Monthly Archives: February 2015

Everything belongs To God

Great Riches Await The Believers in Heaven.

 

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Image result for pictures of riches
Image result for pictures of riches

 

The riches God has for His children, in heaven, are far greater than we could imagine on earth.

 

“Do You Now Believe?”

From: Utmost.org

“Now we believe….” But Jesus asks, “Do you…? Indeed the hour is coming…that you…will leave Me alone” (John 16:31-32). Many Christian workers have left Jesus Christ alone and yet tried to serve Him out of a sense of duty, or because they sense a need as a result of their own discernment. The reason for this is actually the absence of the resurrection life of Jesus. Our soul has gotten out of intimate contact with God by leaning on our own religious understanding (see Proverbs 3:5-6). This is not deliberate sin and there is no punishment attached to it. But once a person realizes how he has hindered his understanding of Jesus Christ, and caused uncertainties, sorrows, and difficulties for himself, it is with shame and remorse that he has to return.

We need to rely on the resurrection life of Jesus on a much deeper level than we do now. We should get in the habit of continually seeking His counsel on everything, instead of making our own commonsense decisions and then asking Him to bless them. He cannot bless them; it is not in His realm to do so, and those decisions are severed from reality. If we do something simply out of a sense of duty, we are trying to live up to a standard that competes with Jesus Christ. We become a prideful, arrogant person, thinking we know what to do in every situation. We have put our sense of duty on the throne of our life, instead of enthroning the resurrection life of Jesus. We are not told to “walk in the light” of our conscience or in the light of a sense of duty, but to “walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7). When we do something out of a sense of duty, it is easy to explain the reasons for our actions to others. But when we do something out of obedience to the Lord, there can be no other explanation— just obedience. That is why a saint can be so easily ridiculed and misunderstood.

 

How To Become Rich

From: Get more strength

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. —Luke 12:15

I find it interesting that Jesus taught more about money than anything else. And He wasn’t trying to ratchet up the treasury. As far as we know, He never even asked for an offering. The reason He taught extensively on the subject is that nothing clogs our spiritual arteries more quickly than money—either working to have a lot of it or wishing that we had.

Think of the man who brazenly asked Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13). Amazing! He had an opportunity to “go deep” with Jesus, but instead he wanted deep pockets.

Jesus responded with a stunning, counterintuitive statement: “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). He then went on to tell the parable of a rich man who was wildly successful from a worldly standpoint—having so many crops that he had to keep building bigger barns—but who, in God’s eyes, was actually a “fool.” Not because he was rich, but because he was not rich toward God.

You’ll hear a lot of advice about how to become rich. But only Jesus tells it to us straight. It’s not about the money. It’s about the richness of our relationship with Him and the joy of turning our greed into generosity.

The riches of this world are vain,
They vanish in a day;
But sweet the treasures of God’s love—
They never pass away. —Bosch

Learning how to be rich toward God yields eternal dividends.

 

From: Streams in the Desert

Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually (Heb. 13:15).

A city missionary, stumbling through the dirt of a dark entry, heard a voice say, “Who’s there, Honey?” Striking a match, he caught a vision of earthly want and suffering, of saintly trust and peace, “cut in ebony”–calm, appealing eyes set amid the wrinkles of a pinched, black face that lay on a tattered bed. It was a bitter night in February, and she had no fire, no fuel, no light. She had had no supper, no dinner, no breakfast. She seemed to have nothing at all but rheumatism and faith in God. One could not well be more completely exiled from all pleasantness of circumstances, yet the favorite song of this old creature ran:

Nobody knows de trouble I see,
Nobody knows but Jesus;
Nobody knows de trouble I see–
Sing Glory Hallelu!

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,
Sometimes I’m level on the groun’,
Sometimes the glory shines aroun’
Sing Glory Hallelu!

And so it went on: “Nobody knows de work I does, Nobody knows de griefs I has,” the constant refrain being the “Glory Hallelu!” until the last verse rose:

Nobody knows de joys I has,
Nobody knows but Jesus!

“Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” It takes great Bible words to tell the cheer of that old negro auntie.

Remember Luther on his sick-bed. Between his groans he managed to preach on this wise: “These pains and trouble here are like the type which the printers set; as they look now, we have to read them backwards, and they seem to have no sense or meaning in them; but up yonder, when the Lord God prints us off in the life to come, we shall find they make brave reading.” Only we do not need to wait till then.

Remember Paul walking the hurricane deck amid a boiling sea, bidding the frightened crew “Be of good cheer,” Luther, the old negro auntie–all of them human sun-flowers.
–Wm. G. Garnett

 

 

“My expectation is from him.”

From: Bible gateway
Psalm 62:5

It is the believer’s privilege to use this language. If he is looking for aught from the world, it is a poor “expectation” indeed. But if he looks to God for the supply of his wants, whether in temporal or spiritual blessings, his “expectation” will not be a vain one. Constantly he may draw from the bank of faith, and get his need supplied out of the riches of God’s lovingkindness. This I know, I had rather have God for my banker than all the Rothschilds. My Lord never fails to honour his promises; and when we bring them to his throne, he never sends them back unanswered. Therefore I will wait only at his door, for he ever opens it with the hand of munificent grace. At this hour I will try him anew. But we have “expectations” beyond this life. We shall die soon; and then our “expectation is from him.” Do we not expect that when we lie upon the bed of sickness he will send angels to carry us to his bosom? We believe that when the pulse is faint, and the heart heaves heavily, some angelic messenger shall stand and look with loving eyes upon us, and whisper, “Sister spirit, come away!” As we approach the heavenly gate, we expect to hear the welcome invitation, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” We are expecting harps of gold and crowns of glory; we are hoping soon to be amongst the multitude of shining ones before the throne; we are looking forward and longing for the time when we shall be like our glorious Lord–for “We shall see him as he is.” Then if these be thine “expectations,” O my soul, live for God; live with the desire and resolve to glorify him from whom cometh all thy supplies, and of whose grace in thy election, redemption, and calling, it is that thou hast any “expectation” of coming glory.

Evening

“The barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.”
1 Kings 17:16

See the faithfulness of divine love. You observe that this woman had daily necessities. She had herself and her son to feed in a time of famine; and now, in addition, the prophet Elijah was to be fed too. But though the need was threefold, yet the supply of meal wasted not, for she had a constant supply. Each day she made calls upon the barrel, but yet each day it remained the same. You, dear reader, have daily necessities, and because they come so frequently, you are apt to fear that the barrel of meal will one day be empty, and the cruse of oil will fail you. Rest assured that, according to the Word of God, this shall not be the case. Each day, though it bring its trouble, shall bring its help; and though you should live to outnumber the years of Methuselah, and though your needs should be as many as the sands of the seashore, yet shall God’s grace and mercy last through all your necessities, and you shall never know a real lack. For three long years, in this widow’s days, the heavens never saw a cloud, and the stars never wept a holy tear of dew upon the wicked earth: famine, and desolation, and death, made the land a howling wilderness, but this woman never was hungry, but always joyful in abundance. So shall it be with you. You shall see the sinner’s hope perish, for he trusts his native strength; you shall see the proud Pharisee’s confidence totter, for he builds his hope upon the sand; you shall see even your own schemes blasted and withered, but you yourself shall find that your place of defence shall be the munition of rocks: “Your bread shall be given you, and your water shall be sure.” Better have God for your guardian, than the Bank of England for your possession. You might spend the wealth of the Indies, but the infinite riches of God you can never exhaust.

Pray For Christians being massacred

Christians are being Massacred Around the World

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Image result for pictures of people saying stopImage result for pictures of people saying stop
Image result for pictures of people saying stopImage result for pictures of people saying stop     STOP ISIS 

 

(Pray for the Christians in Northern Iraq being murdered for their faith by Isis. Let’s pray that a similar fate does not happen to us over here because no one would stop them.)

 

 

The Impoverished Ministry of Jesus

From: Utmost.org

“The well is deep” — and even a great deal deeper than the Samaritan woman knew! (John 4:11). Think of the depths of human nature and human life; think of the depth of the “wells” in you. Have you been limiting, or impoverishing, the ministry of Jesus to the point that He is unable to work in your life? Suppose that you have a deep “well” of hurt and trouble inside your heart, and Jesus comes and says to you, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1). Would your response be to shrug your shoulders and say, “But, Lord, the well is too deep, and even You can’t draw up quietness and comfort out of it.” Actually, that is correct. Jesus doesn’t bring anything up from the wells of human nature— He brings them down from above. We limit the Holy One of Israel by remembering only what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past, and also by saying, “Of course, I cannot expect God to do this particular thing.” The thing that approaches the very limits of His power is the very thing we as disciples of Jesus ought to believe He will do. We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty. The impoverishment is in us, not in Him. We will come to Jesus for Him to be our comforter or our sympathizer, but we refrain from approaching Him as our Almighty God.

The reason some of us are such poor examples of Christianity is that we have failed to recognize that Christ is almighty. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment or surrender to Jesus Christ. When we get into difficult circumstances, we impoverish His ministry by saying, “Of course, He can’t do anything about this.” We struggle to reach the bottom of our own well, trying to get water for ourselves. Beware of sitting back, and saying, “It can’t be done.” You will know it can be done if you will look to Jesus. The well of your incompleteness runs deep, but make the effort to look away from yourself and to look toward Him.

 

The Best Story Ever Told

From: Getmorestrength.org

“My purpose is that they . . . may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” Colossians 2:2-3

It’s not uncommon for blockbuster movies today to be followed by a sequel and even a “three-quel.” The film industry has discovered that we like to revisit certain stories. We want to know more about the characters and want to see what happens next.

George Lucas, years after completing his original Star Wars trilogy, took it one step further by producing three “prequels” to look at how the characters and story lines developed. And fans around the world were thrilled to learn more.

As followers of Jesus, however, we have the ultimate story—a real story—provided to us through the truth of Scripture and focused around the person of Jesus. And when our hearts have been awakened to the reality of His grace, we begin to explore Scripture looking for glimpses of who He is and what He has done. We track through the Gospels, amazed and thrilled at His insight and His character. Our hearts are pierced by His words as they cut directly to the core of who we are. We follow Him to the end of each gospel and weep as He is beaten and crucified, realizing the immense cost of our sin and shame. And then our spirits soar with the news that He is risen and has returned to heaven, where He prepares a place for us as His followers and promises to come back for us. But the story doesn’t end there.

We dive into the pages of Acts, exploring the action-packed sequel as we see the Holy Spirit equipping and energizing Christ’s followers to turn the world upside down through the message of the gospel. The pages resonate with the drama of characters who struggle, face incredible trials, and persevere because of their devotion to their compelling Savior. We trace their stories through the epistles, which clarify and explain the nature of this new entity, the church. But even that is not the whole story.

We could go back to the ultimate “prequel”—the Old Testament, where we see the vivid roots of our sin problem in Adam and Eve and yet, even in the midst of that sin, the seeds of grace sown by our God. The seeds of grace grow and flourish through God’s promises to men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. The drama heightens through the personification of God’s love relationship with His people Israel, who continually turn away from the only One who loves them completely. Through each page, we see the promise of Jesus as the hope of God’s people—prophesied and longed for, and pictured through the sacrifices prescribed in God’s law. But still, there’s more to the story.

In Colossians 2:2-5, Paul’s prayer for God’s people is that all of his efforts on behalf of the Colossian church would be focused toward one goal: helping them to know Jesus better. He reminds them—and us—that in Jesus are hidden “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” In other words, the more we know Him, the more we will yearn to know even more. There will always be more to the story, and we will never tire of the characters.

Yet the ultimate story is in the unfolding drama of a Savior who is so deep and wonderful that you never tire of getting to know Him.

Streams in the Desert

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day (Gen. 32:24).

Left alone! What different sensations those words conjure up to each of us. To some they spell loneliness and desolation, to others rest and quiet. To be left alone without God, would be too awful for words, but to be left alone with Him is a foretaste of Heaven! If His followers spent more time alone with Him, we should have spiritual giants again.

The Master set us an example. Note how often He went to be alone with God; and He had a mighty purpose behind the command, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray.”

The greatest miracles of Elijah and Elisha took place when they were alone with God. It was alone with God that Jacob became a prince; and just there that we, too, may become princes–“men (aye, and women too!) wondered at” (Zech. 3:8). Joshua was alone when the Lord came to him. (Josh. 1:1) Gideon and Jephthah were by themselves when commissioned to save Israel. (Judges 6:11 and 11:29) Moses was by himself at the wilderness bush. (Exodus 3:1-5) Cornelius was praying by himself when the angel came to him. (Acts 10:2) No one was with Peter on the house top, when he was instructed to go to the Gentiles. (Acts 10:9) John the Baptist was alone in the wilderness (Luke 1:90), and John the Beloved alone in Patmos, when nearest God. (Rev. 1:9)

Covet to get alone with God. If we neglect it, we not only rob ourselves, but others too, of blessing, since when we are blessed we are able to pass on blessing to others. It may mean less outside work; it must mean more depth and power, and the consequence, too, will be “they saw no man save Jesus only.”

To be alone with God in prayer cannot be over-emphasized.

If chosen men had never been alone,
In deepest silence open-doored to God,
No greatness ever had been dreamed or done.

 

Prayer answered, love nourished

From: Bible gateway

“I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplication.” Psalm 116:1

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 6:18-24

If a beggar comes to your house, and you give him alms, you will be greatly annoyed if within a month he shall come again; and if you then discover that he has made it a rule to wait upon you monthly for a contribution, you will say to him, “I gave you something once, but I did not mean to establish it as a rule.” Suppose, however, that the beggar should be so impudent and impertinent that he should say, “But I intend sir, to wait upon you every morning and every evening,” then you would say, “I intend to keep my gate locked that you shall not trouble me.” And suppose he should then look you in the face and add still more, “Sir, I intend waiting upon you every hour, nor can I promise that I won’t come to you sixty times in an hour; but I just vow and declare that as often as I want anything so often will I come to you: if I only have a wish I will come and tell it to you; the least thing and the greatest thing shall drive me to you; I will always be at the post of your door.” You would soon be tired of such importunity as that, and wish the beggar anywhere, rather than that he should come and tease you so. Yet recollect, this is just what you have done to God, and he has never complained of you for doing it; but rather he has complained of you the other way. He has said, “Thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob.” He has never murmured at the frequency of your prayers, but has complained that you have not come to him enough.

For meditation: In his unchanging willingness and desire to hear his childrens’ requests, God is unlike any person we know. Jesus had to teach this lesson by contrast, rather than by comparison (Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8).

Sermon no. 240
27 February (1859)

 

A jealous God

From: Biblegateway

‘For the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God.’ Exodus 34:14

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Kings 10:15–31

How careful should we be when we do anything for God, and God is pleased to accept of our doings, that we never congratulate ourselves. The minister of Christ should unrobe himself of every rag of praise. ‘You preached well,’ said a friend to John Bunyan one morning. ‘You are too late,’ said honest John, ‘the devil told me that before I left the pulpit.’ The devil often tells God’s servants a great many things which they should be sorry to hear. Why, you can hardly be useful in a Sunday School but he will say to you ‘How well you have done it!’ You can scarcely resist a temptation, or set a good example, but he will be whispering to you ‘What an excellent person you must be!’ It is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence—‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.’ Now God is so jealous on this point that, while he will forgive his own servants a thousand things, this is an offence for which he is sure to chasten us. Let a believer once say, ‘I am,’ and God will soon make him say ‘I am not’. Let a Christian begin to boast, ‘I can do all things,’ without adding ‘through Christ which strengtheneth me,’ and before long he will have to groan, ‘I can do nothing,’ and bemoan himself. Many sins of true Christians, I do not doubt, have been the result of their glorifying themselves. Many a man has been permitted by God to stain a noble character and to ruin an admirable reputation, because the character and the reputation had come to be the man’s own, instead of being laid, as all our crowns must be laid, at the feet of Christ. You may build the city, but if you say with Nebuchadnezzar, ‘Behold this great Babylon that I have built!’ you shall be smitten to the earth. The worms which ate Herod when he gave not God the glory are ready for another meal; beware of vain glory!

For meditation: The temptation to pat ourselves on the back should be the cue for us to recall how the Lord Jesus Christ instructs us to think and speak about our good deeds (Luke 17:10). Any glory resulting from them should go to God (Matthew 5:16).

Sermon no. 502
27 February (Preached 29 March 1863)

Beyond Any Doubt: Jesus Loves You

 

Doubt is a tool satan uses against you and against faith. Your heart gets troubled when you doubt God. Believe and stand firm in your faith.

 

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Our Misgivings About Jesus

From: Utmost.org

Have you ever said to yourself, “I am impressed with the wonderful truths of God’s Word, but He can’t really expect me to live up to that and work all those details into my life!” When it comes to confronting Jesus Christ on the basis of His qualities and abilities, our attitudes reflect religious superiority. We think His ideals are lofty and they impress us, but we believe He is not in touch with reality— that what He says cannot actually be done. Each of us thinks this about Jesus in one area of our life or another. These doubts or misgivings about Jesus begin as we consider questions that divert our focus away from God. While we talk of our dealings with Him, others ask us, “Where are you going to get enough money to live? How will you live and who will take care of you?” Or our misgivings begin within ourselves when we tell Jesus that our circumstances are just a little too difficult for Him. We say, “It’s easy to say, ‘Trust in the Lord,’ but a person has to live; and besides, Jesus has nothing with which to draw water— no means to be able to give us these things.” And beware of exhibiting religious deceit by saying, “Oh, I have no misgivings about Jesus, only misgivings about myself.” If we are honest, we will admit that we never have misgivings or doubts about ourselves, because we know exactly what we are capable or incapable of doing. But we do have misgivings about Jesus. And our pride is hurt even at the thought that He can do what we can’t.

My misgivings arise from the fact that I search within to find how He will do what He says. My doubts spring from the depths of my own inferiority. If I detect these misgivings in myself, I should bring them into the light and confess them openly— “Lord, I have had misgivings about You. I have not believed in Your abilities, but only my own. And I have not believed in Your almighty power apart from my finite understanding of it.”

 

FEBRUARY 26, 2015From: Crosswalk.com

I Don’t Want to Raise a Good Child 
LYSA TERKEURST

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

When my daughter Hope was in high school, she decided her senior year should be adventurous and a little out of the “normal” box. A lot out-of-the-box, actually.

She withdrew from traditional school. Applied with the state to homeschool. Enrolled in online college courses that would allow her to get both high school and college credit simultaneously. And planned to spend a month serving in Nicaragua doing missions.

This didn’t surprise me, really. Hope has always liked charting her own course. This thrills me now. But it didn’t thrill me so much in the early years of raising this strong-spirited child.

When she was really little I was scared to death I was the world’s worst mom, because Hope was never one to be contained. And I honestly thought all her extra tenacity was a sign of my poor mothering.

One day I took her to the mall to meet several of my friends with toddlers to grab lunch. All of their kids sat quietly eating Cheerios in their strollers. They shined their halos and quoted Bible verses and used tissues to wipe their noses.

Not Hope.

She was infuriated by my insistence she stay in her stroller. So, when I turned away for a split second to place our lunch order, she wiggled free. She stripped off all her clothes. She ran across the food court. And jumped in the fountain in the center of the mall.

Really, nothing makes the mother of a toddler feel more incapable than seeing her naked child splashing in the mall fountain. Except maybe that toddler refusing to get out and said mother having to also get into the fountain.

I cried all the way home.

Not because of what she’d done that day. But rather because of how she was every day. So determined. So independent. So insistent.

I would beg God to show me how to raise a good child. One that stayed in her stroller. One that made other people comment on how wonderfully behaved she was. One that made me look good.

But God seemed so slow to answer those prayers. So, over the years, I changed myprayer“God help me to raise Hope to be who You want her to be.” Emphasis on, “God HELP ME!”

I think I changed my prayers for her because God started to change my heart. I sensed He had a different plan in mind for my mothering of Hope.

Maybe God’s goal wasn’t for me to raise a good rule-following child. God’s goal was for me to raise a God-following adult. An adult who was just determined and independent and insistent enough to fulfill a purpose He had in mind all along.

Today’s key verse reminds us we are training children so that when they are old they will not turn away from Biblical principles, but rather implement them in their life-long pursuit of God. Remember, the things that might aggravate you about your child today might be the very things that, when matured, make them great for God’s kingdom tomorrow.

I’ve certainly seen this in raising Hope.

I don’t know which mama needs to hear this today. But let me encourage you from the bottom of my heart with three simple mothering perspectives you must hang on to:

1. Don’t take too much credit for their good.
2. Don’t take too much credit for their bad.
3. Don’t try to raise a good child. Raise a God-following adult.

And all the mamas of fountain-dancing children said, “Amen!”

 

 

My Grace is Enough

Streams in the Desert

But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. (2 Cor 12:9)
The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day’s work. I felt very wearied, and sore depressed, when swiftly, and suddenly as a lightning flash, that text came to me, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” I reached home and looked it up in the original, and at last it came to me in this way, “MY grace is sufficient for thee”; and I said, “I should think it is, Lord,” and burst out laughing. I never fully understood what the holy laughter of Abraham was until then. It seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was as though some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry, and Father Thames said, “Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for thee.” Or, it seemed after the seven years of plenty, a mouse feared it might die of famine; and Joseph might say, “Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee.” Again, I imagined a man away up yonder, in a lofty mountain, saying to himself, “I breathe so many cubic feet of air every year, I fear I shall exhaust the oxygen in the atmosphere,” but the earth might say, “Breathe away, O man, and fill the lungs ever, my atmosphere is sufficient for thee.” Oh, brethren, be great believers! Little faith will bring your souls to Heaven, but great faith will bring Heaven to your souls.
—C. H. Spurgeon
His grace is great enough to meet the great things
The crashing waves that overwhelm the soul,
The roaring winds that leave us stunned and breathless,
The sudden storm beyond our life’s control.
His grace is great enough to meet the small things
The little pin-prick troubles that annoy,
The insect worries, buzzing and persistent,
The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy.
—Annie Johnson Flint
There is always a large balance to our credit in the bank of Heaven waiting for our exercise of faith in drawing it. Draw heavily upon His resources.

 

February 26

From: Back to the Bible

Leviticus 17:11 (NIV) 11For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

Blood brings life giving oxygen and nutrients to every cell in our bodies. It carries away the waste from every cell. Without this wonderful process of both bringing nutrition and carrying away waste, we quickly die. Our brains cease to function after only a short time without sufficient blood flow. Truly, blood is our physical life.

God told Moses that the reason He designed us this way was so that the blood could make atonement for us on the altar. It makes atonement or covering for our sins. As the priest would slay the once- a- year atonement sacrifice, he would gather the blood to sprinkle before the Ark of the Covenant where God dwelt. The blood brings life, and the blood takes away impurity.

Man’s rebellion against God is so serious that only death is a sufficient penalty. Since life is in the blood, blood must be spilled as justice. From the foundation of the earth, God determined that it would be the blood of His own Son. That was the only blood that could take away the impurity of the world. All other blood was insufficient to remove sin. They had their own sin that needed to be removed. The blood of animals could cover for a time (atonement) until the sufficient blood was shed, the blood acceptable to God for the sins of the world.

Thank God today that He made a way to do what you could never do. Without the blood of Jesus there would be no hope for the removal of the impurities of your life. Like a person with liver failure, you would have died on your own poisons. But the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sins.

Pray: Thank Him for the wonder that took place upon the cross.

Evening

February 26

Matthew 13:13-15 (NIV) 13This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

The disciples couldn’t understand why Jesus spoke in parables. The natural man would think that a smooth compelling message would draw more people to the cause. Jesus was after more than numbers. He was seeking to draw people into a kingdom. This required a heart change, not merely a convinced mind. People will follow the intelligent speaker because of his ability to persuade. Then someone a little more persuasive comes along and they follow him. Jesus was after hearts.

Parables had to be interpreted by the Holy Spirit. A heart that knew it was helpless would seek to understand and the Holy Spirit would help them find. Revelation brings transformation. There is a personal interaction with the Holy Spirit. It has nothing to do with the persuasion of men, but everything to do with the power of interaction with God. This will never happen if the heart is calloused. There must be the recognition of need.

If Jesus had spoken plainly, the hardhearted in the crowds would be even more accountable on the Day of Judgment. It is the grace of God that Jesus spoke in parables, that the hungry might find a personal interaction with the Holy Spirit, and that the calloused in heart might not have increased condemnation. He is speaking in parables today, too. Your days are filled with them. Do you have eyes to see? Are your ears hearing? It all depends on the condition of your heart. We can all ask for the mercy and grace of God to soften our hearts so that they will be sensitive to what He is speaking to us.

Prayer: Lord, help me to see how much I need You. Soften my heart that I might receive what you are saying to me.

Let Jesus Be Your Partner

 

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The Destitution of Service

From: Utmost.org

Natural human love expects something in return. But Paul is saying, “It doesn’t really matter to me whether you love me or not. I am willing to be completely destitute anyway; willing to be poverty-stricken, not just for your sakes, but also that I may be able to get you to God.” “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor…” (2 Corinthians 8:9). And Paul’s idea of service was the same as our Lord’s. He did not care how high the cost was to himself— he would gladly pay it. It was a joyful thing to Paul.

The institutional church’s idea of a servant of God is not at all like Jesus Christ’s idea. His idea is that we serve Him by being the servants of others. Jesus Christ actually “out-socialized” the socialists. He said that in His kingdom the greatest one would be the servant of all (see Matthew 23:11). The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet— that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God. It was Paul’s delight to spend his life for God’s interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost. But before we will serve, we stop to ponder our personal and financial concerns— “What if God wants me to go over there? And what about my salary? What is the climate like there? Who will take care of me? A person must consider all these things.” All that is an indication that we have reservations about serving God. But the apostle Paul had no conditions or reservations. Paul focused his life on Jesus Christ’s idea of a New Testament saint; that is, not one who merely proclaims the gospel, but one who becomes broken bread and poured-out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for the sake of others.

Providential Partnership

From: Get More Strength

“So Boaz said to Ruth, ‘My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls.’” Ruth 2:8

Dads love it when their kids ask, “Can I help?” Even though the job may be too complex, they welcome the chance to let their kids take part in the project.

I can’t help but wonder if it’s like that with God. His work is so far beyond our capabilities; yet, like Monet painting a masterpiece and then handing the brush to a protégé, God wants to combine His sovereign providence with human initiative. He loves it when we want to be involved in His work!

Of course, God is completely sovereign. He is totally in charge of everything—always. Nobody ever checks His hand. As the God of providence, He is moving all of history toward a grand and glorious end to fulfill His divine plan. And, believe it or not, He often uses people in the process. This is where you and I come in. Every day we have a chance to get involved in what God is doing. His providence goes hand in hand with our obedience to Him in every circumstance of our lives.

The story of Ruth and Boaz is a great example of how God uses people to accomplish His plan. Notice that we don’t read: “God provided Boaz to rescue Ruth and Naomi from their plight.” It’s not spelled out for us quite like that, and what God was doing certainly wasn’t obvious to them at the time. But we know the end of the story. We can see that God’s hidden hand was working behind the scenes in Boaz’s choice to help Ruth in her time of need (Ruth 2:8). Boaz, by his righteous and compassionate actions, unknowingly struck a providential partnership that would ultimately fulfill God’s plan to place Ruth in the lineage of Jesus, the ultimate “kinsman redeemer.”

So don’t expect God’s providence to strike you with a flash of lightning. But count on it: He’s at work in your life even when you’re not aware of it. And He’s waiting for you to live by His will and His ways so that He can partner with you to good and glorious ends! How about it? Are you ready for providential partnership? What an honor!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • What is God’s ultimate plan? To bring glory to His name? To reach the lost? To help the poor and disadvantaged? To spread His generous love through you? All of the above?
  • Have you ever participated in a providential partnership—unknown to you at the time? What was the outcome?
  • Think of a friend who might be going through a hard time right now. Take a moment to pray for him or her, rejoicing that God has a plan in mind for that person. Then ask God if there is anything you can do to help.

I Promised Moses

From:  Streams in the Desert


 I am handing over to you every place you set foot, as I promised Moses. (Josh 1:3)

Beside the literal ground, unoccupied for Christ, there is the unclaimed, untrodden territory of Divine promises. What did God say to Joshua? “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you,” and then He draws the outlines of the Land of Promise—all theirs on one condition: that they shall march through the length and breadth of it, and measure it off with their own feet.
They never did that to more than one-third of the property, and consequently they never had more than one-third; they had just what they measured off, and no more.
In 2 Peter, we read of the “land of promise” that is opened up to us, and it is God’s will that we should, as it were, measure off that territory by the feet of obedient faith and believing obedience, thus claiming and appropriating it for our own.
How many of us have ever taken possession of the promises of God in the name of Christ?
Here is a magnificent territory for faith to lay hold on and march through the length and breadth of, and faith has never done it yet.
Let us enter into all our inheritance. Let us lift up our eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, and hear Him say, “All the land that thou seest will I give to thee.”
—A. T. Pierson
Wherever Judah should set his foot that should be his; wherever Benjamin should set his foot, that should be his. Each should get his inheritance by setting his foot upon it. Now, think you not, when either had set his foot upon a given territory, he did not instantly and instinctively feel, “This is mine”?
An old colored man, who had a marvelous experience in grace, was asked: “Daniel, why is it that you have so much peace and joy in religion?” “O Massa!” he replied, “I just fall flat on the exceeding great and precious promises, and I have all that is in them. Glory! Glory!” He who falls flat on the promises feels that all the riches embraced in them are his.
—Faith Papers
The Marquis of Salisbury was criticized for his Colonial policies and replied: “Gentlemen, get larger maps.”

The difference a teacher can make

From: Inspire21.com

A True Story by Jaye Lewis

Steve, a twelve-year-old boy with alcoholic parents, was about to be lost forever, by the U.S. education system. Remarkably, he could read, yet, in spite of his reading skills, Steve was failing. He had been failing since first grade, as he was passed on from grade to grade. Steve was a big boy, looking more like a teenager than a twelve year old, yet, Steve went unnoticed… until Miss White.

Miss White was a smiling, young, beautiful redhead, and Steve was in love! For the first time in his young life, he couldn’t take his eyes off his teacher; yet, still he failed. He never did his homework, and he was always in trouble with Miss White. His heart would break under her sharp words, and when he was punished for failing to turn in his homework, he felt just miserable! Still, he did not study.

In the middle of the first semester of school, the entire seventh grade was tested for basic skills. Steve hurried through his tests, and continued to dream of other things, as the day wore on. His heart was not in school, but in the woods, where he often escaped alone, trying to shut out the sights, sounds and smells of his alcoholic home. No one checked on him to see if he was safe. No one knew he was gone, because no one was sober enough to care. Oddly, Steve never missed a day of school.

One day, Miss White’s impatient voice broke into his daydreams.

“Steve!!” Startled, he turned to look at her.

“Pay attention!”

Steve locked his gaze on Miss White with adolescent adoration, as she began to go over the test results for the seventh grade.

“You all did pretty well,” she told the class, “except for one boy, and it breaks my heart to tell you this, but…” She hesitated, pinning Steve to his seat with a sharp stare, her eyes searching his face.

“…The smartest boy in the seventh grade is failing my class!”

She just stared at Steve, as the class spun around for a good look. Steve dropped his eyes and carefully examined his fingertips.

After that, it was war!! Steve still wouldn’t do his homework. Even as the punishments became more severe, he remained stubborn.

“Just try it! ONE WEEK!” He was unmoved.

“You’re smart enough! You’ll see a change!” Nothing fazed him.

“Give yourself a chance! Don’t give up on your life!” Nothing.

“Steve! Please! I care about you!”

Wow! Suddenly, Steve got it!! Someone cared about him? Someone, totally unattainable and perfect, CARED ABOUT HIM??!!”

Steve went home from school, thoughtful, that afternoon. Walking into the house, he took one look around. Both parents were passed out, in various stages of undress, and the stench was overpowering! He, quickly, gathered up his camping gear, a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, a bottle of water, and this time…his schoolbooks. Grim faced and determined, he headed for the woods.

The following Monday he arrived at school on time, and he waited for Miss White to enter the classroom. She walked in, all sparkle and smiles! God, she was beautiful! He yearned for her smile to turn on him. It did not.

Miss White, immediately, gave a quiz on the weekend homework. Steve hurried through the test, and was the first to hand inhis paper. With a look of surprise, Miss White took his paper. Obviously puzzled, she began to look it over. Steve walked back to his desk, his heart pounding within his chest. As he sat down, he couldn’t resist another look at the lovely woman.

Miss White’s face was in total shock! She glanced up at Steve, then down, then up. Suddenly, her face broke into a radiant smile. The smartest boy in the seventh grade had just passed his first test!

From that moment nothing was the same for Steve. Life at home remained the same, but life still changed. He discovered that not only could he learn, but he was good at it! He discovered that he could understand and retain knowledge, and that he could translate the things he learned into his own life. Steve began to excel! And he continued this course throughout his school life.

After high-school Steve enlisted in the Navy, and he had a successful military career. During that time, he met the love of his life, he raised a family, and he graduated from college Magna Cum Laude. During his Naval career, he inspired many young people, who without him, might not have believed in themselves. Steve began a second career after the Navy, and he continues to inspire others, as an adjunct professor in a nearby college

Miss White left a great legacy. She saved one boy who has changed many lives. I know, because I am the love of his life.

You see, it’s simple, really. A change took place within the heart of one boy, all because of one teacher, who cared.

Refugees share inspiring success stories

From: Inspire21.com

By Neil Senturia and Barbara Bry

Every once in a while, we find a story that embodies the triumph of the human spirit, the successful achievement against all odds, the individual passion for a better life that transcends all the noise from the digital, technology, blogosphere — just mano-a-mano against the darkness and the sadness. In this case, the manos are two women refugees whose stories give us all a moment to pause and consider our many blessings, particularly at this time of year.

Iraqi native Inas Khammi, 28, arrived in San Diego on Sept. 29, 2010. Speaking through an interpreter, she said her Chaldean Catholic family fled Iraq because of kidnapping threats due to their religion. In the U.S., she was eligible for $345 a month in cash assistance for eight months. Wanting to earn her own money, she looked at becoming a child-care provider to serve families in her community since she didn’t speak English.

Her case manager told her about the WE Center for STAR Women, a partnership of Women’s Empowerment International and the International Rescue Committee in San Diego that provides services to refugee and poor women who want to start or expand an existing business.

Lubna Saleem, a microenterprise business counselor whose salary is paid by WE, arranged for Khammi to attend child-care training in El Cajon, where she lives, in Arabic, and also helped her complete the application and coordinated the analyst home visit.

The STAR program also provided business management training and a $2,000 loan at 7.25 percent interest repayable over a two-year period so that Khammi could buy appropriate furniture and supplies. Khammi is current on her loan payments.

Today, Khammi’s child-care business has a gross monthly revenue of $6,000. Her husband, Waad Gorges, (they met shortly after her arrival in San Diego) is proud that his pregnant wife is earning more money than he is. After their baby is born, they are planning to rent a bigger house and expand the day-care center. At that point, she will be eligible for another $15,000 loan. “I am much happier because we can buy what we want and have a comfortable life,” said Khammi.

Another inspiring story is that is STAR Fashion, a small shop owned by another refugee woman, Fowsia Osman from Somalia. She sells scarves and shawls, jewelry and Somali garb.

Osman arrived in San Diego in 1998 when she was pregnant with her oldest son. Now a single mom, she has three sons — ages 13, 11 and 6. Through IRC, she learned English and attended child development classes, which allowed her to get a job with Head Start, where she worked for eight years. By 2007, she had saved $5,000, and with a $5,000 loan (which she has since repaid) and business assistance from STAR, she was able to open her shop.

Women’s Empowerment International was started by two enterprising women — Winifred Cox, who had retired as director of communications for the University of California San Diego, and Leigh Fenly, who had retired as the Quest section editor with The San Diego Union-Tribune.

“Our goal is to help women build long-term sustainable businesses,” said Cox. “We call what we’re doing a business incubator because we’re giving them one-stop shopping from idea through launch through growth and expansion. And you can always come back if you have a problem.” Since inception in 2003, the WE organization, which has more than 700 members and supporters, has raised $540,000.

Jesus Is Our Sacrifice

 

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The Delight of Sacrifice

From: Utmost.org

Once “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,” we deliberately begin to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests and purposes in others’ lives (Romans 5:5). And Jesus has an interest in every individual person. We have no right in Christian service to be guided by our own interests and desires. In fact, this is one of the greatest tests of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The delight of sacrifice is that I lay down my life for my Friend, Jesus (see John 15:13). I don’t throw my life away, but I willingly and deliberately lay it down for Him and His interests in other people. And I do this for no cause or purpose of my own. Paul spent his life for only one purpose— that he might win people to Jesus Christ. Paul always attracted people to his Lord, but never to himself. He said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

When someone thinks that to develop a holy life he must always be alone with God, he is no longer of any use to others. This is like putting himself on a pedestal and isolating himself from the rest of society. Paul was a holy person, but wherever he went Jesus Christ was always allowed to help Himself to his life. Many of us are interested only in our own goals, and Jesus cannot help Himself to our lives. But if we are totally surrendered to Him, we have no goals of our own to serve. Paul said that he knew how to be a “doormat” without resenting it, because the motivation of his life was devotion to Jesus. We tend to be devoted, not to Jesus Christ, but to the things which allow us more spiritual freedom than total surrender to Him would allow. Freedom was not Paul’s motive at all. In fact, he stated, “I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren…” (Romans 9:3). Had Paul lost his ability to reason? Not at all! For someone who is in love, this is not an overstatement. And Paul was in love with Jesus Christ.

Reversing the Flow

From: Get More Strength

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. . . . Streams of living water will flow from within him” John 7:37-38

Chicago is a world-class city. It’s known for its great pizza, architecture, symphony, sports teams, and lakefront setting. I love Chicago! If you were to visit Chicago, you’d see the beautiful Chicago River winding its way through the towering skyscrapers. The river adds a calming dynamic to the noisy rush of the city. But if you lived in Chicago in the late 1800s, you wouldn’t have been happy to have this river in your town. The people were plagued by it—literally.

A poorly-designed sewage system dumped the raw sewage from the city into the river. The river in turn carried the sewage into Lake Michigan. Since the city drew its water from the lake, the pollution from the river contaminated the city’s drinking water, which resulted in deadly outbreaks of cholera, typhoid fever, and dysentery. So, in desperate need of a remedy, someone had the brilliant idea to reverse the flow of the river. If they could pull the project off, the power of the water from the deep blue lake would wash the sewage away from the city and the lake would be purified to provide safe drinking water. After great effort and expense, engineers succeeded in their plan to reverse the flow of the Chicago River. Reversing the flow of the river made Chicago a better city to live in and blessed it with the presence of a clean, beautiful river.

The river problem in Chicago reminds me that I need to be careful about where I get my drinking water. Not literal drinking water, but the water that offers to satisfy the thirst of my passions and needs. Satan shamelessly dumps his sewage into the river of our desires and then welcomes us to drink. And when we drink, the damage begins to do its work in terms of guilt, regret, shame, and brokenness. But God has a better idea! Instead of the downward cycle of taking in the contaminated pseudo-thirst-quenching offerings of our world, He offers us the water of His pure, satisfying presence and wisdom every day in limitless supply.

For too long we have lived with the water of our own desires and passions flowing the wrong way. When everything flows toward self, our own happiness, the satisfaction of lusts, and personal pleasure, we dump a lot of contaminants into our churches, families, and friendships. God paid a high price to reverse the flow when Jesus died to change the direction of our lives.

Reversing the flow begins when we open the floodgates of our hearts and surrender to the flow of God’s wisdom and will into every area of our existence. We’ll know it’s flowing the right way when the water quality of our lives matches the pure quality of the source.

And, it’s not just about us. Getting the flow right means that the massive energy and supply of God’s love for others, His selfless acts of forgiveness and mercy, His care for the needy and poor, His willingness to go the extra mile, and His willingness to surrender Himself for the good of others will flow through us and bless all who live downstream.

Letting God do His work to reverse the flow of your life will give you a healthier existence and bless everyone around you with the beauty and strength of His presence flowing through you.

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • What is the primary source of satisfaction in your life? Could you honestly say that it is the flow of God’s wisdom and will into your heart and life?
  • Is there pollution muddying the waters of your life? If so, what can you do to reverse the flow to bring purity into your life?
  • Read Isaiah 43:1-28, and note all of God’s promises to His people. How has He fulfilled those promises through Jesus, and how have you personally reaped the benefits?
  • What is it about your life that brings the flow of God’s blessings to those who live “downstream” from you?
  • Read Psalm 42:1-2 and pray it back to God as an expression of your desire to have your life satisfied with the water of His presence and power.

Streams in the Desert

Many came to him and began to say, “John performed no miraculous sign, but everything John said about this man was true!” (John 10:41)
You may be very discontented with yourself. You are no genius, have no brilliant gifts, and are inconspicuous for any special faculty. Mediocrity is the law of your existence. Your days are remarkable for nothing but sameness and insipidity. Yet you may live a great life.
John did no miracle, but Jesus said that among those born of women there had not appeared a greater than he.
John’s main business was to bear witness to the Light, and this may be yours and mine. John was content to be only a voice, if men would think of Christ.
Be willing to be only a voice, heard but not seen; a mirror whose surface is lost to view, because it reflects the dazzling glory of the sun; a breeze that springs up just before daylight, and says, “The dawn! the dawn!” and then dies away.
Do the commonest and smallest things as beneath His eye. If you must live with uncongenial people, set to their conquest by love. If you have made a great mistake in your life, do not let it becloud all of it; but, locking the secret in your breast, compel it to yield strength and sweetness.
We are doing more good than we know, sowing seeds, starting streamlets, giving men true thoughts of Christ, to which they will refer one day as the first things that started them thinking of Him; and, of my part, I shall be satisfied if no great mausoleum is raised over my grave, but that simple souls shall gather there when I am gone, and say,
“He was a good man; he wrought no miracles, but he spake words about Christ, which led me to know Him for myself.”
—George Matheson
“THY HIDDEN ONES” (Psa. 83:3)
“Thick green leaves from the soft brown earth, 
Happy springtime hath called them forth; 
First faint promise of summer bloom 
Breathes from the fragrant, sweet perfume, 
Under the leaves.
“Lift them! what marvelous beauty lies 
Hidden beneath, from our thoughtless eyes! 
Mayflowers, rosy or purest white, 
Lift their cups to the sudden light, 
Under the leaves.
“Are there no lives whose holy deeds—
Seen by no eye save His who reads 
Motive and action—in silence grow 
Into rare beauty, and bud and blow 
Under the leaves?
“Fair white flowers of faith and trust, 
Springing from spirits bruised and crushed; 
Blossoms of love, rose-tinted and bright, 
Touched and painted with Heaven’s own light 
Under the leaves.
“Full fresh clusters of duty borne, 
Fairest of all in that shadow grown; 
Wondrous the fragrance that sweet and rare 
Comes from the flower-cups hidden there 
Under the leaves.
“Though unseen by our vision dim, 
Bud and blossom are known to Him; 
Wait we content for His heavenly ray—
Wait till our Master Himself one day 
Lifteth the leaves.”
“God calls many of His most valued workers from the unknown multitude” (Luke 14:23).

Showers of Blessings

From: Bible Gateway

“I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.”
Ezekiel 34:26

Here is sovereign mercy–“I will give them the shower in its season.” Is it not sovereign, divine mercy?–for who can say, “I will give them showers,” except God? There is only one voice which can speak to the clouds, and bid them beget the rain. Who sendeth down the rain upon the earth? Who scattereth the showers upon the green herb? Do not I, the Lord? So grace is the gift of God, and is not to be created by man. It is also needed grace. What would the ground do without showers? You may break the clods, you may sow your seeds, but what can you do without the rain? As absolutely needful is the divine blessing. In vain you labour, until God the plenteous shower bestows, and sends salvation down. Then, it is plenteous grace. “I will send them showers.” It does not say, “I will send them drops,” but “showers.” So it is with grace. If God gives a blessing, he usually gives it in such a measure that there is not room enough to receive it. Plenteous grace! Ah! we want plenteous grace to keep us humble, to make us prayerful, to make us holy; plenteous grace to make us zealous, to preserve us through this life, and at last to land us in heaven. We cannot do without saturating showers of grace. Again, it is seasonable grace. “I will cause the shower to come down in his season.” What is thy season this morning? Is it the season of drought? Then that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers. “As thy days so shall thy strength be.” And here is a varied blessing. “I will give thee showers of blessing.” The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings God will send. All God’s blessings go together, like links in a golden chain. If he gives converting grace, he will also give comforting grace. He will send “showers of blessing.” Look up today, O parched plant, and open thy leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering.

Evening

“O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy upon Jerusalem? … And the Lord answered the angel … with good words and comfortable words.”
Zechariah 1:12-13

What a sweet answer to an anxious enquiry! This night let us rejoice in it. O Zion, there are good things in store for thee; thy time of travail shall soon be over; thy children shall be brought forth; thy captivity shall end. Bear patiently the rod for a season, and under the darkness still trust in God, for his love burneth towards thee. God loves the church with a love too deep for human imagination: he loves her with all his infinite heart. Therefore let her sons be of good courage; she cannot be far from prosperity to whom God speaketh “good words and comfortable words.” What these comfortable words are the prophet goes on to tell us: “I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.” The Lord loves his church so much that he cannot bear that she should go astray to others; and when she has done so, he cannot endure that she should suffer too much or too heavily. He will not have his enemies afflict her: he is displeased with them because they increase her misery. When God seems most to leave his church, his heart is warm towards her. History shows that whenever God uses a rod to chasten his servants, he always breaks it afterwards, as if he loathed the rod which gave his children pain. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” God hath not forgotten us because he smites–his blows are no evidences of want of love. If this is true of his church collectively, it is of necessity true also of each individual member. You may fear that the Lord has passed you by, but it is not so: he who counts the stars, and calls them by their names, is in no danger of forgetting his own children. He knows your case as thoroughly as if you were the only creature he ever made, or the only saint he ever loved. Approach him and be at peace.

Determination To Serve Jesus

 

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The Determination to Serve

From: Utmost.org

Jesus also said, “Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27). Paul’s idea of service was the same as our Lord’s— “…ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). We somehow have the idea that a person called to the ministry is called to be different and above other people. But according to Jesus Christ, he is called to be a “doormat” for others— called to be their spiritual leader, but never their superior. Paul said, “I know how to be abased…” (Philippians 4:12). Paul’s idea of service was to pour his life out to the last drop for others. And whether he received praise or blame made no difference. As long as there was one human being who did not know Jesus, Paul felt a debt of service to that person until he did come to know Him. But the chief motivation behind Paul’s service was not love for others but love for his Lord. If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people. But if we are motivated by our love for God, no amount of ingratitude will be able to hinder us from serving one another.

Paul’s understanding of how Christ had dealt with him is the secret behind his determination to serve others. “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man…” (1 Timothy 1:13). In other words, no matter how badly others may have treated Paul, they could never have treated him with the same degree of spite and hatred with which he had treated Jesus Christ. Once we realize that Jesus has served us even to the depths of our meagerness, our selfishness, and our sin, nothing we encounter from others will be able to exhaust our determination to serve others for His sake.

My Only Hope

From: Getmorestrength.org

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” Psalm 51:1

Any Star Wars fans out there? Remember the opening scenes of the first movie that begin with a laser battle between a little spaceship (the good guys) and this huge, ominous Imperial Star Destroyer—you guessed it, the bad guys. The camera cuts to the inside of the ship and we see Princess Leia and her loyal fighters quickly overpowered by Darth Vader and his minions. The situation is dire and our heroine has time only to pass a message on to her faithful robot R2D2, who is then jettisoned to safety on a nearby planet along with his uptight buddy C3PO.

The droids end up in the care of Luke Skywalker, who discovers Leia’s message. R2D2 projects an image of the princess pleading, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope!” The message is repeated over and over: “Help me . . . you’re my only hope!”

That simple little phrase encapsulates David’s plea in the first verse of Psalm 51. After fighting a year-long battle against the forces of darkness in his own heart, he had reached a point of desperation. Finally, he admitted that he could not overcome the guilt of his sin by his own cleverness, charm, or position. Nor could his inner turmoil be quieted by a clever spin from a PR department. In the face of the mess he had made of his life—adultery, deception, murder—he was left with only one hope: a plea for mercy from God who held all the cards regarding David’s cleansing.

I have to tell you, whether it’s the overwhelming force of life’s struggles or the guilt of our sin, our only hope is that God in His mercy will forgive and deliver us. As David writes in Psalm 42:11, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? . . . Put your hope in God!”

The good news for David—and for those of us who need to come to this same tipping point in our walk with Christ—is that our hope is never misplaced when we place it entirely and completely in God. And our confidence in His willingness to bestow delivering mercy is grounded, as David said, in the fact that God is a God of unfailing love and great compassion. We don’t need more meds or self-help positive spins on life when we are beyond ourselves. We need God! David said it best when he penned the words of Psalm 25:3, “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.”

In the midst of the turmoil of life and in the mire of our own sin, one simple prayer offers us the promise of rescue and deliverance. “Help me, Lord Jesus. You’re my only hope!”

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Where do you go for strength and solutions when you are in need? When was the last time you turned to God to find help in your time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16)?
  • What characteristics of God can you list to give you confidence that, when you are in need, He can be counted on?
  • Read Psalms 25:1-22; 42:1-11, and 51:1-19 prayerfully, and claim their promises for yourself

February 23

From: Through the Bible

Exodus 34:14 (NIV) 14Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

We run into trouble when we think of God as we would think of man. That is all we have to relate to, other humans. With the exception of Jesus’ physical life, all human comparisons with God’s character are flawed. When we read this passage, at first, we may think of jealousy is an unholy quality. That would be thinking as if God was like man. He is not. He is utterly holy. We can understand Him calling Himself a jealous God if we consider His other attributes.

His jealousy is out of a holy heart of real love. Since we are dedicated to Him as His bride, He longs to see us uncompromisingly dedicated to Him. His desires are entirely pure and unselfish. The motivation of His jealousy is His genuine love that knows His ways are best for us. He wants to see us made into a pure and spotless bride.

The same word for jealous in Hebrew can be translated zealous. God has a great zeal to see us transformed into the image of Christ. It is out of His great love that we see this jealousy, or zealousness, in God. It is hard to fathom that Someone so great could love us so much. We, in proper response, should allow our love for Him to flourish. We should be zealous about Him as well. We should also be sensitive to times when something may be competing for our love for Him. It is not a good idea to arouse His jealousy. It is there for our good.

Meditate on the zealous love of God for you. Is there something that is competing for your love for Him?

Evening

February 23

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) 28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Has life worn you out? Tired of trying to get it all done? Tired of trying to please God, feed your family, help a friend, and take care of the million little demanding details that life can be full of? Go to Jesus! He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you and learn from Him.

Yokes are usually for a tandem pair of oxen. Younger oxen would often plow with the older experienced ones. Imagine yoking up with Jesus. Talk about experience! He went through it all without sin. He can teach you how to plow through life. Yoked to Him, you will learn from Him. He is gentle and humble in heart. No better qualities could you find in a teacher. He won’t get on your case because you didn’t get it right the first time. He gently instructs and directs. Learning from Him is a place of rest for your soul. That means your thoughts, emotions, and impending decisions can all rest in His perfect instruction.

Yoked together with Jesus you will see that God has it all under control. He teaches us to trust in the Father and act at His leading. When we do that, everything comes out best in the long run. We can trust in His wonderful knowledge about all things and His power to do anything. That makes the yoke feel light and the load we pull easy. He plowed this path before us and broke up the soil we could never have pulled the plow through. Now we pull the plow through the furrow that He already plowed for us. Just stay in the yoke with Him. Don’t go trying to plow another field in another yoke. You’ll find that without Him, you can do nothing. The yoke will be unbearably heavy and the burden unmovable. Which yoke are you under? Which burden are you pulling?

Consider: If the yoke is unbearably heavy, it must not be Jesus’ yoke.

Bow To Christ, The King of Kings!

 

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The Discipline of Spiritual Perseverance

From: Utmost.org

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered. Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated. Also, our fear is that the very things our Lord stood for— love, justice, forgiveness, and kindness among men— will not win out in the end and will represent an unattainable goal for us. Then there is the call to spiritual perseverance. A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated.

If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified. Every hope or dream of the human mind will be fulfilled if it is noble and of God. But one of the greatest stresses in life is the stress of waiting for God. He brings fulfillment, “because you have kept My command to persevere…” (Revelation 3:10).

Royalty Recognized

From: Get More Strength

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, . . . [and] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. —Philippians 2:10-11

As a kid, I loved watching the film Little Lord Fauntleroy. The story focuses on Cedric, a boy growing up in a poor home with his mother in Brooklyn. He discovers the stunning news that he is actually the direct descendant of the Earl of Dorincourt and the heir of a vast fortune. One day he’s a nobody playing “kick the can” on the streets of New York, and then suddenly he’s traveling through an English town to the cries of “Your lordship!” from adoring villagers.

If you had seen Jesus playing in the streets of Nazareth as a boy, you wouldn’t have taken any special notice of Him (except that He probably wasn’t playing “kick the can”). If you had seen Him in the carpentry shop, you wouldn’t have had a clue about His deity. And if you had seen Him hanging on the cross, that horrific scene wouldn’t have enticed your heart to adore Him if you didn’t know what was behind it.

But in His resurrection, Jesus revealed His true identity. He is the conquering King—ultimate royalty! Since “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9), how much more should we adoringly worship Him who, in such surrendered humility, died so that He could become our victorious King!

Behold Him there! The risen Lamb!
My perfect, spotless righteousness;
The great, unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace. —Bancroft

Recognize and respond to the royalty of God—worship Him!

Streams in the Desert

If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:23).

Seldom have we heard a better definition of faith than was given once in one of our meetings, by a dear old colored woman, as she answered the question of a young man how to take the Lord for needed help.

In her characteristic way, pointing her finger toward him, she said with great emphasis: “You’ve just got to believe that He’s done it and it’s done.” The great danger with most of us is that, after we ask Him to do it, we do not believe that it is done, but we keep on helping Him, and getting others to help Him; and waiting to see how He is going to do it.

Faith adds its “Amen” to God’s “Yea,” and then takes its hands off, and leaves God to finish His work. Its language is, “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him; and he worketh.”
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

I simply take Him at His word,
I praise Him that my prayer is heard,
And claim my answer from the Lord;
I take, He undertakes.

An active faith can give thanks for a promise, though it be not as yet performed; knowing that God’s bonds are as good as ready money.
–Matthew Henry

Passive faith accepts the word as true
But never moves.
Active faith begins the work to do,
And thereby proves.
Passive faith says, “I believe it! every word of God is true.
Well I know He hath not spoken what He cannot, will not, do.
He hath bidden me, ‘Go forward!’ but a closed-up way I see,
When the waters are divided, soon in Canaan’s land I’ll be.
Lo! I hear His voice commanding, ‘Rise and walk: take up thy bed’;
And, ‘Stretch forth thy withered member!’ which for so long has been dead.
When I am a little stronger, then, I know I’ll surely stand:
When there comes a thrill of heating, I will use with ease My other hand.
Yes, I know that ‘God is able’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, sometime, will to me come true.”
Active faith says, “I believe it! and the promise now I take,
Knowing well, as I receive it, God, each promise, real will make.
So I step into the waters, finding there an open way;
Onward press, the land possessing; nothing can my progress stay.
Yea, I rise at His commanding, walk straightway, and joyfully:
This, my hand, so sadly shrivelled, as I reach, restored shall be.
What beyond His faithful promise, would I wish or do I need?
Looking not for ‘signs or wonders,’ I’ll no contradiction heed.
Well I know that ‘God is able,’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, at this moment can come true.”
Passive faith but praises in the light, When sun doth shine.

Active faith will praise in darkest night– Which faith is thine?
–Selected

 

The greatest trial on record

From: Bible gateway

‘The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed.’ Psalm 2:2

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 4:17–24

This day I put before you Christ Jesus, or your sins. The reason why many come not to Christ is because they cannot give up their lusts, their pleasures, their profits. Sin is Barabbas; sin is a thief; it will rob your soul of its life; it will rob God of his glory. Sin is a murderer; it stabbed our father Adam; it slew our purity. Sin is a traitor; it rebels against the king of heaven and earth. If you prefer sin to Christ, Christ has stood at your tribunal, and you have given in your verdict that sin is better than Christ. Where is that man? He comes here every Sunday; and yet he is a drunkard! Where is he? You prefer that reeling demon Bacchus to Christ. Where is that man? He comes here. Yes; and where are his midnight haunts? The harlot and the prostitute can tell! You have preferred your own foul, filthy lust to Christ. I know some here that have their consciences often pricked, and yet there is no change in them. You prefer Sunday trading to Christ; you prefer cheating to Christ; you prefer the theatre to Christ; you prefer the harlot to Christ; you prefer the devil himself to Christ, for he it is that is the father and author of these things. ‘No,’ says one, ‘I don’t.’ Then I do again put this question, and I put it very pointedly to you—‘If you do not prefer your sins to Christ, how is it that you are not a Christian?’ I believe this is the main stumbling-stone, that ‘Men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.’ We come not to Christ because of the viciousness of our nature, and depravity of our heart; and this is the depravity of your heart, that you prefer darkness to light, put bitter for sweet, and choose evil as your good.

For meditation: We ought to fear and serve God (Joshua 24:14–24); if we won’t, the only choice left to us is to follow one false way or another and serve sin in either its scandalous or more sophisticated forms. The intention to serve God is not something to be professed lightly, but by God’s grace it is possible to serve him. Whom do you serve ‘this day’?

Sermon no. 495
22 February (1863)

Do A Good Work For God

 

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Do You Really Love Him?

From: Utmost.org

If what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, it is not really love. If we have the idea that love is characterized as cautious, wise, sensible, shrewd, and never taken to extremes, we have missed the true meaning. This may describe affection and it may bring us a warm feeling, but it is not a true and accurate description of love.

Have you ever been driven to do something for God not because you felt that it was useful or your duty to do so, or that there was anything in it for you, but simply because you love Him? Have you ever realized that you can give things to God that are of value to Him? Or are you just sitting around daydreaming about the greatness of His redemption, while neglecting all the things you could be doing for Him? I’m not referring to works which could be regarded as divine and miraculous, but ordinary, simple human things— things which would be evidence to God that you are totally surrendered to Him. Have you ever created what Mary of Bethany created in the heart of the Lord Jesus? “She has done a good work for Me.”

There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him even small gifts of surrender, just to show how genuine our love is for Him. To be surrendered to God is of more value than our personal holiness. Concern over our personal holiness causes us to focus our eyes on ourselves, and we become overly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, out of fear of offending God. “…but perfect love casts out fear…” once we are surrendered to God (1 John 4:18). We should quit asking ourselves, “Am I of any use?” and accept the truth that we really are not of much use to Him. The issue is never of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. Once we are totally surrendered to God, He will work through us all the time.

God’s Heart Revealed

From: Get More Strength

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. —Revelation 3:19

It’s easy to think of God as a divine fly-swatter, just waiting for you to land so that—whap—He can nail you for your sins. But that’s not what we see in Revelation 2:1 – 3:22 in His letters to the seven churches. The pattern of the letters demonstrates God’s loving heart for wayward people.

Jesus began many of these letters by affirming the good things His people had done. This shows us that when we do what is good and right, the Lord is pleased.

But Jesus is also concerned about the faults in our lives. His commendation in these letters was often followed by clear words of reproof. And while it’s not comfortable to hear Him say, “Nevertheless I have this against you” (Rev. 2:4; Rev. 2:14,20), He reveals what needs to be changed in our lives to keep us from self-deceit.

This moves us to the real heart of the matter—repentance. When the Lord told these churches to repent, He was revealing His love for wayward saints. His goal was not to condemn but to restore them to intimate fellowship with Him.

And don’t miss the fact that each letter ends with a specific promise for the “overcomers.” Clearly God desires to reward those who live lives that are pleasing to Him.

What’s He saying to you today?

To live a life that pleases Christ,
It’s crucial to obey His voice;
When He reveals our sin to us,
Repentance is the wisest choice. —Sper

Repentance restores and renews our intimacy with the Lord.

 

FEBRUARY 20, 2015

From: Crosswalk.com

I Need to Hit the Refresh Button
WENDY POPE

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

It never fails. The moment I sit down to work at my computer, I’m interrupted.

I tend to multi-task, so I can be writing a devotion, working on a speaking message or helping my high-schooler with research for a project, all at the same time. As a result, I often have multiple websites open.

That’s when the interruptions start. Bzzztt.

The buzzer rings to move the clothes from the washer to dryer. The water is boiling for spaghetti noodles. Inevitably, “Mom, I need your help!” bellows from the other room.

Hours later when supper is over, the laundry’s completed and the problem is solved, I finally return to my computer. As my PC awakens I notice the opened websites look exactly the same as when I left them hours before. Untouched. Unchanged. Suspended in time.

But as soon as I hit the refresh button, all the information on the untouched, unchanged, suspended-in-time pages turns instantly current.

Something similar happens when we leave our Bibles untouched and then begin reading again. As we read in today’s key verse, God’s Word is “alive and active.” Reading it refreshes our souls and can touch and change our lives.

Recently while I was reading Psalm 23, King David’s words became alive and active. It felt like God hit the refresh button in my spirit to show me the current application of this familiar Psalm. Can I share with you how I was refreshed by these six short verses?

“The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” (NLT)

Refreshed, these ancient words reminded me:

  • He gives me all I need. (v1)
  • He lets me rest. (v2)
  • He leads me. (v2)
  • He renews me. (v3)
  • He guides me. (v3)
  • He keeps me company. (v4)
  • He protects me. (v4)
  • He raises me up. (v5)
  • He honors me. (v5)
  • He pursues me. (v6)
  • He will spend eternity with me. (v6)

Do you feel refreshed? I know I do. God’s Word has power. Each time we read it, words penned thousands of years ago come to life over and over again! His Word is truly alive and active. God longs to touch and change our lives each day with His power. I just love God’s Word! And I pray if you don’t already, some day you will, too.

From: Streams in the Desert

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him (Psalms 37:7).

Have you prayed and prayed and waited and waited, and still there is no manifestation? Are you tired of seeing nothing move? Are you just at the point of giving it all up? Perhaps you have not waited in the right way? This would take you out of the right place the place where He can meet you.

“With patience wait” (Rom. 8:25). Patience takes away worry. He said He would come, and His promise is equal to His presence. Patience takes away your weeping. Why feel sad and despondent? He knows your need better than you do, and His purpose in waiting is to bring more glory out of it all. Patience takes away self-works. The work He desires is that you “believe” (John 6:29), and when you believe, you may then know that all is well. Patience takes away all want. Your desire for the thing you wish is perhaps stronger than your desire for the will of God to be fulfilled in its arrival.

Patience takes away all weakening. Instead of having the delaying time, a time of letting go, know that God is getting a larger supply ready and must get you ready too. Patience takes away all wobbling. “Make me stand upon my standing” (Daniel 8:18, margin). God’s foundations are steady; and when His patience is within, we are steady while we wait. Patience gives worship. A praiseful patience sometimes “long-suffering with joyfulness” (Col. 1:11) is the best part of it all. “Let (all these phases of) patience have her perfect work” (James 1:4), while you wait, and you will find great enrichment.
–C. H. P.

Hold steady when the fires burn,
When inner lessons come to learn,
And from this path there seems no turn
“Let patience have her perfect work.”

–L.S.P.

February 21

Exodus 33:13-15 (NIV) 13If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.

Moses had set up a tent where he would go and meet with the Lord. The cloud that led them would come over the tent when Moses went to commune with God. He had a special place he would go. It is a good example for us. We should commune with God throughout the day, but a special place to really hear from God can be helpful.

After Moses saw the devastation that sin brought on the camp and was reminded about the fallen nature of man, he asked God to teach him His ways so that he would stay in God’s favor. Moses was asking to learn to walk in righteousness. He wanted to forsake the ways of man and live in the ways of God, that he might please God. How can he lead if he does not know God’s ways? His reminder that the nation is God’s people enforces the need to know God’s ways. He had already received the Law, but Moses knew it was more than just rules for living.

Instead of giving Moses more rules or a book to study called The Ways of God, He gave Himself. Presence is rightly capitalized here. This is the Prince of the Countenance. It is Jesus going with Moses. That is who is in the cloud as the angel of the Lord. He is the One who meets with Moses in the tent. He is the Way of God. Moses rightly says, “If your Presence does not go with us we don’t want to move.” I hope you have come to the same conclusion. Sin is devastating. You need to know the ways of God. You need His Presence with you in all you do and everywhere you go.

Consider: If Jesus doesn’t go with you, stay put! In Him we find rest.

Evening

February 21

Matthew 10:37-39 (NIV) 37“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

The word of God tells us to love one another. It also tells us to honor our father and mother. What is Jesus saying here? Our mother and father and children and even our very life are all gifts from God. Our primary love and allegiance is to be to the Giver of all good things. If we love what He has given us, more than the One who gave it, we have entered into the realm of idolatry. This all surpassing love can only come through a revelation of His great love for us. Love produces love.

Jesus goes on to say that if we do not take up our cross and follow, we are not worthy of Him. When a criminal was sentenced to crucifixion, the judge ordered the cross beam to be secured to the victims arms and back. He had to carry it to his place of execution. Once that beam was on your back, you were as good as dead. They then followed the soldiers to the place of execution. Do you see the implications when Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me”? We must ask ourselves whether or not we have that mind set. Is your life over and His life in you begun, or do you still go where you please?

If you find your life you will lose it. If we go where we please and find satisfaction in things of the world, our life will be lost. That is Jesus explanation of reality. The only way to really find life is to lose it for Jesus’ sake. The listeners had not yet seen the final display of His love for them. Perhaps it was His compassion and the miracles that helped them look beyond themselves. We can look at His display of love on the cross and see that He was literally willing to do that for us.

Consider: Should we respond with any less willingness to do so for Him?

Keep Your Dreams

 

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Keep your dream

From: Academictips.org.

I have a friend named Monty Roberts who owns a horse ranch in San Ysidro. He has let me use his house to put on fund-raising events to raise money for youth at risk programs.

The last time I was there he introduced me by saying, “I want to tell you why I let Jack use my horse. It all goes back to a story about a young man who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer who would go from stable to stable, race track to race track, farm to farm and ranch to ranch, training horses. As a result, the boy’s high school career was continually interrupted. When he was a senior, he was asked to write a paper about what he wanted to be and do when he grew up.

“That night he wrote a seven-page paper describing his goal of someday owning a horse ranch. He wrote about his dream in great detail and he even drew a diagram of a 200-acre ranch, showing the location of all the buildings, the stables and the track. Then he drew a detailed floor plan for a 4,000-square-foot house that would sit on a 200-acre dream ranch.

“He put a great deal of his heart into the project and the next day he handed it in to his teacher. Two days later he received his paper back. On the front page was a large red F with a note that read, `See me after class.’

“The boy with the dream went to see the teacher after class and asked, `Why did I receive an F?’

“The teacher said, `This is an unrealistic dream for a young boy like you. You have no money. You come from an itinerant family. You have no resources. Owning a horse ranch requires a lot of money. You have to buy the land. You have to pay for the original breeding stock and later you’ll have to pay large stud fees. There’s no way you could ever do it.’ Then the teacher added, `If you will rewrite this paper with a more realistic goal, I will reconsider your grade.’

“The boy went home and thought about it long and hard. He asked his father what he should do. His father said, `Look, son, you have to make up your own mind on this. However, I think it is a very important decision for you.’ “Finally, after sitting with it for a week, the boy turned in the same paper, making no changes at all.

He stated, “You can keep the F and I’ll keep my dream.”

Monty then turned to the assembled group and said, “I tell you this story because you are sitting in my 4,000-square-foot house in the middle of my 200-acre horse ranch. I still have that school paper framed over the fireplace.” He added, “The best part of the story is that two summers ago that same schoolteacher brought 30 kids to camp out on my ranch for a week.” When the teacher was leaving, he said, “Look, Monty, I can tell you this now. When I was your teacher, I was something of a dream stealer. During those years I stole a lot of kids’ dreams. Fortunately you had enough gumption not to give up on yours.”

“Don’t let anyone steal your dreams. Follow your heart, no matter what.”

– Author Unknown

 

Are You Ready To Be Poured Out As an Offering? (2)

From: My Utmost For His Highest

I am already being poured out as a drink offering . . . —2 Timothy 4:6

Are you ready to be poured out as an offering? It is an act of your will, not your emotions. Tell God you are ready to be offered as a sacrifice for Him. Then accept the consequences as they come, without any complaints, in spite of what God may send your way. God sends you through a crisis in private, where no other person can help you. From the outside your life may appear to be the same, but the difference is taking place in your will. Once you have experienced the crisis in your will, you will take no thought of the cost when it begins to affect you externally. If you don’t deal with God on the level of your will first, the result will be only to arouse sympathy for yourself.“Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar” (Psalm 118:27). You must be willing to be placed on the altar and go through the fire; willing to experience what the altar represents-burning, purification, and separation for only one purpose-the elimination of every desire and affection not grounded in or directed toward God. But you don’t eliminate it, God does. You “bind the sacrifice . . . to the horns of the altar” and see to it that you don’t wallow in self-pity once the fire begins. After you have gone through the fire, there will be nothing that will be able to trouble or depress you. When another crisis arises, you will realize that things cannot touch you as they used to do. What fire lies ahead in your life?Tell God you are ready to be poured out as an offering, and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed He would be. 

Pizza Box Evangelist

From: Ourdailyjourney.org.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere (1 Thessalonians 1:8).

Read 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 and see where true power is found in our witness for Jesus.

With whom will you share your faith today? Why are new believers in Jesus so naturally willing to share what God has done for them?

My wife and I were downtown trying to start spiritual conversations with people we met. We came across a 23-year-old street dweller and shared the gospel with him using a method called The Big Story. It involves drawing circles to explain God’s story and plan of salvation. The young man had a pizza box at his feet as he sat on a street bench, so I drew on it as I explained the good news. God moved in his heart and he received Jesus as his Savior! What’s more, later we saw him sharing the circles on the box with a man who had joined him on the bench. Then, not long afterward, the new believer in Jesus was showing them toanother person.

When Paul wrote to the believers in the church of Thessalonica, he commended them for their “faithful work, . . . loving deeds, . . . and the enduring hope” they possessed because of what Jesus had done in their hearts (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Paul, Silas, and Timothy had brought them the gospel, and they had received “the message with joy” (1 Thessalonians 1:1,5-6). This was a beautiful thing on its own, but then the new converts began spreading the word. The apostle wrote, “Now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere . . . for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God” (1 Thessalonians 1:8). They were living out true faith in Jesus and passionately presenting His message (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

As you take time today to share Jesus with a co-worker or with that stranger on the bus, the Holy Spirit just might lead them to salvation and subsequently to share their faith with others. Who knows, you might witness the launching of a pizza box evangelist!

Initiative Against Drudgery

 

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Taking the Initiative Against Drudgery

From: Utmost.org

When it comes to taking the initiative against drudgery, we have to take the first step as though there were no God. There is no point in waiting for God to help us— He will not. But once we arise, immediately we find He is there. Whenever God gives us His inspiration, suddenly taking the initiative becomes a moral issue— a matter of obedience. Then we must act to be obedient and not continue to lie down doing nothing. If we will arise and shine, drudgery will be divinely transformed.

Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine. Read John 13. In this chapter, we see the Incarnate God performing the greatest example of drudgery— washing fishermen’s feet. He then says to them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). The inspiration of God is required if drudgery is to shine with the light of God upon it. In some cases the way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy forever. It may be a very common everyday task, but after we have seen it done, it becomes different. When the Lord does something through us, He always transforms it. Our Lord takes our human flesh and transforms it, and now every believer’s body has become “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

 

The Safety Zone

From: Get More Strength

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” Proverbs 18:10

The first church I pastored was in Springfield, Ohio. Our home was situated near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base—directly in the flight path of landing B-52 bombers that were coming home after circling the globe in our nation’s defense. Needless to say, these low-flying nuclear warehouses made a horrible racket as they flew overhead. They were so low that I hoped they avoided leaving tire tracks on our roof.

But the biggest problem with their booming approach was the trauma they caused in the hearts of our young children playing in the backyard. Happily engrossed in their own little world, the growing sound of trouble in the distance and the shadow of the massive planes as they skimmed the treetops traumatized our kids with fear. They instinctively knew what to do. They ran into the house to look for their mom or dad!  My legs still have the embedded marks of their fingerprints from clinging to me till the danger passed.

Every time I read this wonderful verse in Proverbs, I think about our children and the B52s. Like a kid frightened in his backyard, we are often anxious and sometimes terrified by the circumstances that come our way. Maybe it’s a health scare—a suspicious biopsy or the worried look on the doctor’s face. Sometimes it’s the threat we feel from family and friends who challenge and mock the beliefs we hold dear. The loss of a job, the betrayal of a trusted friend, the anxiety of not being able to cope as a single parent—all of these have a way of making us feel overwhelmed. Fearful and lonely, we need a refuge, a place to run.

Proverbs 18:10 is the MapQuest for our souls. It tells us to run to the name of the Lord. As the text says, His name is a strong tower and those who run to it are safe. So what’s so safe about His name?

His name is Provider—His grace is sufficient for every circumstance (2 Corinthians 12:9) and His wisdom is given in spades (James 1:5).

His name is the All-knowing and Almighty—nothing has escaped His notice, nor is anything beyond the scope of His power (Psalm 57:1-5).

His name is Good—regardless of what He permits to come into our lives, He will bring good from even the darkest situations (Romans 8:28).

His name is Father and Friend—the One who gave His Son to make you His child and to guarantee you a world to come where fear and anxiety are forever replaced by peace and joy (John 14:1-6).

So run to Him! There is no safe place without Him. And comfort in the time of stress is elusive apart from Him.

I guess this is why faith is so childlike. My children knew exactly where to turn when fear struck. They ran to the safety of their father’s love. May you and I be wise enough—and childlike enough—to do the same.

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • What fears have surfaced in your life this week? What was your response to these fears?
  • Where do you usually turn when you’re afraid? Friends? Escapism? Solutions apart from God?
  • Take action today by thinking about some of God’s Names (Healer, Sustainer, Provider, Redeemer, Almighty). Let the truths about Him be your strong tower today.
  • Read and rejoice in the truths found in Psalm 42:1-11Romans 8:31-39; and 2 Corinthians 4:7-18!
FEBRUARY 19, 2015From: Crosswalk

A Wedding Prayer, A Marriage Prayer
LYSA TERKEURST

“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.” Psalm 34:15 (NIV)

When my husband Art and I got married, we had a tough time transitioning from being two independent people into a unified couple. We didn’t have huge marriage issues to overcome — we had a lot of little everyday annoyances that started to chip away at the foundation of our relationship.

Slowly, we stopped seeing all we had and started focusing on all that was lacking in each other.

Honestly, enjoying each other got lost in all the efforts to fix each other. And that can be so disillusioning.

It can open your marriage up to a world of attack and the temptation to think, Did I marry the wrong person? I didn’t know it was going to be this hard.

Do you ever find yourself in this place? Me too.

The other day I came across the prayer Art’s dad prayed at our wedding. And it occurred to me this is much more than a wedding prayer. It’s a marriage prayer.

As I read back over this prayer, I am amazed at how God has answered so many of the requests intertwined in the words. This was being prayed over two broken, fragile, headstrong, needing-to-learn-a-lot individuals. Individuals who five years into our marriage weren’t sure we were going to make it. But we did.

And so can you.

I would encourage you to take your spouse’s hand and either have someone read this prayer over you or read it together. Use it as a reminder and recommitment.

And if your marriage isn’t at a place where that’s possible, pray this in the quiet shrine of your heart. As our key verse, Psalm 34:15 tells us, God hears you. He knows. He loves you. He will show you the way.

Father in Heaven, thank You for this husband, ______, and wife, _______, and their commitment to Christian marriage. As we look ahead, we pray that their future will never lack the convictions that make a marriage strong.

Bless this husband, ______. Bless him as provider and protector. Sustain him in all the pressures that come with the task of stewarding a family. May his strength be his wife’s boast and pride, and may he so live that his wife may find in him the haven for which the heart of a woman truly longs.

Bless this wife, ______. Give her a tenderness that makes her great, a deep sense of understanding, and a strong faith in You. Give her that inner beauty of a soul that never fades, that eternal youth that is found in holding fast to the things that never age. May she so live that her husband may be pleased to reverence her in the shrine of his heart.

Teach them that marriage is not living for each other. It is two people uniting and joining hands to serve You. Give them a great spiritual purpose in life. May they seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, knowing that You will sustain them through all of life’s challenges.

May they minimize each other’s weaknesses and be swift to praise and magnify each other’s strengths so that they might view each other through a lover’s kind and patient eyes. Help them every day to be kind and gentle, more like You. Give them a little something to forgive each day, that their love might learn to be long-suffering.

Bless them and develop their characters as they walk together with You. Give them enough hurts to keep them humane, enough failures to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours, and enough of success to make them sure they walk with You throughout all of their life.

May they never take each other’s love for granted but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims, “Out of all this world, you have chosen me.” Then, when life is done and the sun is setting, may they be found then as now, still hand in hand, still very proud, still thanking You for each other.

May they travel together as friends and lovers, brother and sister, husband and wife, father and mother, and as servants of Christ until He shall return or until that day when one shall lay the other into the arms of God. This we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the Great Lover of our souls. Amen.1

 

~ ~ ~
 

Dear Lord, thank You for the opportunity to come before Your throne with every concern I have and blessing I desire for my marriage. I pray these blessings over my husband and myself today, believing You will do immeasurably more in us than we can imagine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

1 Adapted from Dr. Louis H. Evans’ Marriage Prayer for Bride and Groom.

Thus Saith the Lord

From: Bible gateway

“Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.”
Ezekiel 36:37

Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true in your own personal experience. God has given you many an unsolicited favour, but still great prayer has always been the prelude of great mercy with you. When you first found peace through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much, and earnestly interceding with God that he would remove your doubts, and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances out of sore troubles, and mighty helps in great dangers, you have been able to say, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing’s shadow. When the sunlight of God’s mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, he himself shines behind them, and he casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest certain, if we are much in prayer, our pleadings are the shadows of mercy. Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly.

“Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw;

Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;

Gives exercise to faith and love;

Brings every blessing from above.”

Evening

“He first findeth his own brother Simon.”
John 1:41

This case is an excellent pattern of all cases where spiritual life is vigorous. As soon as a man has found Christ, he begins to find others. I will not believe that thou hast tasted of the honey of the gospel if thou canst eat it all thyself. True grace puts an end to all spiritual monopoly. Andrew first found his own brother Simon, and then others. Relationship has a very strong demand upon our first individual efforts. Andrew, thou didst well to begin with Simon. I doubt whether there are not some Christians giving away tracts at other people’s houses who would do well to give away a tract at their own–whether there are not some engaged in works of usefulness abroad who are neglecting their special sphere of usefulness at home. Thou mayst or thou mayst not be called to evangelize the people in any particular locality, but certainly thou art called to see after thine own servants, thine own kinsfolk and acquaintance. Let thy religion begin at home. Many tradesmen export their best commodities–the Christian should not. He should have all his conversation everywhere of the best savour; but let him have a care to put forth the sweetest fruit of spiritual life and testimony in his own family. When Andrew went to find his brother, he little imagined how eminent Simon would become. Simon Peter was worth ten Andrews so far as we can gather from sacred history, and yet Andrew was instrumental in bringing him to Jesus. You may be very deficient in talent yourself, and yet you may be the means of drawing to Christ one who shall become eminent in grace and service. Ah! dear friend, you little know the possibilities which are in you. You may but speak a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian church in years to come. Andrew has only two talents, but he finds Peter. Go thou and do likewise.