Encounter with Jesus – January 18

ROMANS 15.4-13

Despite man’s best efforts, the world’s yearning for peace remains unfulfilled. Every new generation has high hopes for reconciliation between peoples and nations, but is ultimately faced with disappointment.

One day, Christ will return and fix everything. Until then, believers are called to be his ambassadors for peace. However, becoming a Christian does not automatically mean becoming a seeker of goodness and unity.

Sometimes we are irritable and impatient, and we find it difficult to live in harmony with others. We may have trouble giving up attitudes or habits that hurt those around us — and sometimes we don’t even want to quit. God knows our true character and has given the Holy Spirit to transform us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. The Spirit opens our minds to understand and apply the Bible. It gives us the power to say no to ungodliness, and to replace personal selfishness with a Christ-centered perspective. He patiently produces his fruit in us, which includes love, joy, and peace (Gal 5:22, 23). With their help, we can become peacemakers working to achieve reconciliation between God and men (Mt 5.9).

While our world continues to wait for peace, we know that the only source of enduring unity is Christ.

The Lord wants our hearts to be governed by his peace ( Col 3:15), and for our relationships to be characterized by a spirit of unity. How encouraged others will be when they see the power of God in our lives, bringing reconciliation to our marriages, families, and churches! The Lord wants our hearts to be governed by his peace.  

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Pearls of Grace – January 18

January 18

Driftwood Is Never Used For Building

“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

Hebrews 2:1

Driftwood is beautifully worn and weathered by the washing of water, sun, salt and other elements. The aging process of the driftwood is determined by the amount of time it is surrendered to forces beyond its control. The longer it is exposed to changing environments the more distressed it becomes giving it a look of its own. Many call it an art of nature and have taken the driftwood into the design studio to fashion home décor. The beauty is understood in knowing that what once could have destroyed the wood is really what transformed it into a coveted piece of art. What if the wood had never been found? What if it had been left to continue to drift along the currents of the world? It would have missed a higher purpose! Even though the drifting gave distinction to the wood, it would never have been transformed apart from the rescue. It took a rescuing to bring about a greater purpose and beauty.

But what if that driftwood had been rescued from the elements and then transformed into a work of beauty giving it a value of great worth? And what if this same piece of transformed driftwood decided to cast itself back into the elements of the world returning to its previous state of drifting and meaningless existence? What a waste that would be, right? Why would anyone take a work of art that had the hand of a skillful artist invested in it and throw it outside as if it had no value? It absolutely makes no sense! Yet, it happens every time we give ourselves over to those things that would destroy or rob us of the life God has given to us or that He wants us to have. This is the warning that the writer of Hebrews is giving in Chapter 2 verse one when he writes: “…we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” What was the author wanting his readers to understand; don’t return to driftwood living!

The word of God is what transforms the driftwood life into meaningful beauty. We must understand that the same power that it took to rescue us is the same power we continue to need every day of our lives. We continue to need it because our nature, at times, will contemplate returning to driftwood living. God’s Word is our guard and stabilizing force that will keep us from casting ourselves back into empty living. It gives our lives direction, protection, provision, and distinction! And when the waters of the world entice us trying to sweep us back into its currents the Word will hold us steady until the temptation passes. It is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our path. It will keep us from losing our way in the sea of choices we are faced with.

Are you drifting along today in the currents of confusion and lifeless days? Then answer the call of God’s Word and open up its holy pages giving it your heart’s fullest attention. It will draw you out of those waters and give your life untold beauty and profound purpose all the days of your life.

THE BEAUTY OF THE DRIFTWOOD IS FOUND IN ITS RESCUE NEVER IN ITS DRIFTING

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Daily Strength for Daily Needs – January 18

January 18

Thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee.–DEUT. XXVI. 11.

Rejoice evermore. In everything give thanks.–I THESS. v. 16, 18.

  Grave on thy heart each past “red-letter day”!
  Forget not all the sunshine of the way
  By which the Lord hath led thee; answered prayers,
  And joys unasked, strange blessings, lifted cares,
  Grand promise-echoes! Thus thy life shall be
  One record of His love and faithfulness to thee.
F. R. HAVERGAL.

Gratitude consists in a watchful, minute attention to the particulars of our state, and to the multitude of God’s gifts, taken one by one. It fills us with a consciousness that God loves and cares for us, even to the least event and smallest need of life. It is a blessed thought, that from our childhood God has been laying His fatherly hands upon us, and always in benediction; that even the strokes of His hands are blessings, and among the chiefest we have ever received. When this feeling is awakened, the heart beats with a pulse of thankfulness. Every gift has its return of praise. It awakens an unceasing daily converse with our Father,–He speaking to us by the descent of blessings, we to Him by the ascent of thanksgiving. And all our whose life is thereby drawn under the light of His countenance, and is filled with a gladness, serenity, and peace which only thankful hearts can know.
H. E. MANNING.


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Having a Tough Time? Let’s Celebrate! – Girlfriends in God – January 18, 2021

January 18, 2021
Having a Tough Time? Let’s Celebrate!
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over (Psalm 23:5, NKJV).

Friend to Friend
The thought of hosting a large dinner party makes me want to lock the front door and hide. It’s just not “my thing.” But my friend, Michelle, is the consummate hostess. She makes entertaining look so easy. To her, a dinner party for 50 guests is a simple feat. Just shoot me now!

One of Michelle’s favorite preparations is the dinner table. When I’m expecting company, the first guests to arrive often have the honor of setting the table or stirring something, and … you get the idea. Not Michelle. I’ve seen her table beautifully arranged days before a dinner party or holiday meal. When I asked her why she went to such elaborate lengths her answer made me stop and think: “It’s part of the celebration for me. I love having the table set early because every time I walk past it, I think of the people who will sit in those chairs and I pray for them. I think of their favorite dishes and look forward to preparing each one. I guess you could say that I enjoy the party long before it begins.” 

And there you have the idea behind praise. It is preparing a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

Many life battles are lost because our confidence and faith in God are eroded under the persistent battering of daily stressful situations. We often fail to recognize and embrace the truth that God defines and refines us through each battle in life. 

If the battle truly belongs to God, we win! We win before the first shot is fired. We win before one step of the battle plan is taken.

I would naturally assume that a victory banquet would be held after the victory was won. However, the Hebrew people blew that idea right out of the water when they held victory banquets before the battle even began. 

Had I been there, I would have assumed that the Hebrews were either ridiculously arrogant or people of great faith. The truth is that there was an anointing on their lives, a sign of being chosen by God – just as you and I are chosen. 

You anoint my head with oil (Psalm 23:5, NKJV).

And because they were a chosen people, their faith grew strong and freed them to stand on the undeniable truth that they could count on their God. Celebrating the battle’s outcome was simply a matter of celebrating God, acknowledging His power on their lives, and walking by faith in the victory provided before the battle was even fought. 

I believe our faith is measured by how we handle each battle we face. It may be a skirmish to carry out God’s holy vision, a war against those who seek to undermine God’s calling, or the age-old conflict of good versus evil. 

The battlefield is not nearly as important as our choice to align ourselves with God’s plan and step out in faith, knowing that the battle is already won. That’s where praise comes in.

We can praise God for what He will do long before He actually does it. We can prepare a victory table before the battle begins, knowing that the battle belongs to our God. 

And don’t you know that a pre-battle victory party irritates the fire out of the enemy? I love that!

When we choose to praise God, every fear and doubt fades into the background of a battle won before it begins. 

Let’s Pray
Father, I come to You today, praising You for Your presence in my life. I celebrate the victory You have already won in every battle I am facing. I choose against my human fear and tendency to demand proof of Your presence and power at work in my life. I am stepping out in faith and praising You.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
What battle are you facing in your life today? Set aside time to spend with God, praising Him for the victory He promises.

Read Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT) and make it your prayer today. Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation.

More from the Girlfriends
Mary seemed to have it all until clinical depression brought her world crashing down. She found herself paralyzed and unable to function at home or in ministry. Experience Mary’s story of deliverance through her book, Hope in the Midst of Depression, a practical guide designed to help every man, woman, or child who battles depression find hope. Bible study included.

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary’s website and connect with Mary through e-mail at mary@marysoutherland.com or on Facebook. 

© 2021 by Mary Southerland. All rights reserved.

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