Are You Up For Swimming?
By: Alex Slobodyanik
Authenticity Jesus tells us that we better be serious about our daily conduct. If you live an authentic Christian life, you will do good—not only for yourself, but for those around you as well. Especially for those who have a childlike faith and look up to you as if you were Jesus. However, if you live a double life and one of these “little ones” sees you being fake, and this causes him to stumble, you better be training to swim with a heavy millstone hung around your neck! An alternative solution would be to stop being fake. Is there something that you need to change today? Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! (Matthew 18:6-7, NASB)
Jesus tells us that we better be serious about our daily conduct. If you live an authentic Christian life, you will do good—not only for yourself, but for those around you as well. Especially for those who have a childlike faith and look up to you as if you were Jesus.
However, if you live a double life and one of these “little ones” sees you being fake, and this causes him to stumble, you better be training to swim with a heavy millstone hung around your neck!
An alternative solution would be to stop being fake. Is there something that you need to change today?
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! (Matthew 18:6-7, NASB)
Does Your Coping Strategy Need An Upgrade?
By: Inessa Deshkina
What strategy do you use to cope with terrifying news? How is that strategy working for you? What success do you achieve with your strategy?
As a human being, Jesus heard and reacted to terrifying news, just like all humans do. In one particular situation, Matthew shares that when Jesus heard about John (that he was beheaded in prison), He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself (Matthew 14:13). What He did while he was secluded, we don’t know.
The biggest shock for me is Jesus’ reaction when He came to shore. Matthew wrote:
“When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14).
After His retreat, Jesus was able to go right back to serving people. What about us? Can we go right back to serving others after we deal with terrifying news? If our strategy for coping with negative events isn’t resulting in spiritual growth, it may be time to change our strategy. We need to focus on our goal—our purpose here on earth, rather than surrendering ourselves to a tragic memory.
Show That Mercy
By: Liya Abramova
Be merciful, Jesus says. Those are not simple words you get to put aside for the convenient times. Mercy is not convenient. It is drastic, revolutionary, and radical. Mercy is unfair. Think on that for a moment.
So much of Jesus’ words in Luke 6 can be condensed to simply “be merciful.” Be merciful to your enemies, love them, do not judge, give to those who ask. Jesus does not leave it at that, He gives reasons. First, because “by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Second, because “your Father is merciful” –and surely we should be imitating our Father. Finally, Jesus says, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”—we have no choice, if we are to call Him ‘Lord’.
You’ll have a chance to practice this soon, I’m sure. Someone will forget to do what they’ve said; someone will keep you waiting, or ask you for something that really ought to be their job. Look at it as an opportunity to demonstrate mercy, as God has done for you.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)
Sir, Why Are You Speeding?
By: Mark Alyabyev
I’ve been wrong before. When I saw police lights in my rear-view mirror and the officer coming to my window, I wasn’t happy. I was upset at the officer for pulling me over, but I wasn’t upset at myself for breaking traffic law.
The king of Israel, Asa, became enraged at the prophet when the prophet told the king his actions were wrong. He even put the prophet into jail to be tortured. Asa didn’t receive the word of God, but instead became angry at the messenger of God. Do you have a “messenger of God” whose message you ignore because you don’t like what they are saying?
What if God is trying to tell you to correct some area of your life through your parents, friends, or other Christians? Do you have a budget? Do you tithe? How are you spending your time? Do you talk too much? Will a pinch of humility do wonders for you? Don’t belittle the messenger just because you don’t like the message or the format. Just maybe—there’s something you need to know.
Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time.
(2 Chronicles 16:10)
By: Denis Toderashko
Assimilation is a slow process where a person or a group of people adopt the ways of another culture: fully becoming part of a different society, the country they moved to. It was one of the things that Moses and Joshua repeatedly warned the Israelites about before they entered the Promised Land. Assimilation strips old values and replaces them with new ones. Some of the prominent men of God took radical actions against this assimilation. Although they were not always popular, they were approved by God. Do you recognize the things/actions that are sinful or leading to sin? Or have you become comfortable with these? Do you recognize the people that God placed in your life to help you extract the things that harm you? Do you rebel against such people? By honestly answering these questions and taking action you can grow into a stronger person of God.
“In those days I also saw that the Jews had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. As for their children, half spoke in the language of Ashdod, and none of them was able to speak the language of Judah, but the language of his own people. So I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take of their daughters for your sons or for yourselves.”
(Nehemiah 13:23-25 NASB) Insight on Bible Reading: Ezra 7-10, Psalm 126, Nehemiah 1-13, Esther 6-10, Malachi
By: Alex Slobodyanik
Queen Vashti said “no” when King Xerxes requested her presence at the banquet. I could care less about what happens in the families of the celebrities. It’s their personal business. It’s just another family feud. Yet, King Xerxes’ counselors thought otherwise. They knew for sure that one bad example could spoil many good mannered people. “We don’t want a country of angry women who don’t know their place, do we?” was their response. And Queen Vashti had been permanently banned from the King’s presence.
Sometimes I may think that “my life is my personal business; let people look at Jesus, not at me.” However, God’s counsel for me is to be “LIGHT OF THE WHOLE WORLD.” What example have I recently set for the world around me?
The word is going to get out: “Did you hear the latest about Queen Vashti? King Xerxes ordered her to be brought before him and she wouldn’t do it” When the women hear it, they’ll start treating their husbands with contempt. The day the wives of the Persian and Mede officials get wind of the queen’s insolence, they’ll be out of control. Esther 1:17-18 (MSG)