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Deaf people | Deaf 316 Ministries - Part 10

DESIRES OF THE HEART

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Studying scripture as a whole is crucial for gaining true Christ like wisdom. Christians often end up traveling down a dangerous road, extrapolating a verse and molding it to mean something it really does not mean. Digging deep into scripture allows for God to enlighten our mind to truly see in His word for what He really means. Psalm 37:4 is a popular example. As a society, this verse is often misinterpreted to mean, “if I do good, good will come to me.” Nowhere in scripture does God promise this and it is certainly not the intended meaning for verse 4 either.

Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” According to Webster’s Dictionary, it defines “delight” as “a high degree of pleasure.” Essentially, live with the delight, pleasure or joy of the Lord at all times.

A true redeemed believer’s goal is to passionately know God, for who He is as the One True Creator God, for the sole purpose of delighting in Him. When we know God, His desires become our own desires. It may seem at that point we are getting what we want, but we are actually receiving what God has intended for us all along because we are walking in unison. Our hearts begin to beat to the same desires.

Pastor John Piper helps us understand this verse even better. He says, “When we enjoy God himself, the desires of our heart are shaped in accord with our delight in him.”

Then our dreams, goals and heart felt desires never oppose God’s desired plans for us. Actions of immortality are not of God and therefore not what He desires for you. Sin, remember is what causes separation between us and God until we come to the saving knowledge of what was done through His Son Jesus. By doing things apart from what scripture teaches us, even if we like it, is never God’s design for us.

Now that we have a clear understanding of what it means to delight in God, how can it be implemented in our lives day to day? First, you must establish a relationship with God. If you have not put your faith in Christ fully by asking forgiveness over your sins and deciding to follow Him, that must be your first step. It is only then can we look at how to actively delight in the Lord.

One of the biggest perks to becoming a believer in Christ is the way your mind begins to work. God begins to show you things you could not comprehend before. Learning His qualities and seeing His nature through one on one time with Him is not only essential, but exciting! The more we acquire knowledge through His word the more we see His divine nature in the Person of God.
Secondly, God is personal and intimate. He is not only ruler of the universe, but our Savior and dearest friend. We need to have both reverence for His high standing and confidence in building a friendship with Him.

Finally, we delight in God when we worship. One thing I love is the beauty of the ocean. I love to look at it and swim above and below it. When I am away from it, I long for it. (I could say the same about the Lord). When I got certified to SCUBA dive with my husband, I remember our first trip out sixty feet underwater. I was stunned by the beauty. The colorful coral reefs and varieties of fish. I was in constant awe thinking, “God you are amazing!” What we experience in the naturalness of His creation, He created it all for our enjoyment. He designed beautiful landscapes and creatures for us to be overwhelmed with thanksgiving, being led to worship Him.

Psalms 150 says, “Let everything that has breathe praise the lord.”

The Testimony of Jesus

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Jesus Christ has the ultimate testimony. The tendency to put Jesus in the category of the human testimony is interesting because He is both God and man. It is impossible for us to know everything which occurred during His human existence, but as we study Him it quickly becomes obvious what we can gain from His time on earth.

Jesus was God incarnate. This means God made Himself flesh and walked among us as a man. Although He was fully man, He was also fully God. His testimony gives us hope and is paramount in understanding our own.

The birth, life and death of Jesus Christ was revealed through hundreds of biblical prophecies recorded long before He was born. Here are just a few:

BIRTH:

Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

LIFE:

Zechariah 9:9

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

DEATH:

Isaiah 53:5

“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.”

Even though the prophecies recorded were abundant and very clear, many doubted He truly was the Christ. Others firmly believed in His arrival.

Mary and Joseph were seen in God’s eyes as righteous and were chosen to be earthly parents to Jesus. On two separate occasions, Mary and Joseph were visited by Angels who foretold what would take place. (See Matthew 1)

After His birth, Wise Men traveled to visit and worship Him. Still others, like King Herod, sought to seek Him out to kill Him.

The only glimpse we have of Jesus in scripture before His adult ministry was when He was about twelve years old. He traveled to Jerusalem with His parents and for the Feast of the Passover they unknowingly left Him behind. After several days of traveling back and forth, Mary and Joseph finally found Him in the temple sitting among the Teachers. They were fully enthralled at His teaching and even astounded by His understanding and answers. (See Luke 2:41-52) After a reprimand from mom and dad expressing their worry and searching, Jesus’ reply is almost comical. “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)

As Jesus began His adult ministry, I want to point out a few key characteristics that strike me as phenomenal. I believe them to be paramount in understanding what He exemplified while on earth.

Jesus was a Selfless Servant:
He gave up His seat at the right hand of God. (Philippians 2:7)
He let John the Baptist, baptize Him. (Matthew 3:14)
He washed the disciple’s feet (John 13:1-20)
He forgave countless sinners (Luke 7:48, Acts 16:31)

Jesus was Sinless:
Satan’s temptation (Matthew 4)
He willingly went to the cross (Mark 10:45)
He was perfect (Matthew 5:45)

Jesus was Relational
Chose the disciples (John 1:35-51)
He taught crowds (Matthew 5-7)
Jesus preformed miracles (John 6)

Jesus was Mistreated
He was subjected to ruthless physical abuse (John 19:1-7)
He was mocked and faced rejection (John 18:39-40, Mark 15:29-32)

Jesus was Obedient
He came to die. (John 19:16-30)

He. Came. To. Die.

Yes, He did incredible things and spoke with mind numbing righteous conviction while on earth, but the ultimate purpose for His coming to us was His own physical death. Physical Death, so He could take my dirt and wipe it on Himself and in doing so breathe into me Spiritual Life. The fullness of death is not something anyone has undergone and survived, except Jesus. It is because of Jesus, when our physical life ends, if we have been redeemed, we will glory with Christ in our eternal life.

Jesus led (John 16:33), called (Matthew 4:18-22), befriended (John 13:23), taught (John 13:1-17, Matthew 5-7), healed (John 11), and sacrificed (John 19). He was fully God and fully man. He experienced acceptance, rejection, joy, emotional pain, physical pain and death. He walked on this earth like us, so when it came time for Him to die on the cross, His testimony would prove His true desire to be connected to us. He was willing to experience all the same earthly trials we do because of sin, except He did them without sinning. This gave us a perfect example to follow in hopes that our lives could have less sin once we decide to seek after Him.

He is Jesus. He is the Son of God. He is our Savior, friend, healer and redeemer. He is what we should aspire to be like.

A True Friend in Jesus

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I am honored this week to share another powerful devotional written by my friend Jeff Braunns. Jeff, thank you for seeking the Father’s guidance on what to share with others to help them grow closer to Christ. ~Lindsey

Devotional Author: Jeff Braunns
ASL translation provided by: Lindsey Berger

As you grow and mature in your faith you will find that the worldly things you use to find joy in will leave you.
You will start to see what is truly right from wrong. God will open your eyes and let you see the way this world is. You will no longer have the desire to live like you did. Don’t get me wrong. You will be tempted! Even Jesus was tempted.

Micah 6:8
“He has told you O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
When you come to know Christ and really start to follow what God has for you, people will notice.
At some point in your new life you may have to make hard decisions with the people you call your “friends.”

1 Peter 4:4
“They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, and wild living, and they will heap abuse on you.”
It’s hard to turn from the world. For many years you found so much comfort, and fun in it. The world fills you with that “feel good” feeling.
However, when you’re all alone and your “friends” all have left, you see this world for what it truly is!
Sacrifice is part of being a Christian. Following God, you will sacrifice much daily. Your body will start to get tired and you will feel like it would be a lot easier if you just gave in and just went back to the way things used to be!

It is easier to do that. I don’t know a true follower of Christ that wouldn’t tell you different.
Remember, you have found a new friend in Christ. God will bring great and wise people into your life that you can call a true friend.
Don’t ever feel alone when you are walking the path of Christ!

The Grip Strength of God

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To succeed in this Christian life, we must be tethered to our Heavenly Father’s side. Many of us claim Christ but live like the world. Recently, I asked myself this question, “If there was documented footage of your daily interactions with others, your habits and your internal thoughts, would your life point others to Christ?” I want you to ask yourself the same. Unfortunately, I could easily answer this question in complete honesty. It led me to a low place covered in embarrassment over how I allow my flesh to lead me at times.

Fortunately for those of us who are believers, we have an extremely loving God that desires relational intimacy with His sons and daughters who come after Him. In my shame, the Lord lead me to a quiet place to communicate with Him my faults, my fears and my current failings. I did not feel chastised, but rather, I felt a flood of His love and forgiveness.

In Philippians 1:6, Paul tells us:

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

God does not draw us to Himself for the purpose of abandonment. If you have accepted Christ and repented of your sins, your heart is no longer dead but alive. Christ has washed you white as snow.

Often, we give up on ourselves and we should for good reason. As people, we cannot be trusted, without Jesus, we will always be sinful. Temptation leads us to be swayed by the lies of the world and sometimes it can be easy to buy in. We trust the world to know our heart and judge us for our shortcomings, rather than looking inward to the one that lives inside us by trusting His perfect promises.

We accept this personal defeat and follow the lies Satan has shouted at us. We become bombarded, tempted to look for joy in other things. We wonder why we feel unfulfilled, sad and alone. TOO OFTEN we let Satan win. BUT WHY? What would happen if instead, we looked to heaven and asked God for rescue through His mighty power? What would happen if we used our knowledge of scripture to speak truth over the lies? We would push back the darkness. We would joyfully embrace our identity with confidence because of the One who created us and set us free. We would truly love God above all else.

R.C. Sproul said it best; “I like to look at it this way: I’m walking the Christian life with my hand in God’s hand. If my perseverance depended upon my holding tightly to God’s hand, I would surely fall away because at some point I would let go. But I believe that the Scriptures teach us that God is holding my hand, and because he is holding my hand, I don’t have to fear that I will fall ultimately and finally.”

Persecution

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When you give your life to Christ, Satan, who you formerly served in your life apart from God, becomes consumed with thwarting your plans to remain free from sin. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways and when you are targeted because of your faith in Christ, you can experience persecution. Every Christian at some point in their walk with God will experience persecution. If you are not experiencing it now, you will eventually. If you are experiencing it now, stay positive, hope has come for you already.

A lot of us think persecution is strictly for those who are in heavily populated areas of other religiously fruitful locations. Christians in the Middle East or Christians in China. Christians in America are targeted today like never before. This American culture we live in is evil. Persecution impedes on our human liberties on a daily basis. We are bombarded from every angle, backed into a corner to support ideals that spit in the face of everything our Jesus stands against.

Plenty of people in scripture felt the oppression of persecution in their day. Let’s look at a few examples.

The first example I want to mention in scripture is a man named Stephen. In Acts 8, Stephen is martyred for his faith in Christ. Saul of Tarsus, persecutor of Christians blinded on the road to Damascus, is believed to be responsible for the stoning of Stephen.

Acts 7:54-60 says, “Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

Of course we know Saul of Tarsus was redeemed on the Damascus road in Acts 9 and given the new name we know him lovingly by in the New Testament, Paul. He suffered immense persecution for the sake of the Gospel. He recounts his struggles in 2 Corinthians 11: 24-28 and says, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”

Aside from all of this, Paul is believed to have been beheaded by sword after his last imprisonment for his faith.

Another amazing example is John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a cousin to Jesus and a great man of faith. In the first chapter of John he was baptizing men who came to him at the Jordan river. Many thought he was a prophet and he confirmed he was merely set to prepare the way for the true Messiah soon to be appearing to them, Jesus. He devoted his life to serving Christ and sharing of His miraculous works.

In Matthew 14, John the Baptist is thrown into prison after angering Herod the Tetrarch. Herod had a brother named Philip. Philip’s wife was Herodias. Herod wanted Herodias for himself, so he divorced his wife and Herodias divorced Philip. John was vocal about this union being unlawful, so because of his outcry, he was put in prison. Later on, the daughter of Herodias danced for Herod at his birthday celebration. He promised her that whatever she wanted would be hers for her lovely display of affection.

Matthew 14:8 says, “Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘give me the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.”

Jesus said in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” We want the world to like us, but the choices we make to follow Christ will always put us in opposition with the world.

Peter said in 1 Peter 4:13-14, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

I LOVE the power of this verse. If you are insulted, it is because the Spirit of glory rests upon you. When you face trials, persecutions and rejections from this world because of your faith in Christ, do not be dismayed but rejoice. This means the worlds sees Christ in you and because of that they shudder. They do not want to change so they will attack you because you expose their evil. Christ is always fighting on your side and the great heroes of the faith have shared in your same feelings. When you are rejected or cast aside remember God is glorified by your commitment to your faith.

Joseph’s Heart to Follow God

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Joseph’s Heart to Follow God
Devotional Author: Jeff Braunns
ASL Translation provided by: Lindsey Berger

Remember the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors? What a great story. It can be found in Genesis 37-50. I truly encourage you to read the entire story. If you read the whole story you will find that Joseph always found favor with God, but many people were jealous of him. Joseph was very obedient to God. Joseph’s brothers hated him and they were filled with jealousy because he also had great favor from his father. His brothers would eventually throw him into a pit and then sell him into slavery, but even then, he remained obedient to God. Joseph was blessed by God in everything he did.

 

Genesis 39:5
“From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field.”

God will bless you in everything you do, but you must first remain obedient and trust Him. Being obedient to God is not easy. It will get harder the more you learn to trust and rely on Him.  Joseph never wavered in his trust and obedience to God. He was tempted by his master’s wife to sleep with her many times, but he remained strong in his faith with God. Joseph was thrown in prison because he would not sleep with his master’s wife and she lied to have him put there. Joseph eventually got out of prison and became a very powerful man in Egypt.
God wants to bless you and do great things for you, but bad behavior is not rewarded. We’re God’s children and although He does love us very much, jealous people like Joseph’s brothers will not find themselves in favor with God.  Here is another great verse to remind us of people who are like Joseph’s brothers.

2 Timothy 3:2
“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy.”
Even people who didn’t know God could see how much God blessed Joseph with wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Throughout Joseph’s story we see something God gave him, the great gift of being able to interpret dreams. This is what helped Joseph be freed from prison.

 

Genesis 41:38
“And Pharaoh said to all his servants, ‘can we not find a man like this, in whom is the spirit of God?’”
Pharaoh saw that the gift Joseph had was from God. As Christians we are called by God to stand out from the world. The bible tells us to live in this world, but not to be a part of it. Jealousy can tear down even the strongest of people! Jealousy is of this world and has no place in the life of a Christian. That’s why we as Christians must be obedient to God and listen to what the bible has to teach us.

A Model of Forgiveness

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Stephen: A Model of Forgiveness

I am amazed at what technology can do. Not long ago, thanks to Instagram, I met Jeff. Jeff was born hearing, but has since lost hearing in both of his ears and is learning to rely on ASL for communication.

I look forward to him sharing his story very soon about the amazing things God has done since beginning the path of learning ASL and seeing God’s broken heart for the deaf. Jeff reached out to me and shared how he felt the pressing of the Lord to write a devotional for us!

I am SO thrilled to introduce him today as this week’s devotional writer! I hope and pray that the words God gave Jeff to share with us come alive to you and prick your heart to live out your faith. I am humbled at the beauty in the cross of Christ and how God can use total strangers to stand beside this ministry by joining in His Kingdom work through our time and talents. Many thanks Jeff!

Contributing Devotional Author: Jeff Braunns
ASL Translation: Lindsey Berger

Jeff:
“Hello! My name is Jeff. I am so excited to share the love that Jesus has with everyone! Thank you, bye!”

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Acts! In Acts you see the disciples doing many works and wonders in God’s name. The word spread and the number of disciples continued growing!

Acts 6:7
“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

In Acts 6 the Bible tells us about a man named Stephen. Stephen was a man full of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 6:8
“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. “

Some people from the Synagogue of the Freedmen started to argue with Stephen, but God had blessed him with great wisdom and they could not stand against what God had blessed him with. In fact, they were so angry with Stephen that they persuaded some men to lie about what he had said. They seized Stephen and took him before the Elders. Stephen spoke the truth before the members of the Sanhedrin.

The Bible say in Acts 7:54, “When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.”

Stephen was stoned to death for speaking the truth about what God had done!

The part of Stephens’s story that has remained with me through the years is this passage:

Acts 7:55-60
“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”

WOW! Stephen was so full of God’s love and The Holy Spirit, that even when he was being stoned to death he asked God to forgive them!

Stephen’s story touches my heart. He was just a man, but he was so filled with the love of Christ that he was able to forgive the very men that killed him!
Many people are not able to feel the true love Christ has to give because they are so filled with hate.

Forgiving someone that has wronged you is one of the hardest things to do while you are on this earth. Giving forgiveness is one of the biggest ways to show what God’s true love really is. Just by forgiving someone you are being “like Christ” (a Christian).
If the Son of man is able to give us love, and forgiveness to all of us who are sinners,
we can do the same.