But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24 (HCSB)

Jane knew that her long list of things to accomplish for the day wouldn’t give her much time for herself. So sitting on the soft leather couch in the waiting area at the hair salon, she thought maybe she could find a few moments to read a book. Yet, no sooner had that thought crossed her mind than an elderly woman comes through the door and slowly sits down next to her. She disregards Jane’s immersion in her book and begins to explain all the aches and pains she is suffering. Jane lifts her head occasionally from her book to politely acknowledge the woman but tries her best to focus on the precious few moments she has to enjoy reading. Then the woman asks if she has a good doctor she goes to! So Jane puts her book on her lap and begins to tell her about the doctor she sees…

This scenario happens every day. Sometimes God interrupts our time so that His purposes may be accomplished. The question we should ask ourselves is this: Do we interpret those interruptions as God’s will or as a nuisance? There can be two ways to continue this story. One: Jane could be irritated that she didn’t get her “me time” and miss the opportunity to tell the woman about the Great Physician. Two: she could set aside her time and talk to a person in need of God’s love and be available for whatever God may be doing in that moment. As believers, we must be ready, selfless, and available to share the love of Christ with others – in word and in deed.

Paul is a great example of living a selfless life for Christ. In Acts 20 he is on his way back to Jerusalem for the celebration of Pentecost.  His life is in jeopardy there because many Jews are against him preaching the Gospel. To this he states, in verse twenty-four, that Jesus has sent him out to testify about the Gospel and he must not think about his own value. He is willing to sacrifice his life for the Kingdom of God.  When Paul was in Philip’s house in Caesarea, the Christians pleaded for him not to go to Jerusalem. He says to them in Act 21:13, “…What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus (HCSB).” He was ready to be obedient to God’s will no matter the cost.

What would you do if it were you in the story instead of Jane? Would you have been willing to set aside your perfectly scheduled plans? Would you have sacrificed your time lovingly for this woman’s eternal destiny? Ask yourself this: Are you ready for God’s interruptions? Be aware of the opportunities around you for the Holy Spirit to do His work through you. Be willing to sacrifice your “me time”, close your book, and be available for others God brings into your day. It’s not always easy to do but, thankfully, you can ask God to help you be selfless and obedient to His will for you each day. Truly… it’s not about you.

By Carol Jones


                                                                                                                                                                

And the Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of God arose against His people and there was no remedy. 2 Chronicles 36:15 (NAS)

 

The ground was cracked and the cisterns were dry; the land was desiccated. Message after message God sent to Israel through the prophet Jeremiah to repent of their wickedness and turn to the Lord but they would not listen. The people continued to cry to their gods but no rain came and the people were dying.

King Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and the city suffered all the more for it. The invading army surrounded Israel and cut off their supplies.  When King Nebuchadnezzar commanded the city be razed, the remaining Israelites watched in terror as the stench of smoke filled their nostrils and stung their eyes. Jerusalem was destroyed and all that they loved burnt to the ground.

No longer would the people of Israel, God’s chosen, trust in the Temple for their security while using it for pagan worship. No longer could they provoke Jehovah by sacrificing their children in the fire. No longer would they burn incense to the queen of heaven in the land of Jehovah. They had refused to stop worshiping the works of their hands so God destroyed their idols. They had refused to give the Sabbath rest to the land so God removed the people and gave the land rest.

Then the rain came. The dry cracked ground closed and the cisterns were filled with water once more and the land yielded its fruit again.

What messages have you been ignoring lately?  Are your inboxes filled and your table cluttered with mail you haven’t opened?  There may be other important messages we are ignoring.

Have you heard the quiet voice of the Spirit moving you to be kinder to your spouse or children or co-worker? Have you listened to the whisper of the Holy Spirit to give a portion of your time to aid someone in need? Have you listened to the concern of a friend who has implored you to end your interest in things unfitting for a child of God? Have you asked God why your spiritual life is dry? Listen and obey the quiet messages of God. And then wait for the rain.

By Karen Aker


New yearThe boy Samuel served the Lord in Eli’s presence. In those days the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread. 1 Samuel 3:1
The Lord continued to appear in Shiloh, because there He revealed Himself to Samuel by His word. 1 Samuel 3:21 (HCSB)

During the days of the judges, hearing from the Lord was rare. There were not many visions. Moses and Joshua had clearly communicated that God would bless the people if they continued to walk in obedience. However, if they disobeyed they would no longer enjoy the benefits and blessings of God and His covenant promises. The people lived in disobedience and God was largely silent. Things begin to change as God’s word comes to Israel through a godly priest named Samuel. God appears to Samuel, talking with him and revealing Himself through His word. The name of God in these verses is the covenant name, Yahweh.

What a contrast we see here between the chaos and anarchy of the era of the judges and the beginning of the monarchy period! Remember the cycle: disobedience, oppression, followed by their rescue by a God-appointed judge, followed by revival and peace, before complacency set in and the cycle repeated itself. That same cycle repeated over and over again. However, with the godly priest Samuel, God is “welcomed” back into the lives of the Israelites. I keep remembering the verses in Exodus 19:4-6 where God reminds the Israelites of what He did to Egypt with the plagues and how He “carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me.” God promises they they can be a treasured possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, but only if they keep His covenant and obey him fully.

Now with Samuel, Israel begins to see hope. As Samuel ministers before the Lord in Shiloh, the covenant God, Yahweh, continues to appear to him, talking to him, revealing Himself and His truth. Samuel had to be yielded and listen. God revealed Himself through his word.

Where do you stand as this new year begins? Will you sit quietly and listen to the Lord? Will you patiently wait to hear from the Lord? Join me in this prayer: “Lord, as I meet with you each day, may I wait patiently, not running ahead just hoping you will catch up with my agenda.”

In the days of the judges the phrase “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” keeps ringing in our ears. We do not want the chaos of the judges in this New Year. May we wait patiently to hear from the Lord by the Holy Spirit through His Word, the Bible.

By Carol McLaren

(For further reading: Exodus 19:1-21)