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

To view previous month: October

November 30
A Last Minute Conversion, Years in the Making

As James is now back home, his ISI mentor has followed up with him using Skype Bible studies; James has also attended a church in his area, where he received communion for the first time.


Reflection:

Some conversions happen quickly, while others take years. Some feel overwhelmed by a sense of God’s leading, while others need extensive time to examine, consider, and process the decision. What kind of conversion did you experience? Can you remember the way and the speed with which you came to Christ? It is a major life-event… and worth cherishing.


James 1:5
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

November 29
BE BOLD!  BE STRONG!  BE ARMED!

Just in case you get spiritual amnesia like I do on a regular basis, let me remind you that when you meet with students to discuss the salvation of their very souls, you are up against mighty enemies!  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places,” Ephesians 6:12 (NASB).

Remembering that you are to go against these enemies (rather than hoping not to disturb them), do not go against these rulers and powers and spiritual forces in your own strength. But rather, “... be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might,” Ephesians 6:10 (NASB). “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil,” Ephesians 6:11 (NASB).

Do not just put on God's Armor for defensive purposes; instead, ask for prayer like Paul did when he said...“… and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, ” Ephesians 6:19 (NASB).

The message you have been given to deliver is the truth and the only true hope for international students.  

Therefore:

Be strong in the Lord in delivering God's Holy Message.

Go forth in the strength of His might.

Put on the very Armor of God.

Be Bold!  Proclaim!  Make known the mystery of the Gospel!

Reflection:

Jesus did not send us to do His work alone. When we accepted Him as Lord and Savior, He promised to give us His Spirit to teach us, to guide us, and bring to memory everything He taught us.



1 John 4:4
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

Submitted by: Ed, North Carolina

November 28
Return Blessings

Thanksgiving is a time many of us join family and friends to celebrate our blessings. For those of us in international student ministry, it also means we are thinking of how God used us to reach others for Him. Sometimes we don’t know how much the Lord’s work has continued in a person’s life after they leave us. Then the real blessing happens when we learn that it has. Ruth and I were especially blessed during the Thanksgiving holidays when we heard back from two international student friends.

One student whom we hadn’t heard from in a couple of years wrote, “Happy Thanksgiving!! I haven't seen you for a while… We appreciate this chance to let you know how much your friendship means to us. This year is a special year to me and to my family since we have a new member in our life, a new born baby boy! His English name is Nathan reminding us that we have him because of your prayer to God in your van two years ago when you drove us back to my apartment. He is a present from God, isn't he? I won't forget what you gave us and for the friendship from your family...”

Ruth also received an email from a friend in China whom she has continued to mentor for the last couple of years via email. Lian wrote, “David and you are very important persons in my life. You lead me to the truth, and help me to know my Lord. Thinking back to what I have experienced this year, I am so appreciative of what God has done for me. The first year of marriage is difficult, but also interesting and rewarding… Our daughter was born… I am so blessed to have a good husband and a lovely daughter. Every day, I appreciate and enjoy what God has arranged for me. There is a family church in the building behind the one where my parents live, and they have Bible studies… “

To Him belongs eternal praise! Thanksgiving is not over, because God continues to work!

 

Reflection:

Thanksgiving is the perfect time for us to reflect on that for which we are thankful. As we look for opportunities to bless others by reaching them for Christ, sometimes when we least expect it, the blessing comes back.

 

Psalm 107

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Submitted by:
David and Ruth, New Jersey 

November 27
Strangers in a Strange Land

We had invited eight international students to join us for Thanksgiving Day in our new apartment. Although smaller than our previous home, we now lived closer to campus and many of the students had apartments in neighboring buildings.

We opened our table up to its full length, stretching through the entire living room. On top of the tablecloth, we placed a long sheet of brown paper and encouraged our kids and our guests to draw and write about things they were thankful for this past year. It worked well, until we had a drink spill!

But a damp table couldn’t dampen the mood. After a hearty American Thanksgiving dinner, we shared the story of the Pilgrim’s original Thanksgiving, and talked about the risks and hardships they faced in starting a new life in a new country. The story resonated with our guests far away from their own homes. It fostered great discussion about faith.

When we received an impromptu Skype call from extended family, we had no choice but to include our international guests in the conversation. They seemed to enjoy observing and participating in our family moment. In fact, I think that helped open the conversation so we could find out that one of the students had just heard that his father had been in a very bad car accident back in India. Although stable, he remained in ICU and would be unable to work for some time. His father’s close brush with death had shaken this student, so we stopped and prayed for him then. And apropos of the Thanksgiving season, a few days later, we learned that his father had improved dramatically.

 

Reflection:

Inviting others to participate in our homes means inviting them into our lives—the good, the bad and the ugly. But when they see life close up, it helps them see us as real people, with struggles and triumphs just like theirs. And perhaps seeing the way we walk through our lives will draw them toward the One who gave them life.



Act 17:26-27
From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.

Submitted by:
Ian, California

November 26
The Joy of Discipleship

Follow up is a critical part of this ministry to international students. It is where the rubber meets the road! I am beginning to understand how Paul must have felt when he was writing letters (continuing his discipleship) to the new believers in places he had visited. Unlike biblical days, when you sent a letter if you knew someone was headed to the town where your recipient was, we can follow-up and mentor new believers in real time using Facetime and Skype.

I just had such a face-to-face call with Zhou who became a follower of Jesus in June of 2012. He is home in China and is following his Lord and Savior. He told me about a co-worker who likes to talk about God but is afraid of others knowing. He also mentioned another co-worker who is talking to him about God but is antagonistic and demeaning. Zhou is standing his ground and being a light in the dark world around him. He is not afraid of sharing Jesus with others.

Sadly, Zhou does not know any other Christians in the city of millions of people. And so for now, I am his only source of Bible discussion and prayer outside his personal time with God. Zhou said he cherishes our time studying the Bible together. And this is so humbling for me. Previously, he did not know God or even want to know God. Now, he is a missionary to his own people! He is learning to lean on God and trust in Jesus to keep him strong in the face of opposition. This is the power of God and his Word at work in the life of a follower of Jesus.

I wish everyone could experience this joy of being able to mentor a new believer like Zhou, watching my spiritual son, a new follower of Jesus standing for his faith and actively sharing the hope that he has. It is a blessing and a joy!


Reflection:

What an incredible privilege we have in the United States! It is sobering to realize that while we are free to worship as we please, all around the world, many Christians may not get a chance to experience other Christian fellowship. We are blessed.



Romans 12:2

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Submitted by:
Don, New York

November 25
Give Thanks

Few people would choose to spend a major holiday alone. One of our joys at ISI is offering students the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving together at the annual dinner and square dance.

Last year, approximately one hundred people joined us for an evening of turkey and potatoes and pumpkin pie, as well as dancing, fun, and games. Many arrived early to help decorate and set up, others assisted with cooking or serving and many pitched in to help clean up when we were done.

ISI staff member Dean said one young German lady named Else thanked him for organizing the event, and he could tell how much the day meant to her. And when a young mother from Iraq walked into the room and saw the cross openly on display, she said,

“This is right.”

Holidays like Thanksgiving are an ideal time to reach out to international students—to fill their stomachs, make them laugh, and give them a sense of home in a foreign land. In other words, the kinds of things we can all be thankful for.

And isn’t that what sharing Christ’s love is all about?


Reflection:

Who can you share your holiday table with this year? An international student? A visiting scholar? An international family in an unfamiliar place? Reach out to those around you... and be blessed by an opportunity to serve others as God has blessed you.



Matthew 25:35

“For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.”

Submitted by: Dean, Colorado

November 24
At the Center of Things


Reflection:

Years can go by without the Lord seemingly using us for a particular duty. Then, all at once, He can deploy us into the “eye of the storm.” Just as Mordecai spoke to Esther of being called “… for such a time as this…, “each one of us can find ourselves called to step forward for Him in an instant. We must hear His voice in order to respond in time; it takes courage to stand up before an entire nation. Would you be willing to face the glare and stress of the spotlight in order to stand for your faith today?


Psalm 33:10

The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes.

November 23
Opportunity Knocks

Like other students from around the world, Warren received the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only would it benefit his studies, but also it would enhance his career. He, and several other Chinese students, received an invitation to come to ASU to participate in research for partial fulfillment towards PhD degrees. Warren felt honored to be selected, but he harbored reservations because of his young marriage and wife back home, now expecting their first child. His studies in the United States would last for a year, and that meant the baby would be born while he was away. How would their parents feel about that? Couldn’t he just acquire his PhD in China? After much discussion with his wife and family, they arrived at the decision that he should take advantage of this great opportunity. So after Warren’s wife had moved back in with her parents for a year, he bade her a tearful goodbye and boarded a plane bound for Arizona.

Determined to make the most of this opportunity, he worked hard; he put in long hours and seldom saw the outside of his workspace. He allowed his work to absorb him. But, unbeknownst to Warren, God began to pursue him. A Christian colleague frequently talked to him about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Warren had never talked about Christianity before. Now, this faithful witness began presenting him the truth of Scripture and the claims of Christ. He wasn’t opposed to it; he had just never considered it before. He had vague memories as a child of seeing his grandmother read the Bible, and while he had always felt a little curious about it, he never pursued it.

Perhaps Warren’s discussions with his colleague stirred that curiosity, or perhaps he needed a break from his intensive work, but Warren started attending a Bible study with some other Chinese students. After cutting through the secular- humanism he grew up with, he realized there is a God who loves him and desires a personal relationship with him. He came to see the Bible as the Word of God and that Jesus paid the penalty for his sin. Warren prayed to receive Christ, committed his life to Him and was baptized. As a newborn baby, he hungered and thirsted for things of God and continued to fellowship and study the Bible throughout his time in Arizona.

Just about the same time Warren was born again, his wife gave birth to their baby girl. This brought about discussions about marriage and fatherhood and together we sought out God’s word for guidance and instruction. Warren returned to China a changed young man and has been actively sharing his new faith with others. His wife has shown some interest in the Gospel and we continue to pray for her.

Reflection:

God continually brings opportunities into our lives, whether we recognize them or not. How will you respond to the opportunity before you—will you embrace it or run from it? We often choose to hide away, allow ourselves to be distracted or ignore what God puts before us. May our eyes remain open and our minds alert to the opportunities God puts before us.


Colossians 4:5
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.

Submitted by: Joe, Arizona

November 22
That is the Gospel of Jesus!

One of the delights of reading Scripture with a small group is that sooner or later God shows up in an observation, a question, or in our mutual effort to make sense of a biblical text.

A while back I met with several students to consider the significance of two incidents in the life of Jesus: the anointing by a sinful woman in Luke 7 and His meeting with Zacchaeus in chapter 19. In the first incident, Jesus was invited to a Pharisee’s home for a meal. While there, a weeping, “immoral woman” knelt before Him and poured expensive perfume on His feet.

Jesus responded: “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

In the second encounter, Jesus spotted Zacchaeus while passing through Jericho on the way to Jerusalem. A short man, Zacchaeus had climbed a Sycamore tree to see what was happening. To everyone’s surprise Jesus invited Himself to lodge at Zacchaeus’s house. Later, Zacchaeus pledged to make up for his extortion with promises of repayments and gifts to the poor.

As our discussions were drawing to a close, one student observed that, from his perspective, both the woman and Zacchaeus were dishonest in their expressions of repentance. He thought Jesus should have known better than to fall for their false sincerity.

As we concluded our study the realization of perhaps the most central theme of the texts hit me:

That is the Gospel of Jesus! He didn’t fall for anything, but offered forgiveness regardless of the speaker’s sincerity. He promises hope and deliverance to the unlikely, the unacceptable, even those we may perceive to be unworthy.

Reflection:

When you turn to Jesus in the midst of your most desperate state, He welcomes you unconditionally. You don’t have to pass a sincerity test. You need only be open to the free gift He offers.


Luke 19:9-10   

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

Submitted by: Scott, North Carolina

November 21
The Gentle Weapon


Reflection:

Men, in particular, often shy away from describing “gentleness” among their major attributes. Yet combined with kindness, gentleness can be one of the most visible ways of revealing Christ’s presence in a person’s life. Jesus was gentle and kind in a way that spilled over into His dealings with everyone He met––especially those whom the world tends to cast aside. It is never too late to ask Him for ways to share His gentleness and kindness with others.



1 Peter 3:15-16

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.
Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

November 20
New Life

How do we know when someone is a Christian? The Bible tells us clearly that the Holy Spirit produces these fruits—characteristics and behaviors—in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, (Galatians 5:22-23).

But is there something else? Does a person’s countenance reveal the joy that a belief in and relationship with God brings? Many Christians would testify to this. Our staff member, Tim, describes his experience when he visited an international student and his family.

“I went to see Kang and his family before they returned to China. After reading through Genesis with Kang and his wife, Mei, Mei became a Christian. Soon, the entire family became believers, and all five—Kang, Mei, Xiu, the baby and Mei’s mother were baptized on Sunday! The real shock was looking into Kang’s eyes. I saw the presence of Life itself. It was the same feeling as when I am fishing and the fly line pulls at my hand, or something breathes beside me in the darkness. It’s always shocking to meet life where I thought I was alone.”

Tim and Kang use Skype to study the Bible and pray together. Of course Kang was alive before he became a Christian, but was he living in the way that God had meant for us to live? When we become Christians and know that we are now saved, is there a joy that shines through our eyes? For people who don’t know about our new salvation, perhaps there is something different, but nothing they could put their finger on. For people who are believers themselves, perhaps the spirit recognizes the new indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our brother and sister.


Reflection:

We should ask ourselves if the light of the Holy Spirit shines through us. Do others know that we are Christians by our fruits? It’s so easy as life happens to lose that spark and become apathetic. But we can examine our hearts and pray that the Lord will renew our spirit and reignite our zeal for Him.



Matthew 6:22
Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.

Submitted by: Tim, Missouri

November 19
Don’t Hate the Sinner


It is not easy to live as a Muslim student in the United States. New students continue to come here as the evening news programs run stories about protestors marching at Ground Zero, Islamic terrorists making threats, and pastors burning Korans. Many Middle Eastern students feel unwelcome in America and sense that everyone here regards them as potential terrorists.

People have good reasons for those suspicions. Islam requires unconditional submission to the Koran, which teaches salvation by works. Many Muslims justify acts of violence and reward these acts for promoting the spread of Islam.

Does that make Muslims our enemy? No! God created them in His image, and He loves them. He gave His Son for their salvation. The enemy uses world religions and philosophies as his weapons against the resurrection and Lordship of Christ. The only way we can make a difference in this spiritual battle is by living out the love of Christ and the truth of the Gospel…one person at a time.

On campus, we continue to make progress with our Muslim friends. We had three Muslim Ph.D. students stay with us until they could find housing. We took two of them to church the first Sunday, and they have continued going on their own ever since. They asked for Bibles, too.

In spite of the tension between Muslims and the Western world, there shouldn't be tension from Christians. Burning the Koran does not do any good. Instead, we should initiate respectful discussions about the Koran and the Bible and trust God to open their hearts and minds to the truth.


Reflection:

May our welcome and interaction with people from the Middle East let them know that we do not judge or hate them. When we pray, let us remember that we do not battle against people but against the devil and his evil lies.


Ephesians 6:12
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: Dan, Oregon

November 18
Lives Well Lived

Reflection:

When we reach our final days on earth, our thoughts will not linger on money, jobs, errands, or the countless tasks that consume so many of our waking hours. Instead, the love we have shared with friends, loved ones, and even complete strangers will linger with us––and inspire those who watch us depart. Those who have made their lives an outpouring of that love remind us that every day is a new opportunity for each of us to do the same.


II Timothy 4:6-8

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

November 17
Goals

Four months after his arrival in the United States, Timothy finally gathered enough courage to approach his instructor after class to ask, “How can I become a Christian?” In his mind, he equated American with Christian, and assumed any American could answer this question. He had come to the United States with a goal.

The instructor referred Timothy to a school administrator who passed him along to me and another pastor friend. I remember feeling amazed that God had brought this student all the way to the United States, already hungry for Jesus! We met with Timothy over a cup of coffee and spoke at great length about Jesus and Christianity. Over the next few months, we continued to meet with Timothy. When we finally heard his whole story, we sat back in awe to see how God had been at work in his life over the course of many years before he even arrived in the United States. Only now, in looking back, could Timothy see how all the pieces fit together.

Meanwhile, Timothy has struggled greatly with his English language skills. In addition to finding out about Jesus, he had set goals to finish a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the United States. His biggest obstacle seemed to be English—especially listening and understanding what he heard. We began meeting together weekly not only to study the Bible, but to work on improving his English at the same time. Timothy feels he has almost reached the decision to undergo baptism, and we continue to pray that he will progress in his faith, as well as his language skills so he can accomplish all the goals he set for himself in the United States.

Reflection:

You may have to guide conversations to bring up Jesus and salvation, but every once in a while someone will approach you with a hunger that surprises you. Be ready for each and every situation and clearly share the way to engage in a relationship with God.


Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

Submitted by: Matt, Oregon

November 16
The Hidden Value of a Broken Clutch

Reflection:

Andy did not swerve over and stop that day to reach someone for Christ; he was merely being a good citizen. Yet, God (who sees both present and future) knew that Andy’s act of kindness would bear great fruit. We invest so much in the personal roadmap of our lives that we may forget that the Author of our lives sees our destination long before we do. We only see one turn ahead, but He sees the whole picture.


Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

November 15
With or Without

We originally met when Aran arrived to do graduate work in our city; he and his wife lived here two years. During their two-year stay, the Lord blessed them with their first child, and they delighted in becoming parents.  As well, Aran had found a personal relationship with Jesus Christ during his undergraduate studies in Texas. Before moving to California to pursue graduate studies, he had led his entire extended family to Christ and had also become established in Christian Officer’s Fellowship in his military unit back home. Now that he had finished his postgraduate studies in America, he had accepted a position as a United Nations Peacekeeper in a war-torn African country.

However, Aran had a problem.  When the time came for them to leave, they knew they could not expect their next living conditions to measure up to the standards they had recently enjoyed. After completing his undergraduate and graduate studies in the United States, Aran had become accustomed to the comforts of our western culture. He enjoyed a nice apartment with electricity and hot water. A friend had given him a car to drive, and he enjoyed living in a place with fresh air and very little pollution.  His stipend from the American government covered food for himself and his family. In short, his experience as an international student had spoiled him, but he had to move on.

“I admit that I’m weak. I’d like to stay in this place [America]. We have so much here, and yet I know that God wants me to go,” Aran acknowledged to me.

Many international students experience struggles when they leave the material wealth (that many Americans take for granted) and return to their home countries. In some other countries, these students only have electricity on certain days of the week, or very polluted air and/or water. Also, floods, storms, or other disasters cause severe damage to many economies and infrastructures of countries around the world.

I received an email from Aran once he had moved to Africa, “I pray and read the Word every day. I am thankful to Him for His strength; He has given me constant guidance through many situations here. The change was tremendous for me when I went from a paradise like California to this war-torn country. Through this transformation, He spoke to me and showed me many things. Soon, I started looking at things differently. I met many local believers who, despite hardships, have not lost joy and peace in their hearts."


Reflection:

God blesses some with material wealth while others suffer great depravity. Yet, He calls us to serve Him with joy and gratitude whether we possess much or little. Following the Lord when He asks us to endure hardship requires humility and fortitude, but we know that in every circumstance He will give us the strength and resources to do whatever He asks.


Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Submitted by: Dale, California

November 14
Another Perspective


Americans have so much. Still, many of us live from paycheck to paycheck, watching our money disappear as fast as we deposit it in the bank. It can be discouraging.

Or it could mean our perspective needs to change.

Meet Mutende, a student from Zambia who recently shared a meal in our home. While here, his wife gave birth to his daughter and he looks forward to returning home soon and meeting her for the first time.

Mutende grew up as an orphan. Today, he has a job in the cement and construction industry. But instead of relishing the fruits of his labor, he lives on only 20 percent of his income. He sends the other 80 percent to Zambia to build an orphanage!

Here is a man who knows the difference between being in want and being content. He shares what God has gifted him out of a heart of compassion.   

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.

Reflection:

Do you have all you need or do you always want more? The Apostle Paul stated we have to learn to be content, implying it doesn’t come easily. So start small. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or donate money to an international project or provide a meal for a student in need. It doesn’t have to be big if it comes from the heart.



Philippians 4:11
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.

Submitted by: Karen, California

November 13
Finding Yolanda

When Yolanda first joined my conversation class on Monday evenings, I couldn't tell whether she was a guy or a girl. She wore her hat pulled low over her short hair and part of her face, and her baggy shirt and jeans gave nothing away. But, I could see her loneliness, and that she needed a friend.

Referred by her ESL teacher, Yolanda became a regular attendee at our Monday conversation classes, and soon began to come to our Friday ICF, and various other activities as well. Gradually she started warming up to people and spiritual things. She shared more and more with me, especially during the activities. Once, during a visit to the Bronx Botanic Garden, she asked me if I thought she should fly back home and talk with her "girlfriend" about not being together anymore, since she was getting to know the Lord. I told her I thought this would be something the Lord would want her to do.

I could see how the Lord had begun changing her heart and life from darkness to light. Yolanda spoke very honestly and boldly about the changes in her self. She shared her testimony at the church she attended, and got baptized. She became a great help during Friday ICF meetings, helping me prepare dinner, and talking with and ministering to other students, especially from her country. She even attended a Discipleship Conference.

I felt sad, but not surprised when the Lord led her back home after a few years. I felt confident the Lord would work through her greatly! Even though she had a difficult time with her family when she first returned, she kept growing and continued her work as a nurse. Before long, the Lord led her to a Christian college, and after she finished, Yolanda prepared for a career in medical missions in the Middle East. Several of us have had the privilege of visiting her there, and seeing the Lord at work in her life.



Reflection:

The Lord’s work in an individual’s life is not always obvious to those around them. It can be slow, subtle and/or personal. But sometimes when He works in a heart and life, we stand amazed at the transformation He makes possible. What a privilege to see His hand at work, turning a life around! And what a blessing to see the ripple effect because of that changed life!


I Peter 2:9
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.


Submitted by: Marion, New York

November 12
Coincidence? Not on Your Life…

Reflection:

We humans are so mired in the realm of our five senses that it is difficult, even for those who have followed Christ a very long time, to remember the Holy Spirit’s constant work in preparing hearts for the Gospel. It is so easy to believe that our words, our boldness, and our passion win hearts to Him––forgetting sometimes that God prepares hearts and orchestrates events long before we ever meet those to whom we witness. What a relief it is to trust in Him.



1 Corinthians 2:10-12

No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

November 11
The Pleasure of God in the Fame of His Name!

God takes great pleasure in His name being famous---in His name being proclaimed in all the earth throughout each and every generation. The Lord God will not forsake His people (you and me), not because of our wonderfulness but for His name’s sake: 

“For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself,” 1 Samuel 12:22, ESV.

In the eternal counsel of God, it has pleased Him to link our eternal future with the glory and honor of His name. He has chosen to link His reputation in heaven and on earth with our entering into heaven itself.

Praise God that our eternal destiny does not depend on us. It depends on God’s honoring of Himself. We are the beneficiaries of God Almighty as He does not forsake us. Absolutely phenomenal!  


Reflection:

So, when you entreat the Lord to hear your prayers, bring to Him your petitions with a plea to grant your request for His Great Name’s sake. “In the name of Jesus, hear my cry for the glory of Your name, Lord.”


 

Psalms 106:7-8, ESV
Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.

Submitted by: Ed, North Carolina

November 10
The Student Becomes the Teacher

Reflection:

One of the great paradoxes of our faith is how the almighty Creator of the universe chose humility and servant-hood as the hallmarks of His relations with us. He became one of us---a poor and humble human at that. No wonder He exalts and lifts up those who place themselves last among men.

 

Matthew 20:16

“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”

November 9
An Every Day God

 

Coming from a Hindu family, I did not know anything about Christianity and had never read the Bible. When I came to the United States, I got matched up with a family in Wichita; they began to share what a difference God made in their everyday lives. They encouraged me to do Bible Study with them and even took me to church.

All of this triggered my curiosity, so I began reading the Bible to know the differences between Hinduism and Christianity. My American family advised me to start in Matthew, but I did not even know if Matthew was a person, place, or thing! So, I decided to start back at the beginning, in Genesis, and I learned things about God I never knew before. I saw that He spoke to Abraham and Moses and that He helped His people come out of Egypt as He guided them every day. I wondered, "Does God really do that?" My mother is a strong believer in the Hindu gods, but I never heard her say that God will speak to you and support you in every day life. Intrigued, I kept reading.

During the week, I would feel stressed about work and my studies. But when I came to church on Sunday, everyone welcomed me with open, loving arms. I felt so fortunate to have one peaceful day a week with these wonderful people. Why did I feel so good about going to church but so guilty about myself? Even when I could keep myself from talking badly, I could not control my bad thoughts. I knew I needed God to change me on the inside, but I did not feel good enough to have a relationship with Him.

Finally, I learned and realized that my sin separates me from God, and the only way I can connect to Him is through Jesus. Being sinless Himself, Jesus took my sin and suffered separation from God, so I could have a relationship I did not deserve. Before this revelation, I had signed up for personal development classes to learn independence, goal setting, and life skills. However, when I realized that the whole purpose of life is to have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus, it released me from obligation. Christianity made it clear that Jesus did everything, so I could know God.

I heard on the radio about letting God sit on the throne of my life. When I asked what this meant, I loved the answer. Letting go of my own will and trusting God for everything seemed like a wonderful way to live. Sometimes, I still get stressed over a problem, but then I remember to talk to God about it and He calms my mind. Pretty soon, I think of a solution.

For example, three days before I was scheduled to start a new job, I still did not have the government card I needed. Without that card, I would lose the job. Thankfully, God reminded me that my life belongs to Him, so I prayed and gave the whole situation to God, trusting that either way, He was in control. The next day, my card came through! My faith grew.


Reflection:

What a blessing to have a God who wants a relationship with us! He came to where we live and became one of us, so we could have a real relationship with Him, the God of the universe! He cares about our lives---the simple, everyday stuff. He wants to be part of it all—invite Him into the details of your life.


Psalm 37:23-24

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.


Submitted by: Dick, Kansas

November 8
An Anchor

 The following excerpt from a recent email sent by one of the Japanese students I worked with during her days in Nevada has greatly encouraged my heart and vision:

 “These days, I keep thinking about you and the great experiences I had with you. I just want to say thank you…Do you remember when you took me to your church and I cried in the car on the way home? I even remember what the pastor talked about that day; it was about [the] Anchor of Faith. Since then, I kept looking for my anchor, but every time I thought I found my anchor, I realized it’s not reliable, and [is only temporary].

  “I started thinking to find [a] church here; after all the turmoil [of my return], I am ready to face God…It is just amazing how He has led me through these troubled years since I left the US. After I talked to you on Skype and you gave me some verses from the Bible, I started to feel different. I kept them on a notebook and read them whenever I needed strength and energy. I have learned to be patient and faithful [through the hard times]. I feel more stable because I believe God loves me and is always with me. He removed my burden! I am thanking God everyday! Now I will go to the church I found in my city! I met a girl who goes there and she will introduce me to her friends.

 “I recently came across a passage in 1 Peter 4 talking about how each of us has received personal gifts from God. This motivates me to work sincerely using my God-given gift(s). I am not yet sure what my gift is, but I believe there is something I can contribute to the society and I am so excited!”



Reflection:

How exciting it is to see understanding, growth and maturity in those you have encouraged and nurtured in their quest for God, truth or fulfillment. When Jesus meets the needs and feeds the souls of others, we rejoice with them for what God will do as they pursue Him.


I Peter 4:10
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve on another.

Submitted by: Kris, Nevada

November 7
Putting Him First


Reflection:

God honors those who put Him first. What have you done lately to show God how He comes first in your life? Would you give up all the world’s attractions just to know Him better? Knowing Him is worth more than all the world’s enticements. Yet, ironically, He often bestows great blessings to those who show that they would throw them all away for Him.



Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

November 6
Never Give Up

Recently, I have seen God at work in the lives of our Muslim friends. One young couple, for instance, joined us for Thanksgiving. This allowed us to get to know them better. Imagine our joy when they later asked to attend Christmas Eve service with us! They heard the Gospel message that night and I pray the Holy Spirit touched their lives for eternity.

Another blessing occurred when I suggested to my friend, Reja, that she read the Gospel of Luke. And she did! Then she, too, requested to participate in the Christmas Eve service and the get-together at our house afterwards.

Reja often asks me to pray for her. So I do—right on the phone. And I continue to pray for her salvation.

God hasn’t given up on anyone. Why should we?


Reflection:

It’s never too late for God to soften someone’s heart toward spiritual truth. Continue to pray and be open to the people He places on your heart. Then let Him surprise you with His effectiveness. He will see His will accomplished . . . often despite us! Still, it never hurts to keep praying.


   
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

Submitted by: Karen, California

November 5
Pass It On

Pat comes from Thailand, where less than 1% of the people claim Christianity. Her sister led her to Christ not long before she left for California to obtain her master’s degree in communications. There she met an ISI couple who poured love and encouragement into her life. They lived out Christian values and priorities that helped her grow in her faith. Then, when she completed her master’s degree, Pat spent a year attending a US Bible college where she realized she wanted to return to Thailand to “do something more meaningful for my people.”

Upon her return to Thailand, Pat worked with several ministries as a journalist and editor as God continued to build her skills and put the pieces together so she could have a significant impact on the Christian community there. Now, she sees her current role, as a free-lance translator for a Christian publisher, as a strategic and vital link in communicating the Gospel to Thailand and helping current believers grow. In addition to translating books, Pat also translates articles for magazines and does interpreting for various evangelistic outreaches.

She says, “I feel the things that I’m doing now are very crucial in terms of laying groundwork and educating Thai Christians. In Thailand, Christian resources are very limited. Everything has to be translated. We have very few resources. Good Thai pastors are overworked and don’t have time to write their own books. All the books that have been translated have been such a great blessing and in some cases groundbreaking for the spiritual growth of Thailand … In the country that is so spiritually dark, I believe these books are helping to kindle the light in many Christians’ lives…”

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

Reflection:

God has uniquely qualified and prepared you for a role in His kingdom. Listen to His guidance and follow through on what He has called you to do.



I Corinthians 12:4-7
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

November 4
Come One, Come All

Isabel came to our area as a visiting English professor from Asia. She joined in our Bible studies and participated both intellectually and socially. As a member of the Communist party back home, she stated that she wasn’t able to become a Christian, but expressed hope for her mother who would soon join her in America.

Sure enough, when her mother and young daughter arrived, they all began to attend our events. They made friends in the local Chinese church and attended regularly. Isabel’s mother, Teri, had a tender heart and before long, put her faith in Jesus.  Praying together regularly, the little family read the Bible daily to learn more about God. Isabel’s daughter, Lisa, enjoyed Sunday School and truly took the Bible lessons to heart.

Teri decided she wanted to be baptized and asked me to do it for her at our church. Although she did not speak English, we could all see her genuine love for the Lord. When the day came, Isabel told me that she had also put her faith in the Lord and wanted to be baptized, as well. She did not know how to proceed in her new faith in regards to her life back home, but she wanted to take the step then.

Following their baptisms, Isabel and Teri continued to participate in Bible studies in their Chinese church and with us.  When it came time to go back home, they both would be going back to non-Christian husbands, and this concerned them greatly. We had several very serious discussions about living out their new roles as Christian wives.

Just two weeks before their departure, Isabel’s daughter, Lisa (age 7), decided that she wanted to experience baptism as well.  She had faithfully attended Sunday school at the Chinese Church, and the pastor felt convinced that she understood what her decision meant.  What an honor to have witnessed three generations of Asian women’s lives ushered into the Kingdom of God!

We continue to pray for these dear ones as they live out their faith with their families back home. 


Reflection:

God moves and works in hearts, regardless of one’s background, age, ethnicity, or politics. He wants all people to come to know Him. Do we see each and every person we encounter as a potential child of God, or do we talk ourselves out of reaching certain people who seem too young, too political, or too _______?


I Timothy 2:1, 3-4
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them, intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them …This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

Submitted by: Dale, Washington

November 3
China’s Most Fascinating Secret!


Reflection:

Even the spiritually lost recognize the intrinsic value of morality and righteous living in a society. This is why the Chinese government has freely admitted its need for expertise in nurturing the ethical development of its people. Amazingly, their need is so great that they will even tacitly admit its source is none other than God Himself. The Lord is the source for all morality and truth! Pray for this open door.



2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…

November 2
A Matter of Multiplication

As the new missions coordinator for our adult Sunday School class, Liz wanted to support our work with international students, so she agreed to coordinate a Thanksgiving Dinner for the students at our local university. The idea was to let students experience the traditional foods of an American Thanksgiving, as well as to explain to our international friends a little about the historical significance of Thanksgiving to the American people.

Like a good organizer, Liz sent around a sign-up sheet for the food items we would need for the celebration several weeks before the event. She even contacted another class to help out with some of the “holes” in the signup sheet. Still, she worried we might not have enough food. She kept asking us how many students we expected, but since we honestly didn’t know, we weren’t much help in reassuring her. We told her to trust God that the food would feed whoever showed up. We tried to sound confident and encouraging, but we secretly wondered if God could pull this off.

The day of the big event arrived. Many volunteers from our class had come to decorate the tables in the Baptist Student Ministry building that had graciously agreed to host our event. The ladies took charge of the food as it came in, organizing everything on the serving tables. The men stocked the drink table and organized the plates and utensils.

Excitement rose when the first few students began trickling in. We cheerfully filled their plates, and they eagerly filled the festively decorated tables to sample traditional American Thanksgiving food. Our excitement soon turned to concern as the line of students kept growing and growing. Liz informed us that at one point the line snaked around the building with students still coming. How could a menu planned for 75 people feed what turned out to be about 200? Would we run out? At what point should we start turning students away?

We continued to serve everyone who came through the line that night. Unbelievably, every single student who showed up got served Thanksgiving fare. We even had enough left over for the volunteers to eat! Does that sound familiar?

Since then, Liz has helped coordinate many more Thanksgiving dinners, and she doesn’t even worry anymore about the food running out. In all her years of putting on this event, it has never happened! In fact, we often have enough left over to make a donation to the night shelter in our city.


Reflection:

This experience gave us a little taste of how the disciples must have felt when Jesus told them to feed the 5,000 who had come to hear Him. Imagine their surprise when everyone ate their fill, and they even gathered up leftovers! God showed us that He can provide today just as He did back then. What big thing do you need to trust God for today?



Matthew 14:20

They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children.

Submitted by: Lisa, Texas

November 1

Psalm 136:1-9

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to Him who alone does mighty miracles.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to Him who made the heavens so skillfully.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to Him who placed the earth among the waters.
His faithful love endures forever.
 
Give thanks to Him who made the heavenly lights—
His faithful love endures forever.
 the sun to rule the day,
His faithful love endures forever.
and the moon and stars to rule the night.
His faithful love endures forever.

Reflection:

God proves His faithfulness in many ways, but one of the most obvious is in seeing His hand in nature. Still, do you really need a reason to thank Him for His unfailing, unwavering, unconditional love?

His faith love endures forever—that’s a promise you can count on!

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