January 23 – A Well-Planned Encounter

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One of the greatest concerns of many Christ-followers I know is the spiritual condition of their friends and family.

Determining whether a person is a citizen of the Kingdom of God and has truly accepted Christ as Lord and Savior of their life can be difficult at times. And what do you do when you have that family member who has flat-out decided they are an atheist, God is a joke, and they are going to live their life however they want? Pray for a well-planned encounter.

 The Biblical account of the Samaritan woman from the town of Sychar bears invaluable insight. First, this lady had a need that drew her to a certain place. She was out of water and without it she would not be able to function.

In essence, her life depended on it. And even though the place she drew her water was familiar to her, the need for water gave her common ground with another wise stranger.

Little did she know that morning that she, a Samaritan woman, would be discussing matters of water with a Jewish man around the local well. Here are some revelatory words to the wise: This woman has some real tough issues going on in her life. She had a “chance” encounter with an unfamiliar face, yet, in a very familiar place, around a subject she could embrace.

In my estimation, these three elements produce the perfect atmosphere for a person to have ears to hear in a way they’ve never heard before.

So, don’t waste time worrying about why your loved ones seem so closed to the gospel. Start praying they will have a “well encounter” at the proper time.

Then when they call you out of the blue and start telling you about this great person who told them all this neat stuff you’ve been trying to tell them for years, don’t blow it!

Be ready to rejoice with them because in your heart you will know God answered your prayer!

So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” John 4:5-7

Biblical Meditation: Hebrews 13:5b AMPfor He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! Assuredly not!

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January 10 – Nobody Wins

 

nickbrandtlionbeforestormii-sittingprofileMost of the adults I know who have children have at least one thing in common. They would rather hard times fall upon them instead of their children.

It breaks our hearts to see our little ones struggling with a cold or our older ones to facing a tough situation with friends. Likewise, any man worth his salt feels the same way about his wife. I don’t want to see her in need of anything.

But often we fail to equate those same intense feelings for our family’s welfare when selfishness knocks at the door. Every one of us is prone to give into selfish desires that can destroy the lives of the very people we love the most in this world.

I am convinced the governors and satraps who conspired to have Daniel killed never imagined the harm that could come to their families if the plan was unsuccessful. I mean, why would they? There were no records of anyone surviving in a den of lions!

Daniel had broken the law by praying to someone other than the king. But, in spite of the broken law, the motive of the governors’ hearts made them guilty of selfishness and pride. They were so focused on destroying Daniel; they couldn’t differentiate the forest from the trees. And lest we think ourselves much better, take a moment to reflect on some of your own story.

We have all been down the road of selfishness that leads to evil dealings. But, thank God, we don’t have to live there.

The main purpose in having a daily dialog with God is to avoid the plague of self. He alone puts life in its proper perspective and identifies the lurking lies of the heart that can get us into trouble. Outside of Him, there is no effective way to avoid selfishness; it’s instinctual.

My prayer for us all is that the testimony of the men in Daniel and the peril of their families will wake us up. May we find ourselves humbled by the fact that our own selfishness is sin and as long as we tolerate it, all that we hold dear is at risk.

 And the king gave the command and they brought those men who accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions-them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den. Daniel 6:24 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: James 3:13-17

January 6 – Strange People

DSC_0539Little babies provoke people into grabbing them, even if it’s a child they don’t know.   When we had our first child, I really had a tough time with the ‘grabbers.’ I was not very fond of sharing my baby! I can only imagine what Mary and Joseph were going through when Simeon takes their baby out of their arms and begins to walk around with him! Even if he was saying a blessing over the boy, this still must have been a little bit hard to swallow.   If that wasn’t strange enough, a little lady in her nineties starts throwing her hands up and praising God, all the while telling everyone their child is going to ‘set them free!’ Now granted, with the angel visits and the sheepherders’ arrival, Mary and Joseph were probably not too taken aback. However, I don’t care who you are, these people were a little strange!

Take Anna, the ninety-one year old praising widow. For eighty-four years, she lived in the temple, night and day. That’s like camping out in one of the local congregations 24/7.   Not only that, but she was apparently known as a prophetess, and if you know anything about the Old Testament prophets like Samuel and Elijah, you can imagine her conversations were not “light and fluffy!” All of this, coupled with the fact that her diet consisted primarily of fasting and prayer.   Nonetheless, this strange woman’s story is highlighted in the best-selling book ever written. And not only that, for all of us who know that baby as Jesus, the Lord and Master of our souls, she is a witness.

This Anna brings to light one of my favorite definitions of the word “strange.”   In Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, “strange” can mean “foreign; belonging to another country.” So what does that tell you? Maybe all of us should “deluge” ourselves with the Master and His ways until others think we are from another planet!   Seriously, stop right now and thank God for all those strange people you’ve passed off as crazy, or just a little annoying. Who knows, God may have them on a special assignment to change your life.  

Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38

Biblical Meditation: Luke 2 & 1 Peter 2:9

January 5 – Coming Through!

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I read a quote one day. “Remember: God sends children through you, not to you.” I remember thinking out loud, “Wow, that’s good!” It wasn’t until years later, when I was holding my own precious babies, that the quote really jarred me. All of a sudden, I felt out of control and powerless. Their destinies are in the hands of the One who sent them.

Dr. Luke’s historical account of the child who would one day be known as John the Baptist is quite insightful. What an entrance he made into the world! An angel pronounced his birth, a woman past the age of childbearing carried him, and a daddy who couldn’t speak declared his unexpected name.

So, you knew this baby was on his way to the top of his class and would surely be the next High Priest of Israel. On the contrary! The Bible says he lived in the desert. This great man was hidden from mainstream society most of his days. For all practical purposes, he was a social misfit; I mean the guy had a diet of grasshoppers and wild honey!

But, at the proper time, God brought his purpose to light. Everyone then and now can see and receive the precious Gift of God because he followed God’s plan for his life. Maybe you wonder if your “spirited child” will ever get it together. Be encouraged.

Our children are in His grasp. To Him, they are time capsules set to go off at the proper time. Indeed, they have landed on this planet through you, but always remember to Whom they ultimately belong!

 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. Luke 1:80 NIV

 Biblical Meditation: Psalm 127

January 2 – Waymaker God

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Sometime ago an old wise man told a story that touched me deeply. It literally changed my life. He said growing up as a country boy in the South, his family was poor. He was the oldest of several brothers and sisters and his daddy had passed away before he reached young adulthood.

He was a good-sized lad and could handle most of the “manual” tasks for his mama. So he planned on staying home with her after he graduated high school and working. But his wise mama had told him as far back as he could remember that God promised her he had a special plan for her son and He would make a way for her boy to go to college.

And although there were many great men in his day that made tremendous impact on him and his community who never had formal education, his mama was adamant God’s plan for him involved college.

So the day came. She loaded him on the greyhound bus and sent him on his way with his lunch sack in hand. He had no money. He knew the power of his mother’s faith. He had watched her go into the kitchen with just one chicken from the backyard and feed him and all his brothers and sisters, with leftovers to spare. But somehow, this was different.

He said when he got off the bus, all he knew to do was just go get in the enrollment line. Now he had been a good student in high school. He was at the top of his class and he had been accepted to this college. But now it was time to enroll and pay tuition. As the line got shorter and he found himself close to the registrar, he felt a tap on his shoulder.

The gentleman looked stern as he asked him his name. Startled and convinced the man had come to remove him from the line because he had figured out he had no money, he reluctantly stated his name.

The man told him to get out of line. As he prepared to protest and plead his case, the gentleman stopped him dead in his tracks. “Your tuition has been paid in full. And there is a work study job awaiting your arrival. So, get out of line and come with me.”

Just like that, God made a way out of no way. And fortunately, I’ve now lived long enough and had an ample amount of my own “by faith bus rides.” I can confirm the old man’s mama was ‘right on the money.’ God is a WAYMAKER!

Today, if you are dry, desperate, confused, frustrated, afraid, discouraged, or alone, the prophet Isaiah beautifully solidifies this promise about God as he so long ago assured his people that God would make a way. He doesn’t forget His precious ones. Ever!

Isaiah 43:18-20

18 “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. 19 For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. 20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. (NLT)

18 Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 20 The beasts of the field honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen, (AMP)

18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

Context of Meditation: Isaiah 43:1-21

January 1 – In His Name

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The other day, my wife had one of our kids pick up some supplies from town. Our town is small, so periodically we have to go into a nearby town to shop.

She didn’t have any cash on her, so she sent her credit card. Now that credit card functions like a check, in many ways, because it tells the business you are trading goods and services with that you have a source of supply that will cover the purchase price. And if you should by chance fail to do so, they have a means to collect your name and personal information.

My son or daughter was just the “representative.” They went in our name and on our behalf. They were in no way obligated to “afford” the items on our list. And consequently, they have never had a problem with helping run to town in our stead.

Today’s focal verses are a beautiful reminder of our role as representative of Heaven’s Kingdom on Planet Earth. God has already established His Will and His Way. And He made sure it is well documented as His Word in the Book of Testaments, The Bible.

Every single day of our new lives in His son Jesus are to be spent mastering this one thing…Kingdom Deliveries! We don’t write the rules or laws, we just represent the Lawmaker. In His Name is our purpose and thus, our place of provision.

Matt. 18:18-20

18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, verily I say unto you, that if two of you shall [a]agree in earth upon anything, whatsoever they shall desire, it shall be given them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them. (GNV)

18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.19 “Again I say[a] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (NKJV)

18Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be [a]what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be [b]what is already permitted in heaven. 19Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and [c]everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them. (AMP)

Context of Meditation: Matthew 18:21-35

November 30-Bullies and Other Giants in the Land

2 Chronicles 20:2 The Message Bible Jehoshaphat received this intelligence report: “A huge force is on its way from beyond the Dead Sea to fight you. There’s no time to waste-they’re already at Hazazon Tamar, the oasis of En Gedi.”

I first knew of the fight with the Bully when I came to the spot my sister and I met to walk home together. My sister wasn’t there. But I looked to my left, over by the cedar trees, there she was…an enormously big girl was all up in her face. I knew my sis and I could tell she was terrified. If I didn’t do something quick, this mountain of a girl was going to squash her! Just then, I saw my sister’s purse on the ground where she had dropped it in the midst of all the drama. I came behind the giant swinging my sister’s purse like a sling shot. WHAM! I clocked the bully in the head, grabbed my sister’s arm, and we ran for dear life.

I don’t advocate violence, but what do you do when you’re faced with a fight and you are overpowered and outmanned? This is a picture of the above incident with King Jehoshaphat. He was minding his own business when some bullies decided they wanted to fight. Jehoshaphat wanted no part of it. As a matter of fact, he was afraid of the outcome. He knew he couldn’t win.   But unlike me at eight years old, Jehoshaphat turned to God for help (vs. 3). He also got others to pray with him. Bullies come in many forms and in this life there’s no way around them. For you, the issue might be gigantic, but it’s minuscule to God! So what if there are giants in the land! There are no giants too big for your God!