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Food for the Soul

Food for the Soul, devotionals to help you in your busy life, written by NEWIM board members and staff. 

Filtering by Tag: Food for the Soul

Living in the Real World

Kim Johnson

And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times,
to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred;
and all their brethren were at their commandment.” 
 
                                                                                   —1 Chronicles 12:32 (KJV)

Driving to work one day, I got behind a car with a double dose of stickers. Among them were a cross, a star and the ever-popular icon for the saying, “not of this world.” I thought about that for a few minutes as I waited for a light to turn green. With all the extreme events in the world, from hurricanes to earthquakes, floods and shootings, to all the other tragedies, it was good to remember this is not my eternal home. Yet even as the thought came into my head, the Holy Spirit quickly reminded me that being “not of this world” is not an insulation from reality. I can’t wrap myself in a cocoon and I can’t hide my head in the sand, especially as a leader.

The children of Issachar had the same issue. They were one of the twelve tribes of Israel, from the fifth son of Leah and Jacob. Each of the tribes were struggling to know what God wanted of them. Should they follow King Saul, who was proving to be unfit, or fall in with the new guy, David, who was emerging as God’s chosen one? From this scripture we see they knew what to do. They were a people who uniquely understood the times and seasons, as well as their position under God and what He wanted them to do. So they followed David.

It would be great if we didn’t need to worry about the myriad issues plaguing our society today. Sadly, the enemy of our souls has not stopped his quest for success. Satan wants nothing more than to limit our leadership and create chaos in our ministry. Thus, we must continue to be cognizant of anything he puts in our path.

Strive to be like the children of Issachar. Seek God in developing discernment and wisdom to understand the times in which we live. Ask for insight to see clearly the way to best utilize giftedness in meeting the needs of those living in a fallen world. While it might be easier to ignore what is happening in real life, it is our responsibility to know what we ought to do for His Kingdom and glory. 

“All Christians are but God’s stewards.
Everything we have is on loan from the Lord,
entrusted to use for a while in serving him.”

                                                                        —John MacArthur

Listening Ears

Luann Budd

 "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualitiesHis eternal power and divine naturehave been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse." Romans 1

Maltbie Babcock, like many of us, would find that when he had had his fill of the problems and pettiness of ministry, he'd need a break. He'd walk past the church office and say to his assistant, "I'm going to be about my Father's world." His church was situated on a hill overlooking a valley, so he'd go outback to listen to the Lord.  

*   *   *

One January a storm came down from Alaska and cut across the San Francisco Bay making the morning bitterly cold, at least by California's standards. So I walked quickly, trying to hide inside the protection of my coat. I usually enjoy my early morning walks across campus, but this morning I was too cold.

There is a tree along my route, a favorite tree, easily a hundred feet tall and over a century old. As I walk to my office, the sidewalk turns so that I walk toward this tree for several minutes. Each morning as I approach my gnarled old friend, it speaks to me of its Maker. This morning, I was shocked to see that my tree had been disrobed, not one leaf was left on its silvery branches, yet still it stood, as always, though strangely bare and frosty. I reflected that Jesus, too, had been disrobed of His majesty, yet He continued to stand immovable against evil's bitter blast. Abandoned. Shamed. He disrobed Himself of omnipotence and glory and chose to hang on that other tree for me. I felt the chill of the wind and wondered what it would be like to stay outside all day, exposed. Jesus stayed six hours, exposed.

Lord, may we, too, stand immovableeven if stripped bear and beaten, even if bitterly cold and betrayed, even if clamored after and successful. We want to be like you, immovable, obedient, unshaken by storms or praise.

Pastor Babcock died at the age of 42, but before he died he wrote the words to a favorite hymn about how the Lord spoke to him on that hill behind his church. "This is my Father's worldThe birds their carols raiseThe morning light, the lily whiteDeclare their Maker's praise. This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair; In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere." As we go about our full days, whether stressed by the ministry or perplexed by the world, may we hear His voice and listen as He speak to us, everywhere.

Mountaintop Moments

Kim Johnson

The Lord our God said to us at Horeb,
“You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”
                                   
Deuteronomy 1:6 (NIV)

The recent rain and cold weather has left our SoCal mountains with a beautiful blanket of snow. Looking at them has reminded me of the times I have spent with the Lord—on the mountaintop. We’ve all had them at one time or another: precious moments when we encounter God in a deeper, more intimate way.

In this verse in Deuteronomy, we find the Israelites having one such moment when they had gathered at Mount Horeb to hear from God. From Exodus 19 we know that fire and smoke covered the majestic mountain as lightening flashed and loud bursts of thunder pierced the air. It was a breathtaking display as God gave them His law and they were inspired by this incredible experience. Yet their Lord had not rescued them from the slavery of Egypt to settle near a mountain in the wilderness. He had brought them out—to send them in—the Promised Land. This was merely a demonstration of His power so they would know they could trust Him to conquer Canaan. As much as they might have wanted to stay, God declared it was time for them to move toward to do battle.

Being on the mountaintop is extremely enticing. Resting in the refuge of His presence, we find a profound comfort and we want to stay there. It doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of your alone time with God, at a leader’s or women’s conference, in a prayer meeting, or even just reading a particularly good book. The intimacy can feel fleeting and we wish we could capture it and stay in it forever.

God has purpose in His pursuit of us, however. He uses the mountaintop times not only for relationship, but to prepare us for what lies ahead. He knows what battle may be looming around the corner and He will not leave us ill-equipped. Instead, He meets us in those quiet places to demonstrate His love for us, refresh our soul and give us courage as we continue to follow His plan for our life.

Don’t expect to stay too long on the mountaintop. God has work for you to do.

 We tend to seek the mountain tops in life
But it’s in the valleys where God makes the flowers bloom!
                                                                  
—Author Unknown

Owning Responsibility as a Leader

Kim Johnson

  • (Adapted from Equip.org)

"And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord" (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).

When Jehoshaphat became king of Judah, he assumed responsibility – the duty and obligation to lead the people and manage the resources of the nation. There were challenges of course. The biggest came when an army comprised of warriors from three countries made plans to attack Judah.  As the leader of that nation, Jehoshaphat had a choice. He could run, he could hide or he could show up – and show up he did.

As leaders, we face this same challenge, sometimes on a daily basis. It can come from anywhere and from just about anyone, even from someone in our inner circle. The test is not found so much in the trial, but in how we respond and what we allow to result from it. There are things that can sometimes be out of our control, but we choose how we react when faced with unpleasant issues. 

How we elect to respond in the face of a crisis says much about our leadership. Accepting the responsibility of being a leader is the one thing a leader cannot delegate. We can share the vision, assign duties, authorize decisions, and manage volunteers. When it comes to the bottom line, however, the “buck stops here.” It is ours to own and the excellence of our leadership depends upon our willingness to continue to step up. It doesn’t matter if we stand alone, we still must stand.

  • Dropouts:        Leaders who give up and fail to take responsibility
  • Cop-outs:        Leaders who make excuses for why they are not responsible
  • Hold-outs:       Leaders who waiver too long to take responsibility
  • All-outs:         Leaders who own the responsibility and take action (Jehoshaphat).

                                                                  The Maxwell Leadership Bible

Be Careful What You Ask For

Kim Johnson

Go and tell Hezekiah, “Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father:‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears;
surely I will add to your days fifteen years.’”
                                                                                                                       Isaiah 38:5 (NIV)

It is an essential principle of our Christian faith that God knows what is better for us than we do. When we pray, we verbalize that belief by asking God to bless according to His will. Yet there is no doubt we have a definite agenda in our hearts when we come to our Father. If we are praying about sickness, we ask for healing. If we are praying for a good outcome for an event, we pray for success. For any number of circumstances, when we take them to God in prayer, we pray specifically. And we should. However, holding on too tightly to our own desires can be costly.

In Chapter 38 of Isaiah, King Hezekiah was gravely ill. In mercy, God sent Isaiah to advise the king that he would not recover, giving Hezekiah an opportunity to “get his house in order.” This is news no one wants to hear and it was no different for Hezekiah. So he prayed, reminding God of his faithfulness and begged for more time. With compassion, God heard Hezekiah’s prayer, sending Isaiah to tell the king He would honor the request with an additional fifteen years of life.

What a gift! Yet as we now know, Hezekiah had no idea there would be extreme consequences for those extra fifteen years. Manasseh was born to Hezekiah and then succeeded his father as king. Manasseh reigned for fifty-five years, the most evil king ever to rule over Judah. He encouraged idol worship, using his own son in the practice. He shed much innocent blood, exhibiting an extreme wickedness that provoked God’s anger. God continued to warn him but Manasseh ignored God’s admonitions. The nation of Judah significantly suffered and was ultimately defeated by the Babylonians. This from a man who would never have been born if Hezekiah had accepted God’s will for his life.

Accepting God’s will in our lives is no problem when the journey is easy. It is where the going gets tough we might find ourselves questioning Him, getting angry with Him or begging Him for our will to be done no matter what. The issue isn’t about openly sharing our deepest desires with the Lord; it is about compelling our compassionate Father to answer according to our will, not His.  He alone knows the future and we can trust Him. It is never wrong to ask but always right to be ready to accept His answer, even when it is no.

In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times
 that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not.
                                                                                                           C. S. Lewis