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Unspeakable Joy Devotional

6-November

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God’s Delay Is Not God’s Denial. Interesting when I heard that yesterday while driving. And it stuck in my mind because how many times to we ask ourselves about that promise God gave us but is yet to be filled? Perhaps, while reading the Bible, a verse lit up. You blinked, having never really noticed before; the words jumped off the page and pierced your heart. Or maybe you received a specific answer to a request while you were praying.

But then nothing happened. In fact, your circumstances turned for the worse. Did you misinterpret God’s intentions? Was it all in your head? Where are the promised blessings?

As a young man, God gave Joseph, the son of Jacob a promise that one day he would rule. But then, for the next thirteen years everything went exactly opposite to the promise. His brothers, who hated him, sold him to the Egyptians. As a slave in Potiphar’s house, he was falsely accused of raping his master’s wife. Then he was thrown into prison and forgotten. Genesis 37-48

Joseph refused to let his circumstances shape his outlook. He allowed no self-pity or bitterness to rob him of energy. Instead, he chose to use each circumstance-whether at home, at Potiphar’s house, or in prison-as God’s appointed place where he would serve Him with all of his heart. God eventually blessed Joseph and made him a blessing to others.

Instead of using the delayed promise as a reason to grumble against God, Joseph kept it in the back of his mind to give him courage and strength. He let go of expectations of how and when God would carry out the promise. God was up to something much bigger than he could have imagined. In time-God’s time!-Joseph’s life changed. His wisdom and loyalty was recognized. Eventually he became Pharaoh’s right-hand man, the second in command over all of Egypt. In this role, Joseph ended up saving the lives of his whole family and became reunited with them. He also saved most of Egypt from starvation.

God has a good plan for our lives also. God has a purpose for each of us. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” These are not just words written down for people thousands of years ago. They resonate with us today. God’s promise is real in any age and time.

A delay is not denial, but a time of preparing you for the promise. It is very hard when we cannot “see” God in action. But that doesn’t mean He isn’t acting on our behalf. I am sure there may have been times while he was in prison that Joseph quietly called out to God for strength. It’s okay to do the same.

But, like Joseph, never give up on God because whether you see evidence of it or not right now God will never give up on you. Whenever you feel discouraged or start to wonder if God is still there and cares, you can say this prayer:

Dear God, cleanse my heart of self-pity and resentment. I want to trust that your good plan for my life is being carried out in my present circumstances. I know you love me and have my best interests at heart. Help me to be patient, and in the meantime, help me to endure and keep my heart and mind focused on your promises. Amen. (H Lescheid)

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

5-November

 

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I Can Only Imagine. The song with this title popped up this morning by Mercy Me. I think it would be one of those situations where you could never really predict what you would do unless you were actually in the moment.

Malachi 3:1-3 “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”

Verse 2. But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth?

The thought of standing before God brings many thoughts and emotions. I think it would be one of those situations where you could never really predict what you would do unless you were actually in the moment. God’s overwhelming love would bring rejoicing, His wonder would bring praise, and His grace would bring humility. But what would you do before God?

While it’s hard to imagine what it will be like to stand before God in all His glory, the beauty of worshipping an intimate God is that we are able to stand before God every single day. His full glory is too great for us now but if we are aware of God’s presence then we are able to experience God in our everyday lives. The feeling of overwhelming love, the beauty of creation, the forgiveness you never thought possible, a room filled with laughter, the peace you have been searching for….all these are experiences of God. May you experience Him more now than ever before and so be able to identify Him walking beside you every single day.

Lord, You are beyond our imagination and when we stand before You, it is only then that we will have a greater understanding of the mighty God we worship. Thank you for being present with us every day. May we open our eyes to see You more. Amen.

Where have you ‘seen’ God in the last 24 hours?

 

 

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

4-November

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I, Me, Mine, Myself. Those four words stood out in bold print. They appeared as if they were forming an enormous monument, each letter seemingly chiseled out of granite. At the base of this strange “monument” were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people with their arms held up high, as if worshipping at a shrine. And then, in very small letters, this caption appeared at the bottom of the editorial cartoon: “Speaking of American cults…”

Surrounding the borders of this picture were four familiar lines from well-known commercials: “Have it your way.” “Do yourself a favor.” “You owe it to yourself.” “You deserve a break today.” Jab.Jab.Twist.Twist. That kind of stuff really hurts. Because it is so terribly true. Yet, we constantly applaud the I-me-mine-myself philosophy in subtle as well as overt ways. We make books on the subject of selfishness bestsellers by buying them by the millions. We put the gifted on a pedestal and secretly (if not publicly) worship at their shrine. And we make every effort to “look out for number one” at all cost.

Let’s admit it; ours is an age of gross selfishness. The “me” era. And we get mighty uncomfortable even when God begins to make demands on us.

Of course, our inner “self” doesn’t want to dump God entirely, just to keep Him at a comfortable distance. Just enough to keep our guilt level below the threshold of pain, just enough to guarantee escape from eternal flames. But certainly not enough to make us nervous….to start pushing around our prejudices or nit-picking at our lifestyles. After all, this business of wholesale commitment to the cause of Christ needs to be kept in proper bounds!

How refreshing to read what Paul wrote to the church in Philippi about young Timothy: “For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” Philippians 2:20-21.

I….ME….MINE….MYSELF. Aren’t you glad Jesus didn’t cling to those values?

In our age of gross selfishness, we get uncomfortable when God begins to make demands on us. Charles Swindoll

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

3-November

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Watch Out; Be On Your Guard. Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

P.T. Barnum, the circus magnate, built a career on the assumption that people like to be fooled. And he had a point. A magician who is clever always has a crowd, but does this hold true in the world of religion? I’ve been thinking of the number of times when Jesus said, “Watch out!” or “Be on guard,” and his comments covered a rather wide variety of situations and issues. For example, He told the crowd that had gathered to hear him on the slopes of Galilee to “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing,” he said, “but inwardly they are ravening wolves” Matthew 7:15.

He also said, “Beware of the scribes” Mark 12:38. On at least three occasions He urged His followers to “Watch out that no on deceives you.” This included what people teach and to be aware that many would be confused about the actual timing of His return to our earth.

P.T. Barnum may have been right about people wanting to be fooled, but Jesus didn’t want anyone deceiving His followers, and the words that he used were strong and pointed. God knew that we needed something by which we can evaluate and measure movements, people, and circumstances-which is why He gave us an infallible guide for faith and practice. It’s the 65 books of the Bible. In the garden, shortly before He went to the cross, Jesus said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” John 17:3. It is that simple.

Paul told Timothy that one of the signs of the lateness of the hour is that people will be deceived, and surely that day is upon us. If being alert and awake means you are thought of as being bigoted or judgmental, then so be it. Only be very certain that you come down on the side of truth and not merely your opinion which you take for the truth.

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

2-November

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Death Of A Society. I recently read a message by Dr. Steven Lawson, and wanted to share it with you. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful; who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” Romans 1:28-32

Grace is never amazing until we know the wrath of God. Before we can understand the good news of salvation, we must first know the bad news of condemnation. Before we can appreciate the grace of God, there must be an awareness of our guilt before Him. This is the strategic importance of the opening section in Romans 1:28-32-3:20 that pronounces judgment of God upon the human race. In these verses we have reinforced the truth that it is the judgment of God upon man’s sin that makes the message of justification by faith so wonderful.

In the above verses, we find the warning signs of the impending death of a society. These threatening marks reveal the death of any nation, culture, or society. The graveyard of past civilizations is filled with these corpses. Can any nation survive without God? Can any society function without acknowledging the moral laws of God? Can any culture endure without the moral restraint of the law of God? Is there any hope for a collective group of people to function successfully without God in its center?

In these concluding verses of Romans chapter one, here is the final outcome of any society that rejects the knowledge of God. These verses describe any collective group of people who reject God and descend morally into a death spiral. This section describes the slippery slope for any society that has turned its back on God. This moral decline accelerates at a rapidly increasing speed. Here is the increasing darkness into which a godless people fall until they self-destruct.

We must have the realization of what is going on in our world today. We must have a Christian worldview and see what is transpiring around us with the mind of Christ. We cannot do everything, but what we can do we must do. We must do all that we can to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through our churches, Bible studies, and personal witnessing, we must work through every means possible. This task of world evangelization is beyond any one of us. But we must do what we can do. We cannot sit back passively while people around us are perishing.

God has always worked through a remnant in any nation. God works through the few to affect the many. That way God receives the glory, when He works through a handful of disciples to alter the course of history.

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

1-November

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A New Chapter In Your Life. If you want God to close and open doors, let go of the door knob. Do you ever pray and then pray some more asking God to do something for you, but yet resist when He begins to move?

Sometimes we know God is moving us rather abruptly into a new adventure. Like the Old Testament patriarch Abraham obeying the call of God to relocate, sometimes we need to move first before God shows us where to land. Genesis 12:1 “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” It wasn’t easy for him. He packed up 75 years of accumulated possessions, livestock, family and servants. And it’s no day trip with a backpack for us either.

Sudden calls are extraordinary occurrences of divine intervention to do something that to others might look crazy. Sudden calls can be some of the most exhilarating ways to begin a new chapter.

Most of the time, our lives are rather routine. We can predict what we’ll be doing next year because it’s likely very similar to last year. Routine is not a bad thing. Predictability helps us to be more effective and efficient.

At certain times, though, our lives become unpredictable. We change jobs. We relocate. We pursue new interests and friends. A new chapter begins.

It’s one thing to begin a new chapter when it’s thrust upon you, say through a job loss. But what about those other, more normal times? How do you know when you’re about to enter a new chapter in your life?

Psalm 37:5-6 “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.”

Abraham was counted righteous because of this faith. He left his normal routine in order to follow God’s voice. From that day on, his life was changed. When his enemies attacked him, they were destroyed. When people tried to curse him, God cursed them. His life was indelibly etched into the tables of history. Isaiah 30:15 says, “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.”

If you are facing a time of uncertainty in your life right now, return to the Lord. Orchestrate your schedule in such a way that you can have some time alone with the Lord. Come back to that place of rest, the place where you first met Jesus.

As you step into the next phase of your life, into your new season, may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ.” Philippians 4:7. And may you also find this beautiful place of rest in the Lord.

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

31-October

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Time for God? Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Just look around. Think about your life. Your schedule. Your friends and family.

It becomes clear that many people simply are busy. They rush about, preoccupied with personal, family, or business tasks. Indulging in hobbies and pleasures.

Yet, as surveys have confirmed, nearly half of all adults admit that they don’t have enough time “to do the things they want to.” In the midst of crammed schedules, we can wonder how God fits in.

Many take time for short prayers at morning or nights, or at meals. Some spend a few moments reading the Bible or a devotional book. Others are content going to church once a week. But is this really the way we should act toward Almighty God?

We also are commanded to “be still” before Him. To take time to listen. To reflect on His Word. To seek His “still small voice.” We cannot be still if our minds are preoccupied by daily pressures. How can we hear Him if we rush through a brief time of prayer or Bible reading?

Being still means eliminating distractions and focusing on God. It means waiting in His presence, and listening to Him. It means reading His Word. And it means times of dedicated prayer and communion with Him.

The Bible reminds us that God longs to have an intimate relationship with us. This means you! He wants to speak to you, guide you, teach you new things, and change your life.

Do not take God for granted. Make Him your highest priority. And be still before Him. Listening. At peace.

Father, help me to quiet my spirit and hear from You. Forgive me for taking You for granted. I long to spend time with you. You are my highest priority. In Jesus’ name. Amen.