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Strength for Today

Strength for Today is a daily devotional thought penned by Victor Knowles of Peace on Earth Ministries.

COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS

Victor Knowles - Sunday, December 15, 2013
COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS. "This is how the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:19 NLT). This is Matthew, correspondent for Eyewitness News, reporting from Nazareth.


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CONVERSION (18)

Victor Knowles - Tuesday, October 01, 2013

THE CONVERSION OF BLIND BARTIMAEUS. Jericho was the home of a blind man named Bartimaeus. He was sitting by the roadside doing the only thing he knew how to do -- begging -- when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was approaching. Evidently the fame of this Healer had preceded Him to Jericho because the blind man cried out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mark 10:47). The crowd rebuked him be he kept on shouting, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" (v. 48).Our merciful Lord asked for Bartimaeus. The mood of the crowd changed. "Cheer up! On your feet!" they said to the blind man. "He's calling you." He threw his ragged cloak aside, jumped to his feet, and approached Jesus. "What do you want me to do for you?" asked Jesus. The blind man replied, "Rabbi, I want to see." And Jesus said, "Go, your faith has healed you." Now notice what happened. "Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road" (v. 10). In one short visit everything changed for the blind man. He gained an audience with Jesus. He got to hear His voice. Jesus answered His question. He received his sight. And he followed Jesus along the road. What is it that you want from Jesus? What if Jesus asked you, "What is it that you want Me to do for you?" Would you know how to answer? What has He already done for you that you could not do for yourself? I think we all know the answer to that question. If you have received something good from from Jesus, continue to follow Him on the road that leads to life eternal. Go from being a blind beggar to a dedicated disciple. That's conversion. 




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CONVERSION (17)

Victor Knowles - Friday, September 27, 2013

THE CONVERSION OF A DESPERATE WOMAN. One day Jesus was approached by a woman who had been losing blood for twelve long years. The Voice says, "...bleeding that made her ritually unclean and an outcast according the purity laws" (Mark 5:25). The poor woman had suffered much under the crude doctors of the day and had gone through her life savings. But instead of getting better she had grown worse. When she heard that Jesus was in town she did a desperate thing. She came up behind Him in the crowd and touched the hem of His garment. She was thinking, "If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed." And she was! But Jesus felt power leaving His body and so He turned around and asked, "Who touched Me?" The disciples thought this was an odd question since a large crowd was jostling Jesus. But the woman came forward, trembling with fear, and confessed what she had done. I love the response of the Master: "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering" (v. 34). How desperate are you today? Desperate enough to reach out in faith to Jesus? I remember the words to an old song: "Let me touch Him! Let me touch Jesus!" And another: "He touched me! O, He touched me! And O the joy that fills my soul!" Whatever your need or situation, reach out in faith to Jesus today.




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CONVERSION (16)

Victor Knowles - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

THE CONVERSION OF THE MADMAN OF GADARA. My friend Joe R. Garman has written a tract called "The Terror of Gadara." He was a demon-possessed man who absolutely terrorized the region of Gadara. The Gadarene Demoniac. A wild mad who roamed the graveyard, scaring everyone half to death with his horrible shrieking and screaming. It was a hard day's night to get any sleep in Gadara. They tried to chain him but he always broke free. He was continually beating and bruising and cutting himself with stones. I doubt that mothers let their children play outside after sunset. Then Jesus came and all was changed. The poor man ran to Him and knelt before him. Jesus cast out the demons and they entered into a large herd of about 2,000 pigs, who rushed down a steep bank and drowned in the sea. Now notice the immediate effects of his dramatic conversion. Everyone could see the difference. "They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed by the legion, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind" (Mark 5:15). No longer naked. No longer restless. No longer out of his mind. This reminds me of the song, "What a wonderful change has been wrought in my life, since Jesus came into my heart!" He wanted to go with Jesus but the Lord told him, "Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you" (v. 19). All of Decapolis (10 cities in the region) were evangelized by this convert! "So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed" (v. 20). If the "Terror of Gadara" can be converted, there is hope for all!




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CONVERSION (15)

Victor Knowles - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

THE CONVERSION OF A CANAANITE WOMAN. About the last person you would expect to be converted was a Canaanite from the region of Tyre and Sidon (modern Lebanon). They were not believers in God, let alone Jesus Christ. But this woman had a daughter who was demon possessed and she cried urgently for Jesus to have mercy and do something. Jesus kept quiet but His disciples did not. "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us" (Matt. 15:23). When Jesus finally spoke, He said to the woman, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel" (v. 24). Did this deter her? No, it did not! Now "she came and kneeling, worshipped Him, and kept praying, 'Lord, help me!" (v. 25, Amplified N.T.). This time Jesus told her it was not right or proper to take children's bread and throw it to "little dogs" (v. 26, Amplified). She came right back with, "Yes Lord, yet even the little pups eat the crumbs that fall from their (young) masters' table" (v. 27, Amplified). Well, that did it. Jesus said, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour (v. 28). Don't you imagine that He smiled at her when He spoke these words? Her great faith produced great results. I don't imagine she ever forgot Jesus. I can't imagine Jesus ever forgetting her. 




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CONVERSION (14)

Victor Knowles - Monday, September 23, 2013

THE CONVERSIONS OF TWO CENTURIONS. A centurion was a Roman officer in charge of 100 soldiers. At least two centurions experienced conversion in their brief encounters with Christ. In Capernaum, a centurion came to Christ asking Him to help his servant. Jesus said He would be glad to to but the centurion said he was undeserving to have Jesus visit his home. "But just say the word and my servant will be healed" (Matt. 8:8). Jesus was astonished at his response and exclaimed, "I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith" (v. 10). The centurion's servant was healed that very hour and I would like to think that the centurion continued in his faith in Christ.

The second centurion who experienced a wonderful change in his heart was the one who presided over the crucifixion of Christ. This case hardened centurion witnessed the sufferings of Christ. No doubt he had seen many malefactors suffer, curse and die. But there was something different about this Man. He heard the seven sayings from the Cross. He saw how Jesus prayed that His Father would forgive those who had done this to Him. And when Jesus died the centurion and other Roman guards cried, "Surely he was the Son of God!" (Matt. 27:54). Novels and movies have been made about this centurion and again I would like to think that surely he continued in his faith in Christ. 




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CONVERSION (13)

Victor Knowles - Saturday, September 21, 2013

THE CONVERSION OF THE KING OF NINEVEH. This has to be one of the most remarkable accounts of conversion in all of Scripture. Nineveh was the greatest of the capitals of the Assyrian Empire that flourished from 800 to 612 B.C. A relief from the palace of Ashurbanipal shows Assyrian soldiers subjecting slaves to a series of horrible tortures. God sent a reluctant missionary, Jonah, to this wicked city. He preached that God would destroy their city in 40 days (Jonah 3:4) and I think he rather hoped that God would do just that! But the citizens of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and dressed in sackcloth -- a sign of their repentance (v. 5). When the King of Nineveh -- this pagan, cruel man Ashurbanipal -- heard about his, he did an amazing thing. "He got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes" (v. 6). Then he issued a royal decree that everyone "must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from the violence he is doing. God may turn and relent; He may turn from His burning anger so that we will not perish" (vs, 8, 9). And that is precisely what happened! Never underestimate the power of the Word of God! Jesus said, "The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah" (Matt. 12:41). God's Word is so powerful that it can penetrate and convert the heart of one of the cruelest kings in history. 




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CONVERSION (12)

Victor Knowles - Friday, September 20, 2013

THE CONVERSION OF DARIUS. There is an amazing array of world leaders who experienced a conversion in the Old Testament. We have looked at Manasseh, Cyrus, and Nebuchadnezzar. Today we will examine the conversion of Dairus the Mede. Some of his administrators who hated Daniel tricked the king into signing a law that forbade the praying to any god or man but Darius. They knew Daniel would be faithful to pray to his God. Sure enough, he was caught and brought before Darius, who really liked Daniel. But eventually he gave in to Daniel's enemies and had Daniel cast into a den of lions. But he said, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" (Dan. 6:16). Dairus had a bad night. He refused to eat, refused any entertainment, and could not sleep. Something was going on in his heart for sure. At the break of day he rushed to the lion's den and cried out in an anguished voice: "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from lions?" (v. 20). Daniel assured him that he was just fine. "My God has sent his angel, and he shut the mouth of the lions" (v. 21). As a result, the overjoyed king issued a directive in every language of his vast domain that everyone must fear and reverence the true God, the God of Daniel. "For he is the living God and he endure forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end" (v. 26). When you are converted, you will spread the good news about God and His kingdom everywhere you can!




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CONVERSION (11)

Victor Knowles - Sunday, September 15, 2013

THE CONVERSION OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR. Some people are converted the hard way. Such was the case with Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (modern Iraq). Daniel told him that some day he would eat grass like a cow. One year later the prophecy came true. King N. was filled with pride because of his accomplishments (some of his architectural achievements were listed among the seven wonders of the ancient world) and he bragged, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" (Dan. 4:30). While the words were still on his lips, God spoke from heaven and told him He was going to strip him of his power, drive him from the people, and that he, King N., would eat grass like a cow for seven years until he acknowledged that the Most High is sovereign (vs. 31-32.) King N. was basically insane for seven years.

Then something happened. At the end of seven years, his sanity was restored. "Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified Him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation" (v. 34). He went on to say, "Everything He does is right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble: (v. 37). This is one of the most remarkable cases of conversion in history. A proud monarch had been humbled and acknowledged that God alone was sovereign. Truly, "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases" (Prov. 21:1). 





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CONVERSION (10)

Victor Knowles - Saturday, September 14, 2013

THE CONVERSION OF CYRUS, KING OF PERSIA. Cyrus was the first Persian King to conquer Babylon. He was a pagan, and yet God used this highest-ranking man in Persia (modern Iran) in a mighty way. In his first year he did something that actually fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11, 12; 29:10-14. "The LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing" (Ezra 1:1), The unprecedented document was truly amazing. Cyrus said that "the God of heaven" had appointed him to build a temple for Him in Jerusalem!" (v. 2). Why would a pagan Persian king do something like that? Furthermore, he said that any of the Jewish captives could return  to Jerusalem and help build the new temple! Who wouldn't jump at an opportunity like that! Zerubbabel, a descendant of David, led the people back to Jerusalem, courtesy of Cyrus, a Persian king. God said of Cyrus, "He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, 'Let it be rebuilt,' and of the temple, 'Let its foundations be laid'" Isa. 44:28). He even calls Cyrus "His anointed, whose right hand I hold" (Isa. 45:1). You see, "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases" (Prov. 21:1). If God can change the heart of the king of Persia, He can change the heart of anyone. If God could work through Cyrus, He can work through you!




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