More Than Bread Devotional for 8/8/12

1 Timothy 2:20-21
20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and  silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Most of us would probably prefer to be the instruments of gold and silver in the Lord’s hands. Those are the places of honor and the high profile services. But there is a need for everyone and everything. Sometimes the dirty work of ministry is overlooked as people strive to do that which is more rewarding or appealing. But did you see the end of verse 21? When we are ready to be used, we are ready for “any good work”. If we  submit to God and His direction, we give up the right to choose how we are used by Him. It isn’t an easy thing to do, because sometimes He may choose to use us for work that we wouldn’t pick on our own. And sometimes He may choose to use us in a way that is beyond our wildest dreams. But no matter what, we must be willing to be used by Him.

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More Than Bread Devotional for 8/7/12

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.   – 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

This is a bit longer passage than I normally use, but I felt like I needed to get the whole scope of it in here.  It is no secret that Paul went through a lot in his life of faith as an apostle of Jesus Christ.  He catalogs his hardships and suffering in a couple of different places.  So it goes without saying that Paul wrote these words with plenty of experience to back them up.  I think the meaning is pretty self explanatory.  We can trust in God through all the things we face, knowing that He is faithful to carry us through to the end.  It doesn’t matter what things look like, God will make things right when all is said and done.  Things aren’t right you say; then I say things aren’t done.

In just a few more verses, Paul reinforces these thoughts by reminding us that we walk by faith, not by sight.  Don’t trust what you see and feel.  Feelings are temporary and sight can be fooled.  Trust the one who is trustworthy and the promises He has made.  They will never fail.

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More Than Bread Devotional for 8/2/12

Psalm 118:5-6:
5 In my anguish I cried to the LORD,
and he answered by setting me free.

6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

There are times when a verse comes to you that you just needed to see. Every one of us has moments of anxiety or unease. Sometimes the world can look like it is falling apart at the seams. We were discussing at our Bible study one night about the state of the world and what the Bible has to say about it. Then I noticed these verses in Psalm 118. It reminds me of the song that says, “If God be for us, who can be against us? Who can separate us from His mighty hand?” No matter what happens, God is with you.

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More Than Bread Devotional for 8/1/12

30  If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.  – 2 Corinthians 11:30

I find it funny that Paul says this after rattling off a list of circumstances that many of us feel might be “boast-worthy” in terms of hardship and persecution.  Yet, he says that he must boast of the things that show his weakness.  Paul didn’t see the trials that he had gone through as some sort of accomplishment as much as they were a testimony to God who saw him through them all.  That is worth boasting about any day.

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More Than Bread Devotional for 7/31/12

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.  – Psalm 130:5-6

Have you ever had a sleepless night where you found yourself staring at the clock?  It seems like the minutes drag on for hours at a time.  The psalmist knows that experience too, only he probably didn’t have a clock to watch the passing of time.  Waiting for the morning to come can sometimes feel like an eternity, and sometimes waiting on the Lord can feel the same way.  But we have this assurance.  Just as surely as the sun rises, the Lord will be true to His word.

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More Than Bread Devotional for 7/30/12

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.   – Isaiah 40:27-31

Have you ever felt like you were “hidden from God?”  We can all get weary for different reasons.  Perhaps you are undergoing a period of testing or tribulation and it feels like God is nowhere to be found.  Perhaps you feel unappreciated and as if no one even notices your absence or presence.  Isaiah reminds us of that which we should never forget.  The Lord does not grow weary, even if we should grow weary.  He will give us strength and renew us to continue on in the race.  This is part of what Jesus means when He promised that He would never leave us or forsake us.  He is with you at your weariest moment.  He is with you when you think all hope or strength is gone.  If you are weary, call on Him and let Him renew you today.

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More Than Bread Devotional for 7/10/12

10 The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.
11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

12  Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.  – Psalm 10:10-12

When things get tough, we are often tempted to think that God has forgotten about us.  We know His promises and all of that, but the situation at hand seems far too overwhelming or desperate and even the faithfulness of God at times before can be called into question in our mind.  The psalmist gives voice to these same feelings, so we know that they are not anything new to us.  We have to take our encouragement from the same source as well.  Remember God’s faithfulness and call out to Him.  He will answer and we know that He has never failed His own.

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More Than Bread Devotional for 7/9/12

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  – 1 Peter 4:12-13

Peter was there the night Jesus proclaimed to His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble.”  Apparently, He took the lesson to heart.  If you read the book of 1 Peter, you will see that Peter talks about suffering and trials quite a bit.  Next to several passages about submission to authority and one another, it is a near constant theme.  We don’t have to like it when life gets difficult, although we are still commanded to rejoice in the Lord always.  We don’t have to wonder why it is happening to us, because we should expect that these times will come in due course.  And we don’t have to wonder where God is in our times of trial, because He is right there with us.  He will never leave us or forsake us and that goes double for when the going gets tough.

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More Than Bread Devotional for 7/4/12

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.  – Hebrews 11:16

You know, the Fourth of July is a fun time, fireworks, parades, grilling out with family and friends and celebrating the birth of a nation all at the same time.  Yet, I can’t help but pause and remember that this country with all of its joys and its flaws as well is not at all comparable to the wondrous place that God has prepared for us.  We live in view of a much better country.  In fact, no country on this earth can hope to compete with the amazing joy of living in God’s country.  In fact, we even get a little taste of it as we serve and obey Him here on this earth.  This is what it means when Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is at hand.  It is here and now for those who trust and obey the King of Kings.  Do you know Him?

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More Than Bread Devotional for 7/3/12

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”  – Psalm 22:1-8

When Jesus cried out to the Father on the cross, He used the words that open this psalm.  At the moment of His greatest trial and anguish, it was the words of Scripture that came from His lips.  In a stroke of irony, one of the Gospel accounts also mention a spectator who quoted from this psalm as well.  Yet he quoted verse 8 in a mocking fashion.  The whole psalm is a study in the mighty plan of God for us, you and me.  Jesus was willing to suffer and be in agony for you and me.  He didn’t just play out some passion narrative; He was touched by real suffering and despair.  This is why He is there for us in our deepest trials and our loneliest moments.  He knows what it is like.  He has been in your shoes and He is with you even now.  Lean on the one who is closer than a brother.

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