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Feb 23 20

When Doctors Treat in Vain

by J. M. Farro

   “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.  Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”  Psalm 127:1 NIV

   When I suffered a major attack on my health last year, and I sought the Lord for His wisdom and healing, He led me to the verse above.  Then He spoke to my heart, “Unless the Lord heals the man, the doctors treat in vain.”  Psalm 127:1 warns us against depending upon anything or anyone but the Lord.  It tells us that real success and protection can come only from God.  And that depending upon our own ingenuity, skills, or talents – or upon another human being – will lead to loss and defeat.  The Lord was warning me that if I left Him out of the equation when I was seeking healing, all of the medical help I would get would be useless and in vain.

   Then the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance a passage in Second Chronicles concerning King Asa.  “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet.  Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.” (2 Chronicles 16:12 NIV)  Here, the Chronicler is highlighting the fact that, rather than depending upon the Divine Physician for help, Asa depended only upon his doctors.  And the next verse in this text reveals the devastating results of Asa’s folly.  “Then in the forty-first year of his reign, Asa died and rested with his ancestors.” (v. 13)  Did God condemn Asa for seeking medical help?  No.  He judged Asa because he sought help “ONLY from the physicians.”  God is not against doctors or medical treatment.  Many of them are gifts from God Himself.  But what the Lord IS against is His people seeking medical help without seeking Him.  In years past, I was guilty of this very thing myself.  When I exhausted every medical option, without the results and relief I had hoped for, I had the attitude that said, “I guess all I can do is pray.”  Prayer should always be our first option, not our last.

   Throughout the pages of the Bible, we see warning after warning against putting our faith in people, instead of in God.  “This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.’” (Jeremiah 17:5 NLT)  One translation says it this way: “Bad things will happen to those who put their trust in people.  Bad things will happen to those who depend on human strength.  That is because they have stopped trusting the Lord.’” (Jeremiah 17:5 ERV)  Notice the words “rely” and “depend” in these verses.  And ask yourself, “Who am I putting my trust in most, when I am seeking healing for my body?”  Verse 7 in this same passage says: “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.” (Jeremiah 17:7 NLT)  Notice the contrast between those who are “blessed” and those who are “cursed.”  Trusting in God definitely has its rewards.

   The Bible says, “Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils.  Why hold them in esteem?” (Isaiah 2:22 NIV)  I have seen a lot of people over the years trusting in doctors, and holding them “in esteem” to their own hurt.  They had more respect for physicians than they had for the Divine Physician, and it cost them dearly.  Throughout the above-mentioned attack on my health, I first put my trust in God, and then I sought medical help as the Lord led me to.  And I know that I am healed today because I depended on God more than on people.  What or who are you relying on most today?

   Lord, please forgive me for the times that I didn’t seek You first when I had a need.  Work in my heart so that I will learn to depend on You for healing, protection, and provision.  When I am tempted to rely too heavily upon doctors or others, remind me of what it can cost me.  Today, on the basis of Your Word, I pray: “Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless.  Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.” (Psalm 108:12-13 NKJV)

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new weekday devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

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   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Feb 16 20

God Tests Us Before He Trusts Us

by J. M. Farro

  “God is the one who gave us this work.  And this was only after He tested us and saw that we could be trusted to do it.  So when we speak, we are only trying to please God, not anyone else.  He is the one who can see what is in our hearts.”  1 Thessalonians 2:4 ERV

   The verse above reveals a major theme of the Christian life:  God tests us before He trusts us with our most important work for His Kingdom.  This is how the Message Bible puts it:  “God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message.  Be assured that when we speak to you we’re not after crowd approval – only God approval.  Since we’ve been put through that battery of tests, you’re guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas.” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 MSG)  The “battery of tests” God will put us through will make sure that we are “not after crowd approval,” but “only God approval.”  

   The Lord wants us to be led by His Spirit, and not other people.  So He will put us in situations where we will have to choose whether we will follow His leadership – even if it attracts criticism and rejection from others – or take the path of least resistance.  The apostle Paul wrote, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10 NLT)  If we want the Lord to use us to the degree that He longs to, then we are going to have to adopt Paul’s attitude.

   I can tell you from personal experience that where Kingdom work is involved, God will test our perseverance.  Will we persevere when we see little or no results from our efforts?  When we aren’t being encouraged or appreciated?  When we aren’t receiving any recognition or reward for our work?  How about when it looks like our outreach is shrinking instead of growing?

   How will we react when someone criticizes us, or is suspicious of our motives?  Will we back off from obeying God, or will we find out from Him what He thinks?  Will we stand strong against Satan’s evil strategies to stop the good work we are doing?  We can’t expect the devil to stand idly by while we are following God’s will for our lives, especially when it involves advancing the Kingdom of God.

   One translation of First Thessalonians 2:4 (NCV) says:  “We speak the Good News because God tested us and trusted us to do it.  When we speak, we are not trying to please people, but God, who tests our hearts.”  If you have made Jesus your Savior and Lord, then God has extraordinary plans for your life, and He has important work for you to do.  Pass His tests with the help of His Spirit, and watch Him make you and mold you into a world-changer for Christ!

   Lord, today, I surrender to You every aspect of my life, and I make myself available to You, and ask You to put me to work in Your Kingdom.  Anoint and enable me to pass every test You send my way through the power of Your Spirit.  Root out of me every tendency to please people instead of You.  When I am tempted to quit or give up on the work You have assigned me, comfort and strengthen me, and send me some special encouragement.  Thank You for using me to touch and change lives for Your glory!

    *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new weekday devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

 

Feb 9 20

Be Satisfied with What You Have

by J. M. Farro

   “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said, ‘I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.’”  Hebrews 13:5 NLT

   I was preparing a large meal on my kitchen stove when I began complaining about it to my husband, Joe, and saying how difficult it made my work because of its poor design.  I made my case so convincingly that the next time we were out, my husband suggested that we look at new stoves.  As I wandered around the appliance department and inspected some new models, I was stunned when I realized that the stove I had at home was superior to the new ones in the store.  As I prayed silently, asking the Lord for His guidance, He confirmed in my spirit that a new stove was not what I really needed, but I just needed to be satisfied with the one that I already had.  Instantly, a sense of joy and contentment came over me, and I thanked God for preventing me from making a costly mistake.

   The Scripture above admonishes us to “be satisfied with what [we] have,” because the Lord will never leave us or forsake us.  When we focus on the things we don’t have, instead of being grateful for the things we do have, we will never be happy.  But when we cultivate an attitude of gratitude and appreciation, we experience the contentment and joy that are our inheritance in Christ.  An old adage says, “Happy is the man who wants what he has.”  This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t ever want better things for ourselves.  It just means that while we are waiting on the Lord for new opportunities, rewards, and blessings, we should make the most of those that He has already provided for us.  And we should express our thanks for them.

   The apostle Paul wrote: “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.  After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.  So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8 NLT)  One of my father’s favorite movies was an old film entitled, “You Can’t Take It with You.”  The Lord greatly blessed my dad with all kinds of blessings during his life, including material ones, because he knew that things were only temporary, and that when he left this world, they weren’t going with him.  This mindset helped him to live with a healthy sense of satisfaction that enabled him to enjoy his life on this earth.

   Paul said: “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” (Philippians 4:11 NLT)  When we adopt Paul’s godly attitude, we will experience a sense of satisfaction that will help us to appreciate all of the good in our lives, and that will enable us to enjoy every day on this earth!

   Lord, forgive me for the times that I have taken my blessings for granted, instead of demonstrating an appreciation for them.  Remind me often that the “things” in this life are only temporary, and that I will be leaving them behind when I leave this earth.  Help me to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and to focus on all that I already have, instead of focusing on what I don’t have.  Thank You that as I live with a sense of satisfaction and contentment, I will reap the rewards that only thankfulness can provide!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new weekday devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

 

Feb 2 20

Anything Deadly or Poisonous

by J. M. Farro

   “And these signs will follow those who believe . . . if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them.”  Mark 16:17-18 NKJV

   This is one of the Savior’s promises that some Christians say we shouldn’t take literally.  However, I have discovered that when we take the Lord at His Word with the faith of a child, He will often reveal Himself and His saving power in extraordinary ways.  So, years ago, I began confessing this Scripture every day, claiming it as my own.  And I know at least one reason why the Lord has led me to do this.  I have suffered with digestive problems for most of my life.  Through promise-based prayer, medical intervention, and watching what I eat and drink, my health has improved greatly in this area.  But there are still times when I am caught off guard, and I consume something in good faith, that makes me extremely ill.  This is when I declare, “Lord, I thank You that because of my faith in Christ, even if I eat or drink anything deadly or poisonous, it shall not hurt me!”  And I am amazed at how often immediate relief washes over me from head to toe.

   The fact is that there are a lot of chemicals and additives in so many of our foods and drinks these days that there is no way to avoid everything that could cause us to have a negative reaction.  We may have sensitivities or allergies that we aren’t even aware of.  Even medical intervention cannot guarantee that we are protected from unsafe ingredients in things that we consume.  Eating restaurant foods can be particularly risky.  Eateries don’t have to reveal all of the things that they are putting in our food.  I find myself continually praying, “Lord, help me to always crave and consume the things that are best for me, in the amounts that are best for me.”

   Scripture says, “You shall serve the Lord our God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst.” (Exodus 23:25 NASB)  I pray and stand on this promise for myself and my family every day.  Whenever I eat, I ask for the Lord’s blessing on my food and drink.  Even so, there are times when my body suffers after I consume something.  I can eat a certain food with no problem if I eat it by itself.  But if I combine it with certain other foods or drinks, I can have a negative reaction.  And I usually don’t know that it’s not going to agree with me until it’s too late.  That combination of foods turns out to be “deadly” or “poisonous” (NLT) for me.  It is then that I am so grateful for God’s promise in Mark 16:18, and I am so thankful for His faithfulness to His Word.

   I encourage you to arm yourself with the Lord’s promises to protect you from things you consume that have the power to harm you.  Teach these things to “those who believe” among your loved ones, so that they, too, can experience the healing power and protection of God’s Word!

   Lord, help me to only crave and consume the things that are best for every part of my body and my being.  Give me wisdom and discernment with regard to food and drink – when I am preparing meals at home, and when I dine out.  If I happen to consume anything deadly or poisonous, I ask that You neutralize its ability to do me harm.  Thank You that because I worship and serve You, You will bless my food and water and remove all sickness from me in Jesus’ name!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new weekday devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

 

Jan 26 20

The Practical and Spiritual Sides of Healing

by J. M. Farro

   “The prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.”  James 5:15 NASB

   In walking closely with the Lord all these years, I have discovered that, where healing needs are concerned, there is usually a spiritual side, as well as a practical side.  Case in point:  The last time I had serious knee problems, the Lord directed me to see my chiropractor more frequently, as well as to take some homeopathic remedies to reduce inflammation.  That was the practical side.  At the same time, He led me to specific healing promises in His Word that I was to diligently pray and stand on until my healing manifested.  He also showed me which fellow followers of Christ I was to call upon to intercede for me in my time of need.

   The Scripture above reveals a powerful principle with regard to the spiritual side of our healing.  Through the Lord’s mercy, goodness, and grace, faith-filled prayers spoken by God’s people have the power to “restore the one who is sick.”  As a result of these petitions, it is the Lord Himself who will “raise [us] up” again.  I have discovered that praying God’s scriptural promises back to Him is one of the most powerful and effective ways for us to pray.  This is just one more instance of why it is so important for us to have a working knowledge of God’s Word.

   The practical side of healing can be just as important as the spiritual side, because when we pray for the restoration of our health, the Lord will often direct us and expect us to cooperate with the healing process in a practical way.  We see a good example of this principle in Scripture when the prophet Isaiah is sent by God to tell King Hezekiah that he should set his affairs in order because he is going to die. (2 Kings 20:1-7)  When the good king turns his face to the wall and prays for mercy, the Lord graciously decides to extend his life, and He prescribes an ointment of figs to bring about the healing that Hezekiah so desperately needs.  Could God have restored the king to health without the ointment?  No question.  But it was a combination of Hezekiah’s prayer AND a fig ointment that brought about the king’s healing.

   I believe that the Lord has you reading this today because He has a perfect plan for your healing.  If you will lay hold of this message by faith – and apply it to your situation – you will witness the Lord working mightily on your behalf.  Right now, rejoice as good King Hezekiah did:  “Think of it – the Lord is ready to heal me!” (Isaiah 38:20 NLT)

   Lord, I thank You that You have promised to be my Healer. (Exodus 15:26)  Whenever I need healing, please reveal to me the practical side, as well as the spiritual side of my healing.  Make me sensitive and obedient to Your Spirit’s leading in these matters, so that I can walk in divine health, and live the abundant life that You came to give me.  Thank You that as I cooperate with You for my healing, others will see Your favor on my life, and You will be glorified!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new weekday devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

 

Jan 19 20

Those Who Want the Best for Us

by J. M. Farro

   “To those who want the best for me, I wish them joy and happiness.  May they always say, ‘Praise the Lord, who wants what is best for His servant.’”  Psalms 35:27 ERV

   The Scripture above highlights two important truths that can help us to live the good life that our God ordained for us.  First, it talks about the people who want what is best for us.  And, second, it refers to the Lord Himself, who wants the best for His servants.

   The Bible tells us that it’s important for you and I to surround ourselves with “those who want the best for [us].”  These are the people who are FOR us, and not against us.  They not only respect our faith in God, but they encourage it.  And when we are going through trials, they are the ones who will pray the prayers of God’s heart for us.  Unfortunately, just because some folks are our family members, that doesn’t mean that they are on our side.  Jesus warned that some of our worst enemies would be our own family members. (Matthew 10:35-36)  He also told us that when we make sacrifices for His sake, He will bless us with new and better loved ones who will support us in our life of faith. (Mark 10:29-30)  Do some serious soul-searching and assess your relationships, especially your closest ones.  The wrong relationships can cause you to miss your God-given destiny, while the right ones can launch you forward right into it!

   As followers of Christ, we are called to continually “praise the Lord” because He always “wants what is best for His servants.”  Believe and act like God really does want the best for you, and that He always has your best interests in mind.  If you don’t, you will make yourself an easy target for Satan, who will attempt to convince you that God doesn’t really want you to enjoy your life, and that He’s always trying to keep good things from you.  The truth is that when the Lord says “no” to something we want, it’s not because He wants to keep good things from us, but that He wants to keep us from settling for second best.  His plans for us far exceed anything that we could ever “ask or imagine,” and only by trusting Him and His good intentions for us – and getting into agreement with Him, instead of resisting Him all the time – can we experience the fullness of our destiny. (Ephesians 3:20)

   The bottom line is this:  If you will hang out with those who want the best for you – God Himself, and the Christ followers He has ordained for your life – He will bless you and use you in exciting ways for His glory!

   Lord, please grant me the wisdom, courage, and discernment I need to surround myself with the God-honoring people that You have ordained for me.  Remind me continually that wrong associations can lead me astray, and away from my God-given destiny. (Proverbs 12:26)  Help me to devote myself to Your Word so that I can easily distinguish between lies from Satan, and Your eternal Truth.  Thank You that as I trust You to always want what is best for me – and as I wholeheartedly follow Your leadership in every area – I will fulfill my God-given purpose and potential!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new weekday devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Jan 12 20

God’s Servants Must Not Quarrel

by J. M. Farro

   “Don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.  A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” 2 Timothy 2:23-24 NLT

   Some time ago, I heard from a man who challenged some of my views.  I try to be open to other people’s opinions, especially when they are offered with good intentions, and in Christian love.  But I had the distinct impression that this man didn’t just want to offer me a different perspective – he wanted to debate with me.  I admit that I have a problem with Christians who want to debate.  Have you ever met any of these folks?  They don’t just want to understand your feelings about a particular subject.  They want YOU to know what THEY think.  And they are not going to be satisfied until they convince you that their opinions are the right ones.  They are a good example of the Proverb that says: “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2 NLT)

   I believe that some Christians have a God-given gift for debating.  But I also believe that this is more uncommon than most of us think.  If you look up the definition of “debate” in the dictionary, you will find words like “fight” and “argue.”  In fact, the word “battle” is at the root of “debate.”  Knowing this, I think God’s people need to take this kind of thing more seriously.  The apostle Paul wrote: “Don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.  A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” (2 Timothy 2:23-24 NLT)  I can’t tell you how many times these verses have prevented me from becoming involved in foolish debates with other people, both Christians and non-Christians.  Why does the Bible warn against this sort of thing?  Paul says it beautifully – “It is of no value, and it only ruins those who listen.” (2 Timothy 2:14 NIV)  I have witnessed so many believers making this sad mistake, and doing more harm than good, that I have developed a healthy aversion to getting involved in these destructive discussions.

   One of the things I have learned from being in ministry is that if you want to make a real difference for God, you will attract a lot of opposition – from believers and nonbelievers alike.  The apostle Paul said that when God opened a door of opportunity for him, along with it came “many adversaries.” (1 Corinthians 16:9)  We can’t expect the devil to roll out a red carpet for us when we make a decision to impact the world for Christ.  So we shouldn’t be too surprised when he incites people to challenge or criticize our views, or our ministry efforts.  When he does, the worst thing we can do is allow ourselves to become intimidated and fearful.  Giving in to these tactics will only cause the enemy to parade these troublesome people in front of us on a regular basis.  And we will never fulfill the call of God on our lives.

   When this man challenged me, I prayed and sought the Lord about it, asking Him for HIS perspective on the matter.  It was then that the Lord led me to a passage in Jeremiah that He had led me to many times before.  It says: “Get up and get dressed.  Go out, and tell them whatever I tell you to say.  Do not be afraid of them, or I will make you look foolish in front of them.  For see, today I have made you immune to their attacks… They will try [to stand against you], but they will fail.  For I am with you, and I will take care of you.  I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 1:17-19 NLT)  God has made it clear to me more than once that if I want to be His mouthpiece, He expects me to say exactly what He tells me to say, without worrying too much about how other people react.  I heard one godly man put it this way – “Obey God, and let HIM take care of the consequences.”

   The next time someone challenges your ministry efforts, or tries to draw you into a debate, don’t automatically assume that you are doing something wrong.  You could be doing something right.  Let this precious promise from God’s Word encourage your heart today:  “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”!  (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV)

   Lord, when someone challenges my beliefs or my ministry efforts, help me to turn to You for wisdom and guidance.  Give me the discernment I need to know when someone is trying to debate with me, to undermine my faith, or to hinder my service for You.  Guard me from foolish discussions that will do more harm than good.  Thank You that as I concentrate on pleasing You, I will enjoy increase, promotion, and honor!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new weekday devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

 

 

Jan 5 20

When Others are Led Astray

by J. M. Farro

   “Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?”  2 Corinthians 11:29 NLT

   I was pouring my heart out to the Lord the other day about the new ground the devil and his cohorts were gaining as a result of more people than ever being led astray.  I could feel the anger and indignation rising up inside of me, and getting to the point where it was almost unbearable.  That’s when the Holy Spirit led me to the apostle Paul’s words in the Second Book of Corinthians:  “Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?” (2 Corinthians 11:29 NLT)  All of a sudden, I realized that I was in good company, because the great apostle Paul knew what it was like to “burn with anger” when others were “led astray.”

   Sometimes, as devoted followers of Christ, we need someone to validate our strong feelings when we see others “led into sin” (NIV).  Well, I’m here to tell you today that if you share the apostle Paul’s feelings and mine when you see others led astray, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.  And you don’t have to stand idly by while Satan convinces more and more people to believe his lies.  You and I have a powerful weapon against the devil’s evil strategies, and it’s called prayer.  But if you allow him to deceive you into thinking that your prayers won’t make a difference, then he will gain even more ground in the days ahead.

   Besides praying, we can speak out and take action as the Holy Spirit leads us to, and we can set a Christlike example to the lost and wavering.  Most of all, we must NEVER compromise with the wicked.  Scripture says, “If the godly give in to the wicked, it’s like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.” (Proverbs 25:26 NLT)  We can’t expect to make an impact on this world for Christ when we are basing our values on this evil world’s system, instead of the Word of God.  Jesus said:  “Let Me tell you why you are here.  You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.  If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?  You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (Matthew 5:13 MSG)

   What about the people who are leading others into sin?  Jesus describes their fate when He says:  “Stumbling blocks [temptations and traps set to lure one to sin] are sure to come, but woe (judgment is coming) to him through whom they come!” (Luke 17:1 AMP)  Because our God is a God of justice and holiness, the people who lead others astray will one day suffer a terrible fate.  But there will be great rewards for those of us who refuse to compromise with the wicked, and who follow the Lord in wholehearted devotion.  Today, take heart in the knowledge that you and I are on the winning side!

   Lord, whenever I see others being led into sin, help me to pray the prayers of Your heart, and to take whatever action Your Spirit leads me to.  Teach me how to set a Christlike example on a consistent basis, so that You can use me to draw others to You and Your life-changing Truth.  Don’t ever let me compromise with the wicked in any way.  Instead, help me to stand strong again Satan’s evil strategies and deceptions.  Thank You that You are a God of justice, and I will reap a harvest of blessings for my faithfulness! (Isaiah 30:18 NIV; Galatians 6:9 NLT)

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new weekday devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

 

Dec 29 19

New Assignments

by J. M. Farro

   “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God…you are to move out from your positions and follow it.  Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”  Joshua 3:3-4 NIV

   If you have been walking with the Lord for any length of time, then you probably already know how He likes to call upon His followers to accomplish things that are “over our heads” in our estimation.  Often, as soon as we get comfortable doing the works He’s assigned us to do, He presents us with a new assignment that challenges us even further.  This happened to me recently when the Lord began speaking to my heart about a new project that He wanted me to begin working on.  Not only was it something that I had never done before, but I wasn’t even sure I knew where or how to begin.  As I turned to the Lord in prayer with my misgivings, He led me to a passage in the Book of Joshua which encouraged me, and helped alleviate my fears.  “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God…you are to move out from your positions and follow it.  Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” (Joshua 3:3-4 NIV)

   “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God…”  Here, the Lord was speaking to me about my focus.  If I was going to overcome the fears and misgivings attached to doing something so new and challenging, then I was going to have to keep my eyes on Him.  I thought of Hebrews 12:2 (TLB), which says “Keep your eyes on Jesus,” as well as the Amplified translation which says, “Looking away from all that will distract.”  When we set our mind to follow the Lord’s will, and especially to accomplish something that will impact the lives of others in His name, the dark forces are going to do everything in their power to distract us and get us off course.  But if we determine to stay focused on the Lord and His will for us, nothing and no one can keep us from the success and rewards He has in store for us.

  “You are to move out from your positions and follow it.”  This was God’s way of telling me that even if I was feeling fearful, I should still move forward, trusting Him to lead me.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27 NKJV)  The Lord is always there, ready to offer us His guidance and help every moment of every day.  When He assigns us a task, He doesn’t say, “Here’s your assignment.  Get started, and just do the best you can.”  No, He comes alongside of us, and wants to be with us every step of the way, with words of wisdom and encouragement, and with all the strength and power we need to succeed for His glory.  And for those times when we fear that we aren’t hearing clearly from Him, we can choose to believe that God is true to His Word and declare, “Thank You, Lord, that I always hear and follow Your voice!”

   “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”  God assured me that as I kept my eyes on Him, and as I determined to follow His lead, I would know which way to go, even though I was traveling through new territory.  The Lord’s promise to us is:  “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16 NIV)  You and I don’t have to be afraid when the Lord leads us “along unfamiliar paths” – not when we have the presence and power of a mighty and merciful God.  He longs to use you in new and exciting ways for His glory.  Will you answer His call?

   Lord, help me to never shrink back from any of the new assignments You have for me.  Teach me how to keep my focus on You, and to follow Your lead with Christlike confidence.  Grant me Your discernible presence as I pursue Your purpose for my life.  Thank You that as I travel along unfamiliar paths with You, I will have everything I need to succeed! 

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new weekday devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Dec 22 19

Encouragement for the Faithful

by J. M. Farro

   “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”  1 Kings 19:18 NIV

   These comforting words were spoken by God to the great prophet, Elijah.  At the time, Elijah was feeling sorry for himself and lamenting the fact that he was the only one left in Israel who was true to God.  The Lord sets the prophet straight by reassuring him that a faithful remnant still exists in the land, and Elijah is not alone.

   I often hear from believers who are feeling downhearted and discouraged because of all the people around them who profess to be Christians, but who are living carnal, worldly lives.  If you are one of these faithful ones, I have some encouraging news for you today.  Just like there existed a faithful remnant in Elijah’s time, there exists one today.  The apostle Paul writes about it in Romans 11:2-5 (NIV), where he says:  “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.” (v. 5)

   Even though we are not alone in serving the Lord faithfully, we will FEEL alone sometimes.  That’s when we need to heed some practical advice from the Bible so that we won’t lose heart or be tempted to backslide.  The author of Hebrews writes:  “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)  If we don’t keep our eyes on the Lord, and if we let our eyes shift to focusing on other believers – especially carnal ones – we can risk becoming doubtful and discouraged.  That’s exactly what the enemy of our souls, Satan, wants.  He will parade all kinds of Christians before us who are living sloppy lives.  And he will try to convince us that the Christian life is simply too hard, and that God is expecting too much from us.  Yes, it’s true that trying to live a Christlike life can be hard.  But those of us who have learned the hard way could attest to the fact that living our lives apart from Christ is even harder.  Besides that, God has given us the Holy Spirit so that we can follow Jesus and become more like Him each day, as we devote ourselves to Him and His Word.

   You may feel like you are the only believer who is suffering and feeling depressed right now, but you are not.  I know exactly how you feel.  And I am urging you, in the words of the apostle Peter, to “remember that Christians all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.” (1 Peter 5:9 NLT)  You are not alone in this fight.  Countless other faithful believers are standing alongside of you, and I am one of them.  As Paul instructed the believers of his day:  “Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, just as I do, and as Christ’s soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in worldly affairs, for then you cannot satisfy the One who has enlisted you in His army.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4 TLB)  Remember this – if you focus on the misdeeds of other Christians, you will live a life of frustration and mediocrity, and you will never be able to do much for God.  But if you will keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, you will live a life of excellence and abundance, reaping earthly and heavenly blessings that are reserved exclusively for God’s most faithful ones!

   Lord, forgive me for the times that I have gotten distracted and discouraged by compromising Christians.  I pray that from now on, their conduct will create in me a new resolve to devote myself to You and Your ways more and more.  Equip me for victory in every area of my life.  Thank You that my continued faithfulness will prove Your promises true!

   *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farrowith all-new weekday devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com