How are you spending this forced stay-cation?

I’ve been baking, cleaning, and catching up on those “will-do-sometime” projects.

Thumbing through a stack of magazines that I didn’t have time to read when they arrived over the past few months, I’m ready to discard a bunch and free up space. I appreciate having time to organize. Friends tell me they’re cleaning and organizing, too.

In our normal, busy life, we handle the urgent and leave everything else until a day when our to-do list isn’t so jam-packed. That day has come.

Meetings have been cancelled. Stadiums are empty. Churches are live-streaming services. Gyms have closed. Restaurants are providing only drive-through/takeout service. Life as we are accustomed to living it has come to an abrupt stop.

We’re working from home—with huge gratitude for a comfortable place to wait out this weird attack called coronavirus. We never saw this coming. Multitudes are infected. Thousands are dying. These are desperate times. Fear nips at our heels.

Being cautious is wise. But we needn’t live in panic mode, afraid of what tomorrow might bring. We’ve never had the privilege of knowing the future. That’s why we put our trust in God. We still don’t know the future but we know the One who does.

As we remind ourselves to follow procedures to protect ourselves and our families during the pandemic, we can fight panic and fear by choosing to remember awesome facts that will not change.

  • God knows me by name (Isaiah 43:1).
  • He says I am precious in his sight (Isaiah 43:4).
  • He loves me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • He delights in me (Psalm 18:19).
  • He has imprinted me on his heart (Psalm 136:23, see Amplified version).
  • He has engraved me on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16).
  • He cares for sparrows and considers me of greater worth than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

Friends, be safe from both contagions—coronavirus and fear. Make the following your daily prayer and confidence.

“Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17).

“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope” (Psalm16:8-9).

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Word Weavers International. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

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Have you ever felt really known? Every one of us longs to be fully known, loved, and appreciated. John 1:48 tells us about the interaction between Nathaniel and Jesus. “Nathanael said to him, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you’” (ESV).

Jesus tells him he saw him hidden under the fig tree. Jesus knows Nathaniel’s nature, motives, and physical hidden location.

There are differing ideas of what Nathaniel is doing within the confines of the overhanging branches of the fig tree. Two in particular would seem to go along with Jesus’s motive to convince Nathaniel He is the Messiah.

First, Nathaniel was meditating on or studying the story of Jacob’s dream about angels going up and down the ladder in Genesis 28. Secondly, Nathaniel was seeking information from God about the coming Messiah.

Both go along with the Jacob story because Jesus is saying he, himself, is the predicted, symbolic ladder whereby people will have communication with heaven even though they are on earth.

Nathaniel immediately calls Jesus the Son of God and King of Israel.

Jesus is thrilled and replies, in effect, “Then that’s why you believe? Seeing and knowing you is nothing compared to what you are going to see and know, including the heavens opened and angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

What a wonderful example for us as we respond to the new faith of new believers. They don’t know a lot and we know how much more they will need to learn. Like Jesus, we can rejoice over what they do know, not what they don’t yet know. And that they are known by Jesus.

Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller and her husband Larry are co-authors of God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature. Individually and as a couple they have authored over 55 books and spoken in over 35 states and nine foreign countries. They live in Southern California and are parents, grandparents, and lay-counselors. Visit them at www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

 

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A Strategic Act of an Apostle

by Dr. Craig von Buseck

Luke, the writer of Acts, shows us an amazing transformation in the life of Saul of Tarsus. This metamorphosis takes place in one single chapter – Acts 13 – though the preparation for it happened over many years.

Verse 2: While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Verse 9: But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him…

Verse 43: And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas…

In ancient times, the most prominent person was named first in all literature. The chapter begins with the introduction of Barnabas and Saul. By the end of the chapter, not only was Paul named first, but also his name had changed.

We see in Scripture that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham (Genesis 17:5) and Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 35:10). But nowhere do we see an explicit statement that God changed Saul’s name to Paul.

So why was his name changed at the same time that he emerged as the preeminent apostle to the Gentiles?

I believe that Saul himself changed his name from the Jewish name “Saul” to the Gentile name “Paul.”

The reason was two-fold:

  1. For the purpose of building a bridge of communication and trust with the people God had assigned to him to reach, the Gentiles.
  2. Saul so identified with his calling that he went so far as to change his name.

Writing to the church in Corinth, Paul makes the famous declaration: “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). In this significant step of changing his name from Jewish to Gentile, he is signaling his commitment to his calling – but also to those he is called to reach.

As you ponder this significant act of an apostle, I encourage you to prayerfully consider your calling and what you have done – or are willing to do – to “become all things to all…” that you might save some.

 

Craig von Buseck

Craig von Buseck

Dr. Craig von Buseck is manager of digital content for Inspiration.org. His most recent book is I Am Cyrus: Harry S. Truman and the Rebirth of Israel from Iron Stream Media. To order, visit IAmCyrusBook.com. Learn more at vonbuseck.com and inspiration.org.

I Am Cyrus book cover

I Am Cyrus by Dr. Craig von Buseck

 

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“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 NIV).

Recently, I attended a gathering in our village to remember the life of a church member who died unexpectedly. Arriving late, I sat in the back. Everyone wore black and wiped tears that fell profusely. The lady was a friend of mine also––my husband and I bought land from her.

Everyone in the crowd hailed from our village or nearby––all friends and neighbors. We sat on wooden benches and huddled together as the winds whipped around us; our winter was near. The sound of children playing in the distance soothed our hurting hearts.

After the ceremony, we sipped hot soup to warm our bones. The aroma of wood burning in a mud oven and the chicken baking in it filled the air. Then, the delicious chicken dinner arrived on clay plates served by beautiful Quechua ladies dressed in their typical polleras (skirts.) We talked, laughed, ate, and enjoyed being together. There was sadness—but joy also because of the hope we have in Christ that we will be reunited one day.

Visiting a cemetery anywhere gives the impression that all ended for the people buried in the graves. But, for those who trust Jesus as Savior, there is hope beyond the grave because we have eternal life. Whether we are dead or alive when Christ returns, we will all rise to be with Him forever.

Peggy Cunningham and her husband are missionaries in Bolivia, South America. They work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also an author of children’s books and devotionals for women, including her latest book, Shape Your Soul, 31 Exercises for Faith that Moves Mountains. www.PeggyCunningham.com

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Conversing with God looks different for everyone, but at some time or other we all shoot arrow prayers heavenward. I do it often.

It happens when I’m traveling by plane and a spiritual conversation opens with a fellow passenger. On one occasion a woman beside me said, “I’m on a personal quest. I’m searching for peace. Have you found it?” I shot an arrow prayer before answering: “God, give me the right words.”

I shoot arrow prayers when driving down the highway. “God, safety.”

I shoot them when needing inspiration for my writing assignments: “God, creativity.”

I shoot them when I hear about another’s heartache: “God, comfort.”

Nehemiah did something similar one day while standing in the king’s presence. Months prior, he’d prayed, “Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me” (Nehemiah 1:11). Now he stood before the king, ready to present a request.

“The king asked, ‘Well, how can I help you?’ With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, ‘If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried’” (Nehemiah 2:4-5 emphasis mine).

Nehemiah had a split second to respond, so he wasted no time shooting an arrow prayer heavenward. Perhaps it sounded like, “God, help!” or “God, favor!”

God heard Nehemiah, and He hears us, too. Our prayers needn’t be long or fancy before He’ll listen. Sometimes an arrow prayer is all we can muster, and that’s okay. He responds to heartfelt, honest expressions of our need for His involvement in our lives regardless of how spiritual—or not—they sound.

Grace Fox is a career global worker and the author of nine books including Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation. She’s a member of the “First 5” Bible study writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ annual devotional, Mornings With Jesus. She lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

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