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Sent

After visiting the Pool of Siloam, I knew I had to read John 9 again. Jesus was walking down the street and saw a blind man. The disciples wanted to know who’s fault it was that he was blind. They believed that it was a punishment from God for a specific sin committed by the man or his parent. Jesus replied, “Jesus answered, “Neither. It happened to him so that you could watch him experience God’s miracle” (TPT). Jesus then spit on the ground, mixed it in some dirt and put it on the guy’s eyes. He then said, “Now go and wash the clay from your eyes in the ritual pool of Siloam.” For the first time in His life he could see.

We live in a cause and effect world. We like to find the reason behind things so that we can make sense of it. If we can’t make sense of something, we don’t know how to deal with it. I’ve learned that the things of God don’t always make sense. Why did Jesus have to spit on the ground? Why send him to the pool that means “Sent”? I don’t know, but I do know that we, along with the disciples, get to witness this man experience a miracle that was impossible for a man to accomplish. Even though he faced excommunication from the community, he put his faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

Just as Jesus was sent into this world, you and I are too. Our mission is to help others believe in Jesus. We are to help restore the spiritual sight of everyone we come in contact with. We are to bring light into this world so that others may see and give praise to God. Look around you today. You have been sent to the people you will come in contact with. Will your life bring light or leave them in darkness? Just as the man was sent to the Pool of Siloam, we should send people to the foot of the Cross for their spiritual, emotional and physical healing. When you do, you will watch them experience God’s miracle.

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The Promise Of Humility

Unless you’ve been to Israel, you may not know that Bethlehem is only about 6 miles south of the Old City in Jerusalem. It’s currently situated in the West Bank of Palestine and has been in existence for about 3,400 years. We know it mainly as the place of Jesus’ birth, but so much more in the Bible happened here. It is where Naomi returned with Ruth. It’s where Ruth worked in Boaz’ field until they were married. The had a son named Obed. He had a son named Jesse. Jesse’s youngest son David became the most famous king of Israel. The name of the city translates, “House of Bread”.

I find it amazing that God did so many things in this town generations beforehand to ensure that this would be the place Jesus would be born. If you think about it, Bethlehem is a story of how God exalts the humble. David wasn’t even considered by his dad as a possible candidate to be king. He was an humble shepherd. It was also the humble shepherds who were first given the news that the Messiah had been born. Even the manger was an humble place to house the King of Kings. There’s a pattern there that you and I can’t afford to miss. Humility preceded the favor of God.

In Luke 14:11 Jesus was teaching about humility when He said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (NLT). Humility is a mindset of understanding our position as the created being who is nothing without the Creator. That knowledge should keep us hungry to have a deeper relationship with Him. It should cause us to obey whatever God asks of us knowing He will equip us and partner us with those who will help us fulfill His will for our lives and further His kingdom. Great men and women don’t just have humble beginnings, they find a way to stay humble even in success.

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The Way Of Suffering

This weekend I had the opportunity to visit the room where the Last Supper took place, walk through the Garden of Gethsemane, visit Caiaphas’ house and then walk down the Via Dolorosa. To walk in the final footsteps of Jesus before His crucifixion can be a moving experience if you can block out all the chaos around you. As I went to each place, I tried to imagine the emotions of Jesus in each place and to feel the tension He must have felt knowing He was leaving the Passover meal a free man to cross the Kidron Valley, but would return a prisoner. It’s a very sobering journey.

As I entered the Church of All Nations at the foot of the Mount of Olives where the Garden of Gethsemane is, I walked around the outskirts of the sanctuary instead of down the middle. The purple glass in the shape of a cross makes sure that the room is lit, but remains dim. I went to the front where there is a rock protruding out of the foundation of the church. I stood outside the barrier as I watched people lay on it and weep. On the barrier were pieces of paper in different languages. I walked around until i found one in English. It had a portion of the Gospel of Luke that ended in Luke 22:46. It said, “Jesus went to the disciples who were sleeping and said, ‘Why are you asleep? Wake up and pray that you won’t be tested.’”

Are you and I like the disciples? Are we awakened to the things God is asking us to do or are we asleep? Do we realize that the moment God has us in right now is in preparation for greater things? God’s plan for you is always good. It may involve some suffering and times of emotional stress. There are times we will walk in darkness so we can share God’s light. The only way to achieve God’s desired outcome in our lives is to pray like Jesus prayed in the darkest time of His life. Luke 22:44 says, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [of divine wrath] from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done” (AMP). Submitting to God’s will, even in suffering and pain always yields the greatest outcome.

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The Importance Of Prayer

Prayer should be as vital to a Christian as a heart is to their body. You simply cannot survive without it. As I’ve traveled the world, I’ve seen different religions have certain times and certain prayers that their adherents must follow and do. Some have to face a certain way, others have to wear special clothes, and some have to repeat certain mantras. Protestant Christianity doesn’t have any of that so that prayer can be an act of willing worship from the heart. It’s about getting alone with your creator, sharing what’s on your heart and listening to what’s on His. Unfortunately many Christians don’t have a regular time to spend with God and instead only offer up prayers when we need God to solve a problem.

I want to encourage you to find a set time to spend with God each day, not out of obligation, but out of devotion. You don’t have to Pray the entire time. Many times prayer is simply sitting in God’s presence and listening. He knows what you’re going to say before you even say it, and hears your heart when words are not enough. Christianity is about having a relationship with God, and relationships live and die on communication. Prayer is our way of communicating with God and finding direction in our lives. Pick a time and a place to meet regularly with God and watch your relationship grow.

Here are some Bible verses on prayer.

1. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

Psalms 116:2 NLT

2. GOD ’s there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it.

Psalm 145:18 MSG

3. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you.

Jeremiah 29:12 GNT

4. I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast.

Psalms 91:15 TPT

5. Lord, you know my prayer before I even whisper it. At each and every sunrise you will continue to hear my cry until you answer.

Psalms 88:13 TPT

Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash

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This Could Be The Day

Recently a friend of mine and I were discussing Jesus’ return. We discussed how every generation has preached it starting with the early church. They thought Jesus was going to return in their lifetime. They sold all they had and pooled their money together so they could get the message of Jesus out to as many people as possible quickly. Here we are around 2,000 years later and we are still waiting. The difference now is there is no urgency among believers about His return. Believers have very little motivation in them to share their faith.

We know Jesus will return because He told us He would in John 14. In verses 2-3 He said, “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (NLT)” He made a promises to return and He will fulfill it. We don’t know when everything will be ready on His end, so we have to be ready on our end.

He told the parable of the ten virgins waiting on the groom. When the groom didn’t show up quickly, it became apparent that not everyone would be ready. Five had enough oil in their lamps and five didn’t. Five were in it for the long haul. They had reserves of oil to keep their lamps burning. What group do you and I belong in? Have we given up on His return? Have we run out of oil? It was late in the night when he returned. It was past the time they thought He would. We are seeing that now as people run out of the oil of urgency for His return.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Eternity In Mind

What would you change if you knew the day you were going to die? How would it change things if that day was years in the future or next week? I always wonder why God allows us to know when someone will be born, but not when we will die. He already knows the date, so why not let us know? For me, that leads back to the first question. Would we live differently if we knew the date? I think human nature dictates that we would live differently. Unfortunately, many people would live their lives for themselves, then at the last moment, give their lives to God. Since we don’t know when, we must live our lives being ready to meet our maker at any moment.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the average life expectancy in the United States is 78.6 years. With that kind of average, we all assume we will live that long, but the truth is that we don’t know. 78.6 years seems like a long time when you compare it to people you know, but what if we compare it to eternity? 78.6 years is nothing. It’s not even a second. What we do, and how we live will have an eternal impact. Why would we then try to live that second for anything other than our creator?

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (NLT). Thinking about how short life is should push us to think eternally and make us live wisely with eternity in mind. The problem is that most of us don’t want to live our lives with the end in mind. We only think about today and what we need for it. God has planted eternity in our hearts, but He has left the future unclear (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He doesn’t want us to live our lives short sited. We need to live with eternity in mind.

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Destructive Forces

One of the things I’ve learned is that destruction is part of creation. A volcano is a very destructive force. We’ve all seen videos of molten, hot lava being spewed out of a volcano. Then we see a river of lava flowing down the side burning everything in its path. Eventually that lava dries and then breaks down creating some of the richest soil on earth. When you think of places that have volcanoes, have you ever noticed how green they are? Hawaii and Fiji come to mind. Without their volcanoes, they wouldn’t be as lush as they are. The very things that appear to destroy everything are what really brings life.

In our own lives, the same principle holds true. There are things in our lives that God destroys so that He can bring new life to us. It hurts us when the lava is flowing and taking away everything that seems to matter to us, but God has a plan and a purpose. What looks like total devastation is truly a remarkable new beginning that will create a more fertile life for you. It’s painful going through the times of destruction, and many times we don’t understand why. A friend told me recently that sometimes God does the Omega in our lives before He is the Alpha. He ends things so that He can begin something new.

Proverbs 16:4 says, “The Lord works everything together to accomplish his purpose” (TPT). There is purpose in everything that happens in our lives. God has a plan to redeem, restore and to recreate. He is a gardener who loves to grow things in our lives. The best things in our lives are produced from the richest soil. The richest soil is produced through destructive forces. If you’re going through a period of destruction, hold on to your faith and trust God’s plan. Greater things are coming that will be beautiful in time. God will accomplish His plan for your life. It’s a good plan that is full of life and fertile soil.

Photo by Julien Millet on Unsplash

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