Achieving Spiritual Confidence Begins with Believing

Luke 10 & John 10:22-42

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. -John 10:27-28 NRSV

Rejection is something that all of us have, or will, face in this life. And, I can honestly say that it never feels great. You know that feeling where you feel like your stomach hits the floor? For a moment, it’s hard to catch a breath. In that moment you feel like you’ve lost it all. As humans, we want people to believe in us. We want to be trusted in, relied upon. And, we also hate the loneliness that comes from people choosing to walk away from us or not abide in our words. 

So, what must it have felt like for our Messiah to constantly face people who were unwilling to believe him? How did he have the strength to continue to persevere? We see in the ministry of the Son of Man, the Perfect Man, an ability to consistently rely upon the Word of his father. We see in Jesus complete confidence in God and his plan for Jesus’s ministry. And, over and over, we see Christ giving all glory to God. Jesus knows with complete clarity where his power is coming from and how important it is.

Can you imagine knowing you are the Son of God, proclaiming the gospel that you know without any doubt is true, and having your Jewish brothers and sisters threaten you with stoning? 

Fear, dismay, sadness. I can say if I had been in the shoes of Jesus at the end of John 10, I would be overwhelmed with emotion. The steadiness that we see in the Lord is astonishing, and takes an exuberant amount of courage. 

32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?”

Wow. Jesus has just laid out his cards. He is saying, “Look this is who I am. I have been sent by my father to do his good works. You have seen many of these works. And you are going to stone me now?” He is making it clear that by stoning Jesus, the Jews are going against the glory of God. WOAH. What an argument. Its clean, simple, and most importantly, transcendent. 

Although we see that Jesus escapes being stoned that day in John 10, we all know that he did have to endure the cross for us. The perfect man that did it all right covered our sin with his blood. And then, God raised him from the dead. Because of that, we have been grafted into an eternal kingdom where righteousness will reign! 

But in this life, we will continue to face rejection. We will always have people that don’t believe us. And no, we aren’t going to be perfect. But because of the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, we have the ability to also trust in and rely upon the Word of God. We have the opportunity to serve and be loved by our Creator. How beautiful is that? 

When we choose to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we learn what it takes to be spiritually confident. Trust in God. Trust in his Word. Proclaim his good works. That is where true confidence begins. 

-Leslie Jones

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Luke 10 and John 10:22-42

Tomorrow we will read Luke 12-13

God’s Return Policy

Zechariah 1-7

Have any of you ever bought something and then decided that you need to return it and you check to see what the return policy is before you take it back. In Zechariah, we will read about God’s return policy. The book of Zechariah begins in the 8th month of the 2nd year of King Darius of Persia. Babylon had destroyed the temple in 586 BC. The Jewish people finished building the new temple in 516 BC. This book takes place in 520 BC when Zechariah and Haggai, both contemporary prophets, urged the people to finish building the temple. God had made promises to Israel, and one promise was that the children of Israel would return to their land from exile and the Lord would return to His temple with them. Jeremiah 29:10: “For thus says the Lord; after seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good work toward you and cause you to return to this place.” In Zechariah, God was making good on His promises. Fittingly, the name Zechariah means “the Lord has remembered.” The children of Israel were returning to their homeland.

But Zechariah doesn’t just have messages for the children of Israel in 500 BC, it still speaks to us today. Chapter 1:3 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” This is a recurring theme in the Bible since the fall in the Garden of Eden, God, wants to have a relationship with His children, and He has promised if we turn to Him, He will turn to us. It continues in the New Testament, James 4: 8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” So often we, like the children of Israel refuse the offer of a close and personal relationship with the Lord of hosts. God used Zechariah to encourage the children of Israel in what may have seemed like an impossible task, rebuilding the temple. He wanted them to know that they could not do this task on their own but with His help, it would be done. In Chapter 4:6b it says, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” When we have a task that we think we can’t accomplish, we may be right, if we are depending on our might or power. We need to rely on God, and His might and power, when we have difficult times in our life. This verse seems very appropriate for what our nation is going through today. Chapter 7:9-10 says, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien, or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.”  In these verses we find the heart of God and how He wants us to treat others. The world will be a better place when we all take these words to heart and show the love of God to all that we meet and have contact with in our lives. It’s good to know that God’s return policy has no restrictions or exceptions. “Return to God and He will return to you.”

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Zechariah 1-7

Tomorrow we will read Zechariah 8-14 as we continue on our

Revival

Joshua 9-11

inquire of the Lord

The Israelites have had success after success in conquering the Promised Land.  But they did have the setback due to Achan’s sin, and in chapter 9 they have another setback.  The Gibeonites trick Joshua into granting them a treaty, on the premise that they are not locals, and so will not be in the way of the Israelites’ expansion plans.  You have to hand it to the Gibeonites.  This was a very shrewd move for them, and did grant them their survival.

 

But this should never have happened, and doesn’t seem to be part of God’s plan, when in other inhabited areas, the entire existing populations were destroyed.  So why did it happen?

 

As part of the ruse, the Gibeonites provided evidence of their long journey to reach the area in the form of old wineskins, bread and sandals.  Then, in chapter 9, vs 14-15, “The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.”

 

And there you have it.  They did not inquire of the Lord.  How foolish they must have been.  How could these people, that had been clearly led by the Lord, abandon His counsel at this critical time?  The answer is because they are like you and I.  Human.  Unfortunately, great success gives rise to self importance and self reliance, instead of giving God the credit He deserves and then continuing to rely on Him.  We have probably all done it.

 

When times are easy, it is easy to let our relationship and reliance on God slip away.  That is a bad thing.  We are going through difficult times right now.  That is also a bad thing.  But in times like these we need to draw closer to God, seek His counsel, and draw strength from that relationship.  And that is a good thing.

 

There was a small revival in this nation after 9/11, with a large increase in church attendance.  But, as things improved, it wore off.  Things will assuredly get better from our present reality, but if there is a revival in our own relationship with the Lord, that is a fantastic outcome.  But don’t let that revival slip away when things get better.  Be aware that it is human nature for that to happen, and take steps to avoid allowing your human nature to lead you away from God.

 

Here is another word of encouragement from scripture.

Psalm 91: 1-6

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you

from the fowler’s snare

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,

nor the plague that destroys at midday.

 

Greg Landry

 

 

You can read or listen to today’s Bible passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+9-11&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Joshua 12-15 as we continue seeking God through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Tough Lessons

Psalm 49-54

psalm-50

January 2, 2017

Once again, David is reminding us how God hasn’t left us. We just feel separated from Him. Is this because God has left us? Or is it because we try to do things our way, on our own? It is hard to see God’s hand in times of trial. When I look back at my life and the “mistakes” I have made, I can now see some of those as times God set me on the right path. At the time, they seemed like I had failed and lost my way. Now, years later, I can see my plan was wrong. This doesn’t mean every mistake I’ve made was God redirecting me! I am human and can make a huge mess of God’s beautiful plans. Thankfully, He can set things right.

Ps 49:7-8 “No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him-

The ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough- “

Ps 50:15 “But God can redeem my life from the grave, he will surely take me to himself.”

Sometimes we need to accept when things do not go as we planned. This can be true even after much prayer and belief your plan is God’s plan. There are times we need to fail or not have everything go as planned. It is in those times we can learn to rely on God completely. It doesn’t mean God wants us to suffer, however, it can bring us closer and build our strength.

Ps 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

-Susan Johnson

(Photo credit: http://hiswordinpictures.blogspot.com/2012/01/psalm-501.html)