During my trip to Israel in 2014, I was privileged to visit Bethlehem and the place thought to be the birthplace of Jesus. The stable was actually in a cave and provided protection from the elements for both man and beast. Whether or not it is the actual place is irrelevant as once there you can visualize the actual happenings that night for Mary, Joseph and the new born baby. The events are recorded in Luke 2:6-7. Let the humbleness of the setting and arrival speak to you as you read the scripture. “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
Here are a few things that jumped out at me: God’s timing is perfect. Mary did not go into labor on the journey to Bethlehem. God protected them as they were not outside with no protection. God provided for them as they had a place to lay Jesus down- in a manger and clothes in which to swaddle the baby. God gave them exactly what they needed at the right time. This speaks to me of God’s providential care. A verse I claim often is Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, ” God took care of Mary, Joseph and Jesus that night and in the days ahead. God will do the same for each of us.
Take some time today and thank God for His perfect timing, His protection and His provision in your life. Trust in Him as He is good and cares for you. God can be your refuge especially in hard times, cling to Him.
There are people that love to argue. They will take the opposing view to stimulate discussion, rile up their opponents, stir up descent, cause a ruckus or feed their own egos. There is certainly a time and place for healthy debate and exchange of thoughts, but that is not what Paul is speaking of in our Stream of Water passage this week. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 relates to people stirring up trouble in the church through arguments about who is following whom? They were wrongfully trying to take pride in who they were following, claiming one was better than another. Paul rejects this and pleads for unity. He is telling them they have lost the right focus- which is following Christ, their savior.
Do where do you see this in the church today? Are people prone to boasting about their pastor and extoling his virtues? It is one thing to tell others of your godly Pastor and encourage them to listen to his teaching from the Word and another to brag that your Pastor is better than others and has a monopoly on the truth. Paul is saying that all this does is create disunity and division among believers.
A better way? Yes, Paul pleads for unity. Later in 1 Corinthians 1:31 “so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” and 2 Corinthians 10:17 he tells them, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Let us follow that advise and take up the practice of boasting in the Lord. Can you praise Him today for: provision He has provided, protection in a dangerous or precarious situation, hope you received from another brother or sister in Christ or His Word, love you experienced, help you received by His grace and mercy, guidance about a problem or direction or knowledge of Him you received through prayer or study? Let us boast to one another about the Lord and be encouraged in our faith!
Here is my boasting for this week. Last week when our ladies met for bible study, we were sharing prayer requests. One gal asked for prayer for her daughter as she was refinancing her home asked that all go smoothly. I did not realize that interest rates had fallen that much. So that evening after group, I began pursuing this. I learned that mobile homes, which are limited in financing, usually did not quality. God led me to call the man who arranged my loan a year ago when I purchased my home. He said that loans were available if all criteria were met to refinance my home at 1% lower. This week I was approved and am now gathering my papers. Praise God for His provision and intervention in my finances. Thank you Jesus!
Let us share our boasting about God to uplift and encourage one another creating unity for all believers.
Full text for this week: 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Do you have verses that are yours? One of my life verses is Jeremiah 29:11. I first connected with this verse when I was asked to choose a verse for my grandson at his baby dedication. God led me to Jeremiah 29:11 and I began to cling to the promises it holds. The connection for today and every day is the hope contained with God’s Words. “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.” This verse tells me God knows me and my future and He has good planned for me. Those things He has planned are designed to give me hope and a positive future. I am convinced that God loves me and wants the very best for me. I am convinced that God is good, desiring the best for me- for my good and His glory. How can I not have hope?
Does this mean that everything will always be good, happy and fulfilling?No. It means that whatever happens in my life, God can use it for my good. Romans 8:28 confirms this, “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.” Since I know and love Jesus, I am assured that He can and does use all things in my life for good. In the hard times, it is difficult to be assured of this, but looking back or looking at others suffering we can often get a glimpse of this truth. This calls for our faith and trust in Him.
I cling to the truths of Jeremiah 29:11when hard times come, when I see amazing things happen, when I look and plan for the future and seek to know what He would have me do. I ask for His help and guidance as His will is perfect His direction is true. Let Psalm 25:4-5be your prayer as it is mine. “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. 5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
“I am the good shepherd.” Jesus made this bold statement in John 10:11 and 14. He knew the people understood the job of a shepherd and the sacrifice it entailed. They were to guard their sheep with their life both during the day and night against wolves, bears, and any disaster that might come their way. He was their first and only line of defense against the outside world. Jesus was identifying and claiming this same relationship and responsibility with those who were following Him then and those of us who would follow Him in the future. I love the passage in John 10 as it gives me comfort and assurance of who Jesus is to and for me.
“11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Jesus promises that He is the good type of shepherd that will stick with us always. He was not hired to watch over us but is committed to us because He loves us. He affirms that He has a relationship with us in verse 14 and He knows us and we know Him. Jesus says He willingly sacrificed His life to save us and bring us into a close relationship with Him and the Father. Romans 5:8 puts it this way, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The attribute of being good belongs to God alone. It is His nature to be good where our nature is rooted in sin. So when Jesus says He is the good shepherd, He alone can claim this as He is God. Here are a few verses extolling God’s goodness: Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Lamentations 3:25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” Titus 3:4 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,” God’s goodness was truly shone when He sent Jesus to redeem us. He desires to know us and love us. Through Jesus we can be brought into the arms of our loving Father.
Jesus rightly claims to be our good shepherd, do you know Him? He knows you and desires to embrace you with His love and care. Step into His arms today and receive His love and protection and find that safe harbor in Him for eternity.
How much do you trust the Lord? Do know for sure He intends good for you? Knowing and trusting God is essential to faith but do not come automatically. As we walk daily with Jesus, study His Word and communicate with Him, He builds trust within us that is unshakable. We learn that He alone is sovereign and intends good for us. The psalmist reveals His trust in God in Psalm 119: 65-57. You have done many good things for me, Lord, just as you promised. 66 I believe in your commands; now teach me good judgment and knowledge. 67 I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.
The psalmist trusted God as God had been forever faithful to him and had always kept His promises. His belief was strengthen as he studied God’s Word, followed God’s commandments and saw the fruit of God in his life. He recognized God’s loving discipline upon his life and knew it was for his good.
Do you believe God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 that He intends good for you? “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. Do you know for certain that God is good?Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,” Do you know God’s love is unconditional and forever? Psalm 52:8 “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.”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.”
Claim these promises and know these truths about God today. Seek Him and He will give you assurance and hope. You will know and believe that God is good and intends the best for you now and for eternity. Even in the hard things of life, God can and does use them to mold and shape our character as He refines us to be more and more like Jesus. Be encouraged today by His love, care and tender mercies.