Watched by God

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Psalm 121:5–8
 
Our little grandson waved goodbye, then turned back with a question. “Grandma, why do you stand on the porch and watch until we leave?” I smiled at him, finding his question “cute” because he’s so young. Seeing his concern, however, I tried to give a good answer. “Well, it’s a courtesy,” I told him. “If you’re my guest, watching until you leave shows I care.” He weighed my answer, but still looked perplexed. So, I told him the simple truth. “I watch,” I said, “because I love you. When I see your car drive away, I know you’re safely heading home.” He smiled, giving me a tender hug. Finally, he understood.
 
His childlike understanding reminded me what all of us should remember—that our heavenly Father is constantly watching over each of us, His precious children. As Psalm 121 says, “The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand” (v. 5).
 
What assurance for Israel’s pilgrims as they climbed dangerous roads to Jerusalem to worship. “The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm—he will watch over your life” (vv. 6–7). Likewise, as we each climb our life’s road, sometimes facing spiritual threat or harm, “The Lord will watch over [our] coming and going.” Why? His love. When? “Now and forevermore” (v. 8).
By: Patricia Raybon
 
Reflect & Pray
What “mountain” are you climbing today? What assurance do you find in knowing God is watching over you?
Our loving Father, as we travel the road of life, thank You for watching over us, keeping us safe.

Read more

A Call to Leave

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Matthew 4:18–22
 
As a young woman, I imagined myself married to my high school sweetheart—until we broke up. My future yawned emptily before me and I struggled with what to do with my life. At last I sensed God leading me to serve Him by serving others and enrolled in seminary. Then the reality crashed through that I’d be moving away from my roots, friends, and family. In order to respond to God’s call, I had to leave.
 
Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee when He saw Peter and his brother Andrew casting nets into the sea, fishing for a living. He invited them to “Come, follow me . . . and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19). Then Jesus saw two other fishermen, James and his brother John, and offered them a similar invitation (v. 21).
 
When these disciples came to Jesus, they also left something. Peter and Andrew “left their nets” (v. 20). James and John “left the boat and their father and followed him” (v. 22). Luke puts it this way: “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:11).
 
Every call to Jesus also includes a call from something else. Net. Boat. Father. Friends. Home. God calls all of us to a relationship with Himself. Then He calls each of us to serve.
By: Elisa Morgan
 
Reflect & Pray
How could God’s call to follow Him also call you from something else? In what ways can you trust Him with what you may be leaving?
Loving God, help me understand what I might need to leave in order to respond to Your call.

Read more

Liberated by Jesus

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Mark 5:1–20
 
“I lived with my mother so long that she moved out!” Those were the words of KC, whose life before sobriety and surrender to Jesus was not pretty. He candidly admits supporting his drug habit by stealing—even from loved ones. That life is behind him now and he rehearses this by noting the years, months, and days he’s been clean. When KC and I regularly sit down to study God’s Word together, l’m looking at a changed man.
 
Mark 5:15 speaks of a former demon-possessed individual who had also been changed. Prior to his healing, helpless, hopeless, homeless, and desperate are words that fit the man (vv. 3–5). But all of that changed after Jesus liberated him (v. 13). But, as with KC, his life before Jesus was far from normal. His internal turmoil that he expressed externally is not unlike what people experience today. Some hurting people dwell in abandoned buildings, vehicles, or other places; some live in their own homes but are emotionally alone. Invisible chains shackle hearts and minds to the point that they distance themselves from others.
 
In Jesus, we have the One who can be trusted with our pain and the shame of the past and present. And, as with Legion and KC, He waits with open arms of mercy for all who run to Him today (v. 19).
By: Arthur Jackson
 
Reflect & Pray
How has Jesus changed you? Who do you know that needs to hear about it?
God, I’m so grateful that, through Jesus, things that controlled me in the past can indeed remain in the past.
 

Read more