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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 Category: Devotional

Spiritual Confidence

Kim Johnson

“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands . . .” 1 Samuel 17:45-46a (NIV).

If anyone in the Old Testament was confident, it was David. As a young man, he saw everything as God’s doing, no matter what was happening around him. Someone else might take a negative view of the same situation, only focusing on the problem and the reasons why it could not be resolved. David, however, would focus on the positive and view it from the perspective of his trust in God.

In the verse quoted above, David was a young man when he faced Goliath, who was most certainly intimidating. Even the bravest Israelite soldier was afraid of him. There is no doubt David saw Goliath’s strength, his huge weapons and his enormous size. He no doubt heard Goliath boast and shout obscenities against God and His people. Yet as David prepared to battle this giant, he stood tall, claiming the victory for the Lord even before he hurled his first stone. David was confident, not because he was oblivious to the difficult task but because he was convinced of God’s presence.

This account of David and Goliath is a vivid example of the kind of faith we need as leaders. We cannot count on the size of our volunteer group, our own strength or our resources, no matter how extensive they may be. Depending on anything but God can cause us to focus on all the wrong things. We’ll see problems not solutions, be anxious without reassurance or suffer opposition instead of support. Our efforts can become so overwhelming that we quickly lose perspective. Instead, this example of David can be a great reminder that it is the power of our almighty God which enables us to accomplish His will. We are more than conquerors—only through Him.

“Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable,
And receives the impossible.

                                                —Corrie Ten Boom

A Good Ending

Kim Johnson

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
                                                                                       —2 Kings 2:9 (NIV)

Of all the prophets there was never one more prolific than Elijah. He had raised the dead, spoken fire down from heaven and revealed a devastating drought coming from God. Many in that time probably thought there would never be another man of God like him, but we know that wasn’t the case. Moses was a strong leader who was replaced by Joshua. David was a man after God’s own heart yet Solomon completed the job his father was prevented from doing. Time after time we see God replacing a mighty leader with a successor who was doubly gifted. It was His will and His plan that was important, not necessarily the person in charge of it. Those leaders were not irreplaceable. God has limitless options at his fingertips to accomplish His plan and He will achieve His purpose.

One of the biggest pitfalls of being a leader is to believe we are indispensable in our role. The trap is set when we begin to do all the work ourselves, even if it is out of necessity. When this continually happens, pride can creep in and create the misconception that no one else can do the job as well. By hanging on too long we risk missing the privilege of partnering with God in planning our replacement. It is not a matter of if, but when God determines it is time to bring another leader on board. By failing to recognize the need for a succession plan, we become the problem rather than the solution. Ultimately it is His ministry that suffers.

The measure of a successful spiritual leader is not always the length of their service. No matter how long we lead, the serving is significant because it is for His glory not ours. Following God’s leading includes being prepared, even when that means it is time to pass the torch. He is trustworthy in everything, including His timing. The best thing we can do in our ministry is set ourselves up—for a good ending.

“Outstanding leaders pass the torch with fire blazing. Mediocre leaders pass a dimly lit torch. Poor leaders drop the torch making it difficult if not impossible to pick up again.”

                                                       —Reed Markham

Passionate Prayer

Kim Johnson

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
                                                                                    —James 5:16b (NIV)

Prayer is a normal part of a believer’s routine. We pray during worship services, for our food, before we fall asleep at night or when we wake up in the morning. We pray at Bible studies, in Sunday school and at prayer meetings. Yet when you look at these times spent “in prayer,” they are brief and short on content. Our busy lives make it easy to fall into the habit of grabbing a quick prayer time much like we grab a quick meal at a drive through. And those prayers can become like the dollar we put in a machine to buy a soft drink. Fast, easy and especially all about us. So what else is there? 

The Bible is replete with verses instructing us to pray, how to pray and what to pray for. A Google search will bring lots of formulas and quick instructions for framing the words to say. Yet for many the practice of prayer never goes beyond a few minutes. In Isaiah 59:16 however, we find that God is looking for someone to go deeper. He is looking for someone to stand in the gap, someone to fight for another through intercessory prayer.

Profound intercession is not just a quick request. It consists of time spent staying before God when everyone else is in bed or up going about their daily routine. It is engaging with and experiencing oneness with the Father, entering into spiritual warfare to fight against the dark forces that battle for our lives, the lives of our families and our friends. It isn’t superficial and it isn’t quick. And it is not something reserved only for super-spiritual believers. Each of us has what it takes—the willingness to give our time and commitment. Offering ourselves to the Holy Spirit and then casting our weakness before God’s strength as we plead for His consuming power can bring change. Change to the situation, change to another, but also change in us as we experience the intimacy resulting from complete submission to Him.

We have the freedom to come before the throne of God boldly but most of the time we do not take full advantage of that open door. Not knowing details about a situation is not a good excuse. All we have to do is go straight to God and be ready to stand in the gap for another. The Holy Spirit will prompt our hearts and guide us as we dive into deep waters to intercede.

We may never know the difference our interceding prayer makes for someone or a situation, yet we will have the knowledge of time spent following His lead.

Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to faultfinding.
                                                                                               —Corrie Ten Boom

How Do I Look?

Kim Johnson

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they
may see you good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

                                                                        Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

Everyone knows the fairy tale of the pretty princess with the evil step-mother who stood before her magic looking glass every day. She asked the same question over and over again wanting the same answer every time. Her desire was that her reflection be the best.

As leaders, we want the same thing but for a different reason. Because we are not just leaders but believers too, the way we live, relate to others and lead is a direct reflection on Christ whose name we carry. This fact is very real to us in our ministry, but what about the other areas of our lives? What do others see as we drive down the street? When we are standing in a long check-out line, how is our reflection then? Does our image mirror God’s character to our neighbors?

Our reflection is extremely important in the way we live our lives. If we are unforgiving, we could be discouraging someone from seeking forgiveness from our Father. We could show such disrespect in our worship that those around us could lose their respect for Him as well. Even the way we handle the position of leadership could negatively impact another’s attitude toward the authority of God. Are we greedy for the limelight? Do we micro-manage our volunteers? Do we want the last say just because we want the power? 

God’s Word indicates that glorifying our Father is essential and we can’t leave it to chance. Our nature is constantly impacted by the broken world in which we live. We need to diligently stand before the mirror of the Holy Spirit and ask daily, “How do I look?” This allows Him to examine our motives and reveal any inconsistency in our lives. The reality is our light is always shining. It is our responsibility to make sure it does not scald and injure, but is sincere and inviting in reflecting the glory of the Lord we serve.

 “...ask yourself, “Who’s getting the glory in this ministry?” You see, if we do ministry
OUR way, it won’t be for His glory, because our ways are not His ways.”

                                                                                                     Charles Swindoll

 

Expectation

Kim Johnson

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
                                                                                                                         
—Jeremiah 33:3

In the midst of a difficult situation, we may find ourselves qualifying our hope in the Lord and begin to lower our expectations of exactly what He will do. While we believe He can do anything, we fear or question what He can do through us. Moses' situation is a good example of this kind of doubt. When God revealed how He would orchestrate the greatest exodus in the history of the world using Moses as the facilitator, Scripture tells us Moses—incredibly—argued with God. He made excuses. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe God could do the miraculous work but Moses doubted God could do it through him. Unfortunately, this ultimately limited Moses’ ministry for the rest of his life.

 Fear is human but it can keep us from experiencing God’s work in unexpected ways. While the context of the verse above in Jeremiah is about the Jews, we can also apply the importance of its implication to ease any doubts we may be feeling. Just “call to Him” and He will answer. No magic words or complicated process.  We can always expect Him to do what He says. 

When it comes to God’s objectives for our lives, fear has no place. We are not alone because God is with us. We are not inadequate because God is our sufficiency. We are not useless because God has a purpose for us. He is trustworthy. Believe and anticipate as you follow His leading. His grace will be sufficient, His strength will be generous, His provision will be perfect, His peace will be steadfast and His presence will be plenty.

  “Feed your fears and your faith will starve. Feed your faith, and your fears will.”
                                                                                                                                —Max Lucado