The King Speaks His Heart…

Christ Fulfills the Law…

Before I begin, I must confess this is one segment of scripture that I really have to work on because it goes against my nature.

I am much more like the disciples who wanted to call fire down from heaven and consumed their enemies, but then I am reminded that except for the grace of God and the influence of Christ’ love, the Bible and the Holy Spirit has had upon my life, I could very easily be right over there with them, in total rebellion, outside of God’s will.

The truth is for all of us, we don’t know what we don’t know until we are taught!

We actually have to work on these principles, in order that they may be applied to our life; and as it says in Philippians 2:5, each day we must put on the mind of Christ.

Quote:
“I don’t believe that the big men, the politicians and the capitalists alone are guilty of the war.

Oh, no, the little man is just as keen, otherwise the people of the world would have risen in revolt long ago!

There is an urge and rage in people to destroy, to kill, to murder, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown, will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.”
— Anne Frank

The first of Jesus’ five discourses in Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount was a discourse on kingdom living.

This sermon described the kind of righteousness He expected of His followers.

This righteousness surpasses’ the legalistic religion of the Pharisees and must be lived so as to impact the world.

Matthew 5:17-48

5:17–48 Some say Jesus was nothing more than a good teacher who wanted people to love each other.

But Jesus was and is the Son of God.

Jesus did command us to love our neighbor (Matt. 22:39); He also taught how to do that, through a wide range of complex personal and moral issues.

In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, some of Jesus’ statements sound extreme (for example, Matt. 5:22, 30, 37, 39–42), and several are easy to misinterpret.

Understanding this passage begins by realizing that Jesus’ references to “the Law” and “the Prophets” (5:17) were references to the Old Testament’s moral teaching.

Those Scriptures were to govern the moral conduct and character of His Jewish listeners.

Unfortunately, the people had not heard the true words of the Law and the prophets.

They had instead learned a heavily doctored version of the Old Testament’s teachings.

Their rabbis often stressed the letter of the Law rather than its spirit.

At times they favored their own traditions over God’s actual teaching (12:9–12; 15:1–9).

Sometimes they twisted the Law to fit their own agendas (19:3–8).

No wonder Jesus labeled these teachers as hypocrites and warned people not to follow their example (23:1–36).

This background helps to explain a phrase that Jesus repeats in His sermon:

“You have heard that it was said . . . but I say to you” (5:21, 22, 27, 28, 33, 34, 38, 39, 43, 44).

Jesus spoke with integrity and authority about murder (5:21–26), adultery (5:27–32), vows and oaths (5:33–37), vengeance (5:38–42), and love and hate (5:43–47).

He began His remarks with an appeal to fulfill the Law (5:17–20) and concluded with a challenge to act as the Father would act (5:48).

We should not blunt the challenges these words present.

We should, instead, be careful to interpret them as Jesus intended: as a correction of mistaken understandings of Old Testament law and as a true expression of His kingdom values.

5:38 God’s purpose behind this law was an expression of mercy.

The law was given to judges and said, in effect, “Make the punishment fit the crime.”

It was not a guide for personal revenge (Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:19, 20; Deuteronomy 19:21).

These laws were given to limit vengeance and help the court administer punishment that was neither too strict nor too lenient.

Some people, however, were using this phrase to justify their vendettas against others.

People still try to excuse their acts of revenge by saying, “I was just doing to him what he did to me.”

5:38-42 When we are wronged, often our first reaction is to get even.

Instead, Jesus said we should do good to those who wrong us!

Our desire should not be to keep score but to love and forgive.

This is not natural—it is supernatural.

Only God can give us the strength to love as He does.

Instead of planning vengeance, pray for those who hurt you.

For Verse 41 We find a reference to the custom of forced service in transport by a king’s courier who could demand the service of others to carry out the king’s business.

To refuse was an unpardonable offense to the king (Mt. 27:32; Mk. 15:21).

5:39-44 To many Jews of Jesus’ day, these statements were offensive.

Any Messiah who would turn the other cheek was not the military leader they wanted to lead a revolt against Rome.

Since they were under Roman oppression, they wanted retaliation against their enemies, whom they hated.

But Jesus suggested a new, radical response to injustice:

Instead of demanding rights, give them up freely!

According to Jesus, it is more important to give justice and mercy than to receive it.

5:43, 44 By telling us not to retaliate, Jesus keeps us from taking the law into our own hands.

By loving and praying for our enemies, we can overcome evil with good.

The Pharisees interpreted Leviticus 19:18 as teaching that they should love only those who love in return, and Psalms 139:19-22 and 140:9-11 as meaning that they should hate their enemies.

But Jesus says we are to love our enemies.

If you love your enemies and treat them well, you will truly show that Jesus is Lord of your life.

This is possible only for those who give themselves fully to God, because only He can deliver people from natural selfishness.

We must trust the Holy Spirit to help us show love to those for whom we may not feel love.

5:48 How can we be perfect?

(1) In character: In this life we cannot be flawless, but we can aspire to be as much like Christ as possible.

(2) In holiness: Like the Pharisees, we are to separate ourselves from the world’s sinful values. But unlike the Pharisees, we are to be devoted to God’s desires rather than our own and carry His love and mercy into the world.

(3) In maturity: We can’t achieve Christlike character and holy living all at once, but we must grow toward maturity and wholeness.

Just as we expect different behavior from a baby, a child, a teenager, and an adult, so God expects different behavior from us, depending on our stage of spiritual development.

(4) In love: We can seek to love others as completely as God loves us.

We can be perfect if our behavior is appropriate for our maturity level—perfect, yet with much room to grow.

Our tendency to sin must never deter us from striving to be more like Christ.

Christ calls all of His disciples to excel, to rise above mediocrity, and to mature in every area, becoming like Him.

Those who strive to become perfect will one day be perfect, even as Christ is perfect (1 John 3:2, 3).
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From Max Lucado’s LifeLessons:

Matthew 5:1–48

Jesus gave this sermon (chapters 5—7) on a hillside near the town of Capernaum.

Matthew presented four other great discourses of Jesus (chapters 10; 13; 18; 24, 25).

Jesus did not come to destroy the law of Moses or the teaching of the prophets, but to fulfill what they said.

Jesus told us to be perfect, just as our Father in heaven is perfect.

Sacred delight is good news coming through the back door of your heart.

It’s what you’d always dreamed but never expected.

It’s the too-good-to-be-true coming true.

It’s having God as your pinch-hitter, your lawyer, your dad, your biggest fan, and your best friend.

God on your side, in your heart, out in front, and protecting your back.

It’s hope where you least expected it: a flower in life’s sidewalk.

It is sacred because only God can grant it.

It is a delight because it thrills.

Since it is sacred, it can’t be stolen. And since it is delightful, it can’t be predicted.

It was this gladness that danced through the Red Sea.

It was this joy that blew the trumpet at Jericho.

It was this secret that made Mary sing.

It was this surprise that put the springtime into Easter morning. . . . It is this sacred delight that Jesus promises in the Sermon on the Mount.

Nine times He promises it. And He promises it to an unlikely crowd:

“The poor in spirit . . . Those who mourn . . . The meek . . . Those who hunger and thirst . . . The merciful . . . The pure in heart . . . The peacemakers . . . The persecuted . . . ”

It is to this band of pilgrims that God promises a special blessing. A heavenly joy. A sacred delight.

(From The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado)

How are you fulfilling Jesus’ command to be perfect before God?

Do you fall short by lying, lusting, cheating, coveting, or gossiping?

When you battle one of these temptations, instead of giving in, pray, sing a worshipful song, or think of a memorized verse.

Praise God instead of giving in.
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From Faith to Faith
Daily Devotional

PROTECTED BY LOVE
by Kenneth Copeland

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”
— Matthew 5:44-45

Love your enemies…turn the other cheek…to most people that sounds like a pretty weak way to handle someone who’s causing them trouble.

But, the truth is, it’s the most powerful way there is.

It’s the way Jesus did it—and His way never fails.

Do you remember when Jesus went back to Nazareth and the religious folks were angry with Him and wanted to push Him off a cliff?

What happened?

He just walked right past them, and no one could lay a finger on Him.

Another time they decided to stone Him, and He didn’t retaliate that time either. He just walked off. No one could touch Him.

When Jesus walked through that crowd, He wasn’t afraid. He knew they couldn’t hurt Him because He was walking in the love of God.

When Jesus said to turn the other cheek, He didn’t mean for you to stand there and have your brains beaten out.

He meant for you to stand there in love and in faith believing that the protecting power of God that accompanies that love would keep you safe.

He meant for a man to swing at you and not be able to hit you!

The story of Nicky Cruz as recorded in David Wilkerson’s book, The Cross and the Switchblade, is a perfect example of that.

Nicky was reputed to be the most ruthless gang leader of his time. Yet, when David Wilkerson stood in front of him, telling him about Jesus, Nicky was totally unable to hurt him.

He thrust his knife at David several times. But every time he did, David just said,

“Nicky, you can cut me into a thousand pieces and every piece will still say, ‘I love you and God loves you.'”

Because of love, Nicky couldn’t get his knife close enough to David to hurt him. A supernatural force always stopped it short.

“But I don’t have that kind of love!”

Yes, you do. Romans 5:5 tells us that the love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit.

All you have to do is make the decision to be motivated by that love rather than your own human feelings.

My friend, love never fails! You don’t have to be afraid of failure anymore.

In fact, you don’t have to be afraid of anything. If you’re walking in the love of God, you’re living the most powerful kind of life there is.

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:38-48
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Come join the Adventure!

Skip 🕊️

Christians are called to run the race and not quit…

As Christians, we are not called to be armchair quarterbacks (spectators only), but rather as Christians we are each called to run the race, in order that we may complete our mission assignment…

Our mission assignment is that we are to fulfill the Great Commission that God has assigned to us, which is to preach the Gospel message and to disciple nations.

In order for this to happen, Paul taught us that we are to first discipline ourselves and run the race, in order that we may win the Prize, which ultimately is the Crown of Righteousness, that comes only from Christ’s propitious sacrifice and shed blood on Calvary’s Cross.

Everyone is to have their own relationship with God; that is, read the Bible every day, pray every day, obey His voice every day, without being prompted, pressured or monitored.

If you don’t do this, you are spiritually still a baby.

Paul at the end of his ministry, in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, says…

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to ALL who have longed for His appearing.
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In these above verses, the apostle Paul writes of his life as running a race.

He says here, near the end of his life, that he has finished the race and kept the faith.

He looks forward to the prize, the crown of righteousness, the Lord will award to him and to all believers.

The crown of righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that will be received in fullness at the Judgment Day.

The crown symbolizes the eternal life that every believer who finishes the race will receive.

As true believers, we mustn’t just talk about running the race, we must actually do it.

John describes, in 1 John 2:3-6, what should be the goal of every disciple – one who considers him or herself to be a follower of Christ,

The Test of Knowing Him
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

5 But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him.

By this we know that we are in Him.

6 He who says he abides in Him (in Jesus) ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
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Paul describes this Christian pilgrimage that we are all on as though we are running a race, for a specific Prize.

So, let’s see what the Bible says running the race is all about.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Paul says,

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?

So run to win!

All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal Prize.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadow boxing.

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
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Paul’s new metaphor here compares living in service to Christ to athletic competition.

He likely had in mind the Olympic games, as well as the Isthmian games (one of the Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece) which took place every other year in Corinth.

Foot races were a common event in such competitions. Corinthian society was highly competitive.

In that context, Paul’s readers would agree that in any race, only one runner wins.

Why participate if you’re not going to try to win?

Paul urges them to do what it takes to win!

His point is not that only one Christian can succeed, spiritually speaking. Or that we are in a contest against brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul is referring only to the effort and dedication exhibited by the athletes: that is what the believer should duplicate in their pursuit of Christ.

In these verses Paul builds a metaphor comparing Paul’s foregoing freedoms, in order to win people to faith in Christ, with an athlete training to win a prize.

Both voluntarily give up things to which they are otherwise entitled.

That requires self-sacrifice and a tough approach to one’s own feelings.

They do this for the sake of victory. But the athlete can win only a wreath that will quickly die.

In contrast, Paul aims to win a prize that will live forever.

He also trains himself in this way to avoid being disqualified before crossing the finish line.

Paul tells us to run the race and not to quit!

Real athletes in a race run to finish the race and receive a prize at the end.

Nobody likes to run in a race and drop out.

Why would someone drop out of a race?

There could be a number of reasons.

The person may not have trained properly and just didn’t have what it took to finish.

The runner may have an injury that prevents them from running the race.

Or the runner may not have the mental focus and just quits when it gets too hard.

Or finally, the runner may be disqualified by breaking the rules.

Regardless of the reason, the runner who quits does not finish, and nor will he receive the prize at the end of the race.

In this race that we’re running, Jesus is the ONLY prize that we’re all running towards.
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So here is the ultimate point and here is the goal I believe Paul is talking about…

From Max Lucado’s LifeLessons:

Some believers questioned Paul’s rights as an apostle.

Paul responded by pointing out that the rights apostles claimed were very reasonable, yet he himself didn’t claim them.

To Paul, nothing was more important than spreading the gospel, so giving up his rights was a worthwhile sacrifice.

One of our top priorities should be enabling others to understand the gospel.

Though God has given us many blessings and rights, we should be willing to give them up if it would help someone to know Christ.

You can protect your reputation or protect His.

You have a choice. . . . Jesus . . . “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7, 8).

Christ abandoned His reputation. No one in Nazareth saluted Him as the Son of God.

He did not stand out in His elementary classroom photograph, demanded no glossy page in His high-school annual.

Friends knew Him as a woodworker, not a star hanger.

His looks turned no heads; His position earned Him no credit.

In the great stoop we call Christmas, Jesus abandoned heavenly privileges and aproned earthly pains.

“He gave up his place with God and made himself nothing” (Philippians 2:7 NCV).

God hunts for those who will do likewise—[those] through whom He can deliver Christ into the world.
(From Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado)

Our culture encourages us to stand up for ourselves and demand our rights, even at the expense of others.

Yet Jesus and the New Testament writers repeatedly point to the joy we receive from humility and self-sacrifice, by our disciplining ourselves to run the race which God has set before each of us.

How does this translate into our everyday lives?

Why not give up our right to live for ourselves, but rather let us exercise our free will and discipline ourselves each day to follow Christ!

Instead of using your free time to watch a movie, why not use that time to share your faith and be a light to others.

Come join the Adventure!

Skip 🕊️

The Parable of the Sower…

Jesus poses this question to His followers: What kind of soil are you?…

Are you hard soil, rocky soil, soil that is overgrown with thorns and thistles, or are you a healthy and nurturing type of soil, that’s ready to accept the seeds that are sown in you?

The human heart is like receptive soil to the seed of the Word of God.

The soil that the seed fell on represents four different categories of hearers’ hearts, measured by the four different reactions to the Word of God: the hard heart, the shallow heart, the crowded heart, and the fruitful heart.

The Parable of the Sower

The first thing necessary in order for us to respond positively to God’s offer, in the salvation of our souls through the gospel message, is for us to recognize the value of what He is offering.

What plain truths about Jesus, His Cross, and God’s kingdom reveal divisions among people, and why?

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-19

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Truths: samples include (Jesus) is fully God and fully human;

He is the Messiah, our Savior, and King;

Belief in Jesus’ substitutionary, sacrificial death, burial, and Resurrection is the only way to be reconciled with the Father and to receive the Holy Spirit;

There is no other way to enter God’s presence than through the shed blood of Jesus Christ;

God’s kingdom is for those who live by grace through faith, now and forever;

Those who ultimately reject Jesus prefer the kingdom and rule of Satan over repentance and submission to God.

Divisions:
People’s responses to these truths show differences in outlook, worldview, and orientation.

Only God knows the ultimate responses each person gives to Jesus, but we divide at different points and times based on who we say Jesus is and what He does.

So who do you say Jesus is?

Jesus said of Himself, in John 14:6…

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

His name is Jesus (Savior), and in the Book of Acts we’re told…

Acts 4:11-12

11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’

12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

This is your invitation:

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Come join the Adventure!

Skip 🕊️

The Sovereignty of the LORD in Creation and History…

Praise to the Almighty Creator…

Quote:

“The sovereignty of God is that golden sceptre in his hand by which he will make all bow, either by his word or by his works, by his mercies or by his judgements.”
— Thomas Brooks

Psalm 33:1-22

Unbroken and incessant praise should characterize the lives of God’s people.

At the heart of this worship should be a clear declaration of God’s sovereignty over everything.

In this song of thanksgiving, the psalmist called upon the righteous to sing to the Lord for His absolute control over all the earth.

Specifically, he had in mind God’s rule over all the Gentile nations.

A specific occasion unknown to us prompted the writing of this psalm, one in which God delivered Israel from the threat of an invading nation.

Perhaps it was written following a great national victory like what Jehoshaphat (2 Chr. 20) or Hezekiah (2 Kgs. 19) experienced over an encroaching nation.

Whatever the historical background, this psalm is an anonymous hymn of praise, one of only four psalms in Book I (Pss. 1-41) without a superscription.

The other untitled psalms are 1, 2, and 10.

This psalm is perfectly symmetrical, beginning with a three-verse introduction (vv. 1-3) and climaxing with a three-verse conclusion (vv. 20-22).

The main body is divided into two equal sections of eight verses each (vv. 4-11,12-19).

The twenty-two verses of the psalm, it has been suggested, were determined by the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

The psalmist calls upon the righteous to praise the Lord for His mighty Word, perfect attributes, and faithful deeds.

(vv. 1-2) The call to worship goes out to Israel in the first seven verses, then to the Gentiles as well in verse 8.

Praise is so beautiful and so compelling that the sweetest and finest possible instrumental accompaniment should be utilized—the harp and an instrument of ten strings.

(v. 3) The new song is the song of redemption. It follows the forgiveness of sins (Ps. 32) and belongs to all who have been cleansed by the precious blood of Christ.

But this song will be sung in a very special way by redeemed Israel at the outset of the Millennium (Rev. 14:3).

The new song celebrates the Word of the LORD and all His work.

His Words are absolutely true and righteous, unchanging and trustworthy.

All His works are done in faithfulness.

This is seen in creation—“seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night” (Gen. 8:22).

It is seen in providence. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

And it is seen in redemption—“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

(v. 5) God is not only upright and faithful, upholding righteousness and justice, but the evidences of the goodness of the LORD are everywhere.

The greatness of God is seen in that He created the heavens and their starry host by no greater expenditure of energy than by speaking the energizing Word.

Just this easily did He confine the oceans within appointed limits.

Some see these two utterances as a poetic veiled reference to Israel as the stars of the heavens (Gen. 15:5) and to the Gentile nations as the raging seas, bottled up at last by the Lord Jesus at His Second Advent.

(v. 8-9) In any case, God is so great that all mankind should reverence Him and show Him the deepest respect.

His Word was the sound energy which became matter.

By His command all creation came into being.

(v. 10-11) Throughout human history the ungodly nations have collaborated to thwart God and to ruin His people.

But, as Burns said,

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley,” or, as we would say, they often go haywire!

God ultimately frustrates the cleverest plots hatched by His opponents. And nothing can hinder the accomplishment of His purposes.

He will always have the last word, and whatever He plans will come to pass.

(v. 11) “The LORD’s plans stand firm forever.”

Are you frustrated by inconsistencies you see in others, or even in yourself?

God is completely trustworthy—His intentions never change.

The Bible promises that good and perfect gifts come to us from the Creator who never changes (James 1:17).

When you wonder if there is anyone you can trust, remember that God is completely consistent.

Let Him counsel you, and then rely on His plans for your life.

(vv. 12-15) Only those people who align themselves with God and His revealed plans will know the fullness of His inheritance.

As God carries out His plans, it is with the full knowledge of our lives, circumstances, and needs.

From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind.

From His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth.

With penetrating gaze God observes every person on the earth.

No one escapes His perfect vision (cp. Heb. 4:13).

God who forms the hearts of all rules over all things in accordance with His own sovereign purposes.

So the pathway of our blessing lies in cooperating with God.

Happy is the nation that acknowledges Jehovah as its God. This is the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

(vv. 14-18) God’s watching over us has two dimensions:

(1) He sees and understands our thoughts and motives.

The psalmist explains here that God made the human heart and therefore completely understands people.

John the apostle said that Jesus knew exactly what human nature was like, so no one can fool God (John 2:23-25).

(2) God watches over us with love and protection.

Knowing this should help us prioritize getting in tune with Him each day.

God knows what we are doing, and He guides us toward the right path if we listen to Him.

(vv. 16-17) The image of a warhorse represents military strength.

Because God rules and overrules every nation, leaders should never put their trust in their physical power.

Military might is not the basis for our hope.

Our hope is in God and His gracious offer to save us if we will trust in Him.

(vv. 18-19) This is not an ironclad guarantee that all believers will be delivered from death and starvation.

Thousands of Christian believers have been beaten to death, whipped, fed to lions, or executed (Romans 8:35-36; Hebrews 11:32-40).

God can (and often miraculously does) deliver His followers from pain and death; sometimes, though, for purposes known only to Him, He chooses not to.

When faced with this harsh reality, we must focus on the wise judgments of God.

The writer of this psalm was pleading for God’s watchful care and protection.

In times of crisis, we can place our hope in God.

(vv. 20-22) Whatever the circumstances, the people responded in faith to what they had heard in this call to rejoice.

The phrase We wait in hope for the LORD reaffirms their confident commitment to the Lord.

This they can do because He is our help (cp. 20:6) and our shield (cp. 3:3).

In this God the people trust (Heb. batach, “to attach oneself, depending upon”) because He is in control.

The psalm ends with a petition by the people, May your unfailing love rest upon us,

O LORD. He would sustain and support them through every crisis as they put their hope in Him.

Such hope is well-placed and will never disappoint the believer.
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Max Lucado’s LifeLessons:

In Psalm 33, we can delight with the psalmist in a God who not only created everything, but whose plan for this world will stand forever.

Praise God whose plans stand forever and who triumphed over Satan at the cross.

Remember, Satan cannot penetrate the walls of the Great House of God.

Is it still hard to imagine how your struggle could lead to any good?

Still hard to conceive how your disease or debt or death could be a tool for anything worthwhile?

If so, then I’ve got one final example.

While not wanting to minimize your struggle, I must say yours is a cakewalk compared to this one.

A sinless Savior was covered with sin.

The author of life was placed in the cave of death.

Satan’s victory appeared sure.

Finally, the devil had scored on the right end of the court. And not only had he scored, he’d slam-dunked the MVP and left Him lying on the floor.

The devil had blown it with everyone from Sara to Peter, but this time he’d done it right.

The whole world had seen it.

The victory dance had already begun.

But all of a sudden there was a light in the tomb and a rumbling of the rock; then Friday’s tragedy emerged as Sunday’s Savior, and even Satan knew he’d been had.

He’d been a tool in the hand of the gardener. All the time he thought he was defeating heaven, he was helping heaven.

God wanted to prove His power over sin and death, and that’s exactly what He did.

And guess who helped Him do it?

Once again Satan’s lay-up becomes a foul-up.

Only this time, he didn’t give heaven some points, he gave heaven the championship game.

(From The Great House of God by Max Lucado)

Where are you struggling right now?

Is there some area in your life where you are experiencing defeat?

Remember the Cross and God’s ultimate victory over Satan, sin, and death.

Turn defeat into victory by praising and thanking God and trusting in Him.

As it is with the nations of the world, so it is in each of our individual lives, that God holds it ALL in the palm of His hands

Psalm 31:15
“My times are in Your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.”

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
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Tuesday July 5, 2022
Worthy Brief

RESTORATION OF A NATION!

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”
— Psalms 33:12

Throughout the United States yesterday, everyone celebrated the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence — a document through which leaders of the colonies in the New World broke free from the King of England.

The declaration begins:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

While revisionist historians are working hard to remove any trace of Christian/Biblical ideals from the foundations of America, today’s celebration finds its basis in a foundational document which appeals to the authority of a Divine Creator, one whom most of the founding fathers fully believed to have been the author and main subject of the Holy Bible, and who was the guarantor of certain “inalienable rights”.

So the Fourth of July – more than just a celebration of independence, ought also to be a day which recognizes God’s participation in the nation’s birth.

I’ve read and heard all kinds of advice about how America ought to be transformed, while a simple recognition of God’s covenant offer to a nation goes ignored.

The words found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 could be claimed and applied to any nation, but particularly one whose foundational documents and institutions have drawn their inspiration substantially from Biblical monotheism.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

IF we truly want to see healing brought to any nation, then this conditional covenant is for US and the restoration of our land will require our part in the covenant: humility, prayer and repentance, so that God can forgive our sin and heal our land!

True restoration and healing only comes through true repentance and God’s grace!

With so much work to be done — may restoration begin with us!

Your family in the Lord with much agape love,

George, Baht Rivka, Elianna & Obadiah
Baltimore, Maryland
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Jesus warns us about the narrow way…

Jesus speaking in Matthew 7:13-14:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

So which path are you choosing to take?

Let God’s Word be a Lamp unto your feet.

It all starts with the wisdom and knowledge of God…

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov 9:10).

Proverbs 1:1-33

Solomon the son of David was the wisest, richest, and most honored of the kings of Israel (1 Kgs. 3:12, 13; 4:30, 31).

He spoke three thousand proverbs, but only some of them are preserved in this book.

These extend from 1:1 to 29:27.

(vv. 2–6) tell us why he wrote these proverbs. In brief, they provide practical wisdom for the living and management of life.

Here people may learn shrewdness and receive the kind of instruction that provides know-how.

Here they may learn to perceive the words of understanding, to discern between what is good and evil, profitable and worthless, helpful and harmful.

Here men are schooled in what is wise, righteous, proper, and honorable.

By listening to these proverbs the simple develop prudence or “savvy,” and young people gain insight and sanctified common sense.

Wise men will grow wiser by heeding these proverbs, and a man of understanding will learn how to guide himself and to advise others as well.

Is it not significant that a book addressed primarily to youth should announce at the very outset,

“A wise man will hear?”

That is what is meant by a wise person in the book of Proverbs.

It is one who is teachable. He is willing to listen and not do all the talking.

He is not an insufferable know-it-all.

The book is designed to enable a person to understand a proverb and an enigma, i.e., the lesson which often lies beneath the surface.

It helps him to grasp the meaning of wise sayings and the hidden truths contained in them.

(v. 7) Having stated his purpose in writing the proverbs, Solomon now gives his first and perhaps most important piece of instruction.

The beginning point for becoming a wise person is the fear of the LORD.

To fear the Lord does not mean to be frightened of Him.

Rather, it means to revere Him, to honor Him, to give Him the proper place in one’s life.

If a person does not start out at the right place, he cannot expect to end up at the right place.

Fearing the Lord is the place to begin in gaining wisdom to live life skillfully.

In contrast to the person who is wise and discerning because he fears the Lord, Solomon spotlights the fool.

Fools despise wisdom and discipline.

To despise means “to hold in contempt, to belittle, to ridicule” (Num. 15:31; Neh. 2:19).

If anyone holds God in contempt, he will never be a wise person, and he will tend to live his life in violation of God’s will.

This will bring trouble into his life.

As a man sows, that shall he also reap.

A person cannot break the laws of God. He can only break himself against them when he violates them.

Solomon is giving us an implicit choice: fear God or be a fool. There seems to be no middle ground.

In this present age of information and technology, we have plenty of head knowledge at our fingertips.

But true knowledge—what the Bible calls wisdom—is all too scarce.

Wisdom means far more than simply knowing a lot. It requires a basic mind-set that affects every aspect of life.

This mind-set is characterized by an eager desire to learn from God, from experience, and from others.

The foundation of true knowledge, or wisdom, is to fear the Lord, which means to revere, honor, and respect Him, to live in awe of His power, and to obey His Word.

Doing so will affect your identity, your attitudes, your actions, and your future.

Keep drawing close to God—learn who He is, why He created this world, and what He wants you to know.

Then you will be truly wise.

One of the most annoying types of people is the know-it-all, the person who has a dogmatic opinion about everything, is closed to anything new, resents discipline, and refuses to learn.

Solomon calls this kind of person a fool.

Don’t be a know-it-all. Instead, be open to the advice of others, especially those who know you well and can give you valuable insight and counsel.

Discover what others have to teach you; learn how to learn from others. Remember, only God knows it all.

(v. 8) Actions do, indeed, speak louder than our words.

This is especially true in the family.

Children learn values, morals, and priorities by observing how their parents act and react every day.

How they understand the world is shaped by how their parents go about their daily living.

If parents and grandparents exhibit a deep reverence for and dependence on God, children will catch these attitudes.

If you have children in your care, let them see your respect for God.

Be an example of godly living by praying, worshiping, and reading the Bible with them and with others.

Make sure they see how you act out your faith in a way that’s consistent with God’s Word.

Proverbs places the responsibility for raising children to become wise adults squarely on fathers and mothers.

Parents must bring their children up to honor God and know His Word.

If you are a parent, rely on God for help every day.

Read the Bible and seek wise Christian counsel on how to disciple your children.

If you are living at home with your parent or parents, ask God to teach you through them.

(vv. 10-19) Sin can often be enticing because it cloaks itself in the disguises of fun, pleasure, happiness, riches, comfort, popularity, and fame.

Sin convinces us that we deserve these things at any cost.

When we refuse to listen to and live by God’s truth, our appetites become our masters, and we’ll do anything to satisfy them.

Sin, even when attractive, is deadly.

We must learn to make choices not on the basis of flashy appeal or short-range pleasure but in view of the long-range effects.

Wisdom for this is clearly outlined in God’s Word.

Sometimes this will mean steering clear of people who want to draw us into activities that we know are sinful.

We can’t be friendly with sin and expect to remain unaffected.

So go ahead and enjoy the life God has given you, but enjoy it within the boundaries articulated in His Word.

Eventually, sin will always lead to devastating consequences.

Being “greedy for money” is one of Satan’s surest traps.

He sets the bait when he plants the suggestion in our minds that we can’t live without something.

Then the desire for it fans its own fire until it becomes an all-consuming obsession as we move closer and closer to getting it, oblivious of the trap where it rests.

Ask God for wisdom to recognize any greedy desire before it closes around you and won’t let you go.

If that happens, it is exceedingly difficult to get free.

If you daily seek God’s wisdom, you will have more discerning eyes to recognize and avoid the traps in front of you.

As Ravi Zacharias said,

“Sin will always take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

(v. 20) The picture of wisdom calling aloud in the streets is personification—a literary device used to make wisdom come alive for us, speaking and acting as if it were a real person.

Wisdom is not a separate being; it is the mind of God revealed.

One way to see wisdom in action is to read the stories about Jesus in the Gospels, the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

When Jesus, the Son of God, lived a human life on earth, He lived it perfectly.

He is the perfect model for what wisdom in action looks like.

So to understand how to become wise, we should listen to wisdom calling and instructing us in the book of Proverbs and study wisdom in action in the life of Jesus.

For a New Testament call to wisdom, see James 1:5.

In the book of Proverbs, those who are simple or fools do not have a mental deficiency but a character deficiency.

Foolish people are not dumb or stupid, but they are naive to God’s way of living and unable or unwilling to tell right from wrong or good from bad.

(vv. 23-28) God gladly pours out His heart and makes known His thoughts to us.

To receive His words, however, we must be willing to listen.

Not paying attention to God, refusing to listen to Him, ignoring His advice, and rejecting His correction are all evidences of pride.

Pride is thinking more highly of our own ideas and courses of action than God’s.

If we think that we know better than God or that we have no need of His direction, we are showing that foolish pride has a grip on our hearts.

And pride is so dangerous because it hardens our hearts against the only one who can help us see what is really true and help us live in a way that is truly free.

(v. 31) Many proverbs point out the consequences people experience (the “bitter fruit of living their own way”) for the destructive choices they make.

Faced with either choosing God’s wisdom or persisting in rebellious independence, many decide to go it alone.

The problems such people create for themselves will destroy them.

Don’t ignore God’s advice, even if it is painful for the present. It will keep you from greater pain in the future.

Paul in Romans 6:23 warns us…

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
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Max Lucado’s Life Lessons (Proverbs 1:1–33)…

Proverbs provide wisdom and guidance for living an obedient life. Simple words and common sense give us guidelines for daily life.

The Proverbs contain many instructions to help steer readers away from sin.

Listen to this advice and grow in wisdom. God’s wisdom is superior to all others.

Inspiration Peter announced:

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Many recoil at such definitiveness.

John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 sound primitive in this era of broadbands and broad minds.

The world is shrinking, cultures are blending, borders are bending; this is the day of inclusion.

All roads lead to heaven, right?

But can they?

The sentence makes good talk-show fodder, but is it accurate?

Can all approaches to God be correct?

Islam says Jesus was not crucified.

Christians say He was.

Both can’t be right.

Judaism refuses the claim of Christ as the Messiah.

Christians accept it.

Someone’s making a mistake.

Buddhists look toward Nirvana, achieved after no less than 547 reincarnations.

Christians believe in one life, one death, and an eternity of enjoying God.

Doesn’t one view exclude the other?

Humanists do not acknowledge a creator of life.

Jesus claims to be the Source of life.

One of the two speaks folly.

Spiritists read your palms.

Christians consult the Bible.

Hindus perceive a plural and impersonal God.

Christ-followers believe “there is no other God but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4).

Somebody is wrong.

And, most supremely, every non-Christian religion says, “You can save you.”

Jesus says, “My death on the Cross saves you.”

How can all religions lead to God when they are so different? . . .

Every path does not lead to God!

Jesus blazed a stand-alone trail void of self-salvation.

He cleared a one-of-a-kind passageway uncluttered by human effort.

Christ came, not for the strong, but for the weak; not for the righteous, but for the sinner.

We enter His way upon confession of our need, not completion of our deeds.

He offers a unique-to-Him invitation in which He works and we trust, He dies and we live, He invites and we believe.
(From 3:16 by Max Lucado)

Today you may be bombarded by people giving advice—talk show hosts, psychics, psychologists.

Take more time to listen to God than to television.

At the end of the day, assess which words of wisdom you applied (or should have).

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
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Monday, July 04
Today in the Word
Wisdom from Above

A FATHER’S WARNING

Proverbs 1:10-19

10 My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.

11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait to shed blood;

Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;

12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
And whole, like those who go down to the Pit;

13 We shall find all kinds of precious possessions,

We shall fill our houses with spoil;

14 Cast in your lot among us,
Let us all have one purse”—

15 My son, do not walk in the way with them,
Keep your foot from their path;

16 For their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed blood.

17 Surely, in vain the net is spread
In the sight of any bird;

18 But they lie in wait for their own blood,
They lurk secretly for their own lives.

19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;

It takes away the life of its owners.
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For centuries, parents have warned their children not to fall in with the wrong crowd.

They worry that the bad behaviors of other young people will influence their children.

This can even be true later in our lives; the people we choose to spend our time with can have a profound influence on us.

In today’s Proverb, a father talks to his son about the dangers of following “sinful” men (v. 10).

One commentator compares these sinful men to a modern-day gang.

The gang offers protection and invites the young newcomer to join them (v. 10).

They promise that if he goes along with their evil schemes to hurt and steal, he will get rich (vv. 11–14).

The father’s warning is clear.

“My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them” (v. 10).

The father sees beyond the immediate lure of their promises.

Nothing that this sinful group does will prosper. In fact, they will bring harm down on themselves and on his son.

“Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it” (v. 19).

This passage can be interpreted not only as a relationship between a father and son, but as God speaking to His people.

In Proverbs, the covenant relationship is explored using poetic language.

Here, Solomon paints a vivid picture of the dangers of murder, theft, and covetousness, clearly referencing God’s commands given to His people:

“You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13),

“You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15), and

“You shall not covet” (Ex. 20:17).

With compelling imagery, the author shows the dire results of breaking God’s commands.

We must listen to the guidance given by our heavenly Father. He truly knows best.

It is easy to let other voices talk us into doing things we know are not right, things that break God’s commands.

We may justify our behavior because it produces pleasing short-term results.

The warning is clear: be careful of the company you keep!

Pray with Us
Lord, sometimes we have the wisdom to recognize what is right, but we lack the nerve to follow through. Today we ask for the discipline to choose wisdom above personal gain or man’s good opinion.
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The importance of having communion with God at the start of each day, and having our work periods interspersed with rest periods…

God always multiplies back to us whatever we give Him, and by giving Him our time at the start of each day there will be dividends that we will receive as a result of that investment.

George Mueller said regarding the importance of prayer in his ministry:

“I get more accomplished in 4 hours that is preceded with One Hour of Prayer, than I ever would have accomplished in the 5 hours without the prayer!”

As Christians, we also need to learn how to follow Jesus’ example and intersperse rest periods in our very busy schedules.

Mark 6:30-32
The Message

Supper for Five Thousand
30-31 The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.”

For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.

32 So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves.
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(vv. 30-32) When the disciples had returned from their mission, Jesus took them away to rest.

Doing God’s work is very important, but Jesus recognized that to do it effectively we need periodic rest and renewal.

Jesus Needed Rest and So Do We!

Learning to set boundaries around our time.

As we study the Bible, we find Jesus Himself setting boundaries around His time.

Mark 4:35-40

“That day when evening came, Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat.

There were also other boats with Him.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.

The disciples woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He then said to His disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’”
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Here’s what is so great about this passage:

Jesus sees that there is work to be done. He sees the crowd. He knows people need to be healed, demons need to be cast out, and lessons need to be taught.

But He still tells His disciples to get in the boat, and once there, He falls asleep.

Yes, the needs of the people are urgent, and their requests (or cries) for healing must have been compelling, but Jesus knows that He needs to stop and rest.

If even Jesus needs to stop and rest in the midst of a chaotic world, with all of the important things He has to do, don’t you think we need rest too?

I think we need to follow Jesus’ example and set boundaries on our time, in order to live lives full of what we were meant to do, not what we think we’re supposed to do.

God’s pattern in the Bible is one day in seven for rest, where we take at least one day out every week and give it to God.

We need to follow Jesus’ example and schedule our work, but also schedule our R & R periods.

We need to have balance in our lives, and so we need to learn, not only how to work hard, but we also need to learn how to play hard too, as we see that Jesus did with His disciples, in Mark 6:31.
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Sunday, July 3
The Winning Walk
by Dr Ed Young

SOLITUDE AND REPLENISHMENT

Some people never really rest. They are so busy with the activities of life that they appear to be a blur: always on the way to somewhere; never slowing down.

Jesus did not have that problem. He purposely sought solitude for spiritual replenishment.

He seemed to know just how important such times were for “re-charging” His spiritual battery, and He took advantage of them at every opportunity.

What about you? How long has it been since you were quiet and still in the presence of God, with no agenda other than a desire to sit at His feet?

Many view solitude as a negative prospect, and are alone only if, and when, it is absolutely necessary.

But solitude rightly pursued and experienced energizes our interaction with others, and nurtures our soul.

When Iowans Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey became the parents of septuplets (that’s seven babies, folks!) they were exponentially overwhelmed with the responsibilities faced by every new mom and dad.

Seven to rock, seven to feed, seven to change, seven to bathe and cuddle and hold…what a challenge!

But this young, Christian couple said, while they appreciated the outpouring of help they received, they looked forward to the time they could be “alone” with their young family for an entire evening.

Once, after bringing the babies home, this husband and wife reported that they got in their car, drove to a nearby grain silo, parked behind it, and cried and prayed together.

They instinctively knew that stepping out of the fray for a few stolen moments away would strengthen them for the task at hand.

All of us have demands on our time and become weary of life’s grind.

Time alone with God without phones, pagers, prayer partners, portable cd players or other human or technological distractions, is critical for allowing His Spirit to fill us.

In solitude, we can receive from God His life-giving breath, emerging with renewed sensitivity and compassion for others, and intensified love for Him.

This is true replenishment from the source of all strength and truth.

Memory Verse

Mark 6:31
And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest awhile.”
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When push comes to shove and you have no place to turn to except to God…

Christina Baker’s Testimony…

From Hope in 60 Seconds
by Christina Baker

UNDER ARREST

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.
— Psalm 139:7–10

I’M NOT SURE HOW MUCH TIME HAD GONE BY BEFORE

I noticed the red and blue lights flashing behind me. My first thought was, Why am I getting pulled over? followed quickly by, I have drugs in the car; what am I going to do!

I tried to get rid of the pot I was smoking before I pulled the car over into the parking lot of a bank.

I had just gotten off work at the university and was making a quick stop at my dealer’s house before going home.

The officer came up to the driver’s side, and I lowered my window, just a crack.

Smoke from the weed seeped out of the open window into the officer’s face. It was unmistakable. “What’s the problem, Officer?” I asked.

“Ma’am, your registration is expired. Are you aware of that?” “Nope.”

It was the truth. I was forgetting a lot of things lately; paying my bills was the last thing on my mind.

He could tell I was high. “Ma’am, I’m going to ask you to step out of the vehicle.”

“Officer, why? What did I do?” I asked him.

“Here’s my license,” and I started looking through my purse.

“Step out of the vehicle, ma’am.” I opened the door, and more smoke came out.

“Why are you pulling me over, Officer?”

I asked again as I stepped out of the car. “Ma’am, put your hands behind your back,” he said firmly.

“Why? What’s going on?”

“You’re under arrest.” He put me in handcuffs, then walked me back to his cruiser.

He opened the back door and gestured me inside.

I’d had many close calls before, but this was the first time I’d been caught.

The police had stopped me before and searched my car, but I had somehow managed to throw all the drugs out the window before getting pulled over.

The officers had searched the whole car but found nothing and had to let me go.

After that, I felt untouchable. I was sure the officer would release me at any moment.

“Is there anything in the vehicle I need to know about?” he asked. “Nope,” I lied.

I wasn’t belligerent; I was just playing the fool. I knew better than to admit any guilt whatsoever.

He walked back to my car, and I leaned over to watch him through the windshield.

I saw him pull out my purse from between the front seats. The drugs were in plain sight, along with other drug paraphernalia.

I had at least a half dozen prescription bottles in there, some with the labels ripped off, all full of pills I had obtained from several doctors and pharmacies all over town.

He walked back to the cruiser—his hands holding prescription bottles, a bong, and the drugs he found in my purse—then placed everything on the hood of the car.

Looking at me from outside the police car, he said, “Miss Cabrera, do you know why you are going to jail tonight?”

“Nope.” Still playing the fool. Still feeling untouchable.

“Okay, then.” He got into the front seat, closed the door, and began writing up the report.

“Am I really going to jail?” “Yes, ma’am,” he replied without even giving me a glance, “you are really going to jail.”

The handcuffs dug into my wrists. Suddenly, I no longer felt untouchable.

There was no getting out of it this time. He had found everything.

The jig was up. I felt a surge of anger. I looked up and prayed what may have been my first “prayer.”

“Why are You doing this to me?”

Like my father, I was a self-proclaimed atheist, but even as I sat in the back of the police car, it was as if I had this sense that I wasn’t alone.

I blamed God. Even acknowledging Him was something new.

What have I ever done? I said silently,

Who will take care of my son?

I was breaking. I had just been arrested for driving high with drugs in my car, but I was the victim.

I blamed God for all of it—everything bad I had ever gone through raced through my mind, a litany of punishments He’d given me.

This is all Your fault.

Except, I didn’t believe God existed. Did I?

“You are putting me through something else,” I whispered to, well, to whatever was out there listening.

We drove in silence. Occasionally, a noise would come over the radio, and the sound would make me jump, but the officer said nothing.

It was a clear but very humid night as we drove along a remote, dark road in Houston, Texas.

I felt the cruiser slow down and pull to the shoulder, then stop.

Now I was scared. I was still high, and I had no idea why we had stopped in the middle of nowhere with no one around.

The officer got out, opened my door, and said, “Who do you want to call to let them know you are going to jail?”

“My mom,” I blurted out.

Evan was with my mom. She took care of him while I was at work.

The officer had possession of my cell phone along with everything else.

He opened my flip phone, looked for my mom’s name, typed it into his phone, then dialed her number.

He let me lean outside the car, and he put his phone on speaker.

It was a little after midnight. My mind flashed back to earlier that morning when my mom had told me,

“Cristina, I have a bad feeling; please don’t go anywhere this evening.”

As usual, I ignored her, but now she was about to get a call from a police officer in the middle of the night.

Every parent’s worst nightmare. My mom answered. “Hello?”

“Good evening, ma’am. This is Officer Jackson. I have Cristina here with me, and I wanted to let you know that your daughter will be going to jail tonight.”

My mom let out a cry I will never forget.

Pure anguish. He positioned the phone near me.

“Mom?” I said. She was weeping; I could feel her grief on the other end of the phone.

“Cristina, I told you not to go anywhere tonight. I told you something bad was going to happen!”

She just kept sobbing. “Mom, I’m so sorry,” I interrupted.

“I’ll be okay, Mom. I’m so sorry for everything I’ve put you through.”

My heart broke as I listened to her weeping.

My mom knew what kind of life I lived and had tried desperately to help me. She knew I was on drugs. She knew I was an alcoholic.

She knew about my double life, and as time passed, it became very clear to her that I may not make it out alive.

Her tears flowed with deep sadness, grief, and disappointment.

“Ma’am, I just wanted to let you know that your daughter is okay. She is safe. She is not injured in any way, but she will not be coming home tonight.

She is going to the Harris County Jail.”

“Thank you, Officer.” Her voice cracked.

“Thank you for letting me know.” He hung up and looked at me.

“You seem like a nice girl. Why are you living this kind of life?”

“I don’t know,” I said miserably.

This wasn’t the first time an officer had asked me that.

When I lived in Florida, a police officer had asked me the same question.

Why am I living this kind of life? I thought to myself.

I could feel the officer’s kindness toward me, even though I had been cocky, rude, and dishonest with him thirty minutes before.

Looking back now, any officer could have pulled me over, but the one who did was compassionate and gentle.

I have no idea what he saved me from that night.

Perhaps I would have gotten into an accident. Maybe I would have hurt someone.

I’ll never know, but today I look back on that moment full of gratitude.

This moment was a divine intervention. A moment when heaven and earth collided to save the life of a lost, drug-addicted girl.

I am grateful that this officer patrolled that road on that night and arrested me.

We pulled into a parking garage with all the other police cruisers, and I had no idea what to expect.

There were other people there, also arrested for driving under the influence.

I was taken inside for processing and pictures, and I started sobering up as everything became very real.

We all waited inside a holding cell for our bails to post, and reality hit me like a ton of bricks.

Are you going to continue to live like this?

What are you doing with your life?

I wasn’t sure if I asked myself that question or if another voice asked it of me.

But I just kept seeing Evan’s face—the face of my precious son—and deep inside I knew something in my life had to change.

Will I ever get out of this? Will I ever change? Someone help me.
____

Cristina Baker
“Hope in 60 Seconds: Encountering the God of the Impossible”

Available on Kindle: $11.99
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