BREAD OF LIFE MINISTRIES

DEVOTIONS DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE, EDIFY & MAKE YOU THINK!!
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Friday, July 31, 2015

MAKING PEACE

“So if you are about to place your gift on the altar and remember that someone is angry with you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. Make peace with that person, then come back and offer your gift to God.”  Matthew 5:23-24 (CEV) *
       In the world man feels that if he’s been done wrong, he should pay the wrongdoer back in some form or fashion.  Jesus is saying something completely different.  He doesn’t say if you have something against another man go to him and make things right.  What He says is the exact opposite.  It says if you know someone who has something against you, you should go right away and make things right with them.  That goes against the grain.  It requires a trace of humility-laced boldness.  To go to another person, possibly even someone you don’t care for can be extremely difficult.  You have no idea how they will react to what you have to say.  It’s something that needs to be done as soon as you realize the rift has taken place.  With the Spirit within as your guide, place your gift at the front of the altar (where all sacrifices were made) and go to the one who has an issue with you.  Do it now rather than later so things don’t end up getting blown out of proportion.
       There is someone of much greater importance that has an issue with us.  The issue is a sin and that someone is Almighty God.  This issue rears it’s ugly head each time we do something that is against God’s standard.  When we come to the realization that the Lord has an issue with us, we must go to Him to make things right.  The Lord has the balm to soothe our wounds and it’s His desire to administer it to our aching soul.  We must shed all self-righteousness and humble ourselves before Almighty God.  He loves us and desires for us to be like Christ in attitude, words and action.  It’s our decision to seek forgiveness from the One we have offended by our ungodly lifestyle.  God doesn’t wish to grind us under His heel, but rather to forgive and bless us. 
       Regardless of whether it’s creator or a created being, we must go to those who have an issue with us.  We need to apologize for our part in it and offer the hand of friendship as a means of patching things up between you. God sees a willing heart that seeks reconciliation and cleanses that person of all iniquity.  The mortal man will see a willing heart to seek reconciliation and hopefully forgive you as well.  Even if he doesn’t, you have obeyed the Lord’s instruction and that‘s all that is required of you.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
Resource(s):  The American Heritage Dictionary; The Asbury Bible Commentary.

* Contemporary English Version

Thursday, July 30, 2015

BE A SHINING LIGHT

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”   Matthew 5:14,16
       Do you have trouble being a witness to the faith that lives within you? Being a verbal witness can be daunting.  Scripture tells us that God’s Holy Spirit lives within us if we are truly redeemed; yet our humanness consistently takes over whenever we are faced with an opportunity to testify of the goodness of God and what He has done for us.  You are not alone.     
       We have been given a wonderful gift, a gift that is to be shared, not hidden away.  The light within our soul should illuminate our countenance so that people can see a difference in us, especially those who knew us prior to our conversion.  We have nothing to fear, for God’s spirit resides within us to comfort and to guide.   
       Sharing our faith should never be a forced thing as I found out some 30 or so years ago.  I wanted to share my faith so badly that I alienated the person driving me to Washington, DC and the bulk of the ride was done in silence.  There are many ways to testify and it doesn’t always need to include speaking.  I personally like friendship evangelism.  It requires you to step out of yourself and befriend another individual within your sphere of influence.  You need to step out of your comfort zone far enough to see their need of a Savior.  They need to see Christ in you.
       Words are nothing but a clanging cymbal if they are not followed by action. If people don’t see God’s loving forgiveness, patience, mercy and grace in us then we are wasting our time.  Shine your light before men.  Trust God to use you. Don’t be ‘holier than thou’, be who God made you to be.  Let others see you without your “Sunday suit” on, so to speak.  Be Christ to those around you.  Let Him live through you.  Only then will you be relatable to this dying world.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

HIS PRECEPTS, OUR STANDARD

“I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.” Psalm 119:93
         We all need a standard to follow.  The word of God is a standard we can live by.  It’s based on love, humility, forgiveness, grace and mercy.  Living for yourself requires a whole different standard, one that ebbs and flows according to each situation you face.  The standards God provides are rock solid and never change.  They are the one constant in a sea of inconsistency.  To know God’s word is to know the very heart of God.  His character is defined and His promises are laid out for all to see. Those who refuse to even acknowledge His existence are trying to be autonomous1, believing that they can handle anything life throws at them without any assistance.  The thing they fail to realize is that the resources they draw from, whether intellectual, material or financial, will eventually run dry. The resources God provides are eternal in that they will never run dry. 
             We must determine for ourselves that our God is the One who can be trusted above all.  Until we do that we will always question the wisdom He provides.  God knows what we need and exactly when we need it.  He has never failed at anything He’s ever promised to do.  His silence isn’t a denial, but rather simply a delay for the proper time to reveal itself. 
Knowing God’s word is imperative for the believer to have a spiritually successful life this side of heaven.  Without it we would be like a stagnate pool, void of any source to replenish and refresh. Each decree is made for our benefit, but we must trust Him to accomplish that which He has set apart for us to do.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!

1 Not controlled by others or by outside forces; independent in mind or judgment; self-directed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

FIX YOUR EYES UPON JESUS

“… let us strip off and throw aside every unnecessary weight and the sin which so cleverly clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady, active persistence the appointed course that has been set before us, looking away from all that will distract us to Jesus, who is the Leader and the Source of our faith; the One who brings it to maturity and perfection.”*  Hebrews 12:1b-2a
        Paul, writing to Greek-speaking Jews who had heard the gospel and embraced Christ as their Messiah, likens a Christian’s walk to a race.  As with runners, one must pace themselves.  To be a successful distance runner requires endless hours of training to build up their endurance.  They must be persistent in their training and not falter lest they fall by the way side.  Likewise, a believer must be persistent in matters of faith, trusting the Lord under all circumstances or they will falter.
       The unnecessary weight that Paul speaks of represents worldly cares and the stresses of life that dampen our spirits with astounding regularity.  It is for this reason that we must fix our gaze on the One in whom we have placed our faith and trust.  He is the only One who can cause in us a spiritual maturing.  Although not literally perfect, those who have surrendered their will to the Lord are seen as perfect in God’s sight.
       Our walk with Christ can be a revolutionary event in our lives if we remain patient and endure all things.  The longer we serve Christ and grow in God’s grace, the more like Him we will become in thought, word and deed. Therefore, cast off that which weighs us down and run a steady course in the name of Christ and you will be a success in the Kingdom of God.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!

* A subtle variation on the Amplified Bible text.

Monday, July 27, 2015

FAITH DEFINED

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”  Hebrews 11:1-3
       This is where we find the definition of faith in scripture. Notice that faith and hope are interlocking.  The object we are hoping for is also the object of our faith.  Faith is a strong, unshakable belief that God will perform all He’s promised to us in Christ.  God is not a genie, giving us our every whim and desire.  He is rather the fulfiller of promises made.
       While many consider the earth and its inhabitants the result of a random selection process, this Psalmist declares just the opposite: “The skies were made by the Lord’s word, all their starry multitude by the breath of his mouth. He gathered the ocean waters into a heap; he put the deep seas into storerooms.” (Psalm 33:6-7) There are far too many intricacies in this world for it to have been pure happenstance.
       Having faith, while important, can be meaningless unless placed in the right person or thing.  For instance, placing your faith in mortal man is a fruitless effort for we are all flawed and basically unreliable.  We need to place our faith in the One who created all things with a word.  There is nothing greater than Almighty God for He is all-powerful, all knowing & all places at the same time.  If we give our life or more importantly our will over to the Lord, He will never fail us. 
       Why is having faith so important?  The Apostle Paul lets us know in no uncertain terms: “… without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
       Having faith will give birth to trust.  Trusting God is important because your belief in something or someone will fade over time if you don’t have unshakable trust.  Knowing in your heart of hearts that God is incapable of failing to do that which He has promised in His word is vital to the spiritual maturation of a believer.  Having faith and trust is a lethal combination that can conquer any obstacle that you are confronted with.  God is real and is able to do what we need done for His glory.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
Resources: Matthew Henry Bible Commentary of the Old & New Testament.

“He is able, more than able

To accomplish what concerns me today.

He is able, more than able

To handle anything that come my way.

He is able, more than able

To do much more than I could ever dream,

He is able, more than able

To make me what He wants me to be.”

[Old church chorus; lyricist unknown]

Saturday, July 25, 2015

PRAISE THE LORD

“O praise the Lord, all you nations! Praise Him, all you people!  For His mercy and loving-kindness are great toward us, and the truth and faithfulness of the Lord endure forever.  Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)”* Psalm 117:1-2
       This is the shortest Psalm in the Psalter**. It’s a special Psalm because it calls all nations and all peoples to praise the name of the Lord.  He has done great and mighty things in our midst and for that we are to praise His name.  Frankly, if He did nothing for us but exist, He would still be worthy of all glory, praise and honor simply due to who He is.  He has done marvelous things.  His mercy has been shown in that we, who are worthy of nothing less than death, have been spared and given a chance to receive forgiveness for every ungodly thing we have ever thought, said or done.  His mercy was acted out in the person of Jesus, the Christ.  God’s loving-kindness is shown in His tender affection toward us. 
        The truth of the Lord is found in His word.  The word of God is alive and is food for the soul.  It encourages us, building up our spirit man.  Without a steady diet of God’s word we will begin to shrivel up and weaken spiritually speaking.
       God’s faithfulness is shown in that He has never, ever failed to do that which He has promised to do.  Just because a promise hasn’t been fulfilled in our midst doesn’t mean it isn’t coming.  Time is irrelevant to our Lord as evidenced by the following: But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8) and again: “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:4) 
       So you see God is more than worthy of all praise!  There is nothing He cannot and will not do for you if you are serving Him faithfully.  Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!
* The Amplified Bible.
** A book containing the book of Psalms or a particular version of, musical setting for, or selection from it.

Resources:  The Reformation Study Bible.