Acts 20:22-23 ” And now, compelled by the Spirit; I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”

Sometimes fulfilling the Ministry we’ve been called to is fraught with difficulties and affliction. But the Holy Spirit continues to drive us forward…bearing witness that although we may be suffering for a bit now, we are ultimately fulfilling the Plan and Purpose of God. For Paul, God spoke of this suffering just after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus when He told Ananias to go pray for him. Speaking into the future, God said, “I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name.” (Acts 9:16) Suffering for the Lord’s Name is the highest calling of any Ministry and anyone who does is counted worthy of the Gospel.

Isaiah 6:8 ” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ “

“Here am I. Send me!” are probably the five most scariest words you’ll ever utter to the Lord. It may come immediately after hearing that still small voice…your spirit bearing witness to the authenticity that it’s truly a Word from God. There’s no uncertainty or confusion on your part…for you know, that you know, that you know it’s from Him. But it also may come only after days, weeks, months, or years of a relentless voice that seems to grow louder and more persistent with each passing day, despite how much you try to ignore , or make excuses for why you can’t do what God is asking. When God asked, “Whom shall I send?” it was merely a rhetorical question…for He already knew the answer. But what God was really asking for was Isaiah’s obedience.

John 1:47-48 ” When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, ‘Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.’ ‘How do You know me?’ Nathanael asked.”

Imagine the bewilderment of Nathanael when this stranger named Jesus knew all about him. But it’s easy to believe…for in both the Psalms and Isaiah it tells us that the Lord not only determines the number of stars and brings them out one by one, but calls them each by name. So if God can name every star in the night sky, He knows your name and everything about you. Need more proof? John 10:3 tells us that the sheep listen to the Shepherd’s Voice and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, not only knows your name and every detail of your life, but wants you to return to Him…for He loves you very much.

Jeremiah 31:3 ” The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’ “

There is nothing to compare with the unspeakable love and tender mercies of God in the covenant relationship He has with His people. This love God has for His people is lasting and forever and demonstrated by the Holy Spirit as He gently draws us to Jesus. We thank You today for Your unfailing mercy, faithfulness, and love, O Lord.

Psalm 80:7 ” Restore us, O God Almighty; make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.”

No matter where you live in the world, this Pandemic has touched us all to the point that we could use some restoration and Renewal…a returning and turning back to basic fundamentals of our Christian faith in Christ and salvation. Titus 3:4-5 tells us, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” God’s mercy is shown in our salvation as He acts to reverse the adverse effects of sin and relieve us of our moral and spiritual wretchedness…delivering us from the miserable- though rightfully deserved- condition of sin, guilt, and eternal death. This is all contained within the Gospel Message…the Good News that we can be saved and forgiven from our rebellion against the God Who created us if we will trust in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Restore us O God…turn us around back to You and deliver us for our good and Your glory. Amen.

Micah 6:8 ” He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Prior to this verse in Chapter 6, the people were attempting to win back God’s favor…to the point of proposing to offer human sacrifices to Him. (Micah 6:7) Their spiritual ignorance shocked Micah and left him shaking his head in amazement. God has made known to you very clearly what He requires of you…”I desire mercy not sacrifice.” Further, in Matthew 23:23, we find Jesus blasting the Teachers of the Law for focusing on man-made traditions and rituals all the while neglecting the basic fundamentals of justice, mercy and faithfulness. The requirements of this verse in Micah can be best summed up in Mark 12:33, “To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Or simply put, a Believer’s lifestyle should emulate God’s character and His ultimate plan and purpose in our lives.

Psalm 119:18 ” Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law.”

The only way to know the Word of God is to open the book and read for yourself. For when you look you will receive. And as you read, you will learn. For the Bible is the infallible Word of God…it says what it says and means what it means. And as you learn you will gain insight and moral discernment in order to live out the Word in your life. Psalm 119:27 goes on to say, “Let me understand the teaching of Your precepts; then I will meditate on Your wonders.” But the only way to understand God’s Word is to first get into God’s Word for yourself.

Psalm 78:2-4 ” I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old – what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done.”

Jewish fathers were instructed to teach their children… recounting the miracles and mighty deeds of God their Deliverer. This handed down oral history was necessary as we see in Deuteronomy Chapter 11 because the children had not seen or experienced the miracles of God. So the fathers were instructed to, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:19) Sadly, every time a precious saint of the Lord dies, so does a bit of oral history, that can never to be retrieved. So I would encourage you today to share with the younger generation exactly what the Lord has done in your life…for Psalm 71:18 tells us, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare Your power to the next generation, Your might to all who are to come.”

Romans 7:24-25 ” What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Paul had a way of cutting through the flowery language and being brutally honest about who he really was without Jesus in his life. He was one miserable human being… spiritually dead and separated from God. But in the next breath, Paul speaks of being eternally grateful that Jesus Christ had set him free and liberated him from the law of sin and death.(Romans 8:2) For in reality we can only serve one master…we can either be a slave to sin, or a slave to obedience. (Romans 6:16)

II Kings 4:27 ” When she reached the man of God at the mountain, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi came over to push her away, but the man of God said, ‘Leave her alone! She is in bitter distress, but the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me why.’ “

This was a Shunammite woman who had made a small room on the roof of her house for Elisha to stay when he was traveling in the area. The prophet Elisha was very grateful and wanted to reciprocate, so he asked his servant Gehazi, “What can I do for her?” Gehazi replied, “Well, she has no son and her husband is old.” So Elisha prophesied to the woman that God would give her a son…and He did. But a few years later the young boy fell ill and died in his mother’s arms. The grieving Shunammite woman then set off looking for Elisha and found him at Mount Carmel. But God did not divulge the reason to Elisha, for the Lord wanted him to live in the moment with her, experience her emotions, and meet her where she was at. Similarly, In I Samuel 1:15, the Priest Eli saw Hannah deeply troubled in prayer in the Temple but thought she was drunk and didn’t realize the truth until he spoke to her. If God shrouds things from us it’s for a specific reason. ..we may not need to know the details in order to help/pray for the person, or He may want us to just share in the emotion of the moment.

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