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James 5:7-11 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

James teaches us to be patient when we go through suffering. How easy it is to turn to fretting instead of faith. We are reminded to think like the farmer who has to trust God to send the rain at the right time and trust God with the timing in our lives.

It is also important for us to remember how God uses suffering to build character in his beloved children. We may feel we are being punished, but punishment and discipline are not necessarily the same. Punishment is often the direct response to outright sin and is intended to cause pain or bring justice. God is always working toward the future. He disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 2:6) to prepare them for service in his kingdom. Discipline may not be in response to a great sin, it may be more like sandpaper working on some rough edges. But the end purpose of discipline is to prepare us for service in the future.

James reminds us not to grumble against one another. It is so easy to give in to grumbling when we struggle with the events around us. Our grumbling stands in the face of developing patience and works against us. God is not pleased when we grumble.

Job was a patient man who held to his faith in God against all odds. By looking to Job and others in the Bible such as Joseph in Egypt, we may find the courage and strength to help us persevere in our times of suffering.

Father God, strengthen our hearts when we are hurting. Help us to trust in you for courage and strength.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Daniel 1:18-21 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

The three years of grooming in Babylonian culture and training for service to King Nebuchadnezzar had finally come to an end. Daniel and his three friends had continued to remain faithful to God throughout this time, and they had chosen not to indulge in the rich foods the king had offered to them and the other young Israelite men the king had singled out for this special treatment.

 

Daniel and his three friends were superior in every way to the other young Israelite men. They had also exceeded the wisdom of all the king’s magicians and enchanters. So they were chosen to enter the king’s service.

 

When we serve God appropriately, we are prepared to serve others, even those who do not revere God. By serving God with our whole heart, we give him the opportunity to empower us to be salt and light to the world. Serving God demands that we serve others to our best ability without compromising our faith.

 

Our Father, help us to keep our focus on you as we try to live out our lives in the secular world that surrounds us. May our willingness to be different serve as a positive witness to those who are inclined to seek you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Luke 24:44-49   (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

Jesus appeared to the Disciples after his resurrection and ate with them demonstrating that his body was a physical body.

Jesus shared with them from the scriptures (our Old Testament) showing them that everything that had happened had been predicted long ago and it was necessary that it be fulfilled. Then the Disciples finally understood that Jesus’ death and resurrection took place so that repentance and forgiveness of sins could come and be preached to all people beginning with Jerusalem.

Then Jesus instructed the Disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they were to receive the Holy Spirit as God had promised. Jesus words in this passage described the Holy Spirit as if it would come over them like a garment, and that it would give them power from God.

The Disciples experienced so much in three short days. Jesus’ mockery of a trial which they were too frightened to attend, his crucifixion, death, and burial. Then as they were staying in hiding behind locked doors, Jesus appeared to them. After all this, they are told to wait for the Holy Spirit. (See John 20:19-23)

It is so hard to put myself into their minds to understand what they must have been going through, but it would certainly be an understatement no matter what kind of words we chose to describe their feelings.

How much confusion and disruption are we willing to endure for Jesus’ sake? When the road gets bumpy and rough do we decide that we must be on the wrong road, that we must have misunderstood God’s call?

Father, thank you for your gift of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins that we might receive and accept his forgiveness. And thank you too, for the many faithful disciples from his generation until today, who made it possible for us to learn about him, to share his forgiveness, and to receive the eternal life Jesus brings. Never let us forget the price that has been paid, first by Jesus, and later by those who endured persecution, that the message might reach us today. Embolden us to carry the message forth with the same urgency as did those brave disciples throughout the centuries.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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13 For the LORD has chosen Zion,
     
he has desired it for his dwelling:
14 “This is my resting place for ever and ever;
     
here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it–
15 I will bless her with abundant provisions;
     
her poor will I satisfy with food.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation,
     
and her saints will ever sing for joy.

17 “Here I will make a horn grow for David
     
and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
18 I will clothe his enemies with shame,
     
but the crown on his head will be resplendent.”

Psalm 132:13-18 (NIV)  

OK, now. This selection starts off with the LORD having chosen “Zion” as his dwelling place. I’ll have to admit that I’ve sung songs like “We’re Marching to Zion” and I’ve always had this warm fuzzy feeling when I heard the name, but today I had to look it up. Zion is often used as another name for Jerusalem which has also been called the City of David. More specifically it refers to a hill in Jerusalem, the highest point, which is considered to be the most holy place in Jerusalem. Zion is also referred to as heaven by many.

God has pronounced his blessings on Zion, declaring her (he uses feminine pronouns for Zion) to be his resting place forever. He has promised to bless and provide for her and her priests and saints forever.

God promises a “horn” which will grow for David. Fortunately for me, I read the footnotes on the word horn long ago and learned that whenever it is used it is referring to strength. These verses are referring not only to David’s son, Solomon, but they refer to Jesus Christ as well, the Most Holy descendent of David.

We mustn’t read these verses without recognizing the validity of the hand of God. Jerusalem has been the center of the Jewish faith from the time of King David. It was the center of the Jewish religion when Jesus walked this earth. It was the location where Jesus’ crucifiction, death, burial, and resurrection took place. Even though the Jewish nation hasn’t always held possession of Jerusalem, they have succeeded in regaining control of it. The whole world is focused on Jerusalem and the Middle East today causing many to read or re-read the book of Revelation.

Father God, may these verses increase our faith as we recognize your hands at work in the time of David, the time of Christ, and in our present and future. Give us the confidence and courage to continually put our faith and trust in you alone.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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 1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Luke 10:1-3 (NIV)

     The Twelve were not Jesus’ only disciples, there were others as well. After the Twelve returned Jesus appointed seventy-two more followers to minister. He didn’t send them out alone, he sent them in pairs. Nor did he expect them to work in their own strength. Their first instruction was to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers. As Jesus described their ministry to them, they were being sent as lambs into a pack of wolves.

     How many times do we tackle some situation “for the Lord” without ever giving a thought to prayer. We think we already have all the answers–we are so sure of ourselves and our perfect little plan–and we strike out only to fall flat on our faces. When we try to fight the Lord’s battles for him without seeking him first we should expect no more. We can be so sure we are right and still be so wrong.

     I believe Jesus was not only describing the toughness of the situation when he described it as lambs going among wolves, I detect he was also giving them the spiritual posture he wanted them to assume. They were not to go with a plan of attack, but in a spirit of love and peace.

     My occupation has me sharing with students about the African-American giants like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks during the months of January and February. These people were masters at going out as lambs among the wolves. Their peaceful resistance to the unjust “Jim Crow” laws of segregation serve as examples to all of us. These leaders were master students of the Bible, and their activities sprang from their faith in God.

     Are you willing to be a sheep for Jesus? Do you dare to confront the wolves in our society who are trying their best to eradicate the Christian faith from public view and public consciousness? Is Jesus calling you to step out in prayer and in faith?

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”   (Luke 11:13   NIV) 

     This verse follows Jesus teachings on how much God wants to give to us generously what is best for us.  It seems apparent to me that he is telling us that the Holy Spirit is the very best gift of all.  When we are truly led by the Holy Spirit, we are fully within the will of God and fully blessed. 

       1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.   (Acts 2:1-4  NIV) 

      God’s Holy Spirit came down the most dramatically on the day of Pentecost.  This was the day the Disciples were told to wait for when Jesus last spoke to them before descending into heaven.  This was the Spirit of encouragement and empowerment that changed a group of frightened men into men of courage, strength, and power—men who went out to the world and faced their opposition head on. 

       The first gift the Spirit gave to the Disciples was the spirit of tongues.  They were quickly surrounded by people from all walks of life and from all parts of the known world, people who would not have understood the Hebrew language.  God put his Spirit into the Disciples to enable to speak to every person in the crowd that had gathered around them so that they could boldly speak and be understood by all.   

      When we pray we should ask for the best gift God has to offer—his Holy Spirit.  This is the Spirit that will lead us to do the will of our Father in heaven.  This Spirit will give us courage when we are afraid, Boldness when we need to take a stand, and discernment to know when to take action and when to let God take the lead in our behalf. 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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