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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



As I look at this view from our terrace, I often think of Psalm 125:2 “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”





As we live in a place where we often encounter many different religions including African Traditional Religion and Islam, I often find myself considering the difference between religion and relationship, and I am thankful that we have the awesome privilege of knowing God and having a personal relationship with Him through the precious gift of His Son our Savior. Christmastime is a wonderful time of year to be reminded of this gift and to be encouraged to strive each day to get to know Him better by spending time with Him. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6a).

In the book Keep a Quiet Heart, Elizabeth Elliot says, “For it is He–not His gifts, not His power,...

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For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. − Isaiah 9:6

Our co-worker, Dr. Robert (Bob) Newel, who serves in Athens Greece, has recently written a series of Advent sermons. In the first sermon he refers to the “African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’” He goes on to say that he would like to turn that saying around and look at it in a different way for the theme of his sermons: “It takes a child.”

"Indeed, the heavenly perspective, as revealed most keenly in the Bethlehem event, affirms the power of this reality. Advent and Christmas stand as stark reminders that ‘It takes a child’ to raise the hopes of humankind; ‘It takes a child’ to raise the awareness of a decimated and discouraged world of God's faithful compassion! ‘It takes a child’ to raise the desperately damaged vision of what each of us was intended to...

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In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’

‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’

The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.’

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[Jesus said] "I will be with you always, even until the end of the world." – Matthew 28:20b

Alleluia! Jesus accompanies us every step of our lives. He has walked beside our brothers and sisters refugees/migrants through all of the pain and suffering and continues to do so. He understands as no one else can because He has also experienced every human emotion and every human event (persecution, torture, insult, and, even death). He gets it. “Be not afraid” are His words in Matt.17:7 “for I am with you.” As civil war raged in the country of my brother, He was there. When the children of my brother were murdered He was there weeping and suffering with him. When many died in the desert because of lack of food and water, the Lord was there to accompany them into heaven where there is no more hunger or thirst. When my sister was beaten and raped, Jesus was there...

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"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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