Category Archives: Family

At Just The Right Time

Romans 5:6

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

 
Galatians 6:9

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

2 Corinthians 6:2

for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”–

Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven–

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At Just The Right Time

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son. —Galatians 4:4

Why is being on time so challenging for some of us? Even when we start early, something inevitably gets in our way to make us late.

But here’s the good news: God is always on time! Speaking of the arrival of Jesus, Paul said, “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Gal. 4:4). The long-awaited, promised Savior came at just the right time.

Jesus’ arrival during the Roman Empire’s Pax Romana (the peace of Rome) was perfect timing. The known world was united by one language of commerce. A network of global trade routes provided open access to the whole world. All of this guaranteed that the gospel could move rapidly in one tongue. No visas. No impenetrable borders. Only unhindered access to help spread the news of the Savior whose crucifixion fulfilled the prophecy of the Lamb who would be slain for our sins (Isa. 53:1-12). All in God’s perfect timing!

All of this should remind us that the Lord knows what time is best for us as well. If you’re waiting for answered prayer or the fulfillment of one of His promises, don’t give up. If you think He has forgotten you, think again. When the fullness of time is right for you, He’ll show up—and you’ll be amazed by His brilliant timing!

Not ours to know the reason why
Unanswered is our prayer,
But ours to wait for God’s own time
To lift the cross we bear. —Anon.

God’s timing is always perfect.

 

Streams of Mercy

From: Our Daily Journey

Streams of Mercy

Read:

2 Peter 3:3-10
[God] does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (2 Peter 3:9).

The council in Cassandra Boyson’s Seeker’s Trilogy was responsible for maintaining law and order in the name of the “Great One.” Instead, they were corrupt, singling out people they deemed different for cruel treatment. Slowly the surrounding society began to decay—reflecting the council’s immoral ways. Yet in a surprising twist, the Great One righted the wrongs of that world by providing a river that transformed all who came into contact with it.

Like that river offering transformation without cost, Scripture abounds with examples of God extending undeserved mercy to people in surprising ways. Though Jonah did everything in his power to prevent it, God showered mercy on a wicked Assyrian nation when they chose to repent and turn to God (Jonah 3:10). Jesus gently but firmly silenced the accusers of a woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), and He shocked onlookers by associating with the hated tax collectors—even choosing one to be in His core group of twelve disciples (Matthew 9:9-11).

People may ridicule believers in Jesus for their hope in Jesus’ return, saying “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? . . . Everything has remained the same since the world was first created” (2 Peter 3:4). But Peter reminds us that the timing of Jesus’ second coming is designed to allow repentance for as many as possible. He urges us not to “forget this one thing: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

His streams of mercy continue to flow today.

 

Sanctification (1)

From: Utmost.org

Sanctification (1)

The Death Side. In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Sanctification requires our coming to the place of death, but many of us spend so much time there that we become morbid. There is always a tremendous battle before sanctification is realized— something within us pushing with resentment against the demands of Christ. When the Holy Spirit begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle starts immediately. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate…his own life…he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

In the process of sanctification, the Spirit of God will strip me down until there is nothing left but myself, and that is the place of death. Am I willing to be myself and nothing more? Am I willing to have no friends, no father, no brother, and no self-interest— simply to be ready for death? That is the condition required for sanctification. No wonder Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us falter. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ on this point. We say, “But this is so strict. Surely He does not require that of me.” Our Lord is strict, and He does require that of us.

Am I willing to reduce myself down to simply “me”? Am I determined enough to strip myself of all that my friends think of me, and all that I think of myself? Am I willing and determined to hand over my simple naked self to God? Once I am, He will immediately sanctify me completely, and my life will be free from being determined and persistent toward anything except God (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

When I pray, “Lord, show me what sanctification means for me,” He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus puts in me— it is Himself in me (see 1 Corinthians 1:30).

Dressed Up

Matthew 6:25-34
30 But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
 31 Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
 32 For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things. 
33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 
34 Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
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Dressed Up

From: Our Daily Bread

Dressed Up

Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 13:14

In her book Wearing God, author Lauren Winner says our clothes can silently communicate to others who we are. What we wear may indicate career, community or identity, moods, or social status. Think of a T-shirt with a slogan, a business suit, a uniform, or greasy jeans and what they might reveal. She writes, “The idea that, as with a garment, Christians might wordlessly speak something of Jesus—is appealing.”

According to Paul, we can similarly wordlessly represent Christ. Romans 13:14 tells us to “clothe [ourselves] with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” What does this mean? When we become Christians, we take on Christ’s identity. We’re “children of God through faith” (Gal. 3:26–27). That’s our status. Yet each day we need to clothe ourselves in His character. We do this by striving to live for and to be more like Jesus, growing in godliness, love, and obedience and turning our back on the sins that once enslaved us.

This growth in Christ is a result of the Holy Spirit working in us and our desire to be closer to Him through study of the Word, prayer, and time spent in fellowship with other Christians (John 14:26). When others look at our words and attitudes, what statement are we making about Christ?

Dear Lord, we want to be a reflection of You. Help us to look more like You each day. Grow us in godliness, love, joy, and patience.

When others see us, may what they see speak well of the Savior.

 

No Floating

From: Our Daily Journey

No Floating

Read:

Micah 5:1-5
He will be highly honored around the world. And he will be the source of peace (Micah 5:4-5).

I was power-trimming weeds beneath a large tree in our backyard when I felt a painful, burning jab to the back of my skull. Turning, I noticed several hornets buzzing around me. Having been already stung by one, I fled the scene. Later that night I discovered I had bumped the hornets’ watermelon-sized nest with my head! A sting had snapped me out of my clueless state, one that could have resulted in me being swarmed and stung repeatedly.

The prophet Micah was called to do something similar—to wake God’s people out of their clueless state. They had their heads down—ignoring God and His call—living unjust, self-centered, spiritually apathetic lives (Micah 1:52:2). As one commentator put it, “With passionate forthrightness, [Micah] attacks the social evils [religious corruption, social oppression, economic injustice, etc.] of his day. His stubborn refusal to float on the tide of his social environment, and his courageous stand for his convictions of God’s truth, must commend Micah to . . . every age.”

Micah brought God’s stinging words: Judgment was coming through their enemies the Assyrians (Micah 5:1). But he also gave them hope in One who would come from Bethlehem and “be the source of peace” (Micah 5:2,5). The prophet’s words described a “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)—revealing to the people of that age and ours that One would come and “lead his flock” and “be highly honored around the world” (Micah 5:4).

Jesus, the One who fulfilled that prophecy, provides what we need to passionately swim against the currents of social ills today. This is no time for floating. Let’s lift our heads and find our voice as Christ gives us the power and strength to live out His justice, truth, and love.

 

Tondi Wheat July 21, 2017
My Husband Wanted Me to Be Like Someone Else
TONDI WHEAT, COMPEL Member

From: Crosswalk.com

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NLT)

I have always struggled with insecurities, and being married didn’t change that.

Those feelings of insecurity hit every part of my life and thoughts:

If my kids had a fun mom, they would be happier.

I’m failing my kids as a homeschool teacher.

If I were more organized, my house wouldn’t be such a mess all the time.

My husband would be happier with someone else.

Something must be wrong with me if they don’t want me to help in this ministry.

The thoughts of never being good enough consumed my mind.

A few years ago, I felt distant from my husband. The thoughts of him being happier with someone else raced through my mind.

With my arms crossed and head bowed, I took a deep breath and courageously said, “I feel you wish I were like someone else.” My heart began to race as I braced myself for his answer. The thoughts began again, Will he tell me who it was, or would he keep it secret?

He looked up from what he was doing and said, “Yes, I do.”

My heart sank. All my insecurities became real, and my thoughts began to swirl. My husband didn’t want me. He wanted someone else.

Holding back tears, I uttered, “Who?”

As his eyes met mine, I knew his answer would impact me forever. His tone was concentrated, caring and thoughtful. He said, “I wish you were more like Jesus.”

I wasn’t expecting that answer. I had wondered about many people, but never Jesus. My husband didn’t want me to be prettier, more active or more organized. He wanted me to focus more on God.

All the things I worried about were furthest from his thoughts.

That day, I decided to be more of who my husband wanted in a wife … more of the person I should be. I began to study the “manual” (God’s Word through the Bible) for being a better wife, mother, person and Christian.

Paul’s writings really stood out to me. To the Galatians, he wrote today’s key verse, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

It is still true today. When we accepted Christ into our hearts, we died to self. Our “self” includes our sins, habits, thoughts and even our insecurities.

When I’m insecure, then I can’t fully be Christ-like.

I want to be Christ-like. Not because that’s what my husband wants, but because Jesus gives a new life. Having insecurities is almost debilitating at times. Focusing on God instead of my insecurities has freed me.

It’s not always easy to push away the thoughts that have invaded my mind for years.

God reminds me, sometimes daily, that those thoughts are negative and not from Him. Just because we accept Christ into our hearts doesn’t mean Satan stops putting the negative thoughts into our minds.

What it does mean is that Jesus will help us through those negative thoughts. Sometimes He even uses a loved one to help.

Dear Lord, You formed me in my mother’s womb. You know my strengths and challenges. Open my heart to be like You. Help me to focus on You and what You want in me. Your way is perfect and just. Guide and direct me as to what You want me to be. Thank You for changing me and giving me new life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Time To Seek God

Acts 17:27

that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

 
1 Chronicles 16:11

Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

1 Chronicles 22:19

“Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise, therefore, and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy vessels of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the LORD.”

Psalm 14:2

The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God

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A Time for Everything

From: Our Daily Bread

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

While flying recently, I watched a mother and her children a few rows ahead of me. While the toddler played contentedly, the mother gazed into the eyes of her newborn, smiling at him and stroking his cheek. He stared back with a wide-eyed wonderment. I enjoyed the moment with a touch of wistfulness, thinking of my own children at that age and the season that has passed me by.

I reflected, however, about King Solomon’s words in the book of Ecclesiastes about “every activity under the heavens” (v. 1). He addresses through a series of opposites how there is a “time for everything” (v. 1): “a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot” (v. 2). Perhaps King Solomon in these verses despairs at what he sees as a meaningless cycle of life. But he also acknowledges the role of God in each season, that our work is a “gift of God” (v. 13) and that “everything God does will endure forever” (v. 14).

We may remember times in our lives with longing, like me thinking of my children as babies. We know, however, that the Lord promises to be with us in every season of our life (Isa. 41:10). We can count on His presence and find that our purpose is in walking with Him.

Lord God, You lead me through the seasons, and whether I’m laughing or crying I know You are with me. May I reach out to someone with Your love today.

God gives us the seasons of our lives.

 

Dependent on God’s Presence

From: Utmost.org

Dependent on God’s Presence

There is no thrill for us in walking, yet it is the test for all of our steady and enduring qualities. To “walk and not faint” is the highest stretch possible as a measure of strength. The word walk is used in the Bible to express the character of a person— “…John…looking at Jesus as He walked…said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ ” (John 1:35-36). There is nothing abstract or obscure in the Bible; everything is vivid and real. God does not say, “Be spiritual,” but He says, “Walk before Me…” (Genesis 17:1).

When we are in an unhealthy condition either physically or emotionally, we always look for thrills in life. In our physical life this leads to our efforts to counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit; in our emotional life it leads to obsessions and to the destruction of our morality; and in our spiritual life, if we insist on pursuing only thrills, on mounting up “with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), it will result in the destruction of our spirituality.

Having the reality of God’s presence is not dependent on our being in a particular circumstance or place, but is only dependent on our determination to keep the Lord before us continually. Our problems arise when we refuse to place our trust in the reality of His presence. The experience the psalmist speaks of— “We will not fear, even though…” (Psalm 46:2)— will be ours once we are grounded on the truth of the reality of God’s presence, not just a simple awareness of it, but an understanding of the reality of it. Then we will exclaim, “He has been here all the time!” At critical moments in our lives it is necessary to ask God for guidance, but it should be unnecessary to be constantly saying, “Oh, Lord, direct me in this, and in that.” Of course He will, and in fact, He is doing it already! If our everyday decisions are not according to His will, He will press through them, bringing restraint to our spirit. Then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence.

 

Lysa TerKeurst July 20, 2017
A Life with Extraordinary Impact
LYSA TERKEURST

From: Crosswalk.com

“After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.” Judges 3:31 (NIV)

I am a woman who wants to make a difference for Christ in the world. I want my life and legacy to count for something with eternal significance. I want to stand before God one day knowing I fulfilled the purposes He had for me.

But there’s always this nagging sense inside of me that the world’s problems are too big, and I’m too small.

Can you relate? That’s why I’m so fascinated with Shamgar.

We learn who Shamgar is in one small verse hiding at the very end of the third chapter of Judges … “After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.” (Judges 3:31)

Tucked into this one verse, we see three things Shamgar did that resulted in his life having extraordinary impact:

1. He offered God his willingness.
2. He used what God had given him.
3. He stayed true to who he was.

And in doing those three things, it was enough. God used him to save the nation of Israel.

Oh, how Shamgar’s story stirs my soul. He was an ordinary person, in an ordinary place, doing an ordinary job. The thing that made him extraordinary wasn’t anything external. It was his internal drive to do the right thing and be obedient to God, right where he was. His job was to be obedient to God. God’s job was everything else.

The same is possible for us. If we are obedient to God in the midst of our ordinary lives, extraordinary impact is always possible.

I doubt Shamgar ever expected to be used by God to save the nation of Israel. When we take a closer look at his life, we see several things that could have left him feeling like the wrong man for a “Deliverer of Israel” job title.

First is the matter of his background. “Shamgar” is a name with Canaanite roots, not Hebrew. This fact has led some scholars to believe it’s entirely possible Shamgar was both Jew and Gentile. And since God had commanded His people not to intermarry with Gentiles, Shamgar’s lack of a pure bloodline from his parents could have easily led him to label himself an unlikely candidate for a mighty work of God.

Then there is the matter of his occupation. Shamgar’s use of an oxgoad (another word for a cattle prod) to kill the Philistines implies he may have been a farmer. Can we just stop and process that for a moment?

He was a farmer. Up against an organized army. Of 600 men. If I had been Shamgar, I imagine I’d have been raising my hand with a few questions for the Lord. Questions like, “Are You positive You’ve got the right person??”

And we can’t skim over Shamgar’s choice of weapon. Talk about unlikely and ordinary. An oxgoad was typically used to prod oxen, not wage war. But since the Philistines would not allow the Israelites to have any weapons (1 Samuel 13:19-22), they were forced to use whatever they had on hand. So Shamgar simply sharpened what he had and offered it to the Lord.

I love that God’s hand is never limited by what we have in ours.

Do you long to live a life that has extraordinary impact? I pray you will grab hold of the encouragement found in Shamgar’s story.

Offer God your willingness. Even if you feel small … even if you feel unlikely … even if everything in you is screaming you’re not someone who can be used by God … simply offer Him your willingness.

Use what God has given you. What’s in your hand, sweet friend? What gift, what talent, what ability? Whatever it is, take time to sharpen it. And choose to believe God can use it when you humbly offer it up to Him.

Stay true to who you are. God didn’t ask Shamgar to be anyone other than a farmer. He’s not asking you to be anyone other than who He designed you to be, either. You do you, and then watch with humble amazement as God uses your willing, obedient, ordinary life to accomplish extraordinary things in His name.

Lord, thank You for reminding me that You can use anyone and everyone. I willingly offer You all that I am and all that I have — choosing to believe that who I am is enough to be used by You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Mightier Than All

Psalm 33:6 – “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”

Isaiah 44:24 – “This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself.”

Romans 4:17 – “As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”

Hebrews 1:3 – “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

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Mightier than All

From: Our Daily Bread

Mightier than All
Read: Psalm 93 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 23–25; Acts 21:18–40

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength. Psalm 93:1

Iguazu Falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina, is a spectacular waterfall system of 275 falls along 2.7 km (1.67 miles) of the Iguazu River. Etched on a wall on the Brazilian side of the Falls are the words of Psalm 93:4, “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” (rsv). Below it are these words, “God is always greater than all of our troubles.”

The writer of Psalm 93, who penned its words during the time that kings reigned, knew that God is the ultimate King over all. “The Lord reigns,” he wrote. “Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity” (vv. 1–2). No matter how high the floods or waves, the Lord remains greater than them all.

The roar of a waterfall is truly majestic, but it is quite a different matter to be in the water hurtling toward the falls. That may be the situation you are in today. Physical, financial, or relational problems loom ever larger and you feel like you are about to go over the falls. In such situations, the Christian has Someone to turn to. He is the Lord, “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20) for He is greater than all our troubles.

Lord, I know that You are powerful and greater than any trouble that might come my way. I trust You to carry me through.

Never measure God’s unlimited power by your limited expectations.

The Submission of the Believer

From: Utmost.org

The Submission of the Believer

Our Lord never insists on having authority over us. He never says, “You will submit to me.” No, He leaves us perfectly free to choose— so free, in fact, that we can spit in His face or we can put Him to death, as others have done; and yet He will never say a word. But once His life has been created in me through His redemption, I instantly recognize His right to absolute authority over me. It is a complete and effective domination, in which I acknowledge that “You are worthy, O Lord…” (Revelation 4:11). It is simply the unworthiness within me that refuses to bow down or to submit to one who is worthy. When I meet someone who is more holy than myself, and I don’t recognize his worthiness, nor obey his instructions for me, it is a sign of my own unworthiness being revealed. God teaches us by using these people who are a little better than we are; not better intellectually, but more holy. And He continues to do so until we willingly submit. Then the whole attitude of our life is one of obedience to Him.

If our Lord insisted on our obedience, He would simply become a taskmaster and cease to have any real authority. He never insists on obedience, but when we truly see Him we will instantly obey Him. Then He is easily Lord of our life, and we live in adoration of Him from morning till night. The level of my growth in grace is revealed by the way I look at obedience. We should have a much higher view of the word obedience, rescuing it from the mire of the world. Obedience is only possible between people who are equals in their relationship to each other; like the relationship between father and son, not that between master and servant. Jesus showed this relationship by saying, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). “…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The Son was obedient as our Redeemer, because He was the Son, not in order to become God’s Son.

 

Sheila Walsh July 19, 2017
Who Are You Looking For?
SHEILA WALSHFrom: Crosswalk.com

“She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. ‘Dear woman, why are you crying?’ Jesus asked her. ‘Who are you looking for?’” John 20:14-15a (NLT)

As Labor Day approached last year, I was bone-tired.

Finances were tight, and we hadn’t taken a vacation in some time, so I asked God if He could open a door. I prayed, and I waited. A couple of days later, a friend mentioned the people who’d booked their condo might be canceling their reservation. If they did, he wanted me to use it.

That night I prayed, If this would be a good thing, Lord, please open the door. If not, slam it closed.

The following morning, my friend called and said it was all mine. I was so excited. I would be relaxing for a week, rent-free, no makeup, no high heels — just T-shirts and a ball cap. My husband Barry had some things to take care of at home and offered to stay with the dogs while I rested and prayed. He kissed me goodbye as I set off the following morning.

An hour into the journey, things began to go wrong.

The air conditioning in my car quit on a day stretching into the high 90s. I turned the dial to the max to see if it might kick back in, but it didn’t. I turned it off and kept driving, but after an hour, sweat dripped off my forehead into my eyes. I rolled down the windows, hoping fresh air would dry me out. And it did — until the storm hit. The sky dumped bucket after bucket of hot water, and before I could roll up my window, I was soaked. Traffic came to a stop, and cars turned on their hazard lights.

I alternated between windows down with large buckets of water coming in, and windows up and large buckets of sweat pouring down. Nine hours later, I arrived, soaking wet and tired but still excited about the next day to relax. The following morning, I brewed some coffee and drove straight to the local drugstore for some sundries.

Less than an hour later, I found a deserted area outside and situated my chair and belongings. Paradise! But as soon as my body hit the chair, it collapsed on top of me. I was trapped — quite literally.

Apart from a large dog that bounded out of nowhere and kept licking my feet, I couldn’t see anyone else in the distance. I couldn’t figure how to get out of my predicament. By the time I dug myself out, my legs were bruised and scraped, and it started to rain — not just rain, but storm! My canine friend wagged his tail, and I left him the soggy towel before I headed back to the condo. The week was not going as planned, and after another string of mishaps — which would take too long to describe — I decided to abandon the trip and drive home through the storm in my incapacitated car. Barry met me at the door with a sympathetic hug and a large stack of towels.

Nothing had turned out the way I thought it would.

It hadn’t been the worst experience in life, and it certainly wasn’t the end of the world, but it had definitely been disappointing.

Don’t you find it’s the little things that push you over the edge? You cope with the harder things in life, and then the dryer breaks when you need to get laundry done and you end up crying a bucket of tears. Or your child doesn’t get the part in the school play she hoped for, or your friend cancels plans to have coffee just when you really needed to talk.

None of this is life-altering, but it’s disappointing and can catch us off guard.

When I find myself struggling with these kinds of disappointments, I choose to hear Jesus ask me the question He asked Mary Magdalene on that resurrection morning as seen inJohn 20:15a, “Who are you looking for?

When we look for Jesus in the middle of what’s not working, we discover He’s always there, bringing peace and comfort. We can sit with Him for as long as it takes to be reminded of what’s always true, no matter what might be true for a moment. He loves us. He is with us. He is here.

Father, things in my life don’t always go as planned. I confess it’s easy at times to lose heart over the ups and downs, even if they are small. Thank You for the comfort and peace You offer in the middle of my mess when I choose to focus my heart again on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Beyond Labels

22   “But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
24   “You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces.…
( The above are people groups who were given names. They gave each other labels. Some of the labels were not very nice.)
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Beyond Labels

From: Our Daily  Bread

Beyond Labels

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

A church in my city has a unique welcome card that captures the love and grace of God for everyone. It says, “If You Are A . . . saint, sinner, loser, winner”—followed by many other terms used to describe struggling people—“alcoholic, hypocrite, cheater, fearful, misfit . . . . You are welcome here.” One of the pastors told me, “We read the card aloud together in our worship services every Sunday.”

How often we accept labels and allow them to define who we are. And how easily we assign them to others. But God’s grace defies labels because it is rooted in His love, not in our self-perception. Whether we see ourselves as wonderful or terrible, capable or helpless, we can receive eternal life as a gift from Him. The apostle Paul reminded the followers of Jesus in Rome that “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).

The Lord does not require us to change by our own power. Instead He invites us to come as we are to find hope, healing, and freedom in Him. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (v. 8). The Lord is ready and willing to receive us just as we are.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing love in Jesus.

God’s forgiveness defies our labels of failure or pride.

 

Equals in Jesus

From: Our Daily Journal

Equals in Jesus

Read:

1 Corinthians 11:17-34
But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized! (1 Corinthians 11:19).

A woman named Wednesday was out walking when she saw a well-dressed woman coming toward her. The woman drifted in her path, pushing Wednesday to the edge of the sidewalk. As she brushed by, Wednesday noticed she was carrying a $60,000 Birkin handbag. She realized if she was going to be accepted in New York’s prestigious Upper East Side, she would have to get one.

Wednesday knows it’s crazy. No purse is worth thousands of dollars or the groveling required to purchase it. You can’t simply walk into a Hermes store and get a Birkin. You have to keep coming back, and even beg before Hermes will let you into the Birkin club.

Aren’t you glad Jesus frees us from such pursuits? We don’t need to pay exorbitant fees to impress people. Our status is already sealed. We matter because we belong to God.

The Corinthians forgot this fact and fought over their perceived status. Some bragged they belonged to the “brand” of Peter. Others wore their allegiance to Paul or Apollos on their sleeve (1 Corinthians 1:11-12). The church was also divided by class. When they met for dinner and the Lord’s Supper, the wealthy would “hurry to eat [their] own meal without sharing with others. As a result, some [went] hungry while others [got] drunk” (1 Corinthians 11:20-21).

Paul said such divisions “disgrace God’s church and shame the poor.” It’s the reason why many of them were weak and sick and some even died. The Lord’s Table should bring us together, not drive us apart. So “wait for each other” (1 Corinthians 11:22,30,33).

Our status doesn’t depend on what brands we wear, but it does depend on the One who loves us. Jesus invites us to His Supper. As we gather around His table, we sit beside equals in the family of God.

 

The Mystery of Believing

From: Utmost.org

The Mystery of Believing

There is nothing miraculous or mysterious about the things we can explain. We control what we are able to explain, consequently it is only natural to seek an explanation for everything. It is not natural to obey, yet it is not necessarily sinful to disobey. There can be no real disobedience, nor any moral virtue in obedience, unless a person recognizes the higher authority of the one giving the orders. If this recognition does not exist, even the one giving the orders may view the other person’s disobedience as freedom. If one rules another by saying, “You must do this,” and, “You will do that,” he breaks the human spirit, making it unfit for God. A person is simply a slave for obeying, unless behind his obedience is the recognition of a holy God.

Many people begin coming to God once they stop being religious, because there is only one master of the human heart— Jesus Christ, not religion. But “Woe is me” if after seeing Him I still will not obey (Isaiah 6:5 , also see Isaiah 6:1). Jesus will never insist that I obey, but if I don’t,I have already begun to sign the death certificate of the Son of God in my soul. When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and say, “I will not obey,” He will never insist. But when I do this, I am backing away from the recreating power of His redemption. It makes no difference to God’s grace what an abomination I am, if I will only come to the light. But “Woe is me” if I refuse the light (see John 3:19-21).

Love Your Heavenly Father

The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5:19

Matthew 22:37

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind

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Just Like Dad

From:  Our Daily Journey

Just Like Dad

The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5:19

Isn’t it endearing to see a child mimicking his parents? How often we’ve seen the young boy in a car seat, gripping his imaginary steering wheel intently while keeping a close eye on the driver to see what Daddy does next.

I remember doing the same thing when I was young. Nothing gave me greater pleasure than doing exactly what my dad did—and I’m sure he got an even bigger kick watching me copy his actions.

I would like to think God felt the same way when He saw His dearest Son doing exactly what the Father did—reaching out to the lost, helping the needy, and healing the sick. Jesus said, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19).

We too are called to do the same—to “follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love” (Eph. 5:1–2). As we continue growing to be more like Jesus, may we seek to love like the Father loves, forgive like He forgives, care like He cares, and live in ways that please Him. It is a delight to copy His actions, in the power of the Spirit, knowing that our reward is the affectionate, tender smile of a loving Father.

Jesus, thank You for showing us the way to the Father. Help us to be more and more like You and the Father each day.

The Father gave us the Spirit to make us like the Son.

 

The Miracle of Belief

From: Utmost.org

The Miracle of Belief

Real and effective fasting by a preacher is not fasting from food, but fasting from eloquence, from impressive diction, and from everything else that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God— “…as though God were pleading through us…” (2 Corinthians 5:20). He is there to present the gospel of God. If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get close to Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the gospel will result in making me a traitor to Jesus, and I prevent the creative power of His redemption from doing its work.

 

From: Streams In The Desert

I will be still, and I will behold in my dwelling place (Isaiah 18:4, RV).

Assyria was marching against Ethiopia, the people of which are described as tall and smooth. And as the armies advance, God makes no effort to arrest them; it seems as though they will be allowed to work their will. He is still watching them from His dwelling place, the sun still shines on them; but before the harvest, the whole of the proud army of Assyria is smitten as easily as when sprigs are cut off by the pruning hook of the husbandman.

Is not this a marvelous conception of God–being still and watching? His stillness is not acquiescence. His silence is not consent. He is only biding His time, and will arise, in the most opportune moment, and when the designs of the wicked seem on the point of success, to overwhelm them with disaster. As we look out on the evil of the world; as we think of the apparent success of wrong-doing; as we wince beneath the oppression of those that hate us, let us remember these marvelous words about God being still and beholding.

There is another side to this. Jesus beheld His disciples toiling at the oars through the stormy night; and watched though unseen, the successive steps of the anguish of Bethany, when Lazarus slowly passed through the stages of mortal sickness, until he succumbed and was borne to the rocky tomb. But He was only waiting the moment when He could interpose most effectually.

Is He still to thee? He is not unobservant; He is beholding all things; He has His finger on thy pulse, keenly sensitive to all its fluctuations. He will come to save thee when the precise moment has arrived.
–Daily Devotional Commentary

Whatever His questions or His reticences, we may be absolutely sure of an unperplexed and undismayed Saviour.

O troubled soul, beneath the rod,
Thy Father speaks, be still, be still;
Learn to be silent unto God,
And let Him mould thee to His will.
O praying soul, be still, be still,
He cannot break His plighted Word;
Sink down into His blessed will,
And wait in patience on the Lord.
O waiting soul, be still, be strong,
And though He tarry, trust and wait;
Doubt not, He will not wait too long,
Fear not, He will not come too late.

Deep Roots In Christ Jesus

Psalm 78:6

That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children,

 
Psalm 102:18

This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.

Psalm 102:18-28

 

This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. For He looked down from His holy height; From heaven the LORD gazed upon the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoner, To set free those who were doomed to death, read more.

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Deep Roots

From: Our Daily Bread

Deep Roots

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:45

The sequoia tree, one of three species of redwoods, is among the world’s largest and most enduring organisms. It can grow to 300 feet in height, weigh over 2.5 million pounds (1.1 million kg), and live for 3,000 years. But the majestic sequoia owes much of its size and longevity to what lies below the surface. A twelve- to fourteen-foot-deep matting of roots, spreading over as much as an acre of earth, firmly grounds its towering height and astonishing weight.

A redwood’s expansive root system, however, is small compared to the national history, religion, and anticipation that undergird the life of Jesus. On one occasion He told a group of religious leaders that the Scriptures they loved and trusted told His story (John 5:39). In the synagogue of Nazareth He opened the scroll of Isaiah, read a description of Israel’s Messiah, and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

Later, after His resurrection, Jesus helped His disciples understand how the words of Moses, the prophets, and even the songs of Israel showed why it was necessary for Him to suffer, die, and rise from the dead (24:46).

What grace and grandeur—to see Jesus rooted in the history and Scriptures of a nation, and to see how extensively our own lives are rooted in our need of Him.

Father in heaven, please help us never forget that the history of Israel and the inspired words of Scripture ground us in seeing our need of Your Son.

All Scripture helps us see our need of Jesus.

 

From: Streams In The Desert

Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son… I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven; …because thou hast obeyed my voice (Genesis 22:16-18).

And from that day to this, men have been learning that when, at God’s voice, they surrender up to Him the one thing above all else that was dearest to their very hearts, that same thing is returned to them by Him a thousand times over. Abraham gives up his one and only son, at God’s call, and with this disappear all his hopes for the boy’s life and manhood, and for a noble family bearing his name. But the boy is restored, the family becomes as the stars and sands in number, and out of it, in the fullness of time, appears Jesus Christ.

That is just the way God meets every real sacrifice of every child of His. We surrender all and accept poverty; and He sends wealth. We renounce a rich field of service; He sends us a richer one than we had dared to dream of. We give up all our cherished hopes, and die unto self; He sends us the life more abundant, and tingling joy.

And the crown of it all is our Jesus Christ. For we can never know the fullness of the life that is in Christ until we have made Abraham’s supreme sacrifice. The earthly founder of the family of Christ must commence by losing himself and his only son, just as the Heavenly Founder of that family did. We cannot be members of that family with the full privileges and joys of membership upon any other basis.
–C. G. Trumbull

We sometimes seem to forget that what God takes He takes in fire; and that the only way to the resurrection life and the ascension mount is the way of the garden, the cross, and the grave.

Think not, O soul of man, that Abraham’s was a unique and solitary experience. It is simply a specimen and pattern of God’s dealings with all souls who are prepared to obey Him at whatever cost. After thou hast patiently endured, thou shalt receive the promise. The moment of supreme sacrifice shall be the moment of supreme and rapturous blessing. God’s river, which is full of water, shall burst its banks, and pour upon thee a tide of wealth and grace.

There is nothing, indeed, which God will not do for a man who dares to step out upon what seems to be the mist; though as he puts down his foot he finds a rock beneath him.
–F. B. Meyer 

 

The Concept of Divine Control

From: Utmost.org

The Concept of Divine Control

Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct in this passage for those people who have His Spirit. He urges us to keep our minds filled with the concept of God’s control over everything, which means that a disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, “My heavenly Father knows all about this!” This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise. Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those people who have His Spirit, and it works on the following principle: God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?

Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but is an attitude of the mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7).

Are You Being Prepared?

Ezekiel 38:7

“Be prepared, and prepare yourself, you and all your companies that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them.

 
John 14:3

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Proverbs 21:31

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

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Are You Being Prepared?

From: Our Daily Bread

Are You Being Prepared?

The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and . . . the bear will rescue me. 1 Samuel 17:37

I worked at a fast-food restaurant for over two years in high school. Some aspects of the job were difficult. Customers verbalized their anger while I apologized for the unwanted slice of cheese on the sandwich I didn’t make. Soon after I left, I applied for a computer job at my university. The employers were more interested in my fast-food experience than my computer skills. They wanted to know that I knew how to deal with people. My experience in unpleasant circumstances prepared me for a better job!

Young David persevered through an experience we might well call unpleasant. When Israel was challenged to send someone to fight Goliath, no one was brave enough to step up to the task. No one but David. King Saul was reluctant to send him to fight, but David explained that as a shepherd he had fought and killed a lion and a bear for the sake of the sheep (1 Sam. 17:34–36). Confidently he stated, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and . . . the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (v. 37).

Being a shepherd didn’t earn David much respect, but it prepared him to fight Goliath and eventually become Israel’s greatest king. We may be in difficult circumstances, but through them God might be preparing us for something greater!

Lord, help me to hold on during the unpleasant times in my life knowing that You may be preparing me for something greater.

God uses present circumstances to prepare us for the future.

 

 

My Life’s Spiritual Honor and Duty

From: Utmost.org

My Life’s Spiritual Honor and Duty

I am not a superior person among other people— I am a bondservant of the Lord Jesus. Paul said, “…you are not your own…you were bought at a price…” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul sold himself to Jesus Christ and he said, in effect, “I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the gospel of Jesus; I am free only that I may be an absolute bondservant of His.” That is the characteristic of a Christian’s life once this level of spiritual honor and duty becomes real. Quit praying about yourself and spend your life for the sake of others as the bondservant of Jesus. That is the true meaning of being broken bread and poured-out wine in real life.

 

Getting Away From It All

From: Get More Strength.com

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3

A pastor friend of mine was telling another pastor about the long-awaited vacation that he and his family were preparing for. The other pastor immediately replied, “Vacation? I never take a vacation. Satan doesn’t take a vacation and neither do I!”

To which my friend wisely retorted, “Well, that’s all right. Satan has never been my example!”

In the summer when school is out and the sun is shining, our thoughts turn toward vacation. And that’s a good thing! We were wired with an innate need to take a break from our usual pace and spend some time being refreshed and recharged.

But for some reason, we sometimes seem apologetic about taking time off or needing a change of pace for a little while. It may be that our internal understanding of a real “work ethic” demands that we feel a little guilty about time that we’re not being “productive” or “efficient.” Or maybe we are concerned that those projects and clients we have been carefully nurturing along will fall to pieces if we put them on hold for a week or two. Maybe we are distorting Paul’s words to the Ephesians, resisting vacations and working nonstop so that we can “make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

If that’s your brain strain, then let me put a biblical stop to that train of thought and provide you with three solid, straight-from-Scripture reasons to enjoy a guilt-free, refreshing time away from your usual pace of work this summer.

Reason number one: it’s commanded in Scripture. The fourth commandment tells us to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). That means more than just going to church on Sunday. The principle of “Sabbath”—rooted in God’s example through creation of resting on the seventh day—intertwines with the Old Testament law code.

There were not only to be days of Sabbath, but week-long festivals scattered throughout the Jewish seasons. In fact, there were Sabbath yearsin their calendar! God’s loving command was intended to pull His people aside for rest so they would be reminded that all good things come from Him . . . not from their frantic efforts at work.

A second reason why it’s a good idea to take a well-deserved break is that your body and spirit need it. I love the picture that David paints for us in Psalm 23:1-6 of a shepherd leading his sheep to a place of refreshment and rest. We are finite, fallible, limited creatures, and without rest we’ll find that burnout and exhaustion eventually take their toll. Our ability to be gracious, loving, and patient will be a casualty of our compulsive work habits. Fatigue and weariness will leave us vulnerable to temptation. And most disturbingly, our intimacy with the Lord will suffer as our time with Him becomes perfunctory at best, and nonexistent at worst. All that can be avoided if we allow our Good Shepherd to restore our soul with times of rest in green pastures and with seasons of refreshment beside quiet waters.

And just in case we need another reason to put our feet up and relax now and then, remember that Jesus did it! He often withdrew from the crush of the crowds to seasons of prayer and rest. During a storm on the Sea of Galilee He was sound asleep in the boat (Mark 4:38). And we are told that while on a trip from Judea to Galilee “Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well” (John 4:6). There were always more people to heal, more messages to preach, and more places to go, but Jesus displayed the importance of rest.

So, whether it’s a weekend of camping, a day at the pool, or a week away with close friends or family members, turn off the cell-phone, close the computer, and get away! There’s no good reason not to!

Face To Face With Jesus

1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

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Face to Face

From: Our Daily Bread

Face to Face

The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Exodus 33:11

Although the world is connected electronically like never before, nothing beats time together in person. As we share and laugh together, we can often sense—almost unconsciously—the other person’s emotions by watching their facial movements. Those who love each other, whether family or friends, like to share with each other face to face.

We see this face-to-face relationship between the Lord and Moses, the man God chose to lead His people. Moses grew in confidence over the years of following God, and he continued to follow Him despite the people’s rebelliousness and idolatry. After the people worshiped a golden calf instead of the Lord (see Ex. 32), Moses set up a tent outside of the camp in which to meet God, while they had to watch from a distance (33:7–11). As the pillar of cloud signifying God’s presence descended to the tent, Moses spoke on their behalf. The Lord promised that His Presence would go with them (v. 14).

Because of Jesus’s death on the cross and His resurrection, we no longer need someone like Moses to speak with God for us. Instead, just as Jesus offered to His disciples, we can have friendship with God through Christ (John 15:15). We too can meet with Him, with the Lord speaking to us as one speaks to a friend.

Face to face! O blissful moment! Face to face—to see and know; face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ who loves me so! Carrie E. Breck

We can speak to the Lord as a friend.

 

Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

From: Our Daily Journey

Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

This verse reveals the humiliation of being a Christian. In the natural realm, if a person does not hit back, it is because he is a coward. But in the spiritual realm, it is the very evidence of the Son of God in him if he does not hit back. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but you must make it an opportunity to exhibit the Son of God in your life. And you cannot imitate the nature of Jesus— it is either in you or it is not. A personal insult becomes an opportunity for a saint to reveal the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not, “Do your duty,” but is, in effect, “Do what is not your duty.” It is not your duty to go the second mile, or to turn the other cheek, but Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will always do these things. We will not say, “Oh well, I just can’t do any more, and I’ve been so misrepresented and misunderstood.” Every time I insist on having my own rights, I hurt the Son of God, while in fact I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I will take the blow myself. That is the real meaning of filling “up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24). A disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor.

Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself. We are always looking for justice, yet the essence of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is— Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

 

Chrystal Evans Hurst July 14, 2017
The Wild Ride of Faith
CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

From: Crosswalk.com

“… the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4 (NIV)

On a recent trip to an amusement park, my boys and I decided to try out a new roller coaster. Well, it was new for them. I’d experienced it before and knew it was the perfect ride for my boys: One is a thrill-seeker, one is a thrill-avoider and one sits somewhere in between.

We approached the line and waited patiently for our turn. My thrill-avoider slowly became apprehensive about getting on the ride. He had time to wonder how fast the ride would go, how far the drops would be and how many sharp curves he would encounter. In other words, he had a long wait full of worry.

The closer we got to the front of the line, the more anxious he became. He started asking me for a way out — some way to avoid venturing into the unknown. I felt like a terrible mom, but I decided he would just have to go. We’d already waited so long, and it wouldn’t be fair to his brothers.

But here’s the other reason I made him get on the ride. I knew it wasn’t that bad. As a roller coaster-lover, I knew this ride was rather mild, and he would be just fine once he experienced the ups and downs for himself.

I knew he’d be okay.

He didn’t believe me.

As we approached the front of the line, the people behind us could see my son was visibly shaken and averse to moving forward. I assumed they secretly thought I was an awful mom. To my surprise, one of the ladies leaned toward my son and said, “Don’t be scared. I was afraid the first time I rode it, but it was super fun!”

Her encouragement kept him moving forward.

When it was our turn to ride, the park employee who controlled the ride noticed my son’s nervousness. He left his post and bent down to comfort my son, reassuring him that he would love the ride.

My son seemed a bit calmer. Resolved that the ride was imminent, he reached over and asked me to hold his hand throughout our journey.

More often than I care to admit, I find myself in line for something in life I’m unsure about. I anticipate the ride will be rougher than I want — too much for me to handle.

And I want out.

I worry. I whine. I cry. I beg God to get me out of the line. I’m apprehensive and anxious about the direction things are headed and I let the world know it.

But here’s what I’ve learned: While God may not always remove me from my circumstances, He is always with me.

He knows I’ll be okay.

I don’t always believe Him — particularly when I ruminate about all the things that could go wrong. Thankfully, God doesn’t let my apprehension or anxiety about my future stop me from embarking on rides I might otherwise avoid.

God doesn’t place me in situations where I will be tempted beyond what I can bear. He also ensures that when I’m feeling weak, I can hold on to Him, take comfort in His presence and trust in His strength to get me through. God, in His loving care, often places people in my path who’ve been on the ride I face and can encourage me to move forward.

We rode the ride that day, and my son screamed the whole time. He was that kid who hollered his brains out. But you know what? As we got out of our seats and made our way through the exit, he had a huge smile on his face. He’d enjoyed the ride. He even asked to ride again.

I’ve been walking with God long enough to know that building my faith often requires unexpected rides that may leave me feeling worried and unsettled. I’ve also learned that God can be trusted. He will hold my hand and be with me the entire way. And while the ride may seem wild at times — building my faith is the ride of a lifetime. And it’s one ride I’m learning to enjoy.

Dear Father, sometimes I struggle to have confidence when I encounter a wild ride of faith. Please help me to believe that You are with me to walk boldly forward, even when it’s toward the unknown. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God Sees You

II Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

 

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God Sees You

From: Our Daily Journey

God Sees You

Read:

Genesis 16:1-16
She said, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).

Susan had suffered one disappointment after another, and she was feeling disillusioned with God. She asked me and another friend to pray with her, and we gladly did. I’ll never forget my friend’s prayer, “Lord, let Susan know You love her—that You see her.” The next day Susan thanked us for our prayers. She said she’d been feeling invisible, and our prayers helped her to feel visible again. She knew afresh that God saw her.

This really is the key, isn’t it? The toughest part of any trial is wondering how much we and our problems matter to others. We can endure most anything when we know we count—that we’re seen.

The story of Hagar is a powerful illustration of this. Hagar had been abused by the first family of our faith. Sarai had forced her to become a subordinate wife to Abram to give them a child through her and then became jealous when Hagar became pregnant and stopped respecting her. Perhaps her pregnancy made her see herself as more than a slave. In response, “Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away” (Genesis 16:6).

But an angel found Hagar in the wilderness and told her to name her son “Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’)”, because “the Lord . . . heard [her] cry of distress” (Genesis 16:11). Although the path ahead wouldn’t be easy, Hagar now knew God would not abandon her. She called Him El-roi, which means, “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).

What difficulty has you wondering whether you matter to God? The One who heard Hagar’s cries in the desert also has His eyes locked on you. He knows where you are and what pain you’re enduring. The road ahead may be difficult, but you’ll walk every step in full view of El-roi, the God who sees you.

 

Intimate Details

From: Our Daily Bread

Intimate Details
Read: Psalm 139:1–18 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 7–9; Acts 18

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:2

The universe is astonishingly grand. Right now the moon is spinning around us at nearly 2,300 miles an hour. Our Earth is spinning around the sun at 66,000 miles an hour. Our sun is one of 200 billion other stars and trillions more planets in our galaxy, and that galaxy is just one of 100 billion others hurtling through space. Astounding!

In comparison to this vast cosmos, our little Earth is no bigger than a pebble, and our individual lives no greater than a grain of sand. Yet according to Scripture, the God of the galaxies attends to each microscopic one of us in intimate detail. He saw us before we existed (Ps. 139:13–16); He watches us as we go about our days and listens for our every thought (vv. 1–6).

It can be hard to believe this sometimes. This tiny “pebble” has big problems like war and famine, and we can question God’s care in times of personal suffering. But when King David wrote Psalm 139 he was in the midst of crisis himself (vv. 19–20). And when Jesus said God counts each hair on our heads (Matt. 10:30), He was living in an age of crucifixion. Biblical talk of God’s caring attention isn’t a naïve wish. It is real-world truth.

The One who keeps the galaxies spinning knows us intimately. That can help us get through the worst of times.

Father God, Your eye is on me as much as it is on the stars in the sky. Thank You for Your love, Your care, Your attention.

The God of the cosmos cares for us intimately.

 

We Are Secure

Security is a word that is in the news now. There are insecurities on every front. The stock market is not secure. The political situation around the world is not secure.

In his letter to the Ephesian believers, Paul gave us a reason for our security as Christians:

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

There are two things Paul mentions that lead to our security. He first mentions the part we play, and then he explains the role of the Holy Spirit.

We have responsibility for listening to God and believing what He says. “You heard the word of truth” implies that we process what we hear and allow it to reshape our entire perception of what life means. Our faith comes from our hearing what God says. Romans 10:17 describes how important it is that we hear:

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

We not only listen to what God says, but we believe His Word. In1927, the wife of Scottish preacher Arthur Gossip died suddenly. When he returned to the pulpit, he preached a sermon entitled “When Life Tumbles In, What Then?” With his life suddenly interrupted by the tragic and unexpected death of his wife, Gossip went on to explain that during this darkest period of his life he needed his faith more than ever. He said to his congregation, “You people in the sunshine may believe the faith, but we in the shadow must believe it. We have nothing else.” Faith isn’t just for sunny days, we can believe during the tough times as well.

God responds to us when we hear and believe. “You were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” The Holy Spirit seals us and guarantees our redemption.

The idea of sealing means that there is security. Something that is sealed can’t be opened and changed. What God has promised will never be altered. The Holy Spirit guarantees that.

Some people think they will not survive the responsibilities of serving Jesus. That is not true. The Holy Spirit marks us as belonging to Him, and that’s the greatest blessing we could ever imagine. The Holy Spirit is evidence that we belong to God and that means we come under His divine protection. He protects what is His.

The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that God will watch over us. When difficult times threaten to overwhelm us, God will not abandon us. He will come to our rescue. How do we know that? We have heard the Word of Truth and we believe it. That means that the Holy Spirit has come alongside us to secure our safety and our final destiny.