Keeping Your Eyes on the Mission

Daily Devotional | Day 273

“And He [Jesus] said to them [the Apostles], ‘Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs not bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece’” (Luke 9:3, NKJV).

God will not send you where He will not provide for you. He will not send you where He will not protect you. That is why the best place to be is to be where God wants you. If you are where he wants you, you will know. If you are not sure, seek the spiritual guidance of a mature Christian whose judgment and discernment you value.

At the beginning of Luke 9, Jesus sent the 12 Apostles to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Part of the instructions for the assignment is what we read in today’s opening passage. Jesus begins by saying, “Take nothing for the journey.” To make sure the Apostles heard Him right, He specified the things they couldn’t take with them: no staff, no bag, no bread, and no money. They could, however, take a tunic, but only one piece.

When you read this for the first time, the question which comes to mind is, “Did Jesus really mean that?” You know the response: If Jesus said it, then He meant it. One wonders if any of the Apostles protested. The Bible is silent about that. How could Jesus send 12 men on such an important mission and command them to take nothing for the journey? There are a couple of reasons. But let’s talk about one, for now.

For God, the mission to preach the Gospel is the single most important mission. Why? Because what is at stake is the eternal salvation of precious souls. If you’re not convinced, think about the fact that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance (Luke 15:7). Every soul is precious in God’s eyes.

When the Lord commanded the 12 to take nothing for the journey, He was telling them that He needed them to focus completely on the mission. People get distracted by money and the cares of life. When that happens they lose focus and become compromised. When God sends us, He wants our full attention to be on the mission. He wants us to focus on Him and the assignment. Let’s leave everything else to Him. He won’t send us, if He won’t take care of us.

Today, let’s pray that the Lord will deliver His messengers from whatever can be a distraction to their calling. Amen.

For further study:  1 Kings 17:1-15 and 1 Corinthians 7:25-40

 

Completing Our Assignment

Daily Devotion: Day 217 | By Stephen Bilson-Ogoe

“But He [Jesus] said to them [His disciples], ‘I have food to eat of which you do not know . . . My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work’” (John 4:32-34, NKJV).

Jesus’ disciples had gone out to buy food. While they were away, Jesus had a lively discussion with a woman from Samaria who had come to Jacob’s well to draw water. Finally, the disciples returned to find Jesus speaking with the woman. At first, they were surprised, but they didn’t make a big deal of it. Once the Samaritan woman had left, the disciples urged their Master to eat. Today’s Scripture reading tells us what happened next.

Jesus stunned his disciples when He said, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” This left the disciples wondering if someone had brought Him something to eat. They were thinking about physical food. But, Jesus meant something else. “My food,” He explained, is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work.” This was Jesus’ secret food; call it His spiritual food.

What Jesus said reveals something profound about His spirituality. Food is necessary for life. Without it, we can hardly survive – let alone thrive. What Jesus meant, therefore, was that His very survival depended on doing the Father’s work and finishing it. This was Jesus’ source of spiritual nourishment.

One more thing: There are two parts to what Jesus said. The first part is doing the will of the Father. The second part is finishing the work. This is very important. It is not enough to do God’s work; it is necessary to complete the work. Why? Because, first, God deserves completed work. And second, for God, only completed work counts. Anything less is unacceptable. Jesus understood this.

Jesus indeed finished His work, as He declares in John 17:4, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You gave me to do.” And again, on the Cross: “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus finished His work, not so we will have no work to do, but to give us power to finish ours.

Even among us humans, we expect people to complete their assigned tasks, whether at home, at school or at the work place. No one wants uncompleted work. If you truly are committed to someone or something, you will put in your best effort by completing the work given to you. Uncompleted work is, usually, a symptom of laziness and lack of commitment.

Today, God wants you to draw inspiration from Jesus’ sense of duty, His tenacity and His commitment. Jesus completed His assignmentComplete yours.

May the Lord command His blessing upon you today. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Matthew 25:14-30

Spreading the Fragrance of Christ

Daily Devotional: Day 189

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

God is unstoppable. So is His Word. In Christ Jesus, God always prevails in His Word. As the Lord testifies in Isaiah 55:11, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (ESV). The Lord sends His Word through the ministry of Angels, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and many others. These servants of the Lord are unstoppable, too. The enemy may successfully stop some of them, but he cannot stop every messenger of God’s Word. In the end, God’s Word will prevail, accomplishing its divine purpose – by convicting, healing, encouraging, rebuking, correcting, exhorting, and revealing the secrets in people’s hearts.

Paul, an eminent Apostle of Christ, knew about this prevailing power of the Lord. Writing to the believers in Corinth, he praises God who always causes us to triumph in Christ. Paul and his companions in ministry encountered obstacle after obstacle, yet somehow, the Lord made a way for them to send His Word to the intended recipients. Through us, Paul continues, God manifests the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. Knowledge of God is like a fragrance. Through many messengers, the Lord diffuses this fragrance among people. And, the fragrance is unstoppable.

Then Paul adds, “we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” This means, to God, messengers of the Gospel are the fragrance of Jesus Christ. Wherever they go, this fragrance is revealed and diffused. Now notice the remaining part of today’s Scripture. Paul says that God’s messengers are the fragrance of Christ among two groups of people: those who are being saved, and those who are perishing. Not everyone receives the fragrance of Christ unto salvation. Some reject this fragrance, and in so doing, perish. Others, however, receive the fragrance unto life by submitting to the Lord’s message.

Today, know that God is counting on you to make a difference, too. As a Christian, you are – by default – a messenger of God. It is, therefore, important how you carry yourself. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, and whomever you are with, God’s purpose is to manifest the sweet-smelling fragrance of Christ through you. Make yourself available to Him. God doesn’t accept a mixture of fragrances: Christ fragrance plus sin fragrance or the worldliness fragrance. It’s all fragrance of Christ or nothing. Go out today and spread the fragrance of Christ in your deeds and words. Amen.

May the power of God’s Word prevail in your life and cause you to triumph in all things. Amen.

For further study: Romans 6:11-23

Where the Holy Spirit Leads

Daily Devotional: Day 151

“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:6-7, NKJV).

Paul, Silas and Timothy traveled together, delivering the decision of the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15:1ff) to the believers in several cities. Today’s passage tells us that at one point, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word of God in Asia. The Holy Spirit further prevented them from going into the Roman province of Bithynia. Instead, the Lord directed them to go to Macedonia; and they complied (cf. Acts 16:8-10).

Why would the Holy Spirit forbid God’s servants from preaching His word in certain places? After all, God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4). On the surface, the Holy Spirit’s decision doesn’t make sense. But if we look at things from a spiritual perspective, it should make sense. We need to understand and respect the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Jesus left Him in charge of the Church. To borrow a term from the corporate world, we might call the Holy Spirit, the Director General of all ministry tasks undertaken by the Church. Knowing this, we will do well to discern the will of the Spirit in all our ministry endeavors.

When Paul and his team were forbidden to preach in Asia and Bithynia, they didn’t fight it. They didn’t blame it on the devil. They humbly submitted to the Spirit’s will. How did they know that the Spirit didn’t want them to go to Asia and Bithynia? They discerned. Today, discernment is one of the critical areas of need in the Church. Without discernment, we would be operating in the dark, thinking we are working for the Lord, when in fact, we are on our own.

Some ministry decisions may appear right in our eyes, but to the Holy Spirit we would be operating against God’s will for us. Additionally, some things may appear to us as ministry opportunities, but to the Holy Spirit, that ‘opportunity’ may not be God’s will for us. At times we are so determined to do what we assume (without discernment) to be God’s will, that we fail to notice the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Bottom lineThe fact that you see an open door does not mean you must walk through it. Not all open doors are meant for you to enter. Some open doors are traps, not opportunities. Learn – by prayer and study of the Bible – to discern what the Spirit is saying in any given situation. Go where the Spirit wants you to go; don’t go where the Spirit doesn’t want you to go, even if you see opportunities; and finally, do what the Spirit wants you to do, according to the timing of the Spirit.

May the Father bless and increase you! Amen.

For further study: Matthew 10:1-15

The Holy Spirit Is Convicting Unbelievers

Daily Devotional: Day 150

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35, NKJV).

Peter made a life changing discovery when he visited the house of Cornelius to preach to him the message of salvation. Up to this point, the Gospel had been preached to only Jews and Samaritans. But in God’s plan, the Gentiles, too, were destined to become part of God’s Israel. Initially reluctant to go to Cornelius’ house, Peter finally changed his mind upon the prompting of the Holy Spirit. After listening to Cornelius’ account of the vision of the angel, Peter became convinced of the character of God regarding His election of people for salvation. Amazed, he declared, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” What can we learn from this passage?

First, God is no respecter of persons. For centuries, most Jews believed that salvation was their exclusive right based on their ethnic identity. But God reveals that He is interested in anyone who sincerely seeks the true God through repentance and righteousness (cf. John 16:7-11). That is what Cornelius did, and God accepted Him. God is not moved by our looks, our race, our ethnicity, our socio-economic standing, our education, etc. Peter least expected that God would appoint the Gentiles for salvation, let alone pour His Holy Spirit upon them. But that day, he discovered that God’s heart is big enough to welcome people of all nations who heed His voice.

Second, regardless of people’s prior religious background, if they seek the truth, God will reveal it to them and lead them to salvation in Christ. Cornelius was a Roman soldier, and not a Jew. But he sought the truth, and little by little, he realized that the true God was not to be found in idols, demonic ceremonies and rituals. God gave him all the help he needed and eventually opened to him the door of salvation. This is an important point for us Christians.

Consider the Bible passage in John 16:7-11. Through the Holy Spirit, God is reaching people of all nations and religions, convicting them of sin, righteousness and judgment. If anyone heeds His voice, God will lead him to Christ. We should, therefore, not rule anyone out (regardless of their current religion or lack of religion). God is actively at work among unbelievers to draw them to faith in Christ. Let’s pray that they will not resist the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, let’s reach out to as many unbelievers as we can, trusting that the Holy Spirit has gone before us to prepare the ground for the Word of God.

Have a blessed day, and may the Lord reveal His true nature to you! Amen.

For further study: Acts 11:1-18