For your daily devotions: This week of devotional thoughts appeared in the Come Ye Apart devotional quarterly (now titled Reflecting God.
Day two Day three Day four Day five Day six Day seven
"God has the power to help or to overthrow." (2 Chronicles 25:8, NIV)
The unlimited resources
King Amaziah was desperate. As he prepared for war against the Edomites, he began to fear that his Judean army would not be strong enough. So he hired 100,000 Israelites to fight alongside his own soldiers. After he had advanced these mercenaries some money, a prophet arrived to caution the king that he had looked for help in the wrong place. The king was told that he should depend on the Lord God instead of on apostate mercenaries.
Amaziah did not always listen to men of God. But this time he did. And the victory was his.
Sadly, God's people still repeat Amaziah's mistake. Facing mountainous personal, family and even church problems we sometimes decide that our own resources are too limited. So we succumb to the temptation to look for help in the wrong places. It's good to remember the prophet's words to Amaziah: God's resources area unlimited. Count on Him.
My Haitian friends are fond of saying: "Bondye kapab." Translated, this means: "God is able." And indeed He is. Let's trust Him. [ e-book on Haiti ]
"How inexhaustible God's resources, wisdom and knowledge are!" (Romans 11:33, Goodspeed)
To see at last
In Romans 9 Paul begins explaining God's dealings with His chosen people, Israel. Then, as he nears the end of chapter 11, as he finishes outlining God's workings in history, Paul bursts forth into spontaneous adoration with the beautiful words of Romans 11:33-36.
I've seen the same kind of awe on the faces of Work and Witness team members [resources]. As they've given praise in dedication services for buildings they've built with their own hands, they've suddenly caught a glimpse of the way God has been at work in their lives and in the lives of the people whose church building they came to help construct. What may have seemed a series of disconnected events suddenly revealed a designer at work as people saw the wise hand of God at work. Caught up in praise and adoration, they've turned their faces to heaven with tears streaming down their faces.
I've seen it happen at Nazarene General Assemblies. People gathered from all over the world suddenly become conscious of God's wise workings in wonderful ways through their denomination, the Church of the Nazarene. Overcome with adoration they've begun to shout praises to God and raise their arms.
We used to sing a little chorus that said, "Isn't He wonderful, wonderful, wonderful?" He really is. Praise His name.
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"'All we have here,' they said, 'are five loaves and two fishes"' (Matthew 14:17, NEB)
Our human inadequacies
Five thousand people and they were all hungry. When Jesus told His disciples to feed the crowd, all they could find were five biscuits and two sardines. Acutely conscious of their own inadequacy, the disciples went to Jesus. He took what they had and transformed it into abundance.
He's still doing that. For example, some people think cross-cultural missionaries are super-heroes of the faith with extraordinary spiritual resources. While we were serving as missionaries a lady said to me: "I could never do what you're doing. You're a better Christian than I am."
While troubled by her own inadequacies, she had mistakenly put me up on a pedestal. Actually, I'm just as inadequate as she felt. Alas, in front of life's enormous problems, we are all merely 5-loaves-and-2-fish people. However, that's also good news. Like the disciples, we can give Jesus what we have. However inadequate it may seem, He will make it sufficient. God has the ability to take little and make much of it. Let's trust Him.
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"Take courage. It is I. Don't be afraid." (Matthew 14:27, NIV)
As the disciples sailed across Lake Galilee, they were suddenly engulfed by a storm. With their little fishing boat bobbing up and down in the waves, they became terrified when they saw something moving toward them on the water. Then the seeming apparition spoke. It was Jesus. "Take courage. It is I," He said. Jesus' presence immediately chased away their anxiety and distress. (Matthew 14:25-33)
One day I encountered Pastor Odius Merzilus on a dusty Haitian road. This 35-year veteran of the ministry was trudging up to a mountain village where he was trying to plant a new church. We talked about the lack of rain. We talked about the malnourished kids coming to his school. We talked about persecution some of his people were encountering at the hands of voodoo followers. Then, just as we were parting, our talk turned to the Lord and He was doing in our lives. As I drove away, Odius' face crinkled into a smile. "Take courage," he shouted as he waved at me. [ e-book on missions in Haiti ]
In the desperate situations of life we sometimes cannot trust our senses. But when we look up, He is there. In the anxious moments of life we need to listen for His voice: "It is I. Do not be afraid."
We need not fear even the worst storms of life. For we are in the hands of Him who is Victor and Master over all.
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"The Lord said . . . 'Should I not be concerned about that great city of Nineveh?'" (Jonah 4:11, NIV)
The disease of prejudice
The Lord tried to use Jonah in a missionary thrust. However, Jonah's prejudices against foreigners and his lovelessness toward them made him endure the experience rather than enjoying it.
At the end of the biblical account Jonah sits overlooking the city God had just saved. From both Jonah's actions and his words, it was clear there had been no lump in his throat as he preached, no tears in his eyes.
Apparently exasperated, God asks Jonah: "Are not people important?"
"Not these Ninevites," Jonah seems to reply.
His own prejudices had distorted truth, created barriers and prohibited him from seeing the Ninevites with God's eyes. It was clear that Jonah didn't care at all for the people to whom he had just preached. Furthermore, it seemed distasteful to him to think that God would care for them. It was a tragic moment in salvation history.
God continues to lay great missionary opportunities before His people today. Let us not be guilty of Jonah's selfish callousness or of using his perverted narrow-minded scale of values. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to demolish those walls of division created by prejudice. [ E-book on Jonah ]
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"You are my servant in whom I will display my splendor" (Isaiah 49:3, NIV)
God's splendor displayed
The first verses of Isaiah 49 form one of the great "servant" passages of Isaiah. Here, Isaiah shouts his vision of the exalted and glorified Christ. He had seen that the great light emanating from God was to be focused with brilliant intensity in a coming Son and Servant whom we know today as Jesus Christ.
Isaiah shouted this message, not just to the Jews, but to the islands of the sea, to distant nations. This message of a Servant in whom was displayed the splendor of God himself is still being proclaimed to distant nations. And the message is being heeded. One great evidences of this is the quadrennial Nazarene General Assembly where Christians from all over the globe gather to give witness to God's working in their lives and to lay plans for continued proclamation of the Kingdom.
Haitian Christians like to shout together: "Glwa a Jezi!" Sometimes they'll shout it even three or four times. It means: "Glory be to Jesus." Yes, indeed. Glory be to Him.
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"This so-called foolish plan of God is far wiser than the wisest plan of the wisest man" (1 Corinthians 1:25, TLB)
The greatest mystery
Jesus died while nailed to a crude wooden cross above Jerusalem's garbage dump. As his life ebbed away, cynics talked smut, a thief cursed, and soldiers gambled. To passersby watching him suffer and die, Jesus' claim to be the Son of the Living God must have seemed absurd. To those who called him Master and Lord, Jesus' public execution surely must have dashed hopes that He was indeed the Savior of the world.
As Jesus' friends took his body down from the cross that afternoon, the world scarcely took notice. As a messiah, Jesus appeared to have been a failure. But he wasn't. He has in fact emerged as the triumphant victor, the Messiah he claimed to be. His crucifixion has become one of the pivotal events of world history.
Self-denial has proved to be more powerful than self-assertion. Divine love, grace and mercy had devised a plan of salvation so radical that some still refuse to accept it. Jesus' suffering, self-sacrifice, devotion to principles and heedlessness of immediate consequences run contrary to all human wisdom.
But out of all that has come the greatest good the human race has ever known. [ another Easter devotional ]
The Come Ye Apart" is now published quarterly as Reflecting God by the Word Action Publishing Company and available through The Foundry (formerly Nazarene Publishing House).
Preparing the way
What kind of a Way Preparer are you? [ read more ]
SNU missions course materials and syllabiCultural Anthropology Introduction to Missions Linguistics Missions Strategies Modern Missionary Movement (History of Missions) Nazarene Missions Church Growth and Christian Missions Theology of Missions Traditional Religions World Religions
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Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132 | Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax: 405-491-6658
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