MISSION OF THE LOVING SHEPHERD

"We Dare To Believe"


 


Daily Bible Verse



Devotionals
7 Day Devotional: Questions

Contents:

Day 1: What's it about? What's going on?
Day 2: We know more about the thief
Day 3: We know less about Jesus
Day 4: The Upper Story/The Lower Story
Day 5: Personality of the antagonist
Day 6: Jesus intimidates the impossible
Day 7: Living out the benefits of life instead of the liabilities

Introduction:

Why should you read these devotionals? Because you want to take advantage of the valuable benefits you should be enjoying. Losing ought to become something lost in your past. Winning ought to be found flooding your present. Here is how you can put a stop to losing and learn the secrets of winning. What you will learn:

1. How you fit into the meaning and purpose of life
2. What you're experiencing and why it matters
3. What you're lacking and why it matters
4. How viewing the big picture should affect you
5. Why analyzing what you're up against is critical and what to do about it
6. Why choice and cooperation can work to your advantage
7. How to live the life you always wanted


Day 1: What's it about? What's going on?

How many times have you asked yourself: What's going on? What's the world about?

Day 1 intends to answer these two questions.
Day 1 lays out for you the plan and purpose for your future prosperity.
Day 1 is the banquet feast you've been invited to, and need to R.S.V.P. to. Day 1 is not about learning how to survive on cheese and crackers.

I asked these two questions of myself: what's going on? What's the world about? At first my answers went something like this, I don't know. I'm not sure. Something maybe? Then someone was kind enough to pass along to me the enlightening answer: what's going on, what this life is about? It is about God rescuing us from ourselves.

Here are a few examples for you to consider: the prodigal son (Luke 15), the woman at the well (John 4), and the good Samaritan (Luke 10). Each example is a case study of a rescue story.

It's easy for me to pretend I am the recipient of the rescue. I am the prodigal son. I am the woman at the well. I am the beat up-left-for-the-vultures man humiliated and traumatized on the side of the road.

More than these examples, Jesus said succinctly what the world is about and identified what is going on in John 10:10: "The thief's plan and purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. My plan and purpose if to give life abundantly."

Abundantly is a valuable word. Something revolutionary happens when you substitute one of these synonyms for the word abundantly: extravagantly, lavishly, richly. My plan and purpose is to give life extravagantly. My plan and purpose is to give life lavishly. My plan and purpose is to give life richly. These are adverb words. As you know, an adverb describes a verb. In this example Jesus gives life (abundantly, extravagantly, lavishly, richly). This is a rescue worth knowing about, isn't it? This is what is going on. This is what the world is about. Rescue (redemption, salvation, deliverance, freedom, peace).

Consequently the most important thing you can do for yourself is receive, open, and enjoy the gift God has offered you ? Jesus. Because the benefits of this gift begin immediately and extend into forever.

Prosperity in all its fullness is standing before you. What are you waiting for? Grab its hand.

Day 2: Why we know more about the thief

Without a doubt, you have enemies. Some enemies you know about. Some enemies you don't know about. Some of your enemies aren't enemies, except in your imagination. But the point is, you have real enemies that are after you.

Jesus clearly describes your enemy. Your enemy is a thief (John 10:10). This thief has a sinister mission.

The pirate's blackhearted mission is to steal, kill, and destroy. Steal, kill, and destroy what? Mainly, your relationships. Your relationship with God. Your relationship with others. And, your relationship with you.

Thus, your antagonist has a plan and purpose to ruin you.

How does this evil plan and purpose work? When you think it through, you already know more about this crippling plan and purpose than you may suspect you do. You have a lot of accumulated experience with the criminal activity of the thief.

As you are aware, you are not traveling life simply bumping along, going with the flow, and driving to avoid pot holes. Nope. To accept that this is all that is going on would be a half-wit's definition of: naive.

Your enemy isn't stupid. If your enemy's quest is your downfall, then the most effective tool available in his toolbox, to whack you with, is temptation. Temptation beats you lifeless, or at the minimum, hospitalizes you, causing you major hurt. Smack, smack! Bang, bang! Pow, pow!

The thief is clever. Evil despises you. You are no match for your enemy.

But there's good news: you are able, because of Christ, to make temptation work for you instead of against you.

Here's what you need to do to deflect the pirate's hook. Every time temptation comes hug it as an opportunity. An opportunity for what? An opportunity to know for sure God is alive, busy with all the details of your life, and cares about you. An opportunity for you to grow closer to God.

The thief does not want you to practice this. The intent is to keep you separated from God. So what to do? Scare your enemy by choosing life instead of death.

You can do this. Make temptation work for you. Take all day (if you have to). Then the next day. Then, the next, It'll be well worth your time. You may be thinking, I'm too old for this. However, are you ever too old to grow up?

Day 3: We know less about Jesus

Have you ever met someone who knows everything about anything?

They're obnoxious aren't they? They're convinced their opinion is the righteous opinion. After a while, actually as soon as you're able, you run from this sort of person.

I met someone like this the other day. I tried to tell this person something about Jesus. They immediately said, before I finished saying what I intended to say, "Oh I know all about Jesus. There isn't anything you could tell me that I don't already know."

So I stopped talking because I realized I would have been wasting my time saying what I had planned to say.

But this encounter got me to thinking, I don't want to ever claim I know everything there is to know about God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit. I mean, I want to remain teachable. Because I can see a benefit in keeping my knowledge and faith in Jesus fresh.

Preschool transitions to kindergarten. Kindergarten advance to first Grade. Elementary school progresses middle school - you get the picture. The truth is, I will never know all there is to know. There will always be something Jesus teaches that is new and fresh.

Naturally I don't want to be thought of as an idiot. Maybe you think idiot is too strong a word. Maybe it is, so I looked up the definition and researched a few synonyms. The definition of idiot is: a foolish and senseless person. The few synonyms were: bonehead, dunce, imbecile.

So just for the fun of it, what are a couple of things I don't know about Jesus? I'm reluctant to admit it, but how is it possible that Jesus could turn water into wine? And thinking about water, how did Jesus walk on water? Or how is Jesus the water of life? These questions remain a challenge to me.

And beyond this, how do you know it's the voice of God speaking inside your head (or heart), when you're certain you heard a voice? I haven't learn this, yet. Obviously then, I don't know everything there is to know about everything.

My gardening tip is to stay green and growing and not allow myself to get ripe and rotten.

There is forever something more to learn and get right. Jesus is an inexhaustible treasure chest filled with possibilities. Let me whisper in your ear, "I don't know everything there is to know about Jesus.

Day 4: The Upper Story and the Lower Story

At first I didn't see this. Maybe you've already seen this. The Bible is about the Upper Story and the Lower story.

Let me explain. My pastor had a series of sermons that highlighted the Upper story and the Lower story. Essentially the Upper story is about what God has done and what God is doing. The Lower story is about what has happened and what is happening.

It may help if I add a few details. For instance, in the Upper story God is responsible for creating everything we can see and everything we cannot see. In the beginning everything God made was in balance, in harmony.

In the lower story we had the best of the best and chose to dump it for something we guessed would be better, something deception promised would be better. We guessed wrong. Plus, we didn't read the fine print. What we live with isn't what was offered. What we actually received is misery, dissatisfaction, and laughter from the deceiver.

In the Upper story God instantly planned a solution to reinstate the peace, balance, and harmony. He said what the plan was/is. The plan is a person. God sent Jesus.

In the Lower story we waited for God's promise. We debated what it would look like when it got here, and generally missed it when it showed up. The passing of time, unfortunately, hasn't improved our wisdom. Plainly, many have given up. Watching and waiting for God's promise seems a wasted exercise. Even so, in the Upper story and Lower story, the offer of life over death is held out to all. Wealth over poverty. Fullness over emptiness. Health over sickness. Grab it!

The Upper story meshed with the Lower story and balance and harmony are the possible result. Come and see.

Day 5: Personality of the Antagonist

Have you figured it out? What's going on in this Upper story and Lower story is that there is a maverick on the loose. I mentioned this on Day 2, but I have something else that is important to express.

This maverick behaves exactly like a renegade. This rebellious outlaw lies, cheats, smiles charmingly, and is often winsome. This subverter is formidable. This antagonist isn't a cute Halloween character dressed in red tights, carrying a harmlessly dull pitchfork.

This adversary exudes nothing but contempt and total disdain for God and mankind. Many are mindful that the devil is in the details, meaning evil is watching and working the angles to wreck you. This maverick never stops, although it may pretend to at times.

But there is something we tend to overlook, God is in the details much more effectively than this renegade. The thief isn't smarter than God. Temptation is not stronger than God. God is never surprised or or intimidated by the rebel.

I once made a top-ten list of evil's characteristics. Read the list. You may be able to add to the list. You may have not thought through some of the personality traits on this list. Here's my list of the manipulator's character:

1. Seeks control by using charm
2. Hides true self
3. Appears gorgeous
4. Cunning and deceptive
5. Articulate and compelling
6. Aggressive and intentional
7. Causes doubt
8. Takes advantage of vulnerabilities
9. Hunts for victims relentlessly
10. Terrified of failure

Once I recognize some the behavior characteristics of our antagonist I was able to come closer to not being a soft touch. This happened because I finally saw the inestimable value in God's superior promise of balance and peace. I have come to give you life, life in all its fullness. This is what I want to be a part of. And this is what I'm a part of as a follower of Jesus.
I've figured out that I want no part of the maverick. I'm sick and tired of the steal, kill, and destroy. How about you?

What to do? For my part, I press on to allow God to love me. This makes sense, doesn't it? The protagonist has foiled the antagonist.

Day 6: Jesus is not intimidated by what appears impossible

Do you limit what Christ is able to do for you?
If so, there are three (quick) stories in Mark 5 that prove Jesus isn't put off by what appears impossible. Additionally, this is evidence of John 10:10 b My plan and purpose is to give life in all its fullness. These stories will challenge your thinking and encourage you to act with infinite faith.

In the first story a man, everyone gave up on and didn't want to have anything to with, was totally changed when he faced-off with Jesus. This man was demon possessed until meeting Jesus. Further, the man wasn't in control of himself, evil spirits were. His actions were plainly self-destructive, wild, intimidating to others. Therefore the citizens of that region abandoned him to the graveyard, because this man spooked everyone.

But then Jesus entered this man's territory. The man ran to Jesus. More specifically, the demon controlled man purposely rushed at Jesus to intimidate Jesus. But Jesus wasn't intimidated, because the demons within the man were no match for Jesus. Instead, the demons were intimidated. The result? The demons were overwhelmed by fear and the authority Jesus held over them. The man was healed and given life in all its fullness.

The second story is a story of a woman shunned as incurable. She was sick and no one was able to help her become healthy. She was neglected, forgotten, and alone. Yet she hadn't quit believing her sickness could be cured. She went to meet Jesus. She believed what others were afraid to believe. She had the bizarre idea that if she could simply touch the hem of Jesus' garment she'd be restored to health. She did what she planned and it worked. She knew she was healed when she touched Jesus. Jesus knew something had happened, too. With trembling the woman admitted what she had done. Jesus told her, "God peace be with you. You are well and will no longer be in pain because of you faith." The woman experienced life in all its fullness.

The third short story began before the second story. An influential man had knelt before Jesus and pleaded that he help his dying daughter. Jesus agreed and the man and the crowd were on the way to help the child when the woman touched his robe. But before they arrived at the prestigious man's house, some friends came and said, "It's past possible, your daughter is dead, why trouble Jesus anymore?" Jesus however, said, "No!"

At the home of the influential man Jesus took the little girl's hand and said, "Little girl get up!" She got up. Walked around. And was given something to eat. The child who was dead was given life in all its fullness.

What is your impossible situation? Would you dare give it to Jesus? Don't limit what the Lord can do. Have faith. Jesus isn't intimidated nor surprised by what you're experiencing. What limitations is Jesus incapable of overcoming?

Day 7: Benefits instead of liabilities begin here

Do you want to get well? Yes, no, if I could?
Too many are clueless as to what well would look like. No idea what well would feel like. Have never thought past sick.

But you know, Jesus isn't playing games with your life. He loves you too much for that. Jesus isn't intending to tease you with a sorry theory. Jesus meets you where you are. And then begins to change you. Jesus intends to give you life in all its fullness.

Expect good things from the hand of God. The Lord can be trusted. Then the question is: will you cooperate with Jesus or will you continue to experience being robbed, killed, and destroyed ? being sick?

The man at the pool of Bethesda knew how to be sick. Jesus asked him a disarming and revealing question, "Do you want to be well?"

Jesus asks the same question of you and me. Think it through. The choices are only between, continue being dead or start living. What's your choice?

Do you see any benefit in getting well? If not, are you more comfortable being sick? If this is the case, will you be satisfied with your life? If not, there is hope for you. You are in line for the good things of God?the benefits.

When you see a benefit in being well you'll quit the excuses and get up and walk. Jesus is here to give you life in all its fullness.

These benefits Jesus offers begin immediately. You don't have to wait until you die and maybe end up in heaven.

Read the words of John 10:10b carefully. Study the words. Jesus is the remedy for sickness, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Do you want to be well? Besides the above here is a beginning list of benefits instead of liabilities from Galatians 5:

1. love instead of hatred (hostility, contempt)
2. joy instead of unhappiness (misery, depression)
3. peace instead of discord (war, disharmony)
4. patience instead of agitation (resistance, indifference)
5. kindness instead of animosity (intolerance, selfishness)
6. goodness instead of cruelty (corruption, immorality)
7. faithfulness instead of treachery (disloyalty, dishonesty)
8. gentleness instead of contention (defiance, friction)
9. self-control instead of unreliability (foolhardiness, indiscretion)

I cannot name all the personal benefits specifically available to you. I don't know what you may miss by choosing death over life. (God does, though). What I do know is that your life can constantly improve as you cooperate with Christ Jesus. Benefits or liabilities? It's your call. Do you want to be well?

Conclusion:

These devotionals will improve your life and all your relationships. Your relationship with God, others, and you.
You've learned how you fit into the meaning and purpose of life, what you're experiencing and why it matters, what you're lacking and why it matters, how viewing the big picture should affect you, why analyzing what you're up against is critical, and what to do about it, why choice and cooperation can work to your advantage, and how to put this all together in order to experience the life you've always wanted.

I wish you well in your new adventure of living out the benefits God offers you, instead of suffering through the thief's liabilities.

About the author:

Lee Escobedo is retired from a 25+ year career in Christian radio at Family Life Radio in Tucson, Arizona.
Read his Blog @ Lee's Nite Radio
Get Lee's book Getting Unstuck: 7 Steps to Freedom @ Amazon
Contact me if you have questions or comments: service@missionofthelovingshepherd.org

God bless your day.

   34402
"We Dare To Believe"
Copyright © 2017 Mission of the Loving Shepherd, Inc.
Powered by John 3:16