Support For Our Rwanda Trip

Greetings folks!

We’ve been grateful for the support we’ve received so far for our trip to Rwanda. Please remember that the most important gift you can give to speed us on our way is your prayers. Some have found unique ways to help us. Our coffee company, ours as in “we love the people who run this company and won’t buy elsewhere,” is called Driftwood Coffee Company. Driftwood sources their coffee ethically through direct trade agreements and the coffee growers get paid reasonable rates for their work.

They have made a commitment to give us proceeds from sales from their website. The people who own Driftwood have a heart for the Lord and love to find ways to give. We’re grateful for their support. So, buy a coffee cup. Buy a T-shirt. Try their great coffee! Use the link above to order, or click on the pictures.

  

These same people run a company called “Two Tiny Coins” that makes jewelry. The proceeds go to support missions in Central Asia. (I’ve been to that area and can vouch for the work going on there.) Their jewelry is beautiful and I’ve bought gifts there – since I don’t wear jewelry myself. ::smile:: I should note that I’m supporting Two Tiny Coins because I support the work that they’re helping with this ministry. Proceeds from any purchase there will go to support work in Central Asia. I just want to help you buy with a purpose.

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Preparing For Rwanda Trip – 2018

Dear Friends,

I am thrilled to share with you that this June, Lucy (my wife) and I will be working with a team of educators in Rwanda through Africa New Life Ministries (ANLM) for our second time. Our trip will have three primary purposes.

We will:
1) Provide professional development for the teachers who work in the several ANLM schools,
2) Encourage the hardworking teachers and their amazing students.
3) Visit each sponsored child and family related to our group.

This trip is a very special opportunity for us since God has laid a burden on our hearts for the Rwandan people. Since our first trip God has only deepened our love for this country and its people. We are blessed to call many of these fellow educators and ministry leaders friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re humbled by the opportunity to share, encourage and co-labor with these amazing people.

We’d like you to be part of this exciting ministry and would be grateful of your support. While you may not be traveling with us, we need your prayers. In addition, we would greatly appreciate any financial support you may contribute. The cost for this trip will be around $4,500 per person, and we must be fully funded by May. Please read below to find out how you can donate for our trip through ANLM.

Thank you for your support, especially through prayer. Our specific requests are for:

  • Travel mercies
  • Health
  • God’s use of us as His hands, feet, and heart in Rwanda
  • Faithfulness in sharing the gospel while we’re there

Blessings,

Bob James

Instructions for giving online:
□ Go to http://africanewlife.custhelp.com/app/donate
□ Scroll to the bottom and click Mission Team Members.
□ Click the drop down arrow and select Lucy & Bob James and the amount you would like to give.
□ You will then receive an email receipt for your donation.

In addition, if you’d like to get up to date information about our trip each day, you can fill out our sign up form to get a daily link to a blog post or an email that will tell you what we’ve been doing, and what our plans are.

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Bible Versions and Permissions

Up until January 1, 2018, verses used in each devotional were from the New International Version of the Bible.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

I will be going back and adding this passage to each page that used an NIV quotation per their website

I will be using the New Century Version in 2018.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved

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April 23 – Proclaiming the Kingdom of God

2 Samuel 16-18 Luke 17:20-37

“Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, ‘When will the kingdom of God come?’ Jesus answered, ‘God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. People will not say, “Look, here it is!” or, “There it is!” because God’s kingdom is within you.’” (Luke 17:20-21 NCV)

Given the cries of the crowd that Jesus was a king, the Pharisees asked an appropriate question: “When will this kingdom of yours come about?” Jesus Himself talked about His Kingdom coming, but when they looked around, all they could see were Romans. Jesus made it clear: you won’t see the trappings of royalty in His kingdom. There was no king riding on a white horse, although I believe it will happen eventually. There were no soldiers outfitted in shining armor marching down the streets. God’s Kingdom is within His subjects when He rules in their hearts.

Sometimes I think dictators and other tyrants understand the Kingdom of God better than most Christians, which is why they persecute us. The message of the Kingdom of God can change the world for good. Imagine what would happen if God’s people became the ambassadors for Christ that Paul called us. Imagine what would happen if God’s people lived in the grace, forgiveness, and freedom of His Kingdom. When people are obedient to God and live in His love, they change the world and make it a better place. Sadly, instead of inviting people to live in God’s Kingdom, we want to force others to act like they’re citizens. Instead of boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God as an invitation to God’s grace, we look forward to the Kingdom that will be when Christ comes again. We set dates for Christ’s return (today is one of those dates, by the way) and rejoice that unbelievers will get what’s coming to them. Rather than setting dates or trying to force others to live the way citizens of God should, let us proclaim God’s Kingdom, live joyously in His grace, and share with others how they can enter God’s Kingdom. We have that blessed opportunity to help others experience God’ grace every day. Dwell in God’s Kingdom and be the reason that others want to enter as you exemplify God’s love.

Lord, I know that there’s still room in Your Kingdom for others. Work through me to make others want to enjoy life with You.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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April 22 – Don’t Forget to Thank God

2 Samuel 14-15 Luke 17:1-19

“When one of them saw that he was healed, he went back to Jesus, praising God in a loud voice. Then he bowed down at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (And this man was a Samaritan.)” (Luke 17:15-16 NCV)

These ten lepers had formed a bond, a family if you will. They heard that Jesus was in the area, so they came close enough to call to Him, but not close enough to make Him unclean. They called and asked Him to have mercy on them. They wanted healing. Jesus called back and told them to go and show themselves to the priests. This took a bit of faith because it wasn’t until they started walking that way that they were healed. One of them, recognizing that He was healed, turned around to thank Jesus while the others continued their journey. The thankful man was a Samaritan. Jesus received his thanks and sent him on to the priests.

Do we take God for granted? Nine of those who were healed did. They recognized that they’d been healed, but instead of taking a little time to go back and give thanks, they continued their journey to show the priests that they’d been healed. Nothing in the Law said that they had to thank the Healer, just that they had to show the priests. The one who came back to give thanks was a Samaritan. Need we repeat how much Samaritans and Jews hated each other. As lepers, the Samaritans and Jews that banded together had something in common: they were lepers. Once healed the Jews would head to Jerusalem while the Samaritan would head wherever Samaritans worshiped. The Samaritan recognized his need to thank Jesus for the healing. It’s easy to seek God’s help when we pray. We’re excited when He answers our prayer the way we want Him to. How often do we forget to thank God when He answers? Today would be a good day to stop and thank God for His presence in your life and for the way that He’s answered prayer and provided for you.

Thank You, Lord, for all the blessings You’ve showered on me. Thank You for loving me when I didn’t deserve Your love, and for continuing to love me even though I still don’t deserve that love.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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April 21 – You Get to Choose Your Reward!

2 Samuel 12-13 Luke 16

“Whoever can be trusted with a little can also be trusted with a lot, and whoever is dishonest with a little is dishonest with a lot. If you cannot be trusted with worldly riches, then who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11)

There are some things Jesus taught that I still can’t get through my head. The verses I quoted came just after the strangest parable. This rich guy finds out that his manager is cheating him. So, he fires the manager. The manager, in one last hurrah, cheats him so more so that people will help him once he’s finally out of the rich guy’s house. And Jesus praises the dishonest guy for his shrewdness. Jesus uses the manager as an example of dishonesty in the explanation of trust. If you can’t be trusted with small things, you can’t be trusted with big things. If you can’t be trusted with worldly riches, you can’t be trusted with true riches. Perhaps the only way to understand this parable is understanding the contrast Jesus noted in these verses and His sense of humor. Maybe when Jesus praised the cheating manager, those who watched and heard Him caught what isn’t see through words. “He took care of himself pretty well, didn’t he? But he won’t be trusted to handle the things of God.”

Jesus emphasizes trust in His explanation. The question that we should all ask ourselves as we read this story, and His elaboration is, “Am I trustworthy?” Some people use this as a parable to explain why they’re rich and you’re not. “God trusted me with a little bit. I handled my money well, and now He’s trusted me with a lot.” That could be part of the understanding of this parable. Jesus, though, brushes aside worldly riches to focus on true riches ending with a statement that we all know well: “You can’t serve two masters; you can’t serve both God and worldly riches.” Whether it be praise or worldly riches, Jesus notes that if we seek them, we’ll get them. If worldly riches are our measures of true rewards, we’ll get our reward. But, if we want God to give us our reward, we must be faithful to His call. Jesus praised the dishonesty of the manager because he used the system to support himself. When God trusts us with worldly riches, we can use the system to support ourselves or we can understand the lesson of the manager and find ways to use those riches to advance the Kingdom of God. If you want people to praise you for your accumulation of stuff, you can keep accumulating trinkets and letting the world know how wealthy you are. If you want to gain riches in heaven and praise from God, you’ll find ways to use any worldly riches you gain to advance God’s Kingdom. Be clever with the riches this world gives you and use them to gain something even greater.

Lord, You’ve given me so much in this world. Remind me that because I’ve been given much, You have great expectations of me. Remind me that everything You give me should be used to advance Your kingdom.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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April 20 – Learning to Rejoice in God’s Forgiveness … For Others

2 Samuel 9-11 Luke 15:11-32

“So the son left and went to his father. While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for his son. So the father ran to him and hugged and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20 NCV)

The problem with Jesus’s parables is that as much as I say I’d be like the hero of the story, too often my attitudes are more like the bad guy. The bad guy acts more natural. The bad guy acts according to societal norms. Think about this parable of The Prodigal Son. We have three main characters. The prodigal who wanders away and squanders all his money. The big brother who’s hard working and never caused his dad any problems, and the Father – heartbroken by the actions of his youngest son. The youngest, the spendthrift, takes the money that should have been his inheritance and wastes it. Maybe the dad had heard rumors about his son’s change of heart, maybe it was habit or an everyday prayer for his son’s return. Whatever the case may have been, the dad kept watching and waiting for his wayward son to come to his senses. Meanwhile, the faithful older son keeps working on the farm. The prodigal returns home to the father’s joy. Dad spends prodigiously and throws a party for the younger son. The older son comes home to the celebration and has a pity party because his dad, who never so much as had a wine and cheese party for him has pulled out all the stops to celebrate his younger son’s return.

Many people might consider the father in this story lax. What this kid deserved was to be sent to bed without any supper, if he should even get a place to sleep. Still, it’s obvious who the hero of this story is. What’s also obvious is that the father is supposed to show a picture of who God is. He let his youngster make mistakes, but His love for the kid is so great that when he came home after he realized his mistakes, dad threw a party to celebrate the kid’s return. He wasn’t lax, He was forgiving. Don’t we all wish we could be this forgiving? Sadly, I tend to be more like the older brother. I’ve worked hard for the father. I deserve all kinds of good things because of my work. What I see instead is the little brat getting rewarded for finding his way home, while I’ve been out working all this time, and I don’t like it. The only one who understood the magnitude of his sin was the younger son who hoped his dad would trust him enough to give him a job. I’ve been the younger brother. I needed God’s grace to be reconciled with Him. It’s funny how easy it was to transform into the older brother and think the Father is too forgiving in His discipline after I’ve followed Him for a while. When I think about it, I never would have been able to be like the older brother, if God hadn’t welcomed me when I was like the younger brother. When I turned to Him, He came running to welcome me into the Kingdom of God. How much better life would be if I’d learn to rejoice when others came to faith instead of wondering when they’ll get what they deserve for the things they before they met Jesus. May I learn to rejoice like the Father when people repent and turn back to Him.

Lord, even though You’ve forgiven me so greatly, I forget too easily and wonder how You could love people like the younger brother. Remind me that I was once the younger brother who received Your grace. Help me show Your grace to others.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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April 19 – Light the Lamps and Sweep the House

2 Samuel 6-8 Luke 15:1-10

“Suppose a woman has ten silver coins, but loses one. She will light a lamp, sweep the house, and look carefully for the coin until she finds it.” (Luke 15:8)

I’d heard a story once about the significance of having those ten silver coins that I wanted to share today. Only, I couldn’t find the verification. As I looked for that story, I found many other interesting commentaries on the importance of those coins – usually spiritualizing the story with references to the church. I don’t know if that’s what Jesus had in mind, though. The premise of the story is simple. A woman has ten coins that she’s been saving. She loses one. Maybe she’d taken them out to look at them and one fell through the cracks of the table when she wasn’t looking. Coins are sneaky that way. When she realized that one of the coins was lost, she set off the alarm bells and does everything she can to find it, even cleaning the house. Once she finds it, the rejoicing begins as she makes sure everyone she knows hears the story.

There are two things I’ve never done with lost money. First, I’ve never cleaned the house to look for it. I’m too lazy to do that. I figure I’ll find it eventually. As one of the commentators noted about this situation, though, a coin that might stand out on a dirt floor will soon begin to blend in because of the dust that attaches itself to the coin. It might get buried. Second, I’ve never made a big deal about it with friends and neighbors. Those two things make me think that Jesus was alluding to a cultural practice with ten coins that His listeners would understand. The story I was looking for, but couldn’t find, placed this in the context of the coins being a dowry that would be needed for marriage. This would explain the woman’s frantic search if it were true. To understand Jesus’s meaning, we need to recognize that the woman in this story represents God. There are people who’ve fallen through the cracks of life and have fallen to the floor. Since coins can’t move, and thus can’t search for God, God Himself must search for the coin, or, as noted, God must search for these people who’ve been lost. And God does search for us. He sends His love to those who’ve fallen by the wayside. He uses those who know and love Him to be His lamps and His brooms to find people who need to know His love and grace. Get this. Once He finds someone who needs His grace and He gives that grace to them, He has a great celebration. As far as I know, our current president doesn’t rejoice when I send in my tax return. Some nameless IRS employee files it. God, the Creator of the Universe, the One who keeps the Universe running, will stop His work and join the heavenly party when someone new enters the Kingdom of God. What an amazing God we serve! The greatest gift we can give God is the gift of sharing our love for Him so that others will follow.

Lord, it’s time to light the lamps and sweep the house. Give me the wisdom and the boldness to know who to share Your love with and how to do it. Then let me share Your love with those who need it.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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April 18 – Gaining Focus in the Middle of a Carnival

2 Samuel 3-5 Luke 14:25-35

“If anyone comes to me but loves his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—or even life—more than me, he cannot be my follower.” (Luke 14:26 NCV)

Jesus became a Judean rock star. People gathered around, just wanting to be near Him. If cell phones and social media existed back then, the social media pages would’ve been filled with selfies taken with Jesus. People would talk about going to hear Jesus teach. They’d probably drop His name into the conversation to make their relationship seem to be bffs. “So I pulled out my sandwich around lunch time and Jesus said, ‘Man does not live by bread alone,’ and I laughed and said, ‘that’s right, that’s why I have the lamb meat in the sandwich.’ We both laughed.” A carnival-like atmosphere had grown up around Jesus. In the midst of the revelry, Jesus spoke hard truth to the people. “If you love anything more than me, don’t even bother trying to follow me.”

There were a lot of ways that I could have paraphrased what Jesus said, but so many of them would have lightened the mood of a harsh saying. Jesus needed to be that blunt, but it was still hard to take. It’s still hard for many to take today. We want to make following Jesus a fun thing to do, if it’s convenient. We’ll go to church if we don’t have any other obligations. We might pitch in a couple of bucks to help the church because they do some good things. We may occasionally read the Bible, or at least share some of our favorite verses that we’ve heard through the years. Two of my favorites are “God helps those who help themselves,” and “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” But we wouldn’t want to be fanatical and make church a weekly habit or talk to others about Jesus. We might go to Youth camp, but never a mission trip. If you think about it, this Christianity thing can be fun. Fun until these words of Jesus cut through the veneer of false faith as He tells us to forsake traditional family relationships and even our lives to follow Him. We’re called to proclaim the Kingdom of God. We’re called to bring the message of reconciliation between God and man. There’s nothing more important than that calling. My wife and I love each other a whole lot – but from before we were married, we both knew that Jesus came first. Because of that mutual commitment, we can serve together. For many, especially in the days of Jesus, family obligations could keep people from following Jesus completely. “Lord, I’ll follow You, but first…” is what people say when they think family obligations are more important than being sold out for Jesus. When we fail to be obedient to the call of Jesus because a family member might object, we’re showing that someone or something comes before God in our lives. Is God calling you to teach a class, minister to outcasts, or travel the world to share the gospel? No relationship is so important that you should reject His call. No sacrifice is too great to make to follow Jesus. Follow Him in His way, today.

Lord, there are so many distractions as I try to follow You. Help me keep my focus on You no matter what the cost may be. Let my life show others how much I love You.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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April 17 – Humble Pie is on the Menu

2 Samuel 1-2 Luke 14:1-24

“All who make themselves great will be made humble, but those who make themselves humble will be made great.” (Luke 14: 11 NCV)

I don’t know what kind of meal Jesus was attending when He saw the mad scramble for the best seats in the house, but He used that situation to teach an important lesson: stay back, be humble. His illustration was perfect and anyone who’s planned a wedding banquet then or now would understand the problem. Seating arrangements are worked out meticulously. “Uncle Bob can’t be seated anywhere near Cousin Lucy’s family because they don’t get along. If we place your boss at this table, we need to make sure we place my boss at a table equally as close or else I’ll get in trouble.” Thinking of these kinds of arrangements, Jesus tells the story of a guy who wanders into the wedding feast without looking at the name cards nor at the reserved seating signs and sits as close to the bride as possible, only to be embarrassed when the host calls him out because he took the seat of someone more important. By the time that happened, all the good general admission seating had been taken and the only seat left was in the back row by the air conditioner which was blowing full blast.

I know, Jesus didn’t mention the air conditioner issue. The point is that this guy tried to make himself look important, and he got a figurative kick in the teeth when the host moved him from that important seat. When someone tells you, “sorry, you’re not important enough” for any reason, it hurts. That may be why we don’t like waiting in line – my time is more important than to spend it waiting in line. What about when you arrive the required 15 minutes early for your doctor’s appointment only to be kept waiting an hour past appointment time. We all know what happens if we’re late for our appointment. We don’t like that because we’re treated as though we, and our time, is unimportant. Jesus’s suggestion to deal with situations like that: take the lowest seat at the wedding banquet. Let the host see you there and make a big deal about how you should be seated in a more important place. In short, don’t honor yourself, let others give you honor. When Jesus tells a story like this, He’s usually thinking of our relationship with God. How do we approach God? Do we want to make sure that He knows how great we are, or do we want to approach Him humbly? Jesus told another story about two people that went to pray: the important Pharisee and the unimportant publican. The Pharisee reminded God how great he was as he took a seat at the head table. The publican reminded God how great He was as he hoped for scraps. God exalted the publican and humbled the Pharisee. The key to this isn’t that we humble ourselves to be exalted, it’s that we humble ourselves because we recognize who we are in relationship to God. When we realize how great our sin is and what God did to bring forgiveness, the only way to approach him is in grateful humility.

Lord, it’s in my nature to want the most important places wherever I go. When I begin to seek them, remind me of what You did to bring me salvation. Let me walk in humility and may my life exalt and glorify You.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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April 16 – Forward the Light Brigade

1 Samuel 30-31 Luke 13:23-35

“Yet I must be on my way today and tomorrow and the next day. Surely it cannot be right for a prophet to be killed anywhere except in Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:33 NCV)

I’m not sure if the Pharisees were trying to get Jesus to leave Galilee, or if Herod was actually trying to kill Him, but the warning they gave seemed dire: Herod wants to kill you. I can almost see Jesus laughing at the threat as He told those warning Him, “There’s a time and a place for everything. Now is not the time for my death; this is not the place.” The mood might have changed when He noted that Jerusalem was the place for prophets to die, so it was time for Him to go to Jerusalem. He reminded the Pharisees, and all those listening, that He’d tried to minister to the people of Jerusalem, but His ministry had been rejected, time and time again.

Is it possible that the only people who didn’t realize that Jesus was going to be killed were the disciples? The Pharisees in Galilee warned Jesus about Herod. They obviously hadn’t gotten the memo from the Pharisees in Jerusalem that Jesus needed to die. Jesus kept telling people that His death was getting closer and that it would come at the hands of the Jewish leaders. He wasn’t worried about Herod because He knew the schedule set by the Father. There was only one place fit for a prophet to be murdered – Jerusalem. His time was coming, so He knew He needed to head towards Jerusalem. I imagine that people who don’t believe in Jesus must wonder about Jesus and those of us who follow Him. We don’t fear danger. We don’t fear certain death. Jesus went to Jerusalem. Stephen kept preaching until he was stoned. Paul went to Jerusalem in spite of the warnings. Given opportunities to recant to save their lives, Christians through the ages have gladly proclaimed their faith in Jesus. Following Jesus is dangerous, because we don’t serve a tame God. We serve a God who sends us into danger, reminding us that He even cares for those who would persecute us. This is the nature of the love of God. If you’re looking for a God who makes life easy, who listens to you and does everything you tell…er…ask Him to do, then you probably don’t want to follow Jesus. There are a lot of people who throw His name around, but I don’t think our Heavenly Father knows anyone like the Jesus they describe.

I wish that following You led me to a life of ease and comfort, Lord. Remind me that any price I pay is small compared to the price You paid to show me Your love. Give me the strength to go to my Jerusalem and show love to those whom You died for, even though they might seek to kill me.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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April 15 – “But I’m So Much Better Than They Are”

1 Samuel 27-29 Luke 13:1-22

“What about those eighteen people who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think they were more sinful than all the others who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you. But unless you change your hearts and lives, you will all be destroyed too!” (Luke 13:4-5 NCV)

They had come to Jesus with a warning note about some worshipers in Galilee that Pilate had massacred. He’d killed them in the middle of their sacrifices and the blood of the worshipers mixed with the blood of the sacrifices. The question lingered about how bad these people must have been that God allowed Pilate to do this. Jesus reminded them of another disaster in Siloam. As He did so, He asked a question that must have caused those who’d approached Jesus to think. “Were they bigger sinners than the people living in Jerusalem?” These questioners were likely trying to get Jesus to agree with their belief that disasters were a sign of judgment from God and that those who suffered deserved it. Jesus replied with a message they didn’t want to hear. They were no worse than anyone in Jerusalem and unless you get right with God, judgment is coming to you, too.

We like to play the comparison game. It takes the form of “I’m not so bad. Look at that person over there,” as we point to someone who’s worse than we are – at least in our own eyes. We treat life like God’s a college professor who grades everything on the curve. We know we’re not perfect, but we’re a lot better than those other people. Or so we think. And that’s why God should let us into His Kingdom. Then, these words of Jesus disabuse us of that notion and we realize that God grades on a strict Pass/Fail system. The passing grade is perfection. 100%. And we ain’t there. No one’s there. Paul, in the book of Romans, recognized this dilemma as he cried out, “Oh wretched man that I am, who can deliver me from this body of death?” In the next breath, he answers his own question by pointing out that we can give thanks to God because He rescued us through Jesus. God’s standard is perfection. We can seek to achieve it ourselves or we can let Jesus take care of things for us. Since no one has ever achieved perfection, other than Jesus, the wise thing to do is repent of our sins and throw ourselves on the mercy of Jesus so that we can have eternal life in God’s Kingdom. That’s the only way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, which means that we all get there the same way. We don’t need to compare ourselves to others; we need to share God’s mercy with them.

Lord, the comparison game can be a lot of fun. I can find people that I think I’m better than and look down on them while trying to convince You I should be with You. Remind me each day that while my sins may be different, I’m not perfect and I need Your grace to enter Your kingdom. Humble me and use me to share Your love and grace with others.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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April 14 – Searching For Real Treasure

1 Samuel 25-26 Luke 12:32-59

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Get for yourselves purses that will not wear out, the treasure in heaven that never runs out, where thieves can’t steal and moths can’t destroy. Your heart will be where your treasure is.” (Luke 12:33-34 NCV)

When Jesus told His followers to sell what they had and give to the poor, they didn’t have much. Compared to the material possessions we have now, they had nothing, yet they were in danger of being consumed by their possessions back then. When He told them to use what they had to take care of others, He made an important point. Our heart follows our treasure. When Jesus told His followers to sell their possessions and give to the poor, He was telling us to have a treasure shift. If our treasure is found in our possessions, we’ll love them before anything or anyone else. By getting rid of our possessions and giving to the poor, we’re showing that our treasure has shifted and now we treasure His people. Jesus showed that He treasured people above things, by going to the cross.

I don’t know how Jesus would put it today. We have so much stuff around us that we do everything we can to protect it. Some have fences or walls around their property. Armed guards or armed patrols give many people peace of mind. We wire our houses with an alarm system, or perhaps use a wireless system. I think Jesus would say that it’s obvious where our treasure, and our heart is. We’re afflicted with stuffitis and we try to find more space in the house or apartment to put the latest junk we’ve bought. When our stuff gets out of control, we rent a storage unit to keep our stuff, since we don’t build bigger barns in the city. We’ve worked hard to get the money so we could buy all this stuff, so we deserve every single piece of stuff we get. And we tell ourselves that as we see people living in poverty scratching for a piece of bread to survive, or the single mother working two jobs to keep her family fed, or the family whose breadwinner has just been laid off wondering how long they’ll be able to pay rent and eat. We may try to ignore the suffering, but, if we truly are followers of Jesus, these words haunt us as we look at our stuff. Maybe we can follow Jesus but start small. Have a garage sale and sell some of our possessions. Do that and find a way to help those in poverty. Put your treasure into people and you’ll find that your heart will follow. The message of Jesus is simple: people are more important than stuff, so get rid of the stuff to help people. When you do that, you’ll understand the heart of Jesus.

Lord, remind me that all the stuff I have is unimportant when compared to caring for people that You love. Help me to put my treasure to work helping those people and getting a heart like Yours.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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