Thursday, February 18, 2010

First Step

"And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again." Genesis 37:22

When Joseph's brothers cast him into a pit, I can't even imagine what was going through his mind. I am sure that fear, confusion, anxiety and a host of other emotions were running rampant in his thoughts. No doubt he was asking, "Why?". During his time in the pit I am positive that there was one thought that wasn't going through his mind-- "this is a good thing". Little did Joseph know at the time that this was the first step in the fulfillment of God's plan for his life.

Often the first steps in the fulfillment of our destiny, God's plan for our lives, doesn't look at all like we thought it would. At first glance it may even appear to look like anything but. It doesn't necessarily come wrapped up in flowery packaging. It doesn't always come under ideal conditions. It doesn't always come through some miraculous encounter with the Lord like Paul had on the Damascus Road or Moses had standing before the burning bush. Joseph's brother's hatred, jealousy and betrayal is what sent him on the first step.

Many times the first step that will take us to our God given destiny comes like it did for Joseph- in a pit. Remember, Esther's came through her captivity, as did Daniel's and many others recorded in the Bible.

Don't get discouraged, don't get anxious, don't get fearful or fretful when things aren't going as planned or they appear to be going in the opposite direction. It might be that this is your first step toward fulfilling your destiny.

Have a great day. Joseph's destiny was the palace, but the first step in getting there was the pit.

For further reading:
Jeremiah 29:11
Romans 8:28
Genesis 37
Genesis 50:19,20
Acts 9:4-6
Exodus 3

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Coffee Break is a morning devotional written by Lorraine Ezell

No Reason To Fear

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

There are some fearful things in life, but Christians have no need to fear them. Let's talk for a moment about why we have no reason to fear.

First, fear does not come from God. It comes from our enemy, the devil. We don't have to fear what comes from him because he is already defeated. His weapons are "broken" that he uses against us. Our Lord defeated him, stripped him, dethroned him and made his weapons of none effect. So, why do we fear the devil? Is he greater than Jesus? Is he more powerful? Was he the victor? No, no and no!

Also, the Lord has given us and equipped us with everything we need to be victorious over fear. He has given us "power". His power, not our puny little power. But it's the same power that defeated the devil at the cross so that we can defeat him each time he comes with his attacks. He has given us His "love". Love casts out fear. Fear and love cannot cohabitate, just like fear and faith can't. He has given us a "sound mind". Fear starts first as an attack against your mind. This sound mind we have been given "nips it in the bud" before it has a chance to go any further or manifest in us.

So, given the fact that fear has been conquered by Jesus, we have no reason to fear the giants that stand before us. It matters not how big they are, God is bigger. Are you facing a "giant" this morning? A financial giant? A relationship giant? A giant that is threatening to make you its slave? Remember David and Goliath? This story teaches us about the power of God to bring down giants in our lives, no matter how big they are. What defeated the Israelite army was their fear- fear of Goliath. David didn't fear him because he knew that God was bigger. There is an old adage that says, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall". How true! God can bring even the biggest giant in your life down and He can do it with just one small stone.

Have a great day. There is no reason to fear the giant.

For further reading:
1 John 3:8
Isaiah 54:17
1 John 4:18
2 Corinthians 10:5
1 Samuel 17

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Coffee Break is a morning devotional written by Lorraine Ezell

Power In The Blood

"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Hebrews 10:4

I grew up on songs like, "There is Power in the Blood", "Nothing But the Blood", "The Blood Will Never Lose It's Power", "Are You Washed in the Blood?". Of course, these songs were all talking about the blood of Jesus that was shed at Calvary.

I want to talk about the blood for a moment. There is so much to say and teach on the subject but this is a devotional not a book so I just want to touch briefly on the power that is in the blood. The blood of Jesus is more powerful than anything else. It has the power to remove sin. It has the power to give eternal life. It has the power to bring reconciliation between us and God. It has the power to give salvation, redemption and healing. By its power a new covenant was established.

If the blood has the power to forgive our sins and give us eternal life, why are we still trying to find a way to save ourselves? What do I mean? There are those who still try to find forgiveness through doing good deeds. They are trying to work their way to heaven. They think that if they are "good enough", do enough religious deeds, or don't do certain "sins" that this will make them acceptable to God. When the spirit of death went throughout Egypt during the last plague, there was only one thing that could save the people- the blood. If they did not have the blood of the lamb applied to the doorposts of their houses, death would have come to them as well. That night there was only one thing that could have saved them- it's the same way today. It still takes the blood of the Lamb applied to our lives.

You can try to offer the Lord your own "sacrifices", but the blood of His Son Jesus is the only thing that God will acknowledge for the forgiveness of sin. The blood was the only thing that could have paid the price. Try as you may to pay for it yourself, but you will always come up short. The price was paid in full at the cross through Jesus' blood, so why don't you stop trying to work hard enough to come up with something else that will pay for it-- it won't.

Have a great day. There is power in the Blood!!

For further reading:
Hebrews 9:12-14, 22
Exodus 12
1 Corinthians 6:19,20
Isaiah 53:10,11

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Coffee Break is a morning devotional written by Lorraine Ezell

His Love

"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." Jeremiah 1:5

Before you were born, the Lord knew you and loved you. Before you repented of your sins and became His child He loved you. He not only said that He loved you, but He showed you how much He loved you by sending His Son to die for your sins. He has always loved you, so why do you ever doubt?

According to the Book of Romans nothing separates us from His love. That is because His love is unconditional. He loves us in spite of ourselves- in spite of our rebellious attitude, in spite of our selfishness, or our determination to do things our own way, and in spite of the fact that we often think we know better than God does when it comes to running our lives.

Because He loves us so deeply and unconditionally does that mean that we have a license to sin and it will be all right? No, it doesn't! Sin puts a hindrance in our relationship with Him. It's what broke our relationship with Him in the first place. But because His love for us is deep and eternal, He provided a way to put our relationship back together again.
So now we can have a wonderful assurance that because He does love us, that once we confess our sins any hindrance
is completely removed out of the way.

And just in case you doubt His love for you this morning look at the cross. There is no greater demonstration of love. And there is no greater proof.

Have a great day. The Lord loved you, loves you and will always love you.

For further reading:
John 3:16
Romans 5:8; 8:35-39
1 John 1:9
Jeremiah 31:3

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Coffee Break is a morning devotional written by Lorraine Ezell

Willing Spirit

"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41

Many of us have a will to do what is right, to please the Lord, to be obedient and to not sin, but this flesh of ours gets in the way. Because of its weakness we tend to give into and do the things we don't want to do. We tend to roll back over in bed in the mornings instead of getting up to pray. We tend to sit in front of the television or computer for hours being entertained instead of spending time reading our Bibles. We tend to live undisciplined lives yielded to God because we are always giving into the lust of this weak flesh.

We do what we shouldn't and don't do what we should because our flesh is weak; Jesus is the one who said it in the verse above. But when He said it, He never intended for us to take that fact and make it an excuse to justify our lack of discipline, surrender and obedience. We focus too much on "the flesh is weak" when our focus should be on "the spirit is willing".

Even if we have just the slightest willingness, coupled with the Holy Spirit we can do all things. We need to switch our focus from the weakness of the flesh to the power of the Spirit who resides in our spirits. This is the same Spirit that raised up Christ from the dead. This is the same Spirit that moved upon the face of the deep at creation. This is the same Spirit that empowered our beloved Savior Jesus while He was one earth.

As long as we are focusing on our weakness instead of His strength, we will continue to fail. We will continue to be defeated. We will continue to live lives that aren't experiencing abiding peace, unspeakable joy and abundant life. But if we focus on the power of the Holy Spirit empowering our spirits then we will walk as more than conquerors. We will speak to mountains and they will move. The situations will not overcome us but we will overcome them. And Christ through us will be glorified.

Have a great day. Are you focusing on your own weak flesh, or the Holy Spirit's ability to empower and strengthen your willing spirit?

For further reading:
Romans 8:11
Genesis 1:2
Luke 4:1
Zechariah 4:6
Acts 1:8

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Coffee Break is a morning devotional written by Lorraine Ezell

Love Test

"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up." 1 Corinthians 13:4

In our Sunday School class we have been studying God's nature and characteristic of love. God is love. He doesn't just possess it. He doesn't just carry it around in His pocket. But it is who He is at the very core of His being-- love. When Jesus was on earth, He showed us what the Father was like. Jesus demonstrated love, the Father's love, everywhere He went and in everything He did- from the "smallest" miracle to the cross.

When you read 1 Corinthians 13, especially verses four through seven, you see the definition of what love is and what it isn't. When you read it, you are also looking into the face of Jesus. Jesus was patient. He was kind. He wasn't proud or boastful, envious or jealous. He didn't keep a record of wrongs that were done to Him. Through His fulfillment of the definition, He gave us an example and pattern to follow.

The word Christian simply means "Christ-like". We are to follow Jesus- not only in obedience to His commands- but through imitation. We are to do what He did and don't do what He didn't. We are also His children. Therefore, we are to be Christ-like in reflecting the nature and character of God as Christ- who is the Son of God- did. 1 Corinthians 13 is also an evaluation tool to determine whether we are walking in love, living according to love and reflecting God's love.

When you read 1 Corinthians 13 from now on, I hope you will look at it differently- not as just a definition, but as an example which you are to follow and as an evaluation to determine if you are. After all, the true sign of your Christianity is not in your profession of being one, but in your demonstration of love.

Have a great day. Are you following Jesus' example of love?

For further reading:
1 Corinthians 13
John 3:16; 13:35; 14:8,9
1 John 4:7,8

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Coffee Break is a morning devotional written by Lorraine Ezell

The Middle

"And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side." Mark 4:35

When the Lord gives us a command or instructions, as He did in he verse above- "Let us pass over to the other side"- He never promises us that it will be smooth sailing to get there. He never says that we won't encounter hardships or difficulties. He never tells us that there might not be a struggle or a storm to endure. He just gives us the command and attaches a promise to it- "we will make it."

From the time the instruction comes until we see the fulfillment of its promise, we may go through hard times, problems or even moments that threaten to "sink our ship". But don't give up. Stay in the boat. Keep pressing forward. Stay obedient to the command. Set your eyes on the prize - the promise.

David received the anointing to be king, but before he actually sat on the throne he was under constant pursuit by Saul and had to run for his life. From the moment that Joseph received the dream concerning his destiny and it actually came to pass, he went through a pit, slavery and a prison.

We don't mind the instruction of the Lord in regard to what He would have us to do, and we look forward to the fulfillment of it- the promise that is attached. It's just the "middle" part that we have trouble with- because the middle may involve a storm. But if you hold on to His promise in the storm the fulfillment will come to pass.

Have a great day. There is usually a trying time attached to the promise and the fulfillment of the promise, but stay faithful and full of faith during that time and you will make it to the other side.

For further reading:
Mark 4:35-41
Psalm 105:17-21
Hebrews 10:23
John 16:33

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Coffee Break is a morning devotional written by Lorraine Ezell

Love Your Enemies

"But I say unto you, 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." Matthew 5:44

Did you notice that Jesus didn't say to love your family- your spouse, children, parents, siblings, love those in your close circle of friends, love those who love you already, love those who treat you good? His command jumped over those that you would naturally love anyway to those that you don't love-- your enemy. Why? Because this is exactly what He did. We were all His enemies because of our sin, yet He loved us.

He didn't wait to love us until we became His friends or His followers. If He had, He would still be waiting. Instead He loved us while we were enemies. His love for us was not just a "word" or an "emotion" or "feeling" that He had. It was also a demonstration. He demonstrated His love for us, His enemies, by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins.

If we are truly His children, if we are truly His followers, then we are to love our enemies as well. And that love is more than words. It is demonstration for us as well. Is your enemy hungry? Feed him. Is he naked? Clothe him. Is he sick? Visit him or take him some soup. Is he hurting? Pray for him, send him a note letting him know that you are thinking about him. Do something nice for him- as you have opportunity. God did the same for us. Only His "nice" was much more than just "nice"-- He laid down His life for us and gave us the greatest gift possible- everlasting life.

Have a great day. Loving those who love you is one thing, but loving those who are your enemy is a "Godlike-thing".

For further reading:
Matthew 5:43-48
Romans 5:6-10
John 3:16,17
1 John 4:19-21
Ephesians 4:32
Proverbs 25:21

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Coffee Break is a morning devotional written by Lorraine Ezell

He's There

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Psalm 23:4

Sometimes people are on the "mountain top". They are in a place where everything is going well. They have plenty, no problems, no lack, everything looks great, their life seems to be perfect. Then there are times when we are in the "valley". Problems come, there is lack, things don't look so great, you can't see as clearly and you don't always understand what is going on. And the thing about these places is that they can change at a moment's notice or without warning. One minute you are on the mountain top and the next you are in the valley, or vice versa.

Where you are is not what matters most. What matters is who is with you while you are there. I want to remind you that the Lord is with you- whether you are on a mountain top, in a valley, in a storm, in the wilderness, in an oasis, in a drought or a famine. It may feel like He has forgotten you. It may feel like He has abandoned you. It may feel like He is a million miles away. It may feel like He doesn't care. But He does care and He is with you. You can't lose sight of this. You are NOT alone! He didn't promise you that you would always "feel" His presence with you. But He did promise you that whether you felt it or not, He would never leave you. Take comfort and take heart this morning in His promise and remember that you are not alone.

Have a great day. Life takes us to the mountain top at times, and it also takes us to the valley. But regardless of where it takes us, we are not alone... the Lord is with us.

For further reading:
Psalm 23
Psalm 139
Exodus 3:1-3
Deuteronomy 8:2
Mark 4:37-40
Hebrews 13:5
Matthew 28:20

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Coffee Break is a morning devotional written by Lorraine Ezell