Monthly Archives: April 2017

May We Always Love Jesus Christ

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Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

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Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

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Forever Loved

From: Our Daily Bread

Forever Loved

Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself. Psalm 4:3

It’s almost impossible for us to get through a day without being snubbed, ignored, or put down in some way. Sometimes we even do it to ourselves.

David’s enemies were talking smack—bullying, threatening, pummeling him with insults. His sense of self-worth and well-being had plummeted (Ps. 4:1–2). He asked for relief “from my distress.”

Then David remembered, “Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself” (v. 3). Various English versions try to capture the full essence of David’s bold statement by translating “faithful servant” as “godly.” The Hebrew word here, hesed, literally refers to God’s covenant love and might well be rendered “those whom God will love forever and ever and ever.”

Here’s what we too must remember: We are loved forever, set apart in a special way, as dear to God as His own Son. He has called us to be His children for all eternity.

Instead of despairing, we can remind ourselves of the love we freely receive from our Father. We are His dearly beloved children. The end is not despair but peace and joy (vv. 7–8). He never gives up on us, and He never ever stops loving us.

Father in heaven, the words of others can wound us deeply. Your words to us heal and comfort, and You assure us that we are loved forever.

The true measure of God’s love is that He loves without measure. Bernard of Clairvaux

Don’t Forget

From: Get More Strength.org

“Be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 6:12

We all have little slips in our memory once in a while, right? I love the story about the guy who decided to do something about his increasing forgetfulness. This poor chap decided to attend a seminar on how to increase his ability to remember things. And, to his great delight, the seminar worked! A few weeks later he sat in his living room, chatting with a friend about his newly improved recall ability.

“You won’t believe it,” he gushed, “This memory seminar really has helped me remember things better. I have a whole new lease on life!”

“That’s great,” his friend replied. “How does it work?”

“Well, you simply think of a common object that helps you build a link to whatever you need to remember. If you can remember the common object, then you’ll remember the other object.”

“Wow!” said his friend. “You know, to be honest, my memory’s slipping a little. What’s the name of the seminar? I think I might sign up for it.”

“Okay,” the guy replied. “Let’s see, think of a flower with red petals . . . long stem . . .  thorns . . .  rose.” Then he yelled to his wife in the next room, “Hey, Rose, what was the name of that seminar I went to?”

In Deuteronomy 6:12, Moses is talking to the Israelites about the danger of memory loss when it comes to forgetting God. God’s people were standing on the edge of the Promised Land, ready to enter a land with great cities they did not build, houses full of good things they did not fill, and vast and lush vineyards they didn’t plant. And, as good as the prospect of all this prosperity was, there was a danger lurking under the blessing. Moses knew that in good times it’s easy to forget God. The people were in danger of forgetting that it was God who had given them this land flowing with milk and honey; forgetting that it was God who went before them in each battle; forgetting, in fact, that it was only through God’s gracious choice of them as His people that they were enjoying the blessings of their new home and country. And, when we forget God, we become unthankful, proud, and self-sufficient—the kinds of things that are offensive to the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

So the solution for Israel—and for that matter, for us—is keeping God in mind! The book of Deuteronomy is actually a memory seminar about God’s goodness to His people. Moses reminds the Israelites of the law that was given on Mount Sinai. He tracks the Israelites back over the ways God miraculously provided for them—battles won, food given, shoes that didn’t wear out—the list of God’s providing work is long.

So, here’s the lesson. Beware! When God is abundantly good to us we are in great danger. We are in danger because in good times it’s easy to forget God. It’s easy to be so consumed with the gifts that we forget the Giver! And if we do that, we end up worshiping the blessings and not the One who in His amazing grace has blessed us.

The benefit of keeping God in mind is that it keeps our hearts grateful, appropriately humble, and delighted in our God for His goodness to us. Believe me, delighting in Him beats being consumed by the stuff that He has given us.

Memory lapses in our daily routines may be normal for us. But remembering God’s goodness in our lives is something we can’t afford to forget!

 

Spontaneous Love

From: Utmost.org

Spontaneous Love

Love is not premeditated– it is spontaneous; that is, it bursts forth in extraordinary ways. There is nothing of precise certainty in Paul’s description of love. We cannot predetermine our thoughts and actions by saying, “Now I will never think any evil thoughts, and I will believe everything that Jesus would have me to believe.” No, the characteristic of love is spontaneity. We don’t deliberately set the statements of Jesus before us as our standard, but when His Spirit is having His way with us, we live according to His standard without even realizing it. And when we look back, we are amazed at how unconcerned we have been over our emotions, which is the very evidence that real spontaneous love was there. The nature of everything involved in the life of God in us is only discerned when we have been through it and it is in our past.

The fountains from which love flows are in God, not in us. It is absurd to think that the love of God is naturally in our hearts, as a result of our own nature. His love is there only because it “has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 5:5).

If we try to prove to God how much we love Him, it is a sure sign that we really don’t love Him. The evidence of our love for Him is the absolute spontaneity of our love, which flows naturally from His nature within us. And when we look back, we will not be able to determine why we did certain things, but we can know that we did them according to the spontaneous nature of His love in us. The life of God exhibits itself in this spontaneous way because the fountains of His love are in the Holy Spirit.

Beware Of Life’s Trash-heap

Jesus did talk about the reality of hell — in fact, He talked about it more than any other
person in the Bible. He warned, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot
kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).  By: Billy Graham.
Let God help you here on earth so you won’t go to “Gehenna.” Jesus referred to hell as a garbage dump. But it is a place of extreme suffering or torture. 
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Sometimes people meet God in the ash-heap of life. God says, “Let me help you.”
And lovingly He helps you back to wholeness of life.

Ash-heap Christians

From: Get More Strength.org

Apr 29 2017

“The fire will test the quality of each man’s work” 1 Corinthians 3:13

A few years ago, a series of fires raged through parts of southern California, fanned by the notorious Santa Ana winds. Laguna Hills, a posh, picture-perfect community set inland from the ocean, was hit especially hard. Flames jumped from house to house, fueled by cedar roof shingles. The fire consumed everything in its path—with one exception. The home of building contractor to Bui stood tall. The contractor wanted his home to last, so he constructed his roof with concrete and tile. The fire tested the roof, found it inflammable, and skipped over it to more combustible structures.

We can learn a lesson from To Bui’s careful planning. Since God’s Word tells us that everything we do will be tested by fire, we should live in such a way that we bring to the fire of God’s testing things that will pass the heat test. In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Paul warns us about the danger of living lives made of things like wood, hay, and straw—things that have no impact on eternity. Temporary things, whether wrong or right, that are of no spiritual consequence. Francis Schaeffer calls people who are rich in temporary things “ash-heap Christians” who, at the end of their lives, will be standing before God with nothing of lasting value to bring to Him.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in showing up before God knee-deep in ashes. That’s a really scary thought! But, I also know how easy it is to lose sight of our accountability in the last days and to easily squander our time, money, and relationships on the “here and now.” On what Jesus says are things that moths eat up and that thieves break in and steal (Luke 12:33).

The alternative is to live for the things built on Jesus’ foundation. Paul contrasts these works to wood, hay, and straw by calling them “gold, silver, and costly stones”—commodities that are not only fireproof but purified by fire.

So what would a life full of noncombustible works look like? What does it mean to live for the things Jesus was committed to?

First and foremost, Jesus was passionately addicted to one commodity on this planet: people. He knew that everything else is getting checked at the border! Prioritizing people and their needs is where noncombustible living starts. From the poor and the losers in life to the wealthy and influential, no one escapes the swath of God’s love and mercy. Even our enemies are worthy of the grace of God’s forgiveness through us. Colleagues at work, lost people needing a Savior, to say nothing of those closest to us—spouses, parents, kids, grandkids—all are in need of a loving touch from us in the name of Jesus.

Then there is the capacity to fireproof our lives by using our time, talents, and gifts for things that are eternally important to Jesus. Serving His cause with our abilities—even in the most menial tasks—puts a little gold and silver in the backpack we are carrying home. Generously supporting God’s work with our financial resources and being willing to send our sons and daughters into ministry when they are called all load us up with things that pass the heat test!

The choice is ours: Ash heaps? Or gold, silver, and costly stones? I’ll take the precious commodities route. How about you?

When Morning Comes

From: Our Daily Bread

When Morning Comes

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

It was very late when we stopped for the night at a country inn outside of Munich. We were delighted to see that our cozy room had a balcony, although an oppressive fog made it impossible to see into the darkness. But when the sun rose a few hours later, the haze began to fade. Then we could see what had been grimly shrouded the night before—a completely idyllic scene—peaceful and lush green meadow, sheep grazing with tiny tinkling bells about their necks, and big white clouds in the sky that looked exactly like more sheep—huge, fluffy sheep!

Sometimes life can get clouded over by a heavy fog of despair. Our situation may look so dark that we begin to lose hope. But just as the sun burns away a fog, our faith in God can burn away the haze of doubt. Hebrews 11 defines faith as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (v. 1). The passage goes on to remind us of the faith of Noah, who was “warned about things not yet seen,” yet obeyed God (v. 7). And Abraham who went where God directed—even though he didn’t know where that would be (v. 8).

Though we have not seen Him and cannot always feel His presence, God is always present and will help us through our darkest nights.

Father, thank You for Your promise to walk with us through all of life. In moments of doubt, help us to have the confidence You are in control and we can trust You.

Faith is the radar that sees through the fog. Corrie ten Boom

 

Subscribe to God’s Help

From: Our Daily Journey

Subscribe to God’s Help

Read:

Matthew 26:36-46
Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak! (Matthew 26:41).

Unsolicited emails are as annoying as a swarm of insects. Perhaps you made an online purchase and later received a stream of follow-up emails enticing you to buy other products. There’s only one way to try to stop them—unsubscribe!

Don’t you wish you could also unsubscribe from nagging temptations that attempt to lure you away from Jesus? While we can’t eliminate temptation, it’s encouraging to know we can subscribe to God’s help in our struggles with sin.

After spending time agonizing in prayer, Jesus returned to the three disciples, who should have been praying with Him. What He found was discouraging. They had slipped into slumber—failing another test (Matthew 26:40). Their deep sleep solicited a gentle rebuke and challenge from their Leader and Lord. Jesus urged them to remain spiritually alert and to continue praying to God for extra power to fight against temptation (Matthew 26:41). God’s strength would shore up their defenses and help them remain faithful to Jesus, especially in the dark hours that followed.

Like unsolicited emails, temptations keep coming at us in a variety of ways. Though we may not feel strong enough to ward them off, we’re not powerless to fight against them. We have the Spirit of the risen Christ empowering us in our struggle against sin. Because He has defeated sin, we too can experience victory. Our connection to His power through consistent and persistent prayer will assist us in fighting against our sinful desires and the devil—guarding our heart and strengthening our spirit. Then, instead of giving in to temptation, we’ll be able to resist its pull and stand strong by God’s faithful provision (1 Corinthians 10:13).

We Are Given Life As A Prize

 (Presents are wrapped so you don’t know what you will get).

I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go. —Jeremiah 45:5

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As we go each day with God through life everything is new. He gives us life each day to experience new things.

 

What You Will Get

From: Utmost.org

What You Will Get

This is the firm and immovable secret of the Lord to those who trust Him– “I will give your life to you….” What more does a man want than his life? It is the essential thing. “…your life…as a prize…” means that wherever you may go, even if it is into hell, you will come out with your life and nothing can harm it. So many of us are caught up in exhibiting things for others to see, not showing off property and possessions, but our blessings. All these things that we so proudly show have to go. But there is something greater that can never go– the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

Are you prepared to let God take you into total oneness with Himself, paying no more attention to what you call the great things of life? Are you prepared to surrender totally and let go? The true test of abandonment or surrender is in refusing to say, “Well, what about this?” Beware of your own ideas and speculations. The moment you allow yourself to think, “What about this?” you show that you have not surrendered and that you do not really trust God. But once you do surrender, you will no longer think about what God is going to do. Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions. If you totally abandon yourself to God, He immediately says to you, “I will give your life to you as a prize….” The reason people are tired of life is that God has not given them anything— they have not been given their life “as a prize.” The way to get out of that condition is to abandon yourself to God. And once you do get to the point of total surrender to Him, you will be the most surprised and delighted person on earth. God will have you absolutely, without any limitations, and He will have given you your life. If you are not there, it is either because of disobedience in your life or your refusal to be simple enough.

 

An Alternative to Anger

From: Our Daily Bread

An Alternative to Anger

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife. Proverbs 20:3

One morning in Perth, Australia, Fionn Mulholland discovered his car was missing. That’s when he realized he had mistakenly parked in a restricted zone and his car had been towed away. After considering the situation—even the $600 towing and parking fine—Mulholland was frustrated, but he decided not to be angry with the person he would work with to retrieve his car. Instead of venting his feelings, Mulholland wrote a humorous poem about the situation and read it to the worker he met at the tow yard. The worker liked the poem, and a possible ugly confrontation never took place.

The book of Proverbs teaches, “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife” (20:3). Strife is that friction that either simmers under the surface or explodes in the open between people who disagree about something.

God has given us the resources to live peacefully with other people. His Word assures us that it’s possible to feel anger without letting it boil over into rage (Eph. 4:26). His Spirit enables us to override the sparks of fury that prompt us to do and say things to strike out at people who upset us. And God has given us His example to follow when we feel provoked (1 Peter 2:23). He is compassionate, gracious, and slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Ps. 86:15).

Dear God, Please help me to manage my anger in a way that does not lead me into sin. Give me self-control through the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Be slow to anger.

 

Taking on Too Much

From: Our Daily Journey

Taking on Too Much

Read:

Exodus 16:1-26
Eat this food today, for today is a Sabbath day dedicated to the Lord. There will be no food on the ground today (Exodus 16:25).

My eldest daughter is extremely helpful at home—caring for her younger siblings and even baking cakes for their birthdays. But in her desire to be helpful, she sometimes takes on things that she shouldn’t—such as trying to discipline her siblings or demand that they sit up straight at the table. When she does those things, I have to tell her to stop. This isn’t necessarily because what she’s trying to promote is wrong, but because what she’s taking on is her parents’ role and too heavy for her shoulders.

In Exodus 16, God commanded the Israelites to “stop” as well: to cease gathering manna on the seventh day in honor of the Sabbath. In fact, one meaning of the Hebrew word for Sabbath is “to cease, or stop.” Part of the reason God commanded this was to see if the people of Israel would obey (Exodus 16:4). But we also know from Jesus’ teaching in the gospels that “the Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

Because of this, I think another reason God commanded them to stop gathering manna was to remind them of where their provision truly came from—not from all their gathering and hard work, but from Him. In stopping their work, they were forced to remember that He alone was their true provider. His instruction to cease gathering was therefore far more than a command to stop working: It was a declaration to stop trying to be God and do what only He can do.

If we’re honest, so much of the stress and burdens of our lives come from us trying to be God—to do what He alone can do. What rest we can enjoy when we allow our heavenly Father control!

Practice Purity Of Heart

 

The Beatitudes      Matthew 5: 8
7   Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8   Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9   Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.…

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Lysa TerKeurst April 27, 2017
God, I Want to See You
LYSA TERKEURST

From: Crosswalk.con

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8 (NIV)

Before I went to Israel for the first time a few years ago, my Bible reading felt a bit thin. I was going through the motions of meeting with God but felt disconnected. What was once so invigorating felt more like another thing on my endlessly long to-do list.

You know, when a person lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, they’ll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.

That ache of sadness was draining the life out of me and my desire to do ministry.

And then a friend called to invite me to study in Israel. My friend knew this trip would change me. There isn’t anything else that’s invigorated my passion for ministry like studying in the Holy Land and really experiencing God’s Word up close.

Now, I know you’re thinking … That’s great for you, Lysa. But what if I never make it to the Holy Land? Can I still have that invigorating encounter with Scripture?

I believe you can by inviting the presence of God into your everyday. To help us with this, I’ve broken down one of my favorite prayers into a five-day prayer guide. It’s a tool we can use to help us start experiencing Him in very real ways each and every day.

Day 1 Prayer: Dear God, I want to see You.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

Thought: Remember a pure heart doesn’t mean a perfect person. If your pure intention is to see God, you will. While I can’t see the Lord’s physical form, I can see evidence of His activity all around me.

Activity: Ask God to open your eyes to the many things in your life that speak to His presence. Look for and record evidence of God around you. It’s amazing: The more we recognize even the smallest things as gifts from God, the more we start to realize how present He is in our lives.

Day 2 Prayer: Dear God, I want to hear You.

“He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious.” (Isaiah 50:4b-5a, NIV)

Thought: While I’ve never heard God’s audible voice, I do feel Him speaking to me. The best way I’ve found to start hearing the Lord’s whispers in my heart is by getting into His Word and letting His Word get into me. The more Scripture I memorize, the more clearly I hear Him.

Activity: Ask God to help you wake in the morning so you can read the Bible first thing. Before checking texts, social media, and email … tune into God’s life-giving truths.

Day 3 Prayer: Dear God, I want to know You.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17, NIV)

Thought: I love the words, “I keep asking.” Persistence and consistency are key in our walk with the Lord. Ask the Lord to give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so you may know Him better. Make knowing Him the focal point of every prayer today … more than anything else you are asking for right now.

Activity: Write this verse on a card and carry it with you. Make a point to pray this verse out loud often throughout the day. When you pray the Word of God, you pray the Will of God.

Day 4 Prayer: Dear God, I want to follow hard after You.

“Teach me your way, LORD; that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11, NIV)

Thought: Is there something dividing your heart and distracting you from seeing, hearing and knowing God more? Ask God to reveal one distraction you could distance yourself from today to more fully embrace an awareness of Him.

Activity: Spend a day fasting from your distraction. Each time you think of what you’ve given up, use that as a trigger to pray Psalm 86:11.

Day 5 Prayer: Dear Jesus, I say yes before I even know what Your request will be today.

“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:4-5, NLT)

Thought: The more we know God, the more we want to say yes to Him. The more we say yes to Him, the more we realize there are divine opportunities to participate in His activity all around us.

Activity: Today let’s be others-focused. Let’s ask God for opportunities to honor Him by looking to the interest of others. Let other people in line ahead of us. Let the conversations be about the other person. Make our focus giving rather than receiving.

I love you, friends. And I believe with all my heart God isn’t trying to hide from us. He’s waiting to be seen by us.

 

What Do You Want?

From: Utmost.org

What Do You Want?

Are you seeking great things for yourself, instead of seeking to be a great person? God wants you to be in a much closer relationship with Himself than simply receiving His gifts— He wants you to get to know Him. Even some large thing we want is only incidental; it comes and it goes. But God never gives us anything incidental. There is nothing easier than getting into the right relationship with God, unless it is not God you seek, but only what He can give you.

If you have only come as far as asking God for things, you have never come to the point of understanding the least bit of what surrender really means. You have become a Christian based on your own terms. You protest, saying, “I asked God for the Holy Spirit, but He didn’t give me the rest and the peace I expected.” And instantly God puts His finger on the reason– you are not seeking the Lord at all; you are seeking something for yourself. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7). Ask God for what you want and do not be concerned about asking for the wrong thing, because as you draw ever closer to Him, you will cease asking for things altogether. “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). Then why should you ask? So that you may get to know Him.

Are you seeking great things for yourself? Have you said, “Oh, Lord, completely fill me with your Holy Spirit”? If God does not, it is because you are not totally surrendered to Him; there is something you still refuse to do. Are you prepared to ask yourself what it is you want from God and why you want it? God always ignores your present level of completeness in favor of your ultimate future completeness. He is not concerned about making you blessed and happy right now, but He’s continually working out His ultimate perfection for you— “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22).

 

Representing Jesus

From: Our Daily Journey

Representing Jesus

Read:

Colossians 3:12-17
Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17).

My first experience behind a radio microphone was at the local university campus station. I was eager to learn a new skill and wanted to fit in with all the other radio personalities. I soon realized, however, that my values as a believer in Jesus differed greatly from many of the other students. Though I didn’t agree with much of what I saw or heard, I experienced boldness and strength from Christ to share with others the difference He’d made in my life.

Years later, I met up with one of those radio personalities who said he was now serving God. I was amazed to learn that he’d explored the Christian faith because of the way I had represented Jesus to him.

As believers in Christ, God calls us to represent Him by going into our sphere of influence dressed with “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12). In an often brutal and merciless world, we’re able to display the dramatically contrasting nature of our Savior—making allowance for the faults of others and forgiving those who have wronged us (Colossians 3:13). We can be ambassadors of Jesus by allowing His peace to rule in our hearts and by always being thankful, no matter the circumstance (Colossians 3:15).

When love is our overriding motive, we naturally become a harmonious expression of Him on earth (Colossians 3:14). We can’t help but embody Christ’s character when we allow who He is and His message to fill our lives and flow out and through us (Colossians 3:16). May we remember: “whatever [we] do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).

Make God Part Of Your Life

 

Don’t plan your life without God.

Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles      Jeremiah 29: 11
10   “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.

11   For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

12   ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.…

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Shay Shull April 26, 2017
When You See God’s Plan Unfold
SHAY SHULLFrom: Crosswalk.com

“God can do anything, you know — far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)

I’m not sure when I first read Ephesians 3:20, but it’s one I’ve marked, scribbled, highlighted, circled and underlined as many times as I can in my Bible. It’s the verse I go back to, time and time again, when I don’t see my plans unfolding the way I think they should … when I think I have it all figured out, and yet God isn’t moving the same direction.

Hey, God … I’m over here! Come this way. I have plans! Do it my way!

No … it doesn’t work that way. Often, we make these grand plans and then as the days and weeks go by, we realize we must sit and be patient as we watch His plans unfold. No time was this truer than on my journey to become a mother.

Husband, check. Good jobs, check. House ready for a family, check.

Baby? Nope. Not coming.

I had plans to start a family, but God didn’t seem to get the message. So, I prayed. And waited. And I clung to Scripture reminding me God can do anything … even more than what I could ever expect. As Ephesians 3:20 reminded me, “God can do anything, you know — far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams.”

How, God? How can you make me a mom in a way better than I’m expecting?

I was a mix of disbelief, doubt and hope. One year went by. Then two. A miscarriage. Failed attempts at fertility procedures. More drugs, injections and trips to the doctor than I could count. I was weary.

But God’s Word tells us in Jeremiah 31:25 that He will “refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (NIV)

And now, almost a decade later, I sit here with four precious children. One surprise baby after I officially quit “trying” to have a baby. Then when she was seven months old, another surprise baby. Two surprises, one girl and one boy. But then God did something even more amazing than that …

Ten months after having my second surprise baby, God made it crystal clear to me I wasn’t done being a mom … that I needed to mother those who didn’t have one. AsJames 1:27 says, we’re called to look after the orphans. His great plan for me all those years ago was to be a mom by birth and also a mom by adoption. After our first trip to China to get our precious little girl, we knew He was still at work in us. So, 18 short months later, we found ourselves back in China to bring home a second daughter. One, two, three, four precious kids.

These kids bring me so much joy — whether we’re taking walks, riding bikes, cooking together or gathering around the table for a meal — I never want to forget how every moment, every day, every memory with them is a gift beyond my wildest dreams.

I had once been weary, but I clung to the hope and promise that comes fromEphesians 3:20. I never saw myself being a mom to these four kids … but God did. He knew what I needed even when I didn’t.

Rest in that promise, friends: The promise of the cross always delivers more than our hearts could even imagine.

Dear God, I thank You for the plans You have for me. I praise You, knowing that whatever You have in store for me is ultimately far better than anything I could imagine for myself. Please increase my trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Someone to Touch

From: Our Daily Bread

Someone to Touch

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. Luke 5:13

Commuters on a Canadian Metro train witnessed a heart-moving conclusion to a tense moment. They watched as a 70-year old woman gently reached out and offered her hand to a young man whose loud voice and disturbing words were scaring other passengers. The lady’s kindness calmed the man who sank to the floor of the train with tears in his eyes. He said, “Thanks, Grandma,” stood up, and walked away. The woman later admitted to being afraid. But she said, “I’m a mother and he needed someone to touch.” While better judgment might have given her reason to keep her distance, she took a risk of love.

Jesus understands such compassion. He didn’t side with the fears of unnerved onlookers when a desperate man, full of leprosy, showed up begging to be healed. Neither was He helpless as other religious leaders were—men who could only have condemned the man for bringing his leprosy into the village (Lev. 13:45–46). Instead, Jesus reached out to someone who probably hadn’t been touched by anyone for years, and healed him.

Thankfully, for that man and for us, Jesus came to offer what no law could ever offer—the touch of His hand and heart.

Father in heaven, please help us to see ourselves and one another in that desperate man—and in the merciful eyes of Your Son who reached out and touched him.

No one is too troubled or unclean to be touched by Jesus.

 

Myth No More

From: Our Daily Journey

Myth No More

Read:

1 Peter 2:1-12
You can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).

“We were sure that we, and our civilization, had grown out of the nursery myths of God, angels, and heaven.” Peter Hitchens said those words in describing his younger years when he and his brother Christopher Hitchens, who would become an outspoken atheist, were moving from nominal faith to atheism. Peter ceremonially burned a Bible at age fifteen to declare his disbelief in God.

Later, in his adult years, Peter felt unrest in his soul. One day, while viewing Rogier van der Weyden’s painting Last Judgment, deep conviction filled his heart. The wrongs he’d committed and his rebellion against God required justice. That day, Hitchens began a journey into the arms of Jesus—seeing God no more as myth but as his Maker.

Peter Hitchens’ youthful view of God is nothing new. In 1 Peter, the apostle wrote to believers in Jesus who were considered “strange, superstitious, and disloyal to Roman society,” as one commentator puts it. Unbelievers stumbled over Jesus because they did “not obey God’s word, and so [faced] the fate that was planned for them” (1 Peter 2:8). What was it that pierced Hitchens’ heart? It was the truth that a just God must judge the world. He must turn to right the wrongs that have been committed against Him and others.

An innate desire for justice burns within our hearts. Why? Because we’re made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). And He has also provided the perfect path for us to move from being condemned because of our unjust ways (Romans 3:23) to being made clean by His mercy (1 Peter 2:10). As we trust in Him and His ways, God removes our disgrace (1 Peter 2:6). “Through the mediation of Jesus,” our lives can be made to please our just God (1 Peter 2:5).

The justice we seek reveals He’s no myth.

God Hears You

 

Effective Prayer      I John 5:14
13   I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

14   And this is the confidence that we have before Him: If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

15   And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we already possess what we have asked of Him.…

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High-Tech Communication

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Now we have received . . . the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. —1 Corinthians 2:12

When it comes to communication, our world is becoming increasingly high-tech. The popularity of things like Twitter and Facebook might cause some to think the Bible is too old-school. The tech-savvy people of our world might feel deterred because there are no sounds and no nifty graphics in the Bible. But the truth is, there’s more high-tech power in God’s Word than in any cutting-edge communication tool our world will ever know.

It’s not uncommon for a pastor to be told, “When you said that in your message, it was just what I needed.” Somehow during the sermon, God spoke to the person’s heart with a message tailor-made for him or her. If you’ve ever read the Bible and sensed God speaking directly to you, you know what I’m talking about. God has hard-wired you with His Spirit, who illumines your mind to understand His Word.

Imagine getting a “text message” directly from the Creator of the universe telling you exactly what you need at exactly the right time. No matter how high-tech this world gets, you’ll never experience a more powerful mode of communication!

Rejoice in the reality that “we have received . . . the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:12).

Give me the insight, Lord,
As I hear Your Word today,
So I will truly understand
Your message and Your way. —Monroe

The Bible may be old, but its truths are always new.

 

Don’t Give Up

From: Our Daily Bread

Don't Give Up

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Bob Foster, my mentor and friend for more than fifty years, never gave up on me. His unchanging friendship and encouragement, even during my darkest times, helped carry me through.

We often find ourselves determined to reach out and help someone we know who is in great need. But when we fail to see improvement right away, our resolve can weaken and we may eventually give up. We discover that what we hoped would be an immediate change has become an ongoing process.

The apostle Paul urges us to be patient in helping one another through the stumbles and struggles of life. When he writes, “Carry each other’s burdens” and so “fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2), he is comparing our task to the work, time, and waiting it takes for a farmer to see a harvest.

Father in heaven, we ask for hope and perseverance to continue reaching out to others.

In prayer we call on God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Ephesians 3:20

 

Hidden Sins

From: Our Daily Journey

Hidden Sins

Read:

Galatians 2:11-21
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11).

I was ready to board a plane when my flight was cancelled due to engine failure. Unable to get on another flight, I had to wait until the next day. Because of my travel woes, the airline paid for my overnight stay at a nearby hotel. I was exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep, but I wasn’t able to rest well because of the jarring sound of jet engines. Perhaps if I lived right near an airport, I’d be used to the sound of jets taking off and landing and would sleep right through the night!

Similarly, we can become so accustomed to ignoring sin that it fades into the background, and we grow increasingly numb to it. And if we continue down the path of ignoring sin instead of confessing it, we’re in danger of bringing “sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30). Having a deadened conscience would mean that we would no longer clearly hear the alarm bells of our conscience accusing or warning us of wrongdoing. Eventually, we wouldn’t even feel guilty for the sin we’re committing, having become completely insensitive to it.

How do we avoid this dangerous progression? A primary way is to follow the example of the psalmist who wrote: “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). The Holy Spirit can use Scripture hidden in our hearts to expose sin and prick our consciences.

The Spirit also uses others to help us see our sin. Paul had to confront Peter about his hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14). It’s crucial for us to be reminded that we have been “crucified with Christ. It is no longer [we] who live, but Christ lives in [us]” (Galatians 2:20). In His power, we can confront hidden sins.

A Worthy Offering

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

A gift opens the way
and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

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These pictures are people around the world giving offerings.
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A Worthy Offering

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. —Genesis 4:7

I was delighted when a mutual friend gave my neighbor a Bible. But my neighbor told me she stopped reading it because she couldn’t understand why God would be so unfair as to reject Cain’s offering. “After all,” she said, “as a farmer, he simply brought to God what he had. Did God expect him to buy a different kind of sacrifice?” Sadly, she had missed the point.

It wasn’t that God didn’t like vegetables. Rather, He knew that Cain’s offering was masking an unrighteous attitude. Cain wasn’t fully committed to God, as expressed by the fact that he wasn’t living according to God’s ways.

It’s easy to worship God on the outside while stubbornly keeping territory from Him on the inside. Jude writes about outwardly religious people who use religious activities to cover the reality of their sinful lives: “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 1:11). We can faithfully serve God, sing His praises, and give sacrificially to His work. But God doesn’t want any of that without our hearts.

Does the Lord take priority over our plans and dreams? Is He worth more than the sin that tempts us? When we express to Him that He is more worthy than anything or anyone else in our lives, it’s an offering He won’t refuse.

Lord, may our worship and our praise,
From hearts surrendered to Your ways,
Be worthy offerings of love
For all Your blessings from above. —Sper

God won’t refuse a heart that is surrendered to Him.

 

The Small Things

From: Our Daily Bread

The Small Things

Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17

My friend Gloria called with excitement in her voice. She had not been able to leave her home except for doctors’ appointments. So I understood why she was so happy to tell me, “My son just attached new speakers to my computer, so now I can go to my church!” Now she could hear the live broadcast of her church’s worship service. She raved about God’s goodness and the “best gift my son could have given me!”

Gloria teaches me about having a thankful heart. Despite her many limitations, she’s thankful for the smallest of things—sunsets, helpful family and neighbors, quiet moments with God, the ability to remain in her own apartment. She’s had a lifetime of seeing God provide for her, and she talks about Him to anyone who visits or calls.

We don’t know what difficulties the author of Psalm 116 was encountering. Some Bible commentaries say it was probably sickness because he said, “the cords of death entangled me” (v. 3). But he gave thanks to the Lord for being gracious and full of compassion when he was “brought low” (vv. 5–6).

When we’re low, it can be hard to look up. Yet if we do, we see that God is the giver of all good gifts in our life—great and small—and we learn to give Him thanks.

What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? . . . I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving (Ps. 116:12, 17 esv).

Praise to God comes naturally when you count your blessings.

 

The Kingdom We Long For

From: Our Daily Journey

The Kingdom We Long For

Read:

Jeremiah 23:1-6
He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land (Jeremiah 23:5).

I remember the way grief hung so heavy the morning after news broke of the deadliest mass shooting in US history in 2016.

This shooting happened just days from the one-year anniversary of yet another shooting: a racially motivated killing at an African-American church in my nation’s south. Have we learned nothing? Will we continue to kill one another? Must communities live in fear?

In such moments, I often feel helpless and need to return again to Scripture’s ancient wisdom to learn from the people who have gone before us. Israel knew much about devastation, violence, and oppression. But they also had a relentless hope in the God who would save them. As believers, we can join Israel’s tear-drenched prayer: “Save us, O Lord our God! Gather us back from among the nations, so we can thank your holy name and rejoice and praise you” (Psalm 106:47).

The prophet Jeremiah assured God’s people that “the time [was] coming” when a righteous king would come to rule—a powerful and good king whose kingdom would extend to every nation (Jeremiah 23:5). This king would “do what is just and right.” When He came, “Judah [would] be saved and Israel [would] live in safety” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).

Jesus has come, and God’s kingdom entered with Him. But this kingdom has not yet arrived in all its fullness, and we still encounter the bitter pain of violence and evil. Until God’s kingdom comes in final victory, we work and we utter prayers like this: We pray for God’s kingdom of peace over violence, God’s kingdom of love over hate, God’s kingdom of hope over despair, and God’s kingdom of friendship over estrangement and isolation. May the kingdom of Jesus Christ rule over every rival kingdom. O God, make Your kingdom come in us. Amen.

What defiles A Man?

 What Defiles a Man   Matthew 15:11

10   Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen and understand.

11   A man is not defiled by what enters his mouth, but” by what comes out of it.

12   Then the disciples came to Him and said, “Are You aware that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”…

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Trash Talk

Get more Strength.org

5/23/2017

“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil . . . . It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” James 3:6

One morning when I was pulling out of our driveway on my way to work, I noticed that someone had thrown a beer can on our lawn. I picked it up, tossed it into our garbage can and drove away without giving it much thought.

A little further down the road, the thought hit me: What will the garbage man think when he sees a beer can tumble out of the minister’s trash can? I suppose, if my trash can could have talked, it would have set the garbage man straight. But unfortunately, trash cans don’t say much these days. So, my reputation was left to whatever the sanitation engineer would conclude. And while beer cans in your trash may not be the worst thing that could happen, I wondered what would have been the conclusion if a neighbor boy had dumped his porn magazines into our garbage?

We have all jumped to a conclusion about somebody without knowing all the facts, only to hear the rest of the story and then feel terrible about what we have said about that person to others. To make matters worse, there is no way that we can retrace all our false information to rescue the victim’s reputation. No wonder James warns, “The tongue is a fire, a world of evil.”

When we draw conclusions quickly—without careful consideration of the consequences and risks, we stoop to the level of tabloid reporting. We carelessly trash valued reputations and do irreparable damage. This lethal habit of our tongues is called the sin of beguilement—the sin of drawing wrong conclusions and then passing them on.

Avoiding this kind of “trash talk” means that we refuse to make any firm conclusions until the facts are in. When in doubt, go to the person for clarification. If your conclusions are true, you can help them repent and lead them lovingly to recovery. If they are not true, you can stick up for them if others are spreading beguilement about them. And, when someone comes to you with some “trash talk” about another person, be quick to ask, “Do you know that for sure?” Tell them that you really don’t want to know about the situation until you both can be certain about the facts. Encourage them to go directly to the person before they say anything else to others.

Reputations are too important to throw in the trash. I’m a raving fan of protecting people in love rather than getting some sort of sick joy out of speaking poorly about others. After all, Scripture tells us that “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8)!

Do You Worship The Work?

From: Utmost.org

Do You Worship The Work?

Beware of any work for God that causes or allows you to avoid concentrating on Him. A great number of Christian workers worship their work. The only concern of Christian workers should be their concentration on God. This will mean that all the other boundaries of life, whether they are mental, moral, or spiritual limits, are completely free with the freedom God gives His child; that is, a worshiping child, not a wayward one. A worker who lacks this serious controlling emphasis of concentration on God is apt to become overly burdened by his work. He is a slave to his own limits, having no freedom of his body, mind, or spirit. Consequently, he becomes burned out and defeated. There is no freedom and no delight in life at all. His nerves, mind, and heart are so overwhelmed that God’s blessing cannot rest on him.

But the opposite case is equally true– once our concentration is on God, all the limits of our life are free and under the control and mastery of God alone. There is no longer any responsibility on you for the work. The only responsibility you have is to stay in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with Him. The freedom that comes after sanctification is the freedom of a child, and the things that used to hold your life down are gone. But be careful to remember that you have been freed for only one thing– to be absolutely devoted to your co-Worker.

We have no right to decide where we should be placed, or to have preconceived ideas as to what God is preparing us to do. God engineers everything; and wherever He places us, our one supreme goal should be to pour out our lives in wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

 

The Shrinking Piano

From: Our Daily Bread

The Shrinking Piano

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

For three consecutive years, my son participated in a piano recital. The last year he played, I watched him mount the steps and set up his music. He played two songs and then sat down next to me and whispered, “Mom, this year the piano was smaller.” I said, “No, it’s the same piano you played last year. You’re bigger! You’ve grown.”

Spiritual growth, like physical growth, often happens slowly over time. It is an ongoing process that involves becoming more like Jesus, and it happens as we are transformed through the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2).

When the Holy Spirit is at work in us, we may become aware of sin in our lives. Wanting to honor God, we make an effort to change. Sometimes we experience success, but at other times, we try and fail. If it seems like nothing changes, we get discouraged. We may equate failure with a lack of progress, when it’s often proof that we are in the middle of the process.

Spiritual growth involves the Holy Spirit, our willingness to change, and time. At certain points in our lives, we may look back and see that we have grown spiritually. May God give us the faith to continue to believe that “He who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

Dear God, give me a desire to grow spiritually. I want to honor You with my life and experience the joy of the Spirit’s work inside of me.

Spiritual growth is a process.

Abandoned

 Jesus may have felt abandoned on the cross. But the worst thing of all is to be abandoned by God at the judgment. Pray that no one has that horrible outcome.

 

Revelation 20:11-15

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire

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Abandoned

From: Get More Strength

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Genesis 3:6

If you were ever a freshman in college, you may remember how cool you felt if an upperclassman showed some interest in you.

T. J. Evans lived across the hall from me my freshman year. He was a self-assured upperclassman with that I’ve-got-it-all-together swagger in his walk. It didn’t take long to realize that he was a big man on campus. So you can imagine how flattering it felt when he took an interest in the freshmen on our floor.

Well, take an interest in us he did. But we were soon to find out that he had a sinister agenda up his sleeve. After curfew, he would hang out with us and suggest brilliant pranks that we could pull off under the cover of darkness. He’d help us design the strategy and off we’d go, only to get caught and find ourselves in a lot of trouble. When we got caught, we always noticed that T. J. was nowhere to be seen. He had sent us off and stayed in his room taking great delight in seeing us freshmen end up in a heap of trouble. In retrospect, I can’t believe we let him do that to us—not just once but we were dumb enough to have it happen a lot! It’s the old, “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me!” routine.

When I think about it, T. J.’s delight in getting us in trouble is not much different than Satan’s interest in you and your life. He comes along with nifty schemes that look like fun—things he assures will make you happy, fulfilled, and satisfied. When someone hurts you, he has an I don’t get mad, I just get even strategy that makes you feel really good about not being taken advantage of. Instant trips into pleasure-land and debt-increasing spending sprees offer quick kicks of adrenalin. If you have a need, if you have a desire—believe me, he has a plan! But when you execute his strategy, he’ll be nowhere to be found. He won’t be there to deliver on his promise that you will be happy and fulfilled. He won’t even have the decency to help you pick up the pieces and to apologize for messing up your life. In fact, all the time he had a sinister agenda up his sleeve! He loves to see our lives complicated with shame, guilt, and regret. He is the master of ruined lives. As Peter warns us, he’s on the prowl looking for someone he can devour (1 Peter 5:8)!

We should have known. When he lured Adam and Eve with an offer they found hard to refuse, he didn’t stay around to make good on his promise but slithered off leaving them fearful, ashamed, and full of regret. And that strategy was so good that he continues to find it useful in your life and mine thousands of years later.

Peter Berger said it well when he wrote:

He who sups with the devil had better have a long spoon, because he who sups with the devil will find that his spoon gets shorter and shorter until that last supper in which he is left alone at the table with no spoon at all and an empty plate. But the devil, one may guess, will have then gone on to more interesting company.

Fool us once, shame on Satan! Fool us twice, shame on us!

Always Listening

From: Our Daily Bread

Always Listening

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Dad was a man of few words. He had hearing damage due to years of military duty and wore hearing aids. One afternoon when Mom and I were talking a little longer than he thought necessary, he responded playfully, “Whenever I want peace and quiet, all I have to do is this.” Lifting both hands in a single motion, he turned off both hearing aids, folded his hands behind his head and closed his eyes in a serene smile.

We laughed. As far as he was concerned, the conversation was over!

My father’s actions that day remind me how different God is from us. He always wants to hear His children. This is underscored by one of the shortest prayers in the Bible. One day Nehemiah, a servant to King Artaxerxes of Persia, was visibly sad in the king’s presence. Fearful when the king asked him why, Nehemiah confessed it was because Jerusalem, the conquered city of his ancestors, lay in ruins. Nehemiah recounts, “The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’ Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king…” (Neh. 2:4–5, italics added).

Nehemiah’s prayer lasted only a moment, but God heard it. It set in motion God’s merciful response to the many prayers Nehemiah had already offered for Jerusalem. In that moment, Artaxerxes granted Nehemiah’s request to rebuild the city.

Isn’t it comforting to know that God cares enough to listen to all of our prayers—from the shortest to the longest?

Thank You, loving Father, for blessing me with the beautiful privilege and opportunity of prayer.

Our God is big enough to hear the smallest voice.

 

 

Songs Before Dawn

From: Our Daily Journey

Songs Before Dawn

Read:

Matthew 3:1-17
He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!” (Matthew 3:3).

While spending a few days in the great outdoors, a bird woke me up one morning before dawn. His persistent singing eventually roused the rest of his winged friends, who also sang until the trees teemed with excitement. It was as if the first tweets I heard were a lullaby for the night animals and an alarm clock for the day creatures. One bird appeared to prepare an entire forest for the sun to rise.

The early bird’s song reminded me of John the Baptist—“a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!’ ” (Matthew 3:3). John’s off-the-grid life in the Judean wilderness included camel-hair clothing and a diet of bugs and wild honey. His no-nonsense life mirrored his message: “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2).

People from Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordan Valley came to hear God’s “mountain man” preach. Hearing led to believing and then baptism in the Jordan River. Eventually, the religious officials learned about John and came to question him. They wanted to know if he was the Messiah. Of course, John told the truth: “I baptize with water . . . . But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am” (Matthew 3:11).

God used John—a humble, unsophisticated person—to wake the world to Jesus’ identity as the Messiah (John 1:32-34). Like the bird that heralded the dawn, the prophet announced that the long-expected One was about to arrive on the scene.

Maybe, like John, you value simple living. Maybe you feel as if you don’t fit in with those around you. It doesn’t take money or style to have passion and purpose. By the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus provides all you need to sing His song.

Don’t Hurt The Lord

Being angry with God and having a bad attitude hurts you not God.

 

Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

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Don’t Hurt the Lord

From: Utmost.org

Don’t Hurt the Lord

Our Lord must be repeatedly astounded at us— astounded at how “un-simple” we are. It is our own opinions that make us dense and slow to understand, but when we are simple we are never dense; we have discernment all the time. Philip expected the future revelation of a tremendous mystery, but not in Jesus, the Person he thought he already knew. The mystery of God is not in what is going to be— it is now, though we look for it to be revealed in the future in some overwhelming, momentous event. We have no reluctance to obey Jesus, but it is highly probable that we are hurting Him by what we ask— “Lord, show us the Father…” (John 14:8). His response immediately comes back to us as He says, “Can’t you see Him? He is always right here or He is nowhere to be found.” We look for God to exhibit Himself to His children, but God only exhibits Himself in His children. And while others see the evidence, the child of God does not. We want to be fully aware of what God is doing in us, but we cannot have complete awareness and expect to remain reasonable or balanced in our expectations of Him. If all we are asking God to give us is experiences, and the awareness of those experiences is blocking our way, we hurt the Lord. The very questions we ask hurt Jesus, because they are not the questions of a child.

“Let not your heart be troubled…” (14:1, 27). Am I then hurting Jesus by allowing my heart to be troubled? If I believe in Jesus and His attributes, am I living up to my belief? Am I allowing anything to disturb my heart, or am I allowing any questions to come in which are unsound or unbalanced? I have to get to the point of the absolute and unquestionable relationship that takes everything exactly as it comes from Him. God never guides us at some time in the future, but always here and now. Realize that the Lord is here now, and the freedom you receive is immediate.

The Gift of Giving

From: Our Daily Bread

The Gift of Giving
Read: Luke 3:7–14 | Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 12–13; Luke 16

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion. 2 Corinthians 9:7

A pastor breathed life into the phrase “He’d give you the shirt off his back” when he gave this unsettling challenge to his church: “What would happen if we took the coats off our backs and gave them to the needy?” Then he took his own coat and laid it at the front of the church. Dozens of others followed his example. This was during the winter, so the trip home was less comfortable that day. But for dozens of people in need, the season warmed up just a bit.

When John the Baptist roamed the Judean wilderness, he had a stern warning for the crowd that came to hear him. “You brood of vipers!” he said. “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:7–8). Startled, they asked him, “What should we do then?” He responded with this advice: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (vv. 10–11). True repentance produces a generous heart.

Because “God loves a person who gives cheerfully” (nlt), giving should never be guilt-based or pressured (2 Cor. 9:7). But when we give freely and generously, we find that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

Lord, thank You for the many ways You bless us. Forgive us for so often taking Your goodness for granted. Show us what we have that we might use to bless someone else today.

Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

 

Uber Conversations

From: Our Daily Journey

Uber Conversations

Read:

Genesis 2:15-25
It is not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).

Jasper Fu drives two hours a day for Uber, an app-based taxi service. He doesn’t do it for the money, since he already has a fulltime job. He says he does it because it’s a good way to “talk to people.” Chinese culture encourages quiet restraint, so it can seem inappropriate to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation. It’s different when you’re picking them up in your car. Jasper says, “Under no other circumstance can I find a stranger to talk with me for like 10 to 20 minutes.”

Jasper isn’t alone in his desire to connect with others. A lot of us long to matter to someone, and we receive little help from our culture. If an evil villain wanted to make sure we have as little human contact as possible, this is the society he would have created. We’re separated by houses with backyards but no front porches. We’re separated by cars, in which we travel alone. We buy groceries, pump gas, and withdraw money from our bank—all without making eye contact with others. We’re separated by technology. In our free time we scroll and text alone.

In our isolation we might feel like David crying out from his cave, “No one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me” (Psalm 142:4). But we won’t go down without a fight, for we know it’s not good for us “to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

Since our triune God created us for relationship, may we follow Jasper’s lead and find ways to foster friendship. We can text our friends to meet up face-to-face. We can bring cookies next door to share with neighbors. And we can view unexpected visits not as interruptions, but opportunities to reflect the relational nature of our loving God who never leaves us nor forsakes us.