There is No Substitute for Face-to-Face: 2 John 1:12-13

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2 John 1:12-13:

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. The children of your sister, who is chosen by God, send their greetings.

Several years back, when I worked on the staff of Anne Graham Lotz and sat under her teaching daily, I learned to study Scripture verse-by-verse, one paragraph at a time. I learned to never skip over the verses that seem “extra.” Whatever the next paragraph was, those were the verses up for that day. I approach each day’s study with the same simple prayer, “Holy Spirit, please open my mind and heart to understand your Word, and use these verses to change me to be more like yourself.” Over the last 7 years of this practice, I cannot tell you how many times I have been blessed and clearly instructed by verses I know I would have otherwise skimmed right over had I not been disciplined to simply study “the next paragraph.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Some of the Scripture is useful? No. All Scripture is useful … so that we will be equipped for everything. And “all Scripture” includes the genealogies, and the lists, and Leviticus and Numbers, and the greetings and the closings of the letters.

This is how I came to the two closing verses of 2 John in the waning pages of the New Testament.

It is Not Good to be Alone

12 – I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

We were created to be relational. We were designed for face-to-face interaction. There is no substitute for in-person communication. All other forms of communication are lacking and incomplete, and will leave us wanting more.

I find it absolutely fascinating that John found paper and ink to be an incomplete source of relationship communication, much like we experience today when our relationships seem primarily fed by texting, social media, and email. Why is that? I hypothesize that it is because our Creator intentionally designed us to be personally relational.

In Genesis 2, Moses records this account:

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being … The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” … So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Humankind was intentionally created to be in close, personal relationship with one another – to share work and responsibility and life and trouble and joy and happiness and sorrow together. It is not good for [us] to be alone.

13 – The children of your sister, who is chosen by God, send their greetings.

Verse 13, then, shows us the purpose and appropriate use of intermediary communication devices: relationship maintenance. We send greetings. We check in on someone. We let them know we miss them and we’re coming to visit soon. But, as John has shown us in the preceding verse, sending our “greetings” is not a substitute for relationship growth. Nothing is an adequate substitute for face-to-face interaction in a relationship that is growing.

What Then?

The book of 2 John is an instructive letter. John’s intention in writing it was to help grow those who would read it. In so doing, he would also strengthen and increase his relationship with them. In closing the letter, he acknowledges the insufficiency of anything other than face-to-face interaction in having complete joy and satisfaction in their relationship.

John’s frustration with the “technology” of his day being a poor substitute for face-to-face relationship is both comforting and informative. It’s comforting because we didn’t invent this problem; it’s clearly been around much longer than iPhones and Macbooks and Facebook and Snapchat.

And also comforting because God knows. This verse isn’t “extra.” It didn’t accidentally end up in the final edit of the Scriptures. He intended for us to have it and let it instruct our relationships. He created us to have close, in-person relationship with others. And whenever we try to substitute something “other” in place of God’s perfect design for us, we are left lacking.

These two simple verses are also informative because here we learn that one antidote to feeling incomplete joy in our relationships is really quite simple and, evidently, has not changed for several millennia: put down your [phone, laptop, pen] and go invest in a face-to-face relationship. Have a cup of coffee together. Go for a walk. Sit on the couch. Go for a drive. This relationship might be in your home (a child, a spouse, a parent), in your office (a boss, a coworker, a direct report, a client), or in your community (a neighbor, a friend, a person in need).

Where are you lacking face-to-face relationships? Which relationships are you maintaining with “greetings,” and which relationships are you intentionally growing? How can you be more intentional about pursuing your relationships and growing them, face-to-face?

All of Scripture

In closing, one final thought goes back to 2 Timothy’s admonition that all of Scripture is God-breathed and useful for our instruction, etc. Yes, this means don’t skip verses in your study; there are pearls of wisdom for rebuking and training in each one. But, I have also come to learn that this verse also means to take all of Scripture together – the whole context of God’s Word – for our “training in righteousness.”

There are many other verses in the Bible that instruct us about how we ought to care for our relationships. A few that come to mind immediately are: John 13:35; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13; John 15:13; Hebrews 10:24-25; Matthew 5:23-24; Ephesians 4:2-3. So, when you consider the care and feeding of each of your relationships, do take these simple closing verses from 2 John in context of the whole of Scripture. And especially if you are navigating a particularly difficult relationship, pray often and seek God’s wisdom (through Scripture) about how to apply all of His Word to that situation.

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Advent: Counting It All Joy When Christmas Hurts

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Advent is the season we look forward to the coming of Jesus — His birth as our Savior, and His eventual return as our reigning King. But in the context of our daily suffering, Advent also helps us to keep our eyes on Jesus as we place our hope in Him for our future understanding of our present hurt.

We’ve all read the exhortation of James to “count it all joy when you encounter trials of many kinds” (James 1:2) and wondered, “But, how? And if I can’t seem to ‘count the joy’ in the midst of my hurting, is there something wrong with my faith? What kind of Christian does that make me?”

It occurred to me recently that as humans, we are bound by the limits of our finite thinking. We seem to think there is some sort of expiration on our opportunity to give praise for a situation. But we often need the gift of retrospect to be able to see the good work of God in hard times.

So even if it takes the passing of time and a new perspective to be able to praise God for your trial, don’t let that moment pass you by! PRAISE HIM STILL. It’s not too late. You didn’t miss your opportunity. Because here’s the mystery of it all: We serve a God who transcends time (Hebrews 13:8). Therefore, it is never too late to count it all joy. 

If you are in a season of suffering, do not heap additional guilt on yourself if you’re having trouble praising Him for your trial while in the depths of your pain. That condemnation is not from God (Romans 8:1). But DO keep taking daily steps forward in your faith (Hebrews 11:1), believing God is good and righteous and loving and kind and that one day, you will be able to truly praise Him for this season. You will. He promises you will.

Christmastime can be an extraordinarily painful time of year for those who have been enduring a season of suffering. Indeed, there are no twinkling lights in the Valley of the Shadow. But the whole point of Advent is to give us hope for the future. So this year, let Advent lovingly cradle your downcast, tear-stained face in both hands, and gently lift your eyes back toward heaven. There is hope for the future there.

Merry Christmas.

Did Jesus Come to Save The Good Girls Too?

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We read in the Bible about Jesus and how he brought about radical life transformation in the form of:

  • Damascus Road conversions
  • Thief-on-the cross forgiveness
  • Mary Magdalene sacrifical devotion
  • Woman-at-the-well contagious discipleship

But what about those of us who grew up in a Christian home (or more generically, a “religious” home), a stable family, have never rebelled, are rule-followers, and always do the “right” thing. When we read the Bible, we may not “see ourselves” in the lives that Jesus touched, so how do we know we need Jesus? Did Jesus come to save us too?

Filthy Rags

First and foremost, it is imperative for us to know that no matter how “good” the Good Girls are, our “good works” are not good enough to earn our place in God’s presence. Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” And in case you’re a predominantly New Testament girl, Paul confirms this in Romans 3:10 saying, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” So, to Jesus, our outer “goodness” — the “righteousness” of our own striving — does not meet the standard of a Holy God. Apart from Jesus, our “goodness” is still like filthy rags. Our propensity for sin may look different than the rebellious girl next door, but our sin-stained souls are no different to God.

“God Has No Grandchildren”

As a Good Girl, our Christian upbringing is most definitely a blessing to us, but it will not save us from eternity in hell if we do not claim this faith for ourselves. Ezekiel 18:20 says, “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.” And Romans 14:12 says, “Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” Jesus himself said, “’Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24). There are many other Scriptures that point to our individual need to respond to God in faith. These are only a few.

Having worked on Anne Graham Lotz’s ministry team, I heard her say on numerous occasions, “God has no grandchildren.” Can you imagine being the daughter of THE Reverend Dr. Billy Graham? Talk about spiritual coattails! And yet, Anne will be the first one to tell you that if she were to try to stand in the shadow of her father on Judgment Day, she would be denied a place in heaven. God has no grandchildren. No matter how “good” or religious or spiritual or Christian of a family we come from, at some point, we must make our own decision to follow Christ. Our parents’ faith will not save us.

Rule Followers

It is easy for us “Good Girls” to mistake our “rule following” for Christian-living, when it may be more akin to Pharisaical legalism or self-reliance. Jesus said to the Pharisees: “‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness’” (Luke 11:39). Jesus goes on in this passage to warn the Pharisees repeatedly of presenting an outer “good” image, when the reality of their hearts was sinful.

This can be tricky for a Good Girl. Because, it’s not the good deeds and “rule following” in and of themselves that are wrong. As Christians, good deeds are required! In fact, James says clearly that faith without good deeds is dead (James 2:14-26). In that context, good works that are done in response to Christ’s transformation of our heart are evidence of our faith.

But this should not be confused with trusting in our own Good Girl rule following and “good works” as the means of our salvation. Scripture is abundantly clear that all the rule following and good works we can muster will not save us. Our eternal salvation is only secured by God’s mercy and grace through faith in Jesus (Titus 3:4-6).

This is a danger of living the Good Girl life because “being good” is easy for us to do, even if, in reality, our hearts are not close to the Lord. As a Good Girl, this will likely be something we need to watch for, and perhaps repent from, daily.

Old Nature, New Nature

It is our “nature” to be a Good Girl, but when we are saved, God commands us to put off our old nature, and put on our new nature. This can be tough for us Good Girls because we may not think we need a radical lifestyle transformation. We keep on doing the “new self” Good Girl things, which look an awful lot on the outside like the “old self” Good Girl things. But that is the key: the kind of “old self-new self” transformation Jesus works in us originates from the inside-out; not from the outside-in (Ephesians 4:22-24 and Romans 12:2). We may not need a radical lifestyle transformation, but we very well may need a radical heart transformation.

When we reflect on the true nature of our heart, us Good Girls might especially find sin lurking there in the form of pride or selfishness or resentment or greediness or self-reliance or idolatry. It’s easy to “hide” these sins, masterfully masked by our Good Girl exteriors. But do not be fooled that these sins of the heart are any less destructive than sins of the flesh. The heart is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23) and eventually, our life will reflect what we keep there. When sin lurks in the heart, it inevitably begins a slow rot unto death of friendships, of marriage, of commitment, of life.  As David confronted his own sin, he knew the only path to a transformed life was through this heart, so he prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

Good Girls Need Jesus Too

In case you’re confused, let me be clear: Being a Good Girl is good. It truly is. We probably saved our parents a lot worry and grief; we tend to bless those around us; we typically don’t bring external destruction to our world. But we must be equally clear that those are benefits of being a Good Girl in this life.  All through Scripture, God shows us that His primary concern is with our eternal life, which is determined by the state of our heart. For our life in eternity (which, incidentally, drastically impacts our life here on earth also, but that’s a post for another day) we cannot depend on our upbringing, or rely on our good deeds, or look to the “goodness” of our outer self. But rather, we look to the inside. Because on the inside, “Good Girls” look like everyone else (Romans 3:23). We have a heart stained by sin, unacceptable to a holy God. The only hope for a Good Girl — for all of us — is Jesus. If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, then we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).

Yes, Good Girls need Jesus too. We all need Jesus

An Outline for Christian Living in 2016

When I am using my computer to read or study Scripture, I most often wind up at biblegateway.com. You’ll find that all my scripture URLs link there because I find it an excellent resource for reading the Bible online in an undistracted format, with access to many translations (which is super important to me).

Since I am there often, I also frequent the Bible Gateway blog:

This week, like many blogs, Bible Gateway is featuring a Top Ten List for 2015. Theirs, as you might imagine, are the Top Ten Verses in 2015. These are the verses most often accessed this year, according to Bible Gateway analytics data. They are:

  1. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
  2. Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
  3. Philippians 4:13: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
  4. Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
  5. Psalm 23:4: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
  6. Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
  7. Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
  8. Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
  9. 1 Corinthians 13:7: “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
  10. Proverbs 3:6: “[I]n all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

What occurred to me as I read through these verses: What a wonderful, simple outline for Christian living as we enter into a near year.

Might we reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness to us throughout 2015 and might 2016 reveal in us a growing dependency on Christ and His Word, and a heart that yearns for Him.

Happy New Year.

My Spiritual Pet Peeve: “We are so blessed.”

One of my big spiritual pet peeves right now is when Christians say things like: “We just had such a great beach vacation. We are so blessed.”

No. You are fortunate. You should be thankful. You should acknowledge what a great vacation you had and what a luxury it is to have such an experience. You should be GRATEFUL.

But for something to be true, its inverse must also be true.

And by proclaiming your beach vacation a “blessing” what you’re saying is “My good circumstances are evidence of God’s blessing on my life.”

The inverse of which would be, “My difficult circumstances are evidence of God withholding his blessing … or of God’s curse on my life.”

And for a follower of Jesus, this has no scriptural truth whatsoever.

In fact, THIS is what God considers worthy of His “blessing” –

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

Matthew 5:1-12 (NLT)

So, when you are relating something positive that’s happened or going on, please don’t Christianize it by calling it a “blessing.” Instead, say something like, “We just had such a great beach vacation. We are really thankful for that time together!”

And, when you are claiming God’s blessing, or you are asking for God’s blessing, understand that the process of being “blessed” is going to be a whole life’s journey that includes:

  • realizing our utter need for Him
  • mourning
  • being humbled and learning humility
  • hungering and thirsting for justice
  • being merciful
  • having a pure heart
  • working for peace
  • being persecuted
  • being mocked
  • being lied about and having evil things said about you

In short, to ask for and expect to receive God’s blessing is to surrender YOUR life and YOUR heart and YOUR will to Him to be made more and more like that of Jesus, who fully embodied each of those things.

And, why in the world would someone want that?

Because, I expect God’s true blessing is more abundantly beautiful and wonderful than any “good circumstances” I could possibly imagine or ask for here on earth, for God promises “a great reward awaits you in heaven.”

Tis the Season to Receive

Tis the season to receive. 

Wait. What? No, we are nearing Christmas. This is the season to share love, peace, hope, and joy generously with others. It’s the season to lavish the gift of giving on those around us.

But, what if, friend, you have nothing to give? How does one pour water from an empty cup? That’s a sad picture, isn’t it?

Yet, this is often how we walk through our days, attempting to pour out peace and joy from the empty cups of our hearts and wondering why it is so difficult to share the love of Christ with those around us.  

But, friends, when we do not first take time to receive from The Lord through scripture, prayer, and worship, then we walk into our day empty handed, with nothing to extend to those we love except whatever we can muster from our own strength. I don’t know about you, but when I do this, I usually run out of my own love, peace, joy, and hope by about 8:30 in the morning. 

Instead, God tells us to first receive from Him, so that we can be emptied as we love Him by serving others…and then we return to Him to be filled again. We see this played out repeatedly in Scripture. Here are just three examples:

  • God first blessed Abram so that Abram would be a blessing to others.
  • The Old Testament prophets first received the Word of The Lord and then gave out the Word of The Lord.  Isaiah writes, “Then The Lord said to me” and then Isaiah obediently gave out the word of The Lord to Israel. Jeremiah writes, “The Lord gave me this message …” And then Jeremiah obediently gave out the word of The Lord to the people.  Ezekiel writes, “A message came to me from The Lord” and, in turn, Ezekiel obediently gave that message to the people saying, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says…”. 
  • Jesus’ own disciples spent three years walking, living, and learning with Jesus before He sent them out on their own to share the Good News and build His church.

So, as you seek opportunities to share the love, joy, hope and peace of Christ in this season of giving, take time to first receive from Him:

  • Read your Bible: It is God’s own Word to you and it is free for the taking.
  • Pray: Thank God for His love for you and His never-ending supply of peace and ask Him to equip you with joy and hope for your day.
  • Worship The Lord with music that exalts His name and tells of His goodness. (Hint: much of your Christmas playlist might do this!!)

Be blessed to be a blessing. Hear from The Lord and then obediently give out His Word. Walk with, live with, and listen to The Lord and you will have all you need to pour out His Good News on all those you encounter. 

Tis the season.

Resources

There are many wonderful resources to encourage your daily Bible study, prayer, and worship. Here are just a few I recommend:

When God Says “No”

When was the last time you prayed for something and God’s answer was “no”?

  • Have you prayed for healing for a dear friend with cancer and instead, she passes away leaving her young children and husband to grieve in this world?
  • Have you prayed for a job in a season of unemployment and instead joblessness persists as you watch your savings account dwindle?
  • Have you prayed for a baby — just one baby — and instead, remain childless?
  • Have you prayed for a spouse and instead, remain single and alone, heartbroken for someone to share your joys and sorrows?

When we receive this response to our fervent prayers, I think sometimes we try to mentally soften the blow to our disappointed hearts by receiving this answer more as a “not now” or “not yet”. We might even consider our prayer, “unanswered”. (Although, for the record, I don’t think this idea of “unanswered” prayer is scriptural for God says, “Call to me and I will answer you” (Jeremiah 33:3).) It may take longer than we wish to receive or understand God’s answer, but the truth is, the Bible is full of examples when God’s answer to a just, verdant, and even good prayer request was … “No.”

  • Moses wanted to go into the Promised Land. But God told him ‘no’ and instead raised up Joshua to lead the Israelites into the promised land. (Deut. 3:23-27)
  • David wanted to build the Temple. But God told him no and instead used his son Solomon to build it and in so doing, bring peace to Israel (1 Chronicles 22:7-10)
  • Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to heal their brother Lazarus when he was sick. Jesus answered no and instead raised Lazarus from the dead. (John 11)
  • Jesus himself asked that the cup of suffering be taken from him as he prayed just prior to his crucifixion. God said no, but instead sent angel to strengthen him to complete the work set before him. (Luke 22:42-44)

In each of these situations, the “no” God gave was because He had a greater plan yet to be revealed.

I have been praying for months about two things (and by “things”, I don’t mean material things, I mean “circumstances”). Two good things that I believed would provide our family greater stability, more time together, and an increased opportunity to serve Him by serving in our community. I was not asking God for wealth or stuff. I was not asking God for popularity or prestige. I was not asking God for status or success. I was asking Him to make provision for us by allowing two particular good circumstances to come to pass, if it was His best for us.

But His answer was … “No.”

It is a hard thing to (sincerely) pray, “Thy will be done” and then accept the outcome when His will isn’t that for which we hoped. But we do so because if what we want isn’t God’s best for us, then … do we really want it? I don’t.

God has not yet revealed His greater plan for us. It has been hard — even painful — to accept and understand these circumstances, but because it is His nature to say “no” when His plans are greater than ours, I know He will.

In the meantime, I continue to abide in these truths: “Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5).

Stormy Weather

Did you know the lifecycle of a thunderstorm — from first cloud formation to storm dissipation — can be as little as only 30 minutes?! And:

  • Thunderstorms occur in all 50 states in America. (No one is exempt.)
  • They can occur at any time, day or night, throughout the entire year. (It is always storm season.)
  • Approximately 1800 thunderstorms are in progress at any given moment around the world and lightning strikes the earth 100 times every second. (SO many people impacted by thunderstorms around the world while here we may sit, basking in sunshine.)
  • Any person who is outside during a thunderstorm is at risk for being struck by lightning. (Storms present real danger: everyone should seek shelter immediately in a storm).

In sum: Thunderstorms can form quickly, can cause harm, and nearly everyone at some point will experience one.

Just like thunderstorms, oh, how quickly the storms of life can sneak upon us, toss us from side to side, and cause us to fear and doubt: a health crisis, job loss, divorce, bankruptcy, out-of-control children, death of a family member or relationship, a broken heart (just to name a few). We find ourselves asking questions like: “How did this happen?” “Where is God in this?” “Who will help me through this?” “What possible good could come from this situation?”

Consider this familiar “Storm Story” from Luke’s gospel:

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. 23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. 25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” (Luke 8:22-25, NLT)

I see at least four lessons here that apply to the storms of life:

  • Jesus sets our direction into the storm (v. 22)
  • Jesus is with us in the midst of the storm (v. 23)
  • Jesus has authority over the storm (v. 24)
  • Jesus uses the storm to increase our faith (v. 25)

Friends, no one is exempt from the storms of life – no, not one. They can occur at any time, day or night, throughout the entire year. So, when you see “storm clouds” brewing on the horizon or if a storm sneaks up on you with no warning — tossing and turning life in ways you could have never predicted — rather than reacting in fear and doubt, choose to look up and see Jesus:

  • Thank Him for His sovereign will over you
  • Praise Him for His steadfast faithfulness to you
  • Revere Him for His authority over and around you
  • Worship Him for His sanctifying work in you

Our Daily Bread

Jesus teaches us to pray: “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

Our Daily Bread: not necessarily the physical and practical things we think we need (though sometimes this is true), but the Living Word of God that feeds our heart, encourages our faith, and sustains our spirit.

I received tremendous encouragement from this passage from my daily Bible reading plan two days ago. This morning, it provides for my spirit in ways I had no idea I would even need then. How truly He has provided Daily Bread for me:

“The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the Lord rescued you with such a strong hand from your slavery and from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. (emphasis mine) Deuteronomy 7:7-9 (NLT)

The Word of The Lord.

In the Battle

13But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13-14, NLT)

The Israelites were commanded were to be still and let The Lord fight for them. Just stay calm. I imagine this didn’t mean, “literally don’t move.” But it does perhaps mean that the Israelites only engaged in “camp” activity that was truly necessary (perhaps both physical and spiritual).  I think God knew if the Israelites tried to come up with a plan of their own, they would be fearful and doubt-filled, become disorganized and the situation could easily turn into panic.

Practically: When you find yourself under “attack” — even fearful and doubt-filled — perhaps it’s time to just camp where you are for a bit. Engage only in the necessary activities of life: practically (“get back to the basics”) and spiritually (prayer, scripture, fellowship). Don’t try to change everything in the midst of battle.  Be still.  In faith.  Let The Lord fight for you.