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Through "The Basics with Beth," Beth Jones is teaching the basics of God's Word to help you live a life you love and love the life you live! 

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Filtering by Category: Courage

BORROW MORE VESSELS

Jennifer Cole

Last week we looked at 2 Kings 4 and learned how God can supernaturally multiply what you DO have to help you with what you DON’T yet have! (I encourage you to read last week’s devo if you haven’t had a chance yet!) Today, let’s look at that story again -- but dive into a different aspect of it. Let’s uncover a very profound yet very basic truth about how miracles come to pass.

Let’s take a look again at this story, found in 2 Kings 4:1-7:

“A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.’

So Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?’ And she said, ‘Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.’ Then he said, ‘
Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.’

So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her,
‘There is not another vessel.’ So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.’” (NKJV)

What stands out to me as a pattern in this story is this: (1) God gives direction or guidance, (2) the woman DOES something, and (3) the miracles occur. I think sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the trap of thinking that if we just ask God for what we need or desire, He’ll instantly make it appear. While for sure God does give us a “suddenly” answer at times, most often I’ve seen it follow the 3-step pattern we see in the story above.

Notice the first instruction -- go borrow empty vessels from all your neighbors. What would that have been like for her? Going from neighbor’s home to neighbor’s home, asking to borrow their empty vessels. How would she explain why she needed them? And then there’s the logistics of it all...hauling those vessels to her home, going out to borrow some more, hauling those home...you get the idea!

But, how important her efforts were! As she began pouring out the little bit of oil she had God touched it and it began to multiply and fill her vessels! The oil stopped miraculously multiplying when the last vessel was filled. What if she had only put in the effort to gather one or two vessels? Or gave in to the snide remarks the neighbors may have been making, or gave heed to thoughts of doubt about what on earth she was doing? Thank goodness she put in the effort to gather many vessels!

>>The miracle she experienced was directly aligned with the size of her faith AND actions, combined!

And, we don’t just see it there...let’s now talk about what happened after those vessels were filled. She then had to go sell them -- the oil itself wasn’t going to pay the debt. The widow had to go sell the oil, so that she’d have enough money to pay the debt and then some funds for her and her sons to live on.

What if she had given up at this point? What if she was feeling tired, discouraged, in doubt, scared...or any other such emotion? Perhaps she didn’t have any “sales” experience. Maybe it took all she could to muster up the courage to go sell in the marketplace, to figure out how much to charge and how to complete a sale. Not to mention the logistics again...getting all of those vessels to the marketplace...and what about explaining to customers where that oil came from!

But again, she remained strong in faith that God was going to help her sell it all, and she combined that with her actions of actively selling all of the oil until it was gone. She did what God showed her to do...all through His power and might but combining that with her elbow-grease...and then she saw the full miracle come to pass.

Friends, I encourage you today to look at what miracles you’re seeking the Lord for...and ask Him to show you what actions you can take to help carry out the miracles He has in store for you. We have a vital role to play in seeing miracles through to full fruition...so let’s not be passive about it! Definitely don’t quit, don’t stop short, don’t doubt. Seeing a miracle come to pass in your life is worth every single minute of effort that we can supply!

Say This: “Father, thank You that You love me and it’s Your will that my life be blessed, both for my household’s benefit and to bless others. Thank You for Your miracle-working power in my life! I seek You today, asking You to please show me the steps I can take to help participate in Your bringing my miracle to completion. I’m ready to put in the effort and watch You work multiplying, above-and-beyond miracles in my life! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

living a life of purpose requires...

Jennifer Cole

Losing your life. Yes, quite possibly the world’s most unpopular answer -- but it’s true! At the very foundation of building a life of purpose, one that leaves an eternal legacy, is choosing to make your life all about Christ, and not about yourself.

Depending on your upbringing or what you may or may not have heard over the years about the Lord...that may be a scary thought. “You’re asking me to lose my life, for Him?” Yes. Not literally, but yes -- in terms of shifting your heart’s attention from things in this world that are temporary and onto things that have lasting impact.

In a culture where many choose to just “do their thing” and do whatever they want to do, this notion of choosing to invest your life into the cause of Christ does not get talked about enough! But friends, the truth is -- living for Him is the only true freedom! When you let Him take the lead in your life, you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. You don’t have to make things happen, you don’t have to know all the answers...rather, you just rest in Him and follow the Holy Spirit’s lead...and He’ll guide you on His perfect path for you. Doesn’t the thought of that just make you want to take a deep breath? It’s so freeing!

When we willingly ask Jesus to be the Lord of our life, we’re asking Him to “take the wheel” as the song goes...but something really significant happens inside of us. We see this in Galatians 2:20, which says: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (NKJV). If you’ve been crucified with Christ, it means the old you is gone -- your spirit has been reborn, and it is Christ who lives in you and equips you for your purpose-filled life!

It’s not scary to let the Lord take the lead when you understand His character -- I encourage each of you to marinate your heart in scriptures about who He is and what He’s like -- the more you get to know Him, the easier it is to give Him all of you and just follow His lead! He loves you, never leaves you, protects you, heals you, forgives you, cherishes you, and He made you -- He knows the very number of hairs on your head.

>>There is no one who loves you more fully, completely and unconditionally than the Lord -- and you can trust Him to lead your life!

When we choose to live for Christ and build a life of purpose, there will be a process we go through...not just once, but probably several times in different seasons of life as we continue to mature in our faith. It’s called the “law of death and resurrection” and simply put, it means that we need to die to our own way of making things happen and let Him fulfill the dreams in our heart His way -- which is always the BEST way!

A great illustration of this principle is found in John 12:24:26, let’s check it out: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor” (NKJV).

I pray that today each of us is even more stirred up to lay down our own life for Christ and follow His lead...His plans lead us in our life of true purpose. In whatever circle of influence you’re in, whatever career, family, city...if you’ll choose to make your life about Him...He’ll not only bless your life but help you impact all those around you for Christ. YOU can have an eternal impact...now that’s something worth investing your life in!

Say This: “Father, I ask You to take my life and consecrate it to You. I choose to submit my way of making things happens, my plans and my striving. Rather, I choose to live for Christ! I ask You to please help me to follow Your lead every day of my life and build a life rich in purpose that impacts those in my world for You. I trust You and know that You’re blessing me beyond measure and helping me to make an eternal difference in the lives of many! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

Opportunity and Opposition

Jennifer Cole

Whenever the Lord opens up big doors, there is also big opposition. As Joyce Meyer puts it: "new levels, new devils." The apostle Paul met these adversaries when he said…

"A huge door of opportunity for good work has opened up here. (There is also mushrooming opposition.)" 1 Corinthians 16:9, MSG

“Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there's no getting around it. Unscrupulous con men will continue to exploit the faith. They're as deceived as the people they lead astray..." 2 Timothy 3:12-13, MSG

Opportunity and opposition seem to be brothers! You don’t meet one without meeting the other. But take heart...if you are facing more opposition than usual -- more critics, more hassle, more challenges, more hoops to jump through, more resistance, more political mumbo-jumbo -- rejoice, God has opened a huge door for His Word and His plan to go forth! Stand strong!

No matter what opposition comes your way, remember -- Jesus is Lord! His Word and saving power will continue to go forth because God loves people and He has a vested interest in them! Jesus, as our Redeemer, has completely defeated the devil and every adversary!

Think about it this way -- when the devil motivates people to oppose the progress of the gospel, we should really consider it a compliment from the devil and a sign that great things are ahead! Remember when Peter was inspired by the devil to say words contrary to God's will to Jesus? Jesus had to rebuke the devil by speaking to Peter and saying, "Get thee behind Me, Satan." (Matthew 16:23) If you've been facing opposition and adversaries, be of good cheer. You are preparing for a huge testimony! As one person put it: "No test. No testimony!"

Fellow Church Leader, has the Lord opened up a big and effectual door for you and now you're facing unprecedented puzzling, vicious and bewildering opposition? Fellow Christian, has God opened a big door for you and it seems like all hell has come against you? Be encouraged today. God is working on a massive testimony and in the end, you win!

Let's stand strong and trust the Lord to bring us through that wide door in grand fashion. Remember what Jesus said, "I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict." (Luke 21:15) God is on our side. If the Lord is for us -- who can be against us?

Say This: "Father, I thank You that Jesus is Lord and the final authority on all things. He has already defeated the enemy and through the power of Jesus’ Name, we enforce the defeat of every adversary. Jesus is the light of the world and the darkness can never put out the light. He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The Lord God Almighty will continue to open up great and effectual doors for church leaders around the world and for believers in every land, and they will proclaim the gospel with a greater anointing and boldness -- and more eternal fruit will be produced than ever before! In Jesus' Name. Amen."

Desensitized

Jennifer Cole

"...plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and shower righteousness upon you." Hosea 10:12, NLT

Early in our lives and in our Christian walk, we are sensitive to the Lord, to the voice of our conscience and to keeping our hearts clear. However, if we begin to spend too much time watching the wrong kind of stuff on TV or at the movies, too much time listening to the wrong reports, songs or conversations, too much time hanging with the wrong crowd, and too much time participating in things that are contrary to what we know is right and true, we can become desensitized. 

After a while, we aren't grieved or vexed in our spirit. We don't close our eyes when there’s something inappropriate on the screen -- we aren't bothered by hearing the Lord's Name being taken in vain. We aren't bothered by the sexual immorality in the culture -- we aren't touched by the pain and suffering people experience in real tragedies. We rationalize everything and we become desensitized. Taken to an extreme, we can even begin to cheer for the very things the Lord disapproves, which were the things that we once disapproved.

Have you become desensitized? Has your heart hardened to the things you were sensitive to at one time? Are there people you once had compassion for? Are there convictions you once held that have gotten watered down?

If so, the solution is to pray and ask the Lord to break up the hard, fallow ground once again! When we ask the Lord to do a work in our hearts -- softening, tilling and breaking up areas that have hardened -- He will go to work. He will probably ask us to make some changes...changes in what we see, what we hear, what we do and who we hang with. If you want to get back to a place of having a heart that is tender, caring and sensitive to the Lord and those around you -- take some time to pray today.

Say This: "Father, I am sorry that I have allowed myself to get desensitized to things -- those things that once grieved me and those things that once moved me. I ask You to help me break up the hardened soil of my heart. It's time for me to seek You and Your ways. I thank You for tenderizing my heart today. I ask You to help me get back to a place where my heart is pure, caring and sensitive to You and those around me. In Jesus' Name. Amen."

Divine Guidance and Help

Jennifer Cole

“...[Jesus] said to Simon, 'Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.' But Simon answered and said to Him, 'Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.' And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink...,[Simon] and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken.” Luke 5:4-9, NKJV

Ever worked at something really hard and come up empty? Burned the midnight oil and reaped very little fruit? Worked your fingers to the bone and lost money? Yeah -- that’s kinda what Peter felt like when he told Jesus he had been fishing all night long and hadn’t caught a thing. That's where divine guidance and divine partnerships come into play!

Divine Guidance: In spite of Peter's discouragement, Jesus told Peter to get back on the water and then advised him on when and where to fish. Although Peter had already “tried that,” he listened to Jesus’ directions and followed His instructions. He obeyed Jesus’ words and threw his net into the water.

The result? Following Jesus’ divine guidance caused Peter to catch a supernatural, fish-catching, boat-sinking, net-breaking haul of fish! Peter was catching so many fish, he had to get some partners to help him out!

Divine Partnerships: Peter could see that following Jesus’ guidance had produced amazing results! So, he gave his buddies a signal that looked something like, “Hurry up -- help me!” The next thing you know, those helpers in another boat flocked to his side to help him.

The result? They filled BOTH boats with so many fish the boats began to sink! The moral of the story? Not only was Peter blessed by following Jesus’ divine guidance, his helpers got to partake of the same blessing! Not only was Peter’s boat filled to the brim with fish, his helpers’ boat was filled too! 

When we listen to God's direction -- as given to us through His Word and by His Spirit -- He will bless the work of our hands and "fill our boat." And even beyond that...when we are led to partner with others, we partake of the grace and blessings that are on their lives and our boat gets filled too!

Say This: “Father, thank You for Your divine guidance -- thank You that there’s no circumstance in the natural that You can’t help me overcome. Give me Your direction and Your instructions in every area of life -- I want to follow Your ways! And, let me know who You would like me to partner with so I can be of help to them, and I know in turn that my boat will get filled too! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”