“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].” 2 TIMOTHY 1:7 AMP
God’s desire is that we continually progress, that we reach higher heights and go to new levels. Oftentimes, as soon as we make the decision to step out in faith and obey God, the enemy brings in fear to try to stop us. He’ll bring thoughts like, “What if you fail? What are other people going to think? You don’t have what it takes.” He’ll do his best to use fear to try to convince us to shrink back and stay where we are.
The Bible says that fear is a spirit. It plays on our emotions and holds us back. But the good news is that we have power over fear! The Bible says that perfect love casts out all fear. When we receive God’s perfect love, we will have confidence about the future because we know His plans are for our good. I’ve heard it said that fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. Understand that fear is a lie. Today, choose to believe God’s Word and receive His love so that you can overcome fear and move forward into the good life He has prepared for you!
Father in heaven, thank You for taking me to new levels. I know You have equipped me with a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. Fill me with Your confidence and assurance to embrace everything You have for me in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“But Jesus, hearing this, answered him, “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe and trust [in Me and have faith in My ability to do this], and she will be made well.”” LUKE 8:50 AMP
In Scripture a man came to Jesus and said, “My little daughter is very sick. She is close to death. Will You come to my home and pray for her?” Jesus agreed. But along the way He kept getting stopped, one interruption after another. Finally, word came back to Him saying, “No need to come. You’ve waited too late. The little girl has died.”
The people were upset and very distraught. But Jesus said to them in Luke 8:50 “Don’t be afraid. If you will only believe, the little girl will be well.” Notice the phrase, “Only believe.” Jesus went to the home, laid hands on the little girl, and she came back to life.
Are you facing a situation that seems impossible? In the natural, you don’t see how you can get well, or how you can overcome the addiction, or how your family can ever be restored? God is saying to you what He said to them, “If you will only believe, I will turn the situation around. If you only believe, breakthroughs are headed your way!”
Father, thank You for Your hand of victory upon my life. Thank You for making a way even when there seems to be no way. I choose to stand in faith. I choose to believe, knowing that You are ready, willing and able to cause me to overcome in this life in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“Is anyone among you sick? He must call for the elders (spiritual leaders) of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;” JAMES 5:14 AMP
Why does the Bible talk about anointing the sick with oil? Is there something magical about the holy anointing oil? No, my friend. When we anoint our sick bodies with oil, we are simply releasing our faith in Jesus’ finished work. He was crushed for our iniquities so that we can be made whole.
Before anointing oil can be made, olive fruit must be crushed in a press. Likewise, before healing can be dispensed to us, Jesus had to be crushed. His crushing began at Gethsemane, which means “oil press”, and continued at the scourging post, ending only with His death at the cross.
Beloved, whenever you use the yoke-destroying anointing oil (Isaiah 10:27), see Jesus crushed for your healing. See the agony that He endured in order for His healing grace to be righteously bestowed upon you. As you meditate on His finished work, you’ll receive the benefits of His complete and perfect work!
“And who of you by worrying can add one hour to [the length of] his life?” MATTHEW 6:27 AMP
I never knew how much love and attention I could give to a little baby until I had Jessica. When my daughter was born, I loved her so much that I became overly concerned about her.
Every time she fell sick, I would worry. The more concerned I was about her health, the more she fell sick. When she recovered from a viral attack, a few weeks later, she would have another viral attack. If it was not a viral attack, it would be some other physical ailment. And the more her health was attacked, the more worried I got.
Then, God began to speak to me. He said, “Your very worry over your daughter is stopping the supply of My health and healing to her. Cast your daughter into My hands and be carefree, then health and healing will flow!” I did what God told me to do and Jessica began to fall sick less often and became increasingly more robust in her health.
I experienced the same thing with regards to my own health. There was a period in my life when I went to the doctors often. The devil had given me some lying symptoms in my stomach and the more concerned I was over the symptoms, the worse they seemed to get. This went on until tests revealed that there was nothing wrong with my stomach or bowels. It was then that I realized that I had been playing the devil’s game!
Today, you can turn the tables on the enemy. Whenever you feel pain, say, “Jesus, You bore all my pain and sickness on Your own body. I’ve been healed by the stripes You bore for me. Hallelujah!” Beloved, the more you meditate on and speak the truth about how healing and health are already yours because of Jesus’ finished work, the more you’ll allow God’s divine healing, health and wholeness to flow in your body!
And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:41
There’s something that we as believers can learn from every storm we face, but first and foremost, we need to realize God is always on our side.
Because we’ve learned that God works things together for our good (Romans 8:28), sometimes we can begin to assume that God arranges trouble in our lives to teach us things. Because we learn from the storms we face, we think that God planned for those things to happen. Meanwhile, this couldn’t be farther from the truth!
God isn’t a sadistic father. He would never arrange for a child to die, a spouse to leave or a business to go bankrupt just to teach you a few life principles. He’s given us Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth!
You see, experience is not the best teacher. Holy Spirit is much better! God would much rather have Holy Spirit lead you to learn how to create a great marriage; he wouldn’t orchestrate a divorce to teach you that!
The truth is that God doesn’t send storms your way—life has a way of doing that all on its own. God is on your side, not on the storm’s side.
You might have things you can learn from the storm, but that doesn’t mean that God put that pain and suffering on you. It’s quite the opposite. As you face the storms of life, know that you have a helper, a comforter, an intercessor, an emergency stand by: Holy Spirit. (See John 14:26, AMPC.)
God is standing with you against the storm, and with him, you will win!
Habits Of A Healthy Mind
David C. McCasland
Trust in the Lord, and do good. —Psalm 37:3
There is much said today about improving our health by developing habits of optimism, whether facing a difficult medical diagnosis or a pile of dirty laundry. Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina, says we should try activities that build joy, gratitude, love, and other positive feelings. We know, however, that more is required than a general wish for good feelings. We need a strong conviction that there is a source of joy, peace, and love upon which we can depend.
Psalm 37:1-8 gives positive actions we can take as an antidote to pessimism and discouragement. Consider these mood boosters: Trust in the Lord, do good, dwell in the land, feed on His faithfulness (v.3); delight in the Lord (v.4); commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him (v.5); rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him, do not fret (v.7); cease from anger, forsake wrath (v.8).
Because they are connected to the phrase “in the Lord,” those directives are more than wishful thinking or unrealistic suggestions. It’s because of Jesus, and in His strength, that they become possible.
Our one true source for optimism is the redemption that is in Jesus. He is our reason for hope!
Lord, we can’t manufacture hope, and even if
we tried it wouldn’t be real. Help us to find
hope in You because of what Jesus has done
for us. We know You are walking beside us.
When there’s bad news, our hope is the good news of Jesus.
Psalm 37 is one of the many “wisdom psalms”—psalms that give instructions on how to live wisely. In this psalm, David deals with the perennial perplexity of the injustice of life—the wicked go unpunished while the righteous suffer. He tells the righteous not to fret, be envious, or be angry, for God will ultimately bring justice (vv.1-2,9-10,20,35-36,38). Instead, they are to be patient, to trust, to delight, to rest fully in God, and to continue to live godly lives (vv.3-8). For the “Lord upholds the righteous” (v.17), takes delight in them (v.23), and will not forsake them (vv.28-29).
Bible in a Year:
Exodus 36-38; Matthew 23:1-22
For Our Health
Jennifer Benson Schuldt
1 Chronicles 16:7-14
Oh, give thanks to the Lord! —1 Chronicles 16:8
According to a prominent Duke University Medical Center researcher, “If thankfulness were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with [health benefits] for every major organ system.”
For some, being thankful means simply living with a sense of gratitude—taking time to recognize and focus on the things we have, instead of the things we wish we had. The Bible takes the idea of thankfulness to a deeper level. The act of giving thanks causes us to recognize the One who provides our blessings (James 1:17).
David knew that God was responsible for the safe delivery of the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 15:26). As a result, he penned a song of gratitude that centered on God instead of simply expressing his delight in an important event. The ballad began: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!” (16:8). David’s song went on to rejoice in God’s greatness, highlighting God’s salvation, creative power, and mercy (vv.25-36).
Today we can be truly thankful by worshiping the Giver instead of the gifts we enjoy. Focusing on the good things in our lives may benefit our bodies, but directing our thanks to God benefits our souls.
Gratitude is our natural response to God’s grace.
Nothing so takes the heart out of a person as
ingratitude. Gratitude is not only the greatest of
virtues, but the parent of all the others. —Cicero
True thanksgiving emphasizes the Giver rather than the gifts.
The ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s covenant and presence with His people (Ex. 25:17-22), was neglected by Saul and left abandoned in the Benjamite town of Kirjath Jearim for 20 years (1 Sam. 7:2). After David became king, one of the first things he did was to bring the ark back to Jerusalem (1 Chron. 13:3-14; 15:1-28; 2 Sam. 6:1-3). To commemorate the ark’s return, David composed a song of worship celebrating God’s presence and exalting God’s power (1 Chron. 16:8-36). Asaph (v.7) was one of David’s three music directors (see 1 Chron. 25:1) who sounded the bronze cymbals as the ark was moved into Jerusalem (15:16-19).
Bible in a Year:
Exodus 29-30; Matthew 21:23-46
Our Source Of Help
David C. McCasland
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. —Psalm 121:2
Twenty-year-old Lygon Stevens, an experienced mountaineer, had reached the summits of Mt. McKinley, Mt. Rainier, four Andean peaks in Ecuador, and 39 of Colorado’s highest mountains. “I climb because I love the mountains,” she said, “and I meet God there.” In January 2008, Lygon died in an avalanche while climbing Little Bear Peak in southern Colorado with her brother Nicklis, who survived.
When her parents discovered her journals, they were deeply moved by the intimacy of her walk with Christ. “Always a shining light for Him,” her mother said, “Lygon experienced a depth and honesty in her relationship with the Lord, which even seasoned veterans of faith long to have.”
In Lygon’s final journal entry, written from her tent 3 days before the avalanche, she said: “God is good, and He has a plan for our lives that is greater and more blessed than the lives we pick out for ourselves, and I am so thankful about that. Thank You, Lord, for bringing me this far and to this place. I leave the rest—my future—in those same hands and say thank You.”
Lygon echoed these words from the psalmist: “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2).
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Still be our guard while troubles last
And our eternal home. —Watts
We can trust our all-knowing God for the unknown future.
Three times in this short chapter the Lord is referred to as our keeper (vv.3,4,5). This idea is of great comfort to the believer because it presents God as one who is not passive but active in our lives. To “keep” something is to actively guard and protect it. This idea is underscored by the fact that as our keeper, God does not sleep or slumber (vv.3-4) and watches over us day and night (v.6). How wonderful to know that the God who holds our lives is not disinterested but is constantly watching over us.
Bible in a Year:
Exodus 21-22; Matthew 19
Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her. —Luke 10:42
Every day I drive the same highway to and from the office, and every day I see an alarming number of distracted drivers. Usually they’re talking on the phone or texting, but I have also seen people reading the newspaper, putting on makeup, and eating a bowl of cereal while trying to maneuver a car at 70+ miles per hour! In some circumstances, distractions are fleeting and harmless. In a moving vehicle, they can kill.
Sometimes distractions can be a problem in our relationship with God. In fact, that was the concern Jesus had for His friend Martha. She “was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” for a meal (Luke 10:40 niv). When she complained about her sister Mary’s lack of help (apparently due to her devotion to Christ and His teaching), Jesus told her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (vv.41-42).
Martha’s distractions were well-intentioned. But she was missing the opportunity to listen to Jesus and enjoy His presence. He is deserving of our deepest devotion, and He alone can fully enable us to overcome any of life’s distractions.
Lord, I want a heart like Mary’s—that takes
time to sit at Your feet to learn from You and be
close to You. And I want a heart like Martha’s—
that takes time to serve You, the One I love.
If you want to be miserable, look within; distracted, look around; peaceful, look up.
Martha’s distractions in Luke 10 brought a loving challenge from Jesus. But after the death of her brother Lazarus (John 11:17-27), we see that she was fully focused on Him. She affirmed her confidence that Jesus had a special relationship with the Father (v.22) and then declared her belief in the coming resurrection (v.24). Ultimately, she voiced her clear conviction that Jesus is the Son of God (v.27).
Bible in a Year:
Exodus 19-20; Matthew 18:21-35
Strengthen My Hands
C. P. Hia
Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. —Nehemiah 6:9
Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, is the man credited with making Singapore what it is today. During his leadership, Singapore grew to be rich and prosperous and one of the most developed nations in Asia. Asked if he ever felt like giving up when he faced criticism and challenges during his many years of public service, he replied, “This is a life-long commitment.”
Nehemiah, who led in the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, refused to give up. He faced insults and intimidation from the enemies all around him as well as injustices from his own people (Neh. 4–5). His enemies even insinuated that he had a personal agenda (6:6-7). He sought help from God while taking every defensive step he could.
Despite the challenges, the wall was completed in 52 days (6:15). But Nehemiah’s work was not complete. He encouraged the Israelites to study the Scriptures, to worship, and to keep God’s law. After completing 12 years as governor (5:14), he returned to make sure his reforms were continuing (13:6). Nehemiah had a life-long commitment to leading the people.
We all face challenges and difficulties in life. But as God helped Nehemiah, He will also strengthen our hands (6:9) for the rest of our lives in whatever tasks He gives to us.
Dear Lord, sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged
when faced with criticism or challenges. Help
me to persevere and grant me the strength to be
faithful to what You have called me to do.
Life’s challenges are designed not to break us but to bend us toward God.
Bible in a Year:
Exodus 14-15; Matthew 17
David H. Roper
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. —Psalm 4:8
Some years ago my son Brian and I agreed to haul some equipment into an isolated Idaho backcountry ranch for a friend. There are no roads into the area, at least none that my truck could negotiate. So Ralph, the young ranch manager, arranged to meet us at road’s end with a small wagon hitched to a pair of mules.
On the way into the ranch, Ralph and I started chatting and I learned that he lived on the property year-round. “What do you do in the winter?” I asked, knowing that winters in the high country were long and bitter and that the ranch had no electricity or telephone service, only a satellite radio. “How do you endure it?”
“Actually,” he drawled, “I find it right peaceable.”
In the midst of our pressure-filled days, we sometimes crave peace and quiet. There is too much noise in the air; there are too many people around. We want to “come aside . . . and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). Can we find a place to do this?
Yes, there is such a place. When we take a few moments to reflect on God’s love and mercy and cast our burdens on Him, we will find in that quiet God-filled space the peace that the world has taken away.
There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God,
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God. —McAfee
Spending quiet time with God will bring quiet rest.
Jesus is concerned with our physical health. He showed this when He invited the disciples to come away and rest because “they did not even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31). Rest from work and time to refresh our minds and bodies is important. Jesus is also concerned for our spiritual health and invites all those who are weary and burdened to come to Him for rest (Matt. 11:28).
Bible in a Year:
Exodus 12-13; Matthew 16
Pointing To God
Remember now your Creator . . . before the difficult days come. —Ecclesiastes 12:1
“God bless our homeland, Ghana” is the first line of Ghana’s national anthem. Other African anthems include: “O Uganda, may God uphold thee,” “Lord, bless our nation” (South Africa), and “O God of creation, direct our noble cause” (Nigeria). Using the anthems as prayers, founding fathers called on God to bless their land and its people. Many national anthems in Africa and others from around the world point to God as Creator and Provider. Other lines of anthems call for reconciliation, transformation, and hope for a people often divided along ethnic, political, and social lines.
Yet today, many national leaders and citizens tend to forget God and do not live by these statements—especially when life is going well. But why wait until war, disease, storms, terrorist attacks, or election violence occurs before we remember to seek God? Moses warned the ancient Israelites not to forget God and not to stop following His ways when life was good (Deut. 8:11). Ecclesiastes 12:1 urges us to “remember now your Creator . . . before the difficult days come.”
Getting close to God while we are strong and healthy prepares us to lean on Him for support and hope when those “difficult days” in life come.
Father, I always need You. Forgive me for
thinking I am sufficient in myself. Help me to
follow You and Your ways whether life is easy
or difficult. Thank You for caring for me.
Remembering our Creator can be our personal anthem.
Deuteronomy records a significant moment in Old Testament history. At the end of Israel’s wilderness wanderings, Moses reaffirmed the laws of God. A generation had died in the wilderness and the new generation needed these lessons to prepare them for entry into the land of promise. The challenges that awaited them in Canaan made it important to remind the people of both God’s provisions and God’s instructions.
Bible in a Year:
Exodus 1-3; Matthew 14:1-21
The Wonder Of Sight
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. —Psalm 139:14
On the livescience.com website, I read something pretty amazing: “If you were standing atop a mountain surveying a larger-than-usual patch of the planet, you could perceive bright lights hundreds of miles distant. On a dark night, you could even see a candle flame flickering up to 30 miles (48 km) away.” No telescopes or night-vision goggles needed—the human eye is so profoundly designed that even long distances can be spanned with clear sight.
This fact is a vivid reminder of our amazing Creator, who designed not only the human eye but also all of the details that make up our expansive universe. And, unlike anything else in creation, God has made us in His own image (Gen. 1:26). “In His image” speaks of something far greater than the ability to see. It speaks of a likeness to God that makes it possible for us to be in relationship with Him.
We can affirm David’s declaration, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Ps. 139:14). Not only have we been given eyes to see, but we have also been made so that, in Christ, one day we will see Him!
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed
Wherever I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread
Or gaze upon the sky! —Watts
All of God’s creation bears witness to Him as our great Creator.
In today’s reading, David’s declaration of amazement at how wonderfully he is made comes in the context of listing some of the other aspects of God’s creation: the heavens, the sea, the night, and the day. Verses 7-12 describe both God’s omnipotence and His omnipresence. David celebrates not only the magnitude and power of God, but he also underscores that no matter where he is, God’s hand will lead him and hold him (v.10).
Bible in a Year:
Genesis 43-45; Matthew 12:24-50
Leaving It Behind
Cindy Hess Kasper
The woman then left her waterpot [and said,] “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” —John 4:28-29
In the year or so after our teenage son got his driver’s license and started carrying a wallet, we got several calls from people who had found it somewhere. We cautioned him to be more careful and not leave it behind.
Leaving things behind, though, is not always a bad thing. In John 4, we read about a woman who had come to draw water at a well. But after she encountered Jesus that day, her intent suddenly changed. Leaving her water jar behind, she hurried back to tell others what Jesus had said to her (vv.28-29). Even her physical need for water paled in comparison to telling others about the Man she had just met.
Peter and Andrew did something similar when Jesus called them. They left their fishing nets (which was the way they earned their living) to follow Jesus (Matt. 4:18-20). And James and John left their nets, boat, and even their father when Jesus called them (vv.21-22).
Our new life of following Jesus Christ may mean that we have to leave things behind, including those that don’t bring lasting satisfaction. What we once craved cannot compare with the life and “living water” that Jesus offers.
Now none but Christ can satisfy,
None other name for me;
There’s love and life and lasting joy,
Lord Jesus, found in Thee. —McGranahan
Christ showed His love by dying for us; we show ours by living for Him.
First-century Jews avoided traveling through Samaria. When making the journey from Galilee to Judea, they would cross the Jordan River and travel the east side before re-crossing to make their way to Jerusalem once they had passed Samaria. The reason for this was that Samaritans were seen as ceremonially unclean. Jesus, however, had no such qualms, breaking tradition to connect with a Samaritan woman in need.
Bible in a Year:
Genesis 41-42; Matthew 12:1-23
Kindness Gone Viral
Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. —Mark 10:14
News of a simple act of kindness on a New York subway has gone around the world. A young man, head covered by a hooded sweatshirt, fell asleep on the shoulder of an older passenger. When someone else offered to wake the young rider, the older man quietly said, “He must have had a long day. Let him sleep. We’ve all been there.” Then he let the tired fellow rider sleep on his shoulder for the better part of the next hour, until the older man gently eased away to get up for his stop. In the meantime, another passenger snapped a photograph and posted it on social media, and it went viral.
The man’s kindness seems to resonate with what we all long for—the kindness that reflects the heart of God. We see this gentleness in Jesus when His friends tried to protect Him from the noise and bother of little children. Instead, Jesus insisted on taking the little ones in His arms and blessing them (Mark 10:16). In the process, He invited all of us to trust Him like a little child (vv.13-16).
Jesus lets us know that all of us are safe in His presence. Whether awake or asleep, we can lean on Him. When we’re exhausted, He provides a safe place for us to rest.
Under His wings, I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild;
Still I can trust Him—I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me and I am His child. —Cushing
God is a safe resting place.
Jesus demonstrated that true faith in God was not bound by cultural concerns. In a patriarchal society, He met and talked with women (see John 4). He ate and drank with those who were considered impure (see Luke 7:36-30; 17:11-19; 19:1-10). He even embraced children, when most would push them aside (Mark 10:13-14). Jesus didn’t simply say that He had come to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10); He demonstrated it by showing that God’s love is open to everyone.
Bible in a Year:
Genesis 36-38; Matthew 10:21-42
What’s Your Motto?
Do not fear . . . ; you are of more value than many sparrows. —Luke 12:7
Grug Crood, the dad of a caveman family in an animated movie, believes that there’s no safe place beyond their cave. They huddle together at night so he can protect them. He thinks his teenage daughter should give up her adventurous side because it can only lead to danger. His motto for his family is “Never not be afraid.” In other words, “Always be afraid.”
Jesus often told His followers the opposite: “Do not be afraid.” He said that to Simon when He called him to follow Him (Luke 5:10). When Jairus, a synagogue leader whose daughter was dying, came to Him, Jesus reassured him with those same words of care (8:50).
Luke 12 records Jesus telling His disciples not to be afraid when He taught them how God cared for them much more than for the sparrows (v.7). And after His resurrection, Jesus told the women who came to the tomb, “Rejoice! . . . Do not be afraid” (Matt. 28:9-10).
Fear is a universal feeling. We have concerns about loved ones, our needs, and the unknown future. How can we learn to have faith? The Lord has given us a foundation on which to build our confidence in Him: “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’ ” (Heb. 13:5-6).
Father, life in this world can sometimes be scary.
Thank You for the promise that Your love and care
will never be taken away from us. When fear seems
overwhelming, help us to remember Your promises.
The love of God frees us from the prison of fear.
Bible in a Year:
Genesis 27-28; Matthew 8:18-34
Jennifer Benson Schuldt
There shall be showers of blessing. —Ezekiel 34:26
What do fish, tadpoles, and spiders have in common? They have all fallen from the sky like rain in various parts of the world. Fish fell on the Australian town of Lajamanu. Tadpoles pelted areas of central Japan on multiple occasions. Spiders showered down on the San Bernardo Mountains in Argentina. Although scientists suspect that the wind plays a part in these intriguing showers, no one can fully explain them.
The prophet Ezekiel described a far more extraordinary downpour—a shower of blessing (Ezek. 34:26). Ezekiel spoke of a time when God would send blessings like rain to refresh His people. The Israelites would be safe from enemy nations. They would have enough food, be liberated from slavery, and be freed from shame (vv.27-29). These gifts would revive Israel’s relationship with God. The people would know that God was with them, and that “they, the house of Israel, [were His] people” (v.30).
God blesses His modern-day followers too (James 1:17). Sometimes blessings abound like rain; sometimes they trickle in one by one. Whether many or few, the good things we receive come with a message from God: I see your needs. You are mine, and I will care for you.
“There shall be showers of blessing”—
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above. —Whittle
Daily blessings are daily reminders of God.
In today’s passage, the prophet Ezekiel offers a message of future hope and peace to a nation that had suffered defeat and was living in exile far from their homeland. Ezekiel 34:20-24 speaks of the shepherd who God will raise up to lead His people in the wonderful age described in verses 25-31. Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18), and the joy and peace described in Ezekiel 34 are ours only in Him.
Bible in a Year:
Genesis 20-22; Matthew 6:19-34
Be anxious for nothing, but . . . let your requests be made known to God. —Philippians 4:6
When our daughter and her fiancé began receiving wedding presents, it was a happy time. One gift they received was a bench cabinet that had to be assembled—and I volunteered for the task because they already had so much to do to prepare for the wedding. Although it took a couple of hours, it was much easier than expected. All of the wooden pieces were precut and predrilled, and all the hardware for assembly was included. The instructions were virtually foolproof.
Unfortunately, most of life isn’t that way. Life doesn’t carry with it simple instructions, nor do we find all of the necessary parts in hand. We face situations with no clear idea of what we’re getting into or what it will take to pull it off. We can easily find ourselves overwhelmed with these difficult moments.
But we need not face our burdens alone. God wants us to bring them to Him: “Be anxious for nothing, but . . . let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God . . . will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
We have a Savior who understands and offers His peace in the midst of our struggles.
Stayed upon Jehovah,
Hearts are fully blest—
Finding, as He promised,
Perfect peace and rest. —Havergal
The secret of peace is to give every anxious care to God.
Writing while imprisoned, Paul reminds the believers in the church at Philippi not to be anxious about anything. But these familiar verses should not be detached from what follows. After telling the believers not to be anxious (v.6), Paul encourages them to focus their minds on positive virtues (v.8).
Bible in a Year:
Genesis 13-15; Matthew 5:1-26
Join me in reading Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria Osteen:
A NEW ROUTE
I know people who feel like they’ve wasted years of their lives because of poor choices. They spent years in a relationship that was toxic, years with an addiction, years at a job where they weren’t fulfilled. But you have to realize, nothing you have been through is ever wasted. Your past experiences, good and bad have deposited something on the inside of you. Those challenges have sharpened you to help make you who you are today.
When the enemy brings hardship into your life, God has a way of taking that experience and turning it around for your advantage. You may think you’ve hit a dead end, but if you’ll stay in faith, you will see God begin to open up a new route. He’ll put the right people in your path, the right opportunities, the right circumstances to move you forward toward your God-given destiny.
Today, don’t focus on what’s happened in your past, focus on what God will do in your future. He wants to restore your soul and revive your dreams. Keep believing, keep expecting, keep hoping because God has a new route for your future!
Father God, I come humbly before You today. I give You my past, present and future knowing that You will redeem my life. I release those who have hurt me, I choose forgiveness so I can be free to move forward in the new route You have for me in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Join me in reading Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria Osteen:
FAILURE IS NOT FINAL
Are you down on yourself today because of past mistakes you’ve made or because you’re not where you want to be in life? God knows every poor choice, every difficulty, every wrong turn you may have made, and He’s already planned your comeback! In scripture, Jonah took a detour, so to speak. It took him a little bit longer, but because he called out to God, because he believed, God not only rescued him, but God got him to his final destination.
Friend, know today that failure is not final. God always has the final say. Mistakes don’t have to keep you from your destiny. God’s plan can override every setback. Your world may be in turmoil today in a relationship, in your finances or health. But know this: not only will God rescue you; He will set your feet on a rock and lead you to your final destination in life. Remember, the promise He placed on the inside of you didn’t go away because you had some personal failures. No, that failure is only temporary but His Word remains forever! Keep hoping, keep believing because He will move you into the blessing and victory He has prepared for you!
Father God, thank You for Your hand of victory and blessing that is on my life. Today, I shake off the past, I shake off failure, I shake off poor choices and trust that You are restoring me and leading me into the plan You have for me in Jesus’ name. Amen!