A Shell with a Heart

I am concerned when I get caught up in the activities of God’s work here. I’ve learned that any activity for God has to be a byproduct of the transformation that is taking place in my heart, otherwise it becomes as mundane as any other activity–no different from going to work every day.

What God requires from me is, basically, a shell with a heart, meaning that there can be nothing left of me. To think that I can contribute to the Work renders me useless. Once God has emptied me of me, He can fill that shell with Himself. Once filled with Him, I begin to see that everything is His doing and I’m just a spectator.

My heart needs to be made willing to empty itself of me and be filled with Him. Then, I am effective for God. He doesn’t need me to do His Work, but He allows me to be a part of His Work here, so that He can prepare my heart.

God will go to great lengths to produce an undivided heart. God’s calling me to Brazil is evidence of just how far He has gone to win my heart. Everything in me longs for an undivided heart, at the same time as everything in me fights against it. This is a painful process that I’ve been struggling with, but a very necessary one, because I crave the end result: a heart that abides in Him and a life that yields fruit and is filled with His joy.

“I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with me] you can do nothing. When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine. I have told you these things, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing” (John 15: 5,8,11 AMP). 


Reflection- Anna Vallance

I truly can’t thank Mark and Lori enough for all that they taught me during the time I was in Brazil. Both what I saw in Brazil and what the Lord taught me through their lives has left a permanent impression on my heart.

Christ told His disciples, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all.” I’ve never had any trouble believing that this commission applies to the Lord’s work in foreign countries. Clearly, when the Lord Jesus said, “the world,” He was talking about the far-flung corners of the planet. But what about the United States of America? What about my own state, or better yet, my own town? It’s clear that this commission applies to missionaries, the “Lord’s workers,” as we call them. But what about me? Does God also expect this of me? It took a trip to one of those distant countries (Brazil) for me to realize that this commission is just as valid for an everyday Christian in the United States of America.

I’ll never forget my first trip as a believer, to Brazil. Never before have I encountered a people so obviously in need of the gospel. The people of that country are addicted, abused, battered, and starving–everything about them cries out for the liberating message of Jesus Christ. I’ll never forget the thrill of putting God’s word into their hands. I felt like shouting, “Here is a message that can set your soul free!” The joy of sharing the gospel with lost souls was indelibly fixed upon my heart on that trip. The stark condition of the people in Brazil was a dramatic backdrop on which God demonstrated to me the power of His gospel. I was impressed at its power to radically transform lives when I met several guys in the rehab whom I had met a year ago on the streets. They had professed to be saved and the difference between who they were now and who they had been on the streets was truly astounding.

When I returned home, it was with a new, keen awareness that every person I encounter is a soul, a soul that God loves and desperately desires to save. God began burdening my heart for my community. I began to pray that God would use me to reach out to those around me. I had no “expertise” in spreading the gospel and, having been saved later in life, I had limited knowledge of the scriptures. I’ve never been particularly gifted or courageous. But, there was a truth in which I firmly believed: God wants the gospel of His Son to be spread and if I make myself available He can and will use me. As I was recently reminded at a missionary conference, didn’t Christ say to His disciples, “I will make you fishers of men.”

But how to spread the gospel? It is to my shame that I was completely at a loss as to how to reach out to those around me with the good news. My mother (equally burdened) and I began praying for wisdom. We had no clue. We asked other Christians and searched the scriptures to try to find the answer: how can we be missionaries here, in and around the town in which we live? Certainly souls all around the world are in need of the gospel. But how often we forget that “the world” includes the United States as well. I remembered Mark and Lori giving tracts to each person they encountered in their day (cashiers, gas attendants, waiters, etc.). It was with much fear and trepidation that I began to do so at home; how worth it to know that each soul was receiving the Words of Life!

God began to show us different ways that He could use us to reach others with the gospel. We were (and in many ways still are) bumbling idiots. But we were available. And God used us. Let’s make sure we get the emphasis right: it’s not that God used us, it’s that God used us. God has also been working in the lives of other believers in our assembly and, with them, we have seen the Lord open up various opportunities for the gospel. God has taught us how absolutely desperate our fellow Americans are for the gospel. They always have been, I suppose, but I wasn’t paying attention. Some of the people God has brought into our lives have stories that are reminiscent of Brazil: the Muslim woman who fled Guinea to escape her abusive husband, the divorced mother who came to our town to flee her legalistic family and alcoholism, and the woman who is on dialysis because cancer took out her kidneys. Others lead more “normal” lives, but the need for their souls to be saved is still there.

I’ll never forget Lori reminding me of this simple truth: “God is God. I am not God.” What a relief. I remember her telling me how God wants us to be weak and helpless so that He can work through us. If we have no strength of our own, God gets all the glory! It’s really all about Him: it begins with Him, is empowered through Him, and is finished by Him. It’s His work. God gave us a burden for the souls around us and we made ourselves available. That’s all we did. It has involved sacrifice, but isn’t it worth it if even one soul is saved? In one year, God has opened several homes in our town. An ESL class is now being held weekly at our hall. A summer Bible camp was held at our home this summer and our assembly is praying about gospel meetings in our town in the fall. God is working. I pray that one day He will establish an assembly here. He is more than able.

In 1 Timothy 2, Paul says (of God), “He wants not only us, but everyone saved… everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free.” Christ has died for us. The Almighty Creator has shed His blood that we might be reconciled to Him, that we might become His children. What incredible news! Who are we not to share this with others? Are we not obligated, like Paul was (Romans 1:15), to share the good news with those around us?

In 2 Corinthians 5:15, Paul says of Christ, “He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.” Every soul has an eternal destination: heaven or hell. God wants every single one to be saved, those in Brazil and those in the United States of America. Can I challenge you to begin praying for your community and to begin asking God how He can use you to share the gospel with others? It doesn’t matter if you aren’t an expert. It doesn’t matter if you are afraid. As long as you are available, as long as you are willing, and as long as you are ready to obey, God can use you. Don’t believe people when they tell you that Americans don’t want the gospel. Is God not able to break down even the greatest barrier? Look at the work that is being done in Brazil and ask God to show you how you can “do this at home.”


The Public Hospital

I pass the public hospital almost every day, on my way to anywhere, just about. This building is a constant reminder of all the need that it represents.

The first time I brought someone there, I cried and cried, trying to hide it, of course, but basically failing. I had plenty of time, even that first day, to observe things that I hadn’t even imagined, in my past life. People lined the corridors, sitting on the floor. Little family groups huddled together, cradling a sick family member in their arms. Amputees, elderly, children, and people quietly crying were all sensory overloads to my horrified self.

It was one of those times when I prayed without words. The prayer was a groan and a deep sense of longing for God to put things right. I spent five hours there, my first day, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I sat on the cement floor with everybody else and entered into the misery of waiting, with no power to change the outcome. I felt like I was reliving the scene in John 5, at the Pool of Bethesda, except where was The Lord? At one point I even looked down the corridor and imagined what it would be like to see Him walk around the corner and come to the rescue. I longed for that rescue.

Hospital Onofre Lopes-Edit-Edit

I’ve been to that hospital so many times now, I’ve lost count. Each time I bring someone there, I’m reminded of that man at the pool. “Sir, I have no man,” he told The Lord. I look at all the people there and I wonder at God’s grace to the person I’m with. I’m reminded to tell them that God Himself has stepped in, has singled them out, and is showing them how much He loves them.

I’m heading to Aningas to take someone to that hospital today. It will be a long, mostly tedious day, and there is very little chance that anything will be resolved. Each case takes many months of visits. For me, this is a nightmare, and I really have to beg God to take over because I never go there with the right attitude. For God, every hour spent is an hour filled with opportunity to quietly and patiently live Christ and show Him to a dying world. I have a hard time with quietly and patiently, and I usually fail. And when I fail and give up my will and wants, He takes over and makes everything easy. It becomes easy to love, easy to wait and easier to spend the time talking about the Great Physician. When The Lord takes over, every single person waiting in those corridors has the chance to see Him and the opportunity to be rescued by His strong arm of Salvation. I’m hoping that I fail today and He succeeds. Please pray for this.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 AMP)

Driven to Love

I have this little daily calendar thingy, sitting on its plastic holder/easel, next to the sink. It has a verse on each page. There are many mornings when I read the verse and close my eyes–quite briefly so I don’t fall back asleep!–and revel in the assurance and comfort that God is giving me. Those are the good mornings.

Every day, though, I do this little inner bracing, before I read the verse, because I’m going to receive either divine comfort or a Scripture stabbing, and I really don’t want the stabbing.

This particular morning, I leaned over to read and saw:
Let all that you do be done in love.
(1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV)

The blade was quick and powerful, parried with a sleight of hand that was breathtaking. “Ugh,” I thought, “This is a grim missionary moment.” But, I’ve learned to take the hit and face it, because otherwise I’ll just keep being stabbed by the Word until I let God deal with the issue. So, I faced the incident that had occurred the day before…

Driving here is just horrendous. When Mark and I got our Brazilian driver’s licenses, the Motor Vehicle instructor asked me what I thought of the five quite rigorous written tests we had to take. I told her how I was amazed that all the people on the road had gone through such a demanding process. She laughed and answered that some 70% of drivers on the road do not have their license.

So, on this particular day, I left the Kilometer 6 favela, where I had brought medicine and ointment to a little girl and others, going door to door with hugs and much love and the Word. Then, I hit the road, like Sybil, with a personality change that happens every time I drive here. I stew in my aggravation and live off of my imaginary lectures to all the nearby drivers, getting more annoyed, and more unloving by the second. Apparently, I have compartmentalized this missionary life into, on and off duty moments.

Thus the verse.

I took the little 2″x3″ paper verse and folded the daisy out of sight. Then I put that verse right on my rear view mirror, all symbolism duly noted. If I don’t allow God’s love to commandeer me in the car, my days on the streets and in the favelas become cheapened somehow.

I’m a long way off from handling the chaotic driving here with love, but I want to do all things with love. I really do. Pray for this!

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating…exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 AMP)

Missionary Moments

Here I am. In the kitchen. There’s a big pot on the stove, bubbling away. I have my extra long wooden spoon and I’m poking things down into the boiling water, as they surface for air.

I wish I could tell you that it’s a delightful batch of my homemade ravioli that I’ve risen, like the Proverbs 31 woman, at dawn to prepare.

No. It’s my clothes that are in the big lobster pot Holly Ramsay gave me for a shower gift, back in ’88. I could never have imagined, at that pinnacle of naïveté, any items of mine gasping for air, in that very pot. (Actually, at that point, I don’t think I could have imagined these particular garments either.)

We have been plagued with ticks. It’s just the latest in many insect and wildlife plagues. I am no Moses–as I pointed out to God, just last week!–and I have been going crazy. We had an exterminator in, last Monday on our anniversary (so romantic!) and they promised a two part annihilation-bombing-thing. They came and we had to evacuate the house for several hours.

So, imagine my surprise, at five-thirty this morning, to find several offspring, alive and well, marching across one of my very favorite Target purchases; apparently there were survivors of the tick-apocalypse from last week.

That’s why I’m at the stove. Whining to the LORD about not having hot water in the taps here. Whining about the ticks. Just whining in general.

It occurs to me, once again, that it doesn’t matter what you’re going through; it matters how you handle it. I may have blithely sailed through the last two weeks, with all the violence on the streets. I may have calmly smiled at the Military Police while they pointed the huge automatic weapons in my face. But this? This seemed harder. This wasn’t a blaze of possible glory; this was a massive inconvenience, and something that really schifo-ed me.

The difference? I didn’t move a foot without praying, out there on the streets. And the results were apparent. I was calm, peaceful and very aware that God was right there.

Unfortunately, my prayer about these ticks included me telling God what He needed to do for me, accompanied by much complaining. I never asked for His Grace to deal with this plague. I never asked Him to take over my reactions, so that I could see Him in this, too. Once again, especially in the little things, He wants to teach me that His Grace is sufficient. And that my reliance on Him is very sweet to Him, as well as very necessary to me.

Devotional – The Formula for Christian Living

Mark Procopio

Proverbs 3: 5-12

I called this the formula for Christian living.

1. Trust God with all your heart.

This is an exclusive trust. The idea is that you have nothing else to fall back on, there is no plan B. You haven’t held out a small cavity of your heart for another, whom you also believe to be trustworthy. There’s no room for second-guessing, for reluctance, or doubt. With absolute confidence you moved forward. You stepped out on faith, and entrusted your eternal well-being to God’s finished work at Calvary.

Now, how about the day-to-day living? Does it often display an unwillingness to trust the God who cannot fail?

2. Lean not on your own understanding.  (Don’t try figuring out everything on your own.)

How redundant, redundant, to have a business partner who thinks the same as you, and comes to the same conclusions every single time. Who needs them? How wise a business man who chooses someone whose thought process is leaps ahead of his own and whose wisdom and sense are perfect.

Is it not an awesome thought to know that the moment we trusted Christ for eternal salvation we were provided a partner for life? A partner with all the answers to the most difficult thing we’ll ever face-LIFE. This friend of ours knows the end, the beginning, and everything in-between-and is always available when we’re faced with serious decision-making. What’s even more awesome than that, is His availability 24-7, to consult with us in even the most minute detail of our lives, and we never have to say, “Sorry for disturbing you.”

3. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go.

The “still small voice” wants us to weigh in on every detail. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the moment, allowing the chaos to bombard us. All the external voices batter our minds with their thoughts on what we should do and how we should do it. They’re so loud and forceful, and at times so obnoxious, that we give them precedence, listening to all they have to say, and allowing their voice to dictate the path we take. How important it is to pull yourself away from all the noise around you, and quietly listen for that still small voice that’s present within. How He wants to speak to us, and longs that we would hear, but He’ll not attempt to compete with the chaos around, hoping His voice is loud enough to trump the rest. God is asking each of us to make a deliberate choice to separate ourself from all the external influences and diligently seek the voice of God within. He, above all, has your best interest at heart. He sees the path for your life clearly and perfectly. He knows the next step you need to take, and all He wants from you is: listen and obey.

4. Don’t assume you know it all.

He’s the authority in every subject. I remember my Dad’s response to my teenage spouting. “Wow, I’m so thankful I have a son who knows everything, and is free to give his advise. How did I make it these fifty years without him?” Now I’m the old man with children who think they have it all figured out. It’s amazing how you had all this knowledge as a teenager, but as you got older and faced life’s experiences, that knowledge seemed to slip away. Now I’m the one pushing fifty and conscious of how little I know. How comforting to know that my resource for knowledge comes from One who knows it all-is Omniscient.

5. Run to God. Run from evil.

One is the run of the athlete striving to achieve the goal; the other is a desperate, terrifying dash for your life, from danger. I know that we’re given advise on two matters, but what’s so cool about the advice is that one effectively accomplishes the other. How much more positive and encouraging is the advice to constantly run towards God! How happy the Christian who never loses sight of his Savior’s face, and lives each day   determined to reach the goal and hear the “well done” of approval.

A person that is consumed with running to God may never even give thought to the fact that he is running away from evil. It’s not possible to run towards God without running from evil.

But, if we lose sight of the Savior’s face, we lose sight of our goal and we are found running away from God. That is a place of danger. It’s not long before we are unable to run fast enough. Trouble is all around us and there is no peace in our heart.

The choice is ours. With all my heart, I long to be found always running towards God and to be looking at my blessed Savior’s face-with His peace in my heart and the pure joy that is His Presence, felt in my life.

I hope that God uses this to help you, just as He has used it to help me.


February 6, 2010 – Devotional

Thought for the day:
I came across this phrase quoted by one of Job’s “comforters” and gave it thought while taking my Sunday walk. Listen to the statement he makes to Job, “He raises up the down and out, gives firm footing to those sinking in grief”. From that statement my mind went to the verse where we are promised that he will not try us beyond that which we are able, but with the trial provide a way of escape. Job was convinced that he had been pushed way past his threshold of pain, suffering, and grief, convinced that God really didn’t know his tolerance level and had long since passed that line. Much of what his comforters said was true, they just spoke facts about God with no heart for Job’s predicament.
I often wondered as I watch saints face awful trials, why them and not me? It seems at times that some are plagued, while others go through life seemingly untouched. I’m not claiming to understand the providence and wisdom of our God, but I’m able to find great comfort in the promise that before your head drops below the water’s surface, your feet will touch firm footing. The hope we have that no matter the trial, no matter how consumed we become with the seeming hopelessness of our crises, God says there’s an end. It’s the promise of the light at the end of the tunnel, the comforting fact that every trial is temporary, and the guarantee of an eternal life in God’s home, where we are welcomed. There, we are free of the hardships of life, introduced to humanity when they refused God their creator.
There will be no finger pointing when humanity faces the consequences brought on by sin, but what a contrast when it comes to our Saviour. Death, and all the sorrow that proceeds death, had no rights to the life of the Saviour. He could have easily marched through His life on earth completely immune and separate from the obvious turmoil and widespread suffering brought on by our sin.
“My heart is exceeding heavy,” he said. “Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow….. I looked for some to take pity…. for comforters, but there was none.”
I thought of this holy, pure, righteous One, who tells us the details of that storm of God’s divine wrath. Wave after wave broke over His holy soul. He sank beneath them, the wrath of the storm consuming the little craft. Every cavity is filled, and staying above the surface of this storm is becoming impossible. The grief, suffering, and loneliness which made up the ingredients of this righteous storm, overwhelming Him.
Can it be said that God knew His threshold, His boundary of tolerance? Will God spare Him and not try Him beyond that which He is able? With the trial, will He be provided with a way of escape?
I often think of this expression, though I openly confess I cannot understand it- the words are of the Saviour just before His head slips below the surface of the water, “I sink in deep mire where there is no standing.” No hope of salvation, no halting before it’s too late, no preventing the suffering from passing the boundary of His tolerance, no providing for Him a way of escape, NO FIRM FOOTING FOR HIM as He sank in the mire of our sin.
I began to feel very small, and found my heart full of thanksgiving, as again I understood that, ‘all my sins were laid on Jesus….God who knew them laid them on Him, and believing I go free.’ The wonder is that he spared not his Son, but delivered Him up for us all.
How amazing is the statement of Gods love. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.’ He lived His earthly life knowing all that would soon cross His path. He knew fully the cost of our forgiveness and salvation, but for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame.

Devotional – "Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me"

My thought for today:

I have been going through First and Second Chronicles, looking at the history of all Israel and Judah kings. I’ve been impressed with that characteristic unique to God-a love that never quits. Over and over, this expression crossed my mind as I read the account of each King’s life.
Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me. The point of that expression is that a person with an ounce of intelligence is not going to fall for the same thing twice. I know that God cannot be fooled, and when it comes to His intellect, we’ve no business attempting to draw any comparison between our finite thinking and the infinite creator of the universe. And yet, over and over again, His people slap their great God of deliverance in the face, by giving into idolatry and rebellion, to the point of bringing pagan idols into Solomon’s temple and worshipping them there. They push the God of creation to the sidelines and He waits there patiently, searching for the slightest inkling of repentance. Once seen, He immediately responds, as if this hasn’t happened before. He throws His arms around them, with true forgiveness and a spirit of rejoicing, so happy that they’ve come back. Do you think He’s caught by surprise when the next king arrives on the scene, described in scripture as an evil king, who turns the people back to idolatry? Do you think He’s shocked, when without even the slightest pause for consideration, His people willingly dive back into the vile sin of idol worship? Once again the God of the universe is sidelined and replaced with graven images.
Hezekiah comes on the scene, and it says that at that time there is not one living subject that has ever celebrated the passover. How far they had deliberately distanced themselves from Him. How patient, how kind, how tolerant, how long-suffering, how gracious and how loving God is. Once again He responds, when the king leads the people to repentance, and instills a desire in them to return to God and acknowledge the great miracle of deliverance by keeping the passover.
Listen to what this Godly king said as he made an appeal to the people of Judah: O Israelites! Come back to God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that He can return to you. Don’t repeat the sins of your ancestors who turned their backs on God, the God of their ancestors, who then brought them to ruin– you can see the ruin all around you. Don’t be pigheaded as your ancsetors were. Clasp God’s outstretched hand, come to His temple of holy worship, consecrated for all times. Serve God your God. You’ll no longer be in danger of His hot anger. If you come back, God is gracious and kind and won’t snub you. Come back and He’ll welcome you with open arms.
I, for one, am so thankful that my God is a forgiving God who will never give up, though disappointed by my life time after time. The only requirement for a restored relationship is a broken spirit and an open acknowledgment of sin. Then the open arms will once again come into view as you run to the embrace of your Saviour and God. You feel, once again, the comfort, protection, and peace, that comes from the warmth of His embrace, and you wonder why you ever thought it best to leave His presence.
“Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me.”
Good night all.

November 11, 2009 – Devotional: One Man, One God

My thought for the day.
I’ve been reading through the book of Judges and two characters have stood out as men used powerfully by God.
God’s people are under the control of the Midianites, allowed by God because of the evil idolatry that they seem to insist on being involved in. Once again, God’s heart is moved with compassion and He approaches this man named Gideon. It’s the angel of God that addresses Gideon while he’s sitting under an oak tree. He calls Gideon a mighty warrior and tells him he has been chosen by God to deliver Israel. Gideon responds by telling the angel that God has abandoned His people and left them to be ruled by Midian. “God’s not with us. Why, we haven’t seen anything of the God that our parents spoke of. Those awesome miracles of the past, beginning with their deliverance from Egypt, those are just old tales that have nothing to do with us. That God they so often spoke of has left us”. The angel corrects Gideon, “My boy, you’re very wrong, your God has not left, He has heard the cries of His people, and you’re the one chosen to deliver them from Midian’s oppression”. Gideon replied, “God is with me, my master? How, and with what, could I ever save Israel? Look at me, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I’m the runt of the litter.” God said to him, “I’ll be with you, believe me you’ll defeat Midian as one man.”
God was asking this man to obey him and to believe in something that, ’till now, he had never seen, only heard about as great stories of the past. “Gideon all I’m looking for is one man and obedience; with those two necessities in place, look out opposition.” Gideon obeyed and stepped out in faith on God’s promise. He faced those seasoned warriors with just three hundred men and God. He experienced, for the first time, how willing obedience is the conduit by which God’s power and purposes are worked out in this world.
He learned the truth behind Paul’s statement, “When I am weak, then am I strong.”
And then there was Samson. Here was a young man who knew firsthand, from birth, how great the triumphs accomplished in one man are, when he moves obediently in the Power of God. Obeying God in the Nazarite vow meant a God-given power that allowed him to almost wipe out the Philistine population single-handedly. No one had to convince him of the great accomplishment that could be achieved when one man works in concert with the mighty God. What a waste that he allowed the flesh to take precedence over obedience. A man who had been so useful, a man whose strength had convinced the enemy that Israel’s God was real and all powerful. He turned his back on God, allowed his hair to be cut in direct contradiction to the promised life long vow, and chose a woman over faithful service to his God.
One man had it and lost it because of selfish desires. The other had never experienced it, but chose to obey and believe, and so he had the thrill of usefulness as God’s power accomplished God’s purpose through “little old him”. I have no doubt that he lived off the high of that experience the rest of his life.
And then my thoughts went to a third character, my Saviour. What a perfect example of God and one man, one very unique man. Salvation, sins forgiven, Satan defeated, righteousness available, a relationship restored, an unbelievable hope, victory over the enemy, and on the list goes. One man, the man Christ Jesus, whose life was marked by obedience, even when obedience meant the death of the cross. Look at the accomplishment of an obedient life, when the greatest display of God’s power and love was seen by all, at Calvary. He bore our sin, faced God’s wrath, surrendered to, and defeated death, and provided, for a sinner like me, eternal salvation.
The next time God selects, and takes up, one man for His purposes, I want that one man to be me!

October 25, 2009 – Devotional

I’ll tell you what I was thinking about today. I read that passage at the beginning of Joshua when finally the children of Israel were led into the promised land. I was thinking that their call into, was as miraculous as their call out of. God did not split the Red Sea so they could escape Egypt and flounder the rest of their lives in the wilderness. We all agree that our moment of Salvation, when He called us out of Egypt, was above and beyond what we ever deserved. If it ended there and we were spared from what we deserved, we would be happy and ask no more. But He called us out of the world because He wants to call us into a world, and a work, that He has set aside just for us. He wanted His people in the land He had promised. A land where they could effectively put their God on display to a godless world, and live a life that would bring Glory to their God and saviour. When it came to where they were supposed to be, and what they were supposed to be doing, God wanted there to be no question in their minds, or hearts, now or ever, that they had followed God. The Levites hoisted the chest onto their shoulders and began to march towards the River Jordan. Everyone watches as their feet come in contact with the water and immediately it pushes back to expose the obvious path God wants them to take. Those men march to what would have been the deepest part of that river and stand still holding the chest to wait patiently. Every Israelite had to walk past that chest as they made their way through the river and then up the banks on the far side. They would arrive without so much as the soles of their shoes wet from what should have been a muddy river bed. There was no other explanation for this experience; every one of them would come to the same conclusion as they passed the chest, this was none other then their great God at work. They all had to look at what represented God’s presence as they walked by, and without hesitation acknowledge the power of their God in bringing them into the promised land. Because God knew that time would bring about doubts, he had twelve men (one from each tribe) shoulder a rock from the river bed, carrying them up onto the river bank. They made a pile that scripture says is there to this day.
When things begin to get difficult; when everything is not falling into place, the way we think God’s things should; when the questions begin; when the miracle becomes a faint memory; when you find yourself doubting the events of the past; when your kids hear the story and look at you like you have six heads, go back to the river bank and look at the tangible evidence God has left for a memorial. Remember that you are where you are, and you are doing what you are doing because God, out of all of humanity, called you to this place, to do this work, to display Him to a lost world, and live a life, in the midst of absolute defilement, that brings joy to the heart of God. God is so kind. He knows the weakness of the flesh and our tendency to question and wonder and doubt. He knows that time often dulls and distorts our ability to believe what we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears and experienced with our own God. He leaves behind tangible evidence so that we can know. He calms our fears. He gives us the courage to push on, because He called us here and He gave us this work to do. God performed a miracle when He saved my soul, and took me out of Egypt. God continues to perform miracles, both small and big, as He works. And these miracles are the tangible memorial that He leaves for me on the river bank because He knows my weakness and He never wants me to doubt that He is here with me all the way and I, I am just following Him.