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Trust in God’s goodness - THURSDAY 15 JUNE

‘The LORD is good.’ Nahum 1:7 NIV (2011 Edition)

The Bible says, ‘When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come…down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us…gods who can lead us”’ (Exodus 32:1 NLT). Why did Israel make a golden calf? Because they wanted a god you can see. It’s harder to relate to an invisible God, and Moses, His representative, stayed on Mount Sinai so long they felt helpless and abandoned. So they did what we do when we’re scared – resort to the comfort of the familiar. Mark D. Roberts writes: ‘How often do we find ourselves in a situation like the Israelites? We hear God’s call to something new, and boldly step out in faith. But when we don’t sense His presence and our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling, we feel abandoned, scared, and helpless. We grasp for the familiar.’

The Bible says, ‘The LORD is good…He cares for those who trust in him.’ Nancy Ortberg says: ‘The difficult parts of change are most often where God lives…All the things I glibly say, in change I have to live out…Most of us go kicking and screaming instead of moving into it with an assuredness that not only is God on the other side, but new facets of Him that we haven’t heretofore understood are also there. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, a job loss, a move across the country, becoming an empty nester – if we allow ourselves to push through the difficult parts we’ll discover God is there…and He’s entirely, wonderfully, amazingly, good.’ When God closes one door, He opens another – but you must be willing to walk through it.

Forgive – and set yourself free - WEDNESDAY 14 JUNE

‘Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.’ Ephesians 4:32 NKJV

Years after her harrowing experience in a Nazi concentration camp, Corrie ten Boom was speaking in a church when she found herself standing face-to-face with a man who had been one of the cruellest guards she had ever met in the camps. This man had humiliated and degraded both her and her sister, jeering at them and visually ‘raping’ them as they stood in the delousing shower. Now he stood before her with an outstretched hand, asking, ‘Will you forgive me?’ Corrie said, ‘I stood there with coldness clutching at my heart, but I knew that the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. I prayed, “Jesus, help me!”

Woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me, and when I did I experienced an incredible thing. The current started in my shoulder, raced down into my arm, and sprang into our clutched hands. Then this warm reconciliation seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. “I forgive you, brother,” I cried with my whole heart. For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I have never known the love of God as intensely as I did in that moment.’ The Bible says, ‘Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’ (Ephesians 4:32 KJV). Who are you struggling to forgive today? Rise above your feelings and do it! When you do, you will set yourself free and be able to walk in the peace and joy of the Lord.

Today God is with you - TUESDAY 13 JUNE

‘But they were not able to recognise who he was.’ Luke 24:16 MSG

When you face a crisis it’s easy to lose perspective. It happened to two of Christ’s disciples on the Emmaus Road. Discouraged about His death, they were ‘going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their…questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognise who he was’ (vv. 14-16 MSG). When you take your eyes off Jesus, you start to feel helpless about your situation.

Dr Michael Youssef says: ‘Facing a major crisis, I tend to be the kind of person whose vision becomes blurred. My perceptions are shot. My contemplations are one-sided. I often shut out the very people who can deliver me, just like those two disciples…Their vision was blurred about the person who was walking with them and talking to them. The one whose death they were mourning was alive…but they didn’t realise it because their focus was on the wrong thing.’ But everything changed the minute they recognised Jesus.

‘Within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There…the two…told…how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along…and how they had recognised him as he was breaking the bread’ (vv. 33-35 NLT). Note the words ‘within the hour’. In an instant they went from fear to courage, pain to joy, and despair to hope. Paul wrote, ‘I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened’ (Ephesians 1:18 NIV 2011 Edition). When you stop focusing on the problem and fix your eyes on Jesus, you get 20/20 vision and you’re filled with hope.

‘Precious blood – precious you!’ - MONDAY 12 JUNE

‘It was the precious blood of Christ.’ 1 Peter 1:19 NLT

The Bible says, ‘God paid a ransom…it was not paid with mere gold or silver…it was the precious blood of Christ’ (vv. 18-19 NLT). You must come to a place in your life where you are secure in who you are ‘in Christ’; where you don’t allow your sense of worth to be based on the opinions or actions of others. Stop trying to find your worth in how you look, or in what you do for a living, or in how people treat you. Your worth in God’s eyes is incalculable because Jesus shed His blood for you. ‘Precious blood, precious you!’ Yes, you have faults. Yes, there are things about you that need to be changed, but God is working on you just as He is on everybody else. Don’t let somebody else dump their issues on you.

You’re a blood-bought child of God! Don’t allow them to make you feel worthless or useless because they don’t know how to treat you right, or love you as you deserve to be loved. Don’t spend your life trying to win their acceptance or approval. You’ve already been accepted and approved by God, so make sure your validation and sense of worth come from Him. You’re redeemed by Christ’s blood, covered by Christ’s blood, and accepted through Christ’s blood. And since His blood is ‘precious’, that makes you precious too! Satan, who’s called ‘the accuser’, would like you to forget that and see yourself only in the light of your flaws and failures. Instead, get up every morning, look in the mirror, and announce, ‘I am precious, because I have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus!’

The beauty of the breastplate (3) - SUNDAY 11 JUNE

‘Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious.’ 1 Peter 2:7 NKJV

We learn from looking at the breastplate worn by Israel’s high priest that:

a) we are precious to God;

b) we are close to His heart;

c) He will never turn His back on us.

You say, ‘If God will never turn His back on us, does that mean we can live any way we please?’ No, and here’s why. As a redeemed child of God, not only are you precious in His eyes, He is also precious in your eyes. So you will value your relationship with Him above all else and protect it from anything that threatens it. Question: When you realise how valuable and precious you are in God’s eyes, does that make you want to go out and sin, or continue living in sin? Of course not! On the contrary, your thoughts will run more along the lines of: ‘This is not how a believer who is precious to the Lord behaves.’

A precious diamond doesn’t belong in the mud, grime, and filth of sin. Its rightful place is close to the heart of God where it sparkles and shines. Knowing your true, righteous, and precious-to-God identity in Christ elevates you above the desire to give in to sin. It makes you want to walk and live as a child of the King. Indeed, holy living is the result of seeing yourself as God sees you – ‘in Christ’. Instead of giving in to temptation, you’ll ask yourself, ‘What would Jesus do in this situation?’ Then you’ll draw on His strength and do the right thing. A true understanding of God’s grace doesn’t prevent holiness, it produces it.