Cast Down and Lifted Up (Devotional Reading)

Job 22:29  When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.

No doubt many people have heard of the account of Job. A man of whom God says was, “…perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” (Job 1:1). He was also a very wealthy man who had lots of children; 10 to be exact.

We know there came a day when he pretty much lost all that he had. He lost his plowing animals to robbers. He lost his sheep to a great lightning storm. He lost his transport animals to more robbers. In all these events, Job also lost his entire workforce. All that he had worked for and accomplished was gone!

Finally, he lost all his children at once in a terrible wind storm, and it was at this news that the Bible says in Job 1:20  Then Job arose, and rent (tore) his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

Upon hearing of Job’s affliction, there were three acquaintances of Job who came to comfort him. But, their words were not really comfort to Job at all. It seems they were more interested in accusing Job of some secret wrong doing. They seemed to believe he was just reaping for this perceived wrong doing and they were making this known to Job.

Some comforters they were!

It’s while a man by the name of Eliphaz was speaking that he uttered the words we read in Job 22:29  When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person

While his intent may not have been the best, the words of Eliphaz are true. It isn’t until we have truly been cast down by the situations of life that we finally understand what it means to be lifted up by the Lord!

I believe that when we learn to look at life this way, it makes these experiences far more beneficial to our mental, emotional, and spiritual growth!

There’s an old adage that says, “When you’re down to nothing, God’s up to something” and that was certainly true for Job! We learn later that he ended up with twice the amount of wealth after his trial was over than he had before his trial began. He also ended up with 10 more children!

God took a terrible situation and turned it around and taught Job what it really means to be lifted up by God!

When we are cast down by the events of life, let’s not forget to look up to God and let Him lift us up as well!

-Bread in the Wilderness Devotional Readings

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James: Influencing a Future Ministry

The book of James was written by James, the younger half-brother of Jesus Christ. James was not one of the original disciples of his older Brother’s ministry. The reaction to Jesus’s ministry by His brothers and sisters was, “…shew thyself to the world” (John 7:4). We then read in John 7:5  For neither did his brethren believe in him. This seems to have included James.

As a good, loving, and mentoring older Brother should, Jesus told them in John 7:6 …My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. In other words, “You’re worried about all these worldly things, and you could die lost at any moment”. Coupling this statement of Jesus with some of the things we’ll read in the letters of James and Jude, both of whom were half-brothers of Jesus, we are going to find that this was a very straight-forward speaking family!

We are given some more insights into the early life of James by Paul the Apostle in 1st Corinthians 15:7  After that (after the resurrection of Christ), he (Jesus) was seen of James; then of all the apostles. It says “then of all the apostles”. This does not mean James was an apostle when Christ appeared to him, but that James was an apostle when Paul wrote these words.

Seeing that Jesus specifically appeared to His younger brother James after being resurrected, it’s likely that James was either 1) very close to believing on Jesus as Lord and yet hadn’t made the decision to get saved yet, 2) got saved when He saw Jesus alive, or 3) was already saved and Jesus wanted to appear to His younger brother to encourage him in his God-given calling.

Either way, James eventually got saved and became a disciple, or as he would say in the opening lines of his letter, “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”.

Because Jesus positively influenced a future ministry, we are blessed by the letter of James today!

Memorial Stones of Victory – (Devotional)

Joshua 4:8  And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

Just before this, in Joshua 4, we read of the people of Israel passing over the river Jordan and bringing 12 memorial stones from the midst of Jordan’s riverbed. These 12 stones were to be set up as a reminder of this great victory in the Lord. Joshua wanted the people to be ready to explain it to their kids.

Joshua 4:21-22  And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?  (22)  Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.

Two Memorials

We may think there was just one memorial set up…the memorial of 12 stones on the other side of Jordan, but there were actually two memorials.

There was the people’s memorial in Joshua 4:8  And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan…and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

Then there was Joshua’s memorial in Joshua 4:9  And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.

It’s great to have collective victories, but you have to take time to remember your personal victories too!! Even if the waters of life end up covering them like the waters of Jordan would cover Joshua’s memorial, you and God know about them!

This means you can say, “Others may not always know about my breakthroughs and victories, but I know about them and most of all God knows about them and the memorial stones ‘…are there unto this day’.

There is a special sanctity about having victories of which only you and God know and celebrate together!

No Wasted Seeds – (Devotional)

Matthew 13:3-7 …Behold, a sower went forth to sow; (4) And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side…(5) Some fell upon stony places…(7) And some fell among thorns…

Some of the seeds mentioned here, while being sown in a field, fell among the wayside, stony places, and thorns. The seeds were not meant for these areas, but some of them landed there anyway.

So it is that, when the word of God is being sown like seeds, some teachings may seem to be specific only to certain people’s lives, but everyone there is hearing the same word. Just because something doesn’t seem to be for you doesn’t mean you don’t need to hear it or that you can’t benefit from it.

There do not have to be any wasted seeds when it comes to the word of God. Any message we hear preached can work for our education and edification if we’ll allow it!

-Bread in the Wilderness Devotional Readings

Rationalizing or Realizing – (Devotional)

Genesis 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

If there is one characteristic that goes all the way back to the first man and woman it is the tendency to look for a way to blame someone else for our own failures. Ever since this day, men and women have been going from problem to problem.

What people could correct and overcome in a matter of moments, they endure for years and decades believing that one day it will all work out, but until then, it must be someone else’s fault.

Now that Adam had a fallen nature, he seems to have rationalized to himself, “Surely there is judgment coming, so let me direct it away from me as fast as I can”.

While he was busy rationalizing, he should have been realizing that character goes a lot further than blaming others does!

What would have been the right response? Rather than playing the blame game, it would no doubt have been better for Adam to just admit, not only that he made the mistake, but that it was his mistake and not someone else’s.

Let us expect that God will respond much better than we think He will if we would just stop playing the blame game and start operating like He does!

-Bread in the Wilderness Devotional Readings

The False Promises of Power

Hebrews 13:5 – Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

The illusion of having power can take on many forms. When we speak of “power” we don’t just mean financial power (though that applies). We don’t just mean positional power (though that applies). And we don’t just mean social or psychological power.

We mean any form of power you will ever be tempted to wield over another human being in whatever form it may be. These forms can include such things as money, position, usage and tone of words, tears, attitudes, or any other form of power with which we may be tempted to use against another for personal gain.

We are told in Hebrews 13:5-6  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  (6)  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. The following are some false promises of power.

False Promise #1) With Enough Power, I Can Control Anyone I Need To Control

This is a trap, because the only person we can truly control is ourselves, and that is a full-time job! Even for those who seem to give the most lip service, whether they are trying to be a people-pleaser, or are trying to get an advantage over others they see as competition, Jude spills the beans on them when he says in Jude 1:16 …speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. In other words, behind your back, there may not be the same sweet words being said about you that your ears heard.

Solomon gives us wisdom in this area when he says in Ecclesiastes 7:21-22  Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:  (22)  For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

In other words, don’t be so quick to believe you are in control because of the sweet words people always speak to you. You may end up overhearing how they TRULY feel about you, and it will rock your naive world!

What do we do? We can start by taking heed to the words of Paul, when he says in Hebrews 13:5-6  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have… Rather than being covetous for control, we should learn to be content with such things as we actually have.

False Promise #2) I Can Handle ANY Amount of Power

Proverbs 25:16  Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it. In other words, it IS possible to have too much of a good thing!

Power can be intoxicating and there are lots of people who are drunk on their ability to get other people to do and say what they want them to do and say. They’re drunk on the platitudes people give them. The answer is not to stop people from telling you good words, because people are going to do whatever they’re going to do. The answer is to guard our hearts against the drunkenness of influence and power so that we do not use it to manipulate others or to start making wrong decisions.

Let’s face it! Intoxicated people DO NOT make good decisions! In 2nd Samuel 11, King David, who had become intoxicated on his power and influence, got another man’s wife pregnant, tried to make it look like it was her husband’s child, and when that didn’t work out, he had her husband killed.

It wasn’t until the old mean preacher, Nathan, who also was lower in the structure (the “payroll person” if you will), came along and dared to say something the “Power Person” didn’t want to hear that it was made known. Honesty is risky and it can be costly! Thankfully, David made the right choice and confessed his sin

False Promise #3) Because I Have Power, I Don’t Need Anyone’s Input / The False Promise of Autonomy

Pastor and author, Andy Stanley said, “Powerful people have a hard time listening to payroll people”. By “payroll people”, this includes, not just people literally on the payroll beneath you in position and title, but anyone who is in any position that is perceived to be lower than the “power people”. It looks like this, “They haven’t done what I’ve done. What can I learn from them?”.

Well, it is hard to learn anything when the gate to our hearts is closed. But, there may be things they have done that you would say, “I’ve never heard of that being done before”. Often when people say, “I’ve never heard of that being done before”, they mean it to be a negative. In reality, it could be a learning opportunity if they let it.

I have found that the best mentality to have is one that says, “I can learn something from anyone“, no matter where they are in relation to me.

Autonomous Anonymous may say, “I do all the telling, and they do all the doing, and that’s the way we like it!”. There are people who know more than we know and can see more than we can see. The worst thing we can do is immediately dismiss the contribution of someone who is at a lower level of a particular structure than we are.

Communication is power and that can be scary for someone who feels the need to always be in control, but it truly is the antidote to the virus of selfish autonomy!

These promises of having power truly are FALSE and they will not, and they cannot, be kept. Whatever God allows in your life, may you always “…be content with such things as ye have…”!

Is there an area in your life where you find yourself trying to use some form of power to control others? If so, how would it look if you no longer needed that to feel secure?

“To Whom Men Have Committed Much”

Luke 12:48 …and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Regarding these words of our Lord, one person said, “You can commit some things to most people, but you can only commit most things to some people.” This seems to be why the Lord says that, when this kind of person is found, more will be asked of them.

To this day, the same Lord who said these words is looking, not just for those who will be saved and nothing more, but for those to whom He can entrust greater portions of His work; those with whom He can partner and do greater things!

Our Lord says to Nathanael in John 1:50 thou shalt see greater things than these. When speaking to Philip and the other brethren, He said in John 14:12 and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

It seems the Lord is constantly looking for those of whom He can “ask the more” and who will be willing to “see greater things” and do “greater works”!

As God’s people, let’s be the first ones who are willing to be found for such a glorious and fulfilling task!

Calling Those Things that Be Not As Though They Were (Final Part – Keep Calling It)

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Keep Calling It As Though It Were, Until It Is

Part of the Christian life is to live in hope. When you call things into your life as though they were already there, though they are not yet, then it keeps a sense of hope before you. Almost as if you are saying, “It is on its way…it is on its way”.

When God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and when Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah, it was about one year before the promise of God came to pass in their lives.

Sarai means “dominating”, and she was, but Sarah means “noble queen”. Sarah had to learn how to change her mentality and start acting like a daughter of God instead of a daughter of bossiness and entitlement.

Abram means “high (noble) father” or “father of height”, which could also entail that Abram may have been a tall man. The name Abraham means “father of a multitude”.

Anytime Abraham said his name, he was calling that which was not as though it already was, and this is what is meant by Paul, when speaking of Abraham, in the verse we started with in Romans 4:17 …and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

I believe the more Abraham said his new name, knowing what it meant, the more he started to believe it. When you get in agreement with God’s word and you declare God’s word, you will start to believe it more and more. It keeps faith in front of your mind!

Then, that natural doubt that would always arise in your heart, will begin to lose its grip until you speak God’s word with full conviction and assurance and you are able to speak it without any significant doubt in your heart.

Then, as Jesus says, you shall have whatsoever you say because you learned how to become an authorized user of God’s word and are calling things that be not as though they were. One last thing to remember is that, it is up to God how, when, and if the things we call into our lives actually come to pass.

Calling for them, as the Bible declares, certainly increases our chances of it happening. For one thing it may take just a month, and for another it may take a decade. The idea is keep calling those things to you and let the hope it produces lead you into a closer relationship with God!

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