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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. 

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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.