Category Archives: Marriage

We Prosper By God’s Grace

 

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11

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Out of Luck

From: Get More Strength

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11

An oft-quoted movie line comes from Napoleon Dynamite. The line closes the film, after Napoleon’s brother, Kip, gets married and rides off on horseback with his new bride. If you’re a closet Napoleon fan (or have a 14 year old in your home), you know it well:

“Lucky-y-y!”

I don’t want to spend a lot of time analyzing Napoleon Dynamite, but I do want to talk with you about “luck.” First, it’s important to know that the words luck and, for that matter, coincidence are not in God’s vocabulary. God’s hand is at work in every situation, coordinating every detail to accomplish His purposes for His glory and our good. No event is random. No moment is beyond His notice or beyond His control. Christian thinkers and writers have often called this the “providence” of God and, given its importance, let’s think through its implications for our lives.

At one extreme, the providence of God is challenged by post-modern thinkers who tell us that everything happens by chance. For them, life has no ultimate meaning and our only goal is to scrape together enough pleasure and possessions to create some semblance of purpose and enjoyment in life. With such an empty perspective on life, it’s no wonder that lives end up being a string of “sex-capades,” or the pursuit of new and strange pleasures. It answers the question why binge drinking on college campuses is at an all-time high.

At the other end of the spectrum is the distortion of God’s providence by assigning everything in life to “fate”—a fate that portrays us as victims of circumstances entirely outside of our control, leaving us to twist in the whims of a capricious being who manipulates our lives for his own amusement.

It’s time for us to get a biblical view about luck, randomness, fate, and the providence of a good and powerful God!

The God described in the Bible loves His creation passionately and has plans for His people that are supremely good. Not plans of calamity and despair, but plans that are good. If you believe in the providence of God, all of history is moving to a grand and glorious end—the crushing of Satan and evil and the emergence of the new heaven and earth, where all is good and righteous. Where life is full of joy, peace, comfort, and happiness in the presence of God—forever!

I’ll be the first to admit that trusting in God’s providence is hard to do when it comes to difficult circumstances over which I have no control. God’s work is often behind-the-scenes, hidden from our view. He doesn’t give a play-by-play on everything He is doing to coordinate the details of His providential plans. In fact, often His work is most clearly seen in the rearview mirror. But I’ve looked back enough times to see and trust that my life is not a product of good or bad luck, or of random coincidences. It is divinely shaped and guided by the providential hand of God toward a wonderful conclusion.

So today, let’s choose to align our perspective and even our vocabulary with God’s. No more “luck” and no more “coincidences”! It won’t make for memorable movie quotes, but it will make for an infinitely more meaningful and biblically lived life!

 

Alicia Bruxvoort June 2, 2017
Jesus Likes Me, This I Know
ALICIA BRUXVOORT

From: Crosswalk.com

“ … He saved me to His delight; He took joy in me.” Psalm 18:19b (VOICE)

I wasn’t expecting anything profound to slip from my 4-year-old’s lips while we chatted over lunch on that hot summer day. I was just trying to keep my capricious girl at the table long enough to finish her peanut butter sandwich before she raced off to play.

“What did you learn at Vacation Bible School today?” I asked as I leaned over Maggie’s pink plastic plate and wiped a drizzle of peanut butter from her chin.

My daughter lifted her sandwich to her lips, took a bite and peered at me over the crust like a friendly neighbor peeking across a backyard fence.

“I learned that Jesus really likes me … ” she said with a giddy grin. “Soooo much!”

Her words floated through the air on the wings of a happy-sing-song. Then she reached across the table and gave my hand a tender squeeze. “And, Mommy,” she said as she laced her sticky fingers through mine, “I think He really, really likes you, too!”

She waved her arms like a baby bird taking flight, and I felt as if my heart might take flight, too.

After all, I’ve long believed that Jesus loves me — the cross is proof of that — but some days when I look at the woman in the mirror, it’s hard to believe my Savior likes me, too.

I don’t know about you, but some days, I just feel unlikeable.

Some days I feel messed up and maxed out, exasperated and exhausted.

Some days I’m not grateful or gleeful, flexible or fun.

Some days I don’t bring delight to my husband, my kids or even my dearest pals.

And to be totally honest, some days I don’t even like myself.

Yet like a forgiving friend, the Bible echoes my little girl’s winsome words.

Scripture reminds us that the One who took our place on Calvary’s cross doesn’t merely tolerate us through gritted teeth or embrace us because of holy compulsion. As preposterous as it sounds, the One who first loved us, actually likes us, too. And here’s proof:

  • Today’s key verse says God takes joy in us.
  • Psalm 149:4 declares He delights in us.
  • Zephaniah 3:17 affirms He rejoices over us.
  • And Psalm 147:11 proclaims that we bring Him pleasure.

It’s crazy when you think about it — that the perfect Prince of Heaven takes joy in His flawed followers on the dust of earth. But when I remember this simple truth, it changes the way I pursue my Savior.

When I acknowledge that Jesus enjoys me, I look for ways to enjoy Him, too. I seek His company as I go throughout my day, whether it’s talking to Him as I drive across town or laughing with Him over my children’s goofy antics.

I notice His kindness in the depths of my daily grind — the brazen sunset over the trees in my backwoods, or the unexpected phone call from a friend on a hard day.

And I relish His presence in the midst my pandemonium. I savor the song of the birds beyond my window, the unexplainable peace in my hurry, the echo of an encouraging Scripture verse that runs through my mind.

In short, when I remember how the One who died for me also delights in me, I’m drawn to delight in Him, too.

So, I’m gonna keep singing that Sunday School song I learned as a child: Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. 

But I’m also going to celebrate that oft-ignored truth that a 4-year-old once spoke to my soaring soul through a mouthful of peanut butter.

Jesus really likes me … And you know what? I think He really really likes you, too … soooooo much.

 

“The Secret of the Lord”

From: Utmost.org

What is the sign of a friend? Is it that he tells you his secret sorrows? No, it is that he tells you his secret joys. Many people will confide their secret sorrows to you, but the final mark of intimacy is when they share their secret joys with you. Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys? Or are we continually telling God our secrets, leaving Him no time to talk to us? At the beginning of our Christian life we are full of requests to God. But then we find that God wants to get us into an intimate relationship with Himself— to get us in touch with His purposes. Are we so intimately united to Jesus Christ’s idea of prayer— “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10)— that we catch the secrets of God? What makes God so dear to us is not so much His big blessings to us, but the tiny things, because they show His amazing intimacy with us— He knows every detail of each of our individual lives.

“Him shall He teach in the way He chooses” (Psalm 25:12). At first, we want the awareness of being guided by God. But then as we grow spiritually, we live so fully aware of God that we do not even need to ask what His will is, because the thought of choosing another way will never occur to us. If we are saved and sanctified, God guides us by our everyday choices. And if we are about to choose what He does not want, He will give us a sense of doubt or restraint, which we must heed. Whenever there is doubt, stop at once. Never try to reason it out, saying, “I wonder why I shouldn’t do this?” God instructs us in what we choose; that is, He actually guides our common sense. And when we yield to His teachings and guidance, we no longer hinder His Spirit by continually asking, “Now, Lord, what is Your will?”

God Helps Us Move Forward

Isaiah 41:10
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen
you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Pictures of people picking up the pieces of their lives after a tornado.  But they are alive by God’s grace and He will help them rebuild their homes.
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Peace in the Midst of the Pieces

From: Get More Strength

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

There I was, minding my own business, shopping for an anniversary card for Martie when something on another shelf caught my eye. It was a box with a tantalizing picture of a mound of Oreo cookies surrounding a big glass of milk with cold condensation running down the glass. Just thinking about it made my blood sugar soar. I went over and grabbed the box off the shelf. It was a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle.

I’m not really into jigsaw puzzles, but at that particular moment, I was a goner—so I bought the puzzle. When I got home, Martie and I opened the box and dumped the pieces out on the table. What had been such a beautiful picture on the box was now only a bunch of disconnected, upside-down parts.

Sometimes life is like that—a disappointing mess of confusing pieces. The longer we sit staring at the fragments, the more hopeless it all seems. But then we remember that it all makes sense on the box top. God is the “box top” of our lives. He—and He alone—knows how to make sense of the mess. He is the one who works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and who, in His sovereign grace, knows how He will make something beautiful out of the mess of our lives.

That’s why Psalm 46:10 instructs us to be still and know that He is God. The Hebrew phrase for “be still” literally means, “to put your hands down to the side; to relax.” Which leads us to this reading of the phrase: “Put your arms down and relax by knowing that I am God.”

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find it hard to just “relax” in the midst of confusing and disheartening seasons of life. When things go haywire, when dreams are demolished, when family is fragmented, when people have pulverized us, it’s hard to relax! Our instinct is to try to keep our hands on all the pieces at once. We want to manipulate and control them and force the outcome that we desire. But God says that we should do exactly the opposite—stop trying to force the issue and let go. If we don’t give up striving with the problems, our meddling usually just makes things worse.

Thankfully, Psalm 46:10 calls on us to let go. But it’s not letting go without knowing to whom we’re letting it go. Notice that the verse says, “Be still, and know.” Normally, when life is a confusing puzzle, what we know is overshadowed by what we feel. Our emotions threaten to drown us like a scary tsunami. It’s easy to get submerged in a wave of anxiety or a surge of self-pity. But notice that God says the only way we are going to be able to let go and relax is to remember who God is—and to know that He loves us, that He is not confused, that He is in the details, and that, as we obey and trust Him, He is working to make sense of it all.

When we allow ourselves to be taken in by the wonder of God’s work in the mess of our lives, we will be free to stop fretting over the pieces knowing that in the end God is putting the pieces together so that the beauty of the box top will become a reality in our lives!

Take a deep breath. God knows where the pieces go!

 

Table Rock

Table Rock

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”  Luke 6:46

A large, illuminated cross stands erect on Table Rock, a rocky plateau overlooking my hometown. Several homes were built on neighboring land, but recently the owners have been forced to move out due to safety concerns. Despite their close proximity to the firm bedrock of Table Rock, these homes aren’t secure. They have been shifting atop their foundations—nearly three inches every day—causing risk of major water pipes breaking, which would accelerate the sliding.

Jesus compares those who hear and obey His words to those who build their homes on rock (Luke 6:47–48). These homes survive the storms. By contrast, He says homes built without a firm foundation—like people who don’t heed His instruction—cannot weather the torrents.

On many occasions, I’ve been tempted to ignore my conscience when I knew God asked more of me than I had given, thinking my response had been “close enough.” Yet the homes in the shifting foothills nearby have depicted for me that being “close” is nowhere near enough when it comes to obeying Him. To be like those who built their homes on a firm foundation and withstand the storms of life that so often assail us, we must heed the words of our Lord completely.

Help me, Lord, to obey You fully and with my whole heart. Thank You for being my firm foundation.

God’s Word is the only sure foundation for life.

 

From Bad to Worse

From: Our Daily Journey

From Bad to Worse

Read:

1 Kings 17:8-24
[Elijah] cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, please let this child’s life return to him” (1 Kings 17:21).

In 1997 Singapore experienced the Asian financial crisis. Many people couldn’t find jobs—including me. After nine months of sending out countless resumes, I finally landed a job as a copywriter. God provided for my needs! Then the economy plummeted again because of the SARS outbreak. And, once again, I was jobless.

Ever been there? It seems like the worst is over and things are sailing along smoothly, when suddenly the bottom drops out and your life plunges into uncertainty.

The widow at Zarephath could definitely relate. There had been a terrible famine in the land and, facing starvation, the woman was preparing a last meal for herself and her son when the prophet Elijah requested a drink of water and a bite to eat. She responded and subsequently experienced a continuous miraculous supply of flour and oil by which Elijah and her family were sustained (1 Kings 17:10-16). Life was looking good. But then, her son fell ill. His health deteriorated and eventually he died.

At such times, we may respond as the widow did—wondering if God is punishing us for unconfessed sins (1 Kings 17:18). It’s easy to forget that while God may sometimes use suffering to discipline us, often bad things happen to us simply because we live in a fallen world.

Elijah chose to take his concerns to God (1 Kings 17:20). He prayed, “O Lord my God”—expressing his personal relationship with the One who is faithful and true. He then sought to understand God’s purpose for allowing the tragedy to happen. Finally, he prayed by faith in accordance to who He is and what He can do (1 Kings 17:21).

If life throws us a curve ball, may we—like Elijah—realize that the faithful One will not desert us. We can rest in God’s purposes even as we pray by faith for understanding.

 

Abraham Believed In Hope

From: Streams In The Desert

Against hope Abraham believed in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations according to the pronouncement, “so will your descendants be.” Without being weak in faith, he considered his own body as dead (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. — Rom 4:18-19

We shall never forget a remark that George Mueller once made to a gentleman who had asked him the best way to have strong faith.

d“The only way,” replied the patriarch of faith, “to learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.” This is very true. The time to trust is when all else fails.

Dear one, you scarcely realize the value of your present opportunity; if you are passing through great afflictions you are in the very soul of the strongest faith, and if you will only let go, He will teach you in these hours the mightiest hold upon His throne which you can ever know.

“Be not afraid, only believe.” And if you are afraid, just look up and say, “What time I am afraid I will trust in thee,” and you will yet thank God for the school of sorrow which was to you the school of faith.
–A. B. Simpson

“Great faith must have great trials.”

“God’s greatest gifts come through travail. Whether we look into the spiritual or temporal sphere, can we discover anything, any great reform, any beneficent discovery, any soul-awakening revival, which did not come through the toils and tears, the vigils and blood-shedding of men and women whose sufferings were the pangs of its birth? If the temple of God is raised, David must bear sore afflictions; if the Gospel of the grace of God is to be disentangled from Jewish tradition, Paul’s life must be one long agony.”

“Take heart, O weary, burdened one, bowed down 
Beneath thy cross;
Remember that thy greatest gain may come 
Through greatest loss.
Thy life is nobler for a sacrifice, 
And more divine.
Acres of bloom are crushed to make a drop 
Of perfume fine.

“Because of storms that lash the ocean waves, 
The waters there
Keep purer than if the heavens o’erhead 
Were always fair.
The brightest banner of the skies floats not 
At noonday warm;
The rainbow traileth after thunder-clouds, 
And after storm.”

God Supplies All Our Needs

God is the one who gives us everything we need.
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Everything We Need

From: Our Daily Bread

Everything We Need

I often feel completely inadequate for the tasks I face. Whether it’s teaching Sunday school, advising a friend, or writing articles for this publication, the challenge often seems to be larger than my ability. Like Peter, I have a lot to learn.

The New Testament reveals Peter’s shortcomings as he tried to follow the Lord. While walking on water to Jesus, Peter began to sink (Matt. 14:25–31). When Jesus was arrested, Peter swore he didn’t know Him (Mark 14:66–72). But Peter’s encounter with the risen Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit changed his life.

Peter came to understand that God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). An amazing statement from a man who had many flaws!

“[God] has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (v. 4).

Our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is the source of the wisdom, patience, and power we need to honor God, help others, and meet the challenges of today. Through Him, we can overcome our hesitations and feelings of inadequacy.

In every situation, He has given us everything we need to serve and honor Him.

Thank You, Father, for giving me everything I need to serve You and encourage others today. May I honor You in all I do.

God promises to provide everything we need to honor Him with our lives.

Trolling the Masters

From: Our Daily Journey

Trolling the Masters

Read:

Mark 3:20-27
If the godly give in to the wicked, it’s like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring (Proverbs 25:26).

Today, with a single click, you can freely access and rate some of the best music ever written. So how do the masters fare?

On one website, more than 8,000 respondents gave a thumbs-down to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Nearly one in twenty disapproved of Bach’s concertos. On another site, Mozart’s sublime first movement of Eine kleine Nachtmusik (“a little serenade”) received an overall score of 4.2 out of 5.

Mozart gets a B plus?! This is music for the ages, and the Internet trolls are finding fault! Regardless, it’s safe to say that the classics will continue to be loved by many.

In Mark’s gospel, we read how Jesus went about doing extraordinary things. He drove out evil spirits (Mark 1:21-26), healed people miraculously (Mark 1:29-34), and instructed the multitudes in a way they had never heard before. Yet Jesus’ own family thought He had lost His mind (Mark 3:21). The religious leaders had a more blunt accusation: “He’s possessed by Satan. . . . That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons” (Mark 3:22).

Jesus didn’t simply walk away in disgust, nor did He respond indignantly. Instead, He gave this timeless challenge: “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. . . . If Satan is divided . . . how can he stand?” (Mark 3:24-26).

When faced with a personal attack, Jesus simply gave a wise and strong warning that defended the Source of His power—the Holy Spirit.

There’s a lesson here for us. The “trolls” in life will come and go, but we don’t need to join them in exchanging petty accusations. Neither do we need to give them a free pass. If we ask, the Holy Spirit will give us the wisdom to know when to let things go and when to offer a wise challenge.

 

The Staggering Question

From: Utmost.org

The Staggering Question

Can a sinner be turned into a saint? Can a twisted life be made right? There is only one appropriate answer— “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3). Never forge ahead with your religious common sense and say, “Oh, yes, with just a little more Bible reading, devotional time, and prayer, I see how it can be done.”

It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we see the activity and mistake panic for inspiration. That is why we see so few fellow workers with God, yet so many people working for God. We would much rather work for God than believe in Him. Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do? The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me. Is my own personal experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never have a sense of hopelessness for anyone else I see? Has any spiritual work been accomplished in me at all? The degree of panic activity in my life is equal to the degree of my lack of personal spiritual experience.

“Behold, O My people, I will open your graves…” (Ezekiel 37:12). When God wants to show you what human nature is like separated from Himself, He shows it to you in yourself. If the Spirit of God has ever given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He will only do this when His Spirit is at work in you), then you know that in reality there is no criminal half as bad as you yourself could be without His grace. My “grave” has been opened by God and “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Romans 7:18). God’s Spirit continually reveals to His children what human nature is like apart from His grace.

Brokenness Brings Us Closer To God

 

Ask and You will Receive       John 16: 33
32   “Look, an hour is coming and has already come when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and you will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

33   I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!”

 

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People in deep sorrow crying

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The Beauty of Brokenness

From: Our Daily Bread

The Beauty of Brokenness

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit. Psalm 51:17

Kintsugi is a centuries-old Japanese art of mending broken pottery. Gold dust mixed with resin is used to reattach broken pieces or fill in cracks, resulting in a striking bond. Instead of trying to hide the repair, the art makes something beautiful out of brokenness.

The Bible tells us that God also values our brokenness, when we are genuinely sorry for a sin we have committed. After David engaged in adultery with Bathsheba and plotted the death of her husband, the prophet Nathan confronted him, and he repented. David’s prayer afterwards gives us insight into what God desires when we have sinned: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (Ps. 51:16–17).

When our heart is broken over a sin, God mends it with the priceless forgiveness generously offered by our Savior at the cross. He receives us with love when we humble ourselves before Him, and closeness is restored.

How merciful is God! Given His desire for a humble heart and the breathtaking beauty of His kindness, may another scriptural prayer be ours today: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23–24).

Loving Father, I want to bring You joy by having a humble and repentant heart today.

Godly sorrow leads to joy.

 

Put God First

From: Utmost.org

Put God First

Put Trust in God First. Our Lord never put His trust in any person. Yet He was never suspicious, never bitter, and never lost hope for anyone, because He put His trust in God first. He trusted absolutely in what God’s grace could do for others. If I put my trust in human beings first, the end result will be my despair and hopelessness toward everyone. I will become bitter because I have insisted that people be what no person can ever be— absolutely perfect and right. Never trust anything in yourself or in anyone else, except the grace of God.

Put God’s Will First. “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:9).

A person’s obedience is to what he sees to be a need— our Lord’s obedience was to the will of His Father. The rallying cry today is, “We must get to work! The heathen are dying without God. We must go and tell them about Him.” But we must first make sure that God’s “needs” and His will in us personally are being met. Jesus said, “…tarry…until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The purpose of our Christian training is to get us into the right relationship to the “needs” of God and His will. Once God’s “needs” in us have been met, He will open the way for us to accomplish His will, meeting His “needs” elsewhere.

Put God’s Son First. “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:5).

God came as a baby, giving and entrusting Himself to me. He expects my personal life to be a “Bethlehem.” Am I allowing my natural life to be slowly transformed by the indwelling life of the Son of God? God’s ultimate purpose is that His Son might be exhibited in me.

 

You Have a Choice

From: Our Daily Journey

You Have a Choice

Read:

Joshua 24:14-24
If you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

“You mean, I can choose to believe in Jesus?” my young Nepali friend asked in surprise as I was giving her a ride to the grocery store. She was an international student at the same university I was attending and had been coming for several months to a weekly Bible study. As we were discussing her thoughts regarding the study, she suddenly became shocked by the realization that she could choose what to believe. She had grown up in a culture where faith was something she was born into, with no choice given to her.

Throughout the book of Joshua, God showed He’s completely worthy to be trusted and followed. In fact, “not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled” (Joshua 21:45). Toward the end of Joshua’s life, he reminded the people of Israel of all the incredible things God had done for them and gave them a challenge—to choose whom they would follow and serve.

The people of Israel were at a crossroads in which they had to make a decision whether to “serve the Lord alone” or serve the idols of the nations surrounding them (Joshua 24:14). God certainly could have forced them to follow Him, but He didn’t do that. Instead, He allowed them to choose. As Joshua said, “If you refuse to serve the Lord , then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? . . . But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Today, God allows us to choose whom we’ll follow just as He did with the Israelites thousands of years ago. We need not allow culture and tradition to be the basis on which we make our decision. May we, like Joshua, have the courage to choose to serve God as He draws us!

Love God And Fight Evil

Ephesians 6:10-20

The Fight against Evil

10 Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. 11 Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. 12 We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. 13 So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day[a] comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.

 

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Our Rally Cry

From: Get More Strength.org

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” Luke 10:33

Whether or not you’re a history buff, you probably remember learning about the historic revolutions that launched significant changes in both the economic and intellectual landscape of the Western world. Take our own revolution, for instance, when in the mid-1700s the world heard the rally cry, “Give me liberty or give me death!” and a new era of democracy was born. And not long afterward an equally influential cry rang out from the French Revolution, “Liberty, equality, brotherhood, or death!”—a cry that launched the era of the Enlightenment.

While we are thinking of revolutions, my guess is that if I were to ask you who you thought were the most influential revolutionaries of history, Jesus would not have made your list. But that is exactly what He was—a revolutionary who tops all the rest.

I’m not sure why we always think of Jesus in terms of His soft side—the meek and mild, gentle, peaceful Jesus. While I’m thankful for that side of Him, I can’t help but notice that there’s more to Him than that. He came to earth to effect radical change. To be sure, there was a clash of civilizations when He brought the values and culture of heaven into enemy territory that was under the management and direction of Beelzebub himself. Jesus did not come to coexist with hell on earth, nor did He come to negotiate a compromise. Rather, He came to conquer hell on earth, to overthrow the regime and set the captives free! He died a revolutionary’s death and rose as a victorious revolutionary who had once and for all de-fanged the enemy of our souls and set us free. And once freed, we are recruited to join the revolution, to get involved in the goal of setting other captives free, and to follow our leader Jesus and take up the rally cry of His revolution: “People matter most!”

“People matter most” is the point Jesus was trying to get across when He told the now-familiar story of the Good Samaritan. Let’s face it: Joining the heavenly revolution is a challenge. We live in a world where personal happiness is more important than the welfare of others; in a world where pleasure trumps people; in a world where corporate value and stock prices eclipse the importance of the value of people, their pension plans, and personal welfare. It’s why the crime of genocide still exists; why the problem of abortion continues to thrive; why the question of euthanasia still haunts us. It’s why dads leave their families for the fling of what initially seems like a more-fulfilling relationship. It’s why the affluent can be blind to the needs of the poor and the oppressed.

We’re living in enemy territory where people are often pawns and chips on the game table of someone else’s happiness and gain. Jesus came to change all of that: to teach us that people matter most, that eternal destinies are worth sacrificing for, that others count, and that love trumps self-centeredness! The familiar story of the Good Samaritan teaches us that even religious people can miss the point of the importance of “loving our neighbor.” But Jesus is still looking for good Samaritans who will join the revolution and live to prove—as Jesus died to prove—that above everything else, people matter most.

Join the revolution today!

 

 

Amy Carroll May 30, 2017
Where Will I Be Left Standing?
AMY CARROLL

From: Crosswalk.com

“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.” Revelation 7:9 (NLT)

Sometimes the most profound lessons are learned in the most humble settings. That was true for me one day sitting in a blue cinder-block house in the mountains of Ecuador.

“What do you like to do with your free time?” I asked Dolores, a petite woman with sparkling dark eyes who lived there with her six children.

Through an interpreter, she explained that she enjoyed getting up at 4 a.m. to embroider the exquisite works of art adorning her children’s clothing. In her “free time,” Dolores was working to help her family. But as I continued to listen to her story, I learned something sacred was happening in those rare moments of silence.

Before our group left her home, my friend Luann asked Dolores two final questions: “How can we pray for you? What’s your greatest need?”

In the pause that happened while our interpreter did her work, I looked around Dolores’ snug house and made a list for her. “Lord, please give my new friend Dolores carpet for her floor and a ceiling to replace the plastic sheeting. Give her extra food in her kitchen and beds for all those children. Give her husband a job here, instead of far away so that she can have some help raising them … ”

When the interpreter told us her response, however, Dolores’ request was much different than mine. She said, “Please pray for me to teach my children to love the Lord all the days of their lives. That’s my greatest need.”

Dolores is a woman with an eternal perspective.

How has she gained it? From hearing about her life that day, I knew the beautiful answer. Dolores sits with Jesus before her children wake up each day. At 4 a.m., she’s embroidering and listening to Him. She stitches and she prays, so although she’s physically impoverished, she’s spiritually rich. Dolores knows the truth, and she lives it. That truth has changed everything for her.

This is a lesson I’ve learned over and over as I’ve listened to, watched and read stories from women all over the world …

Like the woman in India who meets Jesus and now understands the peace that settled on her when God’s Word was read to her.

Or the woman in Africa who starts her day with friends in a concrete room, raising her beautiful voice in worship.

The woman in Scotland raising her daughter on a mission base, so she can shine Jesus’ light into the community around her.

They may live in different places, eat different food and speak different languages, but one day — at the end of time — they’ll all be in the same place.

As Revelation 7:9 tells us, they’ll all be standing around the throne where Jesus, the Lamb of God, sits, and they’ll be shouting in a great, unified roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10, NLT)

These women will all bring this wise lesson from their physical lives into their eternal lives: Know the Truth. Live the Truth. It changes everything.

I know where I want to be standing when time winds down and the Lord reigns over everything. I want to stand in that crowd with people of every color, dialect and citizenship. I invite you … I implore you … come stand with me.

Lord, I believe the Truth that You’re Savior. I want to live Your Truth in my life every day. I want to experience every beautiful change You have in store for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Yes—But…!

From: Utmost.org

Yes—But...!

Suppose God tells you to do something that is an enormous test of your common sense, totally going against it. What will you do? Will you hold back? If you get into the habit of doing something physically, you will do it every time you are tested until you break the habit through sheer determination. And the same is true spiritually. Again and again you will come right up to what Jesus wants, but every time you will turn back at the true point of testing, until you are determined to abandon yourself to God in total surrender. Yet we tend to say, “Yes, but— suppose I do obey God in this matter, what about…?” Or we say, “Yes, I will obey God if what He asks of me doesn’t go against my common sense, but don’t ask me to take a step in the dark.”

Jesus Christ demands the same unrestrained, adventurous spirit in those who have placed their trust in Him that the natural man exhibits. If a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he must risk everything by his leap in the dark. In the spiritual realm, Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense, and leap by faith into what He says. Once you obey, you will immediately find that what He says is as solidly consistent as common sense.

By the test of common sense, Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad, but when you test them by the trial of faith, your findings will fill your spirit with the awesome fact that they are the very words of God. Trust completely in God, and when He brings you to a new opportunity of adventure, offering it to you, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis— only one out of an entire crowd is daring enough to invest his faith in the character of God.

A Grateful Memorial Day

Grace and Perseverance    II Timothy 2:3
2  And the things that you have heard me say among many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be qualified to teach others as well.

3  Join me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

4  A soldier refrains from entangling himself in civilian affairs, in order to please the one who enlisted him.…

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Let Honor Meet Honor

From: Our Daily Bread

Let Honor Meet Honor

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. Matthew 6:1

I’ve always been impressed by the solemn, magnificent simplicity of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. The carefully choreographed event is a moving tribute to soldiers whose names—and sacrifice—are “known but to God.” Equally moving are the private moments of steady pacing when the crowds are gone: back and forth, hour after hour, day by day, in even the worst weather.

In September 2003, Hurricane Isabel was bearing down on Washington, DC, and the guards were told they could seek shelter during the worst of the storm. Surprising almost no one, the guards refused! They unselfishly stood their post to honor their fallen comrades even in the face of a hurricane.

Underlying Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 6:1–6, I believe, is His desire for us to live with an unrelenting, selfless devotion to Him. The Bible calls us to good deeds and holy living, but these are to be acts of worship and obedience (vv. 4–6), not orchestrated acts for self-glorification (v. 2). The apostle Paul endorses this whole-life faithfulness when he pleads with us to make our bodies “a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1).

May our private and public moments speak of our devotion and wholehearted commitment to You, Lord.

Grant me the strength this day, O Lord, to persevere, to return honor to Your name where I am serving. My desire is to give myself in selfless devotion because of Your love for me.

The more we serve Christ, the less we will serve self.

When Words Fail

From: Our Daily Journey

When Words Fail

Read:

Romans 8:26-27
The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words (Romans 8:26).

Helen Keller lost her ability to hear and see at only nineteen months old. Eventually, her teacher Anne Sullivan helped young Helen learn to read Braille and raised type. By age nine she could also read people’s lips with her fingers and speak. Sullivan attempted to help Helen understand the word love. The teacher made several attempts to explain the concept, which only puzzled her pupil. Then one day Sullivan said that love was like sunshine—sweetness that pours into everything. That’s when Helen Keller first understood the word love.

Even for those of us who can see and hear, there are experiences in life we struggle to comprehend. Some of them and the emotions that come with them are buried so deeply in our consciousness that we’re scarcely aware of their existence, let alone able to describe them clearly. How then can we bring these hidden and often painful struggles to God?

Scripture gives us comfort in this struggle, reminding us that our prayers aren’t dependent on our ability to communicate clearly to God. Instead, we have the Holy Spirit with us in prayer. And the Spirit doesn’t simply listen to our prayers but actively “prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words” (Romans 8:26). Similarly, in John 14 Jesus says that in the Holy Spirit we find a Helper who is our advocate to the Father (John 14:26).

Perhaps like me you often try to rely on your own abilities to pray effectively. We may try our best to pray well, which isn’t wrong in itself, but find our words woefully inadequate. But we can take great comfort in the realization that when our words fail and our strength falls short, the Holy Spirit searches our hearts and intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:27).

 

Untroubled Relationship

From: Utmost.org

Untroubled Relationship

“In that day you will ask in My name…,” that is, in My nature. Not “You will use My name as some magic word,” but— “You will be so intimate with Me that you will be one with Me.” “That day” is not a day in the next life, but a day meant for here and now. “…for the Father Himself loves you…”— the Father’s love is evidence that our union with Jesus is complete and absolute. Our Lord does not mean that our lives will be free from external difficulties and uncertainties, but that just as He knew the Father’s heart and mind, we too can be lifted by Him into heavenly places through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so that He can reveal the teachings of God to us.

“…whatever you ask the Father in My name…” (John 16:23). “That day” is a day of peace and an untroubled relationship between God and His saint. Just as Jesus stood unblemished and pure in the presence of His Father, we too by the mighty power and effectiveness of the baptism of the Holy Spirit can be lifted into that relationship— “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22).

“…He will give you” (John 16:23). Jesus said that because of His name God will recognize and respond to our prayers. What a great challenge and invitation— to pray in His name! Through the resurrection and ascension power of Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit He has sent, we can be lifted into such a relationship. Once in that wonderful position, having been placed there by Jesus Christ, we can pray to God in Jesus’ name— in His nature. This is a gift granted to us through the Holy Spirit, and Jesus said, “…whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” The sovereign character of Jesus Christ is tested and proved by His own statements.

Not One Sparrow

Fear God Alone        Matthew 10:29
28  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

29  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.

30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.…

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Not One Sparrow

From: Our Daily Bread

Not One Sparrow

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. Psalm 116:15

My mother, so dignified and proper her entire life, now lay in a hospice bed, held captive by debilitating age. Struggling for breath, her declining condition contradicted the gorgeous spring day that danced invitingly on the other side of the windowpane.

All the emotional preparation in the world cannot sufficiently brace us for the stark reality of goodbye. Death is such an indignity! I thought.

I diverted my gaze to the birdfeeder outside the window. A grosbeak flitted close to help itself to some seed. Instantly a familiar phrase popped into my mind: “Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it” (Matt. 10:29 nlt). Jesus had said that to His disciples as He gave them marching orders for a mission to Judea, but the principle applies to all of us. “You are worth more than many sparrows,” He told them (v. 31).

My mom stirred and opened her eyes. Reaching back to her childhood, she used a Dutch term of endearment for her own mother and declared, “Muti’s dead!”

“Yes,” my wife agreed. “She’s with Jesus now.” Uncertain, Mom continued. “And Joyce and Jim?” she questioned of her sister and brother. “Yes, they’re with Jesus too,” said my wife. “But we’ll be with them soon!”

“It’s hard to wait,” Mom said quietly.

Heavenly Father, this life can be so hard and painful. But You! . . . You are right there with us, loving us, keeping us, holding us! And You promise never to leave us or forsake us.

Death is the last shadow before heaven’s dawn.

Hope for Today

From: Our Daily Journey

Hope for Today

Read:

Malachi 3:13–4:2
For you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture (Malachi 4:2).

Someone close to me recommitted his life to God, began taking his wife and young daughter to church, and was seeking to follow Jesus faithfully. Within weeks, however, his world began to fall apart. His daughter was admitted to the hospital with a chest infection, his business partner refused to pay him, and his wife asked for some time apart. He looked drained and weary when I offered to pray for him, saying he’d rather not have any help from God. From the moment he’d chosen to serve the Lord again, he said it felt as if a huge target had been placed on his back and the Enemy was having a field day.

Can you empathize with this man? Perhaps you’ve served God faithfully for many years and yet still aren’t experiencing victory in certain parts of your life. In Malachi, we see that the people of God had the same complaint. They asked, “What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm” (Malachi 3:14-15).

The reality? God’s promise to those who fear Him is that “the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture” (Malachi 4:2). Be encouraged today as you continue to fear God and honor His name. Though things might seem bleak and your heart may be heavy, trust in Him. He alone can provide joy, peace, and hope even during difficult days. By faith, you can “overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit”

 

Unquestioned Revelation

From: Utmost.org

Unquestioned Revelation

When is “that day”? It is when the ascended Lord makes you one with the Father. “In that day” you will be one with the Father just as Jesus is, and He said, “In that day you will ask Me nothing.” Until the resurrection life of Jesus is fully exhibited in you, you have questions about many things. Then after a while you find that all your questions are gone— you don’t seem to have any left to ask. You have come to the point of total reliance on the resurrection life of Jesus, which brings you into complete oneness with the purpose of God. Are you living that life now? If not, why aren’t you?

“In that day” there may be any number of things still hidden to your understanding, but they will not come between your heart and God. “In that day you will ask Me nothing”— you will not need to ask, because you will be certain that God will reveal things in accordance with His will. The faith and peace of John 14:1 has become the real attitude of your heart, and there are no more questions to be asked. If anything is a mystery to you and is coming between you and God, never look for the explanation in your mind, but look for it in your spirit, your true inner nature— that is where the problem is. Once your inner spiritual nature is willing to submit to the life of Jesus, your understanding will be perfectly clear, and you will come to the place where there is no distance between the Father and you, His child, because the Lord has made you one. “In that day you will ask Me nothing.”

Don’t Judge People

Matthew 7

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

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Finger Pointer’s Anonymous

From: Get More Strength

A glass of wine or not a glass of wine? To dance or not to dance? To work on Sunday or not to work on Sunday? To play cards or not to play cards? Or, in some places, to play dominoes or not to play dominoes?!

Let’s face it, we tend to feel strongly about our personal preferences regarding what Christians should and should not do. And, when others violate our spiritual preferences, the finger-pointing begins!

This is nothing new for Christians. Paul had to address the subject of preferences with the early believers in Rome who were troubled by a few issues. Believers who had been saved out of Judaism wondered what to do about the holy days prescribed in the Old Testament and the keeping of certain strict Sabbath rules. With their newfound freedom in Jesus, they didn’t know what to do with the ceremonial laws concerning “unclean” meat, not to mention the meat offered to idols in the pagan temples of their day.

In the face of conflicting preferences, note that Paul doesn’t take sides. Rather, he says, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). Paul continued, “He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God” (Romans 14:6). Simply put, each of us should be convinced that what we are doing can be done to please the Lord.

Before you start thinking that this doesn’t apply to us because we don’t deal with these particular issues today, think again. The issues are different, but the lesson is the same: Each of us is individually accountable to God for our actions. Which, by the way, means that no one is accountable to—you guessed it—you for what they do or don’t do.

When we think that our point of view on personal preferences is the only point of view, we start finger-pointing and end up violating God’s call for us to reject a judgmental spirit. Often without even realizing it, we hold our preferences as standards of biblical spirituality. If thoughts like, He can’t be too serious about God—just look at his car! or, I can’t believe she watches that TV program! have ever crossed your mind, you know what I’m talking about!

So what’s the solution?

Take Paul’s exhortation to heart and “stop passing judgment on one another” (Romans 14:13).  Some matters of personal preference are just that—personal, which means that it’s between that person and God. Paul called them “disputable matters” (Romans 14:1)—referring to issues that are not clearly outlined in Scripture as right or wrong. Rather than using our preferences as a spiritual whipping post, we must give room for others to express a different opinion and to love them as Jesus does. And, Paul tells us, “make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way” (Romans 14:13). When we know that something we feel is okay might endanger another’s walk with Jesus, then it’s up to us to love them enough to yield our preferences for the sake of their well-being.

And that’s the bottom line: love. It’s the glue that keeps us together when we face “disputable matters.” Next time you feel your grip tighten around a matter of personal preference, think about Romans 14:13. Stop passing judgment and make up your mind about what really matters—and hopefully love will win out every time!

Dysfunctional

From: Our Daily Bread

Dysfunctional

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

The word dysfunctional is often used to describe individuals, families, relationships, organizations, and even governments. While functional means it’s in proper working order, dysfunctional is the opposite—it’s broken, not working properly, unable to do what it was designed to do.

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul begins by describing a spiritually dysfunctional humanity (1:18–32). We are all part of that rebellious company: “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. . . . For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:12, 23).

The good news is that “all are justified freely by [God’s] grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus . . . to be received by faith” (vv. 24–25). When we invite Christ into our lives and accept God’s offer of forgiveness and new life, we are on the path to becoming the person He created us to be. We don’t immediately become perfect, but we no longer have to remain broken and dysfunctional.

Through the Holy Spirit we receive daily strength to honor God in what we say and do and to “put off [our] old self . . . to be made new in the attitude of [our] minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:22–24).

Lord, in our dysfunctional lives we turn to You for restoration and strength. Thank You for Your amazing grace and love!

Drawing close to Christ helps us to live as He designed us.

Together Forever

From: Our Daily Journey

Together Forever

Read:

Joshua 2:1-24
You must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members . . . must be here inside the house (Joshua 2:18).

A Chinese translator told a visiting theologian that her Buddhist parents admired the teachings of Jesus, but they were offended by the idea that someone had to believe in Him to be saved. They worried that their Christian daughter now believed her ancestors were in hell. The translator said, “Revering my ancestors means much to me, and I want to assure my parents that I do not want to dishonor my family heritage. So please tell me what I, as a Christian, can say to my parents about this.”

This profound question haunts many believers who feel torn between Jesus and their family. We can find help in the story of Rahab, who recognized her only hope was found in “the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below” (Joshua 2:11). She begged the spies to save both her and her family when God used Israel to judge her sinful city (Joshua 2:12-13). The spies told her to mark her house by hanging a scarlet rope from her window. Then all the family that gathered in her house would be saved.

One thing Rahab’s story reveals is that God loves our families. He sent Jesus to die for them, perhaps symbolized by the scarlet rope in the story (Joshua 2:18). We can’t say with certainty where our ancestors are—only God knows their destinies. We do know, however, that God commands us to honor our fathers and mothers, so we can readily honor our ancestors just as they deserve (Exodus 20:12).

It’s impossible for us to fully know or understand the futures of those in the past, but we can speak for God today. May we lovingly encourage our family members to join us in the house with the scarlet cord. Our loving God allows us to be united in Him by faith in Jesus—the only One who will keep us together forever.

 

The Life To Know Him

From: Utmost.org

The Life To Know Him

The disciples had to tarry, staying in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost, not only for their own preparation but because they had to wait until the Lord was actually glorified. And as soon as He was glorified, what happened? “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). The statement in John 7:39— “…for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified”— does not pertain to us. The Holy Spirit has been given; the Lord is glorified— our waiting is not dependent on the providence of God, but on our own spiritual fitness.

The Holy Spirit’s influence and power were at work before Pentecost, but He was not here. Once our Lord was glorified in His ascension, the Holy Spirit came into the world, and He has been here ever since. We have to receive the revealed truth that He is here. The attitude of receiving and welcoming the Holy Spirit into our lives is to be the continual attitude of a believer. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive reviving life from our ascended Lord.

It is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit that changes people, but the power of the ascended Christ coming into their lives through the Holy Spirit. We all too often separate things that the New Testament never separates. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an experience apart from Jesus Christ— it is the evidence of the ascended Christ.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit does not make you think of time or eternity— it is one amazing glorious now. “This is eternal life, that they may know You…” (John 17:3). Begin to know Him now, and never finish.

Jesus Can Calm Life’s Storms

Luke 8:22-25

 

Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm

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Navigating Rough Waters

From: Our Daily Bread

Navigating Rough Waters

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. 1 Chronicles 28:20

I was enjoying the start of my first whitewater rafting experience—until I heard the roar of the rapids up ahead. My emotions were flooded with feelings of uncertainty, fear, and insecurity at the same time. Riding through the whitewater was a first-rate, white-knuckle experience! And then, suddenly, it was over. The guide in the back of the raft had navigated us through. I was safe—at least until the next set of rapids.

Transitions in our lives can be like whitewater experiences. The inevitable leaps from one season of life to the next—college to career, changing jobs, living with parents to living alone or with a spouse, career to retirement, youth to old age—are all marked by uncertainty and insecurity.

In one of the most significant transitions recorded in Old Testament history, Solomon assumed the throne from his father David. I’m sure he was filled with uncertainty about the future. His father’s advice? “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. . . . For the Lord God, my God, is with you” (1 Chron. 28:20).

We’ll have our fair share of tough transitions in life. But with God in our raft we’re not alone. Keeping our eyes on the One who is navigating the rapids brings joy and security. He’s taken lots of others through before.

 God guides us through the rapids of change.

 

Thinking of Prayer as Jesus Taught

From: Utmost.org

Thinking of Prayer as Jesus Taught

Our thinking about prayer, whether right or wrong, is based on our own mental conception of it. The correct concept is to think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues “without ceasing”; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops. And we are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect oneness with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life of the saint. Beware of anything that stops the offering up of prayer. “Pray without ceasing…”— maintain the childlike habit of offering up prayer in your heart to God all the time.

Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer. He had the unlimited certainty of knowing that prayer is always answered. Do we have through the Spirit of God that inexpressible certainty that Jesus had about prayer, or do we think of the times when it seemed that God did not answer our prayer? Jesus said, “…everyone who asks receives…” (Matthew 7:8). Yet we say, “But…, but….” God answers prayer in the best way— not just sometimes, but every time. However, the evidence of the answer in the area we want it may not always immediately follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer?

The danger we have is that we want to water down what Jesus said to make it mean something that aligns with our common sense. But if it were only common sense, what He said would not even be worthwhile. The things Jesus taught about prayer are supernatural truths He reveals to us.

 

Reflections of Marriage

From: Our Daily Journey

Reflections of Marriage

Read:

1 Corinthians 7:8-35
[Jesus] gave up his life for the [church], to make her holy and clean (Ephesians 5:25-26).

Our pastor read this verse during a sermon: “It’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:8). Quite happily wed himself, he followed the reading by saying, “Marriage complicates things.” Seconds later, a masculine voice emitted a long exaggerated “Aaaaamen.” The congregation broke into laughter.

In some cases, marriage can make life more complicated. Paul pointed out that people who are married need to think about their “earthly responsibilities” and how to please their spouses (1 Corinthians 7:33-34). A married person needs to consider his or her spouse in things such as spending money, making meals, or organizing a home environment.

As an alternative to marriage, Paul suggested that unmarried people could choose to remain single. This would protect a person from becoming overly focused on things other than ministering for Christ. Specifically, Paul said, “I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking about how to please him” (1 Corinthians 7:32).

While there are advantages to being single, there are also merits to being married. Married couples have an outlet for their physical passion (1 Corinthians 7:9). In addition, a healthy marriage provides for the foundation of a family in which both parents can nurture and lovingly equip their children to grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Marriages are happiest when they mirror the mutual benefits and consistent faithfulness reflected in the relationship between Jesus and the church. Symbolically, believers are the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-26). In this role, we receive the promise of Jesus’ never-ending protection, provision, and love.

Be Ready To Show Mercy

Luke 10: 25-37   The Good Samaritan Story

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

(Which one of these three showed Mercy)

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( Pictures of people passing by)

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Passing By

From: Our Daily Journey

Passing By

Read:

Luke 10:30-37
He also passed by on the other side (Luke 10:32).

During a political election year, a tow truck driver was called to assist a woman who was stranded with a broken-down vehicle. But the truck driver, upon seeing a bumper sticker on the car for a candidate he disliked, informed the motorist that he wouldn’t help her and drove away. His actions remind me how we sometimes choose to ignore those who need our help.

Jesus told the parable of a “Jewish man . . . traveling from Jerusalem” who was “attacked by bandits.” They stripped the man naked, “beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road” (Luke 10:30). One would have thought help had arrived when a priest happened along the way. But the priest “crossed over to the other side of the road and passed him by” (Luke 10:31). As the heat of the day grew fierce and the bleeding man’s wounds festered, a temple assistant also traveled by the scene of the crime. He too “passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:32).

Next a Samaritan came along, the last person you would ever expect to help a Jew (the two people groups did not get along). Yet the “Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged him. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn” (Luke 10:34). The Samaritan paid for medical care out of his own pocket and made provision for everything the suffering man might need. “Which of these three would you say was a neighbor?” Jesus asked. Of course, the neighbor was the one who demonstrated tangible mercy. “Go and do the same,” Jesus said (Luke 10:36-37).

There are many ways to offer mercy to others, whether by a prayer, a conversation, or a gift. When we see a need, may we meet it as God provides. Let’s choose to do something other than pass by.

The Remedy for Jealousy

From: Our Daily Bread

The Remedy for Jealousy

So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.  1 Samuel 18:9 nlt

I gladly agreed to babysit my grandkids while their parents went out for the evening. After hugs, I asked the boys what they did over the weekend. (Both had separate adventures.) Bridger, age three, recounted breathlessly how he got to stay overnight with his aunt and uncle—and he had ice cream and rode a carousel and watched a movie! Next it was five-year-old Samuel’s turn. When asked what he did, he said, “Camping.” “Did you have fun?” I asked. “Not so much,” he answered forlornly.

Samuel experienced the age-old feeling of jealousy. He forgot how much fun he had camping with his dad when he heard his brother excitedly tell about his weekend.

All of us can fall prey to jealousy. King Saul gave in to the green-eyed monster of jealousy when the praise David received exceeded his: “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” (1 Sam. 18:7 nlt). Saul was outraged and “from that time on . . . kept a jealous eye on David” (v. 9 nlt). He was so incensed he tried to kill David!

The comparison game is foolish and self-destructive. Someone will always have something we don’t or enjoy experiences different from ours. But God has already given us many blessings, including both life on this earth and the promise of eternal life to all who believe. Depending on His help and focusing on Him in thankfulness can help us to overcome jealousy.

Lord, You have given us life and the promise of life eternal if we trust in You as our Savior. For that—and so many other blessings—we give You praise!

The remedy for jealousy is thankfulness to God.

 

The Good or The Best?

From: Utmost.org

The Good or The Best?

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and physically gratifying possibilities will open up before you. These things are yours by right, but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you. This is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice.

Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight. The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. In this passage, it would seem that the wisest thing in the world for Abram to do would be to choose. It was his right, and the people around him would consider him to be a fool for not choosing.

Many of us do not continue to grow spiritually because we prefer to choose on the basis of our rights, instead of relying on God to make the choice for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eyes focused on God. And God says to us, as He did to Abram, “…walk before Me…” (Genesis 17:1).