Category Archives: Devotion

Pray For One Another

The Prayer of Faith   James 5:16
15  And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick. The Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.

16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail.

17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.…

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Vicarious Intercession

Vicarious Intercession

Beware of thinking that intercession means bringing our own personal sympathies and concerns into the presence of God, and then demanding that He do whatever we ask. Our ability to approach God is due entirely to the vicarious, or substitutionary, identification of our Lord with sin. We have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.”

Spiritual stubbornness is the most effective hindrance to intercession, because it is based on a sympathetic “understanding” of things we see in ourselves and others that we think needs no atonement. We have the idea that there are certain good and virtuous things in each of us that do not need to be based on the atonement by the Cross of Christ. Just the sluggishness and lack of interest produced by this kind of thinking makes us unable to intercede. We do not identify ourselves with God’s interests and concerns for others, and we get irritated with Him. Yet we are always ready with our own ideas, and our intercession becomes only the glorification of our own natural sympathies. We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means a radical change of all of our sympathies and interests. Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them.

Am I stubborn or substituted? Am I spoiled or complete in my relationship to God? Am I irritable or spiritual? Am I determined to have my own way or determined to be identified with Him?

Vicarious Intercession

From: Utmost,org

Vicarious Intercession

Beware of thinking that intercession means bringing our own personal sympathies and concerns into the presence of God, and then demanding that He do whatever we ask. Our ability to approach God is due entirely to the vicarious, or substitutionary, identification of our Lord with sin. We have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.”

Spiritual stubbornness is the most effective hindrance to intercession, because it is based on a sympathetic “understanding” of things we see in ourselves and others that we think needs no atonement. We have the idea that there are certain good and virtuous things in each of us that do not need to be based on the atonement by the Cross of Christ. Just the sluggishness and lack of interest produced by this kind of thinking makes us unable to intercede. We do not identify ourselves with God’s interests and concerns for others, and we get irritated with Him. Yet we are always ready with our own ideas, and our intercession becomes only the glorification of our own natural sympathies. We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means a radical change of all of our sympathies and interests. Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them.

Am I stubborn or substituted? Am I spoiled or complete in my relationship to God? Am I irritable or spiritual? Am I determined to have my own way or determined to be identified with Him?

 

Five-Minute Rule

From: Our Daily Bread

Five-Minute Rule

He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. Psalm 102:17

I read about a five-minute rule that a mother had for her children. They had to be ready for school and gather together five minutes before it was time to leave each day.

They would gather around Mom, and she would pray for each one by name, asking for the Lord’s blessing on their day. Then she’d give them a kiss and off they’d run. Even neighborhood kids would be included in the prayer circle if they happened to stop by. One of the children said many years later that she learned from this experience how crucial prayer is to her day.

The writer of Psalm 102 knew the importance of prayer. This psalm is labeled, “A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord.” He cried out, “Hear my prayer, Lord; . . .  when I call, answer me quickly” (vv. 1–2). God looks down “from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he [views] the earth” (v. 19).

God cares for you and wants to hear from you. Whether you follow the five-minute rule asking for blessings on the day, or need to spend more time crying out to Him in deep distress, talk to the Lord each day. Your example may have a big impact on your family or someone close to you.

 

Encouraging Leaders

From: Our Daily Journey

Encouraging Leaders

Read:

Exodus 32:1-22
My dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless (1 Corinthians 15:58).

A pastor friend told my husband and me that he’s considering leaving the ministry because he feels as if his efforts haven’t resulted in heart change for any of his congregants—that their priorities remained out of step with God’s. After my husband and I prayed for him, he told us that we had encouraged him. Even so, I’m not confident that he’ll remain in fulltime pastoral ministry.

This pastor’s anger and lament over the spiritual state of some believers in Jesus reminded me of Moses’ anger and discouragement with the Israelites. When Moses descended Mount Sinai holding the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments engraved on them, he saw the Israelites worshiping the golden calf. In his anger, he smashed the tablets at the foot of the mountain (Exodus 32:19). He then approached his brother Aaron and demanded to know how such idolatry came about. Aaron wouldn’t take even part of the blame, saying, “You yourself know how evil these people are” (Exodus 32:22).

We complain about those we consider to be inept and ungodly leaders in the church. And of course, there are some leaders we should approach with genuine questions or concerns. Matthew 18:15-20 calls us to go to those with whom we have issues. Sometimes, however, we can be the source of the problem—people who fill our leaders with grief. We discourage them with our complaints, critical spirits, and mean-spiritedness.

Today, as the Holy Spirit guides us, may we try to encourage our pastors and other church leaders—letting them know that their work is of great value: “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

God Is With You

 

You have Searched Me and Know Me   Psalm 139:8

7    Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8    If I ascend to heaven,You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold,You are there.

9    If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,…

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Whether underground or in space, God is with me.
 We are never alone.

Alone in Space

From: Our Daily Bread

Alone in Space

Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. Genesis 28:16

Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden knew what it felt like to be on the far side of the moon. For three days back in 1971, he flew alone in his command module, Endeavor, while two crewmates worked thousands of miles below on the surface of the moon. His only companions were the stars overhead that he remembers as being so thick they seemed to wrap him in a sheet of light.

As the sun went down on the Old Testament character Jacob’s first night away from home, he too was profoundly alone, but for a different reason. He was on the run from his older brother—who wanted to kill him for stealing the family blessing normally given to the firstborn son. Yet on falling asleep, Jacob had a dream of a staircase joining heaven and earth. As he watched angels ascending and descending, he heard the voice of God promising to be with him and to bless the whole earth through his children. When Jacob woke he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (Gen. 28:16).

Jacob had isolated himself because of his deceit. Yet as real as his failures, and as dark as the night, he was in the presence of the One whose plans are always better and more far-reaching than our own. Heaven is closer than we think, and the “God of Jacob” is with us.

Father, thank You for using the story of Jacob to show us that the glory of Your unseen presence and goodness is far greater than we could imagine.

God is nearer than we think.

 

Trica Lott Williford May 3, 2017
Break Out the Crayons
TRICIA LOTT WILLIFORD

From: Crosswalk.com

“Instead you thrill to GOD’S Word, you chew on Scripture day and night. You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.” Psalm 1:2-3 (MSG)

I could write songs and sonnets about my affection for crayons. I’m smitten, and I have been since before kindergarten.

There’s a special place in my heart for a new box of crayons. The cleverly named colors, even the waxy smell … the endless possibilities very nearly intoxicate me.

The great news for girls like me is that coloring isn’t just for kids anymore — and even simple coloring can be an act of worship. I recently dove into a new readable coloring Bible, and it’s changing the way I read Scripture. As I opened the pages, I found a beautiful invitation to meditate on the Word of God.

The words of Scripture are the living words of God (Hebrews 4:12), and they hold eternal wisdom. God wants us to dive into His Word, to discover the rich treasures of truth about Him and guidance for our daily lives.

The problem I’ve found, and maybe you have too, is that it’s so hard for me to actually slow down. Meditation simply can’t be done in a hurry.

Meditation takes time.

Meditation is a blend of studying, rereading, repeating, thinking, analyzing, investigating and enjoying the Word of God. It’s a physical, intellectual and emotional activity that welcomes every part of our being. The practice of meditation doesn’t fit well into the pace of our culture, let alone my busy life. It’s a challenge to overcome the obstacles of busyness and distraction to welcome the space meditation requires. Enter coloring.

The psalmist writes in today’s key verse that to meditate is similar to how one would “chew on” something — letting God’s truth into our lives and digesting it into our system. “Instead you thrill to GOD’S Word, you chew on Scripture day and night. You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom” (Psalm 1:2-3).

Coloring is an activity often associated with children, so as we grow older, it’s easy to set aside our crayons and colored pencils in lieu of more sophisticated tools, like pens and highlighters — especially for Bible study. But I’ve learned coloring can be beneficial for adults, creating a sense of wellness, quietness and even meditation.

The reason? Coloring has a natural de-stressing effect. When I focus on what my hands are doing, I lift my focus away from busyness and worry. The same is true when I focus on the words of God.

The end result is meditating on Scripture helps me quiet my mind and my spirit. When I settle into a book of the Bible, a page or even a single verse, I can find stillness, meditation, trust, peace and creativity, all centered on the Word of God.

There’s no way to avoid the strife and turmoil in the world around us, and it’s so very difficult to step away from the busyness of everyday life to focus on God and His Word. But, the Lord promises to meet us there, restore our peace and give us a steadiness and sense of stability that only comes from Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for gifts of color and beauty in the world you’ve created. Thank You for giving us Your Holy Word, a book that gives us every truth we need. Please, Lord, help me to slow down to create the space that meditation requires, so I can fix my thoughts on You. Grant us Your perfect peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Vital Intercession

From: Utmost.org

Vital Intercession

As we continue on in our intercession for others, we may find that our obedience to God in interceding is going to cost those for whom we intercede more than we ever thought. The danger in this is that we begin to intercede in sympathy with those whom God was gradually lifting up to a totally different level in direct answer to our prayers. Whenever we step back from our close identification with God’s interest and concern for others and step into having emotional sympathy with them, the vital connection with God is gone. We have then put our sympathy and concern for them in the way, and this is a deliberate rebuke to God.

It is impossible for us to have living and vital intercession unless we are perfectly and completely sure of God. And the greatest destroyer of that confident relationship to God, so necessary for intercession, is our own personal sympathy and preconceived bias. Identification with God is the key to intercession, and whenever we stop being identified with Him it is because of our sympathy with others, not because of sin. It is not likely that sin will interfere with our intercessory relationship with God, but sympathy will. It is sympathy with ourselves or with others that makes us say, “I will not allow that thing to happen.” And instantly we are out of that vital connection with God.

Vital intercession leaves you with neither the time nor the inclination to pray for your own “sad and pitiful self.” You do not have to struggle to keep thoughts of yourself out, because they are not even there to be kept out of your thinking. You are completely and entirely identified with God’s interests and concerns in other lives. God gives us discernment in the lives of others to call us to intercession for them, never so that we may find fault with them.

Jesus Is The Bread Of Life

34    “Sir,” they said, “give us this bread at all times.”
36   But as I told you, you have seen Me and still you do not believe.…
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A Boy’s Lunch

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger. —John 6:35

Once I made the mistake of thinking I could single-handedly finish a 28-ounce steak at a restaurant. I had the remainder boxed up to take home. I thought, At least it will give me another feast to look forward to.

As I left the restaurant, a homeless man approached me, asking for money. At first I refused. But struck by sudden guilt, I called him back, gave him $5, and blessed him in Jesus’ name. Having done my Christian duty, I was happy to go on my way, boxed-up steak in hand, until he asked, “What about the box?” I have to admit, I had a hard time parting with my steak.

One of my favorite stories in the New Testament is about the little boy who brown-bagged it to a revival service (John 6:1-14). If he was like most boys, his lunch was a very important commodity. Yet he was willing to give his lunch of five barley loaves and two small fish to the Lord. I think he may have known that by putting his lunch in the hands of Jesus, He could do something extraordinary with it. And He did. He fed thousands of hungry people.

Jesus is still looking for a few common folk like you and me who are willing to commit out-of-the-ordinary, intentional acts of selfless sacrifice so that He can turn our offering into His glory. Commit such an act today!

Let me give of myself, dear Lord,
Always ready to sacrifice,
Willing to share what I hold dear,
Never deterred by the price. —Hess

Let Jesus share with others what you want to keep for yourself.

 

 

Just a Touch

From: Our Daily Bread

Just a Touch

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. Matthew 8:3

Kiley leaped at the chance to go to a remote area of East Africa to assist a medical mission, yet she felt uneasy. She didn’t have any medical experience. Still, she could provide basic care.

While there, she met a woman with a horrible but treatable disease. The woman’s distorted leg repulsed her, but Kiley knew she had to do something. As she cleaned and bandaged the leg, her patient began crying. Concerned, Kiley asked if she was hurting her. “No,” she replied. “It’s the first time anyone has touched me in nine years.”

Leprosy is another disease that can render its victims repulsive to others, and ancient Jewish culture had strict guidelines to prevent its spread: “They must live alone,” the law declared. “They must live outside the camp” (Lev. 13:46).

That’s why it’s so remarkable that a leper approached Jesus to say, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” (Matt. 8:2). “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ ” (v. 3).

In touching a lonely woman’s diseased leg, Kiley began to show the fearless, bridge-building love of Jesus. A single touch made a difference.

Lord, we want to show the fearless love You showed when You walked this earth.

What difference might we make if we overcome our fears and trust God to use us?

 

 

In Hiding?

From: Our Daily Journey

In Hiding?

Read:

Genesis 3:8-13
People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy (Proverbs 28:13).

My parents didn’t have much money, so when Dad gave me a small pocketknife, I treasured it. The gift came with one caveat though. Because I was only eight years old, I couldn’t use it—I could only carry it in my pocket!

You might guess how that went. Soon I found a place to hide and opened the knife to admire the edge. It wasn’t long before I began to whittle sticks with it. One day the blade slipped and cut my finger. Now I had to hide the wound from my parents! It wasn’t long until my mother noticed and quickly guessed the cause of the cut. At first, I engaged in hardline denial. But after what seemed like weeks of “interrogation” (actually only a few minutes), I admitted my crime. Dad took the knife and forgave me. Eventually, he gave it back—much later.

When we do something we know is wrong, our instinct is to hide. That’s what Adam and Eve did when they did the one thing that God told them not to do. God came looking for them, but His motive wasn’t to destroy them in anger. Instead He asked, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)—not because He didn’t know, but because He knew Adam and Eve had to confront what they had done.

Both the man and the woman engaged in blame-shifting (Genesis 3:12-13), neither of them owning up to their disobedience. Still, God provided for them and made a way forward. He never stopped loving them.

In my case, my dad felt more sadness than anger over my disobedience. That’s a small picture of God. We’re ashamed of our failures and sin, and so we hide from Him. Yet He already knows us intimately, and He always comes looking for us. That’s the kind of God we serve. He offers us a place to belong—one with other forgiven sinners. Today, will we hide or step inside?

Work Hard For Jesus

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

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A Bigger Shovel

From: Get More Strength.org

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6

It’s interesting to me that Jesus taught more about money than any other subject. He consistently talked about the importance of generosity and the deadly danger of greed. To the man who asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him, Jesus responded by warning, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). And in Luke 6:38 Jesus taught, “Give, and it will be given to you . . . pressed down, shaken together and running over.” To disciples distracted by financial needs, Jesus assured them that the Father knows they need such things as food and clothes: “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:22-31).

God’s plan is simple—give to gain. In other words, give to the kingdom and God will take care of your needs.

The great British preacher Charles H. Spurgeon once learned about this kind of trust while trying to raise money for poor children in London. He went to Bristol hoping to collect £300 (which in those days was a huge amount of money) for London’s homeless children. At the end of the week of meetings, many lives had been changed and his financial goal had been reached. That night, as he bowed in prayer, Spurgeon was clearly prompted to give the money to a co-laborer of Christ named George Mueller.

“Oh no, Lord,” answered Spurgeon, “I need it for my own dear orphans.” Yet Spurgeon couldn’t shake the idea that God wanted him to part with it. Only when he said, “Yes, Lord, I will,” could he find rest.

With great peace, he made his way the next morning to Mueller’s orphanage and found the great man of prayer on his knees. The famous minister placed his hand on Mueller’s shoulder and said, “George, God has told me to give you the £300 I’ve collected.”

“Oh, my dear brother,” exclaimed Mueller,” I’ve just been asking him for exactly that amount!” The two servants of the Lord wept and rejoiced together.

When Spurgeon returned to London, he found an envelope on his desk containing more than £300. The Lord had returned the £300 he had obediently given to Mueller, with 300 shillings of interest!

Spurgeon learned what another generous believer once said: “I shovel out, and God shovels in, and he has a bigger shovel than I do.” And while the return may or may not be monetary, you can be sure that your heart will overflow with the joy of giving generously and seeing His kingdom prosper.

And you don’t have to look back a hundred plus years to discover stories about the overflowing generosity of God to people who cheerfully give their money to the needs of others and God’s work. Just ask those who have discovered the joy of giving. They’ve got plenty of stories to prove the point. Let me invite you to get a few stories of your own!

 

Jennifer Rothschild May 1, 2017
Choosing to See Beyond Your Grief
JENNIFER ROTHSCHILD

From: Crosswalk.com

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)

I remember when I heard the news. I was elated and squealed and cried! I hugged our kids, my husband, the dog and anyone else close enough to grab!

I asked my son and daughter-in-law a million questions. And then, hours later, alone in my bed, I processed the news … alone in the reality of fresh loss. The sadness closed in like the final curtain after a beautiful play. Elation was replaced by reality — a reality that brought feelings I never expected.

The reality is, I’m blind. I am about to become a grandma, and I won’t see my grandbaby’s eyes. I won’t know if he has Clayton’s nose or Caroline’s mouth. I won’t see his smile. I won’t see his tiny hands balled into fists as he toddles on chunky little legs taking his first steps. I was deflated. I wept. I asked God a million questions as I hugged my pillow.

Lord, I won’t be able to care for him or take him to the park or color with him or even play peek-a-boo.

Will he think of me as the grandma who isn’t fun? Will he feel safe with me? Will I be the grandma he’s unsure of until he’s old enough to understand?

As I tossed and turned and prayed and cried, I thought of how much I wanted to feel gratitude, not grief. Joy, like when I first heard the news … before sorrow clouded my vision.

I lost my sight at 15, but now at 53, becoming a grandma is forcing me to grieve blindness in new and unexpected ways.

Grief and gratefulness can share the same heartbeat, but they don’t always share the same viewpoint. I want to see beyond grief and fix my eyes only on gratefulness.

That’s why I need to see with my heart. And, sister, I have a strong feeling I’m not the only one. But we can’t unless God opens the eyes of our hearts, as our key verse says:

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” (Ephesians 1:18).

When God opens the eyes of our hearts, we can see the hope to which we are called. We’re not called to despair or constant grief; we are called to hope.

God wants to open our spiritual eyes so we can see hope with our hearts. When we see with our hearts, we see blessing and potential tucked within loss and disappointment.

When we see with our hearts, we focus on what we have, not what we’ve lost. We view our situations, our whole lives, through the eyes of gratefulness. And grateful eyes will always see hope.

Seeing with our hearts doesn’t mean we won’t still hurt. It doesn’t mean we see everything through rose-colored filters. Grief is still real, and grief still hurts. But when we ask God to open our spiritual eyes, we see beyond the loss.

I may not see little dimples and dancing brown eyes with my eyes, but I can feel wonder when I touch that satiny skin. I may not see that baby’s sweet face, but I can hear a thousand anthems of praise in his giggle. I can caress infant skin bearing the fingerprint of God and feel gratefulness and hope radiate through my grief. I can and will see that baby with my heart.

You may hold unexpected grief in your heart today. Maybe you carry a burden that makes you grateful or a gift that makes you cry. No matter what life looks like for you today, God can help you see it with the eyes of your heart.

I know He can, my sister, because that’s what He’s doing for me. When we see with our hearts, hope bursts on the horizon, no matter how cloudy or dark the day.

God is the one who opens eyes. He opens eyes of the blind and those who see perfectly but are blinded by disappointment, loss or grief.

So, if what you see discourages you, ask God to open the eyes of your heart and fix them on what is unseen. Because what is seen is temporary, and what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Dear Lord, focus my spiritual eyes so I can see Your hand, Your heart and Your purpose in all I experience. Let me see with my heart today and every day, so I can see hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Faith— Not Emotion

From: Utmost.org

Faith— Not Emotion

For a while, we are fully aware of God’s concern for us. But then, when God begins to use us in His work, we begin to take on a pitiful look and talk only of our trials and difficulties. And all the while God is trying to make us do our work as hidden people who are not in the spotlight. None of us would be hidden spiritually if we could help it. Can we do our work when it seems that God has sealed up heaven? Some of us always want to be brightly illuminated saints with golden halos and with the continual glow of inspiration, and to have other saints of God dealing with us all the time. A self-assured saint is of no value to God. He is abnormal, unfit for daily life, and completely unlike God. We are here, not as immature angels, but as men and women, to do the work of this world. And we are to do it with an infinitely greater power to withstand the struggle because we have been born from above.

If we continually try to bring back those exceptional moments of inspiration, it is a sign that it is not God we want. We are becoming obsessed with the moments when God did come and speak with us, and we are insisting that He do it again. But what God wants us to do is to “walk by faith.” How many of us have set ourselves aside as if to say, “I cannot do anything else until God appears to me”? He will never do it. We will have to get up on our own, without any inspiration and without any sudden touch from God. Then comes our surprise and we find ourselves exclaiming, “Why, He was there all the time, and I never knew it!” Never live for those exceptional moments— they are surprises. God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never consider our moments of inspiration as the standard way of life— our work is our standard.

May We Always Love Jesus Christ

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

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

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Forever Loved

From: Our Daily Bread

Forever Loved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Forget

From: Get More Strength.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Spontaneous Love

From: Utmost.org

Spontaneous Love

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

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

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

Beware Of Life’s Trash-heap

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

Ash-heap Christians

From: Get More Strength.org

Apr 29 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Morning Comes

From: Our Daily Bread

When Morning Comes

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Subscribe to God’s Help

From: Our Daily Journey

Subscribe to God’s Help

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

We Are Given Life As A Prize

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

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

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

 

What You Will Get

From: Utmost.org

What You Will Get

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

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

 

An Alternative to Anger

From: Our Daily Bread

An Alternative to Anger

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

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

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

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

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

Be slow to anger.

 

Taking on Too Much

From: Our Daily Journey

Taking on Too Much

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

Practice Purity Of Heart

 

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

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

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

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

From: Crosswalk.con

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What Do You Want?

From: Utmost.org

What Do You Want?

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

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

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

 

Representing Jesus

From: Our Daily Journey

Representing Jesus

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

Make God Part Of Your Life

 

Don’t plan your life without God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baby? Nope. Not coming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Someone to Touch

From: Our Daily Bread

Someone to Touch

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Myth No More

From: Our Daily Journey

Myth No More

Read:

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

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

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

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

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

The justice we seek reveals He’s no myth.

God Hears You

 

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

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

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

Image result for pictures of high tech communicationImage result for pictures of high tech communication
Image result for pictures of high tech communicationImage result for pictures of high tech communication
Image result for pictures of high tech communicationImage result for pictures of high tech communication
Image result for pictures of high tech communicationImage result for pictures of high tech communication

High-Tech Communication

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Don’t Give Up

From: Our Daily Bread

Don't Give Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hidden Sins

From: Our Daily Journey

Hidden Sins

Read:

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

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

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

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

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