Rebekah Seeks to Serve

Read Genesis 24:16-21

“And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking” (v. 19).

Has “servant practice” led you to a position that you didn’t expect, one for which you did not work, anticipate, or feel qualified?

Rebekah is pure, attractive, strong, articulate, efficient, gracious, and generous. Without being asked, she serves. She goes out of her way. For a stranger. For no “known” profit, thought, or reason. Without any selfish motivations. When she is finished with the initial request she does more, and more, and more. That’s what true servants do.

There is a big difference between serving and seeking to serve. The former is attached to the duties and assignments of life; often they are tasks expected of me. The latter is something I seek. How often do I rake the leaves for an elderly neighbor or take time to listen to a heartache? When did I last go out of my way for a stranger who needed a ride? When did I last give my meal away to someone who needed it more than I?

What Rebekah did had nothing to do with her responsibilities involving her service commitments to her family and their livestock. She stepped beyond that to authentic servanthood.

In chapel services at Mountain State Bible School, we often sang about serving Him because we love Him, allowing Him to take our ruined lives, and use them for His glory. (SEM)

To one who has been given life, serving is a joy!

This devotional is the Tuesday, November 14, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

The Walk of Faith

Read 2 Corinthians 4:8-11

“For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (v. 11).

The inseparable law of the Christian life is — “No Cross, No Crown.” Today‘s Scripture highlights the paradoxes we can expect when we walk by faith. We are:

Sore pressed at every point, but not hemmed in;
At our wit’s end, but never our hope’s end;
Persecuted by men, but never abandoned by God;
Knocked down, but not knocked out.

This walk of faith, despite life’s adversities, makes us more than conquerors through Christ. We are strengthened with divine courage, knowing that if we share the life of Christ, we must also share His suffering.

The location chosen for the great Hoover Dam comprised a vast area of desert. In its construction, inevitably there were those who lost their lives. At the completion of the project, a tablet was placed in the wall of the dam which bore the names of the ninety-six workers who had perished, with this inscription below it: “These died that the desert might rejoice and blossom as a rose.“ Today, the reservoir created by the 726 feet tall structure supplies water to farms, businesses, and millions of people in Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico.

How could Paul go through what he did? He knew his afflictions were not in vain; they were to bring others to God. Walking by faith, whatever the risks or cost, enables us to do and endure all things for Christ’s sake. Trials do not disappear, but God gives overcoming grace.

“Faith makes things possible, not easy” (Unknown).

This devotional is the Wednesday, November 8, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

Abraham Entertains Angels

Read Genesis 18:1-8

“And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat” (v. 8).

As a child, I often heard the advice not to make mountains out of molehills. There is definitely a danger in making things bigger than they are. But there is also an opposite danger — failing to recognize the largeness of the moment. Failing to recognize that opportunity is knocking, and may not knock again.

The writer to the Hebrews seems to have had this event from the life of Abraham in mind when he wrote in 13:2, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Abraham seems to have recognized that his guests were not normal travelers, and this was no ordinary moment. He seized the moment.

Our God is gracious and forgiving. And that is great because we all fail to recognize special moments at times. So don’t despair if you can look back on times when you failed to rise to the occasion. But live ready for the moment! Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the people and events He is bringing into your life today! (Gordon Snider)

Are you ready for the opportunities God may bring your way today?

This devotional is the Monday, October 30, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

Israel’s History Foretold

Read Genesis 15:8-16

“And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance” (v. 14).

With each move, from parsonage to parsonage, from one church and town to the next appointment, our possessions increased. I have a mental picture of that move from our first church to the second. All we owned fit in the back of a borrowed pick-up truck. We saw the baby dresser and rocker at the back of the truck as we followed in our car down Mississippi’s red-clay roads. My pastor/husband’s books could fit in one bookcase, assembled by his father, and now his study has floor to ceiling built-in shelves nearly full of books and resources.

God’s promise to Abram included “great substance” after 400 years of affliction in a strange land. God repeated that promise with specifics to Moses: “When ye go, ye shall not go empty” (Ex. 3:21). The Israelite men and women would “borrow” gold and silver jewelry from their Egyptian neighbors. Thus, Israel would “spoil the Egyptians” (Ex. 3:22). The gold and silver, along with fine linen, would be used to build the tabernacle. (Ann Coker)

The God of Abram praise, All praised be His name,
Who was, and is, and is to be, Always the same!
The one eternal God, Whose timelessness is clear;
The First, the Last: beyond all thought, Throughout the years!
— Daniel ben Judah

What God promises He fulfills in His good time.

This devotional is the Tuesday, October 24, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

The Key to Right Choices

 

Read Proverbs 3:5-10

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (vs. 5, 6).

I have been watching the construction of a section of interstate highway to the north of our hometown. We live in an area bounteous in limestone, so the earthmoving machinery has had to move tons of material to clear the way for the leveling of the ground.

The basic promise in our text for today is that God will "clear the way" for
you - if you trust Him, if you renounce your own wisdom, if you acknowledge Him in everything. But that’s a tough program unless you have come to a place of total surrender to Him.

When we allow God to cleanse the rebellion from our wills, then the most
natural thing is for us to trust Him for wisdom to make right choices. (Leonard Sankey)

Breathe on me, breath of God, Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will, to do and to endure. - Edwin Hatch

God has given to humans the awesome power of choice; it is our responsibility to use it wisely.

This devotional is the Sunday, October 22, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

 

Living as a Foreigner

Read Genesis 12:9, 10; 14-20

"And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land" (v. 10).

When a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, Abram was forced to move his family to a foreign country, where they could survive. However, before long, Abram had gotten himself into a predicament with the Pharaoh, and soon Abram and company were sent packing out of Egypt, complete with an escort (v. 20).

It is not easy being a foreigner. It was my high privilege to dwell across the waters for a season of service in another country. I quickly discovered that in order to build relationships and establish a meaningful life as a foreigner, one must be willing to respect the culture, political system, cuisine, societal norms, language, and inhabitants of that land. Likewise, we should regard immigrants to our country with the respect with which we would wish to be treated, and dwell in harmony as much as is possible. After all, we, too, are really foreigners on this planet - passing through to our homeland, one that is fairer than day! (Faith Trussell)

O Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land,
As on thy highest mount, I stand,
I look away across the sea,
Where mansions are prepared for me,
And view the shining glory shore,
My heaven, my home forever more!
- Edgar Page Stites

While we are living as foreigners, may all whose paths we cross see Jesus in us!

This devotional is the Monday, October 9, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

Pride Brings Peril

Read 2 Chronicles 26:14-16

“But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense” (v. 16)


Uzziah became king at the age of only sixteen and ruled for fifty-two years. He was a successful king, winning victories against Judah’s enemies and building a strong nation.

There is a sad irony in Uzziah’s story. The name Uzziah means “The Lord is my strength.” But when Uzziah “was strong,” pride filled his heart. He came to believe that he could manage on his own. One day, Uzziah entered the temple to perform duties that were reserved for the priests. Eighty priests went into the temple to argue with him, but Uzziah refused to listen. God judged him with leprosy.

Pride is a constant temptation in ministry. It is a sin that brings great peril to any church leader. When God blesses our ministry, Satan tempts us to pride and a belief that it is our talents and abilities that are bringing a response. If we are not careful to continue relying on God, our hearts will be lifted up in pride and we will try to do God’s work in our own strength. (Randall D. McElwain)

Cleanse me from every evil thought,
From all the filth of self and pride.
The hatred of the carnal mindOut of my flesh at once remove: Give me a tender heart, resigned,
And pure, and full of faith and love. — John Wesley

Pride will destroy our ministry. We must always remember that it is only God working through us that makes ministry effective. The 

Promise of Victory

Read Revelation 21:1-7

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (v. 7).

Games are not really worth playing if one player claims the victory by breaking the rules. That is cheating! Cheating spoils the fun of the game.

Christians can claim victory in life, not because they are going to cheat, but because they are on a team with the one who has already achieved the victory. Jesus can offer to share His victory because He properly earned the victory by following God's rules — He died to satisfy justice.

Yesterday's reading reminded us that after salvation, we “were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” Jesus promised His disciples that when their Teacher left, they would not be left alone. A “Comforter” would come to continue the work already started in them. God never leaves His children to face the enemy alone. The Holy Spirit comes along beside us to guide and teach and even comfort us through every struggle and battle. Victory has been assured for the Christian. We must be the ones to claim the promise. (Michelle Avery)

Claim the promised victory!

This devotional is the Sunday, August 27, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

Discipline in the Church

Read Matthew 18:15-18

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (v. 15).

Sometimes our prayer meetings are nothing more than a time to get things off our chest. When we have been hurt we stand and declare it to the whole church, with an air of spirituality. After a detailed description, we sit down and feel so much better for sharing it and think God is pleased because of how much better we feel. This same sense of relief can be achieved by sharing our burdens with a friend or paid professional. People in the USA spend over $200 billion on mental health issues. While some of this is necessary, much is used simply to talk to someone about our problems. Christ said we are to cast our burdens on Him (1 Peter 5:7). What about when we are hurt by a brother or sister? We find clear direction in God's Word — go and tell him his fault! This is not with an attitude of lording it over the offender, but rather to make things right. An attitude of humility is needed from the offended party. Much damage is done to souls and even entire congregations because of not following God's way of dealing with those who have done wrong to us. By publically announcing the offense, we often cause the offender to put up a defensive shield. But, if we humbly approach the one who has offended us it often results in a repentant response. (Paul Clough)

A humble confession of hurt often leads to reconciliation.

This devotional is the Monday, August 14, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

Live Peaceably

Read Genesis 13:5-18

“And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren” (v. 8).

The story is told of a young Christian soldier who faithfully knelt in prayer each night. The sergeant, who wanted nothing to do with God, disdained this “religious stuff!” One night, the disgruntled man reached for his own muddy boots and threw them at the young soldier, striking him on the head. The following morning a pair of beautifully clean and polished boots was lying neatly by his bed! How did his boots change from muddy to clean overnight? Ah, yes, it was the young soldier's doings! He was astonished to think that this young man returned a peaceful gesture instead of rage. The sergeant was so swept away by this kind deed that he eventually came to know Christ as his Savior. What would we do if we were the soldier? Are we endeavoring to live peaceably with others or do we adamantly attempt to stir up strife? When dissension comes our way, how do we react? Do we retaliate with ugly words and insensitive actions or do we demonstrate the love of Christ? Others are watching us! (Sharonda Baker)

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,</ br>Live in me from day to day,</ br>By His love and pow'r controlling</ br>All I do and say.</ br>— Kate B. Wilkinson

We will not influence sinners to find Jesus by acting like the devil. Allow the mind of Christ to live in us.

This devotional is the Monday, August 7, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.