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Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
SPECIALIZE IN THE IMPOSSIBLE -
"The hill country shall be thine." -Josh. 17:18, RV
There is always room higher up. When the valleys are full of Canaanites, whose iron chariots withstand your progress, get up into the hills, occupy the upper spaces. If you can no longer work for God, pray for those who can. If you cannot move earth by your speech, you may move Heaven. If the development of life on the lower slopes is impossible, through limitations of service, the necessity of maintaining others, and such-like restrictions, let it break out toward the unseen, the eternal, the Divine.
Faith can fell forests. Even if the tribes had realized what treasures lay above them, they would hardly have dared to suppose it possible to rid the hills of their dense forest-growth. But as God indicated their task, He reminded them that they had power enough. The visions of things that seem impossible are presented to us, like these forest-covered steeps, not to mock us, but to incite us to spiritual exploits which would be impossible unless God had stored within us the great strength of His own indwelling.
Difficulty is sent to reveal to us what God can do in answer to the faith that prays and works. Are you straitened in the valleys? Get away to the hills, live there; get honey out of the rock, and wealth out of the terraced slopes now hidden by forest. --Daily Devotional Commentary
Got any rivers they say are uncrossable,
Got any mountains they say 'can't tunnel through'?
We specialize in the wholly impossible,
Doing the things they say you can't do.
--Song of the Panama builders
The public domain version of this classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert.
- See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/specialize-in-the-impossible#sthash.MbrO9mFT.dpuf
Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website.
More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions
This devotional was written by Robin Dugall
Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. —2 Corinthians 12:10
Over the last few decades, our cultural concept of what makes a hero has changed. In the past, presidents, firefighters, policemen, soldiers, pastors, teachers and star baseball players may have been at the top of most people’s list. Times were much more innocent and the perceptions of what stood out in people’s mind as heroic or worthy of emulating was vastly different than today.
Now, kids are much more interested in the “heroes” of contemporary culture: athletes with huge salaries, musicians, public “icons” made famous by 15 minutes in the media spotlight, fashion models and people who are financially successful. I don’t often regret changes in culture, but in this instance, I sure do. How I wish our view of what was heroic could revert to a more innocent time!
The Bible is clear about what makes someone heroic in God’s eyes. The Apostle Paul learned that if he was going to “boast,” he would boast in the Lord. He dedicated his life to a selfless, sacrificial and grace-filled lifestyle that reflected not only the values of the Kingdom of God but those that mirrored Jesus.
People need heroes. We need people to look up to as models of what is truly meaningful in life. We have more than enough cultural icons. What our children, friends, spouses and neighbors need are not any more posers of what it means to be a hero. What people need to see is a true hero—someone who gives his or her life as a ransom and servant for others! Here’s the good news: we all can be heroes to others around us as we follow and imitate Christ.
1. Who were your heroes when you were growing up? Who are some of the people you would love to be like now in your life?
2. How is the personality and character of Jesus taking shape in you?
2 Corinthians 11:16-33; Hebrews 12
This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.
More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/
Highway 395 -
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. —Hebrews 12:1-2
One summer, we held our youth camp at a Mammoth Mountain ski resort that is legendary for its beauty and grandeur. Located in the High Sierras, this majestic setting is breath-taking (partly because it's at 9,000 feet in elevation)! When I looked at the driving directions for the trip, I saw that we'd be driving on Highway 395 for over four hours! Four hours with no place to stop; driving a van filled with freshmen girls. Ouch!
Let me describe most of the trip on Highway 395 in one word: Nothing. Aside from the occasional dust devil swirling through the barren miles of dirt, there was nothing to see, nowhere to stop, no radio stations to listen to, and little intelligent conversations to be had. I was bored. The students were bored with my questions and my constant phrase, "can you talk a little louder? I've gone deaf from too many years in youth ministry standing in front of speakers." It was a four-hour odyssey of pain.
And then, finally, we rounded a bend, climbed steeply for three miles, and we saw the peak of Mammoth Mountain peering at us from above the cloud. The air cooled as we climbed in elevation. The sun appeared more spectacular, more serene, and brighter. The mountain range was etched against the horizon like a watercolor painting, resplendent in orange, red, and gold. Arriving at Mammoth after driving on Highway 395 was like departing hell and entering heaven.
We got out of the car, stretched our muscles, inhaled deeply, and soaked in the beauty. To be honest, I was tempted to drop to my knees and confess that along the way, I had been thinking about where I could bury a few of my students.
Reflecting on the drive, I relearned something I already knew but always tend to forget: regardless how challenging the journey, the right destination makes the trip worth it.
This is true in the Christian journey as well. The uphill and downhill portions that you travel through life are all worthwhile. The curves and detours of life’s challenges can bring wonderful blessings when we trust in God and allow Him to shape us. The long stretches of normal life are enriched when we encounter the beauty found in relationships with family and friends. The miles you traverse to build a close, intimate relationship with Jesus are so worth the investment of time and effort.
And one day, arriving in heaven will make the journey on this earth seem like such a short drive, even if your life has been like one long road trip on Highway 395. You'll round a bend, feel a cool, fresh whisper of wind on your cheeks, know you've been raised to a higher elevation and there you'll be: in the splendor and glory of heaven, with Jesus, forever and ever. You'll drop to your knees and praise. What a day that will be!
Until then, keep driving, my friends. We're all in this together.
1. Where do you find yourself today on life’s journey? Are you in the barren desert, on the mountaintop, or somewhere in between?
2. How do you see God shaping your life as you head toward your final destination?
1 Corinthians 2:9; James 1:4; Romans 8:18
DOUG FIELDS is the senior director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University and the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com. Doug has been a youth and teaching pastor at Mariners Church and Saddleback Church for 30 years and has authored more than fifty books. He is a passionate speaker reaching thousands of leaders, teenagers, and parents every year. Doug resides with his wife and three children in Southern California.
More of Doug Fields: www.homeword.com
Pure, Rock and Resurrection -
(Part 2 of 2)
Jesus is the Pearl: He is Pure
As we *consider Christmas, and look on the scene of Jesus’ birth, there is nothing with more purity and innocence than a new born child. Yet, as we follow Jesus’ life we see something that we see in no other life on earth. His was a matchless life, beautifully lived with purity and innocence sustained. The Gospels are full of testimony about the Pharisees and Sadducees desperately looking for a way to find fault in Jesus. Jesus himself asked them to show proof that he was guilty of any sin:
“Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says.” (John 8:46-47)
Even at Jesus’ trial Pilate admitted he could “find no fault” in him. Jesus lived the perfect sinless, matchless life. He lived the life we should have lived: pure. It is only because of his pure and matchless life that Jesus was able to lay down his life for us as the perfect sacrifice… the final sacrifice for all sin.
A Gleaming Pearl
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Jesus is the pearl, not only because he is pure, but also because his life is so valuable. He is the “costly cornerstone” and the greatest treasure. In Matthew Jesus says:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46)
Jesus is the “pearl of great price” who gave up his throne and paid it all to ransom us from sin and death. When we embrace that in our hearts our only response can be to sell out everything in order to gain Him. Jesus is pure. He is the pearl of great price.
Jesus is the Flower: He is the Resurrection
I love that in her thoughts of symbolism Gracie connected the resurrection of spring flowers with the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus actually compared his own life to that of a seed that is planted and “dies” and rises again. He said:
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)
There is life, there is death, there is Resurrection and with that not just one, but many new lives!
Jesus said… “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die." (John 11:25-26)
Jesus not only lived the life we should have lived, but died the death we should have died and conquered death with the victory of his resurrection. The beauty of this is beyond what we can imagine. Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection; when we put our faith in Him we receive the same victory.
This is illustrated in my favorite Psalm:
The Confident promises of Psalm 16: 9-11,
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices, My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in [death], Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Jesus is the flower. He is the Resurrection.
This originally appeared here and is shared with the author's permission.
Monica is her husband’s adoring wife, her little girl’s “Mama,” a crazy dog lover, and everyday falling more deeply in love with the Lord! In September of 2008 the Gills were blessed with a fifth tiny addition to the family (this time a baby instead of a puppy!) Grace is an ever-present wonder and a constant source of joy. Monica has been an active Bible teacher, writer and speaker for women's ministry and youth for twenty years. She loves to combat every challenge of life with this truth: Jesus is the answer! Jesus is always the answer!
More of Monica Gill: www.lifewithgrace.net