Clothe Yourselves

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (NLT) -Colossians 3:12
What would it look like if believers took this verse to heart? The business world would be a different place, driving during rush hour would be a different experience, and so too our own homes would be different. The world would be a better place. Do you think the world needs more mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, or patience? Choose one of these clothes and focus on wearing it this week.
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Jeremiah 17:17 Thou art my hope in the day of evil.

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. True, it is written in God’s Word, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace;” and it is a great truth, that religion is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above; but experience tells us that if the course of the just be “As the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” yet sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light. There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the earlier stages of their Christian career; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters,” but suddenly they find the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the Land of Goshen they have to tread the sandy desert; in the place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Oh! say not so, thou who art walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the wormwood; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his harp from the willows. Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid. He tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

Walking Through with Faith

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. — Exodus 14:21–22

A note to our readers: Beginning at sunset April 22, 2016, the Jewish celebration of Passover will take place for the next eight days through April 30. Since some of the days during the Passover celebration are non-working days, the devotions were prepared for you in advance.

On the night of Passover, we retell and relive the Exodus story so that we can fully integrate God’s salvation and presence in our lives. At the heart of the Exodus story is the parting of the Red Sea. According to Jewish tradition, the sea did not part until the children of Israel began to walk into it. It was this great demonstration of faith that caused the sea to part.

I think there was an even greater expression of faith than walking into the sea; it was walking through the sea “with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” Imagine walking through that great sea with walls of water on either side, walls that could come crashing down at any moment! To me, that took even greater courage and faith.

While it’s admirable and commendable to take the proverbial leap of faith from time to time, it’s far more challenging to walk in faith, day in and day out. We may take a new job on faith, but living day to day believing that our needs will be met and that the paycheck will cover the expenses is another level of faith. Life is fragile and things can go wrong at any moment. Walking in faith means going down the risky path of life trusting that everything will be all right.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, an 18th-century rabbi, used to say, “The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the main thing is to never be afraid.” Our lives are a walk across a narrow bridge. One wrong step to the left or to the right, and we will fall. The rabbi teaches us that we must turn our fears into faith in order to pass safely.

In the Talmud, Judaism’s oral tradition, the Jewish sages teach that there are three miracles even greater than the parting of the Red Sea: One, when a person finds his or her soul-mate; two, when a person finds a source of income; and three, when a person maintains a healthy body. These realities we often take for granted are greater. But, even greater than finding a spouse, an income, or health is “walking through them” like the Israelites walked through the Red Sea – full of faith when, at any moment, the waves can come crashing down. But we keep going.

The Passover season is a time for recognizing the great miracles in life and trusting that they will continue to be present in our lives. We must walk through our lives together with God, day after day, with boundless gratitude and endless faith.

BUILDING REAL RELATIONSHIPS

“He now showed them the full extent of his love.”  Jn 13:1 NIV

People spend hours every day on social networks like Facebook—in many cases because they’re lonely. Now, there’s nothing wrong with interacting with others this way. In fact, social media offers one of the greatest tools the church has ever had for reaching the world with the gospel. But in a day when it’s getting easy to neglect real relationships, let’s remember why we’re connecting with others in the first place. One author says: “Life is so much richer when we have friends with whom we can share our joys and troubles…Unfortunately loneliness remains a major problem and source of pain for many. But none of us need become resigned to loneliness; [it’s]…‘treatable,’ if not actually avoidable.” Real relationships aren’t built by posting updates, or tweeting and re-tweeting the most thought-provoking quotes. It takes more time than that. The greatest social networking involves meeting someone’s needs in a way that never would’ve happened without a one-on-one connection. That’s what Jesus did. Most of His public ministry was spent pouring Himself into twelve men who, in turn, went out in His name and poured themselves into others. The Bible says, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” The Psalmist spelled out the way many people feel today: “No one is concerned for me…no one cares” (Ps 142:4 NIV). If you want to meet people’s needs you have to get “up close and personal.” That’s what Jesus did, and He’s your example.

Surrender!

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”—Exodus 14:13–14

A note to our readers: Beginning at sunset April 22, 2016, the Jewish celebration of Passover will take place for the next eight days through April 30. Since some of the days during the Passover celebration are non-working days, the devotions were prepared for you in advance.

One of the most encouraging messages of Passover is that when things seem most hopeless, there is always room for hope. The climax of the Passover story occurred when the children of Israel were sandwiched between the entire Egyptian army bearing down on them and the Red Sea. If ever there was a time to lose faith, it was at that moment.

Yet, from that moment of desperation comes one of the greatest moments of salvation – and a message of hope for all time.

Things only seem hopeless when we make the mistake of thinking that we are in control. If we can’t do it, then it simply can’t be done – there is no hope. The doctor can’t operate – so healing won’t come. I don’t earn enough money – so I’ll never get out of debt. When we are so sure that we alone hold the keys to our salvation, it’s no wonder that so many doors seem closed. It’s only when we give those keys to God that miracles can happen and hope can be found.

I love this story about a sparrow who loved to fly high in the sky, innocent and free. One day, the sparrow sensed imminent danger. She looked down to see a hunter pointing a rifle right in her direction. As the sparrow tried to flee from the danger, she noticed more trouble coming from above. An eagle was eyeing her like a piece of candy. The sparrow realized that she had no choices left and decided instead to surrender her life to God. In that precise moment, God sent a snake to bite the hunter, causing him to misfire his rifle, sending a bullet flying toward the eagle, killing it, and setting the sparrow free.

The message: Don’t surrender to life; surrender to God. Don’t give up hope; place your hope in God. Take comfort and encouragement from the words of Moses to the Israelites in their most desperate moment: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today . . . The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

When all hope seems lost, God will fight for us. When there is nothing left that we can do, God can do anything. We need only to have hope, hang on, and give up our lives to God.

Surrender today!

By Himself

After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. (NLT) -Mark 6:46
Prior to this verse Jesus had performed a miracle by feeding thousands with only a bit of food. His immediate reaction is to draw away to pray and rest. Praying has a way of filling you up with energy, restoring, and recharging. It’s very important if we have intense schedules or physically demanding duties, we take time to reconnect with God and restore ourselves. If you are able, take today to draw away, in order to draw close to the Lord. If today isn’t possible, plan a day this week to do this.
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Psalm 119:49 Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou hast caused me to hope.

Whatever your especial need may be, you may readily find some promise in the Bible suited to it. Are you faint and feeble because your way is rough and you are weary? Here is the promise-“He giveth power to the faint.” When you read such a promise, take it back to the great Promiser, and ask Him to fulfil His own word. Are you seeking after Christ, and thirsting for closer communion with Him? This promise shines like a star upon you-“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Take that promise to the throne continually; do not plead anything else, but go to God over and over again with this-“Lord, Thou hast said it, do as Thou hast said.” Are you distressed because of sin, and burdened with the heavy load of your iniquities? Listen to these words-“I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions, and will no more remember thy sins.” You have no merit of your own to plead why He should pardon you, but plead His written engagements and He will perform them. Are you afraid lest you should not be able to hold on to the end, lest, after having thought yourself a child of God, you should prove a castaway? If that is your state, take this word of grace to the throne and plead it: “The mountains may depart, and the hills may be removed, but the covenant of My love shall not depart from thee.” If you have lost the sweet sense of the Saviour’s presence, and are seeking Him with a sorrowful heart, remember the promises: “Return unto Me, and I will return unto you;” “For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.” Banquet your faith upon God’s own word, and whatever your fears or wants, repair to the Bank of Faith with your Father’s note of hand, saying, “Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou hast caused me to hope.”