laid out, there’s a second and better approach: Gratefully receive what God has provided and allow Him to change our heart. In that way, even our needs are governed by our submission to Him.
Reading the first verse of Psalm 23 should immediately remind us of John 10:11, where Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” The transforming truth of the gospel is that we have more than enough because Jesus gave us [all of] Himself.
~ published by: In Touch Ministries
The Desire to Live a Life of Significance
People often ask a common question when it looks like their time on earth is drawing to a close:
“Did my life matter?”
• Have you ever wondered that?
• Have you ever taken a minute to look back on your life and wonder if all your efforts will mean a thing when you’re gone?
We all dream of being a great success. No children playing sports in their backyard fantasize about hanging up the towel after high school. They dream of making it pro. No musician dreams about playing to a handful of people. They see themselves on a massive stage in front of thousands of screaming fans. We all have a desire to make an impact in this world. We all desire to make a difference to the degree that we will be remembered when we’re gone.
God designed us all with this desire while having the perfect plan to satisfy it. The problem is that we have twisted what success really looks like. We’ve made success into something prideful — an idea constrained to the ways of this world. We’ve been living under the notion that living a life of significance is all about ourselves. You see, making an impact doesn’t necessarily mean you’re known by the entire population, have books written about you, or are even a success at all in the eyes of the world. Success is solely defined by God and solely achieved by your faithfulness to whatever He has called you to. You are meant for the significance that faithfulness to God brings, not an impact wrought with struggle for achievement by the world’s standards.
The Bible clearly defines success as being faithful to what God has spoken. In Matthew 25:21 God says:
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.”
Your desire to make an impact will only be satisfied by living in obedience to God’s will for you. It’s His plan we’re all a part of, not our own. God has brought us into the glorious narrative that has been playing out from the foundation of the earth. Being faithful to your page in God’s grand narrative has an eternal significance more important and long-lasting than anything you could achieve on your own. One day, all of the grand stories of what mankind has done in pursuit of our own glory will be brought to nothing. One King will stand above all. Jesus Christ will be given His reward, and we will reign alongside Him forever.
Choose to live a life of significance for eternity today.
Be faithful first to love God and then to love others with compassion and humility. You have a chance to lead people into eternal life. You have a chance to store up your treasure in heaven where moth and rust will not destroy (Matthew 6:19-20). You have a chance today to cause change and significance beyond anything you could imagine. Allow God to define your identity and purpose. Experience the joy and fulfillment that can only be found in passionate communion with your heavenly Father.
Jesus is the perfect example of what it looks like to live a life of significance because He was wholly surrendered to the will of the Father. At the end of His ministry, He had only a few followers that stood by Him. He never wrote a book or even traveled more than a few hundred miles from where He was born. Rather than considering Him successful, the world killed Him. But He made the biggest impact of anyone in all of history. Live like Jesus today. Live solely for the opinion of God, and find your satisfaction in being faithful to what He has called you to. May your day be filled with the abundant life that comes from surrender to the perfect plans of God.
~ published by: First 15