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The Mustard Seed Ministries Blog

If you are interested in writing a devotional (or submitting any other type of entry) for Mustard Seed Ministries, please click here to learn about the writing process and how we accept submissions. Thanks for reading!

Friday
Aug192016

Prayer for the Reluctant

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

 

My father may have been gone for several years now, but he was the sort of man who cast a long shadow.  Prior to his death in 2010, some sort of minor crisis in my life sparked the conversation, the sort I would have readily shared with my father in our weekly calls before he suffered a stroke and was confined to a nursing home.  The topic probably came up because I had run out of polite conversation sitting there beside him in that depressing setting, making me resort to relaying my problems that seemed so insignificant in comparison to his.

My father was the Mr. Fixit in our family, so, after I explained my situation I added, “I didn’t tell you because I knew there was nothing you could do.”  Ever the life coach he both schooled and humbled me by saying, “I could have prayed.”

My father may have been complex but he was also a plainspoken man and his words that day rang true.  How often do we search for the right thing to do for someone we know who is in need when the one best choice requires no money, no manpower, and very little time?  Simply to bow our heads in prayer is usually all God asks of us.  Even in our most tongue-tied way we can pray effectively.   Remember the passage in Romans 8:26 where Paul reassures us:

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Where our limited abilities leave off, the Holy Spirit is all too ready and willing to pick up our heavy load and make intercession for us.  All we have to do is swallow our pride and ask.

 

Dear Lord, 

Please grant us the wisdom to come to You first instead of using prayer as the avenue of last resort.

Amen

Carol (NC)

Friday
Aug122016

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "who is my neighbor?" Luke 10:29


"But she's not one of us. I mean, she's so different!" "I don't now I just can't relate to him. After all, he comes from another country and he has this annoying accent!" "We don't have anything in common. After all, we're of different nationalities."

Who is my neighbor? The lawyer who approached Jesus was hoping Jesus would let him off the hook. He wanted to inherit eternal life, but he wanted it on his terms; those terms being that he be allowed to love and accept those whom he chose to love and accept. Suppose we transport this scenario forward some 2000 years and one of us approaches Jesus with this question How would he reply?

We are not too likely to come across someone lying in a ditch robbed and beaten. Who,then, is Jesus asking us in our present day setting, to rescue? Who would that neighbor be?

Each new day that God graciously gives us is a new opportunity to ask him to direct us to "a neighbor in need." It will take courage to pray it, because that prayer may not be answered the way we would choose, but we can count on it being answered. A neighbor in need awaits each of us.


Lord of the universe, teach us to serve You through serving our neighbors. Amen.

Madeline (NE)

Friday
Aug052016

WHAT TO WEAR

Then put on the garments that suit God's chosen people, his beloved; compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience. Cl. 3:12 NEB


Our grandson who is in the army national guard often drops in to have dinner with us. It is not unusual for him to come directly from weekend drill which means he arrives in camouflage.

In the military, wearing camouflage is important. You need to blend in with your surroundings to avoid being a target of the enemy. God even dresses much of wildlife in camouflage to protect them from predators.

Paul's instructions to the Colossians church would in no way result in the wearing camouflage. Quite the opposite. They were asked to boldly wear the uniform of Christ.

In reading this scripture, I was forced to put myself in that congregation. This was not an easy time for the Christian Church. Boldly declaring their allegiance to Christ could result in persecution -- even death. Would I have had the courage?

We pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven." For that to happen, we must all boldly wear His uniform.


Lord, give us the courage to boldly wear the uniform of Your Kingdom. Amen.

Madeline (NE)

Friday
Jul292016

COUNTING STARS

Genesis 15:5-6 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.


Many of you may be familiar with a popular song by the group OneRepublic called Counting Stars! The song is certainly a great hit for this group. I really enjoy listening to the song and singing along when I am driving in my car.

One of the lines in the song is "Said no more counting dollars we'll be counting stars".

Counting dollars is something I am very familiar with. For years I was in banking and some of that time I was a teller and spent many hours counting dollars! I became very efficient and fast doing this task! I noticed recently that the tellers now have machines that count the money for them.

I have spent only a small amount of my life counting stars, however! Yes there have been nights that I took the time to look upward and ponder the vastness of the heavenly lights but not as often as I should have probably.

It seems that life could be summed up on most days as counting dollars not counting stars. That may be a mistake on our part that causes us to miss out on God's best for us.

I believe Abraham was more focused on counting dollars than counting stars, too. His greatest concern was having a son of his own to leave his "dollars" to. Okay, so he called it his inheritance not his dollars but it is basically the same thing! A materialistic possession! Right? Right! I am glad we agree on that!!

Genesis 13:2 says: for Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold. Also in Genesis 13:14-17 the LORD said to Abram, "Look as far as you can see in every direction. I am going to give all this land to you and your offspring as a permanent possession. And I am going to give you so many descendants that, like dust, they cannot be counted! Take a walk in every direction and explore the new possessions I am giving you."

Wow! A very rich man was told by God that he was going to be receiving even more! I just believe that Abraham starting "counting dollars" don't you?

Genesis chapter 14 tells us about a war that broke out in the region soon after God told Abraham about the new possessions he would be receiving. Abraham and his allies fought this war and were victorious because God helped them! They recovered all the wealth and food that had been taken by the invaders.

The next thing we see happen after the new possessions were won with God's help, is an opportunity for Abraham to tithe! He gave a tenth of all the goods he had recovered to Melchizedek and on top of that he gave the possessions he recovered back to the original owner (the king of Sodom).

In Genesis chapter 15:1-6 the LORD speaks to Abram again in a vision and said to him, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great." But Abram replied, O Sovereign LORD, what good are all these blessings when I don't have a son, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no children, so one of my servants will have to be my heir."

Then the LORD said to him, "No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own to inherit everything I am giving you." Then the LORD brought Abram outside beneath the night sky and told him, "Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that-too many to count!" And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD declared him righteous because of his faith.

One of the most important lessons we can learn from this story is that no matter what we have or don't have, we can still believe God. What can we believe God for? Whatever we need! Abram had money but needed a son! He believed God and kept believing and eventually he got Isaac the son of the promise that God made. (Read Genesis 21:1-7)

You may have a son or daughter already and need money to take care of them and leave an inheritance to. Okay! No problem!

Do what Abraham did! Count the stars and believe God! The stars represent the promises of God! In Philippians 4:19 God promises to meet ALL our needs. What do you need? Ask God to provide that need! Believe that he will!

A couple more things, God did not give Isaac to Abraham in an instant, so if God does not provide your need as quickly as you would like, do not stop asking or believing! Also, remember that what was given to Abraham, he gave back a tenth of it to the LORD.

Are you asking, believing, and giving a tenth of your blessings back to the LORD?

Let me leave you with the chorus of the song by OneRepublic:

Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin' hard (hey!)
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be counting stars

Stop losing sleep!

Stop dreaming!

Start prayin' hard!

Stop counting dollars!

Count the stars! (God's promises)

Believe God!

You will receive from God what you need!

Ending Prayer:
Father in heaven,
I pray for those in need today! I pray that they will start praying and believe that you are able and willing to provide all their needs just as you did for Abraham! Whatever their need might be I pray that they would ask you for it and that you would provide it at just the right time!

Help them not to falter in their faith if the need is delayed in their eyes but believe that they will receive it right on time! Help us all to stop counting dollars and start counting stars (your promises). Help us to believe as Abraham did and give as he did also!

Thank you that your Word says that we are Abraham's descendants so we can be blessed as he was blessed. In Jesus name, Amen

Debbie (FL)

Friday
Jul152016

Living Under God’s Roof

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33 KJV)



Why? We often ask when our circumstances become difficult, yet surely God doesn’t owe us an explanation. How many times have our earthly fathers thrown up their hands in frustration and said “Because I said so,” in response to us pestering them. The answers they could give us would be beyond the realm of our understanding, as I feel is true of the answers we seek from God.
We may not feel so as children but ultimately many of us feel our fathers are acting in our best interests. Why then is it such a stretch for us to feel the God of the Universe is too? How many times have we heard our parents say, “You’ll understand when you grow up, but for now you are under my roof and you will do as I say.” It could easily be argued that we are “under God’s roof” and as so we are obliged to obey him and show him the same deference we show our fathers. God’s discipline is fair because it is tempered with love and understanding---it is never in short supply.
While like our earthly sojourn with our families, our spiritual lives are pock marked with difficult patches, there is one major difference. At the end of our lives our issues with our parents often remain unresolved, yet God promises us a final resolution when we come into his Kingdom. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:4) . We cannot always depend on having our parents or other loved ones around to soothe us, but we can depend on our eternal God.


Dear Heavenly Father, Please guide us to fully embrace your role as Father and our roles as sons and daughters in order to deepen our earthly relationship with you. Amen

Carol (NC)

Thursday
Jul072016

BROKEN PIECES

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 (NIV)


My pastor, a former missionary, shared with me an incident that happened when she and her husband served in Nicaragua. One morning as she was in the kitchen washing dishes while the children played in the living room, a loud crash resounded, followed by a whimper. With trepidation my pastor rushed into the living room to find her beautiful teapot, a special wedding gift, shattered on the floor. Sinking to her knees, she covered her face with her hands and wept. She realized it had been an accident, but no amount of glue could mend her precious teapot.
Fourteen years ago my life was shattered when my husband passed away suddenly. We had been married twenty-seven years, and my future seemed bleak without him. I struggled through each meaningless day, then a friend told me about a bereavement group for those who have lost a spouse. I attended all eight sessions, and gradually healing began. Also, I began a ministry of writing poetry to comfort hurting people. Unlike my pastor's teapot that could not be mended, God took the broken pieces of my heart and restored my life into something beautiful.


Thank you, Lord, for healing my broken heart. Amen.

Bonnie (Me)

Friday
Jul012016

Integrated In Jesus

"That They May Be One, Even As We Are One" John 17:11 NASB


Hopefully, after reading this prayer of Jesus, we gain the wisdom that He desires oneness for His disciples. Bonded relationships are at the heart of the life Almighty God desires for His children. Relationships are central to finding abundant life.

A major example of this truth is that warm relationships with our family members are more important than any amount of success or prosperity. What do we have without family and, what is more important than being friends with our individual family members?

These relationships grow from the seeds of experience, both good and bad. Neglect, trauma etc. can cause a relationship to lose the ability to grow unless the frozen ground of a winter of neglect is allowed to soften by the warmth of spring's warm rays and then new life can begin.

As we grow, we share more and become vulnerable with each other. Good loving family relationships are a process, not a static thing just because we are related. In a family, we should not only love each other, we should be friends. "A man who has friends should show himself friendly." (Prov. 18:24)

When we find Spirit directed loving relationships, we find a preview of Heaven where facts, figures and details will be swallowed by the presence of God, who is love. (I John 4:8)


Dear Father, please help us to live a life that is homogenized, not pasteurized. Bless us with the power that comes from being integrated into your Son's sufficiency. Give us oneness even as you are One. Thank You, In Jesus' name, Amen."

DR. Bob (AZ)