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Shepherd Daily Devotional – The Wise King

Written By Ben Dankaka

Meditation – Psalm 72:1

Each time, we go to God, we often pray for things we do not have. If we don’t have a house, we ask for one. If we don’t have a car, we ask for it. If we don’t have a job, we ask for a job. What we fail to realize is that God doesn’t give us things because we lack them. He gives us things because we need them. There’s a huge difference between the two. There are times, you can live without the things you lack or don’t have. But the things you need are often those things that are very important to you. So getting those things you need, can be more important than having the things you lack.

For instance, you may pray for a car that may not be necessary at a particular time. At that time, the car may simply be a lack and not a need. Later, the same car could become a need in your life, due to circumstances. So God can prioritize our prayer requests according to our needs. The prayer of Solomon is a good example. When God said to Solomon, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” In his reply, Solomon reminded God of his needs. He told God that he was a little child who didn’t know how to carry out his duties. He then said, “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.” God was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom, and not for long life or wealth. Because Solomon asked for what he urgently needed, God said, “I will do what you have asked.”

If God isn’t answering your prayers, don’t jump to conclusions, assuming it has to do with a sin or a family curse. You may be praying for the right thing at the wrong time. Perhaps, you are praying for what you shouldn’t be praying for at the moment. You might have left out what you need and have filled your prayer lists with those things that God knows are merely shortages and not needs. Maybe, God wants you to ask for something else. It could be that the only thing wrong with your prayer is bad timing.

However, if you are unsure and anxious about your prayer requests, you can always conclude your prayers with the words, “Let your will be done.” I learned this principle from Jesus when He prayed at the Mount of Olives, shortly before He was arrested. As long as you pray according to God’s will, be assured that God will certainly answer your prayer. God’s reply may not come at a time you expect. His reply may not even be what you were expecting, but be assured that God knows what’s best for you and He will surely come through, at the right time and in His own way.

Prayer: Lord, let your will be done. Amen.

REFERENCES/FURTHER STUDY: Psalm 72:1; 1King 3:9; Luke 22:42

Unless otherwise stated all scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version.

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Shepherd Daily Devotional – Calming the Storm

Written By Ben Dankaka

Meditation – Mark 4:38-39

Before Jesus began his ministry; His disciples were mostly skilled workers, hoping to spend their entire lives pursing their own dreams. Peter and Andrew were at the Sea of Galilee, fishing. James and John were with their father, running the family’s fishing business. Some of them had families they were devoted to. They had planned their lives, believing that they were on the right track. All of a sudden, Jesus showed up and asked them to give up their work so they could do what God preordained them to do. At first, they were fascinated with the idea of becoming important citizens of God’s Kingdom. These were ordinary men who didn’t think much of themselves. After witnessing His miracles, the disciples got excited and fully committed their lives to following Jesus, hoping to have a better life.

One day, Jesus said to them, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake”. Without questioning Him, they got into the boat and set out. As they began their journey, He fell asleep. Then a life-threatening storm came. The disciples were frightened and surprised at the same time. Here was a great storm, bad enough to take their lives. But Jesus lay quietly on the boat, sleeping! Couldn’t He hear the sound of the storm? In fear, they woke Him up.

Many of us have found ourselves in a similar situation. May be, at one time, you were doing something you thought was important to you. You loved doing it because you felt it was in line with your talents. Then Jesus came into your life and gave you a new insight. He showed you a different plan. To prove Himself, He did some miraculous things in your life. You believed, and decided to follow Him. But now you have found yourself in what seems like a life-threatening storm, capable of tearing your life apart.

Perhaps, you are that person who was told that if you give your life to Jesus, He would take away your problems. Instead of the promises, you have now found yourself in what seems like hell. Maybe, like the disciples, you are now surprised that while you are being confronted by storms, it seems as if God is sleeping. You know He is able, yet you have been disabled my challenges, right in His presence. I want you to know I have been through similar situations. From my personal experiences, I have learned that God allows storms in our lives so He can test and strengthen our faith. When Jesus rebuked the storm, He said to His disciples, “Where is your faith?” My dear friend, please don’t let the storm in your life, stop you from believing in what God told you. 

Prayer: Lord, strengthen me. Amen

REFERENCES/FURTHER STUDY: Mark 4:38-39

Unless otherwise stated all scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version.

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Shepherd Daily Devotional – Back to the Owner

Written By Ben Dankaka

Meditation – Luke 14:27

One of the most frequently asked questions in Christianity is, “have you given your life to Christ?” This may seem like an easy question to answer because when we profess our faith in Jesus, it is presumed we have given our lives to Jesus. But the idea of giving our lives to Christ is much more than that. The truth is; when we give our lives to Christ, He becomes our Lord. Now the word, “Lord” means Master. It also means Owner. So when we truly accept Jesus as our Lord, He becomes our Master and Owner.

As your Master, Jesus takes responsibility for everything that goes on in your life. Therefore, to accept Jesus, does not only involve a declaration of our faith in Him. True acceptance happens when we follow Jesus. You might have noticed that Jesus often used the words, “follow me” as He was selecting His disciples. He made it clear that the cost of discipleship had to do with following Him. On one occasion, He said to the crowd, “anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple”.

There’s a reason why Jesus insists that we “follow” Him. For Jesus to act as our Lord, we are required to stop following any other person, including ourselves. When Jesus becomes your Master, you are not permitted to have any other Master, except Him. Jesus expects us to “follow him” because He is the good Shepherd and every good Shepherd is followed by his sheep. When Jesus becomes our Shepherd, we automatically become His sheep. That way, we can recognize His voice when He speaks to us. You see, Jesus isn’t trying to take away the life He gave you; He wants to “save” it by helping you refine it. I know this, because that was what He did when the disciples followed Him. Jesus refined the lives of His disciples. He turned fishermen into fishers of men. He turned a tax collector into an author, whose book has impacted billions of people. He turned a killer to a life saver. Yes, when you follow Jesus, He refines your life.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, be my Lord. Amen.

REFERENCES/FURTHER STUDY: Luke 14:27

Unless otherwise stated all scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version.

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Shepherd Daily Devotional – The Big Picture

Written By Ben Dankaka

Meditation – Acts 16:25-36

Just about midnight, Paul and Silas were worshiping God in the prison. Suddenly, a violent earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. God’s power was so great that it flew open the prison doors and everyone’s chains fell. When the prison officer saw the prison doors open, he tried to end his life, thinking the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jail officer rushed in and fell before Paul and Silas, begging to be saved.

One interesting thing about this story is the way Paul and Silas stayed faithful to their cause in the midst of a crisis that almost claimed their lives. While evangelizing, these men were unjustly arrested and put in prison. However, a miracle happened and they became free. The normal thing to do was to rush out of the prison cell, assuming that God had done His own part; therefore, they should play their own role by running out. Instead, they ignored the freedom and stayed focused on the big picture, taking advantage of the opportunity it gave them to gain new converts. They acted as if their freedom wasn’t as urgent as the task of winning more souls to Christ. Clearly, Paul and Silas knew that even if they escaped from the prison they would continue their job of preaching. And since the miracle had created an atmosphere for evangelizing; they stayed, sacrificing their freedom. In the end, their patience paid off as they were released by the magistrates, the next day.

David found himself in a similar situation when he miraculously got the chance to kill Saul. His associate, Abishai said to him, “Today, God has delivered your enemy into your hands…”But David declined, preferring to spare Saul’s life. By doing so, he forfeited the freedom he would have had at that time. However, David’s actions reveal, he was more interested in the big picture. After a while, God’s initial promise to him came to pass as he became a king without having Saul’s blood on his hands. When you are trying to fulfill your purpose, you would meet temporary setbacks that will come together with speedy solutions. A quick solution might come to you in form of a juicy job offer. It might also come as a counsel that appears to be sensible. You may be given answers that are good, but not right. The solutions might be a test or a temptation capable of getting you off track. But when you stay focused on the big picture, you will be able to avoid mistakes.

Prayer: Lord, help me keep my eyes on the big picture. Amen.

REFERENCES/FURTHER STUDY: Acts 16:25-36; 1 Samuel 26:1-10

Unless otherwise stated all scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version.

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Shepherd Daily Devotional – Giving God Back

Written By Ben Dankaka

Meditation – Psalm 25:4-5

Some years ago when I was going through some setbacks in my business, I closed from work, one day, feeling terribly bad because I couldn’t figure out why I was failing. On my way home, I got some biscuits for my two kids. As soon as I entered the house, they both welcomed me and immediately snatched the biscuits. But as I was about to relax on the couch, my daughter – the younger one, gave me back the biscuits and asked me to open it for her. I quickly did. Meanwhile, I noticed my older child still struggling to open his own biscuits. When he suddenly realized his younger sister had begun to eat hers, he hurried back to me and cried out, “Daddy, help me!” I laughed and opened his biscuits.

But as I sat down, it dawned on me that I had been acting like my son. Just as I gave my son a gift, God had given me a gift. Like my son did, I got my gift from God but decided to use it without His help. In other words, I was trying to run my business without God’s support. I realized that I should have acted like my little girl who gave me back the gift I gave her, so I could help her unwrap it. And like my son eventually did, I decided to return to God and ask Him to help me make use of the very gift he had given me. That revelation was a major turning point in my career.

Many of us think God isn’t interested in our careers. We think we can do everything without His guidance. We fail to realize that God is also a teacher, who wants to teach and show us how to make the best use of the gifts He has given us. We can depend on Him because He knows everything. Why shouldn’t He know everything when He is the one who created everything? David knew this when he cried out, “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths;”. God’s way may be different from the path you are taking right now.

But when you go to Him for help, God will show you how to follow His path with the gift He has given you. Perhaps, you are going through challenges while working on your gift. I want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with your natural gift. But you may be using it along the wrong path. It’s never too late to go back to God and ask for help. If I didn’t condemn my kid for thinking he could open his biscuits without my help, God, who is holier than any man wouldn’t condemn you also. Instead, He would gladly show you the right way to go.

Prayer: Lord, show me your ways. Amen.

REFERENCES/FURTHER STUDY: Psalm 25:4-5

Unless otherwise stated all scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version.

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Shepherd Daily Devotional – What God Wants

Written By Ben Dankaka

Meditation – Acts 16:6-10

Most times, when we pray to God, our words are filled with requests, asking God to fulfill all our heart desires. Because we think prayer is a one way conversation, we often don’t expect God to respond or to tell us what He feels about our requests. So the moment we say our requests, we quickly end our prayers and move on to other things, hoping that God will quietly accept and do our bidding.  We are so engrossed with thoughts of what we want from God, that we frequently forget that God also has thoughts of his own, which might be different from ours.

One of the reasons why many Christians don’t ever have any experience of hearing God’s voice is because they don’t expect Him to speak. They think that God’s role, when it comes to prayers is to quietly accept our requests and do our bidding. Many Christians aren’t aware that God has plans for each of His children. In fact, God does not only have plans for us, He shares His plans with us. If you know that, you would naturally expect God to speak to you when you pray.

When the priests and elders of Judah were exiled to Babylon during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, they thought that God had abandoned them forever. But Jeremiah, who knew how to hear from God, sent a letter to the people, informing them of what the LORD told him. God said to them, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…” Isn’t comforting to know that our God does not only have great plans for us, but also reveals does plans? Knowing God’s plans for us is important because His plans often override ours.

The Bible says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails”. Sometimes, God halts or disrupts our plans so we could accomplish His own purposes. It happened to Paul and his companions when the Holy Spirit prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia. Though they had planned to enter Bithynia, the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. Obviously, God had a different plan from theirs because it was almost immediately that Paul had a vision of a man begging him to come over to Macedonia. So they immediately left for Macedonia, believing it was God’s plan for them. I don’t know what you are going through right now. Maybe, there’s something you are trying to do and your prayers aren’t answered. Don’t feel abandoned. God might have a different plan that will surely prosper you in the end.

Prayer: Lord, let your will be done. Amen.

REFERENCES/FURTHER STUDY: Jeremiah 29:11; Proverbs 19:21; Acts 16:6-10

Unless otherwise stated all scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version.

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Shepherd Daily Devotional – Becoming Fruitful

Becoming Fruitful

Written By Ben Dankaka

Meditation – Genesis 1:26

Those who are close to me know that I love fruit trees, not only for their richness but for their ability to teach us an important lesson on purpose. Like every other thing that God created, fruit trees are endowed with gifts. The gifts of a fruit tree can be its seed, roots, branches and leaves. Through these gifts, the fruit tree produces fruits for the benefit of others.

The fruit tree does not eat its own fruit. Instead, it produces a fruit and serves the world with it. By producing a fruit, it enables humans earn a living, and also serves as food. Therefore, fruit trees fulfill their purpose by serving others. Just like fruit trees, man was created by God to be fruitful. In Genesis 1:28, God said to Adam, “Be fruitful”. This command was not only mentioned in Genesis, but at various times in the Bible.

Sadly, I have discovered that many people do not know what it means to be fruitful. While many are aware of their gifts, they do not know how that gift can be fruitful to others. In fact, most people who have discovered their gifts often end up eating the very fruit they produce with their gifts. For instance, I have seen people who are gifted in singing, but have never sung for others. I know people who are gifted in tending gardens but have never tried to offer that gift to others. I have met people that are gifted in assimilating information, yet have never written a book nor try to teach others. When you are the only one who enjoys what your gift produces, then you are eating your fruit alone.

You are not fruitful when people don’t benefit from your gift. A fruitful person doesn’t eat the fruit of his gift alone.  To be truly fruitful, others have to gain from the gift that God has given you. One way to enjoy God’s favor is by serving others with your gift. When your gift starts feeding others, God promotes you. Jesus said, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit”(John 15:2).

Remember what happened to Joseph. Joseph was a man gifted in interpreting dreams. Signs that he was gifted in something that had to do dreams was revealed, when as a young boy, he was bent on letting his brothers know that something big was going to happen in his life due to the dreams he had. Though he was gifted, Joseph didn’t get a breakthrough until he became interested in other people’s dreams. To advance in life, he had to start interpreting other people’s dreams. It was after people begun to taste his fruit that God showed up and made him a star (Genesis 41:1-28).

Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to use my gifts for the benefits of others. Amen.