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We hope you benefit from the devotions below.  Please check back often as they are updated regularly!

Author: CBF Personnel/Partner Created: 12/18/2007 1:43 PM
Devotions from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Internationals Center



"Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt." – Exodus 23:9

The reality of the world today is that every effort is made to divide and separate the peoples of the world. Governments and countries are most concerned about grasping hard to what is theirs and excluding all others. This is normal. The natural man, in the flesh, desires to do this. The spiritual man, in the Spirit, wants with all of his heart to emulate the Lord Jesus – loving all those around him, including them without bias, and responding to their spiritual and physical needs. Satan has used every means at his disposal to plant the seeds of hatred, racism, exclusion, and pride in our hearts. The politics of today are easily fit for his uses. These politics lead us to want to disparage and alienate the ones who are “different.” There must...

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And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.—Romans 5:5 I am convinced that the Lord Jesus was the most human and at the same time most divine creation of the Father. As a human being He experienced all of the emotions possible. Among those is a sense of humor. As I picture my Christ I see Him laughing with the best of them. Confident of who He was and whose He was He was able to completely express Himself. In the same way our refugee/migrant family often expresses itself. Sure of their faith and confident in their Lord that He is preparing a place for them, the refugees/migrants are able to be some of the most “real” people I have ever met. There is neither room nor time for pretense or for taking yourself too seriously. They are wonderful story tellers and many times we simply laugh together...

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"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win." – 1 Cor. 9:24

Every day we are encouraged and inspired by the faith of the refugees/migrants. They have come through the fires of persecution and hardship on their journey and arrive in a place of persecution and hardship. The apostle Paul (Romans 2:7) tells us that those who persevere shall be saved. Truly our refugee/migrant family has and is persevering in the midst of some of the most intense suffering this world has to offer. Could I do what they have done and are doing? Could I finish the race? I don’t think so. They live their faith every day. Many of us express our faith on Sundays and perhaps, in the most difficult crises, look to the Lord. Our Sub-Saharan friends cling to Him and to their faith every instant of their lives. True, real faith is alive and vibrant. That...

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"'They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'" – Revelation 7:16-17

One of the greatest challenges we face in our ministry is to offer hope to the hopeless. The Sub-Saharan refugees/migrants in North Africa have suffered incredibly on their journey and arrive in a place where they are not wanted and often mistreated. They cannot go forward into Europe because of the barriers before them and they cannot go back (through the Saharan desert where 1/3 of them have died coming). They cannot work to support themselves and their families. They are without hope. Where can they turn? Every day we listen to and respond to the tragedies of our brothers and sisters from Africa. They show us their wounds, express...

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"Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go from your country and your father's house to the land that I will show you." (Genesis 12:1) Since the beginning of time people have migrated – looking for a better place to live, a place of peace, a place where they could feed and raise their families. Migration is a basic human right. Sadly, the modern world does not see things that way. Man has placed political and physical barriers to this natural movement of peoples. As we study the Bible, we see many examples of “migrants” and “refugees.” Abraham was commanded by God to wander the land until He told him to stop and establish his people (Genesis 12–13). The times and travels of Abraham were difficult and dangerous but God was with him all of the way. He and his family suffered racism, violence and abuse at the hands of many he encountered.

The Lord Jesus (in the Gospels) was also a refugee – forced to leave His country, sheltered and protected by His parents on His travels. As He started His ministry, He was chased...

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The expert in the law who was thinking to test Jesus on the nuances of eternal life probably didn’t think that he’d be asking Jesus that question. I’m not sure the expert was ready for Jesus’ answer. 

 

For days now, I’ve been reflecting on the Good Samaritan parable (Luke 10:25-37, NIV).

 

Today I’m realizing how hard and vast a teaching it is: how are we able to “do” mercy – love our neighbour – if we aren’t or can’t be merciful with ourselves? And being merciful with ourselves – loving ourselves rightly, only happens in and out of the context of loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and might. It happens when we connect with His divine mercy and unknowable love. It happens in worship.

 

But if this is so (and it is), I wonder how easy, or hard, it was for the priest and Levite (lead worshippers of their day) to pass by the wounded man. How could they? I confess that it’s easy for me to pass by. I’d rather pray than put out – money, a meal, my time.

 

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Luke 21:1-4

“As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”

 

      In 1995, I lived in Bogota, Colombia, in South America and had the great privilege of serving in a ministry to street children. This ministry had three phases; a center in the heart of the city where the children could come off of the street for the first time, a home and school in the city, and a farm outside of the city. The entire ministry had a yearly budget of $8000 a year. A street child could go to school and have a warm meal for about $1.25 a day. When they did not receive enough money to meet their budget things had to go undone. The teachers at the school literally taught for love, as many times their salary was delayed for months and they would simply go on teaching each day.

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   When I lived in Bogota, Colombia, in South America I was involved with a ministry to street children. The center in the part of the city that reached out to the children directly off of the street was called “El Camino Real” – the real way.



            When I lived in Fissel, Senegal, in West Africa I worked with the Sereer people. The few Sereer Christians referred to Christianity as simply following the “Jesus Way.”

As we were leaving the field in Africa to return to America, a coworker said goodbye at the airport by thanking us for being “Jesus followers.”

 

When Jesus asked the disciples to follow him they left their nets immediately and followed him.

He wants us to follow him in everything he asks us to do.

 

Matthew 4:18-22 “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting...

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John 10:10b “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” 

 

I am convinced that the way to this full life that Jesus talks about is found in absolute surrender of our lives to him. As we come to the point in our lives when we can say that we will do whatever God calls us to do, and go wherever he calls us to go, we begin the journey to abundant life. It may not be the life that we had planned for ourselves, but it will be God’s plan for us.

 

Before Jesus was born, his mother Mary said these words revealing a commitment of absolute surrender to the Lord.

Luke 1:38 “’I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’…” NIV

 

Jesus said in Luke 24:26, 27, and 33, “If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And you cannot be my disciple if you do not carry your own cross and follow me. So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.” NLT

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Have you ever felt out of place? I don’t mean just the uncomfortable feeling you get when you are underdressed for a church function. What I mean is, have you ever walked into a room and everyone looks at you like you are carrying some incurables diseases or they immediately think of you as a thief. People give you a wide berth and mothers pull their children away from you and you overhear them saying “don’t stare”? 

 

In some instances, this is the reaction immigrants in your community  receive when they visit local establishments, possibly including your church. Living overseas has caused me to be more sensitive to the lives of immigrants. After all, my family and I are immigrants to the country for which we serve.

 

Next time you see someone who does not look like you, speak like you,  smell like you, dress like you, believe like you; please remember the biblical story  of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and cross the space between you and  to offer your help or just your friendship. them

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