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June devotions

Please enjoy the Daily Devotions for June.
Each day, a new devotion will be listed at the top of this page.

 

To view previous months: May

 

June 30
The Family of God

Several years into her career, Olga had garnered the number one professor rating at the Russian university where she taught economics. However, in spite of her success, she felt something was missing and grappled with finding the real meaning of life. Given the opportunity to participate in a research program as a Fulbright Scholar, she came to Texas.  She set out to find the meaning of life and fully experience life in America.  

During the fall, she began spending her Friday evenings with other international students at the home of an ISI couple where conversations lingered late into the night. The issue that seemed to plague Olga the most was the question of how a person could live as a Christian in Russia. She understood how Americans could manage it because, as she put it, “…everyone is so moral.” However, she could not imagine how Christians lived in Russia.

One night Olga had a vivid dream.  She did not recognize the city where she rode her bike, but as she rode, she came across a very tall man…so tall that she could not see his face. He came up and gently put his arm around her shoulders. She said he didn’t feel “like a boyfriend,” but he gave her a sense of security. She awoke from her dream very early the next morning and set out on her bike. Somewhere along the road, she put her faith in that very tall man and trusted her heart to Jesus.

As she pursued her research, Olga’s faith was challenged. Halfway through her studies, Olga needed her advisor’s signature to ensure that she was making adequate progress on her research project; however, no matter how much material she put together, the professor refused to sign the needed papers. Olga was discouraged and felt she did not belong in the program; she even toyed with the idea that she should just return to Russia.

Meanwhile, Olga received a lunch invitation to join a group of Christian faculty members, and she shared her dilemma with them. Through their immediate encouragement and help, Olga recognized the strong support she received from the family of God. She emphatically stated that no one would do that in Russia! Olga also experienced the same acceptance from a Woman’s Christian Faculty group which offered to serve as a prayer base for her, both in America and after she returned to Russia.

Olga really grew---during the rest of her tenure in Texas, Olga met regularly with an ISI staff person and other students to learn how to lead a Discovery Bible Study. She practiced those skills as a discussion group leader at group activities and events. However, as Olga prepared to return home to Russia, she expressed concern about sharing her faith back home; she explained that her fellow countrymen are leery of both strangers and religion.

Again, the family of God blessed her as she met a couple who had recently returned from ten years of university ministry in Russia. They shared some ways they had been able to break through barriers in Russia, and the couple gave her Christian contacts in her own city. The fear she had about returning to Russia evaporated, as she felt prepared and supported by others in the family of God. She left America, knowing that although she walked a new road, beside her walked the tall man with His arm around her shoulders.


Reflection:

As a part of the family of God, we have access to many who can uphold us, not only in prayer, but in practical ways. May we all share our lives as members of the same body, lifting one another up and sharing one another’s burdens.



Ephesians 3:6
And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.

Submitted by:
Denny, Texas

June 29
Open Doors

For a year, Chao questioned the meaning and value of life. And the notion of fairness baffled this economics graduate student from Hong Kong. Increasing frustration at work and in his relationships only made things worse. So he decided to explore spirituality more aggressively in a search for answers.

Chao then accepted a friend’s invitation to attend the Alpha course. The friend knew Chao had some background in Christianity. He didn’t know Chao’s experience wasn’t positive. The Christians he’d met were aggressive and tended to point fingers at each other. And he’d witnessed clashes between his Christian cousins and their non-Christian parents.

Still, he went to his first Alpha meeting, and was struck by the friendly atmosphere. Every week they shared a meal, then watched a video presentation covering that week’s theme, and ended the evening with singing. In this pressure-free environment, Chao enjoyed the program’s systematic way of introducing Christianity. He could ask plenty of questions, and discuss his thoughts and doubts.

Though his search is ongoing, Chao has learned that questioning issues of faith and listening as others share their experiences are hugely beneficial to his spiritual development.

He said, “If you happen to come across a setting that provides a respectful and carefree atmosphere to discuss faith, I would recommend it.” 


Reflection:

Is your home or small group a place where guests feel welcome? Where they receive genuine compassion and respect? Let them be nurtured in the true faith and understanding by sharing a meal and offering a safe and pressure-free atmosphere where people can discuss spiritual matters.



Galatians 6:9-10    
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Submitted by: Scott, North Carolina

June 28
Glorifying God

 “Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God —which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe,” 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

 While reading this verse the other day, I felt like I was in the middle of an M:28 Bible Study! “Read it again, and tell me what stands out to you,” I heard in my head. The very first question in the M:28 Facilitator’s Guide is right there! “What are you thankful for this week?”

Secondly, every facilitator’s prayer is that our words would not get in the way of what God wants to communicate: “not mere human ideas.”

Thirdly, the students observe the truth of God’s Word for themselves. The “very Word of God” sheds light on each of our lives in personal ways.

Lastly, the Word multiplies through believers as they tell the story and open the Word with others.

During a recent Southwest staff retreat, one of our staff members from Arizona who was present at the retreat asked for prayer for the regular Bible study and the M:28 Bible Studies which were taking place in her home while she was away. She received a phone call from home about the power being out with questions about where the flashlights and candles were. She wondered if the Lord had heard their earlier prayers, but the staff at the retreat prayed again in faith that God would be glorified. 

Not only did the lights come back on, but we heard later that one of the students in an M:28 study had put his trust in Christ! We praised God and rejoiced over answered prayer, but especially for this new Chinese brother in Christ.

Whatever your circumstances today, let these four points encourage you:

1.   Never stop thanking God.

2.   Pray that students receive His message, not merely our human ideas.

3.   Let the Word of God speak—the very word of God!

4.   Watch as this word continues to work spreading through believing students and returnees.


Reflection:

Too often, our present circumstances can crowd out attitudes of gratitude and praise toward the Lord. But it’s exactly in these times that we need Him even more. You’ll find that once you get started thanking and praising God, loving Him, He will send showers of blessing.



Deuteronomy 11:13-15
If you carefully obey all the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil. He will give you lush pastureland for your livestock, and you yourselves will have all you want to eat.

Submitted by: Simon, California

June 27
Sitting on His Shoulders

I met Sandra in an English conversation group. She was quiet but friendly. She was the wife of an international university student, and as such, felt isolated and embarrassed by her poor English. We began to get to know each other. It was difficult to communicate at first, but eventually we were able to dialogue. She told me about her loneliness, her struggle with her mother-in-law, and how she had even considered despairing of life because she felt so strongly criticized by her family. I felt honored by her trust and tried to share what had given me hope and encouragement in life.

Soon, Sandra expressed her interest in understanding the Bible. We began to meet weekly in the library basement to talk and read together. Each week, the Person of Jesus and the meaning of the Gospel became more clear to her. One day in an attempt to explain the Gospel, I shared an illustration that I had heard once before:  There was once a professional tightrope walker who enjoyed doing public demonstrations. He began his show by crossing a large ravine in front of a breathless audience. When he arrived at the other side, he asked an audience member if they believed that he was able to cross that wide ravine again. YES! The audience member enthusiastically replied, for they had just watched him do it.  The tightrope walker then asked that same audience member if they believed it enough to sit on his shoulders while he did it. Most of us can understand why the sheepish audience member shrank back from this opportunity. Intellectual belief is good, but it falls short of the goal. To fully experience the freedom of trust, a bigger step was needed.

I explained to Sandra that trusting Jesus for salvation means that we choose to “sit on His shoulders” with our lives. Jesus is able to carry us over the ravine of sin into the presence of God, and if He is able to do that for us, then He is able to manage our whole lives as well. We can rest in Him and in His ability to carry us completely.  The following week, Sandra told me that she would like to “sit on Jesus’ shoulders.” What a delight to my heart!  She prayed to receive Christ as Savior, and continues to walk as a believer to this day.


Reflection:

How complicated we try to make the Gospel sometimes. And yet how simple it is. We sit on His shoulders, trusting Him to take care of our sin, our effort, our family, our ministry, our entire lives. Jesus is able to carry ALL!


Galatians 3:3
How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

Submitted by: Valerie, New York

June 26
Social Media and Jesus

For years, I struggled to keep in touch in meaningful ways, yet I avoided online social networks, believing them unnecessary and potentially dangerous. Eventually, though, I was persuaded to jump into the worlds of Facebook and Skype.

Facebook lets you stay in touch with people, invite them to events, share pictures, and even have an online conversation. Through Skype, you can speak face-to-face with someone using a small video camera.

Since I have friends in over thirty-five different countries, I cannot afford to call or write each one. But I can communicate with people quickly and securely over the Internet.

Through these social networks, I can maintain relationships with students after they leave the college where I serve. Oftentimes, I have seen students thrive on the Godly support system surrounding them while they’re here. When they get home, however, it can be a vast spiritual wasteland; a place where they may not know anyone who loves Jesus.

Facebook and Skype give me a chance to be a part of lives that would otherwise be lost to geography. I can chat with my friend from the Ivory Coast, Skype with another in China, and then e-mail a message to my friend in Norway. I can travel the globe without leaving home. For a person who is retired or limited in their ability to go places, this is a perfect way to serve the Lord—by reaching the world through technology.


Reflection:

How do you stay in touch with the people you care about? God has given us many unique opportunities to encourage others, including through the many advancements in technology. It’s true—you can serve the Lord through Facebook!



1 Corinthians 7:35
I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

Submitted by: source withheld

June 25
The Harvest is Great

I stood at the international student orientation passing out bookmarks to the new students, just as I had in many previous years. On the bookmarks, we had listed all the resources available to the new students through our ICF ministry on campus.  One student read the bookmark and approached me saying, “I became a Christian back in Asia just before coming here and I need to get baptized and learn how to follow Jesus, will you help me?”  I didn’t even have to pray before answering that one!

That marked the beginning of Gary’s two-year discipleship with our church.  He received training and had opportunities to give his testimony in various venues. He memorized scripture and became involved in Discovery Bible studies, eventually leading Bible studies at retreats. He joined a discipleship group, but graduated and moved back to Asia before completing the whole series, so we continued the series via Skype. Now back at home, Gary envisions beginning a small group M:28 study or discipleship group in his own town and training more workers for the harvest.

In Luke 10, Jesus sent out his disciples to look for “People of Peace,” but sometimes they just come knocking on your door!


Reflection:

We pray that God will lead us to those searching for truth and answers; that He might help us reach those trying to fill the vacuum in their hearts, but we are often slow to recognize Him already at work. When I stop striving in the flesh, I often find myself observing God at work in the lives of those around me before I’ve done a thing! What joy to let go and let God lead the way!


Luke 10:2
These were his instructions to them, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest, ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Submitted to: Ray, Texas

June 24
Pride vs. Humility

One of the most difficult issues we might have as Christians is giving up control. As adults, we have learned there is much to control in our lives, at work and home. Without control and discipline, things will soon begin to fall apart. Being told that we must give up control and submit is likely to make us feel threatened or fearful. Submitting to God is one thing, because as believers we understand He has the ultimate control anyway. Submitting to others might not be so easy, especially when we know we’re right about something or someone. Then, pride becomes our stumbling block. Pride supposes that you have nothing to learn from someone else. Humility, on the other hand, allows for growth, learning and wisdom.

David, ISI staff member, shared how blessed he was to see growth in a student that has been attending a weekly Bible study. “God is really working in their lives!” said David. He described how one student, Jennifer, showed many signs of growing closer to becoming a follower of Jesus.

Jennifer recently told David that one of the biggest lessons she has learned in her weekly Bible study is about submission. She said,  “After I followed Jesus, I realized how small and weak I am, and judgmental too. I am just an ordinary person. I don't know everything that has happened with other people, and so I have no right to judge them. This new sense of humility gives me a different way to look at things that have happened in my life, and it helps me in my daily life, especially in my marriage.”

It truly is a blessing to see how God would grant Jennifer insight into her own sinful pride. How many of us could use the same insight: knowing when we need to humble ourselves, seeing others the way Jesus sees them, and opening our minds to gain the blessing of wisdom?

Reflection:

Being prideful and having a know-it-all attitude not only turns people away from us but might also come back to hurt us. Godly humility is a characteristic people are attracted too. Perhaps keeping this in mind will draw others to Christ.



Matthew 18:20
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Submitted by: source withheld

June 23
The Study of a Lifetime

This is the most strategic part of ISI’s ministry––changing the world for Christ through the influence of leaders who accept Him during their time on our campuses.


Reflection:

Picture these men coming to what they think is a simple language study---using a foreign, but influential, text. Then picture them after the study’s completion––spiritually reborn, filled with God’s presence, and brimming with the thrill of their salvation. Brothers and sisters like these need our prayers as they return to difficult environments. Please pray that their faith will grow, that they will find nourishing churches, and that they will be protected from attacks as they put their faith into action.



Matthew 18:20
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Submitted by: source withheld

June 22
Divine Appointment

One day, I waited on campus to meet a student who didn’t show up. Ready to leave, I felt prompted to pray for God to bring someone else along for me to share with. I looked up and saw Ramona, a student from our English Conversation Class. She waved and came over, and as we talked, she opened up and shared her feelings of loneliness and depression.

When I shared the Gospel through the One Verse Bridge, Ramona started weeping. I asked if she wanted to receive Christ and she replied that she had been reading the Bible, but felt she needed a sign. I told her about my prayer and that she was the sign. She bowed her head and prayed to give her life to Jesus.

A couple of days later she told me that she now felt real peace in her heart and life for the very first time. She spent several weeks in Bible Study before returning to China to visit her family. In preparation, I gave her a Chinese-English Bible. While she was away, I received the following email from her.

“Thank you for the Bible you gave me. It is such a beautifully printed book that I love it so much. I brought it to my home and read it frequently… Thank you for leading me to believe in God.

My husband supports me to believe in God because he wants me to feel happy. I will also try to influence him after I learn more from Bible. Now I also try to guide my niece to believe in God. She is a teenager who has great burden and cannot find happiness in her life. I brought her to church but the space was limited, and many people had to stand outside. The weather was so cold that we could not stay a long time. I think in our country people really need more churches because more and more people start believing in God. On the way home I told my niece how generous and kind the American church and she was deeply attracted by that.”

Ramona returned to Texas and our Bible study. Her husband was here visiting to witness her baptism. Before he left to go back to China, we offered to give him a Bible because Ramona said he had wanted to keep hers. Their young daughter is now reading the Bible as well.

 

Reflection:

How often do we get upset or discouraged when our plans don’t work out the way we expected them to? Perhaps if we took a step back and looked for what God might be doing or saying in the unexpected circumstances, we would encounter more divine appointments.



Isaiah 55:6
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Submitted by: Laurie, Texas

June 21
In His Care

For nearly a year, I have had a Bible study with some visiting scholars from China. It’s been very interesting to say the least. Since Jane was going to be returning home in a month, her teenaged son, Bill joined us for the last month. Wow, our studies got even more lively – to see the parent/teen dynamic during our study was certainly humorous at times. God expanded our learning in Biblical parenting, listening and honoring other points of view (the generation gap was huge and the other woman had an 8 year old, so it was a good preparation for her in learning how to guide their kids in a Godly way with patience).

Suddenly, one day Jane called me and said she would like for her son to spend time with American teens – so I quickly prayed and thought. “Okay, let me do some checking and I’ll let you know…” God reminded me of a dear family with EIGHT kids! Perfect for an ONLY child…they agreed to have him come for a three night home stay. HE LOVED IT!

When Bill came back to Bible study the next week he asked, “Laura, would it be alright to ask them if I can go for another stay?” Let me call. We had to tweak the time, but yes, he could stay again. This time the family and I worked it out to end on a Sunday so the mom could experience a little bit of the American family dynamics. I took her to meet the family at church and afterwards we joined them for lunch at their home – what an amazing and eye-opening experience for all. The loving interaction between kids and parents, being able to discuss issues of life, helping each other, working together, doing chores – was something Jane has never seen. She was the dictator type and Bill was so moved by how this family related and respected one another. Bill did not want to leave, but had to go back to China just a couple of days later. Before he left he already had started emailing with one of the teenage sons.


Reflection:

Sometimes it takes a crisis to get our attention and let us know that God watches over us and cares for us even when we make careless choices. He goes before and behind us to guide and protect us. May we learn to listen to His still, small voice.




Psalm 121:7-8
The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

Submitted by: Laura, Colorado

June 20
Thankful For a Kick?

With great excitement, Su Li looked forward to the ISI camping trip at a real ranch with real cowboys! For a new Chinese international student, it was a dream come true during a difficult time in her life. Su Li battled a serious and painful problem with jaw misalignment, and the doctors told her that surgery would provide the only cure. However, Su Li feared the surgery and the disfiguring scar it would leave on her beautiful young face.

The camping trip began with one of the vans breaking down in the middle of nowhere. Worry shone on the students’ faces and was evident in their huddled conversations. The ISI staff driver suggested they pray and see what God would do. In reply, God provided a way to get them to a garage in the next town where they got a vehicle to proceed on to the ranch (while the broken van underwent repair). The students took note.

At the ranch, a threatening storm cloud approached the campsite, and the students feared their little tents would not adequately protect them. An ISI staff person led the group in prayer, asking the Lord to stop the rain. As the rain- producing cloud reached the campsite, it split in two and went around both sides of the campsite, coming back together on the other side and proceeding down the valley. The students took note.

One of the weekend activities involved the students helping the cowboys brand and medicate new calves. This required a cowboy to rope a calf and lay it on its side; then, he would tie its two front legs together with a rope. At this point, an international student would sit on one of the back legs of the calf and hold the remaining leg in the air. At first, only the male international students did it, but then each of the female students also took a turn—including Su Li. However, being quite small and not very strong, the calf’s loose leg kicked her in the jaw---of all places!

Fortunately, the kick did not break the skin, but it did leave a red bruise. Later that day, the ISI staff prayed with Su Li that the Lord would heal and protect her. Guess what the Lord did? When Su Li returned to her doctor on campus, he said the jaw was now aligned and would not require surgery! She felt overwhelmed with joy and thanked the Lord, instinctively responding in faith to the Gospel she had heard on the camping trip. At the follow up for students who had gone on the camping trip, Su Li shared “the rest of the story” with the other students and gave witness to her newfound faith and relationship with God.


Reflection:

We do not always get to see direct and immediate answers to prayer, but God works creatively and uses many different ways to draw hearts to Himself. He can even use circumstances that do not seem good and turn them into times of praise. May we remember to bring everything to Him in prayer and trust Him for the results.



I Thessalonians 5:17-18
Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Submitted by: Derrah, Texas

June 19
My So-Called Life

Before I became a follower of Jesus, my life seemed very random and disjointed. I felt like an empty, physical body with no purpose. I knew I was a good person, but I constantly wondered how I could improve. Even though I tried to do good things, my motive was often to promote myself, not others. So, honestly, that made me as impure and sinful as anyone. I often felt frustrated that I was not good enough.

I felt breathless under that heavy life and started to realize that I needed help to manage that difficult life. Then, I met a young woman who encouraged me to go to church every week; she spent her own time studying with me and helping me understand the Bible. Through this, I started to become familiar with God and see that I needed a relationship with Him.

I learned that although my life might seem complex sometimes, I could face with the help of God; He could give my life purpose. However, I still struggled with whether God could really accept me. Through the process of learning about Him, I discovered that God already knew everything about me: past, present, and future and still chose to love and accept me! What a relief to understand that through Him, I could become a new creation and a better person. I chose to fully trust Him with my life, become His child, and allow Him to help me overcome my frustrations and fears.

Once I made that decision, I felt so relieved inside. I still have questions about life, but they don’t really bother me anymore. I believe He will reveal the answers as I walk with Him. I still do good things, but with a different motive now. I want to follow Jesus’ example and obey God’s words.


Reflection:

How often do we try to carry burdens that God never intended us to shoulder alone? We have so many questions and try so hard on our own, while God waits patiently for us to come to Him and share our doubts, questions, and fears. Rest in Him.



I Peter 5:7
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Submitted by: Becky, Montana

June 18
Walking By Faith

One of the biggest struggles in ministry work is getting the financial support we need and being able to make ends meet on the support we get. We understood this when we entered the ministry, and we understood from Whom our main support would come. But sometimes we need to be reminded.

I remember, when our son was a baby, we were in a Christian ministry where our income was provided strictly by donations and the odd jobs and extra work we did. One day for groceries, we were down to a few vegetables and some eggs in the fridge and about $65 in our checking account. We had no savings.

And yet, there was another family involved in the same ministry as us. They were in the same predicament, but even worse off with four children to feed. I felt like God was saying that we needed to give the $65 we had to them. I prayed that my husband would sense God telling him the same thing. He did.

We gave that family the money and planned to eat a vegetable frittata for dinner that night. Later that afternoon, some neighbors dropped by to give us two grocery bags of extra food they had received from her parent’s farm. The bags were filled with farm fresh vegetables, fruits and beefsteak! What a feast we had for the next several days! God is good! You can count on Him!


Reflection:

Corrie Ten Boom once said, “And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things too. Don't run out ahead of Him.” It’s so easy for us to make the mistake of walking by sight and not by faith, especially when we’re looking at bills and an empty pantry. But God has promised us that He will provide. On days such as these, let’s pray and let God.



Matthew 6:31-34
So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?” These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Submitted by: Carla, Rhode Island

June 17
Though I Walk Through the Valley

My husband had served as a pastor for ten years and was nearing retirement age. For the past six summers, we had worked with international students in conjunction with the ISI staff in our area and had become aware of this ripe mission field right here in the US.   It became evident to us that God wanted us to enter this open door of working with ISI.  

Previously, we had served overseas as missionaries. It meant we learned a new language and adapted to a new culture.  Back at home, we saw very clearly that reaching out to students while they were here in the US circumvented the arduous task of learning a new language because they all wanted to practice their English. Away from their homes and familiar cultures, students yearned for friendship. As we interacted with them, and they became more aware of God's love and provision, many wanted to accept God’s love into their hearts.

With mixed emotions, we left our church family and joined ISI, an organization we had come to embrace as our new God-given family. We shared our vision with others and prayed that they would see this ministry as a partnership and opportunity to reach out to the world from our own home.  Gradually, we raised our support and began working with students at universities in a large city. Enthusiastically, we reached out to these students with Bible studies and music; we felt great fulfillment in being where God had led us.  

However, after only months, our plans and lives changed forever. My husband was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. Surgery and radiation did little to slow the progression of his disease. He spent months in the hospital, and my daily routine became care-giving, praying, and encouraging family and friends. Support, love, and friendship continued steadily, and I felt blessed for how the Lord provided for us.

Over a year before my husband was diagnosed, we had begun planning a family reunion for the summer. I wondered if our six children and their families (scattered across the United States, Brazil, and Switzerland) would actually all be able to still make it for this special time. Everyone was able to make it. The reunion provided an opportunity for everyone to say their “good-byes” to my husband in person. God poured out his love on us during those difficult days and gave us two more months after the reunion before taking my husband home.

Even though my husband was more gifted for this ministry with students than I am, God has used me to spend time with students who are hungry for friendship and to share God's love with them.  I wholeheartedly served full-time with ISI for ten years and in varying capacities since stopping full-time work.  I am eternally thankful for the work of ISI, an organization responsible for thousands of internationals hearing and witnessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, up close and personal. Many have taken the Gospel of Christ home and spread God's Word to places we might never have reached otherwise.



Reflection:

It’s easy to question our circumstances and to point an accusing finger at God, asking how He could allow pain, sickness, and sorrow for those who have given their lives to His service. However, throughout the Bible and in our own times, we see over and over again how God uses difficult situations to bring personal growth and eventual glory. Would you rather be suffering in the center of God’s will or “living it up” outside of His will?



Isaiah 55:13
Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.

Submitted by: Ardy, Tennessee

June 16
An Attack of Another Kind



Reflection:

No misfortune or tragedy is so great that God cannot turn it to good. What an incredible comfort that is! It does not mean our troubles are not serious or costly––only that the God we serve is bigger than all of them. He can pull eternal blessings out of the darkest hour; we are often too wrapped up in the moment to see it. Sometimes, we see it afterwards; we witness these blessings from the fire in retrospect and thank Him for his mercy.


John 16:33
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Submitted by: source withheld

June 15
The Least of These

“Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ ‘Nazareth!’ exclaimed Nathanael, ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’ ‘Come and see for yourself,’ Philip replied” (John 1:45-46).

Like everyone else, Nathanael looked down on the Galileans. Unlike the Egyptians, Romans, or even Judeans, Galileans were considered “the lowest group” of their society. They lived on the outskirts of their culture. Like in every culture, there was a pecking order in this region of the world.

We often find ourselves surprised by whom God chooses to accomplish His will. He chose Abel rather than Cain, Jacob rather than Esau, Isaac rather than Ishmael, and David rather than Goliath. He chose the lowly, down-trodden Jews rather than the powerful Egyptians. As well, He chose Nazareth rather than Jerusalem as the opening stage to change the world forever!

International students often get overlooked by the main stream American culture because they frequently do not fit in. I see it vividly every semester in the student center during the first few days of school. Every campus organization wants to recruit the successful, good-looking, and confident faces roaming around the center. However, typically the international students gather in the library or on the second floor of the student center to avoid the throngs.

Finding themselves in an unfamiliar culture, international students often feel disconnected and vulnerable. Unfortunately, it’s not only the secular campus life that tends to overlook international students; often the church does not make time for them either! For example, at Christmastime, American churches and families can often get caught up in the busyness of the holiday season and forget to reach out and share American traditions with someone from a foreign country.

Time and time again, international students find themselves in unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations while away from home. In spite of their positions or prestige in their own countries, they become almost childlike while learning to navigate life in the United States. How humbling for an Asian businessman to struggle with determining when to use “she” versus “he” in English conversation. How frustrating for many to be unable to clearly express themselves. However, this vulnerability presents Christians with a wonderful opportunity to live out Christ’s love to someone feeling bewildered or alone. The very way we treat and interact with international students can cause them to desire to learn more about our gracious, loving God.

Herein lies the incredible surprise of the Gospel--- God often chooses the weak of the world over the strong. He values us all as individuals, even those living on the fringes of society who feel like they don’t fit in. Christ has made salvation accessible to all, not just those you would expect---the well-connected, the rich, or the powerful. Throughout the Bible and in our modern lives, God demonstrates His willingness to use anyone, anywhere.

 

Reflection:

God…open my eyes to others who may be overlooked by everyone else today; help me to see their hearts, their hurts, needs, and potential for your Kingdom. Help me to drop any pecking order I may have and not look down on anyone You have created.

 

Matthew 25:40
And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”

Submitted by: Calen, California

June 14
Spiritually Hungry

Shelley lived in the home of an ISI volunteer while she attended school in Oregon. Not long after we met, she had sent word back to her father in China, encouraging him to meet some Christians because his recent retirement had left him bored and frustrated with life. This recommendation came before Shelley even really understood Christianity. She had just begun observing and exploring God and the Bible; she honestly said, "I am not a Christian now, but I want to learn more."

One night when Shelley came over to continue conversations about Christianity, she saw us praying and told us she knew that when Christians prayed, powerful things happened. She said she wished she knew how. We talked more about it and offered some advice. The next time we had dinner together, I asked her if she wanted to pray—she said, “Yes!”

A short time later, Shelley and her Chinese friend Mindy came over for lunch one day and told us they wanted to become Christians. When we asked why, they responded that they had observed Christian behavior and wanted to live like that, beginning right away.

We warned them about possible opposition; we asked them how they would respond if their boyfriends challenged their decisions. They responded that even if their boyfriends did not support them, they still wanted to commit their lives to Christ. We talked through the confession of sin and embracing Christ’s death as forgiveness and reconciliation for our sin, as well as the importance of building a relationship with God.

After our discussions, both Shelley and Mindy prayed to receive Christ and immediately asked, "So we're Christians now?"  We talked further about the public symbol of baptism and discussed various options for attending church locally to grow in their new faith.

When Shelley recently learned the phrase “spiritually hungry,” she latched on to it, saying that it perfectly described her. With great enthusiasm, she has embraced her new faith and has already initiated spiritual conversations with several of her friends.


Reflection:

As we live our day-to-day lives, we are being watched. People want to know what is behind our actions and decisions. When they begin to question and explore our faith, they become hungry to know more. May the way we live draw many to His saving grace.


John 6:35
Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Submitted by: Anonymous

June 13
Living Out His Call

Chiwei grew up in an Asian family focused on education. Her father held a doctorate degree and served as an educational leader in her home country. It seemed perfectly natural that both Chiwei and her sister, Chiwoo, would focus on education. Chiwei set her sights on a journalism graduate degree at a prestigious American university and began her studies as an international student in Texas.

Chiwei had come to the United States as a serious believer. She and her sister had accepted Christ in their home country, attended church regularly, and had been discipled there. So, once she got settled in her studies in Texas, Chiwei began attending a campus fellowship with other Chinese Christians. Many of these students went to a particular church in town, and Chiwei decided to join them. On her very first Sunday there, she met a man at the International Student Class who would later become her husband!

Although an American, Bob had grown up overseas and identified with the international students more than American college students his age. Enthralled with one another from that first day, Bob and Chiwei began a dating relationship that culminated in marriage a year later. They continued reaching out to international students together, a pattern they had begun during their dating relationship. Even after they both finished their graduate degrees, they stayed in the same city and continued to reach out to international students on their former campus. Chiwei had found not only her life partner, but her ministry niche!

For awhile, Chiwei joined ISI staff in working alongside new international students and discipling new Christians. Once God blessed them with children, she reduced her ministry role but continued to minister both on and off campus. She and Bob have lived out the definition of “faithful” in their continued outreach and focused ministry to international students. From her first year as a graduate student, to the present, Chiwei has faithfully reached out in Christ’s name to more than 1,000 international students!


Reflection:

Eugene Peterson wrote a book entitled, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. In this day of instant everything, many Christian leaders are defining success in ministry as: “faithfulness to God’s chosen direction for your life.” Does your life reflect that same purpose of mind---to follow hard after God’s calling for your life?
 

I John 2:24
So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will continue to live in fellowship with the Son and with the Father.

Submitted by: Derrah, Texas

June 12
The Importance of Understanding

When you awoke today, what needs were crying for your attention? What challenges were demanding your time and focus? What burdens made your heart heavy? Did you wonder if there would be enough strength, enough resource, or enough hope to get through the day, week, or month? Jesus’ disciples had thrown in their lot with the “Messiah” and believed He would be the solution to their needs, their dreams, and their hopes. He would rescue them from oppression, both political and religious. But as is often true in my life, they were failing to understand.

In Mark, chapter 6, we see Jesus feed over five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. In chapter 8, He feeds four thousand with seven loaves and a few small fish. Soon after, when Jesus warns the disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees (religious ritual) and of Herod (political redemption) the disciples think He’s rebuking them for forgetting to bring bread on the voyage.

They were missing the point. Jesus then reminds them of the twelve baskets of food left over after feeding five thousand (a Jewish crowd)…and the seven baskets left over after feeding the four thousand (in “Gentile” territory). The point? Jesus, the Son of God, was more than enough for the Jewish nation (twelve baskets). And Jesus, the Savior of the world, was “perfectly” enough for the Gentile world (seven baskets).

The Jesus of then is the same Jesus of now.

Reflection:

How often we forget this. Whatever our needs or burdens today, let’s remember the “enoughness” of Jesus.



Mark 8:21
“Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.

Submitted by: Gordy, Colorado

June 11
Think Big

When my ISI colleague told me she had invited the university president to visit our weekly luncheon for international students, I responded, “Great idea!” But I thought to myself, “That’s a long shot!”

In our favor, the president wouldn’t have far to go. A local church owned a large old house right across the street from the University of Oregon. The church rented rooms to a couple dozen American male students with the understanding that every Wednesday during lunchtime, they would clear out for an ISI team of volunteers to take over the kitchen and dining room. Some 40-50 international students came for the free lunch, and enjoyed the opportunity to practice their English with volunteers scattered among the tables. But still, I thought it unlikely a very busy campus president would show up to observe or participate.

Well, much to my surprise, a couple months later we got word that the president would come, but only informally, without fuss or formal recognition, “And he can only stay for 45 minutes,” quoted his administrative assistant. We assured her that we would appreciate whatever time the president could spare.

So, on the big day, the president arrived looking rather presidential in his suit, but unaccompanied and without fanfare, entered the dining room. Some of the international students, already eating, greeted him with smiles of recognition, but nobody made a big deal. I quietly welcomed him and ushered him to the kitchen counter to get some food.

With a friendly greeting he sat down at a table among 5 or 6 students. I watched him quickly engage in easy conversation with them. For the next two hours, students came and went from that table, all engaging in animated discussions. I think the president had the best time of all! He asked questions and listened attentively to the students’ answers.

Finally, an aide came in and made eye contact with the president. He got up, shook hands all around, and departed, having clearly enjoyed himself for two and half hours. What a memorable day for the many international students who got a chance to have a meal and conversation with him.

I wonder what impact this lunchtime encounter with future world leaders had on the university president? He later went on to serve as president of Indiana University and president of the NCAA.

 

Reflection:

We often make assumptions that limit us in ministry to others. We draw boundaries that hem us in and limit God’s work. Think big! Reach far! God is all-powerful and can pull strings we never imagined.



Romans 13:1b
For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

Submitted by: Howard, California

June 10
In Search of Perfection

“I went from a Sunday Catholic to a no-day Catholic very fast.”

When Rubylyn came to America from the Philippines, she stopped attending church. She’d never been excited about it before, but had still gone out of respect for her mom. Once she arrived in the U.S., though, that changed. Most of her friends were atheists. And that was fine with her. Why did she need God when she was having so much fun? Her life was perfect just the way it was.

But then her cousin came to visit . . . and let her know her eleven-year-old brother had died in a bicycle accident. Rubylyn immediately flew back to the Philippines.

“I was confused, hurt, angry, miserable, and desperate,” she said. “If the hospitals there had been any better, my brother would have had a chance. I was about to explode.”

After two weeks away, Rubylyn returned to college, where she continued working on her chemistry degree. But though she studied twice as hard, she couldn’t do anything else. She sank further into depression.

Then, God led her to join a Bible study. She finally talked about her brother, let the tears flow, and started to heal. That night, Rubylyn trusted Christ as her Savior. In a moment, she released all her frustrations and hurts into a positive outlet.

Her life has more meaning now, and she knows God has a purpose for her.

Reflection:

Following Christ brings more meaning into your life. Only through Him can you truly feel alive. When you know your purpose is to bring glory to Him, you discover that He heals your hurts and fills in the imperfections; bringing you closer and closer to the person He’s called you to be.


Philippians 3:12
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.

Submitted by: Sherida, Kansas

June 9
A Seed is Sown

A few years ago, a scientist came from Bulgaria to participate in some research at the Argonne National Laboratory. Ivan needed a little help with his English, and so we started meeting on a weekly basis so that I could help him with that.

One day, we read the story of the Prodigal Son, in Luke 15, and discussed it’s meaning. Ivan had tears in his eyes as he blurted out, “I am that prodigal!” We made a plan to talk further about this, and I asked many friends to pray that God would give me the right words to share so that his eyes would see the truth, and his heart would experience the God who loved him.

When we met together, I used a tract I had translated into Russian, as that was Ivan’s native language and I truly wanted him to understand the Good News of Jesus. After talking through the tract, Ivan asked a lot of questions and eagerly asked Jesus Christ to be His Lord and Savior.

After we prayed, Ivan shared with me that as a child, his grandfather had taken him to church regularly. But, when the communists came, his parents feared retaliation and forbade Grandpa to take him to church anymore. But Ivan remembers that when he and his grandfather were alone in his room, his grandfather prayed for him, and years later, God in His own perfect timing, brought him to America to hear the Gospel again.

Reflection:

Does God ever forget our prayers? Indeed, we may forget, but God does not. And when the seed of truth is planted in a child's heart, is it ever in vain? Though we may not see the fruits of our prayers today, we can rest assured that God hears them all.

 

Psalms 126:5-6

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Submitted by: Jeanette, Illinois

June 8
To Know Him

Scott met Jung-Su during a monthly ISI Saturday Supper. At one point, each person was asked to share something they liked, something they loved, and what was most important at the moment. Rather than mention his grandchildren, Scott said he desired to live for God. This caught Jung-Su’s attention, and he emailed Scott later:

I was born and grown as Christian, so if someone asks me about life, I think of God automatically, but my mind doesn't accept the fact that my life is given by God for the glory of God. I know Jesus Christ is my Savior, but I do not recognize Him in my life. I want to know and feel Jesus Christ in my real life. I hope my faith will grow here during my stay.        

After that, Scott and Jung-Su met at least twice a month. Scott was encouraged as he heard Jung-Su’s deep desire to let God’s Word into the center of his daily experience.

“Wow!” Jung-Su would say as the Spirit opened fresh instruction and clear calls for obedience. He rediscovered Christ and Scripture, and shared those lessons in daily phone conversations with his wife, who was in Korea.

Knowing he would return home soon, Jung-Su planned another big step: he wanted to leave the security of a corporate position for the insecurity of self-employment so he could mentor others.

Jung-Su continues to inspire Scott with his thoughtfulness and excitement in living a God-centered life.
        

Reflection:

Jung-Su wrote: “May God put me in a circle of conversation where the subject of real life will arise. May my words, especially those where I don’t have adequate time to prepare, always point someone else to the gladness of seeing every day as the arena for Christ’s real presence.”


Galatians 2:20
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Submitted by: Scott, North Carolina

June 7
Welcome to America

When international students arrive in the United States, they seem to quickly settle on how they will manage their time. Some come focused on their academics, using every spare moment to study, research, learn and excel. They could be anywhere because the world around them revolves only around these goals. Others arrive feeling overwhelmed and intimidated by their new surroundings and the unfamiliar culture, choosing to stay as close as possible to the things they feel familiar with as possible, not venturing into situations that might challenge their language skills or comfort level. Still others arrive curious, uncertain and looking for clues about their new situation, cautiously alert to those around them as they figure things out.

No matter who they are or where they come from, they likely begin keeping a mental score of their experiences with Americans from the moment they arrive. Do they ignore me? Do they make fun of me?

When ISI staff and volunteers specifically reach out to international students, to welcome them, feed them, invite them to activities and help them, we certainly get all kinds of responses. Perhaps the students think of us as a distraction to their goals, perhaps as a nuisance, entertainment, or perhaps even as a log to climb on in the middle of a rushing river – but the attention and care shown to them will be noted and categorized in their mental inventory.

Of course, most international students arrive in the U.S. with preconceived notions about what Americans and the U.S. will be like. These stereotypes often come from inaccurate or unrealistic sources like television, movies and magazines. How will the way they are treated affect the conceptions and attitudes they carry home with them when they return?

Several Chinese students recently shared with me that they believe it is faith that makes the Americans they have met so “nice.” They attributed their participation in Friday night Bible studies to wanting to spend time with and get to know these “nice” people. Several have even expressed the desire to volunteer at the church or with ISI, even as unbelievers!

Reflection:

May we meet each person in our path right where they are. May the things we do and say let them know that we accept them and want to get to know them. And may their curiosity, loneliness, vulnerability or anxiety open their hearts to God


Ephesians 5:15-17
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

Submitted by: Roy, Texas

June 6
We Never Leave Our Own

These disciples are brothers and sisters who must remain nameless––like the Beijing believer who attends a house church and ministers to high school students throughout the city…or, a member of the nation’s senior leadership, whose influence in the years ahead can hardly be measured…or, the Northwest China official, unable to attend church because of her visibility…or, “alumnus” Dr. Paul Pang, who helped lead a Chinese Fellowship at an ISI house in Buffalo, then returned to Hong Kong to become a leader and author in Christian education.
 

Reflection:

The Body of Christ is an army---a spiritual force intended to fight with unity, selflessness, and love at a greater level than any earthly army. So, when believers depart for dangerous missions on hostile soil, we owe them our greatest support. Inside the spiritual realm in which we battle, prayer is the most effective and powerful reinforcement. Please pray for your brothers and sisters who are in danger or susceptible to persecution today.

June 5
Relish the Moments

He had addressed me as “Lady Peggy” in his emails over the last several months as we made arrangements for his arrival and temporary housing in California. Now that I was finally meeting Professor Ben in person, I thought I should correct his English so he wouldn’t keep using the wrong form of address and embarrass himself with others, but I just didn’t want to. I could see how delighted he felt to address me so precisely and politely, and I certainly felt delighted to be addressed in such a medieval and fanciful way.

He didn’t exactly look like a knight in shining armor either, but rather more like a Dr. Seuss character.  Small and spry with a head of thick, tousled grey hair and a wide, genuine smile, Professor Ben stole my heart immediately. Glad to finally arrive and start his dream year in the United States, he waited with me for his United States host, “Lady Glenna,” chauffeured by “Lady Carol!”

I enjoyed his happiness, as he seemed to exude cheerfulness. When they arrived, I pulled “Lady Carol” aside to ask whether we should correct the professor’s form of address before his tour of the campus, but she smiled widely and responded, “Yes, but – let’s not. Let’s just enjoy it!”

Carol is like that. She savors every moment of her life. Before retiring, she worked as a schoolteacher for many years and has no problem telling you what she thinks.  One of her favorite expressions is, “King Jesus strikes again.” Generous not only with her opinions, but also with her time and possessions, Carol had come for the airport pick up in her blazing red convertible.

One of her best friends, “Lady Glenna” loves to host international students, but now that they are getting older, Glenna has given up driving, so she counts on Carol to help give rides and run errands when she hosts students. Best friends in spite of their opposite personalities, Glenna is more fragile, precise, logical and super-organized in comparison to Carol.

So, on this gorgeous, sunny California day, the pair has come to show this eager Professor around his new town and campus from a perch in a shiny, red convertible! From a rural part of his country, he has never visited the United States. This opportunity represents a lifelong dream for him, so what’s wrong with treating him like royalty on his first day in the United States? His enjoyment, manners and elegant speech charm and delight us all.

We choose not to correct him today, but instead to take this happy professor for a spin and tour around town in that flashy red convertible, with the top down, his hair flying in the ocean breeze.  As I waved to the three of them driving off, I smiled and thought of Lady Carol’s favorite saying, “King Jesus strikes again,” praying that Professor Ben would continue to relish and enjoy his moments among us.

Reflection:

Sometimes the Lord gives us moments of pure joy when we can bask in His blessings and savor His goodness. Be sure to recognize and acknowledge those moments. God delights in your delight!

 

Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire.

Submitted by: Peggy, California

June 4
Baby Adults

Do you have a friend who has permission to point out the junk in your life? Only a best friend would dare tell you, “You are self-indulgent,” “You take shortcuts,” “You take offense easily,” “You are totally disorganized.” Ouch! My best friend is also the person who loves me the most, encourages me the best and forgives me for my weaknesses.

 Growth in my knowledge of God does not guarantee that I am growing in the graces. Look at some of the active verbs in the Bible: “set your mind… put to death... rid yourselves… clothe… bear… do… be… love… teach… admonish… submit… obey… work….” I don’t see anything passive about that stuff! God doesn’t just work the graces into me. It is up to me to do and be. Just as our children grow into more responsibility and higher expectations, so too should we.

 I know some baby adults and I don’t find them attractive. Baby adults make you wince at the things they say and do. You feel embarrassed for them. They don’t recognize how immature and unattractive their behavior comes across. I don’t want to be like that. The heat of God’s furnace gets uncomfortably hot sometimes, but I hope I will always welcome His attempts to help me grow up. It seems that, through the tough stuff, we gain the most maturity and depth. 

Reflection:

Do I need to be coddled, or am I willing to look at the hard stuff and dig down deep to make changes in my life in order to continue growing up in the Lord?


I Corinthians 3:1-2
Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger.

Submitted by: Pat, Missouri

June 3
An Amazing Journey

I first met Michael, a scholar from Iran, when I became his English conversation leader. He loved to talk and would get excited about everything he did. One day, I took him target practicing, and he said that this was the best day of his life since he had been in America! He would get very animated and extremely happy about this activity. 

We introduced Michael to Ray who had come to Christ through dreams and visions. The two began a Bible study in Farsi. Michael said that he would become a Christian some day. He started studying the Injil (first four books of the New Testament) and quickly finished two of the books. 

The last week of his journey to the Lord, he faced many struggles between the forces of good and evil as the evil forces were trying to draw him away from God. One day in the college dormitory, he got into a fight with another Muslim, and the man filed a lawsuit against Michael. The lawsuit was soon dropped. Unfortunately, because of the fight in the dormitory, Michael was banned from campus for two years. Still, I believe God used that situation to bring him to Christ. During this spiritual battle, God spoke to Michael through a number of dreams and visions. In one dream, he saw the soldiers putting nails in Jesus’ wrist on the cross.  He ran to try and free Him but Jesus told him, “… I died for you so that you could be free and have eternal life.”  Shortly after that, Michael prayed and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior and was baptized.

It has been such a blessing to watch Michael’s growth in his faith. This young man is fearless!!  He does not hesitate to proclaim that he is a follower of Jesus. One day, he was playing volleyball with some of his friends from Saudi Arabia. They asked him why he became a Christian, and he told them that Jesus set him free and gave him eternal life.

The Lord has been faithful in His care of Michael as well. We witnessed a miracle when Michael was admitted into an intensive English program at another university. There are over 300 internationals at this school, and they have organized an active Friendship Partner program. Michael has moved to the new university, and I know he will be taken care of by some amazing Christian brothers and sisters.

I believe that God will use Michael mightily to bring others to Jesus. Michael has said that if he returns to Iran, he will probably be killed; but he also said that it’s okay, because he’d go to Heaven. He says that he loves Jesus and would die for Him. AMAZING faith for a new believer!!

Reflection:

It is amazing that this young man can be so fearless about his new-found faith even though he has so much opposition. Could we also be as fearless? The spiritual battle continues to rage. We are up against growing unbelief in our own country. While we try to win internationals to Christ, we have fierce competition on every side. And so we must stay close to the Lord and remember that though a battle rages, we are on the side of victory.


Ephesians 6:10-12
…Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Submitted by: Norm, Kansas

June 2
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

 

Throughout Scripture, God often tries to shift us out of neutral and into gear:

“What do you want me to do for you?”  (Mark 10:51)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

“Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5)

We find countless examples of how God honored those who risked doing something outside of their comfort zone; Gideon, Ruth, Esther, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, and the list goes on. He seems to want us to engage our desires and actions with His purposes—to live lives of action, filled with purpose and fruitfulness.

At a recent national conference, God challenged me to more actively engage students in conversation about spiritual things and in praying for those students more intentionally. I don’t consider evangelism one of my gifts, so I confess I wasn’t thrilled about what I felt Him calling me to. I translated it as, “Go and do that thing you aren’t good at. I will be with you, but you’re going to be pretty nervous about this.”

Since then, I have truly felt God blessing my conversations. I’ve gotten into conversations about prayer and fasting; God’s care for orphans, widows, the poor and internationals; generosity, forgiveness, and karma; as well as the Bible. With each conversation, the relationship has deepened. I even got an invitation to go to Saudi Arabia!  When I am willing to engage, God is more than able to carry me beyond my abilities.


Reflection:

How is God challenging you to engage? Going outside your comfort zone can lead you to a whole new reliance on His strength, grace and power. Give it a try !



Philippians 4:13
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Submitted by: Steve, Idaho

June 1

Psalm 65:1-9

What mighty praise, O God, belongs to You in Zion.
We will fulfill our vows to You, for You answer our prayers.
    All of us must come to You.

Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, You forgive them all.
What joy for those You choose to bring near, those who live in Your holy courts.
What festivities await us inside Your holy Temple.

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God
our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail
on distant seas. You formed the mountains by Your power and armed
Yourself with mighty strength.

You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced
the shouting of the nations. Those who live at the ends of the earth
  stand in awe of Your wonders. From where the sun rises to where
it sets, You inspire shouts of joy.


Reflection:

Worshipping God involves so much more than standing in your church sanctuary on Sunday morning singing praise songs. It’s recognizing all He’s done in your life, yes, but with the perspective of His greatness. He controls mountains. And oceans. And nations.

Worship should rise from deep inside you as you consider His awesome deeds. Anytime. Everywhere.

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