Are You Flourishing? – Part 1
Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Psalms 100:3
Do you need motivation today? Take a look at the palm tree. 1) You can cut it, but you can’t kill it! The minerals and nutrients most trees need to survive are found on the surface, just below the bark, so, when you cut them, they die. But not the palm tree. Its life comes from within, so it flourishes, even under attack. Listen: ‘…we have this treasure in earthen vessels…’ (2 Corinthians 4:7). How wonderful; even though the earthen vessel without may be cut and wounded, the treasure within is secure, beyond the enemy’s reach! 2) It will bend, but it won’t break. Tropical winds can blow most trees away, but not the palm tree. The stronger the wind, the further it bends – sometimes all the way to the ground. Yet when the storm ceases, it straightens up again and is actually stronger in the place where it bent. What a picture! We were made to bend, but not break, because God gives us ‘…strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy’ (Colossians 1:11). 3) Its depth always exceeds its height! While the roots of the average plant go only a few feet under the ground, the palm tree’s roots can go down hundreds of yards in search of water. The Psalmist said, ‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you…’ (Psalms 42:1). Go deep, work on your own connection to God and you’ll never be…uprooted…or barren…or blown away!
Heavenly Father, help me to not be uprooted…or barren…or blown away! Thank You In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Someone Is Watching You
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
A reporter once said to Joe DiMaggio, the famous baseball player, ‘You always seem to play with the same intensity. You run out every grounder and race after every fly ball, even when the Yankees have a big lead in the pennant race and there’s nothing on the line. How come?’ DiMaggio replied, ‘I always remind myself that there might be someone in the stands who never saw me play before.’ That’s the kind of unselfish mindset you must maintain in order to influence others for good and for God. It takes energy and intentionality, whether one-on-one or in a group, but it pays dividends. Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, was drawn to Christ because he’d listened to His teachings and observed His works from afar. He may have come to Jesus at night to avoid ridicule, but the fact is, he came because he couldn’t stay away! (John 3:1-21). The Bible says you’re ‘…a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you…’ (2 Corinthians 3:2). Today someone is watching how you handle problems; how you treat your family and your employees; how you act when the boss isn’t around; how you respond to criticism or temptation. Don’t disappoint them. Jesus said: ‘You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:14-16).
Heavenly Father, help me always remember that I am a witness of You – good or bad. Help me to more reflect You and be a positive witness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
He Is There In the Midst with Us
“We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29
Paul tells us in Romans 12 not to have pride. It causes the focus to be on us rather than on God. Remember King Nebuchadnezzar? He built a huge statue for everyone to worship. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to serve anyone but the one true God, they were tied up and thrown into a blazing furnace. The ones that threw them in were killed instantly due to the heat. The king was amazed to see the three men untied and walking around unaffected when he looked into the furnace. He began praising their God because he believed God sent an angel to save them. He was impressed with their courage for they would not serve another god no matter the punishment.
What was the result of their obedience to God? The courage that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego showed allowed unbelievers to see God’s power. Because of this God was glorified. Today persecution is still happening. Our Christian brothers and sisters around the world, including our country, are being punished for not bowing down to another idol. Pride is a dangerous thing. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed God was able to save them, and if He chose not to, the men would still not worship another. God protects us, and even if He does not take us out of a situation, He is there in the midst of it with us. His grace will rescue us from the eternal blazing furnace.
Gracious Father, we praise You for being with us in the midst of our struggles. Your grace rescues us and gives us courage. We honor and thank You. Amen
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A Simple Way
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 30-31
Think of a time when you were the only Christian in the room. What did that feel like? Was it awkward and uncomfortable? Did you think of a way you could share Christ in that situation? It was awkward and uncomfortable as a seventeen year-old girl, named B, sat in a Thai university’s park waiting to share Christ. Her dad is a leader in a Buddhist temple. Though she is Christian she attends the temple with her dad so that she can better understand her Buddhist neighbors. People look down upon her for being Christian and so young, but she believes she needs to use the time she has because she does not know how much time God has given her. It is difficult to be the only Christian in the temple. B has an interest in nail painting, so she decided to use her interest for God’s purpose. She set up a table with her nail polish in the park. For a while people just walked by, but eventually girls began coming to B’s table. They were confused why B would be doing this and at no charge. B said she wanted to make friends and build real relationships. This gave her an opportunity to share Christ’s love with her neighbors. She understands the importance of loving her neighbor, building relationships, and helping them grow. B found something so simple, and used that as a way to reach out to her community. Her story is a good example of the Parable of the Growing Seed found in Mark 4. The feelings of awkwardness and of being uncomfortable slowly faded into feelings of joy and friendship, as she loved the Lord her God with her whole heart, and loved her neighbor as herself.
Loving God, help us to be strong in our faith especially in environments where we may be the only Christian. Help us to share our faith with our neighbors, and to love You with our whole hearts. Amen
Granny Brand – Part 2
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” Numbers 13:30
Here’s the rest of Evelyn Brand’s story. At age seventy she received word from her home mission office that they weren’t going to give her another five-year term. But she had Caleb’s ‘we can certainly do it’ attitude. A party was held to celebrate her time in India, and everyone there cheered her on. ‘Have a good trip back home,’ they all said. ‘I’ll tell you a little secret,’ she announced, ‘I’m not going back home. I’m staying in India.’ Evelyn had a little shack built with some resources that she had smuggled in. Then she bought a pony to get around the mountains, and this septuagenarian would ride from village to village on horseback to tell people about Jesus. She did that for five years on her own. One day, at seventy-five years old, she fell and broke her hip. Her son, Paul Brand, the eminent doctor, said to her, ‘Mum, you’ve had a great run. God’s used you. It’s time to give it up now. You can go back home.’ She replied, ‘I am not going back home.’ She spent another eighteen years travelling from one village to another on horseback. Falls, concussions, sicknesses, and ageing could not stop her. Finally, when she hit ninety-three years old, she could not ride a horse any more. So the men in these villages—because they loved Granny Brand so much—put her on a stretcher and carried her from one village to another. She lived two more years and gave those years as a gift, carried on a stretcher, to help the poorest of the poor. She died, but she never retired. She just graduated.
Heavenly Father, help me to continue to serve You all the days of my life until You call me home. In Jesus’ Name, Amen