God will use what we have even if we seem it inadequate. Our willingness is all that's needed. He can turn our lack into plenty. Every day we give ourselves to Him and His purposes, miracles can happen. From
The apostles came back and told Jesus everything they had done. He then took them with him to the village of Bethsaida, where they could be alone. But a lot of people found out about this and followed him. Jesus welcomed them. He spoke about God's kingdom and healed everyone who was sick. Late in the afternoon the twelve apostles came to Jesus and said, “Send the crowd to the villages and farms around here. They need to find a place to stay and something to eat. There is nothing in this place. It's like a desert!” Jesus answered, “You give them something to eat.” But they replied, “We have only five small loaves of bread and two fish. If we are going to feed all these people, we will have to go and buy food.” There were about 5,000 men in the crowd. Jesus said to his disciples, “Tell the people to sit in groups of 50.” They did this, and all the people sat down. Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up toward heaven and blessed the food. Then he broke the bread and fish and handed them to his disciples to give to the people. Everyone ate all they wanted. What was left over filled twelve baskets.
Luke 9:10-17 CEV
My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don't use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love. All the Law says can be summed up in the command to love others as much as you love yourself.
Galatians 5:13-14 CEV
Every Thought Captive—Really?
We once thought of the mind as an immutable thing. The brain you were born with and the way it worked—or didn’t—were just “how it was”; no sense fretting over what can’t be changed. We now know that the brain is constantly changing, whether or not we intend for it to.
With this in mind—and in hopes of discovering how we can break free from our spiraling thought patterns—I started studying the brain. I began to see a pattern at work in many of us. Our emotions were leading us to thoughts, and those thoughts were dictating our decisions, and our decisions were determining behaviors, and then the behaviors were shaping our relationships, all of which would take us back to either healthy or unhealthy thoughts.
Round and round and round we go, spinning down, seemingly out of control, our lives becoming defined by this endless cycle.
Unless. Unless there is a way to interrupt it.
What if, instead of spending our energy trying to fix the symptoms, we went to the root of the problem? The reality is that our emotions are a byproduct of the way we think. What’s good about this news is that we can change our thinking.
The apostle Paul understood the war that takes place in our thoughts, how our circumstances and imaginations can become weapons that undermine our faith and hope. The Bible records his bold declaration that we are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV).
Take every thought captive? Is this even possible? Because honestly, my thoughts run wild a lot of the time. But my deep dive into the inner workings of the brain confirmed what the Bible says: we can take every thought captive. Not only can our thoughts be changed, but we can be the ones to change them.
God, help me break the cycle of my out-of-control thoughts. I want Your truths to invade every decision, every emotion, every thought I have. Amen.
From Get Out of Your Head devotional by Jennie Allen on Youversion.
Peace in Christ
How do we define unity? As soon as we attempt to do so, unity vanishes, because how we define unity becomes more important than the person who makes us one. Consider instead Paul’s approach to the shamefully carnal and divided early Christian community in Corinth. “I decided,” he declared, “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2, italics mine).
Our differences don’t go away when we are together in the presence of Jesus, but the cross puts our sin, our self-centeredness, and our hostility to death.
These verses must be the center piece of every Christ-follower:
For he [Jesus] is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups [hostile Jews and Gentiles or hostile _________ and _____________] into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us . . . that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death their hostility through it. (Ephesians 2:14-16)
Jesus did this for us, for our whole hostile world, and He prayed for you and me in John chapter 17—as He continues to pray for us—to be one. And get this, He prays for us to be one as He and the Father are One. As the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one in the Holy Trinity. We are not just talking about agreements to be nice to each other even if we don’t like each other. To be one as the three Persons of the Trinity are one is, well, mind-boggling.
Before Jesus broke down the dividing wall that existed between us, hostility reigned. Why is it so difficult for us to enjoy the fruit of this wonderful work Jesus did for us—peace?
My deepest personal conviction is this: Our relationship with God is based on Jesus plus nothing, and that changes everything. In contrast, if we believe that God loves us, or another person, because of Jesus plus something, then that “something” will always divide us. Jesus put an end to the hostility that divided us at the cross. He took care of the dividing wall.
The apostle Paul uses a powerful image to help us understand how unity works. The Bible uses the term “unity” perhaps most notably in Ephesians 4:3: “Making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Notice it doesn’t say, “Maintain the unity we create for God.” No, Paul is urging us to keep the unity of the Spirit. It isn’t our business to make unity happen. It’s our business to make every effort to honor and uphold what God gives us in Christ. Unity is never a human thing. It’s always a God thing.
It is a unity, a oneness that is possible only through the miracle-working love of God—love that’s patient and kind. Love that pleads with God to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Beloved Father, thank you for making peace happen. I pray that you will give me the grace to make every effort to honor and uphold what you have given us in Christ. Amen.
From the United in Christ study by the John 17 movement and the El Centro Network on Youversion
Don't be annoyed by anyone who does wrong, and don't envy them. They will soon disappear like grass without rain. Trust the Lord and live right! The land will be yours, and you will be safe. Do what the Lord wants, and he will give you your heart's desire. Let the Lord lead you and trust him to help. Then it will be as clear as the noonday sun that you were right. Be patient and trust the Lord. Don't let it bother you when all goes well for those who do sinful things. Don't be angry or furious. Anger can lead to sin. All sinners will disappear, but if you trust the Lord, the land will be yours.
Psalms 37:1-9 CEV
Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? It is exactly as the Scriptures say, “For you we face death all day long. We are like sheep on their way to be butchered.” In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. I am sure that nothing can separate us from God's love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God's love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Romans 8:35-39 CEV
Many people never see God part the Jordan River in their lives because their feet are firmly planted on dry ground. We’re waiting for God to make a move while God is waiting for us to make a move. We say to God, “Why don’t you part this river?” And God says to us, “Why don’t you get your feet wet?” But if you make a move, you’ll see God move. And He can move heaven and earth.” ― Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker (Enhanced Edition): Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears
God Is Near Us
Samuel Johnson, an 18th century writer said, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” Learning new things keeps us sharp and helps us improve ourselves. But, there is so much that we already have learned but just don’t either apply or remember. One of those things we need to remember is just how near God is to us. Here’s some hope-filled truth to remember:
There’s never a place we can go where His presence won’t be there first. He’s in our yesterday, He’s in our today, and He’s in our tomorrow all at the same time. He rejoices over us, rewards us, blesses us, and smothers us with His forgiveness and grace every day, throughout the day. In addition to the good, there is no tragedy we’ll face, no hardship we’ll endure, and no adversity we’ll encounter where God is not with us, steadily holding us up with His mighty, righteous, and perfect right hand.
When you feel lonely and wonder where God is, know that He is about you, above you, after you, amidst you, around you, among you, before you, behind you, beneath you, beside you, beyond you, by you, for you, inside you, near you, and over you. He is everywhere, all the time. Always and forever, He is near us.
When you experience fear and wonder why God won’t remove it from you, know that He hasn’t given you a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. That nothing can separate us from His love and presence. Always and forever, He is near us.
When you’re sick and don’t understand why God won’t heal you, know that He is still the Great Physician and Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals. The time frame you have in mind may not match His, but rest assured, He is doing a work in you and through you. Always and forever, He is near us.
There is nothing that we’ll encounter that God has not already defeated. And not just defeated, but totally annihilated on our behalf when He put Jesus on the cross to cover our past, present, and future sins. Always and forever, He is near us.
When you go through devastating situations, He is with you.
When your life seems to be spinning out of control, He is with you.
When you can’t see the path or even the next step, He is with you.
There are options everywhere that beg us to place our trust, hope, and joy in them. Those temporary joys and pleasures hold no comparison to the eternal, never-ending presence of our Almighty God who calls us His children. His presence is the prize. It’s what we get for all eternity.
When you cross deep rivers, I will be with you, and you won't drown. When you walk through fire, you won't be burned or scorched by the flames.
Isaiah 43:2 CEV
From Good News: Encouragement for a World in Crisis from Youversion
We never give up. Our bodies are gradually dying, but we ourselves are being made stronger each day. These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing. Things that are seen don't last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. This is why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 CEV
Jesus gave us the perfect formula for ditching anxiety. Worry replaced by prayer equals the peace of God. But remember, when we give our worries to God, we need to leave it with God. We cannot be double-minded in our praying. God grants a peace that this world can’t comprehend (John 14:27). It’s when we have every reason to lose our minds but because we trust God we are not moved. It’s this kind of faith that tells the world what kind of God we serve and how great He is. The truth is, the same time we have time to worry and ruminate on our fears, is the same amount of time we have time to pray instead. It’s all about what you choose to give your energy and your spirit over to in these moments. The difference is that one will keep you bound and the other will set you free.