Monthly Archives: March 2015

Be Faithful As God Is Faithful

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1 Corinthians 10:12-13

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

Hebrews 4:14-16

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Identified or Simply Interested?

From: Utmost.org

The inescapable spiritual need each of us has is the need to sign the death certificate of our sin nature. I must take my emotional opinions and intellectual beliefs and be willing to turn them into a moral verdict against the nature of sin; that is, against any claim I have to my right to myself. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ….” He did not say, “I have made a determination to imitate Jesus Christ,” or, “I will really make an effort to follow Him” —but— “I have been identified with Him in His death.” Once I reach this moral decision and act on it, all that Christ accomplished for me on the Cross is accomplished in me. My unrestrained commitment of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to grant to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.

“…it is no longer I who live….” My individuality remains, but my primary motivation for living and the nature that rules me are radically changed. I have the same human body, but the old satanic right to myself has been destroyed.

“…and the life which I now live in the flesh,” not the life which I long to live or even pray that I live, but the life I now live in my mortal flesh— the life which others can see, “I live by faith in the Son of God….” This faith was not Paul’s own faith in Jesus Christ, but the faith the Son God had given to him (see Ephesians 2:8). It is no longer a faith in faith, but a faith that transcends all imaginable limits— a faith that comes only from the Son of God.

Your Faithful Friend?

From: Getmorestrength.org

“For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies” Psalm 57:10

Junior high school can be one long intensive seminar on drama in relationships. I am convinced that any psychological malfunction in my life today is directly traceable to those two years of school. Okay, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic, but junior high did teach me a little about fickle friendships.

I was minding my own business when one of Nancy’s friends came up to me and announced, “Hey, did you know that Nancy likes you?” To be honest, I had never given Nancy a second thought until that moment, but suddenly I was intrigued. My male ego was suddenly stirred and I liked the idea of being liked! So I passed my message back through the string of friends that had conveyed the message to me. That is, of course, how junior high romance works. I told my friend, who told another friend, who told Nancy’s friend, who then passed the message back to her.

“Joe says that he likes you too!”

But by the time my message got back to Nancy, she no longer liked me! For the first time I was singed by the fickle flames of romance.

A lot of our friendships are like that, aren’t they? We look back across the landscape of life and see different friends popping up here and there—our buddies from junior high, the girl we took to the prom in high school, the college roommates, the co-worker from the cubicle next to us. We realize quickly that many of those friendships, often consumingly important at the time, fade into dim memories leaving us thinking, “I wonder what happened to…”

Even more disconcerting is realizing how fickle we are in friendships. In honest moments, we could list the people we no longer get in touch with, or the phone calls we don’t return. In life, solid, faithful-to-the-core friendships are few and far between.

I wonder if you and I bring that same dynamic into our relationship with Jesus? When we first meet Jesus, He is everything to us! But as time wears on, we tend to drift away. When was the last time He heard from you? When was the last time you sat down to hear His voice and fellowship with Him?  As the old saying goes: ”If God seems far away, guess who moved!” You may have gone on to other interests, but thankfully He hasn’t lost interest in you. He, more than anyone else, remains there waiting for you as your faithful friend!

The psalmist often sings of God’s undying love for us. And I need to tell you that it’s not the kind of love that rides on emotions or favors. It is an expression of God’s enduring, rock-solid commitment to you as His beloved, and it is often linked, as it is here in Psalm 57:10, with His unfailing faithfulness. In fact, the psalmist literally cannot get his mind around the extensiveness of God’s love and faithfulness, conceding finally that God’s love “reaches to the heavens” and His faithfulness “reaches to the skies.” In other words, it is without limit and without end.

So when you receive word that God loves you, please know that it is not a junior high school fickle, fleeting kind of love. It is a life-changing, eternally satisfying offer of a fulfilling friendship with your Creator. Today He stands knocking at your door wanting to come in and spend some quality time with you (Revelation 3:20). Go ahead, open the door of your heart—it’s your faithful friend!

 

MARCH 20, 2015From: Crosswalk.comDon’t Miss the Glory
LEAH DIPASCAL

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” Psalm 19:1-2 (NIV)

When I was a little girl, on lazy days my mother would spread an old, worn blanket in our small front yard. I’d lie there for what seemed like hours, daydreaming about all sorts of wonderful things.

Surrounded by a blended fragrance of honeysuckle and fresh-cut grass, I’d close my eyes as the gentle breeze blew through my strawberry blonde bangs. The summer heat would sizzle my forehead as I aimlessly swatted at the garden gnats that were stirred up because of my unannounced intrusion.

Gazing at the skies, I’d count the clouds and watch them slowly glide across the blue canopy stretched out above me. One by one, I’d imagine those enormous puffy shapes to be all the things I loved: birthday balloons, fluffy stuffed animals and heart-shaped boxes.

When I reminisce about those days on the front lawn, it brings back such sweet memories. Peaceful moments that felt simple and carefree. No place to go and no reason to rush. I was content to just rest and take in the beauty of God’s creation.

My days look quite different now. Maybe yours do, too. Let’s face the facts: there will always be errands to run, commitments to fill and good reasons to rush. If we’re not intentional, we will miss the opportunities to experience the beauty of God’s creation.

So let me ask you … when was the last time you paused for a moment and noticed the clouds above you? Or watched the sky explode with color as the sun gently sank into the horizon? When was the last time you noticed birds singing first thing in the morning or counted the stars at night?

I know. It sounds like a luxury, doesn’t it? After all, who has time for that sort of thing? Life is busy. There’s so much to do.

Sky gazing is for children who have all the time in the world, or for teenagers who zone out in English class as they stare out the window, right? Well, not exactly …

Today’s key verses tells a different story: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2).

When we look at the skies above, we can clearly see evidence of God’s glory as written in the Scriptures. God alone created the heavens and earth so that all living things would rejoice in His splendor.

But many of us rarely take time to notice. To pause and marvel at the vast beauty of His creation. What could be more important than experiencing the revelation of God’s glory?

The sun illuminates at His spoken command, and the stars are formed with magnificent perfection. The galaxies were created by His grand approval. Not a single cloud moves without His direction.

The Lord takes pleasure in all He has made, so let us marvel at the greatness of His creation. Let’s be sure to give God all the glory He deserves.

Let the earth rejoice and be glad! Let the heavens sing out His praises! Let the sea bow before Him as the waves reveal His wonder! Let every voice lift high the holy name of our Lord Almighty! For He is worthy!

Dear God, thank You for creating the heavens to declare Your glory and the skies to proclaim the work of Your almighty hands. Help me to have a greater awareness of Your creation and to pause throughout my day to celebrate the grandeur of it all. For You are worthy of all glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

The glorious gospel

From: Biblegateway.com

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 5:17-32

Do you see that spirit yonder—foremost among the ranks, most sweetly singing the praises of God? Do you mark it robed in white, an emblem of its purity? Do you see it as it casts its crown before the feet of Jesus, and acknowledges him the Lord of all? Hark! Do you hear it as it sings the sweetest song that ever charmed Paradise itself? Listen to it, its song is this:

“I, the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me.”

“Unto him that loved me, and washed me from my sins in his blood, unto him be glory and honour, and majesty, and power, and dominion, world without end.” And who is that whose song thus emulates the seraph’s strain? The same person who a little while ago was so frightfully depraved, the self-same man! But he has been washed, he has been sanctified, he has been justified. If you ask me, then, what is meant by salvation, I tell you that it reaches all the way from that poor, desperately fallen piece of humanity, to that high-soaring spirit up yonder, praising God. That is to be saved—to have our old thoughts made into new ones; to have our old habits broken off, and to have new habits given; to have our old sins pardoned, and to have righteousness imputed; to have peace in the conscience, peace to man, and peace with God; to have the spotless robe of imputed righteousness cast about our loins, and ourselves healed and cleansed. To be saved is to be rescued from the gulf of perdition; to be raised to the throne of heaven; to be delivered from the wrath, and curse, and the thunders of an angry God, and brought to feel and taste the love, the approval, and applause of Jehovah, our Father and our Friend. And all this Christ gives to sinners.

For meditation: Do you get tired of the simple Gospel? Are you saved?

Sermon no. 184
21 March (1858)

 

Work

From: Biblegateway.com

‘I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.’ John 9:4

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 4:7–11

There are ten thousand actions good in themselves, which it might not be right for me to choose as my vocation in life. I know a great many persons who think it is their business to preach, but who had much better make it their business to hear for a little while longer. We know some who think it is their business to take the headship of a class, but who might be amazingly useful by giving away some tracts, or by taking a seat in a class themselves for a little while. The fact is, that we are not to pick and choose the path of Christian service which we are to walk in, but we are to do the work of him that sent us; and our object should be, as there is so much work to be done, to find out what part of the work the Master would have us to do. Our prayer should be, ‘Show me what thou wouldst have me to do’—have me to do in particular; not what is generally right, but what is particularly right for me to do. My servant might, perhaps, think it a very proper thing for her to arrange my papers for me in my study, but I should feel but a very slender amount of gratitude to her. If, however, she will have a cup of coffee ready for me early in the morning, when I have to go out to a distant country town to preach, I shall be much more likely to appreciate her services. So, some friends think, ‘How I could get on if I were in such-and-such a position, if I were made a deacon, if I were elevated to such a post.’ Go your way, and work as your Master would have you. You will do better where he puts you than you will where you put yourself. You are no servant, indeed, at all, when you pick and choose your service.

For meditation: No Christian should try to be a square peg in a round hole. God must decide who does what and who goes where (Mark 10:37, 40). But no Christian is to be a peg without a hole. Each has received a gift and should be using it (1 Peter 4:10).

God Takes Away Fear

 

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Psalm 56:3

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

2 Timothy 1:7 

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

 King James Bible
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

 

Fear Of The Unknown

From: Getmorestrength.org

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called . . . . And he went out, not knowing where he was going. —Hebrews 11:8

Has God ever asked you to do something that seemed unreasonable? Something that took you into the territory of the unknown? What if He asked you to refuse a long-awaited promotion or resist a longed-for relationship? What if He called you to a remote part of the world or asked you to release your children to serve Him in a faraway place?

The unknown is full of haunting “what ifs.” Yet God often calls us to chart unknown territory as we follow Him. Obeying His commands to forgive, to give away our treasures, or to give up things that provide security and pleasure often leave us in the scary territory of unknown outcomes.

Imagine how Abraham felt when God asked him to move his whole family without telling him where they were going (Gen. 12:1-3). God also asked Abraham to persevere—to stay in an unknown land even when the lure of past comforts may have threatened to seduce him and his family back to their comfort zone in Ur.

The fear of the unknown could cripple our capacity to follow God’s leading through the days ahead. Yet, like Abraham, when we cling to the One who knows all things, we’re in good hands—regardless of where He leads.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand. —Stanphill

Never be afraid to entrust the unknown future to the all-knowing God.

 

Always Rejoicing

From: Streams in the Desert

As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10).

The stoic scorns to shed a tear; the Christian is not forbidden to weep. The soul may be dumb with excessive grief, as the shearer’s scissors pass over the quivering flesh; or, when the heart is on the point of breaking beneath the meeting surges of trial, the sufferer may seek relief by crying out with a loud voice. But there is something even better.

They say that springs of sweet fresh water well up amid the brine of salt seas; that the fairest Alpine flowers bloom in the wildest and most rugged mountain passes; that the noblest psalms were the outcome of the profoundest agony of soul.

Be it so. And thus amid manifold trials, souls which love God will find reasons for bounding, leaping joy. Though deep call to deep, yet the Lord’s song will be heard in silver cadence through the night. And it is possible in the darkest hour that ever swept a human life to bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you learned this lesson yet? Not simply to endure God’s will, nor only to choose it; but to rejoice in it with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
–Tried as by Fire

I will be still, my bruised heart faintly murmured,
As o’er me rolled a crushing load of woe;
The cry, the call, e’en the low moan was stifled;
I pressed my lips; I barred the tear drop’s flow.
I will be still, although I cannot see it,
The love that bares a soul and fans pain’s fire;
That takes away the last sweet drop of solace,
Breaks the lone harp string, hides Thy precious lyre.
But God is love, so I will bide me, bide me–
We’ll doubt not, Soul, we will be very still;
We’ll wait till after while, when He shall lift us
Yes, after while, when it shall be His will.
And I did listen to my heart’s brave promise;
And I did quiver, struggling to be still;
And I did lift my tearless eyes to Heaven,
Repeating ever, “Yea, Christ, have Thy will.”
But soon my heart upspake from ‘neath our burden,
Reproved my tight-drawn lips, my visage sad:
“We can do more than this, O Soul,” it whispered.
“We can be more than still, we can be glad!”
And now my heart and I are sweetly singing–
Singing without the sound of tuneful strings;
Drinking abundant waters in the desert,

Crushed, and yet soaring as on eagle’s wings.
–S. P. W.

 

March 20

From: Through the Bible

Deuteronomy 4:29-31a (NIV) 29But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him. 31aFor the LORD your God is a merciful God…

Moses warned the people that if they worshipped other gods and did not keep the covenant, they would become captives of other nations. God states that the reason is because He is a jealous God. The word for ‘jealous’ in Hebrew includes the meaning of a white-hot fire. God is passionate about those He has chosen. He will bring into their lives whatever it will take to turn them back to Him. He promises, in this passage, that if, from that place of slavery, you will seek the LORD you will find Him. But that is accompanied by a big “if”. The condition is looking for Him with all our heart and soul. That is why Israel went into captivity, their hearts were mixed, thinking satisfaction and fulfillment lay in God plus something else.

God allows distress to come into our lives to return us to Him. Then we get a sense of the reality of life without Him and become desperate to be in Him. That is when He will help us turn back to Him. Why? Why would God want His unfaithful bride back after she so willingly sought other lovers?

The LORD our God is a merciful God. Mercy forgives and forgets and loves once again. We have been recipients of this mercy as Israel was. It is now our duty to be merciful to others. Forgive and forget and love again so that you will be a reflection of the wonderful God who loves you.

Consider: Whom do I need to forgive, and what steps will I take to see that I do?

Evening

March 20

Matthew 22:8-10 (NIV) 8“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

One of Jesus’ parables during the final week was of a king who invited guests to his son’s wedding. In that culture it would have been insulting and arrogant to refuse to attend such an important event. Those first invited ignored the invitation and even abused the messengers, killing some of them. The king sent his army to execute justice, but the wedding preparations sat waiting. Then the king sent more servants out to invite anyone they found. The banquet hall was filled with both good and bad guests.

This is about the call to the Jews to be the bride of the Son. They refused to accept Christ. They mistreated and killed the prophets. Then the gospel went out to all. I’m one of the bad ones that were found. Thank God that He did not just ask the servants to look for only good people. We are already partaking of all the generosity of the King. One day we will actually sit at the wedding feast of the Lamb of God. What an honor!

There was a man there without a wedding gown. It was the custom of the time for the host to provide a white gown for all the guests upon their arrival at the feast. Someone had refused to wear the gown. He was promptly thrown out. The gown is the righteousness of Christ. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” That is the only reason that the good and the bad can both be there. We are clothed with Christ. Without that covering, it would not matter how good we were, we would still be refusing to accept the covering our King has provided. Jesus closes the parable by saying that many are called but few are chosen. If you have heard the call, be sure you put on Christ. That is the only thing that makes you acceptable in that place and a witness here below.

Consider: What does it mean to be clothed in Christ?

You Will Be Tested

 

1 Peter 1:6-7

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

 
Matthew 13:20-21

“The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.

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Things That Test You

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James 1:2-4

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Romans 5:3-4

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

Abraham’s Life of Faith

From: Utmost.org

In the Old Testament, a person’s relationship with God was seen by the degree of separation in that person’s life. This separation is exhibited in the life of Abraham by his separation from his country and his family. When we think of separation today, we do not mean to be literally separated from those family members who do not have a personal relationship with God, but to be separated mentally and morally from their viewpoints. This is what Jesus Christ was referring to in Luke 14:26.

Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason— a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world.

The final stage in the life of faith is the attainment of character, and we encounter many changes in the process. We feel the presence of God around us when we pray, yet we are only momentarily changed. We tend to keep going back to our everyday ways and the glory vanishes. A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles’ wings, but is a life of day-in and day-out consistency; a life of walking without fainting (see Isaiah 40:31). It is not even a question of the holiness of sanctification, but of something which comes much farther down the road. It is a faith that has been tried and proved and has withstood the test. Abraham is not a type or an example of the holiness of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith— a faith, tested and true, built on the true God. “Abraham believed God…” (Romans 4:3).

 

MARCH 19, 2015From: Crosswalk.com

3 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Single
LYSA TERKEURST

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.” Matthew 6:34a (MSG)

I remember the hardest day of the week for me when I was single was Sunday. Specifically, Sunday right after church.

Many of my other single friends would have plans with their families that day, but not me. My family lived nine hours away.

So, I’d walk through the parking lot, watching young moms ooh and ahh over Sunday school artwork and I’d think, Their lives seem so blissfully full.

I’d walk past an older couple holding hands and think, They are so lucky to have such an easy, breezy life.

I’d walk past a gal walking arm in arm with her boyfriend and think, She is so fortunate to feel loved.

And then I’d get in my car and decide happiness, fulfillment and contentment were something to hope for in the future, when I found the life I desperately wanted. I was focusing on what could be instead of looking for evidence of what God was doing right in that moment, like our key verse Matthew 6:34 instructs us to do.

Boy, do I wish I could go sit in that car beside my single self and tell her some life-giving truths I now know:

1. Loneliness isn’t fixed by surrounding yourself with more people.

Sure, having people to go grab lunch with you after church is great. And having the built-in companionship of your own family is wonderful. But it hasn’t fixed my struggles with loneliness like I thought it would.

Some of the loneliest women I know wear wedding rings.

I had to learn to enjoy life without being dependent on someone else to create the fun for me. That way I could bring the fun. I could bring the interesting conversation starters. And I could start to better discern the kinds of people who would get me.

What are those things you truly love spending time doing, creating or researching? Invest your lonely moments there. Create life-giving experiences around your unique passions. After all, people are attracted to others who are full of life.

2. Learn from the pitfalls in friendships.

If only I would have dared to really look, I could have seen patterns of pitfalls in my relationships. Some of the same relationship struggles I had in my single friendships quickly popped up in my marriage.

Being a little more self-aware of how I contributed to frustrations in friendships would have helped me work on having a healthier marriage even before I met my husband.

I could have learned valuable self-improvements like taming my spontaneity a tad, remembering that not everyone likes to talk before the sun comes up and working to not interpret everything with way more emotion than necessary. Just to name a few.

I absolutely would have encouraged my single self to make good use of those hard friendship moments by learning … really learning … from them.

3. Stop expecting perfection.

All those people I was watching those Sunday afternoons weren’t living perfect lives. They were having a moment of perfection in the midst of very imperfect relationships.

None of those moms were perfect moms. None of those couples were perfect couples. None of those families were perfect families.

I obviously know this with my head. But sometimes my heart gets tripped up looking for perfection and missing what’s really good.

Single self, realize perfection doesn’t exist on this side of eternity, and it’s exhausting to chase something that doesn’t exist.

So, look at relationships through the lens of grace. Instead of asking, “Is this the perfect relationship I’ve dreamed about?” ask yourself, “Is this a person with whom I can both give and receive grace?”

Sundays are no longer the hardest days of the week for me. But it wasn’t because I got married and had kids.

It’s because I finally learned how to bring the joy I wanted to experience, became a healthier version of me and stopped chasing perfection.

 

Things Will Come To Test You

From: Streams in the Desert

Beloved, do not be surprised at the ordeal that has come to test you… you are sharing what Christ suffered; so rejoice in it (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Many a waiting hour was needful to enrich the harp of David, and many a waiting hour in the wilderness will gather for us a psalm of “thanksgiving, and the voice of melody,” to cheer the hearts of fainting ones here below, and to make glad our Father’s house on high.

What was the preparation of the son of Jesse for the songs like unto which none other have ever sounded on this earth? The outrage of the wicked, which brought forth cries for God’s help. Then the faint hope in God’s goodness blossomed into a song of rejoicing for His mighty deliverances and manifold mercies. Every sorrow was another string to his harp; every deliverance another theme for praise.

One thrill of anguish spared, one blessing unmarked or unprized, one difficulty or danger evaded, how great would have been our loss in that thrilling Psalmody in which God’s people today find the expression of their grief or praise!

To wait for God, and to suffer His will, is to know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. So now, if the vessel is to be enlarged for spiritual understanding, be not affrighted at the wider sphere of suffering that awaits you. The Divine capacity of sympathy will have a more extended sphere, for the breathing of the Holy Ghost in the new creation never made a stoic, but left the heart’s affection tender and true.
–Anna Shipton

“He tested me ere He entrusted me” (1 Tim. 1:12, Way’s Trans.)

 

The Bible

From: Biblegateway

“I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.”Hosea 8:12

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-21

Who is the author of it? Do these men jointly claim the authorship? Are they the compositors of this massive volume? Do they between themselves divide the honour? Our holy religion answers, No! This volume is the writing of the living God: each letter was penned with an Almighty finger; each word in it dropped from the everlasting lips, each sentence was dictated by the Holy Spirit. Albeit, that Moses was employed to write his histories with his fiery pen, God guided that pen. It may be that David touched his harp and let sweet psalms of melody drop from his fingers, but God moved his hands over the living strings of his golden harp. It may be that Solomon sang canticles of love, or gave forth words of consummate wisdom, but God directed his lips, and made the preacher eloquent. If I follow the thundering Nahum when his horses plough the waters, or Habbakuk when he sees the tents of Cushan in affliction; if I read Malachi, when the earth is burning like an oven; if I turn to the smooth page of John, who tells of love, or the rugged fiery chapters of Peter, who speaks of the fire devouring God’s enemies; if I turn to Jude, who launches forth curses upon the foes of God, everywhere I find God speaking: it is God’s voice, not man’s; the words are God’s words, the words of the Eternal, the Invisible, the Almighty, the Jehovah of this earth. This Bible is God’s Bible; and when I see it, I seem to hear a voice springing up from it, saying, “I am the book of God: man, read me. I am God’s writing: open my leaf, for I was penned by God; read it, for he is my author, and you will see him visible and manifest everywhere.”

For meditation: We all have our favourite Bible writers and passages, but we must never limit ourselves to them, otherwise we will miss some of the great things God has said.

Sermon no. 15
19 March (Preached 18 March 1855)

 

A warning against hardness of heart

From: Biblegateway

‘But exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.’ Hebrews 3:13

Suggested Further Reading: Titus 2:1–10

This duty belongs primarily to the pastor and to church officers. We are set in the church to see after the good of the people, and it is our business both in public and in private, as far as we have opportunity, to exhort daily; and especially where we see any coldness creeping over men, where there begins to be a decline in the ways of God, it is our duty to be most earnest in exhortation. The duty belongs to you all. ‘Exhort one another daily.’ Parentsshould be careful concerning their children in this matter. You act not the part of a true father unless you see to your son whether he be in church membership or not, that upon the slightest inconsistency he receives a gentle word of rebuke from you. Sunday school teachers, this is peculiarly your work with regard to your own classes. Watch over your children, not only that they may be converted, but that after being converted they may be as watered gardens, no plants withering, but all the graces of the Spirit coming to perfection through your care. Here is work for the elders among us. You whose grey heads betoken years of experience, and whose years of experience ought to have given you wisdom and knowledge, you may use the superiority which age affords you to offer a word of exhortation, lovingly and tenderly to the young. You can speak as those of us who are younger cannot speak, for you can tell what you have tasted and have handled; perhaps you can even tell where you have smarted by reason of your own faults and follies. All of you without exception, whether you be rich or poor, see to each others’ souls; say not, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ but seek your brother’s good for edification.

For meditation: The exhortations God gives us in his Word (Joshua 1:6–9; Hebrews 10:19,22) should be the pattern for our mutual exhortations (Joshua 1:18; Hebrews 10:24–25). Beloved, if God so exhorts us, we ought also to exhort one another.

Sermon no. 620
19 March (1865)

God Exalts People

1 Kings 14:7

“Go, say to Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel, “Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over My people Israel,

1 Kings 16:2

“Inasmuch as I exalted you from the dust and made you leader over My people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made My people Israel sin, provoking Me to anger with their sins,

Someone lifting someone up

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Ezekiel 2:2

As He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me.

Ezekiel 3:24

The Spirit then entered me and made me stand on my feet, and He spoke with me and said to me, “Go, shut yourself up in your house.

 

Will I Bring Myself Up To This Level?

From: Utmost.org

“Therefore, having these promises….” I claim God’s promises for my life and look to their fulfillment, and rightly so, but that shows only the human perspective on them. God’s perspective is that through His promises, I will come to recognize His claim of ownership on me. For example, do I realize that my “body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” or am I condoning some habit in my body which clearly could not withstand the light of God on it? (1 Corinthians 6:19). God formed His Son in me through sanctification, setting me apart from sin and making me holy in His sight (see Galatians 4:19). But I must begin to transform my natural life into spiritual life by obedience to Him. God instructs us even in the smallest details of life. And when He brings you conviction of sin, do not “confer with flesh and blood,” but cleanse yourself from it at once (Galatians 1:16). Keep yourself cleansed in your daily walk.

I must cleanse myself from all filthiness in my flesh and my spirit until both are in harmony with the nature of God. Is the mind of my spirit in perfect agreement with the life of the Son of God in me, or am I mentally rebellious and defiant? Am I allowing the mind of Christ to be formed in me? (see Philippians 2:5). Christ never spoke of His right to Himself, but always maintained an inner vigilance to submit His spirit continually to His Father. I also have the responsibility to keep my spirit in agreement with His Spirit. And when I do, Jesus gradually lifts me up to the level where He lived— a level of perfect submission to His Father’s will— where I pay no attention to anything else. Am I perfecting this kind of holiness in the fear of God? Is God having His way with me, and are people beginning to see God in my life more and more?

Be serious in your commitment to God and gladly leave everything else alone. Literally put God first in your life.

 

Are We Small Yet?

From: Getmorestrength

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” Philippians 2:3 NASB

Kids are great! Things that we take for granted are occasions for awe and wonder for them. And their perspectives are often convictingly right on.

Take, for instance, the little girl who loved watching the planes that took off from a nearby airport as she played in her backyard. From her point of view, planes literally got smaller and smaller the farther they flew away. Which explains the strange thing she said to her dad after he decided to take her on a business trip. Soon after taking off, she turned to her dad and said, “Daddy, are we small yet?”

That’s a really important—and challenging—question to ask ourselves. There is something about us that doesn’t like feeling small. It starts early. Any kid worth his salt will gladly throw up his arms and do the “so big!” routine when you ask him, “How big are you?” We may stop throwing up our arms, but we never really grow out of wanting to be “so big” in other people’s eyes. It’s amazing how quickly life gets to be all about who’s got the nicest house, the best job, the coolest car, the highest degree, the biggest diamond, or the best office on the executive floor. We are quick to defend ourselves to keep ourselves looking good. We like to draw attention to our accomplishments and turn conversations to focus on us, and we find ourselves a little put out when we are not noticed or invited to hang out with the “in” crowd.

For most of us, life is about anything but making ourselves small. We are the tall “I” in the middle of our universe.

And that’s a problem.

In Philippians 2:3-11, Paul tells us that we need to stop living to advance ourselves and our own interests and instead start considering others as more important than ourselves. In fact, he says that we should do nothing from “empty conceit”—which literally means the puffing up of our nothingness. I love the graphic picture in that thought. No matter how big you puff up a zero, it’s still a zero!

And then he points us to Jesus who didn’t consider his “big” standing in heaven a thing to hang on to, but rather He humbled himself to care for our interests by becoming obedient to death on the cross. Think of that! Jesus thought of us and our needs as being more important than His own! He made himself small that we by His abundant mercy might become big in the riches of His grace.

Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus!

Are you small yet?

 

He answered nothing (Mark 15:3).

From: Streams in the Desert

There is no spectacle in all the Bible so sublime as the silent Savior answering not a word to the men who were maligning Him, and whom He could have laid prostrate at His feet by one look of Divine power, or one word of fiery rebuke. But He let them say and do their worst, and He stood in THE POWER OF STILLNESS–God’s holy silent Lamb.

There is a stillness that lets God work for us, and holds our peace; the stillness that ceases from its contriving and its self-vindication, and its expedients of wisdom and forethought, and lets God provide and answer the cruel blow, in His own unfailing, faithful love.

How often we lose God’s interposition by taking up our own cause, and striking for our defense. God give to us this silent power, this conquered spirit! And after the heat and strife of earth are over, men will remember us as we remember the morning dew, the gentle light and sunshine, the evening breeze, the Lamb of Calvary, and the gentle, holy heavenly Dove.
–A. B. Simpson

The day when Jesus stood alone
And felt the hearts of men like stone,
And knew He came but to atone
That day “He held His peace.”
They witnessed falsely to His word,
They bound Him with a cruel cord,
And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
They spat upon Him in the face,
They dragged Him on from place to place,
They heaped upon Him all disgrace;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
My friend, have you for far much less,
With rage, which you called righteousness,
Resented slights with great distress?

Your Saviour “held His peace.”
–L. S. P.

I remember once hearing Bishop Whipple, of Minnesota, so well known as “The Apostle of the Indians,” utter these beautiful words: “For thirty years I have tried to see the face of Christ in those with whom I differed.”

When this spirit actuates us we shall be preserved at once from a narrow bigotry and an easy-going tolerance, from passionate vindictiveness and everything that would mar or injure our testimony for Him who came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.
–W. H. Griffith Thomas

 

March 18

From: Through The Bible

Deuteronomy 4:7-8 (NIV) 7What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

Our God fills the universe, and yet He is near everyone, ready to commune with hearts that are receptive to Him. He is over all and yet willing to have a personal relationship with those who seek Him in truth. There has never been a god invented by any religion that is so great and so loving as the God of the Bible. We did not invent our God. He revealed Himself to us. He continues to reveal Himself to us as long as we continue to seek the wonder of His infinite greatness.

Though Israel was a nation with the privilege of seeing Him move on their behalf, all the nations that came in contact with Israel could witness the same and decide if they wanted to pursue the God of Israel. He would be just as near any of them that sought Him whenever they prayed to Him.

What really made Israel unique was that they had the recorded word of God. The laws that they received were full of the Creator’s instructions that kept them from the diseases and injustices that the nations around them experienced. The revealed Word gave them a new culture, the culture of God. Even the culture was meant to be a witness to the nations.

Consider: Appreciate the fact that you have a God that is near when you pray. Appreciate your unique culture by living as a person of the Word. Both will speak to the world you come in contact with and show that there is a Living God who is near those who call upon Him.

Evening

March 18

Matthew 21:12-13 (NIV) 12Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'”

Jesus had cleaned out the outer court of the Temple on the first Passover of His ministry. At the last Passover, He did it again. The outer court was the area dedicated for the nations of the world to come and pray to Jehovah. The religious leaders had allowed it to become a market for exchanging coins to pay the Temple tax and for the purchase of sacrificial animals. The archeological finds of opulent homes of the priests indicates there may have been some financial gain for them in allowing this to take place there. Instead of a quiet courtyard for people to come before God, it was a noisy business center. It had also become a shortcut from one side of the city to the other. You can bet the religious leaders would never have allowed any of this to go on in the inner courts! It was a blatant disregard for the call of God to the Jewish people, to present the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to the world. It was an attitude that said, “We know God, and we could care less about the rest of you that don’t know Him.” That was a complete misrepresentation of God who loves the world.

We are the temple of God today. Is your heart a quiet place of seeking after God and communing with Him, or is it filled with busy shouts of profiteering? Is our heart a place of merchandise or praise and thanksgiving? Our testimony can present the mandates and price tags of ritual, or the peaceful invitation to commune with God. Jesus’ desire is for our hearts to be a house of prayer. His heart is for the nations. If your heart is a house of prayer, the worshipful atmosphere with the outward expression of your life will draw the nations to Him. You will be bringing the outer court of prayer to every unbeliever you contact.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, make my place of worship and my heart a house of prayer.

Christlikeness Is Our Primary Goal

 

People Who Have A Goal

Proverbs 21:5

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

Philippians 3:13-14

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

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 Don’t Do This Sport!  Insane and deadly
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Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

The Servant’s Primary Goal

From: Utmost.org

“We make it our aim….” It requires a conscious decision and effort to keep our primary goal constantly in front of us. It means holding ourselves to the highest priority year in and year out; not making our first priority to win souls, or to establish churches, or to have revivals, but seeking only “to be well pleasing to Him.” It is not a lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but a lack of working to keep our eyes focused and on the right goal. At least once a week examine yourself before God to see if your life is measuring up to the standard He has for you. Paul was like a musician who gives no thought to audience approval, if he can only catch a look of approval from his Conductor.

Any goal we have that diverts us even to the slightest degree from the central goal of being “approved to God” (2 Timothy 2:15) may result in our rejection from further service for Him. When you discern where the goal leads, you will understand why it is so necessary to keep “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Paul spoke of the importance of controlling his own body so that it would not take him in the wrong direction. He said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest…I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

I must learn to relate everything to the primary goal, maintaining it without interruption. My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life. Is my primary goal in life to please Him and to be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how lofty it may sound?

 

MARCH 17, 2015

From: Crosswalk.com

You Be You
NICKI KOZIARZ

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves …” Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

A few months ago, I had to have a semi-hard conversation with a friend. I say semi-hard because this friend and I have the kind of relationship where we can say what we need to say and move on. But still, it wasn’t fun.

She was struggling because someone had started a business similar to hers. And this other person had a good following, a respectable reputation and decent potential to have a thriving business.

And my friend admittedly felt threatened.

But she didn’t just feel threatened, she started acting threatened.

A sense of panic rushed over her as she verbally weighed all the possibilities of what could happen with this new business scenario. For several days I watched her wrestle through a roller coaster of jealous emotions.

Each time she would say something about this new business owner, I would take a deep breath as my stomach twisted and turned. I knew I needed to say something, but I didn’t want to hurt her already fragile spirit.

So one afternoon, while we were on the phone discussing this other business, I gently walked her through all the reasons why her business was awesome. I reassured her I was with her, but then, I said something really hard: “You gotta let her be her and you be you. You are both called and chosen to do this assignment. Not either-or. But this anxiety you feel … it has the potential to ruin you.”

I don’t think it’s what she wanted me to say in that moment, but it’s what she needed me to say.

I know, because I needed someone to say it to me years ago when I walked through a similar situation. I let being threatened by someone else’s success ruin days and weeks of my life. And it took what seemed like forever to get over it.

Here’s the thing friends, I know what “she’s” doing looks really awesome. And “she” makes it look effortless. And maybe “she” can do it better. But “she” is also called, chosen and set apart by God for a purpose.

And so are you.

One thing I’ve come to understand about God is He’s got enough purpose and potential to go around. And His purpose isn’t a battlefield for competition; it’s a safe haven of calling.

The secret to doing something confidently (yet humbly) for God?

Be with Jesus.

Humility is the by-product of His presence flowing in our lives.

When we are in His presence, He gives us the confidence to believe we are created to do something great with our lives. His presence whispers assurance over our souls when we feel vulnerable.

And His presence gives us the ability to cheer on that girl next to us, no matter how threatened we feel.

I need our key verse today, Philippians 2:3, to help me remember how much value God places on being humble with the gifts and talents He’s given me. My gifts are not to make myself better than the girl next to me. And because of this verse, I’m reminded to value what she’s doing, even more than what I’m doing.

This is hard to do. It takes guts to release your insecurities to God and confidently be yourself while watching someone else live out your dream. But it’s more than possible. Great favor and blessing flows from being a cheerleader for God’s women.

My friend and I are both still working through this struggle each day. Neither one of us has perfected humble-confidence. But we are both trying our best to put our insecurities to the side each day and run fiercely towards the process of godly success.

 

Waiting For The Word

From: Streams in the Desert

Be thou there till I bring thee word (Matt. 2:13).

I’ll stay where You’ve put me;
I will, dear Lord, Though I wanted so badly to go;
I was eager to march with the ‘rank and file,’
Yes, I wanted to lead them, You know.
I planned to keep step to the music loud,
To cheer when the banner unfurled,
To stand in the midst of the fight straight and proud,
But I’ll stay where You’ve put me.
I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I’ll work, dear Lord,
Though the field be narrow and small,
And the ground be fallow, and the stones lie thick,
And there seems to be no life at all.
The field is Thine own, only give me the seed,
I’ll sow it with never a fear;
I’ll till the dry soil while I wait for the rain,
And rejoice when the green blades appear;
I’ll work where You’ve put me.
I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I will, dear Lord;
I’ll bear the day’s burden and heat,
Always trusting Thee fully; when even has come
I’ll lay heavy sheaves at Thy feet.
And then, when my earth work is ended and done,
In the light of eternity’s glow,
Life’s record all closed, I surely shall find
It was better to stay than to go;
I’ll stay where You’ve put me.

Oh restless heart, that beat against your prison bars of circumstances, yearning for a wider sphere of usefulness, leave God to order all your days. Patience and trust, in the dullness of the routine of life, will be the best preparation for a courageous bearing of the tug and strain of the larger opportunity which God may some time send you.

 

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Remember the poor.”
Galatians 2:10

Why does God allow so many of his children to be poor? He could make them all rich if he pleased; he could lay bags of gold at their doors; he could send them a large annual income; or he could scatter round their houses abundance of provisions, as once he made the quails lie in heaps round the camp of Israel, and rained bread out of heaven to feed them. There is no necessity that they should be poor, except that he sees it to be best. “The cattle upon a thousand hills are his”–he could supply them; he could make the richest, the greatest, and the mightiest bring all their power and riches to the feet of his children, for the hearts of all men are in his control. But he does not choose to do so; he allows them to suffer want, he allows them to pine in penury and obscurity. Why is this? There are many reasons: one is, to give us, who are favoured with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus. We show our love to Christ when we sing of him and when we pray to him; but if there were no sons of need in the world we should lose the sweet privilege of evidencing our love, by ministering in alms-giving to his poorer brethren; he has ordained that thus we should prove that our love standeth not in word only, but in deed and in truth. If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those who are loved by him. Those who are dear to him will be dear to us. Let us then look upon it not as a duty but as a privilege to relieve the poor of the Lord’s flock–remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Surely this assurance is sweet enough, and this motive strong enough to lead us to help others with a willing hand and a loving heart–recollecting that all we do for his people is graciously accepted by Christ as done to himself.

Evening

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
Matthew 5:9

This is the seventh of the beatitudes: and seven was the number of perfection among the Hebrews. It may be that the Saviour placed the peacemaker the seventh upon the list because he most nearly approaches the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must attain to this seventh benediction, and become a peacemaker. There is a significance also in the position of the text. The verse which precedes it speaks of the blessedness of “the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” It is well to understand that we are to be “first pure, then peaceable.” Our peaceableness is never to be a compact with sin, or toleration of evil. We must set our faces like flints against everything which is contrary to God and his holiness: purity being in our souls a settled matter, we can go on to peaceableness. Not less does the verse that follows seem to have been put there on purpose. However peaceable we may be in this world, yet we shall be misrepresented and misunderstood: and no marvel, for even the Prince of Peace, by his very peacefulness, brought fire upon the earth. He himself, though he loved mankind, and did no ill, was “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Lest, therefore, the peaceable in heart should be surprised when they meet with enemies, it is added in the following verse, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Thus, the peacemakers are not only pronounced to be blessed, but they are compassed about with blessings. Lord, give us grace to climb to this seventh beatitude! Purify our minds that we may be “first pure, then peaceable,” and fortify our souls, that our peaceableness may not lead us into cowardice and despair, when for thy sake we are persecuted.

Consult God Before Judging

Matthew 7:1-5

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Luke 6:37

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;

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Romans 2:1-3

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?

 

The Master Will Judge

From: Utmost.org

Paul says that we must all, preachers and other people alike, “appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” But if you will learn here and now to live under the scrutiny of Christ’s pure light, your final judgment will bring you only delight in seeing the work God has done in you. Live constantly reminding yourself of the judgment seat of Christ, and walk in the knowledge of the holiness He has given you. Tolerating a wrong attitude toward another person causes you to follow the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are. One carnal judgment of another person only serves the purposes of hell in you. Bring it immediately into the light and confess, “Oh, Lord, I have been guilty there.” If you don’t, your heart will become hardened through and through. One of the penalties of sin is our acceptance of it. It is not only God who punishes for sin, but sin establishes itself in the sinner and takes its toll. No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing certain things, and the penalty of sin is that you gradually get used to it, until you finally come to the place where you no longer even realize that it is sin. No power, except the power that comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit, can change or prevent the inherent consequences of sin.

“If we walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7). For many of us, walking in the light means walking according to the standard we have set up for another person. The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie.

 

To Profit Us

From: Streams in the Desert

For our profit (Heb. 12:10).

In one of Ralph Connor’s books he tells a story of Gwen. Gwen was a wild, wilful lassie and one who had always been accustomed to having her own way. Then one day she met with a terrible accident which crippled her for life. She became very rebellious and in the murmuring state she was visited by the Sky Pilot, as the missionary among the mountaineers was termed. He told her the parable of the canyon.

“At first there were no canyons, but only the broad, open prairie. One day the Master of the Prairie, walking over his great lawns, where were only grasses, asked the Prairie, ‘Where are your flowers?’ and the Prairie said, ‘Master I have no seeds.’

“Then he spoke to the birds, and they carried seeds of every kind of flower and strewed them far and wide, and soon the prairie bloomed with crocuses and roses and buffalo beans and the yellow crowfoot and the wild sunflowers and the red lilies all summer long. Then the Master came and was well pleased; but he missed the flowers he loved best of all, and he said to the Prairie: ‘Where are the clematis and the columbine, the sweet violets and wind-flowers, and all the ferns and flowering shrubs?’

“And again he spoke to the birds, and again they carried all the seeds and scattered them far and wide. But, again, when the Master came he could not find the flowers he loved best of all, and he said: “‘Where are those my sweetest flowers?’ and the Prairie cried sorrowfully: “‘Oh, Master, I cannot keep the flowers, for the winds sweep fiercely, and the sun beats upon my breast, and they wither up and fly away.’

“Then the Master spoke to the Lightning, and with one swift blow the Lightning cleft the Prairie to the heart. And the Prairie rocked and groaned in agony, and for many a day moaned bitterly over the black, jagged, gaping wound. But the river poured its waters through the cleft, and carried down deep black mould.

“And once more the birds carried seeds and strewed them in the canyon. And after a long time the rough rocks were decked out with soft mosses and trailing vines, and all the nooks were hung with clematis and columbine, and great elms lifted their huge tops high up into the sunlight, and down about their feet clustered the low cedars and balsams, and everywhere the violets and wind-flower and maiden-hair grew and bloomed, till the canyon became the Master’s favorite place for rest and peace and joy.”

Then the Sky Pilot read to her: “The fruit–I’ll read ‘flowers’–of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness–and some of these grow only in the canyon.” “Which are the canyon flowers?” asked Gwen softly, and the Pilot answered: “Gentleness, meekness, longsuffering; but though the others, love, joy, peace, bloom in the open, yet never with so rich a bloom and so sweet a perfume as in the canyon.”

For a long time Gwen lay quite still, and then said wistfully, while her lips trembled: “There are no flowers in my canyon, but only ragged rocks.” “Some day they will bloom, Gwen dear; the Master will find them, and we, too, shall see them.”

Beloved, when you come to your canyon, remember!

 

Good works

From: Biblegateway

“Zealous of good works” Titus 2:14

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 2:8-15

It would be a good thing, perhaps, if we went back to Wesley’s rule, to come out from the world in our apparel, and to dress as plainly and neatly as the Quakers, though alas! they have sadly gone from their primitive simplicity. I am obliged to depart a little sometimes, from what we call the high things of the gospel; for really the children of God cannot now be told by outward appearance from the children of the devil, and they really ought to be; there should be some distinction between the one and the other; and although religion allows distinction of rank and dress, yet everything in the Bible cries out against our arraying ourselves, and making ourselves proud, by reason of the goodliness of our apparel. Some will say, “I wish you would leave that alone!” Of course you do, because it applies to yourself. But we let nothing alone which we believe to be in the Scriptures; and while I would not spare any man’s soul, honesty to every man’s conscience, and honesty to myself, demands that I should always speak of that which I see to be an evil breaking out in the Church. We should always take care that in everything we keep as near as possible to the written Word. If you want ornaments here they are. Here are jewels, rings, dresses, and all kinds of ornament; men and women, you may dress yourselves up till you shine like angels. How can you do it? By dressing yourselves out in benevolence, in love to the saints, in honesty and integrity, in uprightness, in godliness, in brotherly-kindness, in charity. These are the ornaments which angels themselves admire, and which even the world will admire; for men must give admiration to the man or the woman who is arrayed in the jewels of a holy life and godly conversation. I beseech you, brethren, “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”

For meditation: Isaiah 3:16-23: God is concerned about our outward appearance and our attitude to it. He wants spirituality, not showing off (1 Peter 3:3-4).

Sermon no. 70
16 March (1856)

 

The danger of doubting

From: Biblegateway

‘And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul.’ 1 Samuel 27:1

Suggested Further Reading: Job 4:1–6

This wicked exclamation of David was contrary to what he himself had often said. Here I convict myself. I remember on one occasion, to my shame, being sad and doubtful of heart, and a kind friend took out a paper and read to me a short extract from a discourse upon faith. I very soon detected the author of the extract; my friend was reading to me from one of my own sermons. Without saying a word he just left it to my own conscience, for he had convicted me of committing the very fault against which I had so earnestly declaimed. Often might you, brethren, be found out in the same inconsistency. ‘O’ you have said, ‘I could trust him though the fig-tree did not blossom, and though there were no flocks in the field, and no herd in the stall.’ Ah you have condemned the unbelief of other people, but when it touched you, you have trembled, and when you have come to run with the horsemen they have wearied you, and in the swellings of Jordan you have been troubled. So was it with David. What strong words he had often said when he addressed others! He said of Saul, ‘His time shall come to die; I will not stretch out my hand and touch the Lord’s anointed.’ He felt sure that Saul’s doom was signed and sealed; and yet in the hour of his unbelief he says, ‘I shall yet one day fall.’ What a strange contradiction was that! What a mercy it is that God changes not, for we are changing two or three times a day. But our own utterances, our own convictions before, are clean contrary to the idea that he can ever leave us or forsake us.

For meditation: We must be extremely careful and sure of what we say, if we do not want it to be used in evidence against us (Judges 9:38; Job 15:6; Ecclesiastes 5:2–6; Luke 19:22). How good it is to trust in God who never has to defend or explain away the words that come from his mouth (Isaiah 55:11).

Sermon no. 439
16 March (1862)

There Is Happiness In Obedience

 

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The Discipline of Dismay

From: Utmost.org

At the beginning of our life with Jesus Christ, we were sure we knew all there was to know about following Him. It was a delight to forsake everything else and to throw ourselves before Him in a fearless statement of love. But now we are not quite so sure. Jesus is far ahead of us and is beginning to seem different and unfamiliar— “Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed” (Mark 10:32).

There is an aspect of Jesus that chills even a disciple’s heart to its depth and makes his entire spiritual life gasp for air. This unusual Person with His face set “like a flint” (Isaiah 50:7) is walking with great determination ahead of me, and He strikes terror right through me. He no longer seems to be my Counselor and Friend and has a point of view about which I know nothing. All I can do is stand and stare at Him in amazement. At first I was confident that I understood Him, but now I am not so sure. I begin to realize that there is a distance between Jesus and me and I can no longer be intimate with Him. I have no idea where He is going, and the goal has become strangely distant.

Jesus Christ had to understand fully every sin and sorrow that human beings could experience, and that is what makes Him seem unfamiliar. When we see this aspect of Him, we realize we really don’t know Him. We don’t recognize even one characteristic of His life, and we don’t know how to begin to follow Him. He is far ahead of us, a Leader who seems totally unfamiliar, and we have no friendship with Him.

The discipline of dismay is an essential lesson which a disciple must learn. The danger is that we tend to look back on our times of obedience and on our past sacrifices to God in an effort to keep our enthusiasm for Him strong (see Isaiah 50:10-11). But when the darkness of dismay comes, endure until it is over, because out of it will come the ability to follow Jesus truly, which brings inexpressibly wonderful joy.

This Time It’s Personal

From: Getmorestrenght.org

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son’ ” Luke 15:21

I’ll make a confession if you promise not to tell.

Having been selected to represent my college in a traveling music team one summer, I had a few days to relax at home before returning to campus for a week of practice before we started our tour. During my short visit home I discovered a bag of M-80s in my dresser drawer. In case you don’t know, M-80s are like firecrackers on steroids! Deciding that these would be perfect boredom breakers during our pre-tour rehearsals, I brought them back to campus and wasted no time showing them to my friends. No sooner had I pulled them out of the bag than someone mentioned that they go off under water.

The bathroom down the hall provided the perfect laboratory to prove the claim. I opened one of the stall doors, lit the M-80, and dropped it into the toilet bowl. I backed into the shower stall nearby and waited. For a few quiet seconds, nothing happened. But then—KABOOM! I opened up the stall door to find thousands of porcelain shards and a gaping hole in the floor where the toilet used to be!

Since there were only five of us on campus, I knew that it would not take long for the authorities to find the culprit, so I decided it would be best to make a preemptive strike and contact the Dean of Students immediately. We had a brief conversation, talking about me paying for the damage and other potential consequences, and then I headed off for our first week of summer tour, thinking: There, that takes care of that!

But when we came back to campus for some supplies after our first week on the road, I was informed that the president of the college wanted to see me in his office. Gulp! What made matters worse was that the president was a close and long-standing friend of our family.

After dropping the M-80 into the toilet bowl, it never crossed my mind that the real problem with my foolishness was not a blasted toilet and a flooded bookstore below the bathroom. The problem was that I had offended an important person in my life and had potentially damaged a significant relationship.

This is exactly what Jesus is getting at in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:21. While we normally think that the boy’s guilt relates to his dabblings in the darker side of life in a faraway land, that’s not Christ’s point. The prodigal asked for his inheritance early, which in that day was like saying to his dad, “I wish you were dead!” And in addition, he squandered a portion of the family estate, which was an equally egregious offense to his father.

The story of the prodigal was told to demonstrate that our sin is first and foremost a deep offense to God. It’s easy to focus on the external consequences of sin by playing games of cover-up, using repentance as a strategy for damage control so that we can get on with life. But the heart of true repentance is an acknowledgement of grief and sorrow over the way that we have personally offended our God who has given us so much and who loves us so deeply.

Thankfully, God—like the prodigal’s father—waits for us to come and repent of our sin against Him so that He can stun us with His compassionate grace of forgiveness and restoration. How good it is to hear Him say, “Kill the fatted calf. Let’s have a party! My son who was lost has come home!”

 

Don’t Be Afraid

From: Streams in the Desert

Don’t be afraid, despised insignificant Jacob, men of Israel. I am helping you,” says the Lord, your protector, the Holy One of Israel. “Look, I am making you like a sharp threshing sledge, new and double-edged. You will thresh the mountains and crush them; you will make the hills like straw. (Isa 41:14-15)
Could any two things be in greater contrast than a worm and an instrument with teeth? The worm is delicate, bruised by a stone, crushed beneath the passing wheel; an instrument with teeth can break and not be broken; it can grave its mark upon the rock. And the mighty God can convert the one into the other. He can take a man or a nation, who has all the impotence of the worm, and by the invigoration of His own Spirit, He can endow with strength by which a noble mark is left upon the history of the time.
And so the “worm” may take heart. The mighty God can make us stronger than our circumstances. He can bend them all to our good. In God’s strength we can make them all pay tribute to our souls. We can even take hold of a black disappointment, break it open, and extract some jewel of grace. When God gives us wills like iron, we can drive through difficulties as the iron share cuts through the toughest soil. “I will make thee,” and shall He not do it?
—Dr. Jowett
Christ is building His kingdom with earth’s broken things. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken, in building their kingdoms; but God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth’s broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory.
—J. R. Miller
“Follow Me, and I will make you” 
Make you speak My words with power, 
Make you channels of My mercy, 
Make you helpful every hour.
“Follow Me, and I will make you” 
Make you what you cannot be
Make you loving, trustful, godly, 
Make you even like to Me.
—L. S. P.

 

March 15

From: Through the Bible

Numbers 27:16-17 (NIV) 16“May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community 17to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

Moses was not going to be allowed to go on with the Children of Israel into the Promised Land. He had a heart for the people and knew they needed a strong leader to turn them from sin. They needed a commander who would go before them into battle and inspire them to keep up the fight. Where would you find someone like this with a heart like Moses, who would plead for the people before God?

He prayed the above prayer, asking God to send a man with a real shepherd’s heart. God answered that prayer in Joshua. Joshua is the Old Testament form of the New Testament name Jesus. In that day, God fulfilled that prayer in Joshua. However, Joshua didn’t completely finish the job. As great a leader as he was, some of the enemy remained in the land. One enemy group deceived him into making a treaty. The Children of Israel grew weary and would not drive the others out. The result was constant battles throughout Israel’s history. Along with that came the influence of idolatry that was the greatest of all poisons to Israel.

Ultimately, God answered that prayer in Jesus. He is our Shepherd. Unlike the first Joshua, He can lead us to victory over all enemies. He is not tricked into any compromises. A man became our Shepherd. He protects, leads, feeds, and cares for us, the sheep of His pasture. Thank God for the ultimate answer to this prayer and for His great ability to lead us into complete victory without compromise!

Meditation: Jesus goes before me into battle. I just need to follow.

Evening

March 15

Matthew 19:24-26 (NIV) 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” 26Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

A rich young man approached Jesus. He inquired of Jesus which laws were necessary to keep to enter into heaven. Many Jews believed that if they could narrow down the laws to those most important to God, they would stand a better chance of getting into heaven. Jesus asked the man to sell all he owned, give it to the poor, and follow Him. This came at a time when Jesus only had about a week before the crucifixion.

The man went away sorrowful. Jesus had put His finger on the one thing that kept this young man from God. He trusted in his wealth. Then Jesus told the disciples something that astounded them, the camel and eye of the needle analogy. Some of the gates around Jerusalem were not of great height. To get a camel through, the baggage had to be taken off. The camel had to be pulled through on its knees. The picture is a forsaking of wealth and acceptance of humility. Jews thought wealth was a sign of God’s blessing, so the disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” It is the same for all men. It is not a keeping of the Law or any outward thing. It is the miraculous work of God.

Remember: Salvation is a work of God’s grace. Nothing you can do will make God love you any more. However, clinging to the world may keep you from opening your hands to receive His grace.

Happiness Is Serving The Lord

 

It is an honor to serve the Lord.

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God’s Total Surrender to Us

From: Utmost.org

Salvation does not mean merely deliverance from sin or the experience of personal holiness. The salvation which comes from God means being completely delivered from myself, and being placed into perfect union with Him. When I think of my salvation experience, I think of being delivered from sin and gaining personal holiness. But salvation is so much more! It means that the Spirit of God has brought me into intimate contact with the true Person of God Himself. And as I am caught up into total surrender to God, I become thrilled with something infinitely greater than myself.

To say that we are called to preach holiness or sanctification is to miss the main point. We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:2). The fact that He saves from sin and makes us holy is actually part of the effect of His wonderful and total surrender to us.

If we are truly surrendered, we will never be aware of our own efforts to remain surrendered. Our entire life will be consumed with the One to whom we surrender. Beware of talking about surrender if you know nothing about it. In fact, you will never know anything about it until you understand that John 3:16 means that God completely and absolutely gave Himself to us. In our surrender, we must give ourselves to God in the same way He gave Himself for us— totally, unconditionally, and without reservation. The consequences and circumstances resulting from our surrender will never even enter our mind, because our life will be totally consumed with Him.

The Servant of God

From: Streams in the Desert

They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and astounding are your deeds, Lord God, the All-Powerful! Just and true are your ways, King over the nations! (Rev 15:3)

The following incident is related by Mrs. Charles Spurgeon, who was a great sufferer for more than a quarter of a century:

“At the close of a dark and gloomy day, I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on; and though all was bright within my cozy room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the Hand which I knew held mine, and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked,

“’Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?’

“These fretful questions were quickly answered, and through a strange language; no interpreter was needed save the conscious whisper of my heart.

“For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of the oak log burning in the fireplace. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window.

“’What can it be? surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night.’

“Again came the faint, plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke our wonder. My friend exclaimed,

“’It comes from the log on the fire!’ The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak’s inmost heart!

“Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all was well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold. But he had grown old since then, and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody, until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness, and the vehement heart of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice. ’Ah,’ thought I, ’when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified!’

“Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log, cold, hard, insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds, were it not for the fire which kindles around us, and releases notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will.

“’As I mused the fire burned,’ and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set forth before me.

“Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.”

Christ precious to believers

From: Biblegateway

“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” 1 Peter 2:7

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 1:18-21

This text calls to my recollection the opening of my ministry. It is about eight years since as a lad of sixteen, I stood up for the first time in my life to preach the gospel in a cottage to a handful of poor people, who had come together for worship. I felt my own inability to preach, but I ventured to take this text, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” I do not think I could have said anything upon any other text, but Christ was precious to my soul and I was in the flush of my youthful love, and I could not be silent when a precious Jesus was the subject. I had but just escaped from the bondage of Egypt, I had not forgotten the broken fetter; still did I recollect those flames which seemed to burn about my path, and that devouring gulf which opened its mouth as if ready to devour me. With all these things fresh in my youthful heart, I could but speak of his preciousness who had been my Saviour; and had plucked me as a brand from the burning, and set me upon a rock, and put a new song in my mouth, and established my goings. And now, at this time what shall I say? “What hath God wrought?” How hath the little one become a thousand, and the small one a great people? And what shall I say concerning this text, but that if the Lord Jesus was precious then, he is as precious now? And if I could declare then, that Jesus was the object of my soul’s desire, that for him I hoped to live, and for him I would be prepared to die, can I not say, God being my witness, that he is more precious to me this day than ever he was?

For meditation: Is the Lord Jesus Christ precious to you? If so, the feeling is mutual (Isaiah 43:4; Psalm 116:15).

Sermon no. 242
13 March (1859)

 

The arrows of the Lord’s deliverance

‘Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.’ 2 Kings 13:19

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 9:35–10:7

Point me to a single period in the history of the church where God has worked without instrumentality, and I will tell you that I suspect whether God has worked at all if I do not see the instruments he has employed. Take the Reformation, can you think of it without thinking of God? At the same time, can you mention it without the names of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Melanchthon? Then in the later revival in England, when our slumbering churches were suddenly started from their sleep, who did it? The Holy Spirit himself: but you cannot talk of the revival without mentioning the names of Whitefield and Wesley, for God worked by means then, and he works by means still. I need to notice a remark which was made concerning the revival in the north of Ireland, that there seemed to be no prominent instrumentality. The moment I saw that, I mistrusted it. Had it been God’s work more fully developed through instrumentality, I believe it would not have so speedily come to a close. We grant you that God can work without means, and even when he uses means he still takes the glory to himself, for it is all his own; yet it has been the rule, and will be the rule till the day of means shall come to an end; that just as God saved man by taking upon himself man’s flesh, so everywhere in the world he calls men by speaking to them through men of their own flesh and blood. God incarnates himself—in his Spirit, incarnates himself in the chosen men, especially in his church, in which he dwells as in a temple; and then through that church he is pleased to bless the world.

For meditation: We have Scriptural precedents for praying for revival (Psalm 85:6;Habakkuk 3:2); there is a danger of that becoming too vague and general—a ‘Lord, bless us’ prayer, so we have a more specific instruction from our Saviour himself—we are to pray for workers (Luke 10:2).

Sermon no. 569
13 March (Preached 22 March 1864)

Pray For Godly Leaders

 

Total Surrender

From: Utmost.org

Our Lord replies to this statement of Peter by saying that this surrender is “for My sake and the gospel’s” (10:29). It was not for the purpose of what the disciples themselves would get out of it. Beware of surrender that is motivated by personal benefits that may result. For example, “I’m going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin, because I want to be made holy.” Being delivered from sin and being made holy are the result of being right with God, but surrender resulting from this kind of thinking is certainly not the true nature of Christianity. Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, “No, Lord, I don’t want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ‘This is what God has done for me.’ ” Gaining heaven, being delivered from sin, and being made useful to God are things that should never even be a consideration in real surrender. Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.

Where does Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our natural relationships? Most of us will desert Him with this excuse— “Yes, Lord, I heard you call me, but my family needs me and I have my own interests. I just can’t go any further” (see Luke 9:57-62). “Then,” Jesus says, “you ‘cannot be My disciple’ ” (see Luke 14:26-33).

True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion. If we will only give up, God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender. Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.

Make Up Your Mind

From: Getmorestrength.org

“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best” Philippians 1:9-10

When I was young, my mother tried to prepare me for life by urging me to make up two things: my bed and my mind. When I got up each day she would remind me, “Joe, make up your bed.” And when I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, she would prod me, “Joe, make up your mind.”

By far, making up our minds is the more important of the two skills. The real issue is not whether we can make up our mind; it’s whether we can make up our minds correctly. Correct thinking leads to correct decisions—the kind of decisions that guarantee productive and satisfying outcomes. But in our culture correct thinking is a challenge. Every day we are bombarded with secular input that is not only incorrect from God’s point of view, but also counterproductive in our relationships, aspirations, and spiritual growth.

This tug of war in our minds is really about values. Our values define us. They are the guiding principles that form our thoughts, our conclusions, and ultimately our behavior. They are instilled in us by our families, teachers, experiences, entertainment choices, our heroes, our community, and sometimes even by our fallen instincts. When we listen to all the voices around us and ignore the input of God’s Word, making up our mind always get us into trouble.

But when we accept the truth of God’s Word as the guiding principle for decision-making, we will be equipped with the discernment to make up our minds in good ways. And, there is no shortage of good advice in Scripture! God has given us the correct information on how to handle money, relationships, children, spouses, offenses, employers, employees, and politicians. You name it—God has the correct information to guide your mind to correct conclusions.

But beware—good discernment can be easily derailed by rationalization. It’s easy to make mental excuses that neutralize our ability to make good choices. We’ve all heard the excuses—and sometimes from our own lips: “I know it’s wrong, but . . .” or “If it weren’t for the way he treats me” or “I know a lot of people who do worse things.”

In Philippians 1:9-11, Paul encourages us to make excellent decisions that are the by-product of an uncompromised, excuse-free commitment to unselfish acts of love grounded in a discerning application of the knowledge of God’s Word. The result? A life that basks in the pleasures of purity, the fruit of the Spirit, and the fulfillment of our redemptive purpose to live to the praise and glory of God (Philippians 1:10-11).

So take my mother’s advice: Every day, make up your bed and make up your mind. Just be careful how you make up your mind!

 

Obeying God Brings Relief

From: Streams in the Desert

So Moses extended his staff over the land of Egypt, and then the Lord brought an east wind on the land all that day and all night. The morning came, and the east wind had brought up the locusts! and the Lord turned a very strong west wind, and it picked up the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea. Not one locust remained in all the territory of Egypt. (Exod 10:13,19)
See how in the olden times, when the Lord fought for Israel against the cruel Pharaoh, the stormy winds wrought out their deliverance; and yet again, in that grandest display of power—the last blow that God struck at the proud defiance of Egypt. A strange, almost cruel thing it must have seemed to Israel to he hemmed in by such a host of dangers—in front the wild sea defying them, on either hand the rocky heights cutting off all hope of escape, the night of hurricane gathering over them. It was as if that first deliverance had come only to hand them over to more certain death. Completing the terror there rang out the cry: “The Egyptians are upon us!”
When it seemed they were trapped for the foe, then came the glorious triumph. Forth swept the stormy wind and beat back the waves, and the hosts of Israel marched forward, down into the path of the great deep—a way arched over with God’s protecting love.
On either hand were the crystal walls glowing in the light of the glory of the Lord; and high above them swept the thunder of the storm. So on through all that night; and when, at dawn of the next day, the last of Israel’s host set foot upon the other shore, the work of the stormy wind was done.
Then sang Israel unto the Lord the song of the “stormy wind fulfilling his word.”
“The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil…Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.”
One day, by God’s great mercy, we, too, shall stand upon the sea of glass, having the harps of God. Then we shall sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” We shall know then how the stormy winds have wrought out our deliverance.
Now you see only the mystery of this great sorrow; then you shall see how the threatening enemy was swept away in the wild night of fear and grief.
Now you look only at the loss; then you shall see how it struck at the evil that had begun to rivet its fetters upon you.
Now you shrink from the howling winds and muttering thunders; then you shall see how they beat back the waters of destruction, and opened up your way to the goodly land of promise.
—Mark Guy Pearse
“Though winds are wild,
And the gale unleashed,
My trusting heart still sings:
I know that they mean
No harm to me,
He rideth on their wings.”

March 12

From: Through the Bible

Numbers 21:8-9 (NIV) 8The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.

After more wandering in the wilderness because of their refusal to trust God, the Children of Israel became impatient. They began to complain again about their conditions. It was their own actions and their own requests that had placed them there, but they began to blame it on Moses. It is always easier to point the finger at someone else than to consider our role in our difficulties.

God sent poisonous snakes amongst them as a judgment. (There are still poisonous snakes with a fiery bite in that region of the desert) The people began to cry out to Moses for help. Our song changes from a whine to a plea when we are in a life and death situation.

The LORD’s instruction was to take a pole and place upon it a bronze snake. If the people would just turn and look at it they would be healed from the deadly venom. Here is another wonderful picture of what God did for us. Bronze is representative of judgment. The snake is the cursed being that was used by Satan to trick Eve and thereby bring the venom of sin and death into the world. One day that sin would be judged upon a pole. All we need to do to be cured of sin’s deadly venom is to look and live. If we will have faith that sin has been judged in the One who hung there, we will live. Thank the LORD for His wonderful plan of salvation. Look and live!

Prayer: Thank You Lord, for making it so easy for me to come to You. Help me look to You daily and live.

Evening

March 12

Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV) 12“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

We often disconnect this parable from children. Jesus was speaking on the subject of how precious children are to God. He was using an illustration that the hearers all understood. Sheep need a shepherd. They cannot survive on their own. They need someone to guide them to pasture, water, and to protect them from predators.

In this parable, one sheep wonders off. This is quite common. Though the sheep tend to congregate for protection, there are those independent ones that tend to wander. The danger is that they will fall into an inescapable crag or be eaten by predators. The shepherd will leave the flock, which endangers the flock, to find that one lost sheep. When he finds it, it is often weak from insufficient pasture and water. He usually has to carry it back. Still, he is joyful that the sheep has been recovered. Sometimes we look at children, both physical and spiritual, that are independent thinkers and wonder if they are worth the effort. Jesus is saying that they are indeed. The one who is able to help them return to the fold is happier about that restoration than about the others who did not stray.

Sometimes that sheep will repeatedly wander away. Then the shepherd of Jesus’ day had one option, to break the sheep’s leg. That would mean he would have to carry it for the next six weeks, hand feeding it. When the sheep recovers, it will never leave the shepherd’s side. Severe discipline costs the shepherd a great deal of effort, but it is worth saving the sheep.

Consider: The Father is not willing that any be lost, even the most rebellious.

To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice

 

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Image result for PIctures of dog obedienceImage result for PIctures of dog obedience
Image result for PIctures of dog obedienceImage result for PIctures of dog obedience

King James Bible
And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

 

Obedience to the “Heavenly Vision”

From: Utmost.org

If we lose “the heavenly vision” God has given us, we alone are responsible— not God. We lose the vision because of our own lack of spiritual growth. If we do not apply our beliefs about God to the issues of everyday life, the vision God has given us will never be fulfilled. The only way to be obedient to “the heavenly vision” is to give our utmost for His highest— our best for His glory. This can be accomplished only when we make a determination to continually remember God’s vision. But the acid test is obedience to the vision in the details of our everyday life— sixty seconds out of every minute, and sixty minutes out of every hour, not just during times of personal prayer or public meetings.

“Though it tarries, wait for it…” (Habakkuk 2:3). We cannot bring the vision to fulfillment through our own efforts, but must live under its inspiration until it fulfills itself. We try to be so practical that we forget the vision. At the very beginning we saw the vision but did not wait for it. We rushed off to do our practical work, and once the vision was fulfilled we could no longer even see it. Waiting for a vision that “tarries” is the true test of our faithfulness to God. It is at the risk of our own soul’s welfare that we get caught up in practical busy-work, only to miss the fulfillment of the vision.

Watch for the storms of God. The only way God plants His saints is through the whirlwind of His storms. Will you be proven to be an empty pod with no seed inside? That will depend on whether or not you are actually living in the light of the vision you have seen. Let God send you out through His storm, and don’t go until He does. If you select your own spot to be planted, you will prove yourself to be an unproductive, empty pod. However, if you allow God to plant you, you will “bear much fruit” (John 15:8).

It is essential that we live and “walk in the light” of God’s vision for us (1 John 1:7).

MARCH 11, 2015From: CrosswalkUnfinished Doesn’t Equal Unworthy
SUZIE ELLER

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)

The local grocery store in my new town wasn’t just a grocery store. It was where women gathered to talk.

I wanted to casually saunter over and chat with a potential new friend, but I didn’t. I worried about what I might say or whether I’d be able to talk at all.

Everyone else could easily talk. Why couldn’t I? I felt unfinished and uncomfortable in this new situation.

So I became pretty good at outmaneuvering all their efforts. If I saw someone across the way, I’d duck down the soap aisle. If they tried to catch my eye, I’d pretend I didn’t see them. Sometimes my savvy moves didn’t work, and I would end up trapped in the produce section, tongue-tied.

It wasn’t that I was just shy, though there was that element. Growing up in a home of chaos, I learned early that my words could be misinterpreted. So I retreated, rather than try to speak up.

Looking back on that season of life, I wish I could pull my younger self close and tell her she was worth talking to, and that one day she’d feel a little less unfinished in this area.

I wish I could tell her God was 100% tuned in to the beauty of who she was becoming.

And I’d tell her we are all a little unfinished in some way. Even those who seem to live in easy confidence. Even those who call out your name in the grocery aisle.

Because here’s what I’ve learned: Unfinished doesn’t equal unworthy.

Unfinished just means we’re still growing.

I had no idea that one day I’d become a speaker, or that I’d love nothing more than meeting a new friend. I didn’t know that one day I’d feel complete in God’s hands, like our key verse reminds us: “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8).

Do you ever feel unfinished like I did? Do you feel insecure in any area?

If so, here are three ways that have helped me feel more secure and might help you, too:

1. Acknowledge there’s work to be done and that’s okay. I didn’t realize back then that some of the very women calling out my name struggled with their own insecurities. We all battle this to some degree.

2. Trust God knows what’s inside of us. We are all waiting to be shaped with His tender touch. And most importantly? The more we trust God’s abilities, the less power our insecurities hold.

3. Our last step is to start the growth process. I know this is the hard part, but every step we take helps us discover who we really are and what God knows we are capable of accomplishing.

Over time, that once oh-so-unfinished girl started taking baby steps.

I held a conversation with a potential friend and chose not to beat myself up over what I said (or didn’t say) on the way home.

I started offering myself the same grace I gave to others.

I embraced the truth that spiritual and emotional growth isn’t a one-time deal, but rather a lifetime of discovery. God’s hands are on my life in every area.

And that’s where the Potter’s wheel keeps on turning. I’m still unfinished in many ways, but now it’s an adventure rather than an obstacle.

 

Live By Faith

From: Streams in the Desert

But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I take no pleasure in him. (Heb 10:38)

Seemings and feelings are often substituted for faith. Pleasurable emotions and deep satisfying experiences are part of the Christian life, but they are not all of it. Trials, conflicts, battles and testings lie along the way, and are not to be counted as misfortunes, but rather as part of our necessary discipline.

In all these varying experiences we are to reckon on Christ as dwelling in the heart, regardless of our feelings if we are walking obediently before Him. Here is where many get into trouble; they try to walk by feeling rather than faith.

One of the saints tells us that it seemed as though God had withdrawn Himself from her. His mercy seemed clean gone. For six weeks her desolation lasted, and then the Heavenly Lover seemed to say:

“Catherine, thou hast looked for Me without in the world of sense, but all the while I have been within waiting for thee; meet Me in the inner chamber of thy spirit, for I am there.”

Distinguish between the fact of God’s presence, and the emotion of the fact. It is a happy thing when the soul seems desolate and deserted, if our faith can say, “I see Thee not. I feel Thee not, but Thou art certainly and graciously here, where I am as I am.” Say it again and again: “Thou art here: though the bush does not seem to burn with fire, it does burn. I will take the shoes from off my feet, for the place on which I stand is holy ground.” —London Christian

Believe God’s word and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows, but your sea.
—Samuel Rutherford

Keep your eye steadily fixed on the infinite grandeur of Christ’s finished work and righteousness. Look to Jesus and believe, look to Jesus and live! Nay, more; as you look to him, hoist your sails and buffet manfully the sea of life. Do not remain in the haven of distrust, or sleeping on your shadows in inactive repose, or suffering your frames and feelings to pitch and toss on one another like vessels idly moored in a harbor. The religious life is not a brooding over emotions, grazing the keel of faith in the shallows, or dragging the anchor of hope through the oozy tide mud as if afraid of encountering the healthy breeze. Away! With your canvas spread to the gale, trusting in Him, who rules the raging of the waters. The safety of the tinted bird is to be on the wing. If its haunt be near the ground—if it fly low—it exposes itself to the fowler’s net or snare. If we remain grovelling on the low ground of feeling and emotion, we shall find ourselves entangled in a thousand meshes of doubt and despondency, temptation and unbelief. “But surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of THAT WHICH HATH A WING” (marginal reading Prov. 1:17). Hope thou in God.
—J. R. Macduff

When I cannot enjoy the faith of assurance, I live by the faith of adherence.
—Matthew Henry

 

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Sin … exceeding sinful.”
Romans 7:13

Beware of light thoughts of sin. At the time of conversion, the conscience is so tender, that we are afraid of the slightest sin. Young converts have a holy timidity, a godly fear lest they should offend against God. But alas! very soon the fine bloom upon these first ripe fruits is removed by the rough handling of the surrounding world: the sensitive plant of young piety turns into a willow in after life, too pliant, too easily yielding. It is sadly true, that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees men get familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slight sounds. At first a little sin startles us; but soon we say, “Is it not a little one?” Then there comes another, larger, and then another, until by degrees we begin to regard sin as but a little ill; and then follows an unholy presumption: “We have not fallen into open sin. True, we tripped a little, but we stood upright in the main. We may have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of our conversation, it has been consistent.” So we palliate sin; we throw a cloak over it; we call it by dainty names. Christian, beware how thou thinkest lightly of sin. Take heed lest thou fall by little and little. Sin, a little thing? Is it not a poison? Who knows its deadliness? Sin, a little thing? Do not the little foxes spoil the grapes? Doth not the tiny coral insect build a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will not continual droppings wear away stones? Sin, a little thing? It girded the Redeemer’s head with thorns, and pierced his heart! It made him suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe. Could you weigh the least sin in the scales of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent, and abhor the least appearance of evil. Look upon all sin as that which crucified the Saviour, and you will see it to be “exceeding sinful.”

 

Evening

“Thou shalt be called, Sought out.”
Isaiah 62:12

The surpassing grace of God is seen very clearly in that we were not only sought, but sought out. Men seek for a thing which is lost upon the floor of the house, but in such a case there is only seeking, not seeking out. The loss is more perplexing and the search more persevering when a thing is sought out. We were mingled with the mire: we were as when some precious piece of gold falls into the sewer, and men gather out and carefully inspect a mass of abominable filth, and continue to stir and rake, and search among the heap until the treasure is found. Or, to use another figure, we were lost in a labyrinth; we wandered hither and thither, and when mercy came after us with the gospel, it did not find us at the first coming, it had to search for us and seek us out; for we as lost sheep were so desperately lost, and had wandered into such a strange country, that it did not seem possible that even the Good Shepherd should track our devious roamings. Glory be to unconquerable grace, we were sought out! No gloom could hide us, no filthiness could conceal us, we were found and brought home. Glory be to infinite love, God the Holy Spirit restored us!

The lives of some of God’s people, if they could be written would fill us with holy astonishment. Strange and marvellous are the ways which God used in their case to find his own. Blessed be his name, he never relinquishes the search until the chosen are sought out effectually. They are not a people sought today and cast away to-morrow. Almightiness and wisdom combined will make no failures, they shall be called, “Sought out!” That any should be sought out is matchless grace, but that we should be sought out is grace beyond degree! We can find no reason for it but God’s own sovereign love, and can only lift up our heart in wonder, and praise the Lord that this night we wear the name of “Sought out.”