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Devotional Jesus

Preparedness: Jesus Over Fear Series, Luke 12:35–40

““Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.””

Luke 12:35–40, NIV

Toilet tissue. Hand sanitizer. Bottled water.

These are probably the first things that come to your mind when I mention “preparedness” in this time of pandemic. Preparedness is the state of being ready for what’s to come. It can give you peace of mind and confidence. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, a prepared person rejoices about the future. (“Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.” Proverbs 31:25)

For the follower of Jesus, what does it mean to be prepared? In reading the Gospels, particularly in Luke, we read what Jesus taught on this topic.

In going through my Bible survey course, I am in the book of Luke. A major theme in Luke is preparedness. We see Jesus contrast earthly preparedness with heavenly preparedness. He teaches in parables at times about the relative importance of each. In the story of the rich man who built storehouses, Jesus emphasizes that we can’t effectively prepare for earthly calamities. Why not? We can’t know what is coming. Other examples about the futility of worry continue the teaching of Jesus in this area.

Conversely, Jesus makes it clear that preparing for his return is something that we can control and should work towards, like the wise virgins who kept their lamps burning. Jesus wants us to focus on heavenly preparedness. Any other focus is dangerous to our soul’s eternity.

There is one future event we can be certain of. That is our death. You will die, I will die. The main question of our lives should be preparing for this certainty according to Jesus.Will Jesus greet you with “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21) or will you cast away as a goat from the sheep? (Matthew 25:31-46)

Why should we not be concerned about the future? Because that’s God’s job. He knows the end from the beginning. We are free to pursue the Kingdom of God by living in obedience. We don’t want our hearts and minds to have a misplaced focus when Jesus returns or calls us home.

Will you commit to dedicating your life to the most important preparedness of all and teach others to do the same?

Lord, Help us to keep our focus on serving you and getting ready for your return. Show us how to teach the truth of heavenly preparedness to others, starting with our families. You are a holy God, worthy to be praised and we seek to glorify you in all that we do. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Let God take care of your future while you focus on living in obedience to God today. Victoria Carrington

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Devotional Encouragement

Faith of a baby robin

Sitting outside before the snow came back last week, I saw an amazing sight more close up than ever before. Newly hatched baby robins were in the nest with their mouths open to the sky, eagerly stretching to eat. A few thoughts came to my mind about how I should be like that baby robin.

What I noticed about the baby robins:

  1. Trust- mom will be back. Do I trust God even when he doesn’t seem immediately present?
  2. Eager- to eat nourishment- do I hunger and thirst after righteousness?
  3. Accepting- of what mom gave. Am I accepting of all that God gives me even if it isn’t what I asked for?
  4. Always hungry- mouths wide open, unashamed. Do I continue to want to grow in Christ and be fed from his Word often?
  5. Still- waiting patiently in the nest, waiting to receive. Have I taken time to be still and know that God is?
  6. The nest shakes as the branch sways but the baby birds don’t run off out of fear of falling. They don’t seem scared at all-only hungry lol. When the circumstances of my life get shaken up and things seem unstable, do I hold on to God?
  7. They don’t fear the hungry cats below- Do I fear my enemies or do I always remember that evil is defeated and God has not given me a spirit of fear?

I love how God speaks through his creation.

Dear Lord, make me more like the baby robin. Help me to fully trust you and seek you always. Amen.

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Devotional Jesus

Christian Response in Times of Fear- Part Two

The Commandments of Jesus

Spreading fear on social media or anywhere else puts you in direct contradiction with the commands of Jesus.

Do Not Fear

We are not to have a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7) so we definitely shouldn’t be sharing ideas about the future that cause fear. We are not to fear politicians, billionaires or experts who “may” do terrible things to us, restrict our freedom, or persecute us. We are to only fear “the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

Do Not Worry

Fearful posts are fueled by worry. What if…. or Let me warn you….. Worry is a sin. Jesus said do not worry about tomorrow. (Matthew 6:34)
Jesus said we change nothing by worrying.
He wants you to trust in his love and care. He said
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

Once you obey and stop worrying, you can encourage others to do the same. In this way you fulfill the Great Commission, teaching others to obey the commands of Jesus. (Matthew 28:20)

Love

Jesus said love ❤️ your neighbor. “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”” Mark 12:31
18% of the population, about 40 million adults, have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Many more suffer without being diagnosed. It is almost certain that someone reading your posts will already be quite anxious. Are you being a Good Samaritan, helping to heal their wounds or soothe their anxiety? Or are you spreading anxious perspectives with little thought of how the vulnerable may be affected?

Encourage One Another

The Bible has much to say as it addressed the early church about how believers were to help one another.

For every verse posted about fearing a possible future situation, how many have you posted to encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ?

You can share posts that encourage others to:

  • pray without ceasing
  • think on things that are lovely and true
  • keep their hearts 💕 and mind focused on Jesus
  • be content in all things
  • remember that God works all things together for good for those who love him
  • pray and ask God’s help in all things, with gratitude.

Prayer

Lord, help us resist the temptation to spread fear in this time of uncertainty and heightened anxiety. Guide us is spreading our knowledge of you and encouraging others to love 💗, know and obey you. Help us take our eyes off of the future and fear and to focus on you and love ❤️ you with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength. Amen.

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Devotional Jesus

Christian Response in Times of Fear: Part One

This is the beginning of a series the Lord laid on my heart. How can Christians use times of fear to draw people to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

Let’s start with a brief overview and reminder of who we are in Christ.

We are called to:

-Show the world we are different because all our faith and hope is in Jesus (Hebrews 6:17-20) and eternal rewards.

-A life of sacrifice and taking up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). We are not to pursue our comfort here on earth. We are to witness to the power of Jesus, the love of God and the importance of giving over every part of our lives to God.

-Remember we were created by God for good works and to walk worthy of our calling. (Ephesians 2:10 , Colossians 1:10 ) God’s Word is clear that spreading fear is NOT a good work because a spirit of fear doesn’t come from God. ( 2 Timothy 1:7)

-To let our light shine so we will give glory to God. (Matthew 5:16) Times of fear are times are darkness and the world is more desperate than ever to see the light of Jesus through his people.

-To be a peculiar people (obviously distinct from the world), a royal priesthood for Jesus. (1 Peter 2:9) In this time when many are fearful and spreading fear it is good for us to be different and use our opportunity as peculiar people to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” as Peter tells us.

-To make it clear that earth is not our home (Hebrews 13:14) so people will ask about the hope we have within us (1 Peter 3:15). That hope within us is Jesus and in him alone we trust.

Conclusion: Who we are in Christ compels us to dispel fear instead of spreading it.

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Bible Verse

The Word Became Flesh- A Christmas Devotional

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
John 1:1-2 (KJV)

Introduction

The fantastic Good News of the Christmas message is found in the beginning of John’s Gospel. John, a Jew living among Greeks, wanted to reveal the identity of Jesus. The way he chose to approach this revelation was revolutionary in it’s depth and simplicity. By describing Jesus as the Word, the Logos, he was able to cross the cultural divide between the Greeks and the Jews and show a new dimension to the term.

John knew that in Jewish thought and life the Word signified:
1. Power. The Word was living and active. Words had great power throughout the New Testament. It was the Word of God that bought the universe into existence. Jesus is the power of creation.
2. Wisdom. The Word was the wisdom that was there since the beginning of time. This wisdom has a role in creation. Jesus is wisdom.
3. God. In Jewish religious ceremony at the time of John, the term “Word of God” was often used to describe God. The Targum translation, in widespread use at that time, used “Word of God” to replace every mention of God that referred to him in a human way (anthropomorphism). Jesus is God.

In Greek philosophy, Logos referred to reason. Reason or Logos was the invisible force that ordered the universe and all that happened within it. Without Logos, the world would be in chaos. Logos had a personal role in ruling the thoughts and lives of every human being. It also dictated the creation and maintenance of the universe. John, in the first few verses of his Gospel, brings his Greek readers to the astounding conclusion that Jesus fulfilled all the roles the they assigned to Logos because Jesus was Logos.

Verses 1 and 2 show 3 important things about the identity of Jesus. The:

1. Eternity of Jesus
2. Fellowship of Jesus (with the Father)
3. Divinity of Jesus

Eternity

Jesus has always existed. He is eternal and outside of time. He could be there at the beginning because he had no beginning. John wanted his readers to understand that unlike any Greek god or created being, Jesus was “the God who is”.

Fellowship

Jesus exists with God the Father. Both are outside of time and have existed since the beginning. The fellowship of the Father with Jesus is an important theme throughout the book of John.

Divinity

Jesus is God. He is fully divine as God. One with God, he shares all the attributes of God. John’s entire Gospel is designed to show us that Jesus is God.

In verses 1 and 2, John sets the foundation of who Jesus is. Come back for the next lesson as he continues on this journey.

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Devotional

Overcoming Fear

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

God frequently reminds his children not to fear. But fear is a common enemy, a part of every day life for many people even today. Is there a way to get through fear? Yes, there is and the answer is a theological one. Understanding who God is and what he does is the key.

If God is who he says he is and does what he says he does for his people, you have the power to gain victory over fear. God’s people can’t do God’s work if they are paralyzed by fear. Isaiah 41:10 reminds you not to fear. It gives two reasons not to fear and three ways God helps you in times of trouble.

You will overcome, in Jesus’ name. Isaiah 41:10 is packed with reasons for courageous hope. Meditate on it in times of fear.

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, gives two reasons not to fear.

  1. God is with you. God’s mighty presence is always with you to comfort you. Often, the scariest thing about going through a trial is feeling that you are going through it alone. As a child of God, you are never alone. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) Have faith in the presence of God in your life no matter what you are going through. God sees and he cares.(Exodus 3:7) And he works everything out for your good. (Romans 8:28)
  2. God is your Creator and the guide and guard of your life. He is your protective Father. He guides you as the Lord and master of your life. “I am your God”- these soothing words are rich with the love of a father for his children. How marvelous to have the courage of a child of God! Your God implies a personal, close relationship. Love the Lord your God

Next, Isaiah 41:10 states three ways God helps you overcome anything you fear. He will:

  1. Strengthen you. When you are weak, he is strong. God strengthens you physically and spiritually. He gives a supernatural strength at times when you feel you can’t go on. Calling on God will make you run and not get weary. (Isaiah 40:31)
  2. Help you. This Hebrew word, ezer, is the same one used to refer to Eve as Adam’s help meet or helper. In all but one other use in the Bible, is refers either to God or to military allies. Ezer comes from two root words- one means to rescue or save and the other means to be strong. From this word, used 16 times to describe God’s dealings with his people, we learn important characteristics of God. In the New Testament, Jesus promises a helper, parakletos, will come after he is gone. God has the power to help you in every way and he will!
  3. Hold you up- When you feel like falling and the storms of life threaten to knock you down, God’s powerful hand will hold you up. When you feel weak, he is strong.

Call on God, remembering his strength and promises, so fear doesn’t overwhelm you.

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Bible Study Devotional

A Spring Heart- Break Up Your Fallow Ground- Spring Challenge Day 1

Spring Series 1

Challenge verse day 1:

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:12

You may remember the words of the first song from the Broadway musical Godspell. They proclaimed, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” echoing the words of John the Baptist in Mark 1:3 (“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”)

John was quoting from Isaiah the Prophet who said ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’.

Today’s reading, the first one for the Spring Challenge, is designed to encourage you to prepare your heart to filled by God with goodness and understanding over the course of this challenge.

Fallow ground was the term given to ground that had been prepared for use but then left unattended. As a result, the ground became hard and unsuitable for use. Your heart can become like fallow ground, unfruitful and unsuitable for growth in righteousness.

It can become hardened toward others and God when it is not regularly watered with the Living Water of Jesus and his word. If your spiritual life in Christ is not properly attended to, you may notice you are more irritated and less forgiving of friends and family. You are not diligent to read God’s Word regularly or seek out fellowship with God’s people. You don’t regularly speak of Jesus and all that he means to you.

Your heart is getting hard. It is as fallow ground that needs to be softened and broken up. But how? How do you sow righteousness? Through Jesus, our righteousness. The solution lies in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins. If you believe in Jesus Christ, who he is and what he did for you on the cross, you have his righteousness.

Acknowledge and submit to the righteousness you have in Christ. Go to God and ask forgiveness of your sins. Commit to walking in a new direction with the help of the Holy Spirit. Humble yourself and admit before God that you need help. Seek the Lord and he will “come and rain righteousness upon you”.

Verses to read on your own:

Copy both verses either on paper or type them into your phone or computer. Read and re-read them at least 3 times. Choose one to memorize:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

(2 Corinthians 5:21)

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, (Romans 3:22)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

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Bible Study Devotional

Remembered By God- Mothers in the Bible

Mothers were not a focus of special attention in Bible times. Women in general, including mothers, worked hard behind the scenes with little to no recognition. Yet, Mothers are written about in the grand arc of the Bible story, from beginning to end. God chose to use mothers, a marginalized group, to build his Kingdom.  This reveals God’s amazing and surprising love for his people.

It is important to note that by choosing to recognize mothers in his Word, God was going against the prevailing culture. In both the Old and New Testament, there was no celebration of “Mother’s Day”.  Mothers, and women in general, were thought of as lesser people and had few rights and many responsibilities. But the God of the universe, the creator of all life, chose to highlight the importance of this group no one else thought much about, women who were mothers. Here are some thoughts on three mothers in the Bible:

  1. God chose for people to populate the world he created through a mother. In the very beginning of the Bible we learn that “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.” (Genesis 3:20). Of course, God could have chosen any other way to populate the earth but he did so through a mother and ordained the family as the unit of the continuation of life. These events of creation foreshadow the time of Jesus, when we no longer rely on biological families alone but are called to bring all nations into the eternal family of God. We are part of a new covenant when we are born-again spiritually.
  2. In the new covenant, God chose to use a mother to bring salvation to the world through Jesus. Mary was called to give birth to Jesus, our Savior. Jesus could have come down directly from Heaven, risen up from the ground or emerged from a whirlwind. But no. God chose to send his precious Son here to earth through a mother to be born into a family. Though Jesus was with his earthly mother for only a short time before his ascension, he is coming back.
  3. Revelation, the final book in the Bible, gives signs of the world to come when Jesus returns. In Revelation chapter 12, John describes the signs God showed him of a mother. A woman gives birth and fights for her life and the life of her child against a powerful adversary. This imagery in John’s revelation echoes that of Israel often portrayed by the Prophets. Isaiah, for example, wrote of righteous Israel as a mother giving birth to the faithful remnant. (Isaiah 66:7-10) We know the mother, her child and all her descendants were faithful to Jesus and his Word.  This mother will be the source of the faithful remnant.

From beginning to end, the Bible shows us God’s knowledge of and respect for a little-considered group in ancient times, mothers. He chose to preserve in his word, the Bible, examples of these women for future generations to read. The Creator, the God of the Universe, had very different views from the prevailing society. He gave honor and attention when others refused to. So for mothers and other women who feel forgotten or ignored by society on a daily basis, remember there is One who knows you and cares for you. He is Jesus and he is all that matters.

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Bible Study Bible Verse Devotional Encouragement

Jesus, the True Vine

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” John 15:1

Jesus is the only true source from which good fruit can come.

Jesus knew the religious Jews of his time looked to many sources to give them the fruits of a godly life. From Moses to Solomon, from Abraham to the Scriptures themselves, Jesus emphasized that he was more important than all of these. Jesus told them that he is the fulfillment of all that came before him. He is the only true source of an abundant, fruitful, godly life.

So whether you are reading a Proverb or studying the story of Abraham, remember the supremacy of Jesus and his place as your true source. Stay connected to the true vine, Jesus, and you will bear fruit. That’s a promise.

This week, read about how Jesus is greater than any other: Hebrews 3:3, Matthew 12:42, John 8:58, Luke 24:27, John 5:39

Are you making connection with Jesus a priority in your life? If you do, you will be richly rewarded.

Related Verses:

Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. Hebrews 3:3

The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:42

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:58

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24:27

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me. John 5:39

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

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Bible Study Bible Verse Devotional

Stay Alive, Stay on the Vine

Jesus says that he is the vine and you, as a believer in him, are a branch coming off the vine. Just as life-giving sap continuously flows from the vine to the branches, so eternal, abundant life flows from Jesus to you.

You will bear fruit if you do only one thing. That one thing is to stay with Jesus. The Greek word for remain, meno, (μένω), means “to stay in the same state or place”.

Jesus doesn’t want you to leave him or to go back to your former life without him. He wants you to dwell with him forever. (Psalm 23:6)

Jesus is alive and wants to be your source of everlasting life. Why? So you will be fruitful in building his Kingdom and reaching others for him. He will keep you supplied with wisdom, joy and peace.

Pray, meditate on his word and speak of Jesus often. Acknowledge that he is the source of true life. Then enjoy the security of knowing that you will always continue to grow and be fruitful.