Category Archives: Health

God Has A Good Plan For You

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” –Isaiah 55:8-9

 

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DISAPPOINTMENTS

This is my doing. (1 Kings 12:24)

The disappointments of life are simply the hidden appointments of love.
–C.A. Fox

My child, I have a message for you today. Let me whisper it in your ear so any storm clouds that may arise will shine with glory, and the rough places you may have to walk will be made smooth. It is only four words, but let them sink into your inner being, and use them as a pillow to rest your weary head. “This is my doing.”

Have you ever realized that whatever concerns you concerns Me too? “For whoever touches you touches the apple of [my] eye” (Zech. 2:8). “You are precious and honored in my sight” (Isa. 43:4). Therefore it is My special delight to teach you.

I want you to learn when temptations attack you, and the enemy comes in “like a pent up flood” (Isa. 59:19)., that “this is my doing” and that your weakness needs My strength, and your safety lies in letting Me fight for you.

Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you, never ask your opinion, and always push you aside? “This is my doing.” I am the God of circumstances. You did not come to this place by accident — you are exactly where I meant for you to be.

Have you not asked Me to make you humble? Then see that I have placed you in the perfect school where this lesson is taught. Your circumstances and the people around you are only being used to accomplish My will.

Are you having problems with money, finding it hard to make ends meet? “This is my doing,” for I am the One who keeps your finances, and I want you to learn to depend upon Me. My supply is limitless and I “will meet your needs” (Phil. 4:19). I want you to prove My promises so no one may say, “You did not trust in the Lord your God” (Deut. 1:32).

Are you experiencing a time of sorrow? “This is my doing.” I am “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isa. 53:3). I have allowed your earthly comforters to fail you, so that by turning to Me you may receive “eternal encouragement and good hope” (2 Thess. 2:16). Have you longed to do some great work for Me but instead have been set aside on a bed of sickness and pain? “This is my doing.” You were so busy I could not get your attention, and I wanted to teach you some of My deepest truths. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” In fact, some of My greatest workers are those physically unable to serve, but who have learned to wield the powerful weapon of prayer.

Today I place a cup of holy oil in your hands. Use it freely, My child. Anoint with it every new circumstance, every word that hurts you, every interruption that makes you impatient, and every weakness you have. The pain will leave as you learn to see Me in all things.
–Laura A. Barter Snow

“This is from Me,” the Savior said,
As bending low He kissed my brow,
“For One who loves you thus has led.
Just rest in Me, be patient now,
Your Father knows you have need of this,
Though, why perhaps you cannot see–
Grieve not for things you’ve seemed to miss.
The thing I send is best for thee.”
Then, looking through my tears, I plead,
“Dear Lord, forgive, I did not know,
It will not be hard since You do tread,
Each path before me here below.”
And for my good this thing must be,
His grace sufficient for each test.
So still I’ll sing, “Whatever be
God’s way for me is always best.”


National Treasure

From: Our Daily Bread

National Treasure

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Matthew 21:9

When an advertiser altered a photo of Michelangelo’s famous marble sculpture of the biblical hero David, Italy’s government and gallery officials objected. Picturing David with a military rifle slung over his shoulder (instead of his slingshot) would be a violation—“like taking a hammer to it or worse,” a cultural official said.

In first-century Jerusalem, David was remembered as the shepherd-songwriter and soldier-king of Israel’s fondest memories and greatest hopes. Prophets foretold that David’s descendant would finally defeat the enemies of Israel. So, centuries later, when crowds welcomed Jesus as the Son of David (Matthew 21:6–9), they were expecting Him to lead the revolt that would overthrow their Roman occupiers. Instead Jesus knocked over the tables of temple money-changers to restore His Father’s house as a house of prayer for all nations. Israel’s leaders were furious. This wasn’t the kind of Messiah and Son of David they were looking for. So without realizing what they were doing, they called for Roman executioners to take a hammer to the hands and feet of the true glory of Israel.

Instead of stopping them, Jesus let Himself be lifted up on a cross of shame—defaced and disgraced. Only by resurrection would it be known that the true Son of David had defeated His enemies with love and enlisted the children of all nations to spread the word.

Father in heaven, it’s hard to admit. But it’s true. We get so confused. We try to protect the images we love more than the love You consider priceless.

Jesus shows that God is always better than our expectations.

The Call of God

By Oswald Chambers

The Call of God

Paul states here that the call of God is to preach the gospel. But remember what Paul means by “the gospel,” namely, the reality of redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are inclined to make sanctification the goal of our preaching. Paul refers to personal experiences only by way of illustration, never as the end of the matter. We are not commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification— we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (see John 12:32). It is an injustice to say that Jesus Christ labored in redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ labored in redemption to redeem the whole world and to place it perfectly whole and restored before the throne of God. The fact that we can experience redemption illustrates the power of its reality, but that experience is a byproduct and not the goal of redemption. If God were human, how sick and tired He would be of the constant requests we make for our salvation and for our sanctification. We burden His energies from morning till night asking for things for ourselves or for something from which we want to be delivered! When we finally touch the underlying foundation of the reality of the gospel of God, we will never bother Him anymore with little personal complaints.

The one passion of Paul’s life was to proclaim the gospel of God. He welcomed heartbreak, disillusionment, and tribulation for only one reason— these things kept him unmovable in his devotion to the gospel of God.

Making The Cut

From: Get More Strength

[Jesus] said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” —Matthew 4:19

Every year, high-school seniors apply to their favorite universities and then watch the mailbox for the letter announcing their acceptance.

It was different for teens in New Testament times. Jewish boys would often attend rabbinical schools until age 13. Then only the best and brightest would be chosen to “follow” the local rabbi. This small, select group of disciples would go where he went and eat what he ate—modeling their lives after the rabbi. Those who didn’t make the cut would pick up a trade like carpentry, sheep-herding, or fishing.

Guys like Simon, Andrew, James, and John hadn’t made the cut. So instead of following the local rabbi, they were down by the docks, knee-deep in the family business. It’s interesting that Jesus sought out the men the local rabbi had rejected. Instead of targeting the best and brightest, Jesus offered His invitation, “Follow Me,” to ordinary run-of-the-mill fishermen. What an honor! They would become followers of the ultimate Rabbi.

Jesus extends the same honor to you and me—not because we are the best or brightest, but because He needs ordinary people like us to model His life and to lovingly rescue people on His behalf. So, follow Him and let Him make something of your life!

As followers of Jesus
Who love Him from the heart,
We may be ordinary,
But we’ve been set apart. —Sper

Even the ordinary and the outcast can make the cut to follow Jesus.

Jesus Washes Us White As Snow

“Come now, and let us reason together,” saith the Lord. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.     Isaiah 1:18
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White as Snow

From: Our Daily Bread

White as Snow

Though yours sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Isaiah 1:18

Last December, my family and I went to the mountains. We had lived in a tropical climate all our lives, so it was the first time we could see snow in all its magnificence. As we contemplated the white mantle covering the fields, my husband quoted Isaiah, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

After asking about the meaning of scarlet, our three-year-old daughter asked, “Is the color red bad?” She knows sins are things God dislikes, but this verse is not talking about colors. The prophet was describing the bright red dye obtained from the eggs of a small insect. Clothes would be double-dyed in this bright red so the color became fixed. Neither rain nor washing would remove it. Sin is like that. No human effort can take it away. It’s rooted in the heart.

Only God can cleanse a heart from sin. And as we looked at the mountains, we admired the pure whiteness that scrubbing and bleaching a piece of cloth dyed in scarlet red can’t achieve. When we follow Peter’s teaching, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19), God forgives us and gives us a new life. Only through Jesus’s sacrifice can we receive what no one else can give—a pure heart. What a wonderful gift!

Father, thank You for forgiving our sins and wiping them clean.

When God forgives, He purifies us too.

Creation Awakes

From: Our Daily Journey

Creation Awakes

Read:

Romans 8:18-25
The creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay (Romans 8:21).

Finlandia, composed in 1899, possessed the original title Finland Awakes. Sibelius’ brilliant masterpiece was part of the cultural resistance of Finland’s aggressive neighbor to the east. The symphonic poem begins ominously as brass and percussion swell to a raucous din. But sixty seconds into the clamor, the music softens to an elegant, peaceful beauty—harbinger of a better future for the nation. Finland would indeed awaken.

There are portions of the Bible that seem ominous too. They tell the unvarnished truth of our unhappy human history. But throughout the grand story of Scripture, we hear the unmistakable, hope-filled tones of redemption.

At the beginning of human history, an aggressive invader sought to sabotage God’s masterpiece. Coming to Eve in the garden of Eden, the serpent put doubts in her mind about God’s goodness and trustworthiness. Adam and Eve took the bait (see Genesis 3:1-7), and God announced a curse on His good creation: “The ground is cursed because of you” (Genesis 3:17).

The devil thought he’d succeeded in rewriting God’s story with a chaotic ending. But God was already orchestrating a plot twist our enemy hadn’t dreamed of. The apostle Paul wrote, “God . . . sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins” (Romans 8:3). He added, “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay” (Romans 8:20-21).

Jesus makes our glorious future possible. Because of Him, all creation awakes.

 

He giveth quietness (Job 34:29).

Quietness amid the dash of the storm. We sail the lake with Him still; and as we reach its middle waters, far from land, under midnight skies, suddenly a great storm sweeps down. Earth and hell seem arrayed against us, and each billow threatens to overwhelm. Then He arises from His sleep, and rebukes the winds and the waves; His hand waves benediction and repose over the rage of the tempestuous elements. His voice is heard above the scream of the wind in the cordage and the conflict of the billows, “Peace, be still!” Can you not hear it? And there is instantly a great calm. “He giveth quietness.” Quietness amid the loss of inward consolations. He sometimes withdraws these, because we make too much of them. We are tempted to look at our joy, our ecstasies, our transports, or our visions, with too great complacency. Then love for love’s sake, withdraws them. But, by His grace, He leads us to distinguish between them and Himself. He draws nigh, and whispers the assurance of His presence. Thus an infinite calm comes to keep our heart and mind. “He giveth quietness.”

“He giveth quietness.” O Elder Brother,
Whose homeless feet have pressed our path of pain,
Whose hands have borne the burden of our sorrow,
That in our losses we might find our gain.
Of all Thy gifts and infinite consolings,
I ask but this: in every troubled hour
To hear Thy voice through all the tumults stealing,
And rest serene beneath its tranquil power.
Cares cannot fret me if my soul be dwelling
In the still air of faith’s untroubled day;
Grief cannot shake me if I walk beside thee,
My hand in Thine along the darkening way.
Content to know there comes a radiant morning
When from all shadows I shall find release,
Serene to wait the rapture of its dawning–
Who can make trouble when Thou sendest peace?

Obedience Is Greater Than Sacrifice

Exodus 19:5

‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;

 
 

Jeremiah 7:23

“But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’

 

Exodus 23:21

“Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.

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The Dilemma of Obedience

By Oswald Chambers

The Dilemma of Obedience

God never speaks to us in dramatic ways, but in ways that are easy to misunderstand. Then we say, “I wonder if that is God’s voice?” Isaiah said that the Lord spoke to him “with a strong hand,” that is, by the pressure of his circumstances (Isaiah 8:11). Without the sovereign hand of God Himself, nothing touches our lives. Do we discern His hand at work, or do we see things as mere occurrences?

Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance (1 Samuel 3:9). Every time circumstances press in on you, say, “Speak, Lord,” and make time to listen. Chastening is more than a means of discipline— it is meant to bring me to the point of saying, “Speak, Lord.” Think back to a time when God spoke to you. Do you remember what He said? Was it Luke 11:13, or was it 1 Thessalonians 5:23? As we listen, our ears become more sensitive, and like Jesus, we will hear God all the time.

Should I tell my “Eli” what God has shown to me? This is where the dilemma of obedience hits us. We disobey God by becoming amateur providences and thinking, “I must shield ‘Eli,’ ” who represents the best people we know. God did not tell Samuel to tell Eli— he had to decide that for himself. God’s message to you may hurt your “Eli,” but trying to prevent suffering in another’s life will prove to be an obstruction between your soul and God. It is at your own risk that you prevent someone’s right hand being cut off or right eye being plucked out (see Matthew 5:29-30).

Never ask another person’s advice about anything God makes you decide before Him. If you ask advice, you will almost always side with Satan. “…I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood…” (Galatians 1:16).

 

Time to Rest

From: Our Daily Journey

Time to Rest

Read:

Exodus 16:16-30
He told them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord” (Exodus 16:23).

When an international scholar visited a seminary in the US, he was surprised to see an American colleague gardening on Sunday. For him, that activity wasn’t appropriate for the day of rest he observed on Sunday, whereas his colleague found the experience of planting, sowing, and digging to be restful, providing enjoyment and a bit of mental relief. Although the two men interpreted the Sabbath principle differently, they both agreed on the importance of seeking to rest each week.

In the Old Testament, God instituted a day of rest. The day was for the sake of His people, even if the Israelites didn’t always understand this. God gave clear instructions for how to celebrate the day—on the sixth day they were to gather enough food for two days so that on the Sabbath day they could enjoy “complete rest” on a day dedicated to God (Exodus 16:23). But not all of them listened, much to His consternation. “The Lord asked Moses, ‘How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions?’ ” (Exodus 16:28).

God longed for His people to trust Him enough to rest. After all, He never intended for us to function like machines. He created the idea of a day for rest, knowing that we’d need time to turn from our work in order to regenerate our bodies, minds, and souls. When we let go of our own efforts, we acknowledge our lives are upheld by God, not by our own labor.

How do you interpret God’s command to rest? If you’ve perceived the Sabbath negatively in the past, how does seeing it as an expression of God’s love for you reshape your understanding? God longs for us to trust Him completely—enough to put aside our work and rest in Him.

 

I will be as the dew unto Israel (Hosea 14:5).

The dew is a source of freshness. It is nature’s provision for renewing the face of the earth. It falls at night, and without it the vegetation would die. It is this great value of the dew which is so often recognized in the Scriptures. It is used as the symbol of spiritual refreshing. Just as nature is bathed in dew, so the Lord renews His people. In Titus 3:5 the same thought of spiritual refreshing is connected with the ministry of the Holy Ghost–“renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Many Christian workers do not recognize the importance of the heavenly dew in their lives, and as a result they lack freshness and vigor. Their spirits are drooping for lack of dew.

Beloved fellow-worker, you recognize the folly of a laboring man attempting to do his day’s work without eating. Do you recognize the folly of a servant of God attempting to minister without eating of the heavenly manna? Nor will it suffice to have spiritual nourishment occasionally. Every day you must receive the renewing of the Holy Ghost. You know when your whole being is pulsating with the vigor and freshness of Divine life and when you feel jaded and worn. Quietness and absorption bring the dew. At night when the leaf and blade are still, the vegetable pores are open to receive the refreshing and invigorating bath; so spiritual dew comes from quiet lingering in the Master’s presence. Get still before Him. Haste will prevent your receiving the dew. Wait before God until you feel saturated with His presence; then go forth to your next duty with the conscious freshness and vigor of Christ.
–Dr. Pardington

Dew will never gather while there is either heat or wind. The temperature must fall, and the wind cease, and the air come to a point of coolness and rest–absolute rest, so to speak–before it can yield up its invisible particles of moisture to bedew either herb or flower. So the grace of God does not come forth to rest the soul of man until the still point is fairly and fully reached.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our souls the strain and stress;
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the pulses of desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, its beats expire:
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm!

Being Alone

What does the Bible say?

1. Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

2. Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.

God is living inside all believers.

3. John 14:16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever.

4. 2 John 1:2 because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever.

5. Galatians 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 
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It’s Not Good to Be Alone

From: Joe Stowell, Author

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone’ ” Genesis 2:18

While reading through the creation narratives in Genesis for the umpteenth time, I was struck by God’s commentary on Adam being alone in the garden. What caught my attention was the observation God made after each stroke of his creative power: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Until, that is, He made Adam. At that point, something was not good: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So He fixed it and did something really good—He made Eve!

A couple of thoughts race through my brain at this point. I couldn’t agree more with God’s assessment—man needs woman! Left to ourselves we would be more like untamed savages than decent, sensitive specimens of humanity. I have no idea how off track my life might be if my wife Martie had not come along. She is a consistent check to my social insensitivities, to my self-serving male perspectives on life, to what color combinations work and which ones don’t, and to making life better for our kids and grandkids. To say nothing of her sensitive heart toward God that stimulates me to want to serve and follow Him with greater enthusiasm. Thankfully, for all of us guys, God didn’t get carried away with how good it all was but saw the single flaw and did something to save the world from men left to themselves! Bravo for that stroke of creative genius. As the French say, Vive la difference!

The other thought that caused me to stop reading long enough to let it sink in, is that being alone is not a good thing for anyone. God made us in His image—which means that we, like Him, are relational beings. In the beginning, it was a literal paradise of fulfilling relationships as God in an unhindered way walked with Adam and Eve in the garden and they enjoyed the fullest experience of intimacy with each other. So, where did loneliness come from? How did the demon of loneliness that haunts many of our hearts today alienate us from the others that we so desperately need?

I want to be clear here and admit that loneliness isn’t always brought on by us or our choices. So this is not a guilt trip. But as the story unfolds, we see the damage of alienation haunting the landscape of life. Adam and Eve hide from God out of fear of getting caught, and Adam blames Eve for his disobedience, which clearly drives a wedge into their flawless intimacy. And the deep fellowship on every satisfying level is now replaced by alienation, blame, distrust, and shame.

Which leaves me wondering, how could people who had it so good end up with everything so out of sync? It all started going south when Eve believed that to live for herself and her own gain was more important than living to love God and Adam. And to make matters worse, Adam followed suit.

The lesson here is huge. Living for what’s “best for me,” while ignoring the needs, wishes, and interests of others always brings alienation and aloneness.

Thank God that He has made a way for us to restore relationships and to recapture a portion of the intimacy of Eden. When we follow the way of Jesus and live to love and serve others, aloneness gives way to intimacy and our self-serving acts of alienation dissolve into a bonding that gets us wonderfully stuck on each other again.

And guys, that should probably start with us since it’s not a good thing for us to be alone!

The Endless Pursuit

From:  Heather B. Iseminger, Author

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True Love. For some, these two words kindle images of long-stemmed roses and candle-lit dinners. For others, the very thought of Happily Ever After brings on a headlong tailspin of depression that includes two men by the name of Ben and Jerry. Over the years, I have found myself in both places. But lately, I have been reminded of the most lavish display of love mankind has ever known.

Last year a friend of mine, Bonnie, and her husband began the process of adopting two beautiful children from Ethiopia. After facing one complicated hurdle after another, Bonnie knew the Lord was urging her to go to Ethiopia and remain there until she could finalize the adoption. Regardless of the time it might take, she was going to bring her son and daughter home. At the blessing of her husband, she quit her job, packed her bags, and bought a plane ticket. Though they both assumed she would be home in less than a month, she remained in a foreign land for almost four.

Bonnie’s walk down this tear-stained path to claim her children has been a vivid and very real reminder of the deep, passionate love God has for me. This fight, this battle, this crusade for her babies is a beautiful portrayal of God’s relentless pursuit of us—His children. The Father will stop at nothing to make sure we are safely in His arms.

This is the love that prevails. Jesus Christ has already proven He will do whatever it takes to demonstrate His love for His children. He left a sinless heaven to join humanity on a sinful earth because He loves us. He allowed himself to be ridiculed, tortured, beaten because He loves us. He felt the piercing agony of nails rip through his flesh because He loves us. The Son of God took the sin of the world and paid the highest price because He loves us.

Romans 5:8 states, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ gave His life so we may be called sons and daughters of the King. What love! What incredible, all-consuming passion! To know we have a Father in Heaven who will pursue us, fight for us, and even die for us is a powerful love indeed.

We each have been created to love and be loved. Our deepest desires come from the heart that longs to be pursued. Is it possible you feel very unloved during the season of life holding you? Regardless of the pain you may be facing right now or the rejection sometimes glaring you in the face, may you be encouraged by the existence of True Love. A Love only God, the one who created you, can give.

When discouragement stares at you from the mirror of life, place your heart at the foot of the cross. It is in this place where love brings you in, holds you tightly, and carries you. The shadow of the cross reflects the greatest love man has ever known. May its beautiful shadow be a reminder you have been fought for, you have been pursued, you are wanted, you are loved!

Because of a mother’s endless love, Bonnie’s children flew home with her on Valentine’s Day. Because of our Father’s endless love, we have a heavenly home waiting for us.

“Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are!” 1 John 3:1a

 

The Cobbler’s Shop

From: Our Daily Journey

The Cobbler’s Shop

Read:

Genesis 1:26–2:4
God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth” (Genesis 1:26).

Harry’s job in the cobbler’s shop was to pound leather for shoe soles. He would cut a piece of leather to fit, soak it in water, and strike it with a hammer until it was dry. Harry asked his boss if he could simply attach the soles while they were wet. But his boss, a believer in Jesus, knew that Harry’s easier method would result in an inferior shoe. He explained that just as some are called to be pastors, he was called to make shoes. Thus, he sought to always do his work with excellence for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

This man’s love for his work points to who God created us to be.

The first two chapters in Genesis describe God’s creation as “very good” (Genesis 1:31), but human beings as “in God’s image”—given unique characteristics of God Himself (Genesis 1:27).

One aspect of being created in God’s image is that we have authority over the created world to manage it with our work. As the psalmist wrote, “You made [human beings] only a little lower than [yourself] and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made” (Psalm 8:5-6). Genesis describes Adam placed “in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15), and how God commanded Adam and Eve to “fill the earth and govern it” (Genesis 1:28).

Unfortunately, Adam and Eve’s disobedience has caused all humans to have a distorted image of God, including the failure to reflect Him accurately in their work. But through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can be restored to our intended purpose. As one pastor put it, if work is how we imitate our Creator, then, as stewards of God’s creation, “We are to receive the world as a gift, touch it with our labor, and offer it back to God in thanks and praise.”

Real Joy!

Luke 15
6  comes home, and calls together his friends and neighbors to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ 
8  Or what woman who has ten silver coins and loses one of them does not light a lamp, sweep her house, and search carefully until she finds it?…

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” Yes there is joy, real joy, wonderful joy when Jesus comes into your heart.”
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Joy

From: Our Daily Bread

Joy
 
Read: Psalm 92 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 19–20; Matthew 18:21–35
 
 
I sing for joy at what your hands have done. Psalm 92:4

I’m fast approaching a new season—the “winter” of old age—but I’m not there yet. Even though the years are galloping by and sometimes I’d like to slow them down, I have joy that sustains me. Each day is a new day given me by the Lord. With the psalmist, I can say, “It is good to praise the Lord . . . proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night”! (Psalm 92:1–2). Even though my life has its struggles and the pain and difficulties of others sometimes overwhelm me, God enables me to join the psalmist in “[singing] for joy at what [His] hands have done” (v. 4). Joy for blessings given: family, friends, and satisfying work. Joy because of God’s wondrous creation and His inspired Word. Joy because Jesus loved us so much He died for our sins. And joy because He gave us the Spirit, the source of true joy (Romans 15:13). Because of the Lord, believers in Him can “flourish like a palm tree . . . [and] still bear fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:12–14).

What fruit is that? No matter our circumstances or season of life, we can be examples of His love through the life we lead and the words we say. There is joy in knowing and living for the Lord and telling others about Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for the joy that is ours through the Spirit.
God is the giver of joy.

 

Shanna Garcia January 26, 2018

When You’re STILL Suffering

From: Crosswalk.com

SHANNA GARCIA, COMPEL Member

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5b (ESV) Over the last two years, our family has been through incredibly hard things: a marriagerescued from the brink of failure, the physical death of several family members, and the miscarriage of our darling daughter Eilise. I have suffered like never before. In some ways, I am still suffering. Last April, my husband Robert and I had the privilege of spending time away together. We were able to come alongside people from across the United States who were also facing huge challenges and glean wisdom from many who’ve walked this path ahead of us. It was there, in the middle of nowhere among the trees and the nature trails, that the Lord so sweetly helped me better understand the words of His servant, David. He was no stranger to sorrow, and those words finally settled into my heart, soothing the very raw places. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5b). In the midst of my pain, I found myself questioning the legitimacy of this well-known Scripture. I cried out many times, “Sorrow is supposed to only last for a night, joy is supposed to come in the morning! That’s what Your Word says. So why is the pain dragging on? Why do Your children sometimes struggle for days, months or even years?” I’d forgotten what it’s like to watch the sunrise. I expected morning to come in an instant. I believed my sorrow should disappear altogether — and all at once. But that’s not how morning works. The sun doesn’t suddenly appear in the sky. The world doesn’t transition from dark to light abruptly. During the night of weeping, the darkness is overwhelming, suffocating and disorienting. And, more often than not, it gets darker before day breaks. Then, softly and subtly, things begin to change. The world is more grey than black. We begin to be able to make out the shapes of our surroundings. Our eyes begin to adjust and everything looks just a little bit different. As we lift our heads, we can distinguish the horizon. It turns a soft shade of pink and color creeps in to the world around us — still dull, but adding color nonetheless. Then pink turns to orange and the sky gets brighter and brighter. Faster and faster, things are changing. Before you realize it’s even happened, the sun becomes visible, the birds wake up and sing. The dull colors become sharp and crisp as radiant morning bursts forth and the day begins. The darkness of night becomes a thing of the past, just a memory. Weeping has been replaced with jubilant song, mourning turns to dancing, and sorrow at last gives way to joy. Yes, there will be reminders of what happened in the dark. But, once exposed to the light, these reminders have no power, and they cause no fear. In my own journey, the sun is almost out. So, let this be an encouragement for anyone who might still be hurting. Whether you’re in the darkest hour, or inching closer to sunrise, look for the grey. Then watch for the pink. I know you’d probably rather see the sun out right now, but there’s hope — even while it’s still dark. Adjust your eyes to see the small amounts of light that surround you. Knowing that morning always comes eventually, there’s hope that your joy will be fully restored, and you can delight in the small ways your world is brightening. Before we know it, like David, we’ll be able to say: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing …” (Psalm 30:11a, ESV). And we’ll be dancing in the sunshine. Heavenly Father, I long to honor You even in my suffering. Help me see Your faithfulness, even when my emotions seem tossed to and fro by grief. Allow me to feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit as I wait for my morning to dawn. And, let Your light shine through me so others would see Your goodness and the Name of Jesus would be made great. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Turn Your Idols into Dust

From:  Hannah Goodwyn, author

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Jesus often spoke in parables to teach his followers truths about the way God sees us and how we should live. He also revealed visions and dreams to strong believers in order to warn or alert them. In the same way, God sometimes illustrates a point to me about His ways or my spiritual state based on a personal experience. Sitting in church this past Sunday, I felt the Holy Spirit quicken a recent memory of my visit to a museum where I encountered a gold-plated statue honoring the Greek goddess Athena. This moment became etched in my mind as God began to set the scene for what would be a powerful teaching lesson directly from His heart. Walking into the temple hall, I gazed at the altar. As I inched closer, I began to recognize the fierce look of the illuminated statue. Towering over me was a gold-encased figure that commanded my attention. Her shine was brilliant and her detail had to have been carved with careful hands. This golden woman brought such a terrible feeling upon me. I sensed myself honoring this idol with my silent respect. Standing before it, I was arrested, mesmerized by its enormity and grandeur. I was ignorant of the man who stood behind me. With a whisper, he seized my soul. It was Christ himself. With assurance in His eyes, He offered mercy. In tandem, we reached out our hands to the golden idol, turning it to dust. Immediately, I felt this overwhelming peace deep within me. As I reviewed these images, I realized that all too often we allow “idols” to replace God in our hearts. Instead of honoring the Lord with our energy, our desires, and our time, we invest them in worthless dreams and fleeting pleasures. Our culture also has created idols that many committed Christians glorify. Even the “American Dream” becomes a dangerous ideal when it consumes our lives. We are hounded by the desire to gain wealth so that we may find true fulfillment. Men and women alike give themselves to their careers to achieve “power” in the marketplace. Even beyond these seemingly legitimate ideals are the secret sins we feed with our pride – namely greed, gluttony, lust, and hatred. We build these idols because we find comfort in our greed, security in our possessions, and even power as we judge each other. Obeying the commandments God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai is central to our faith. His first two commands speak directly to our tendency as flawed people to turn away from our Savior.

You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected — even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those[a] who love me and obey my commands. (Exodus 20:3-6, NLT)

God is jealous for our affection. He doesn’t want half of your heart, but all of you. Our sins and false senses of security bring us no relief. As Habakkuk 2:18 states, idols are lifeless statues. These gods are made by our hands and can do nothing for us (Psalm 115:4-7). They only distract from the one True God. In the vision, God in the flesh was quick to forgive my idolatry. His mercy wiped away the mistakes I was making even in that moment.

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

Even in the midst of our darkness, Christ reaches out His hand of forgiveness. Grab hold of His grace and allow Him to turn the gods you’ve worshiped into ashes on the floor.

God Poured His Spirit On Us

Titus 3:3-8
[God] generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:6).
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Poured Out

From: Our Daily Journey

Poured Out

Read:

Titus 3:3-8
[God] generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:6).

Water cascades from the top of the Taughannock Falls into a basin 215 feet below. The flow originates from an expansive trench in a wall of sedimentary rock. Trees fringe the top of the wall. During autumn, they adorn the scene with orange, yellow, and red. In the winter, the waterfall’s spray coats the surrounding rock with ice, turning everything a shimmering silver and white.

The powerful water pouring over the rocks of this impressive waterfall reminds me of the outpouring of God’s Spirit on His people when they receive salvation. Although we were once disobedient, misled, and slaves to our desires (Titus 3:3), “[God] generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:6). Alive in us, the Holy Spirit sparks new desires and frees us from sin’s power.

Beyond these life-altering benefits, the process by which we receive the Spirit teaches us something about who God is. Specifically, it shows us the triune nature of God, which many refer to as the Trinity. God the Father sent the Son Jesus to our world to endure for us the consequences for our sin (John 3:16). Through Christ’s Spirit inside us, believers are united with His resurrected life, giving us a new life (Titus 3:5).

Experiencing the way in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cooperate in salvation helps us understand theologian Charles Ryrie’s observation: “The whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the three persons [of the Trinity].” So, it’s oneGod who provides salvation. As Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV) reveals, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

May we celebrate the majesty of the three-in-one God as we experience His love and power.

The Last Word

From: Our Daily Bread

The Last Word

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart. Ecclesiastes 5:2

One day during a university philosophy class, a student made some inflammatory remarks about the professor’s views. To the surprise of the other students, the teacher thanked him and moved on to another comment. When he was asked later why he didn’t respond to the student, he said, “I’m practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.”

This teacher loved and honored God, and he wanted to embody a humble spirit as he reflected this love. His words remind me of another Teacher—this one from long ago, who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. Although not addressing how to handle an angry person, he said that when we approach the Lord we should guard our steps and “go near to listen” rather than being quick with our mouths and hasty in our hearts. By doing so we acknowledge that God is the Lord and we are those whom He has created (Ecclesiastes 5:1–2).

How do you approach God? If you sense that your attitude could use some adjustment, why not spend some time considering the majesty and greatness of the Lord? When we ponder His unending wisdom, power, and presence, we can feel awed by His overflowing love for us. With this posture of humility, we too need not have the last word.

Lord God, I want to honor You and I bow before You now in silence. Teach me how to pray and how to listen.

Carefully chosen words honor God.

 

Stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Peter 5:10).

In taking Christ in any new relationship, we must first have sufficient intellectual light to satisfy our mind that we are entitled to stand in this relationship. The shadow of a question here will wreck our confidence. Then, having seen this, we must make the venture, the committal, the choice, and take the place just as definitely as the tree is planted in the soil, or the bride gives herself away at the marriage altar. It must be once for all, without reserve, without recall.

Then there is a season of establishing, settling and testing, during which we must “stay put” until the new relationship gets so fixed as to become a permanent habit. It is just the same as when the surgeon sets the broken arm. He puts it in splints to keep it from vibration. So God has His spiritual splints that He wants to put upon His children and keep them quiet and unmoved until they pass the first stage of faith. It is not always easy work for us, “but the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after that ye have suffered awhile, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
–A. B. Simpson

There is a natural law in sin and sickness; and if we just let ourselves go and sink into the trend of circumstances, we shall go down and sink under the power of the tempter. But there is another law of spiritual life and of physical life in Christ Jesus to which we can rise, and through which we can counterpoise and overcome the other law that bears us down.

But to do this requires real spiritual energy and fixed purpose and a settled posture and habit of faith. It is just the same as when we use the power in our factory. We must turn on the belt and keep it on. The power is there, but we must keep the connection; and while we do so, the higher power will work and all the machinery will be in operation.

There is a spiritual law of choosing, believing, abiding, and holding steady in our walk with God, which is essential to the working of the Holy Ghost either in our sanctification or healing.
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

Look Again and Think

January 27 

By Oswald Chambers

 Look Again and Think

A warning which needs to be repeated is that “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches,” and the lust for other things, will choke out the life of God in us (Matthew 13:22). We are never free from the recurring waves of this invasion. If the frontline of attack is not about clothes and food, it may be about money or the lack of money; or friends or lack of friends; or the line may be drawn over difficult circumstances. It is one steady invasion, and these things will come in like a flood, unless we allow the Spirit of God to raise up the banner against it.

“I say to you, do not worry about your life….” Our Lord says to be careful only about one thing— our relationship to Him. But our common sense shouts loudly and says, “That is absurd, I must consider how I am going to live, and I mustconsider what I am going to eat and drink.” Jesus says you must not. Beware of allowing yourself to think that He says this while not understanding your circumstances. Jesus Christ knows our circumstances better than we do, and He says we must not think about these things to the point where they become the primary concern of our life. Whenever there are competing concerns in your life, be sure you always put your relationship to God first.

“Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). How much trouble has begun to threaten you today? What kind of mean little demons have been looking into your life and saying, “What are your plans for next month— or next summer?” Jesus tells us not to worry about any of these things. Look again and think. Keep your mind on the “much more” of your heavenly Father (Matthew 6:30).

God is Holy, Holy, Holy

Hebrews 10:10
Then He adds, “Here I am, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. 
11 Day after day every priest stands to minister and to offer again and again the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.…
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Holy, Holy, Holy

From: Our Daily Bread

Holy, Holy, Holy
Read: Revelation 4 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 14–15; Matthew 17

Day and night they never stop saying: “ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8

“Time flies when you’re having fun.” This cliché has no basis in fact, but experience makes it seem true.

When life is pleasant, time passes all too quickly. Give me a task that I enjoy, or a person whose company I love, and time seems irrelevant.

My experience of this “reality” has given me a new understanding of the scene described in Revelation 4. In the past, when I considered the four living creatures seated around God’s throne who keep repeating the same few words, I thought, What a boring existence!

I don’t think that anymore. I think about the scenes they have witnessed with their many eyes (v. 8). I consider the view they have from their position around God’s throne (v. 6). I think of how amazed they are at God’s wise and loving involvement with wayward earthlings. Then I think, What better response could there be? What else is there to say but, “Holy, holy, holy”?

Is it boring to say the same words over and over? Not when you’re in the presence of the one you love. Not when you’re doing exactly what you were designed to do.

Like the four creatures, we were designed to glorify God. Our lives will never be boring if we’re focusing our attention on Him and fulfilling that purpose.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!  Reginald Heber

The author of this article, Julie, is now worshiping her Lord in heaven.

A heart in tune with God can’t help but sing His praise.

 

God’s Goodness

From: Our Daily Journey

God’s Goodness
 Read: 

Genesis 2:1-23
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Some close friends recently went through a difficult season in which they struggled financially and emotionally. Yet when all was said and done, the trying time caused them to make positive changes to avoid catastrophe further down the line. Although it didn’t feel like it at the time, their challenge was an expression of God’s goodness.

Similarly, Adam and Eve were recipients of God’s goodness, even when the consequences for sin felt devastating. Adam had been created in perfect fellowship with his Creator and was residing in a place of unimaginable beauty. When he had no one to share his unique experience, God declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him” (Genesis 2:18). When Eve was created, Adam was ecstatic. “At last!” he exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!” (Genesis 2:23).

But after sin infiltrated paradise, closely followed by shame and fear (Genesis 3:1-10), Adam responded to God’s inquiry by pointing an accusing finger at Eve, stating, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:12). But although the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin were severe and defining, even in judgment God’s goodness shone through. There would be pain, but, He promised, from it would come new life (Genesis 3:16). And although there would be toil, it would yield fruit (Genesis 3:17-19).

In this fallen world, evidence of God’s goodness still abounds. Though, like Adam, we’re often tempted to point accusing fingers when things go awry, God never treats us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:10). Instead, He “gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:45).

 

Jehovah Rapha

 

From: Leah Adams, Author

 

In the 16th chapter of Exodus we find a passage of scripture that gives us a great deal of insight into our Jehovah Rapha. This name of God is proclaimed to the children of Israel by God through Moses at Marah. The caption in my study Bible for this passage of Scripture says “Bitter Waters Made Sweet”. Let’s take a look at Exodus 15:22-26 (NIV) and mine the treasures contained there:

“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What are we to drink?’ Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”’

The Israelites are thirsty and in need of water for themselves and their animals. When they come to Marah they find only bitter water to drink. In what became second nature to them, they began complaining to Moses about the scarcity of drinkable water. Moses called to the Lord and asked for help. God intervened, working through Moses and a piece of wood to provide sweet, refreshing water for the people.

It is at this point that the Lord seems to change the subject. Suddenly He begins talking to the Israelites about the diseases and plagues that He brought upon the Egyptians because of their affliction of the Hebrews. God is very clear with the Hebrew people concerning the actions that they must take to prevent the same kind of diseases and plagues from visiting them. If they will be obedient to Him, He will heal them of disease and be their Jehovah Rapha.

I believe the bitter water at Marah was symbolic of what was taking place in the hearts of the Hebrews. They had suffered terribly in Egypt and had been more than happy to leave the bondage that Pharaoh had inflicted upon them. However, when freedom was not as easy or pretty as they had hoped; when they had to rely on God completely for everything and circumstances were not what they desired, their hearts began to be filled with the diseases of bitterness and resentfulness. God knew their need for healing from bitterness and He longed to bring that healing to them. Unfortunately, in the very next chapter of Exodus, we find the Israelites longing to forsake ultimate freedom and return to Egypt. What in the world were they thinking?

Let’s apply this lesson to our hearts today. I invite you to join me as we allow Jehovah Rapha to examine our hearts. Are you and I more like the Israelites than we care to admit? When God doesn’t work in our lives in the way that we think He should, do we grow bitter? Do we begin to plan ways that we can make things happen through our own efforts? When God’s timing is different than we had hoped, do we harbor resentment against Him? How often do we look at people in our lives who do not seem to have the same struggles that we have and pose the question, “What did I do to make God mad at me? I am as good as they are.”

He is Jehovah Rapha-the Lord who heals you — and He longs to heal us of resentfulness, bitterness, and pride if we will but trust Him and walk before Him in obedience. Let’s allow Him to examine our hearts and heal us of the diseases that sin inflicts upon us.

True Hope

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.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

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True Hope

From: Our Daily Bread

True Hope
Read: Romans 5:1–11 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 12–13; Matthew 16

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:16

Not long ago I visited the Empire State Building with a friend. The line looked short—just down the block and around the corner. Yet as we entered the building, we discovered the line of people stretching through the lobby, up the stairs, and into another room. Every new turn revealed more distance to go.

Attractions and theme parks carefully route their crowds to make the lines seem shorter. Yet disappointment can lurk “just around the bend.”

Sometimes life’s disappointments are much more severe. The job we hoped for doesn’t materialize; friends we counted on let us down; the romantic relationship we longed for fails to work out. But into these heartbreaks, God’s Word speaks a refreshing truth about our hope in Him. The apostle Paul wrote, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame [or disappoint us], because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3–5).

As we place our trust in Him, through His Spirit, God whispers the truth that we are unconditionally loved and will one day be with Him—regardless of the obstacles we face. In a world that may often disappoint us, how good it is to know that God gives genuine hope.

Abba, Father, thank You that I can always trust in Your perfect, never-ending love.

In Christ, the hopeless find hope.

Leave Room for God

January 25 

By Oswald Chambers

 Leave Room for God

As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him— to give God “elbow room.” We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never expected Him to come? Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. The way to make room for Him is to expect Him to come, but not in a certain way. No matter how well we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that He may break in at any minute. We tend to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. Suddenly—God meets our life “…when it pleased God….”

Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come in as He decides.

 

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalms 23:4).

At my father’s house in the country there is a little closet in the chimney corner where are kept the canes and walking-sticks of several generations of our family. In my visits to the old house, when my father and I are going out for a walk, we often go to the cane closet, and pick out our sticks to suit the fancy of the occasion. In this I have frequently been reminded that the, Word of God is a staff.

During the war, when the season of discouragement and impending danger was upon us, the verse, “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord,” was a staff to walk with many dark days.

When death took away our child and left us almost heartbroken, I found another staff in the promise that “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

When in impaired health, I was exiled for a year, not knowing whether I should be permitted to return to my home and work again, I took with me this staff which never failed, “He knoweth the thoughts that he thinketh toward me, thoughts of peace and not of evil.”

In times of special danger or doubt, when human judgment has seemed to be set at naught, I have found it easy to go forward with this staff, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” And in emergencies, when there has seemed to be no adequate time for deliberation or for action, I have never found that this staff has failed me, “He that believeth shall not make haste.”
Benjamin Vaughan Abbott, in The Outlook

“I had never known,” said Martin Luther’s wife, “what such and such things meant, in such and such psalms, such complaints and workings of spirit; I had never understood the practice of Christian duties, had not God brought me under some affliction.” It is very true that God’s rod is as the schoolmaster’s pointer to the child, pointing out the letter, that he may the better take notice of it; thus He pointeth out to us many good lessons which we should never otherwise have learned.
Selected

“God always sends His staff with His rod.”

“Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deut.33:25).

Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well.

From: Mclaren

God’s Overpowering Purpose

Exodus 15:6

“Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.

 
 
2 Corinthians 9:8

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

 
Ephesians 3:20

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,

 
1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

(Here are pictures of the sea, of the wind, and the power of God to heal and forgive sins.)
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God’s Overpowering Purpose

January 24 

By Oswald Chambers

 God’s Overpowering Purpose

The vision Paul had on the road to Damascus was not a passing emotional experience, but a vision that had very clear and emphatic directions for him. And Paul stated, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). Our Lord said to Paul, in effect, “Your whole life is to be overpowered or subdued by Me; you are to have no end, no aim, and no purpose but Mine.” And the Lord also says to us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go…” (John 15:16).

When we are born again, if we are spiritual at all, we have visions of what Jesus wants us to be. It is important that I learn not to be “disobedient to the heavenly vision” — not to doubt that it can be attained. It is not enough to give mental assent to the fact that God has redeemed the world, nor even to know that the Holy Spirit can make all that Jesus did a reality in my life. I must have the foundation of a personal relationship with Him. Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to proclaim. He was brought into a vivid, personal, overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ. Acts 26:16 is tremendously compelling “…to make you a minister and a witness….” There would be nothing there without a personal relationship. Paul was devoted to a Person, not to a cause. He was absolutely Jesus Christ’s. He saw nothing else and he lived for nothing else. “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Casting Shadows

From: Get More Strength

No flesh should glory in His presence. —1 Corinthians 1:29

Legend has it that Michelangelo painted with a brush in one hand and a candle in the other to prevent his shadow from covering his masterpiece in progress.

That’s the kind of attitude we should adopt if we are serious about wanting to display the masterpiece of God’s glory on the canvas of our lives. Unfortunately, we tend to live in a way that draws attention to ourselves—our cars, our clothes, our careers, our position, our cleverness, our success. And when life is all about us, it’s hard for people to see Jesus in us. Jesus saved us to be reflections of His glory (Rom. 8:29), but when we live for ourselves, our shadow gets cast on the canvas of His presence in us.

When the believers in Corinth were feeling too full of themselves, Paul warned them “that no flesh should glory [boast] in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:29), and reminded them of what Jeremiah said, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31Jer. 9:24).

Think of your life as a canvas on which a picture is being painted. What would you rather have people see: the masterpiece of the presence of Jesus or the shadow of your own profile? Don’t get in the way of a great painting in progress. Live to let others see Jesus in you.

My life is a painting created by God,
And as such I’ve nothing to boast;
Reflecting the image of Christ to the world
Is what I desire the most. —Sper

A Christian’s life is the canvas on which others can see Jesus.

 

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson January 24, 2018
Use Your Superpowers
SHELLIE RUSHING TOMLINSON

From: Crosswalk.com

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NASB)

Although neither of us has ever “fessed up” to the ongoing competition, we both know it’s true: My best friend and I have been trying to outdo the other in the birthday celebration department for years.

I once threw Red a spur of the moment Minion birthday party for two. (Her given name is Rhonda, but I called her Red long before she and I got our respective auburn and brunette shades out of boxes.) I crept over and set up my impromptu celebration on Red’s back porch and it was all things Minion. I had Minion glasses, Minion wristbands, Minion balloons, Minion plates — you get the idea. I even had breakfast muffins with flaming Minion candles. I’m nothing if not thorough. (I have some interesting party pictures to prove it.)

And just last year, Red snuck over to my house at midnight and left a crockpot of roast and veggies plugged in on my back porch. I awoke to silly Happy Birthday pictures taped to my doors and the most extremely random cards and gifts, including a questionable set of Wonder Woman PJs. There will be no forthcoming pics of the Wonder Woman PJs, and yes, there’s a story there, but I’d rather use the superhero thread as a call to action for us today.

Did you know disciples of Christ are equipped with superhero powers?

It’s true. We can choose to plug into this otherworldly strength, or not.

Take someone whose words cut as often as they encourage. It’s difficult to respond to anyone who does that, but it’s even harder if that person professes to be a believer. Do I speak the truth? Well, I have a theory. This believer may be forgiven but doesn’t feel forgiven — and hence he or she struggles with forgiving. Instead of responding with grace, they injure with their tongues.

We tend to think such people don’t feel remorse for their spitefulness, but what if it’s just the opposite? What if they live in a self-made, self-maintained prison, punishing themselves for the past? And what if the bars of that cage grow stronger every time they give in to bitterness and lash out because it gives them yet another reason to hate themselves even more?

But, wait! What if those same bars get weaker when our response to their ugliness is more love and forgiveness … instead of responding in the same way they did? What if we’re the factor which determines if that person lives in self-hate or if they’re eventually fully healed? What if their response depends on you and me choosing to act from the new nature Christ gave us?

Jesus can do through us what we could never do in our own strength — if we’ll respond to others out of real-time devotion to Him.

Today’s key verse, Ephesians 4:32, reminds us, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Forgiving, loving and forgiving again is a superpower within our reach, if we rely on our ever-present Help. Now, go be a superhero. Somebody you know needs one.

Heavenly Father, our ability to forgive is limited, but Your ability to love and forgive through us knows no bounds. Help us remember to yield our stubborn wills to You in our earthly relationships that You might extend healing through us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A “Yes” Of Love

Pictures of People Helping People after a flood
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A “Yes” of Love

From: Our Daily Bread

A “Yes” of Love

Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

On August 21, 2016, Carissa posted photos on social media of a devastating flood in Louisiana. The next morning she included a note from someone in the flooded area pleading for help. Five hours after that, she and her husband, Bobby, sent out a call for others to join them on their 1,000-mile trip to provide help. Less than twenty-four hours later, thirteen people were on their way to serve those whose homes had been severely damaged.

What motivates people to drop everything and drive seventeen hours to move appliances, do demolition work, and provide hope in a place they’ve never been before? It’s love.

Think about this verse, which she posted along with her call for help: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this” (Psalm 37:5). This is especially true when we follow God’s call to help. The apostle John said, “If anyone . . . sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17). It may be a daunting task—but we have God’s promise of help when we “do what pleases him” (v. 22).

When a need arises, we can honor God by being willing to offer a “yes” of love to what we sense He is asking us to do for others.

Lord, please open our eyes to the needs of others, open our hearts to those people, and open our hands so we can provide help in the time of need.

We show God’s love when we are willing to help others; we show His strength when we take on the task He gives us to do.

 

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January 23, 2018

From: Crosswalk.com

When Life Feels Too Ordinary for God
KAITLIN GARRISON, COMPEL Member

John 15:5, 7, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (NIV)

Silence surrounded me as I stared blankly at my computer screen. My workplace was painfully quiet this particular Friday morning, allowing suppressed feelings of insignificance to resurface at a deafening decibel. It had been a long season of days like these — feeling extra ordinary, questioning God’s activity in the place He had me.

I whispered my daily doubt-filled prayer, “God, are You sure You can use me here?”

My prayer was suddenly interrupted by the roar of an engine charging through the parking lot.

“Oh great, it’s probably a disgruntled customer,” I mumbled under my breath.

To my surprise, a sweet older man I’d helped the day before hopped out of the truck and cheerily walked through the door. When I asked what brought him into the office, he grinned from ear-to-ear and held up a small bag of fresh tomatoes.

“I picked these this morning! I wanted to share them with you to thank you for taking such good care of me.”

Tears lined the edges of my eyelids as I thanked him for thinking of me. Little did he know, his sweet gesture spoke volumes to a soul that felt purposeless and overlooked. As he walked out the front doors, I believe the Lord whispered a much-needed word to my soul:

“You see, I can produce fruit in anything and in any place when you abide in Me.”

Many of us walk around crippled and discouraged by the lie that somehow God can’t produce fruit through us because our lives too ordinary. Being stuck in a rut of work, daily routines or raising kids can leave us feeling invisible, worthless and fruitless.

Consider Jesus’ words in John 15, verses 5 and 7, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Notice how Jesus doesn’t specify the places, circumstances or seasons in which He can produce fruit in us. The only condition is simply to remain in Him.

Oftentimes, we associate fruit production with meaningful productivity. When what we do feels valuable and prolific, it’s easy to equate our busyness for God as “fruit.” Yet in reality, it might have no eternal significance at all.

Jesus said apart from Him we can do nothing. Therefore, whenever we are abiding in Him, He can produce fruit anytime, anywhere and through any circumstance.

Friend, ask the Great I AM — the ultimate gardener — to show you His faithfulness in your day today.

Dear Lord, I ask You to provide divine opportunities and a deeper understanding of who You are. Don’t let me believe the lie that ordinary lives are fruitless. Empower me to cling to the truth that You, God, can use our ordinary lives to illustrate Your extraordinary power — even in the places we least expect it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Miraculous Interactions

From: Our Daily Journey

Miraculous Interactions

Read:

Matthew 27:45-56
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land (Matthew 27:45).

My best friend from college, now a missionary in France, stopped to see me during one of her furloughs. I remember her telling me that she had to leave by 4:00 p.m. As she prepared to depart, the wind started to pick up. Menacing clouds rolled in. She ran to her car, and we quickly waved our goodbyes. About five minutes later, the winds roared to life and shortly after, it grew dark as night. Concern for my friend’s safety gripped me as I surveyed the storm. I’d never seen anything like it—nearly pitch black during the daytime. Fortunately, my friend made it home safe.

That darkness I experienced that day reminds me of the shadow that fell over the earth as Jesus died (Matthew 27:45). Some scholars say the blackout occurred by means of a solar eclipse. Others maintain it really wasn’t dark when Jesus died but that the darkness was a metaphor for what was happening. Still others think that the darkness during the day Jesus died couldn’t have occurred. And, to be honest, up until the moment when I endured palpable darkness on what had been a sunny summer’s day, I couldn’t grasp the reality of Matthew 27:45.

That experience, coupled with the details of the darkness surrounding Jesus’ death on the cross, reminded me to find hope in God’s power. For there was not only darkness and an earthquake on the earth when Christ was on the cross, but signs of new life—the tearing of the curtain in the temple, and, after He drew His last breath, even resurrection of the dead (Matthew 27:51-52).

God is all-powerful over all He’s made. When we experience the darkness of a storm, the encouraging sign of a rainbow, or other displays of His creative work, may we pause to trust and worship Him!