God Can Make a Way Where None Exists

I am sure the people of Judah did not see how they would get out of the Babylonian captivity. They certainly had not gained enough power on their own to break free and return to Jerusalem. They would remember the word of the LORD by Jeremiah that they would return, but they likely could not know how.

God makes a way when none seems to exist. He stirred the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia. The people were not only allowed and encouraged to go, but also supported financially. Then the LORD stirred up also the people whom He wanted to return to Jerusalem.

What are you facing today that may feel hopeless? What situations face you that you cannot see clearly a path forward to success or resolution? Call upon the LORD and trust in Him. Whether or not He delivers exactly what You are asking for, trust in Him! Know that He is able, and He may do it in a way that you don’t anticipate.

Ezra 1

Cyrus’s Proclamation

      1Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying:

      2“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3‘Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4‘Every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.’”

Holy Vessels Restored

      5Then the heads of fathers’ households of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, even everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. 6All those about them encouraged them with articles of silver, with gold, with goods, with cattle and with valuables, aside from all that was given as a freewill offering. 7Also King Cyrus brought out the articles of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and put in the house of his gods; 8and Cyrus, king of Persia, had them brought out by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and he counted them out to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. 9Now this was their number: 30 gold dishes, 1,000 silver dishes, 29 duplicates; 1030 gold bowls, 410 silver bowls of a second kind and 1,000 other articles. 11All the articles of gold and silver numbered 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought them all up with the exiles who went up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

All of us face situations that are beyond our control. It may be seeking the right path for us or our children that God has for us. It could be challenges at work or school, illness, physical or other limitations, or even finding meaningful fellowship with others who strive to live as Jesus demonstrated.  Sometimes it may seem there is no way to control or plan with our own power to get to the outcome we want. I encourage you to turn to the LORD and diligently pray for Him to meet our needs and bless us in these situations in which we find ourselves striving but unclear on how to overcome.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please help Your people trust in You. Help us to bring our burdens to You and ask diligently for Your help. Help us to trust You in the outcome. You may often answer in unexpected ways, but Your ways are higher than ours. Help us to find peace in You. Amen. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Free Offer – with Eternal Benefits! Hurry Before Offer Expires!

We all like “free” offers. It is exciting to get discounts on movies or restaurants or vacation packages! As a matter of fact, when we hear about a free offer, we often race to tell our friends and family and even people we just meet so they can take advantage before the offer expires. We know the offer is not really free, but someone else has paid the price and it is free to us.

How many of us would turn down an offer of a $100 gift card? How many of us would tell all our friends, or even people we just meet at a store how to get the gift card?

God has made us the most compelling offer… and it is free to us, but to truly accept it will change you forever.

Read along in John 3:16-17 [NKJV].

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

It is easy to start taking this offer for granted. Do we still get excited to share it with others as we do when we find a good deal? or do we allow ourselves to get comfortable and only share with those we know already believe? Deep down, perhaps we should ask how completely we really believe if we are not excited to share it with those we are close to. I may not tell someone about a $100 gift card if I am not really sure it is real, even if I am trying to get it for me. I may be more concerned about looking foolish if it does not pan out.

The offer from Yeshua is the best one we will ever receive, and it does have an expiration date. For each of us this offer expires when we do and the price has already been paid, whether or not we accept it.

To learn more read The Message of the Cross – Salvation.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, thank You for Your offer of salvation and reconciliation to You. Thank You for forgiveness of sin. Help me to repent of my wrong ways and pursue Your ways. Help me to have the courage and boldness to tell others about You and this wonderful offer of forgiveness! Amen. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Hearing From Jesus Prayer Partner

We humbly ask you to join us as a prayer partner to pray for Hearing from Jesus ministry and staff regularly. Let it never be about us but about honoring and obeying God faithfully in our lives and ministry.

We think of Paul and the disciples as strong leaders of the people and loyal followers of Christ, but they also taught us the importance of prayer. On multiple occasions they, as faith leaders, asked for prayer from other believers on their behalf.

Acts 4:29  29“And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence,

Ephesians 6:19-20  19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Colossians 4:2-4  2Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; 3praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with all of you.

So, too, Jesus provided many examples of the value of prayer and instructed us to pray on many occasions.

Matthew 9:35-38 35Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

      36Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38“Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Thank you for your support. May the grace and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ be with you.

To pray with us regarding additional prayer requests or submit a prayer request, please visit our website Prayer Requests section.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Focus on Your Role; Trust God to Do His

For those with ears to hear Him, God calls each of us to a purpose for His kingdom. As we develop and grow in wisdom and discernment and learn to listen more closely to God through prayer, we are able to understand our role and what He calls us for more clearly. This is an important principle as it should guide us in how we deal with difficult circumstances as well as guide us when things are going well.

Let us take a closer look at the early church. Herod was persecuting them. He killed James and arrested Peter with intent to do the same, though the fervent prayer of the followers of Christ led to God freeing Peter from Herod’s wicked plans. The persecution scattered the early believers to a number of different cities and they continued to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ boldly.

They remained focused on what God called them to do, despite persecution. They were not in a position to overthrow the government by force or even protect themselves by force of arms. They had to trust God and they chose to keep doing what He called them to do… proclaim Jesus boldly. The results were to the glory of God’s kingdom, and many began to follow Jesus.

But what of one of those in power who persecuted God’s people… what of Herod? The believers rightly left that up to God to handle given their situation at the time.

Acts 12:20-25

Death of Herod

      20Now he was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; and with one accord they came to him, and having won over Blastus the king’s chamberlain, they were asking for peace, because their country was fed by the king’s country. 21On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. 22The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” 23And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.

      24But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.

      25And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with them John, who was also called Mark.

Herod understood the Jewish faith and history of God with His people. He had no excuse for accepting from others the claims that he was a god. He should have rebuked them, but he did not.

Proverbs 16:18  18Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.

Herod was accountable before God, as are we all. We do not always understand how and when God deals with the wicked, but all face judgment before God. All are held accountable for their actions and attitudes toward God and others.

2 Corinthians 5:10  10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Our role as followers of Christ is to go about the business He  commanded us to do and trust in Him for the rest. We see in Acts 12 that the followers of Christ did that and did that well. The result?

24But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.

Let us go and do likewise.

What areas of your life do you feel overwhelmed or distracted in facing big problems or challenges? Are you trusting God to help you with the part you cannot do yourself or are you trying to figure out how to do it all yourself? Are you focusing on doing the specific things that God has called you to do, either in His word for all believers, or specific to your own life and talents? What changes can you make in your attitudes and actions to help align with the approach that the early believers demonstrated in Acts 12?

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please help me to focus on what You have instructed me to do and trust You for the rest. Help me to be bold and take action to glorify You and lead others to You even when persecution is waiting for me. Raise up more leaders to restore righteousness of Your ways and remove the wicked from leadership. Amen. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Prayer For Him Was Being Made Fervently By The Church To God

Have you ever experienced some breakthroughs in your life in terms of living for God only to find that the resistance and obstacles increase? Indeed, that is common. Often when Satan sees a disciple of Yeshua having a significant breakthrough or possibly on the verge of reaching many for Messiah, he steps up his opposition. So, too, do men who reject Christ. Sometimes you face both at the same time.

In Acts 11, the early church was growing, reaching out to Gentiles and receiving them in large numbers. Fellow believers were helping one another, even across different geographies… not just home-town help. Then Herod stepped up his resistance to followers of Yeshua, much to the pleasure of the Jewish religious leaders of the time. Herod killed James, brother of John, and then arrested Peter.

The followers of Yeshua were not strong enough on their own to resist or overpower the government at the time. Instead, they turned to the power which God provided. The believers responded with fervent, intercessory prayer on his behalf. Prayer is a powerful weapon and brings about mighty things from God. Do not underestimate it and do not limit yourself to half-hearted, “when it is convenient, and I have nothing else to do” prayer. Fervent prayer for a righteous purpose made by those who submit to Yeshua can be very powerful.

Acts 12:1-19

Peter’s Arrest and Deliverance

      1Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. 2And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. 3When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. 5So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.

      6On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. 7And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. 8And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. 11When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” 12And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13When he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. 15They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.” 16But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed. 17But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had led him out of the prison. And he said, “Report these things to James and the brethren.” Then he left and went to another place.

      18Now when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter. 19When Herod had searched for him and had not found him, he examined the guards and ordered that they be led away to execution. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and was spending time there.

There is no doubt about how Peter got out. There can be no credible “conspiracy theory” that someone bribed the guards or such. The guards surely would have revealed it and brought Peter back … they were led away for execution due to their failure!

Trust in the power of God to protect us. Of course, we must also trust in God’s decision about whether or not He does so and how. Remember that James was killed at Herod’s hands.

Perhaps the principal lesson we should focus on from this scripture is the power of wholehearted, fervent, righteous prayer on someone’s behalf, especially when a team of believers come together in this prayer.  This is specifically highlighted in this scripture and is pivotal in the situation with Peter.

Do you know of some specific individuals or situations which could use the kind of help that Peter received in Acts 12 from God? Gather together with other followers of Christ and pray fervently for God to act in this situation for the glory of His kingdom! Expect Him to answer and keep praying. You just might be amazed by the response you see from our Creator and Lord.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please lead us and guide us to draw nearer to You in prayer. Help us to call upon You together and trust in Your decision as to how the events unfold. Let us not look down on the power of prayer, but neither let us take prayer an excuse for us to avoid also taking action when it is in our power to act. Amen. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The LORD Wants His Children to Be in Relationship with Him

Today we study another exciting chapter of history that is part of the best story ever told, the Bible. A series of wicked kings led the people away from Yahweh. Yahweh turns sends messengers and tries to call them back but to no avail. The people reject Him. With no other recourse to get their attention, he uses the Babylonians. After 70 years in captivity in Babylon, Yahweh uses the Persians to restore the people to their land. We will review a few key points after we read the scripture.

2 Chronicles 36:10-23

Captivity in Babylon Begun

      10At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon with the valuable articles of the house of the LORD, and he made his kinsman Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.

Zedekiah Rules in Judah

      11Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the LORD13He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear allegiance by God. But he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel. 14Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful following all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the LORD which He had sanctified in Jerusalem.

      15The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; 16but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy. 17Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand. 18All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon. 19Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. 20Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.

Cyrus Permits Return

      22Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah—the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 23“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!’”

Yah’s ultimate goal is to help His people return to relationship with Him. When the people are stiff necked and refuse, He has to escalate His approach to get their attention. In reality, it is not unlike how many of us would discipline our own children. If they refuse to listen to our message over and over, we escalate. Truthfully, Yah could be considered more patient than most of us in regard to how many messengers He sent to give the people a chance to repent before He brought in the Chaldeans.

Some may say that Yah is too harsh. I choose to start with the conclusion that Yah is correct, even if He is harsh. If I disagree, then I am in the wrong and should consider His example. In either case, whether we agree or not, we can learn how Yah relates to His people. If you don’t want the potential for hardship to get your attention, then turn to Him now and be sensitive to when He is reaching out to you to draw you to return to Him. Do not be hard hearted and you can listen to the messengers rather than the severe punishment.

He disciplines His children for the same reason we do as people. He loves them and wants to correct their attitude and behavior. He was not rewarding the Chaldeans for their righteousness. Some will say, “But His people were better than those other people. Why let them win.” The answer is that Yah is trying to guide His people to be in proper intimate relationship with Him.

Revelation 3:19

 19Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

Another point I have frequently overlooked that I now find interesting to highlight relates to Zedekiah rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar. Because Zedekiah swore allegiance before Yah to Nebuchadnezzar, he is called out as wrong for rebelling against him. It does not matter that he was “forced” to swear allegiance by before Yah. We must take very seriously any promise or vow we make before Yah.

Ecclesiastes 5:5

4When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! 5It is better that you not vow, than vow and not pay.

After all of the rebellion and punishment, we still see the LORD stir up the Persians to send His people back to Judah. He loves His children and wants them to be in right relationship with Him. If He wanted to simply destroy them, that would be much easier!

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please soften the hearts of Your people and draw us near to You and closer in unity to one another. Help turn away from the ways of men, even those in place for centuries, and turn back to Your ways. Raise up leaders and teachers and renew us as Your people locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. Use me as You see fit. Amen. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Get Comfortable Being Different

Josiah was a righteous king. When he died, his son Joahaz became king, but was quickly deposed by Egypt. Jehoiakim became king in his place and did evil in the site of the LORD. He was removed by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon after 11 years. His son, Jehoiachin, reigned only 3 months but is still highlighted as doing evil.

As I reflect on this pattern in 2 Chronicles, I cannot help but think how easy it is for a nation, a family, or even an individual to slip into the traditions of men instead of the instructions of Yahweh.  It takes strong leadership and courage to lead a family or nation out of ways that are wicked in the face of Yah, but well accepted by man. It is very easy to get accustomed to the ways of men around you and move further and further away from the LORD’s ways.

We truly must remind ourselves and pray for Yah to help us to remain set apart from the ways of man. That means we will often stand alone or in the minority. Many around us will not understand the choices we make. We will be different than those around us. But this is also necessary to be set apart and holy for Yah’s use.

Get comfortable being different.

2 Chronicles 36:1-9

Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, then Jehoiachin Rule

      1Then the people of the land took Joahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in place of his father in Jerusalem. 2Joahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. 3Then the king of Egypt deposed him at Jerusalem, and imposed on the land a fine of one hundred talents of silver and one talent of gold. 4The king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took Joahaz his brother and brought him to Egypt.

      5Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God. 6Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him and bound him with bronze chains to take him to Babylon. 7Nebuchadnezzar also brought some of the articles of the house of the LORD to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon. 8Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim and the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son became king in his place.

      9Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem, and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please raise up righteous leaders who will lead us in the restoration of Your ways. Give them courage, discernment and Your hand of blessing to help them prosper in Your work. Please remove wicked leaders from our local, state, and national (and global) government and leadership in business, education and other areas. Lead us in the restoration of Your ways! Draw Your people together in unity, standing against and separate from the ways of men. Bring us together in greater and greater numbers. Help us to be teachable and submitted as You call us away from many traditions and inaccurate teachings of men that Christians have followed for centuries so that we could embrace a return to Your ways fully! Amen. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

We Are All One in Messiah

As we as a nation reflect on the life and contribution of Martin Luther King Jr, let us also put our focus on God’s word in the Bible and let it guide our path.

Many people have been misled to believe that we are significantly different based on the color of our skin. Our culture over emphasizes this and creates a point of division among us. When we look at God’s word, we see that there is one race of humans, not many based on color, and that we are all equal and all made in the image of God. There is not one that is better than the rest or should receive preferential treatment over the others.

Man is made in the image of God. We are made man and woman. There is no mention of skin color as a key differentiator. Differences in skin color are just part of the wonderful variety of God’s creative nature… like hair color or height or eye color.

Genesis 1:26-27

      26Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Paul makes the point in Galatians that we are all one in Christ Jesus. If we belong to Christ, then we are Abraham’s descendants. We have been grafted into Israel (Romans 11:11-36). We can see in this context that the real division within man is not the color of our skin or our gender or social status, but rather whether or not we have accepted Christ as our Lord.

Galatians 3:28-29

28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Martin Luther King Jr is well known and perhaps one of his best known speeches was in Washington DC in August 1963.

As a nation, we have made much progress since that time and I am sure God is pleased at that progress. Many will focus today on a never-ending list of grievances without even pausing to recognize the significant progress made. To the extent there is further to go, we should take care on how we address it. We should not emphasize division and conflict between the citizens of our great nation, but rather focus on how we come together peacefully. We should not make enemies of certain people groups in the name of helping others. That is not what God or leaders like Martin Luther King Jr would want. We are all made in God’s image. Let us focus on drawing closer to Him and we will draw closer to each other as well, no matter what color skin we have.

To help us reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, I am going to highlight a few snippets of the speech here. The full content of the speech can be found at the following link, Martin Luther King I Have a Dream Speech – American Rhetoric.

He speaks highly of Abraham Lincoln, our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He was not trying to undermine our nation’s history or destroy it, but rather look to it as a righteous guide.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

He called for white and black to be considered equal, not to condemn those who are white in order to try to help those who are black.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

He did not want people to degrade to violence but rather to focus on peaceful protesting.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

He was positive on the potential for America based on its founding. He was positive on the American dream.  He did not see America through the eyes of despair as a place that needed to be burned down and remade. He led a hopeful message and not one of despair. He focused on the vision of what we want to achieve together and avoided a path of violence and anger and destruction. Once again he emphasized what God’s word tells us, what is reflected in the founding documents of our nation, that all men are created equal.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

He helped people visualize a world as it should be, where people are not judged based on skin color. He did not say treat black people better than white people to get even or make up for the past. He pointed towards the principle’s of God and our nation’s founding documents.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

He brought the focus to our Creator.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please help our nation come together as one nation, under You. Open our eyes to the wonderful diversity you have made in how you have made man. Let us not create division based on physical differences. Let us not consider ourselves multiple races of man. Let us recognize that we are all one, all made in the image of God. None are to be considered better or worse than the rest based on the color of our skin… neither black, white, brown, or any other color. Help us come together by seeking You and help us to see one another as You do. Amen.

Shalom.

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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Why Did God Allow This Hardship to Happen?

There is much suffering in this world and many situations that we as believers may struggle to understand. We may find ourselves asking, “Why did God allow this to happen?”. There will always be things we do not fully understand, but it is truly important to draw near to God during these times… draw closer to Him… do not let suffering or lack of understanding on your part separate you from God.

Proverbs 3:5-7  5Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. 7Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

From a practical perspective, when we are looking to God to help us out of difficulty or to help us prosper while experiencing it, if we allow ourselves to drift away from Him, we will be less able to hear His instructions and guidance. During these times we want to draw near and listen closely to what God has to tell us. I want to serve God and honor Him even in suffering and trials. I want to learn what He is trying to teach me and let Him use me.

Consider the death of Stephen and persecution of the early followers of Christ by those who claimed to be righteous… Jewish religious leaders. There was much persecution and suffering amongst the early church. The followers of Yeshua fled Jerusalem and spread the message of the gospel to other locations. Imagine if they would have just gotten mad at Yahweh and stopped following Yeshua to avoid a difficult situation… they would have been lost and Yah’s plan to spread the good news of Messiah across the world would not have progressed the way He desired.

The early followers of Yeshua obeyed Yahweh and proclaimed the good news to others despite persecution. They began by preaching to only Jewish people. During this time of suffering, though, they still trusted the LORD and when they heard His guidance to proclaim the gospel to Jews and Gentiles, they did. God brought a tremendous harvest of new believers from the Gentiles.  The early church believed and trusted Yahweh even during persecution and hardship. As a result, He was able to use them in a mighty way to the glory of His kingdom.

None of the early disciples of Yeshua were thinking… “If only we could be persecuted and scattered, that would be great.” or “We should preach to the Gentiles.” But they were faithful and served the LORD regardless of difficulty and circumstance. Praise and glory to Yahweh, the faithful servants flourished in the situation in which He planted them and then were able to hear His instructions to adjust their course and bring the gospel to a great number of believers. Now, 2000 years later, see how many followers of Yeshua were not among the Jewish people! How much of the harvest would have been missed if Yeshua’s disciples did not listen?

We can also see that in suffering, which came as a famine in this case, believers pulled together to help one another. This principle is important for us to remember. I am sure these early Gentile disciples did not fully and properly understand the instructions of Yah such as the Law. That is why Paul was there teaching for so long. Despite some variation in understanding and practice of how they pursued the LORD, they pulled together in unity. Of course, I am sure it helped to have a clear leader in Paul to teach them all they needed to know. We tend to lack that today, though many teachers are out there with differing understanding of how to live for the LORD.

Acts 11:19-30

The Church at Antioch

      19So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. 20But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. 22The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. 23Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; 24for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. 25And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; 26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

      27Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. 29And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea. 30And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders.

Keep your eyes, ears and heart open for Yah’s direction for you in the midst of the difficulties you may be experiencing. How might He be using this situation or guiding you to further His kingdom? Do not despair, He is with you and can cause all things to work together for the good of those who believe in Him.

Romans 8:28  28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

How can you obey Yah and allow Him to use you in the midst of hard situations you are experiencing today? How can you help other disciples of Yeshua who are experiencing difficulty?

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please raise up teachers like Paul to instruct and lead Your people in a return to Your instructions for how we are to live and worship. Help the disciples of Yeshua pull together to move toward restoration of living as Yeshua demonstrated, according to Your ways rather than the ways of man. Please help us have unity in moving toward proper understanding and living out of Your teaching in the scriptures. Amen. 

 Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ


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