My Help Comes From The Lord

1  A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?
 3  He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.…
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My Help!

From: Our Daily Bread

My Help!

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2

For decades the renowned Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir has blessed multitudes through their soul-refreshing gospel songs. One example is their recording from Psalm 121 titled “My Help.”

Psalm 121 begins with a personal confession of faith in the Lord who brought all things into existence, and He was the source of the psalmist’s help (vv. 1–2). Just what did this mean? Stability (v. 3), around-the-clock care (vv. 3–4), constant presence and protection (vv. 5–6), and preservation from all kinds of evil for time and eternity (vv. 7–8).

Taking their cues from Scripture, God’s people through the ages have identified the Lord as their source of “help” through their songs. My own worship experience includes lifting my voice with others who sang a soulful rendition of Charles Wesley’s, “Father, I stretch my hands to Thee, no other help I know; if Thou withdraw Thyself from me, ah! whither shall I go.” The great reformer Martin Luther got it right when he penned the words, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.”

Do you feel alone, forsaken, abandoned, confused? Ponder the lyrics of Psalm 121. Allow these words to fill your soul with faith and courage. You’re not alone, so don’t try to do life on your own. Rather, rejoice in the earthly and eternal care of God as demonstrated in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. And whatever the next steps, take them with His help.

Father, how grateful we are that Scripture and song remind us that You are our source of help. Help me to not forget that this day.

The Maker of the universe is the helper of God’s people!

 

Arlene Pellicane January 19, 2018
To Be Happy Like God
ARLENE PELLICANE

From: Crosswalk.com

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

My mother isn’t exactly a singer, but she is totally a rejoicer. She is the happiest person I know, and I have many friends who would readily agree. Growing up, she filled my life with smiles and joy. You heard my mom’s laughter long before you saw her.

I know I’m extremely blessed to have a mom like this. Yet, regardless of your earthly parent’s personality, you have a heavenly Father who is joyful. Did you know God is a happy God?

In 1 Timothy 1:11, Paul writes to Timothy about “the glory of the blessed God.” This word blessed is translated as the common word for happy. Today’s key verse gives us more evidence of a joyful God. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

He saves. 
He takes delight in you. 
He rejoices. 
He sings.

Contrary to what some in pop culture today might have us think, this is hardly a description of a stern, hardhearted, severe, grumpy Savior. No, we serve a God who saves us from death … and then prepares a place in heaven for us to celebrate!

We can be glad right now, not because circumstances are perfect, but because our Father in heaven is perfect.

We can smile today, not because we feel like it, but because we are responding with our faces to the truth that God no longer rebukes us. He is for us, and He is singing over us.

Many nights, I lean over my youngest daughter’s bed, and I sing to her. I sing a short song from Scripture, and then I say, “I love you” and “Goodnight.” This is a time of joy and security for my little girl and for me, too. It’s a picture of how God lovingly, tenderly watches over us and sings, rejoicing over us.

We often pray things like, “Lord, make me more like You,” and that’s good. But I wonder if we can sometimes miss that being more like Jesus is becoming a happier person. Living with joy is a holy pursuit, not a frivolous, shallow quest.

The Gospels tell us parents brought their children to Jesus so He could bless them. The disciples didn’t want to pester Jesus with such unimportant business, but Jesus responded, “Let the little children come to me” (Luke 18:16b, NIV).

I imagine children loved being around Jesus because He had a twinkle in His eye and He made them feel welcome. How do children feel welcome? Usually with smiles, laughs and perhaps a little cluster of raisins. Children followed Jesus, which makes me think Jesus smiled and was friendly. Remember, it was a boy who gave up his lunch of five loaves and two fish to feed the 5,000. (John 6:9) That’s no small task for a growing boy!

Men and women, young and old, were drawn to Jesus. Joy is attractive. The more you put it on display, the more people want to be around you.

Can others see joy in your life? Don’t worry; you don’t have to be as demonstrative as my mom. We all have different personalities, yet we are all commanded to rejoice. Rejoice in your own way; just be sure to rejoice. In so doing, you become more like your Heavenly Father who loves to sing and rejoice over you.

Lord, I choose to rejoice in Your love for me today. Thank You for saving me and singing over me. I praise You because You can turn my mourning into joy and bring happiness out of grief. Fill me with joy today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stunned by Grace

From: Joe Stowell, and Get More Strength.org

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” Exodus 34:6

For all of us who think that God is the hammer guy of the Old Testament, think again! I’m just a little put out on the prevailing thought that God was brutal and ugly in the Old Testament and that thankfully Jesus arrived on the scene in the New Testament to rescue His reputation. Getting our attitudes about God straight is a big deal. It’s really hard to love and follow a God who is ruthless with His power and abusive in His relationships. It’s bad enough that some of us have dads like that, let alone a Father in heaven who perpetuates the problem.

So, here’s the good news. Take a deep breath. You don’t need to feel that way about God anymore! When the real God stands up in the Old Testament, His actions and attitudes consistently exhibit an unusual depth of grace in the face of deep offenses against Him and His law.

Take the sin of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:1-24. Talk about a time when it would have been really appropriate for God to pull the hammer out! God had given them everything they needed for life and satisfaction in a perfect environment. They blatantly conspired with God’s enemy and used God’s gift of the garden to serve their own selfish desires. And in the process they destroyed the gift of God as sin destroyed the garden and their lives, to say nothing of granting Satan access to the domain of God where he would continue his damaging ways right up to today.

If one of our kids had taken all that we had built up and all that we had given to them and in our face destroyed it all, well, my guess is that grace would be the last response to cross our minds. Annihilation, yes—grace, no!

But get a grip on this. Of those two options God chose grace.

  • The grace to walk back into the fallen, damaged garden and call them out of the bushes—not to hammer them, but to restore them.
  • The grace to replace the self-constructed, fig leaf cover-up of their sins with the sacrificial provision of the animal skins, pointing to the ultimate moment of grace when the sacrifice of Jesus would cover us with the permanent covering of the righteousness of Christ.
  • The grace to promise them that the day would come when the seed of woman would deal the death blow to Satan’s head.
  • The grace to expel them from the garden so that they would not eat of the tree of life and live forever in the bondage and brokenness of sin. He had something better in mind: heaven—where they could live forever liberated from the consequences of their own foolishness.
  • The remarkable stroke of grace to Cain who in a fit of jealous rage murdered his brother. After refusing to accept God’s gracious offer of a second chance and then killing his brother, God marked him so that others would not kill him and then upped the punishment by sevenfold against anyone who would ignore the mark and kill Cain (see Genesis 4:3-15).
  • The grace to reestablish a godly line in a deeply damaged world by the birth of Seth who started the legacy of those who would live by “calling on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26).

Getting to know the real God is a wonderful experience, especially if we are getting to know Him as a God of unusual grace. Why? Because we all deserve the hammer! I will never stop being grateful that I serve and love a God who manages my brokenness with the healing and restoring power of His grace.

By The Spirits Power

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

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 By the Spirit’s Power

By the Spirit’s Power

What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Zechariah 4:7

What do you do when there is a mountain in your way? The story of Dashrath Manjhi can inspire us. When his wife died because he was unable to get her to the hospital to receive urgent medical care, Manjhi did what seemed impossible. He spent twenty-two years chiseling a massive gap in a mountain so other villagers could get to the local hospital to receive the medical care they needed. Before he died, the government of India celebrated him for his achievement.

Rebuilding the temple must have looked impossible to Zerubbabel, one of the leaders of Israel who returned from exile. The people were discouraged, faced opposition from their enemies, and lacked resources or a big army. But God sent Zechariah to remind Zerubbabel that the task would take something more powerful than military strength, individual power, or man-made resources. It would take the Spirit’s power (Zechariah 4:6). With the assurance of divine aid, Zerubbabel trusted that God would level any mountain of difficulty that stood in the way of rebuilding the temple and restoring the community (v. 7).

What do we do when there is a “mountain” before us? We have two options: rely on our own strength or trust the Spirit’s power. When we trust His power, He will either level the mountain or give us the strength and endurance to climb over it.

What challenges stand in your way? How will you trust the power of God’s Spirit in your life? Share it on Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

Human power is inadequate to accomplish God’s purposes.

The God Who Gives

From: Our Daily Journey

The God Who Gives

Read:

1 Chronicles 29:10-17
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours (1 Chronicles 29:11).

Many organizations have benefited from the charitable donations of the Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation, which has funded college scholarships, universities, medical centers, and much more. When the head of the foundation, John Rogers, was asked for his motivation for giving, he said this: “You can’t take it with you. I am a custodian of the money God has given me.” This generous spirit was directly derived from the generosity of God Himself.

David made a similar connection in a prayer recorded in the book of 1 Chronicles. In chapter 29, the people of Israel were taking an offering to build the temple, collecting all the precious stones and materials they could muster. King David himself donated tons of silver and gold to its construction, which inspired others to give generously as well (1 Chronicles 29:3,6).

But immediately after this amazing moment of corporate generosity, David redirected all the attention to God (1 Chronicles 29:10), worshiping Him by saying, “Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!” (1 Chronicles 29:14). David reminded the people that even though it appeared they had given generously, God is ultimately the ruler and owner of all things. Acknowledging God’s ownership over all things once more—“This material we have gathered . . . comes from you!” (1 Chronicles 29:16)—David used this truth to inspire all the people of Israel to give generously.

As revealed in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), we don’t own anything. Instead, we’re God’s stewards, giving out of what He’s placed in our hands. So let’s give generously, knowing we’re simply passing on what God has lavished on us.

 

Vision and Darkness

By Oswald Chambers

 Vision and Darkness

Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand” (Isaiah 49:2). The saint’s duty is to be still and listen. There is a “darkness” that comes from too much light— that is the time to listen. The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10-11).

Do I trust at all in the flesh? Or have I learned to go beyond all confidence in myself and other people of God? Do I trust in books and prayers or other joys in my life? Or have I placed my confidence in God Himself, not in His blessings? “I am Almighty God…”— El-Shaddai, the All-Powerful God (Genesis 17:1). The reason we are all being disciplined is that we will know God is real. As soon as God becomes real to us, people pale by comparison, becoming shadows of reality. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.

 

Clearing Out The Clutter

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 5:24

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

1 Peter 2:24

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

 

Clearing Out The Clutter

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

My garage serves as “storage” for things that don’t have a place in our home, and, frankly, there are times when I am ashamed to open the door. I don’t want anyone to see the clutter. So, periodically, I set aside a workday to clean it up.

Our hearts and minds are a lot like that—they accumulate lots of clutter. As we rub shoulders with the world, inevitably, perhaps unknowingly, we pick up ungodly thoughts and attitudes. Thinking that life is all about “me.” Demanding our rights. Reacting bitterly toward those who have hurt us. Before long, our hearts and minds are no longer clean and orderly. And while we think we can hide the mess, eventually it will show.

Paul pointedly asked, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Cor. 6:19)—which makes me wonder if God often feels like He is living in our messy garage.

Perhaps it’s time to set aside a spiritual workday and, with His help, get to work clearing out the clutter. Discard those thoughts of bitterness. Bag up and throw out the old patterns of sensual thoughts. Organize your attitudes. Fill your heart with the beauty of God’s Word. Make it clean to the core, and then leave the door open for all to see!

More like the Master I would ever be,
More of His meekness, more humility;
More zeal to labor, more courage to be true,
More consecration for work He bids me do. —Gabriel

Don’t let the Spirit reside in a cluttered heart. Take some time to clean it up today!

Dealing with Delay

Dealing with Delay

So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:8

A global computer system outage causes widespread flight cancellations, stranding hundreds of thousands of passengers at airports. During a winter storm, multiple auto accidents close major highways. The person who promised to send a reply “right away” has failed to do so. Delays can often produce anger and frustration, but as followers of Jesus, we have the privilege of looking to Him for help.

One of the Bible’s great examples of patience is Joseph, who was sold to slave traders by his jealous brothers, falsely accused by his employer’s wife, and imprisoned in Egypt. “But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him” (Genesis 39:20–21). Years later, when Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, he was made second in command in Egypt (ch. 41).

The most remarkable fruit of his patience occurred when his brothers came to buy grain during a famine. “I am your brother Joseph,” he told them, “the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. . . . So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God”  (45:4–5, 8).

In all our delays, brief or long, may we, like Joseph, gain patience, perspective, and peace as we trust in the Lord.

Father in heaven, in all of our delays may we trust Your faithful hand of guidance and experience Your presence with us in every situation.

Confidence in God enables us to live out our faith patiently.

 

“It Is the Lord!”

January 18 

By Oswald Chambers

 

“Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink’ ” (John 4:7). How many of us are expecting Jesus Christ to quench our thirst when we should be satisfying Him! We should be pouring out our lives, investing our total beings, not drawing on Him to satisfy us. “You shall be witnesses to Me…” (Acts 1:8). That means lives of pure, uncompromising, and unrestrained devotion to the Lord Jesus, which will be satisfying to Him wherever He may send us.

Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him. It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him. The goal of the call of God is His satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for Him. We are not sent to do battle for God, but to be used by God in His battles. Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?

 

Broad rivers and streams

From: Charles Spurgeon, and Biblegateway.com

‘Look upon Zion … thine eyes shall see Jerusalem … there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.’ Isaiah 33:20–22

Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 14:10–31

In 1588, when the Armada sailed towards Britain, God blew with his winds and all Spain’s mighty hosts were broken, and God’s favoured isle was free. We were doubtless spared the horrors of war under Napoleon because of the Channel. It was especially so in the old times of ancient warfare; then a narrow trench was almost as useful as a broad channel would be now, for they had no ready means of crossing, though on old Assyrian sculptures we see galleys with oars crossing over rivers, and we have one or two sculptures, I believe, in the British Museum, of the Assyrian king turning the river into another channel so that he might the more easily take the city. But still, rivers were for a defence. O beloved, what a defence is God to his church! Ah, the devil cannot cross this broad river of God. Between me and you, O fiend of hell, is my God. Do remember this, Christian; between you and your arch-enemy is your God; Satan has to stand on the other side, and how he wishes he could dry up that stream, but God is omnipotent. How he wishes he could change the current, but fear not, for God abides immutably the same. How he wishes he could get at you and me; but only once let us get safe landed in Zion, we may look over its walls across the broad rivers and streams, and remember that we are out of gunshot of the enemy so far as our spiritual existence is concerned. He cannot destroy us; worry us he may; for we are such timid souls, but kill he cannot, for God, even our mighty God keeps us safe beyond all possibility of destruction.

For meditation: Others may have assumed the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ or even undermined it—‘Defender of faith’—but God is the true and everlasting defender of his people (Psalm 5:1120:159:1Isaiah 31:537:3538:6Zechariah 12:8).

Showing Gratitude

Romans 11:33-36 

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”[a]
35 “Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”[b]

36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

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Growing Gratitude

From: Our Daily Bread

Growing Gratitude

For from him and through him and for him are all things. Romans 11:36

Would you like to cultivate a greater sense of gratitude? George Herbert, a seventeenth-century British poet, encourages readers toward that goal in his poem “Gratefulness”: “Thou that hast given so much to me, give one thing more: a grateful heart.”

Herbert recognized the only thing he needed in order to be thankful was simply an awareness of the blessings God had already given him.

The Bible declares Christ Jesus as the source of all blessing in Romans 11:36, “For from him and through him and for him are all things.” “All things” encompasses both the extravagant and the mundane, everyday gifts in our lives. Everything we receive in life comes directly from our heavenly Father (James 1:17), and He willingly gives us those gifts out of His love for us.

To expand my awareness of God’s blessings in my life, I am learning to cultivate a heart that acknowledges the source of all the joys I experience each day, but especially the ones I often take for granted. Today those included a crisp morning to run, the anticipation of an evening with friends, a stocked pantry so I could make French toast with my daughters, the beauty of the world outside my window, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

What is the “so much” that God has already given to you? Opening our eyes to those blessings will help us to develop grateful hearts.

Take a few minutes to thank God for what comes to your mind right now. Try to do that throughout the day as well.

When you think of all that’s good, thank God.

 

Spectacular Provision

From: Our Daily Journey

Spectacular Provision

Read:

Genesis 1:11-13,29-30
Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food (Genesis 1:29).

Once while on a trip visiting some friends in a village in China, we trekked deeper and deeper into the forest, venturing farther and farther away from the village. After an hour or so, we heard the deafening roar of a waterfall. Quickening our steps, we soon reached a clearing and were greeted by the beautiful vision of a rushing curtain of white water flowing over gray rocks. Spectacular!

Our friends suggested we enjoy a picnic there. It sounded like a great idea, except where was the food? None of us had packed as much as a snack. But soon we got to work, some of us picking up wood and starting a fire, while others disappeared into the surrounding forest to look for food. As the fire began to blaze, they returned with an assortment of fruits and vegetables—even some freshly caught fish!

That day, I had a better glimpse of the meaning of Genesis 1:29 in which God declared, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.” In Singapore we have access to produce from all over the world in our grocery stores and markets. But that day, I relied directly on the earth for food and was able to try unfamiliar but delicious exotic fruits and vegetables.

Creation declares God’s extravagant provision, clearly displaying proof of His generosity through “all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit” that He’s given to us (Genesis 1:12).

Are there moments where you find it hard to trust God to meet your needs? Just consider the variety of fruits and vegetables in our world! Our God has provided so much for us—physically and spiritually. May we trust and rest in His loving provision.

 

With a Glimmer of Hope

From: CBN, Wally Odum, Author

 

Halford E. Luccock shares this story in his book, Unfinished Business:

“One night at dinner a man, who had spent many summers in Maine, fascinated his companions by telling of his experiences in a little town named Flagstaff. The town was to be flooded, as part of a large lake for which a dam was being built. In the months before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs in the whole town were stopped. What was the use of painting a house if it were to be covered with water in six months? Why repair anything when the whole village was to be wiped out? So, week by week, the whole town became more and more bedraggled, more gone to seed, more woebegone.”

Then he added by way of explanation: “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.”

Isaiah spoke about Jesus hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth. Matthew reached back to that prophecy to help us understand who Jesus is and what He came to do. Jesus came to bring hope to the world. Hope is so often in short supply in our world. Fear and negativity can cloud our vision of the future. Jesus has come for those whose hope is failing.

Isaiah put it this way “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3).

Matthew quoted him, “He will not crush those who are weak, or quench the smallest hope, until he brings full justice with his final victory. And his name will be the hope of all the world” (Matthew 12:20-21).

His name is not only the hope of the world at large. He is the hope for the weakest and smallest person. He is the hope for us all. He takes us, weak as we are, and builds on the smallest glimmer of hope.

Jamie Buckingham quoted Hugo Gryn, a London rabbi, in Charisma magazine. Hugo told of a holocaust experience in the German magazine, Der Morgen:

“It was the cold winter of 1944 and although we had nothing like calendars, my father who was a fellow prisoner there, took me and some of our friends to a corner of the barrack. He announced it was the eve of Hanukkah, produced a curious-shaped clay bowl, and began to light a wick immersed in his precious, but now melted, margarine ration.

Before he could recite the blessing, I protested at this waste of food. He said, ‘You and I have seen that it is possible to live up to three weeks without food. We once lived almost three days without water. But you cannot live properly for three minutes without hope.’ “

No matter what we face today, Jesus is our hope. Even if we’re weak and our hope is small, He has come to give us a bright picture of tomorrow. We can rest in that.

God Is Supreme Over All

Psalm 103:11

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

Isaiah 55:9

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Psalm 113:4

The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.

Isaiah 57:15

For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.

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Supreme Over All

From: Our Daily Journey

Supreme Over All

Read:

Colossians 1:13-22
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation (Colossians 1:15).

A few years ago, I learned about a type of protein found in humans and animals called laminin. This protein, positioned outside cells, provides support for cells inside organs. Because laminin has the ability to bind like glue with other proteins and cells, it provides a vital role in holding tissues and organs together. Interestingly, when viewed from a specific angle, laminin has a shape similar to that of a cross.

Thinking about this protein’s crucial function reminded me of Paul’s description of Jesus as the one who “holds all creation together” (Colossians 1:17). Paul gave this awe-inspiring description of Jesus to counteract the various false teachings influencing the small church of Colossae to rely on things other than Jesus, the One who is far above all others (Colossians 1:18). Through the Spirit’s inspiration, Paul highlighted Jesus as the only Source, Sustainer, and Savior of creation (Colossians 1:16-19).

Jesus is the creation’s Source because He was with God in the beginning (John 1:1-2) and “through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth” (Colossians 1:16). He’s the Sustainer because “he holds all creation together” (Colossians 1:17). Far from being distant from what He’s made, Jesus is involved in every aspect of it. Finally, He’s the Savior because through His sacrifice on the cross “God reconciled everything to himself” (Colossians 1:20).

Although human sin has wounded creation, Jesus, the Source, Sustainer, and Savior is restoring all things. Because of Him, we can stand “blameless . . . before [God]” (Colossians 1:22) as we live for Him. This is an amazing yet true reality, not just in the future or after we die but right now!

The Voice of the Nature of God

From: Utmost.org

By Oswald Chambers

 The Voice of the Nature of God

When we talk about the call of God, we often forget the most important thing, namely, the nature of Him who calls. There are many things calling each of us today. Some of these calls will be answered, and others will not even be heard. The call is the expression of the nature of the One who calls, and we can only recognize the call if that same nature is in us. The call of God is the expression of God’s nature, not ours. God providentially weaves the threads of His call through our lives, and only we can distinguish them. It is the threading of God’s voice directly to us over a certain concern, and it is useless to seek another person’s opinion of it. Our dealings over the call of God should be kept exclusively between ourselves and Him.

The call of God is not a reflection of my nature; my personal desires and temperament are of no consideration. As long as I dwell on my own qualities and traits and think about what I am suited for, I will never hear the call of God. But when God brings me into the right relationship with Himself, I will be in the same condition Isaiah was. Isaiah was so attuned to God, because of the great crisis he had just endured, that the call of God penetrated his soul. The majority of us cannot hear anything but ourselves. And we cannot hear anything God says. But to be brought to the place where we can hear the call of God is to be profoundly changed.

Tracie Miles January 16, 2018
Let Go of the Old and Embrace God’s New
TRACIE MILES

From: Crosswalk.com

“But forget all that — it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?”Isaiah 43:18-19a (NLT)

It had been months since my 25-year marriage abruptly ended, and the emotional devastation was overwhelming. It felt like a tsunami had slammed into my reality and nothing seemed the same.

As I waded through each painful day, facing challenges around every corner, everything felt unfamiliar and new — and not a good type of new. In fact, I felt like I was sinking under the weight of toxic emotions and the heaviness of all the “new” pulling me under.

The day came when I caved under the weight of it all, feeling completely broken, weak and incredibly alone. But as I called out to God for comfort with tears streaming down my face, I suddenly sensed I wasn’t alone at all. Peacefully, His presence floated gently into mine, and a beautiful passage suddenly came to mind from the book of Isaiah.

Isaiah 43:18 begins by saying, But forget all that — it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. The Israelites were stuck in the past, remembering their former captivity and the miracles God had done, yet fearing the new freedom they now lived in. InIsaiah 43:19a, we see Him telling them why to stop looking back and longing for what was gone: For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

Here, the Lord encourages His people to let go of the old and embrace the new, even though this new seemed scary and unfamiliar. He wanted them to open their eyes to see He was still at work and still sovereign. By keeping their eyes focused on the past, they were blinded to the good new things He was doing.

God knew this habit of sinking in negative thoughts and feelings about the past, present or future was standing in the way of them embracing the new with a positive mindset — especially if they had no idea what that new was going to look like.

As I pondered this verse, I sensed He was giving me permission to stop mourning the past and embrace the new with a heart full of faith and a mind full of optimism. I couldn’t change my circumstances, but I could change my thoughts about them.

As you enter this new year, maybe like me, you’re also entering an unfamiliar season of new in some way. We all experience new seasons of life from time to time, with some being positive and some negative; some wanted, and some unwanted; some exciting and some terrifying.

But regardless of the new that lies before us, how we choose to look at and think about those seasons of newness will determine whether or not we walk through them with peace, hope and joy, or with heartache, anxiety and fear.

When we intentionally choose to believe God’s new is always good — even if we didn’t ask for it, want it or understand it — we can step into the new with courage, bravery, a positive attitude and an unsinkable faith. Letting go of the old frees up our hearts to embrace God’s new for us.

Dear Jesus, I’m in a scary season of “new,” and at times, I wish I could change things. Help me stay tied to You as my anchor, rather than tying myself to negativity and fear which can gradually sink me and my faith. Help me trust in Your ways and Your good with my whole heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

We Are United In Christ

Malachi 2:10

“Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?

Psalm 133:1

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!

Matthew 23:8-9

“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

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Pursuing Unity

From: Our Daily Bread

Pursuing Unity

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

Growing up during the 1950s, I never questioned racism and the segregation practices that permeated daily life in the city where we lived. In schools, restaurants, public transportation, and neighborhoods, people with different shades of skin color were separated.

My attitude changed in 1968 when I entered US Army Basic Training. Our company included young men from many different cultural groups. We soon learned that we needed to understand and accept each other, work together, and accomplish our mission.

When Paul wrote to the first-century church at Colossae, he was well aware of the diversity of its members. He reminded them, “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). In a group where surface as well as deeper differences could easily divide people, Paul urged them to “clothe [themselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (v. 12). And over all these virtues, he told them to put on love “which binds them all together in perfect unity” (v. 14).

Putting these principles into practice may often be a work in progress, but that is what Jesus calls us to. What we as believers hold in common is our love for Him. On that basis, we pursue understanding, peace, and unity as members of the body of Christ.

Amid all our wonderful diversity, we pursue an even greater unity in Christ.

Christ’s love creates unity in the midst of diversity.

 

Old Self, New Self

From: Our Daily Journey

Old Self, New Self

Read:

Ephesians 4:17-25
Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life . . . . Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:22-24).

I once was treated to a makeover in which a generous friend not only bought me gorgeous clothes, but arranged for a swanky haircut and new makeup. Giggling and thanking her, I swished around my stylish tresses. My friend knew I had recently made some life changes so that I could better follow Christ and wanted to celebrate by helping me feel beautiful not only on the inside but on the outside too. It was a truly special moment. I knew that those who follow Jesus don’t need a makeover to reveal God’s presence to others, but my friend’s gesture gave me a visual reminder that when we submit our lives to Him our lives are transformed.

As the apostle Paul wrote in many of his letters, believers in Jesus are continually transformed to be like Him. But, as we see in Ephesians 4, we are not passive in the process. In the original language, the verbs for resisting our old patterns and being made new in our minds are all active. “Throw off your old sinful nature . . . . Put onyour new nature” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

As we grow, we must continually embrace the “new self” we have in Him, instead of returning to the person we are on our own—our “old self.” Because it’s easy to fall back into the old habits we had before knowing Jesus, we need to submit to the Spirit’s transformation continually.

And we are changed, inside out, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This is a freeing message, for daily transformation means we can become more like Christ moment by moment. We don’t have to be stuck in the mire of sinful patterns of behavior. Through the Holy Spirit’s power we can embrace a truly new way of life.

 

In the Pit

From: Pauline Hylton

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Ever had one of those times at work when you know you’ve been misrepresented by someone? Maybe you had an idea and told your boss, and they presented it as their own. Or perhaps a co-worker made a mistake and blamed you. Or what if you were maliciously attacked and fired for no good reason?

That’s embarrassing. Humiliating. And it hurts.

Especially if it was a friend.

Imagine if it were your brothers.

Genesis 37: 24 NASB … ”and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.”

It happened to Joseph. They tossed him into an empty well, sat down to eat a meal, and planned to kill him. Sure, he probably rubbed his brothers the wrong way by telling them of his dreams about them bowing to him one day. And it didn’t help that their father bought him a multi-colored tunic. Talk about sibling rivalry.

They wanted to kill him—but they didn’t.

They couldn’t—because God had a purpose.

The oldest brother secretly decides to free Joseph later, but when he returns after running an errand, his younger brothers sell Joseph to slave traders.

Poof—he’s off to Egypt with seemingly no help, no hope, and for no reason, Joseph is in the pit, literally.

You ever been there? You might even be there now. If not, it might be right around the corner. So, what do you do when you are surrounded by darkness and can’t even view the light at the top?

First, look up. Joseph’s misfortune had a divine purpose. As you continue your Bible reading in Genesis, you will see how grand and great and awesome that purpose was. He is treated unfairly, condemned for something he did not do, and forgotten. Yet, at just the right time, he became the Prime Minister of Egypt. Not for his glory, but God’s. Jehovah’s plans cannot be thwarted. He purposed to rescue His people. And He gives them hope and comfort while He does.

It reminds me of another Scripture passage:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV

So, look up and hang in there.

Next, look around. Maybe someone around you needs your encouragement. In my 58 years of life, I’ve noticed again and again that you never know what is going on in someone’s life. I tell everyone everything. (Which is not a good idea.) But, most people keep things to themselves. But if you look and pray and watch, you may have the great privilege of receiving a blessing by being a blessing.

Check out these verses:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

God comforts us, we comfort others, and then they comfort someone else. It’s a God thing.

And then, trust God. The end of Joseph’s story probably exceeded his expectations. But some pits don’t end so well. Maybe you’ve lost your health, or your spouse left you, or a child died.

That is a deep pit.

Remember this: This is NOT our best life now!

Look at these verses:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,” 1 Peter 1:3-4 NASB.

Being Prime Minister of Egypt doesn’t compare to heaven.

You can count on that.

So my friend, look up, look around, and trust God.

That is our happy ending.

 

 

Believe In God Who Loves You

 

Jesus Blesses the Children
13 Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them; and the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 

14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven” belongs to such as these. 

15 And after He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there.…

 

God loves you like you love your children.

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Knowing and Loving

From: Our Daily Bread

Knowing and Loving

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so” is the message of one of Christian music’s most enduring songs, particularly for children. Written by Anna B. Warner in the 1800s, this lyric tenderly affirms our relationship with Him—we are loved.

Someone gave my wife a plaque for our home that gives these words a fresh twist by flipping that simple idea. It reads, “Jesus knows me, this I love.” This provides a different perspective on our relationship with Him—we are known.

In ancient Israel, loving and knowing the sheep distinguished a true shepherd from a hired hand. The shepherd spent so much time with his sheep that he developed an abiding care for and a deep knowledge of his lambs. Little wonder then that Jesus tells His own, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. . . . My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:14, 27).

He knows us and He loves us! We can trust Jesus’s purposes for us and rest in the promise of His care because His Father “knows what [we] need before [we] ask him” (Matthew 6:8). As you deal with the ups and downs of life today, be at rest. You are known and loved by the Shepherd of your heart.

Dear Lord, thank You for how You tenderly love and care for me. Help me to trust You in all areas of my life.

The wonder of it all—just to think that Jesus loves me!

 

Turn Back and Live

From: Our Daily Journey

Turn Back and Live

Read:

Ezekiel 18:1-32
I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live! (Ezekiel 18:32).

When a boyfriend and I ended our dating relationship, I lamented, “I’ll never meet another man who enjoys grilling food like he did.” As shallow (and embarrassing) as that sounds, I thought I’d forfeited my opportunity to be with a gourmet chef. A few weeks later though, while in a store that sold a variety of grills, it dawned on me that my former boyfriend wasn’t the only gifted griller out there!

From the trivial to the most important matters of life and faith, we often allow circumstances, experiences, and culture to dictate what we deem to be bona fide rather than what Scripture reveals.

This tendency is poignantly evidenced in Ezekiel 18, where we learn of a group of Israelites whose muddled view of God and misguided understanding of His character and judgment led them to proclaim, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste” (Ezekiel 18:2). In other words, they considered God to be a stern judge who not only punished their sinful parents but also punished them for their parents’ sins (Ezekiel 18:19).

But through Ezekiel, God debunked their distorted beliefs about Him, saying, “The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness” (Ezekiel 18:20).

But amazingly, God doesn’t want even the guilty to die as a result of sin. He wants us to “turn back and live!” and to receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (Ezekiel 18:32Ephesians 2:8-9). May we turn to Him and experience true life.

 

The ravens’ cry

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘He gives to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.’ Psalm 147:9

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 8:1–4

Never a sinner prays truly without Christ praying at the same time. You cannot see nor hear him, but never does Jesus stir the depths of your soul by his Spirit without his soul being stirred too. O sinner! your prayer when it comes before God is a very different thing from what it is when it issues forth from you. Sometimes poor people come to us with petitions which they wish to send to some company or great personage. They bring the petition and ask us to have it presented for them. It is very badly spelt, very strangely written, and we can but just make out what they mean; but still there is enough to let us know what they want. First of all we make out a fair copy for them, and then, having stated their case, we put our own name at the bottom, and if we have any interest, of course they get what they desire through the power of the name signed at the foot of the petition. This is just what the Lord Jesus Christ does with our poor prayers. He makes a fair copy of them, stamps them with the seal of his own atoning blood, puts his own name at the foot, and thus they go up to God’s throne. It is your prayer, but it is his prayer too, and it is the fact of its being his prayer that makes it prevail. Now, this is a sledgehammer argument: if the ravens prevail when they cry all alone, if their poor chattering brings them what they want of themselves, how much more shall the plaintive petitions of the poor trembling sinner prevail who can say, ‘For Jesus’ sake,’ and who can clench all his own arguments with the blessed plea, ‘The Lord Jesus Christ deserves it; O Lord, give it to me for his sake.’

For meditation: To say ‘For Jesus’ sake’ or ‘In Jesus’ name’ at the end of prayer is not supposed to be regarded as the done thing or as a magic formula. It is a humble confession that we do not deserve an audience with God, but a confident profession of faith in the only one who does (John 14:13–1415:1616:23–24).

Sermon no. 672

 

The sin of unbelief

From: Charles Spurgeon

“And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” 2 Kings 7:19

Suggested Further Reading: John 20:24-29

“Thou shalt shall see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” It is so often with God’s own saints. When they are unbelieving, they see the mercy with their eyes, but do not eat it. Now, here is corn in this land of Egypt, but there are some of God’s saints who come here on the Sabbath, and say, “I do not know whether the Lord will be with me or not.” Some of them say, “Well, the gospel is preached, but I do not know whether it will be successful.” They are always doubting and fearing. Listen to them when they get out of the chapel. “Well, did you get a good meal this morning?” “Nothing for me.” Of course not. Ye could see it with your eyes, but did not eat it, because you had no faith. If you had come up with faith, you would have had a morsel. I have found Christians, who have grown so very critical, that if the whole portion of the meat they are to have, in due season, is not cut up exactly into square pieces, and put upon some choice dish of porcelain, they cannot eat it. Then they ought to go without, until they are brought to their appetites. They will have some affliction, which will act like quinine upon them: they will be made to eat by means of bitters in their mouths; they will be put in prison for a day or two until their appetite returns, and then they will be glad to eat the most ordinary food, off the most common platter, or no platter at all. But the real reason why God’s people do not feed under a gospel ministry, is because they have not faith. If you believed, if you heard only one promise, that would be enough.

For meditation: The unbeliever needs to hear in order to believe (Romans 10:14); the believer needs to believe in order to hear.

Sermon no. 3

Repent And Return To God

Isaiah 51:22

Thus says your Lord, the LORD, even your God Who contends for His people, “Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling, The chalice of My anger; You will never drink it again.

Jeremiah 25:15

For thus the LORD, the God of Israel, says to me, “Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it.

Revelation 16:19

The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.

Revelation 14:10

he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

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An Angry God?

An Angry God?

The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Exodus 34:6

When I studied Greek and Roman mythology in college, I was struck by how moody and easily angered the mythological gods were in the stories. The people on the receiving end of their anger found their lives destroyed, sometimes on a whim.

I was quick to scoff, wondering how anyone could believe in gods like that. But then I asked myself, Is my view of the God who actually exists much different? Don’t I view Him as easily angered whenever I doubt Him? Sadly, yes.

That’s why I appreciate Moses’s request of God to “show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). Having been chosen to lead a large group of people who often grumbled against him, Moses wanted to know that God would indeed help him with this great task. Moses’s request was rewarded by a demonstration of God’s glory. God announced to Moses His name and characteristics. He is “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (34:6).

This verse reminded me that God is not impulsive, suddenly striking out in anger. That’s reassuring, especially when I consider the times I’ve lashed out at Him in anger or impatience. Also, He continually works to make me more like Himself.

We can see God and His glory in His patience with us, the encouraging word of a friend, a beautiful sunset, or—best of all—the whisper of the Holy Spirit inside of us.

Father God, I’m grateful that You are always compassionate, forgiving, and faithful.

Though we often change, God never does.

 

Thank You!

Thank You!

Read:

Isaiah 65:17-19
Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore (Isaiah 65:17).

Those who were with Dallas Willard—philosopher, speaker, writer—when he died from pancreatic cancer in 2013, tell of the beauty and grace he demonstrated as he faced death. One of Dallas’ friends recalls that he said, “I taught on the Great Cloud of Witnesses and now I’m experiencing it. I am in heaven’s hallway and there is a large community coming for me. They are the most loving persons I’ve ever been around.” His last words before entering eternal life were simply, “Thank you.”

Willard’s dignified death points to the comfort Jesus gave to His disciples when He said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home” (John 14:1-2). Over and over in the Scriptures we’re reminded that this life is not all there is—we await a fuller life with God. And the Bible tells us that one day God will establish a renewed heaven and earth. As Isaiah wrote, “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17; see also Revelation 21:1).

Even while Jesus was hanging on the cross, His life ebbing away, He extended the invitation of eternal life with Him to a thief—writhing in agony on his own cross—who had trusted in Him (Luke 23:42-43). Yes, even while we mourn the sin, death, and destruction in this world, we rest in the truth that all things will be made new (Revelation 21:5).

With everything in me, I believe what the Bible reveals about the new heavens and new earth—and that God will be with us when we take our final breath in this life. Although we’ll face pain and trouble in the days ahead, may we trust in Jesus to provide what we need to offer lives of gratitude to Him!

 

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:37).

This is more than victory. This is a triumph so complete that we have not only escaped defeat and destruction, but we have destroyed our enemies and won a spoil so rich and valuable that we can thank God that the battle ever came. How can we be “more than conquerors”? We can get out of the conflict a spiritual discipline that will greatly strengthen our faith and establish our spiritual character. Temptation is necessary to settle and confirm us in the spiritual life. It is like the fire which burns in the colors of mineral painting, or like winds that cause the mighty cedars of the mountain to strike more deeply into the soil. Our spiritual conflicts are among our choicest blessings, and our great adversary is used to train us for his ultimate defeat. The ancient Phrygians had a legend that every time they conquered an enemy the victor absorbed the physical strength of his victim and added so much more to his own strength and valor. So temptation victoriously met doubles our spiritual strength and equipment. It is possible thus not only to defeat our enemy, but to capture him and make him fight in our ranks.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of flying on the shoulders of the Philistines (Isa. 11:14). These Philistines were their deadly foes, but the figure suggested that they would be enabled not only to conquer the Philistines, but to use them to carry the victors on their shoulders for further triumphs. Just as the wise sailor can use a head wind to carry him forward by tacking and taking advantage of its impelling force; so it is possible for us in our spiritual life through the victorious grace of God to turn to account the things that seem most unfriendly and unfavorable, and to be able to say continually, “The things that were against me have happened to the furtherance of the Gospel.”
–Life More Abundantly

A noted scientist observing that “early voyagers fancied that the coral-building animals instinctively built up the great circles of the Atoll Islands to afford themselves protection in the inner parts,” has disproved this fancy by showing that the insect builders can only live and thrive fronting the open ocean, and in the highly aerated foam of its resistless billows. So it has been commonly thought that protected ease is the most favorable condition of life, whereas all the noblest and strongest lives prove on the contrary that the endurance of hardship is the making of the men, and the factor that distinguishes between existence and vigorous vitality. Hardship makes character.
–Selected

“Now thanks be unto God Who always leads us forth to triumph with the Anointed One, and Who diffuses by us the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14, literal translation).

 

 

Sometimes It’s Hard To Fit In

It is hard to fit in when you are doing God’s will.
Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. Malachi 3:16
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 Fitting In

From: Our Daily Bread

Fitting In

Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. Malachi 3:16

Lee is a diligent and reliable bank employee. Yet he often finds himself sticking out like a sore thumb for living out his faith. This reveals itself in practical ways, such as when he leaves the break room during an inappropriate conversation. At a Bible study, he shared with his friends, “I fear that I’m losing promotion opportunities for not fitting in.”

Believers during the prophet Malachi’s time faced a similar challenge. They had returned from exile and the temple had been rebuilt, but there was skepticism about God’s plan for their future. Some of the Israelites were saying, “It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements . . . ? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it” (Malachi 3:14–15).

How can we stand firm for God in a culture that tells us we will lose out if we don’t blend in? The faithful in Malachi’s time responded to that challenge by meeting with like-minded believers to encourage each other. Malachi shares this important detail with us: “The Lord listened and heard” (v. 16).

God notices and cares for all who fear and honor Him. He doesn’t call us to “fit in” but to draw closer to Him each day as we encourage each other. Let’s stay faithful!

Lord, help us to keep on encouraging one another to stay faithful to You in this faithless world.

Our faith may be tested so that we may trust God’s faithfulness.

 

Jesus Christ, M.D.

From: CBN, and Brooke Keith, Author

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 ESV

The fragility of our humanity is visible from birth. The moment we are born, nurses rush to bundle us in warm blankets, checking our vital signs and making us cry to assure we can. Anxious parents counting our fingers and toes await our return to their arms. Their hearts bursting with joy and fear … this little life now totally dependent upon them.

I’ve learned the hard way that the anxiety of parenting doesn’t end here. It only gets harder. The older they get the more we worry. The more we worry the older we get.

With four children I’ve been through my share of knee scrapes and colds. But I’ve also seen the scarier stuff. Our middle son has asthma and found it really hard to fight off germs. He literally kept strep throat for six months once. Our eldest son was once hospitalized with fluid in his abdominal cavity and an acute illness that was extremely serious. Our newest baby was born with a hole in his heart, though through prayer and by grace it closed up just weeks after birth.

And while all of this sounds scary, working with a children’s charity for so many years I’ve learned that even the things that scare me are trivial. Because I see so much sickness, the doctor’s office isn’t a place that I enjoy. In fact, I don’t even think of it when they are healthy, but when my kids get sick, someone breaks out in a mystery rash or someone spikes a fever – I want to know what’s going on. I forget about the movie I’m watching and I set aside my copy of People and I realize I need the doctor.

When I face these moments, I think of how eloquently Jesus compared our physical lives to our spiritual bodies. Looking across at His listeners, Jesus declared,

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13 ESV

When things are going our way and anxiety is far from us, we are happy to curl up on the couch of life, read our favorite book, and sip a cup of warm tea. The ordinary way of life we live can grow so comfortable we don’t see the signs we need the doctor. Before we know it we have become too busy to pray, too tired to help others. We stop going in for regular checkups.

When Jesus spoke to the masses it is easy to assume He spoke to the lost. And He did. But He also spoke to those who are found who, like we all do from time to time, forget we are not perfect. Our flaws are many. Our hearts and thoughts fail us. Our bodies become frail and weary.

We all need the Doctor, those with spiritual sniffles and those with “heart” attacks. None of us can turn up our noses at the other – we are all sinners. God wants us to be merciful to one another, remembering we are all products of imperfection.

What shape is your spiritual body in? Whether you need a check-up, a stress test, major surgery, a first-time appointment or just want to stop in to pick His brain …

The Doctor is in and He always accepts walk-ins!

 

Amy Carroll January 12, 2018
How to Rediscover Joy in Your Work
AMY CARROLL

From: Crosswalk.com

“Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.” Proverbs 22:29 (NIV)

As I faced the heaviest workload of my life, I fretted. To-do lists multiplied, and details started to feel overwhelming. Each day, I worked from sunup to sundown, and lay awake at night thinking about what the next 24 hours held.

I was exhausted, discouraged and wondering if all my work meant anything.

Then two things happened that changed my perspective.

I remembered a prayer I’d prayed months before at the beginning of my gargantuan project. I prayed, “Lord, help me to do all that You call me to do in this season and not one thing more.”

The Lord also brought to mind a conversation that I had with my friend, Suzie, where she shared a new concept. Suzie had prayed God would convert her work to worship. What a beautiful idea! Each morning she spent time with God, reading her Bible and praying, and then she moved into her work, letting God’s presence flow seamlessly into each task.

As I reflected on the bad attitude I was starting to develop, I realized I had failed on both counts. I was overworking, and I was compartmentalizing my work as if it weren’t related to any other part of my life. Those two missteps were making me miserable by skewing my perspective about the labor of my hands.

Here’s what happens when we work with wrong beliefs:

1) We overwork

Instead of following my prayer “Lord, help me to do all that You call me to do in this season and not one thing more” by listening for direction, I just dove right into my tasks — where I ended up frustrated, feeling like I was on a never-ending treadmill.

Exhaustion is a sure indicator we need to consult God about our schedule. We need to ask Him questions such as: What do You want me to do? What do You want me to stop? What boundaries should I set on my work?

God is amazingly faithful, and I’ve experienced His provision over and over with my time. When I listen for His directions for work and rest, it all gets done within a timeframe that astounds me. Working within His plan reminds me that His good gifts include both joy in our work and fulfillment of the other needs of our souls — love, friendship, community and rest.

2) We compartmentalize our work

One of my most harmful misconceptions over the years is seeing my spiritual life as something separate from my “real life.”

As Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.”

Although we might never work for a person with a prestigious title, and regardless of whether our tasks are inside or outside the home, we still work for the King of Kings. An element of skill in our work is knowing who our true Boss is — and working for His pleasure. It’s seeking His direction so we’re working smarter, not harder. It’s following Him to find joy in what we’re accomplishing.

Our triune God has created us as fully integrated beings with a body, soul and spirit. God designed work as good — even in the Garden of Eden. Worship flows into the way we treat our bodies, which includes how we feed our minds and the plans we have for our work. Seeing our spiritual life connected to our workload helps us do everything as if we’re doing it for God, because whether we recognize it or not, we really are!

Making our work into worship gives it worth.

In truth, because God created us as spiritual beings, we’ll automatically worship while we work. The question is, Who are we worshipping? Are we worshipping ourselves by setting our own agendas and goals, or are we worshipping God by following His? The results are completely different.

Let’s worship God with our work so we can find joy and fulfillment again!

Dear Lord, I need to regain joy in my tasks. Help me to worship You as I work, doing it all for the King of Kings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Do What Jesus Taught

[Jesus] gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own
people, totally committed to doing good deeds (Titus 2:14).

James 1:22-25    (NKJV)

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Image result for pictures of people doing their christian faithImage result for pictures of people doing their christian faith
Image result for pictures of people doing their christian faithImage result for pictures of people doing their christian faith
Image result for pictures of people doing their christian faithImage result for pictures of people doing their christian faith
Image result for pictures of people doing their christian faithImage result for pictures of people doing their christian faith

Faith and Doing

From: Our Daily Journey

Faith and Doing

Read:

Ephesians 2:4-10
[Jesus] gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds (Titus 2:14).

The story of the criminal crucified with Jesus is one of Scriptures’ most dramatic conversion stories (Luke 23:32-43). About to die, the man had no time to clean up his life. Yet, because he believed in Jesus, he went to be with Him (Luke 23:42-43).

This story of God’s grace illustrates the truth Paul presented to the Ephesian believers in Jesus: “It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! . . . God saved you by his grace when you believed. . . . Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done” (Ephesians 2:5,8-9).

The reality that believers are saved by grace, through Jesus’ work, is central. But this principle could lead some to argue that living good lives is unimportant—unnecessary even.

As a condemned man, the criminal on the cross couldn’t do any service for God after he believed. But Paul has clearly taught elsewhere that those who’ve been saved by Jesus will do the work God has prepared for them to do. “[God] has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10). As John Calvin put it, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” If we say we believe in Jesus, but fail to do things that demonstrate this, one might question whether our claim to believe is true (James 2:14-26).

In another letter, Paul reiterated the truth that Jesus died “to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:14).

And Christ gave us yet another reason to be eager to do good works: “so that everyone will praise [our] heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16). When we serve by His power and leading, God is truly pleased (Hebrews 13:16).

 

What’s Inside?

From: Our Daily Bread

What’s Inside?

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

“Do you want to see what’s inside?” my friend asked. I had just complimented her on the old-fashioned rag doll her daughter held in her small arms. Instantly curious, I replied that yes, I very much wanted to see what was inside. She turned the doll face down and pulled open a discreet zipper sewn into its back. From within the cloth body, Emily gently removed a treasure: the rag doll she’d held and loved throughout the years of her own childhood more than two decades prior. The “outer” doll was merely a shell without this inner core to give it strength and form.

Paul describes the truth of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection as a treasure, carried about in the frail humanity of God’s people. That treasure enables those who trust in Him to bear up under unthinkable adversity and continue in their service. When they do, His light—His life—shines brightly through the “cracks” of their humanness. Paul encourages us all not to “lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:16) because God strengthens us to do His work.

Like the “inner” doll, the gospel-treasure within us lends both purpose and fortitude to our lives. When God’s strength shines through us, it invites others to ask, “What’s inside?” We can then unzip our hearts and reveal the life-giving promise of salvation in Christ.

Thank You, Lord, for saving me. Please shine Your light brightly through my broken life so others will be invited to know You too.

The gospel of truth shines through the brokenness of God’s people.

 

What My Obedience to God Costs Other People

By Oswald Chambers

 What My Obedience to God Costs Other People

If we obey God, it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the pain begins. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything— it is a delight. But to those who do not love Him, our obedience does cost a great deal. If we obey God, it will mean that other people’s plans are upset. They will ridicule us as if to say, “You call this Christianity?” We could prevent the suffering, but not if we are obedient to God. We must let the cost be paid.

When our obedience begins to cost others, our human pride entrenches itself and we say, “I will never accept anything from anyone.” But we must, or disobey God. We have no right to think that the type of relationships we have with others should be any different from those the Lord Himself had (see Luke 8:1-3).

A lack of progress in our spiritual life results when we try to bear all the costs ourselves. And actually, we cannot. Because we are so involved in the universal purposes of God, others are immediately affected by our obedience to Him. Will we remain faithful in our obedience to God and be willing to suffer the humiliation of refusing to be independent? Or will we do just the opposite and say, “I will not cause other people to suffer”? We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but it will grieve our Lord. If, however, we obey God, He will care for those who have suffered the consequences of our obedience. We must simply obey and leave all the consequences with Him.

Beware of the inclination to dictate to God what consequences you would allow as a condition of your obedience to Him.