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We Are In God’s Hands Of Love

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In God’s Hands

APRIL 22, 2009

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3 (NIV)

As I aroused from sleep, my first thought was, “Uggg. It is going to be cold outside.” But to be honest, my anxiety wasn’t so much about the cold mountain weather, but about my teenage daughter’s safety that day.

We had been planning the trip for weeks and the girls were so excited that their snowboarding day had finally arrived. The wind was cold and the snow was slippery, but the sun was shining, the mountains were beautiful, and the enthusiasm of three teenage girls outweighed their shivers. We had arranged for them to take a one-hour snowboarding lesson that morning, as this was their first time on the slopes. Once we got them bundled up in their coats, scarves and protective gear, we parted ways as they walked off with the rest of the group to begin their lesson.

Suddenly, I felt this little rush of panic come over me. It was a familiar feeling, because for the past 15 years I have mastered the art of worrying about the safety of my children. When there is even the most remote possibility one of them could be hurt, my mind floods with irrational thoughts about what could happen in the worst of circumstances.

What if she has trouble getting onto the ski lift properly, and slips and hits her head? What if she can’t get off the lift quick enough at the top of the mountain, and falls off and gets hurt? What if she falls off the lift seat while hoisted five stories up in the air? What if she gets too close to the edge of the slope and falls off the side of the mountain? What if she gets separated from her friends and panics all alone? What if she breaks her arm/leg/neck? What if …

As I said, irrational thoughts. Unwarranted panic.

Since I could not run up the ski slope after her, looking like a crazed, over-protective mother, I headed back to the lodge. There I found myself praying a simple prayer something like this: Oh, Lord, I cannot be with her today. I cannot protect her. I cannot watch after her. She will be out of my sight, at the top of a mountain, far from my reach. Only You can see her. Only You can protect her now. Please keep her safe. Instantly I felt God’s reassurance, and heard Him quietly speak to my heart, “Put her in My arms Tracie. Entrust her to Me.”

Although I secretly preferred to hold her in my own arms and keep her safe, just like when she was a little girl, I knew I had to entrust her fully to God – just not on the ski slope, but every day of her life. I am a mere human, but God is a sovereign and powerful God. Any physical protection I could offer her pales in comparison to the spiritual protection given from our Savior.

As each of my children grow and live, I know they will face new dangers. Peer pressure will be heavy, temptations will prowl, people will hurt their feelings, dangers may cross their path and life may be hard. Our modern culture will cause them to face challenges and decisions that I did not have to deal with as a child. My comfort must come from believing that they will be in God’s hands, and that He will always be with them, no matter where they go. Not just on the top of a mountain, but every minute of every day in every circumstance.

Do you know that the word “children” appears over 450 times in the Bible? Our children matter to God, and He loves them, even more than we love them. Being a parent allows us a window to see God’s amazing perspective of that love.

Dear Lord, forgive me for forgetting how much You love my children and that You are always with them. Thank You for surrounding us with Your angels. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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God’s Hand in Your Life

Forget not all his benefits.

 Psalms 103:2

It is a delightful and profitable occupation to mark the hand of God in the lives of ancient saints and to observe His goodness in delivering them, His mercy in pardoning them, and His faithfulness in keeping His covenant with them. But would it not be even more interesting and profitable for us to observe the hand of God in our own lives? Should we not look upon our own history as being at least as full of God, as full of His goodness and of His truth, as much a proof of His faithfulness and veracity as the lives of any of the saints who have gone before?

We do our Lord an injustice when we suppose that He performed all His mighty acts and showed Himself strong for those in the early time but does not perform wonders or lay bare His arm for the saints who are now upon the earth. Let us review our own lives. Surely in these we may discover some happy incidents, refreshing to ourselves and glorifying to our God. Have you had no deliverances? Have you passed through no rivers, supported by the divine presence? Have you walked through no fires unharmed? Have you had no manifestations? Have you had no choice favors? The God who gave Solomon the desire of his heart, has He never listened to you and answered your requests? That God of lavish bounty of whom David sang, “who satisfies you with good,”1 has He never filled you up to overflowing? Have you never been made to lie down in green pastures? Have you never been led by the still waters?

Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old. Let us, then, weave His mercies into a song. Let us take the pure gold of thankfulness and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of Jesus. Let our souls produce music as sweet and as exhilarating as came from David’s harp while we praise the Lord whose mercy endures forever.

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What’s That in Your Hand?

by Inspiration Ministries

I meet a lot of Believers who feel like they simply don’t have what it takes. They say they would do great things for God if they just had more money…more time…more energy…or more people to help them.

The mistake such people are making is that they’re focusing on what they DON’T have, when the Lord wants them to realize what they DO have. By simply shifting our focus, we can trade in our frustration and receive a life filled with miracles and abundance instead.

Look at God’s incredible question to Moses in Exodus 4:2:
“What’s that in your hand?”

When the Lord asked this question, the only thing in Moses’ hand was a crude shepherd’s rod. It wasn’t much. Just a piece of wood. An inanimate object. A tool of
Moses’ trade.

God was commissioning him for the daunting task of delivering over a million Israelites from slavery in Egypt. And all Moses had in his hand was the wooden staff he had used for 40 years to tend his flocks of sheep.

Do you see how powerful this message is for you and me? Like Moses, we’re being called to do great things…supernatural things…things much bigger than we could ever accomplish without divine assistance.

Yet too often we think our problem is that we lack some important ingredient or resource needed for success. “If only I had this or that…” we complain.

But notice that God wasn’t asking Moses to give Him something he didn’t already have. Instead, He asked Moses, as He is asking us today…

“What’s that in your hand?”

Moses had been carrying around that ordinary piece of wood for many years, and nothing dramatic had happened as a result. But after Moses surrendered the wooden rod to the Lord, it amazingly became “the rod of God” instead of merely the rod of Moses (Exodus 4:20). No longer a mere piece of wood, this rod enabled Moses to part the Red Sea, bring water out of a rock, and defeat enemy armies.

What is in YOUR hand, my friend? Money? Time? Possessions? Influence? Some kind of special God-given aptitude?

If you’re honest, the thing in your hand probably seems totally inadequate to meet the needs around you. However, you’ll be amazed by what can happen when you surrender it to the Lord.

The Spiritual Life Of A Busy Mom

 

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 Image result for picture verses on mothersImage result for picture verses on mothers
 Image result for picture verses on mothersImage result for picture verses on mothers

 

The spiritual life of a busy mom: Carving out time with God when there’s no time to be had

Written by Julie Vaughan

It’s morning. I sit at my kitchen table, sipping a mug of coffee and smiling as the sun glints across my immaculate countertops. The only sounds I hear are the chirping birds outside my window and the flipping pages of my Bible. I breathe deeply and settle in for my daily devotions with God . . .

End scene.

The truth is, my mornings look nothing like this.

I usually start my day to the sound of a toddler belting out “Mommy! Mommy!” while impatiently rattling the bars of her crib. Before I can clear my sleep-bleary eyes, I’m tripping over toys, changing diapers, prepping food, laundering clothes, wiping chins and stacking dirty dishes. I’m lucky if I get a shower before 10 a.m., much less spend a quiet, meaningful hour in prayer and Bible study.

Increasingly I recognize that I need to be more purposeful about my devotions. After all, how can I expect to be an example of Christlikeness to my child (and others) when I’m hardly spending any one-on-one time with my Saviour? And yet, given how jam-packed my life is at this stage of early parenthood, it’s difficult to know how to improve my devotional times with God.

A common challenge

I recently took an informal poll of other young, believing moms to see if they had any tips to offer on this topic. I very quickly realized that we could all relate. We sincerely want to make time for devotions, and yet the realities of parenting young children, tending our marriages, taking care of our homes and, for some, juggling careers outside the home, seem to completely fill our day.

One young mother told me, “I often find myself longing for ‘the good old days’ when I had all the time I needed to curl up in a chair with my coffee and enjoy one-on-one time with the Lord. Now I’m lucky if I get 10 minutes to myself, and even luckier if I remember to spend any of those precious moments in prayer!”

Another mom said, “I think when I allow life to get in the way, God is the first thing to go. I always feel He’ll understand, or that skipping one or two days of Bible reading won’t hurt. But it does. I find myself more easily distressed when I haven’t spent time with Him, and my marriage is strained as well. Everything points to Him being our source, yet it’s so easy to push Him away and try to do things on our own.”

The truth is, whether we’re a parent struggling with the challenges of raising young children or a CEO trying to wring every last second out of the day, most of us are busy. It’s easy to push our spiritual life to the bottom of the priority list when our daily to-dos seem out of control. But we can do it! In fact, making devotional time a priority can help everything else in our day fall more smoothly into place – or at least give us the spiritual and mental resources we need to face whatever comes our way!

Real-mom solutions

Spending quality time with God may not always “look” the way you imagine it should, but it can happen. Even small chunks of time with the Lord here and there can add up to meaningful spiritual growth. Here are some practical solutions from other real-life moms:

  • One mother recently started spending devotional time with God during the first 20-30 minutes of her twin daughters’ nap time. She views this time as a spiritual act of worship in which she can literally trust God to help her accomplish everything she still needs to do that day. “I find that time alone with God is especially crucial to re-set my priorities and refresh my heart on the days when it feels like I don’t have time to be alone with God today. Those are the days when devotional time with God is most life-giving for me, my husband and my children.”
  • Another mom said, “I love to listen to the local Christian station or to Christian CDs in the car. Right now, my favourite is the CD my church’s choir put together last year. It’s full of the praise music we sing every Sunday, so I feel like I’m sitting in my regular worship service every time I listen to it.”
  • “I try to make time for Christian books occasionally. And, whenever possible, I look for a women’s Bible study at my church to join. That has always been a blessing, as I’m able to fellowship with other Christian women and moms while finding a quiet hour away from the kids and the constant needs at home.”
  • “I keep a weekly prayer journal that’s divided into three parts: thanks, confession and requests.”
  • “Surprisingly, I find that moments when I am simply sitting, watching and enjoying my daughter, are moments when I am more aware of God’s presence than ever. That’s when, in my heart, I thank Him for her, recognize how blessed I am and utter quick prayers (two-sentence pleas) to Him for her, for me as her mom, and for my husband.”
  • Pray while in the shower or when you’re getting ready for the day.
  • Write reminders and memory verses on sticky notes around the house.
  • Set a reminder on your phone or computer to remind you each day to fit in some quality time with God.
  • Read the Bible with your kids, even if they’re playing on the floor and don’t seem to really be listening. By doing so, you’re setting a good example – and they might even surprise you by how much they absorb!
  • Purchase an audio version of the Bible (some websites also offer these). Listen while you cook dinner, fold laundry or do other household tasks. Also great while in the carpool lane!
  • Set your children up with a craft project (something that needs minimal supervision) or institute an “alone time” each day when everyone plays or relaxes in their own room. Use this time to study Scripture, read a devotional book or simply pray.

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Mother

By: Gene Markland,  1.cbn.com

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Mother Just the name evokes a flood of thoughts and memories. Childhood memories of a loving hand to bandage a skinned knee, and a magical kiss upon that bandage that made the pain fade away. The big smile and wild applause from the third row in the audience of a second-grade school play, acknowledging my dramatic interpretation of a tree, a tree that spoke not a word. The bedtime stories and prayers where I learned that the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Sometimes I look at her bloodstained Bible, which she took with her to dialysis treatments in her latter days. There she shared her faith and testimony with the other patients, being a blessing in her time of sickness. Though she is with the Lord, her life and love remain in my heart.

Mother.  I am doubly blessed that my child has the best one, a Mother whose child is the center of her world. She’s a Mother who loves, teaches, corrects shares, prays, plays, and focuses herself completely on the health, welfare, and happiness of her child. She’s a Mother who cries every year on the first day of school after we put our daughter on the school bus. So to cheer her up and get her mind off of it, I take her to breakfast at IHOP. It’s hard to cry in your pancakes.  She’s a role model our daughter will be hard-pressed to duplicate, though I know she will.

Mother There are many wonderful Mothers in all our lives and though we honor them every year, it seems inadequate considering what they really deserve.

MotherThere once was a Mother so unique, so precious, that our heavenly Father chose her to be the Mother of His only begotten Son. She was so trusted that even though she was young, inexperienced, and poor, she was chosen to Mother our Lord Jesus. Difficult circumstances were her lot in life, and yet through unspeakable adversity, such as the death threat against her son by the King, she poured herself into her son, who became the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

It makes one wonder, what part of His determination; compassion, patience, longsuffering, and love came from her influence on Him. We assume that He received all of His attributes from His heavenly Father because He is the Son of God. But He is also the Son of man, so we must not forget to honor His Mother for being used of God the Father to instill many of those attributes.

MotherShe’s the one who pushed Jesus into His public ministry by making Him do His first public miracle. John 2:1-11 describes how He wasn’t prepared to turn the water into wine because He said that His time had not yet come.

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11 NLT).

Like us, He experienced that wonderful force of nature, a Mama who knows best!

He acknowledged her and provided for her even during His torture on the cross.

“When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27 NLT).

Their love and Devotion for each other didn’t end there. As she prayed with the others in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, He filled her with the Holy Spirit, and their relationship continues to this day. She is an example to Mothers, as He is an example to Sons and daughters.

Mother.  Love her. Cherish her. Honor her. She deserves it!

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A Tired Mom Can Be the Most Influential

By:  September McCarthy,  proverbs31.org

OCTOBER 25, 2017

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Raising daughters afforded me many opportunities to train my girls to be brave, bold, independent, strong, responsible women. As I continue in this daily investment, I’ve realized that my early motherhood was missing a key ingredient:

I had forgotten to teach my girls the value of rest and the gift of help.

For two years, I struggled with a chronic illness that required weekly medical intervention. This affected my energy, strength and motherhood. I didn’t tell my children the truth about my physical trials. I preserved my brave exterior, but I was unable to do all the things I once did, and motherhood took a necessary backseat to rest and healing.

I was tired and weak, and everything I did for my family had to be put on hold. This wrecked me to the core. I felt like I was abandoning my post.

I experienced feelings of guilt and anger over the things that made me feel weary and incapable. My children deserved to know, because I needed their help, and God wanted to use this. I was getting in the way of receiving His Grace and their help and understanding.

When our kids see us put on brave faces and give more to everyone around us while barely holding on to our sanity and strength, they see women without boundaries, void of peace. Motherhood does not have to be drudgery or a source of pride, where we carry the banner of independence and espouse a false message of “doing it all.” When we’re honest and truthful about our circumstances, we allow an infusion of hope and help into our world.

The weakest moments in motherhood can be the catalyst for my children to seek God’s strength and see His power. When we keep our needs hidden from our children, how will they know our true source of strength? We need to introduce them to the true Redeemer in all our pain and weakness. I came to realize these questions deserved answers:

  • If our children can’t see God at work in their own homes, how will they learn to lean on Him when they leave our safe spaces?
  • If our children don’t serve one another and bear burdens of those closest to them, how will they live out this biblical principle later in life?
  • If our children haven’t seen our reliance on God, will they grow up to be overwhelmed adults, forgetting Who can rescue them from their lowest moments?
  • If we pretend to have it all together, how will our children know Who really holds us together?

If there’s one thing I would have changed in my motherhood, it would be this — I would have shared my weaknesses and asked for help. I would have been honest with my kids when I was worn thin and could barely hang on.

Just as the Lord instructed the Apostle Paul, He reminds us in today’s key verse how God’s power comes alive in our weakness: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

We never want our children to see us as “strong women” who don’t need anyone or anything, while we fall apart at the seams in our private spaces. A truly strong, grace-filled woman loves Jesus more than her pride and invites others to be a part of her journey. Everyday motherhood requires daily prayer and an urgency to know God more. This is the gift you will pass on to your children daily.

Mothers, let your children see you need Jesus!

The Good Samaritan

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Luke 10:25-37  (Who is my neighbor)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

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

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

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

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What is the meaning of the Good Samaritan?

From: gotquestions.org

The Parable of the Good Samaritan tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and while on the way he is robbed of everything he had, including his clothing, and is beaten to within an inch of his life. That road was treacherously winding and was a favorite hideout of robbers and thieves. The next character Jesus introduces into His story is a priest. He spends no time describing the priest and only tells of how he showed no love or compassion for the man by failing to help him and passing on the other side of the road so as not to get involved. If there was anyone who would have known God’s law of love, it would have been the priest. By nature of his position, he was to be a person of compassion, desiring to help others. Unfortunately, “love” was not a word for him that required action on the behalf of someone else. The next person to pass by in the Parable of the Good Samaritan is a Levite, and he does exactly what the priest did: he passes by without showing any compassion. Again, he would have known the law, but he also failed to show the injured man compassion.

The next person to come by is the Samaritan, the one least likely to have shown compassion for the man. Samaritans were considered a low class of people by the Jews since they had intermarried with non-Jews and did not keep all the law. Therefore, Jews would have nothing to do with them. We do not know if the injured man was a Jew or Gentile, but it made no difference to the Samaritan; he did not consider the man’s race or religion. The “Good Samaritan” saw only a person in dire need of assistance, and assist him he did, above and beyond the minimum required. He dresses the man’s wounds with wine (to disinfect) and oil (to sooth the pain). He puts the man on his animal and takes him to an inn for a time of healing and pays the innkeeper with his own money. He then goes beyond common decency and tells the innkeeper to take good care of the man, and he would pay for any extra expenses on his return trip. The Samaritan saw his neighbor as anyone who was in need.

Because the good man was a Samaritan, Jesus is drawing a strong contrast between those who knew the law and those who actually followed the law in their lifestyle and conduct. Jesus now asks the lawyer if he can apply the lesson to his own life with the question “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36). Once again, the lawyer’s answer is telling of his personal hardness of heart. He cannot bring himself to say the word “Samaritan”; he refers to the “good man” as “he who showed mercy.” His hate for the Samaritans (his neighbors) was so strong that he couldn’t even refer to them in a proper way. Jesus then tells the lawyer to “go and do likewise,” meaning that he should start living what the law tells him to do.

By ending the encounter in this manner, Jesus is telling us to follow the Samaritan’s example in our own conduct; i.e., we are to show compassion and love for those we encounter in our everyday activities. We are to love others (vs. 27) regardless of their race or religion; the criterion is need. If they need and we have the supply, then we are to give generously and freely, without expectation of return. This is an impossible obligation for the lawyer, and for us. We cannot always keep the law because of our human condition; our heart and desires are mostly of self and selfishness. When left to our own, we do the wrong thing, failing to meet the law. We can hope that the lawyer saw this and came to the realization that there was nothing he could do to justify himself, that he needed a personal savior to atone for his lack of ability to save himself from his sins. Thus, the lessons of the Parable of the Good Samaritan are three-fold: (1) we are to set aside our prejudice and show love and compassion for others. (2) Our neighbor is anyone we encounter; we are all creatures of the creator and we are to love all of mankind as Jesus has taught. (3) Keeping the law in its entirety with the intent to save ourselves is an impossible task; we need a savior, and this is Jesus.

There is another possible way to interpret the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and that is as a metaphor. In this interpretation the injured man is all men in their fallen condition of sin. The robbers are Satan attacking man with the intent of destroying their relationship with God. The lawyer is mankind without the true understanding of God and His Word. The priest is religion in an apostate condition. The Levite is legalism that instills prejudice into the hearts of believers. The Samaritan is Jesus who provides the way to spiritual health. Although this interpretation teaches good lessons, and the parallels between Jesus and the Samaritan are striking, this understanding draws attention to Jesus that does not appear to be intended in the text. Therefore, we must conclude that the teaching of the Parable of the Good Samaritan is simply a lesson on what it means to love one’s neighbor.

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The Parable Of The Good Samaritan: 5 Lessons Learned

The Parable Of The Good Samaritan: 5 Lessons Learned

By: Joe Plemon, crosswalk.com

England’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once observed, “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions – he had money too.” Of course the Good Samaritan was not an actual historical figure; he was a fictional man in a story that Jesus told to a religious legalist who was trying to justify his unwillingness to walk the walk. The story goes like this:

Here are 5 Lessons we can learn from the Good Samaritan Story

1. The good samaritan was willing to get involved.

We may quote scripture and recite platitudes on love and God, but unless we are willing to get involved in the lives of others, we are only blowing smoke. The Samaritan treated and bandaged the wounds. He set the injured man on his donkey. He took him to an inn and cared for him throughout the night. The Samaritan could have said to himself, “I give regularly to my church.  I donate to the Salvation Army every Christmas. I have done my part.” But he didn’t. As the scriptures say, he had compassion…and he acted on it.

2. The good samaritan ignored racism.

Even though he was considered a “despised Samaritan,” he rose above such shallowness to care for a fellow human being. I compare the Samaritan’s actions to an American 19th century slave showing compassion to a plantation owner or a Jewish prisoner demonstrating concern for a Nazi guard during WWII.

3. The good samaritan had money.

Margaret Thatcher was absolutely spot on: this was a man who managed his money. He undoubtedly lived on a budget, spent less than he made and maintained a contingency fund for unexpected expenses. My wife and I fully realize that we need to be very intentional if we are going to have such a giving fund, so we place cash into a “bless envelope” every month. Knowing that money is there has raised our antennae to the needs around us.

4. The good samaritan had a good name.

One wonders if the Samaritan had been to that inn before, perhaps paying for some other needy person’s stay. We know this:  the innkeeper trusted the Samaritan, probably because he had proven himself to be trustworthy.

5. The good samaritan was generous.

The Samaritan didn’t know how long the injured man would be laid up, but I am guessing (because the text said the attack left him “half dead”), that it could be a prolonged stay. At any rate, the wellbeing of this stranger was more important to our Good Samaritan than whatever the cost might be. Again, this generosity would never have been possible if he hadn’t had money in the first place.

The central message of this story is that, if we are to be good neighbors, we need to be more like the Samaritan. The implied message is to get strong financially and stay strong financially so we can have the means to act on our good intentions.

Jesus concludes with this admonition, “Go and do likewise.” When we learn this lesson, we, and the world around us, will be better for it.

How will you follow Jesus’ challenge to “Go and do likewise”? What additional lessons from the Good Samaritan can you think of? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Achieving For God’s Purposes

Romans 3:9-18

 

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;read more.

Romans 7:13-23

 

Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.read more.

Galatians 6:9-10

 

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

 

Excelling Still More

by Inspiration Ministries

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We request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 1 Thessalonians 4:1 NASB

Paul was pleased with what he heard about the Thessalonians. They were living in ways indicating that they had grasped the essence of the Gospel. But he also knew they still needed to improve.

There were lifestyle issues about which they needed to be sensitive and areas where they could be misled. They had to be aware of Satan s traps and realize how harmful these could be. They needed to become more alert, stronger in the Spirit and better equipped to avoid dangers. To seek to experience even more of God’s blessings.

While the Thessalonians were committed to walk in the right manner, Paul also knew how easily they could stagnate. He knew how much more God had prepared for them. He wanted them to excel still more. The Greek words Paul used indicated they could superabound. Go far beyond what they had been doing.

It was important that they keep growing. Always seeking to please God. Always being teachable and willing to learn. Always sensitive to His correction and leading.

Paul might well say the same things about us. He might be pleased about some aspects of our lives, while reminding us that we, too, can excel still more. There is more we can learn. More ways we can grow in Christ and be more refined by the Spirit. More ways we can be better testimonies and impact more lives for the Gospel. More ways we can superabound and excel still more.

Streams In The Desert

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Image result for pictures of people losing their own soul

 

For our profit (Heb. 12:10).

In one of Ralph Connor’s books he tells a story of Gwen. Gwen was a wild, wilful lassie and one who had always been accustomed to having her own way. Then one day she met with a terrible accident which crippled her for life. She became very rebellious and in the murmuring state she was visited by the Sky Pilot, as the missionary among the mountaineers was termed. He told her the parable of the canyon.

“At first there were no canyons, but only the broad, open prairie. One day the Master of the Prairie, walking over his great lawns, where were only grasses, asked the Prairie, ‘Where are your flowers?’ and the Prairie said, ‘Master I have no seeds.’

“Then he spoke to the birds, and they carried seeds of every kind of flower and strewed them far and wide, and soon the prairie bloomed with crocuses and roses and buffalo beans and the yellow crowfoot and the wild sunflowers and the red lilies all summer long. Then the Master came and was well pleased; but he missed the flowers he loved best of all, and he said to the Prairie: ‘Where are the clematis and the columbine, the sweet violets and wind-flowers, and all the ferns and flowering shrubs?’

“And again he spoke to the birds, and again they carried all the seeds and scattered them far and wide. But, again, when the Master came he could not find the flowers he loved best of all, and he said: “‘Where are those my sweetest flowers?’ and the Prairie cried sorrowfully: “‘Oh, Master, I cannot keep the flowers, for the winds sweep fiercely, and the sun beats upon my breast, and they wither up and fly away.’

“Then the Master spoke to the Lightning, and with one swift blow the Lightning cleft the Prairie to the heart. And the Prairie rocked and groaned in agony, and for many a day moaned bitterly over the black, jagged, gaping wound. But the river poured its waters through the cleft, and carried down deep black mould.

“And once more the birds carried seeds and strewed them in the canyon. And after a long time the rough rocks were decked out with soft mosses and trailing vines, and all the nooks were hung with clematis and columbine, and great elms lifted their huge tops high up into the sunlight, and down about their feet clustered the low cedars and balsams, and everywhere the violets and wind-flower and maiden-hair grew and bloomed, till the canyon became the Master’s favorite place for rest and peace and joy.”

Then the Sky Pilot read to her: “The fruit–I’ll read ‘flowers’–of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness–and some of these grow only in the canyon.” “Which are the canyon flowers?” asked Gwen softly, and the Pilot answered: “Gentleness, meekness, longsuffering; but though the others, love, joy, peace, bloom in the open, yet never with so rich a bloom and so sweet a perfume as in the canyon.”

For a long time Gwen lay quite still, and then said wistfully, while her lips trembled: “There are no flowers in my canyon, but only ragged rocks.” “Some day they will bloom, Gwen dear; the Master will find them, and we, too, shall see them.”

Good works

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By: Charles Spurgeon

“Zealous of good works” Titus 2:14

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 2:8-15

It would be a good thing, perhaps, if we went back to Wesley’s rule, to come out from the world in our apparel, and to dress as plainly and neatly as the Quakers, though alas! they have sadly gone from their primitive simplicity. I am obliged to depart a little sometimes, from what we call the high things of the gospel; for really the children of God cannot now be told by outward appearance from the children of the devil, and they really ought to be; there should be some distinction between the one and the other; and although religion allows distinction of rank and dress, yet everything in the Bible cries out against our arraying ourselves, and making ourselves proud, by reason of the goodliness of our apparel. Some will say, “I wish you would leave that alone!” Of course you do, because it applies to yourself. But we let nothing alone which we believe to be in the Scriptures; and while I would not spare any man’s soul, honesty to every man’s conscience, and honesty to myself, demands that I should always speak of that which I see to be an evil breaking out in the Church. We should always take care that in everything we keep as near as possible to the written Word. If you want ornaments here they are. Here are jewels, rings, dresses, and all kinds of ornament; men and women, you may dress yourselves up till you shine like angels. How can you do it? By dressing yourselves out in benevolence, in love to the saints, in honesty and integrity, in uprightness, in godliness, in brotherly-kindness, in charity. These are the ornaments which angels themselves admire, and which even the world will admire; for men must give admiration to the man or the woman who is arrayed in the jewels of a holy life and godly conversation. I beseech you, brethren, “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”

Where Is Your Real Treasure?

 

Your Family Is Your Treasure

Your wife and family should be a real treasure to you. These are priceless and should not be ignored. Love and honor your family.

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by Inspiration Ministries

“If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God.” 
– Proverbs 2:4-5 NASB

For centuries, scholars were baffled by the mysteries of “hieroglyphs,” the inscriptions written on Egypt’s pyramids and ancient documents. These symbols remained unintelligible even to the most brilliant specialists. There was new hope when the “Rosetta stone” was discovered in 1799 during Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition. This stone provided new clues about hieroglyphs, but their mysteries still remained unsolved.

Many scholars concluded that the task would prove impossible, but a young Frenchmen, Jean François Champollion, became determined to find a solution. As a young man, he had mastered ancient languages, including Coptic, the language spoken in Egypt in the years after the birth of Jesus. He became so immersed that he described thinking and even dreaming in Coptic.

Equipped with this special insight, Champollion was able to decipher the mysteries of the hieroglyphs, solving problems that others felt could not be solved.

Many look at their problems and give up, concluding that they are too difficult. Others never dig beneath the surface, and fail to go deeper.

Some have this attitude toward the Bible and our faith. Facing life’s challenges, they doubt that God ever could give them an understanding of mysteries, or reveal deeper truths to them. Others are content with a shallow faith and superficial knowledge. Yet the Bible tells us that God is ready to reveal greater spiritual riches to anyone who asks. To all who seek wisdom as they would search for “hidden treasures.”

In your life, ask God to open your eyes. Believe that He can give you deeper insights. Become more passionate about His Word. As you have questions, ask Him for revelation and understanding. And keep digging. Remember that He promises to reveal deeper things, if you seek His wisdom as you would seek for buried treasure.

 

Jesus Is The Real Treasure

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Philippians 3:7 – I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him.

Lord Jesus, as I meditate on the Apostle Paul’s words, I smell the aroma of a free man, a joyful man, and a grace-man—a man I want to become more like. Things he once treasured became Paul’s “garbage.” Old stuff that used to consume him, no longer even amused him. Enjoying an intimate and robust relationship with you mean more to Paul that any other competing currency and treasure.

I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 

Though I’m not as free as Paul, I am as justified as he is. For I too can say, with humility and über-joy, that you are my righteousness. I don’t trust in doing good stuff, or not doing bad stuff, for my acceptance with God—not in my tears or my sincerity, not my service or my repentance, not in my giving or my striving.

10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death.

That is why I can say with Paul, I want to know you better and better, Jesus—more deeply and fully, spilling over into a life of living to your glory. So grant me the power of the Spirit to love well—to love holiness, people, and my community. And grant me a greater willingness to suffer with you, Jesus. Give me your heart, tears, and compassion, for the broken people and broken places in our world. So very Amen I pray, in your lovely and loving name. (By: Scotty Smith)

 

Treasure God’s Word

 

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hebrews 4:12

Word of GodAs Christians it is important to seek the will of God and try to stick to it. How do we do this? We must turn to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit in prayer.

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Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us. (Romans 15:4)

Yes, grass withers and flowers fade, but the word of our God endures forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. (Matthew 7:24)

The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

God keeps every promise he makes. He is like a shield for all who seek his protection. (Proverbs 30:5)

Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105)

Be like newborn babies, always thirsty for the pure spiritual milk, so that by drinking it you may grow up and be saved. (1 Peter 2:2)

 

 

 

 

Develop A Solid Faith

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A Solid Faith

by Inspiration Ministries

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. John 11:25 NKJV

Born on this day in 1732, George Washington was known for fairness. While some have doubted his Christian convictions, the evidence is clear that his faith was genuine.

As a young man, Washington knew the Bible and sensed that God had a special call on his life. He often attended church services. It is said that he would begin and end each day with prayer, alone in his room.

As a soldier, he served with confidence, knowing that God was with him. He experienced many miracles. Horses were shot from under him, but he survived unscathed. His troops were spared when they could have been wiped out. Miraculously, their needs were provided.

As army leader, he insisted on times of prayer and told his men to “fight as true Christian soldiers.” As America’s first President, he made sure that faith was central to that office. Taking the oath in 1789, he laid his hands on the Bible, adding the phrase, “So help me, God.” This became a tradition for all future Presidents.

Washington’s tomb was engraved with Jesus’ words, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” His last words were “Father of mercies, take me unto thyself.”

The Bible reminds us that God needs to be the foundation of our lives. He created the earth. He is the source of wisdom. He alone can protect and guide us. Boldly let others know that you believe in God. Make sure that you trust Him and base your life on His Word.

 

All Things Are Possible With God

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Image result for pictures of bible people with faithImage result for pictures of bible people with faith

 

By: L.B. Cowman

If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:23).

Seldom have we heard a better definition of faith than was given once in one of our meetings, by a dear old colored woman, as she answered the question of a young man how to take the Lord for needed help.

In her characteristic way, pointing her finger toward him, she said with great emphasis: “You’ve just got to believe that He’s done it and it’s done.” The great danger with most of us is that, after we ask Him to do it, we do not believe that it is done, but we keep on helping Him, and getting others to help Him; and waiting to see how He is going to do it.

Faith adds its “Amen” to God’s “Yea,” and then takes its hands off, and leaves God to finish His work. Its language is, “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him; and he worketh.”
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

I simply take Him at His word,
I praise Him that my prayer is heard,
And claim my answer from the Lord;
I take, He undertakes.

An active faith can give thanks for a promise, though it be not as yet performed; knowing that God’s bonds are as good as ready money.
–Matthew Henry

 

God breaks your bonds

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Simposious.com

Psalm 46

7.The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

God Has Chosen You

From:  Simposious.com

 

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Isiah 41: 8-10

“But you, Israel, my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    you descendants of Abraham my friend,
I took you from the ends of the earth,
    from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
    I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Tell The Good News Of Salvation

 

Tell People The Good News

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Malachi 3

God Sends His Messengers With Good News

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“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

 

Bear Good Fruit

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From: L.B. Cowman

And every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit (John 15:2).

A child of God was dazed by the variety of afflictions which seemed to make her their target. Walking past a vineyard in the rich autumnal glow she noticed the untrimmed appearance and the luxuriant wealth of leaves on the vines, that the ground was given over to a tangle of weeds and grass, and that the whole place looked utterly uncared for; and as she pondered, the Heavenly Gardener whispered so precious a message that she would fain pass it on:

“My dear child, are you wondering at the sequence of trials in your life? Behold that vineyard and learn of it. The gardener ceases to prune, to trim, to harrow, or to pluck the ripe fruit only when he expects nothing more from the vine during that season. It is left to itself, because the season of fruit is past and further effort for the present would yield no profit. Comparative uselessness is the condition of freedom from suffering. Do you then wish me to cease pruning your life? Shall I leave you alone?”

And the comforted heart cried, “No!”
–Homera Homer-Dixon

It is the branch that bears the fruit,
That feels the knife,
To prune it for a larger growth,
A fuller life.
Though every budding twig be lopped,
And every grace
Of swaying tendril, springing leaf,
Be lost a space.
O thou whose life of joy seems reft,
Of beauty shorn;
Whose aspirations lie in dust,
All bruised and torn,
Rejoice, tho’ each desire, each dream,
Each hope of thine
Shall fall and fade; it is the hand
Of Love Divine
That holds the knife, that cuts and breaks
With tenderest touch,
That thou, whose life has borne some fruit

May’st now bear much.
–Annie Johnson Flint

Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Ephesians 1

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

 

 Flee Sexual Immorality!

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I Corinthians 6:19

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

 

Teach Them God’s Good News

Proverbs 15: 30-33

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Image result for pictures of teaching Gods Word

30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
    and good news gives health to the bones.

31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction
    will be at home among the wise.

32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,
    but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.

33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord,
    and humility comes before honor.

Knowing Jesus Christ Is Wonderful

7  But whatever was an asset to me I count as loss for the sake of Christ. 8  More than that, I
them rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in Him, not having my own
righteousness
from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on
the basis
of faith.…Philippians 3: 7-9 
Sometimes people have a hard time giving up sweets. What is your favorite thing you would have a hard time giving up?
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What Can’t You Give Up?

By Poh Fang Chia

[Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God.

“What’s one thing you can’t give up?” the radio host asked. Listeners called in with some interesting answers. Some mentioned their families, including a husband who shared memories of a deceased wife. Others shared they can’t give up on their dreams, such as making a living in music or becoming a mother. All of us have something we treasure dearly—a person, a passion, a possession—something we can’t give up.

In the book of Hosea, God tells us that He won’t give up on His chosen people Israel, His treasured possession. As Israel’s loving husband, God provided her with everything she needed: land, food, drink, clothing, and security. Yet like an adulterous spouse, Israel rejected God and sought her happiness and security elsewhere. The more God pursued her, the further she drifted away (Hosea 11:2). However, though she had hurt Him deeply, He would not give her up (v. 8). He would discipline Israel so as to redeem her; His desire was to re-establish His relationship with her (v. 11).

Today, all God’s children can have the same assurance: His love for us is a love that will never let us go (Romans 8:37–39). If we’ve wandered from Him, He yearns for us to return. When God disciplines us, we can be comforted that it’s a sign of His pursuit, not of His rejection. We are His treasure; He won’t give up on us.

Today’s Reflection

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love that never gives up on me. Help me to love You wholeheartedly.

Merciful

by Inspiration Ministries

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew 5:7 NASB

Rome dominated much of the ancient world, with an empire built by military might. This control was clear to people throughout Judea, who could see the presence of Roman soldiers.

Nations then and now have believed that ruthlessness is the path to dominance. Indeed, this can result in short-term gains. But history shows that nations who rule by ruthlessness should not expect to receive mercy in return. In fact, they often became victims of the ruthlessness they employed.

How should the people of Judea have reacted to the presence of Rome? Many expected them to answer Roman ruthlessness with their own commitment to violence.

But Jesus taught a completely different attitude toward life, with a focus on spiritual things, seeking first God’s Kingdom. He stressed the importance of mercy. If we want God’s blessings, we must realize that He shows mercy to those who are merciful.

The Greek word translated “merciful” here, used for the only time in the Gospels, suggests compassion and concern. In the world, those who practice ruthlessness may seem to dominate. Yet they often forget that God is the ultimate Ruler. The righteous Judge. That we always reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). That if we need God’s forgiveness, we need to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15).

Do you want God’s mercy? Then seek to be merciful and compassionate. This even means loving your enemies (Luke 6:35). Make this your attitude, if you want to receive God’s blessings.

Prayer

Father, I seek Your blessings on my life. Help me to be more merciful toward others. Thank You for being merciful to me, and for forgiving my sins. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee? (Daniel 6:20).

How many times we find this expression in the Scriptures, and yet it is just this very thing that we are so prone to lose sight of. We know it is written “the living God”; but in our daily life there is scarcely anything we practically so much lose sight of as the fact that God is the living God; that He is now whatever He was three or four thousand years since; that He has the same sovereign power, the same saving love towards those who love and serve Him as ever He had and that He will do for them now what He did for others two, three, four thousand years ago, simply because He is the living God, the unchanging One. Oh, how therefore we should confide in Him, and in our darkest moments never lose sight of the fact that He is still and ever will be the living God!

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. An older brother who has known the Lord for forty-four years, who writes this, says to you for your encouragement that He has never failed him. In the greatest difficulties, in the heaviest trials, in the deepest poverty and necessities, He has never failed me; but because I was enabled by His grace to trust Him He has always appeared for my help. I delight in speaking well of His name.
–George Mueller

Luther was once found at a moment of peril and fear, when he had need to grasp unseen strength, sitting in an abstracted mood tracing on the table with his finger the words, “Vivit! vivit!” (“He lives! He lives!”). It is our hope for ourselves, and for His truth, and for mankind. Men come and go; leaders, teachers, thinkers speak and work for a season, and then fall silent and impotent. He abides. They die, but He lives. They are lights kindled, and, therefore, sooner or later quenched; but He is the true light from which they draw all their brightness, and He shines for evermore.
–Alexander Maclaren

“One day I came to know Dr. John Douglas Adam,” writes C. G. Trumbull. “I learned from him that what he counted his greatest spiritual asset was his unvarying consciousness of the actual presence of Jesus. Nothing bore him up so, he said, as the realization that Jesus was always with him in actual presence; and that this was so independent of his own feelings, dependent of his deserts, and independent of his own notions as to how Jesus would manifest His presence.

“Moreover, he said that Christ was the home of his thoughts. Whenever his mind was free from other matters it would turn to Christ; and he would talk aloud to Christ when he was alone — on the street, anywhere — as easily and naturally as to a human friend. So real to him was Jesus’ actual presence.

Happy New Year Everyone

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New Year, New Priorities

From: Our Daily Bread

New Year, New Priorities

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10

I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the cello. But I’ve never found the time to enroll in a class. Or, perhaps more accurately, I haven’t made the time for it. I had thought that in heaven I could probably master that instrument. In the meantime, I wanted to focus on using my time in the particular ways God has called me to serve Him now.

Life is short, and we often feel the pressure to make the most of our time on Earth before it slips away. But what does that really mean?

As King Solomon contemplated the meaning of life, he offered two recommendations. First, we’re to live in the most meaningful way we can, which includes fully enjoying the good things God allows us to experience in life, such as food and drink (Ecclesiastes 9:7), clothing and perfume (v. 8 nlt), marriage (v. 9), and all of God’s good gifts—which might include learning how to play the cello!

His second recommendation was diligent work (v. 10). Life is full of opportunities, and there is always more work to be done. We’re to take advantage of the opportunities God gives us, seeking His wisdom on how to prioritize work andplay in a way that uses our gifting to serve Him.

Life is a wonderful gift from the Lord. We honor Him when we take pleasure both in His daily blessings and in meaningful service.

Father, thank You for this life You’ve given me. Help me to live this new year for You, enjoying Your blessings and fulfilling Your purposes.

We can both enjoy God’s blessings and be a blessing to others.

 

Echoes from the Garden

Author: Debbie Rodgers

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Two years ago, my friend left San Antonio to be with her dad in Houston. He was undergoing surgery for liver cancer at MD Anderson. The doctors had given the family a rather bleak outlook. My friend, who is a single mother, was without her two kids who were away at camp. For several weeks she found herself going back and forth to be with her dad.

I knew my friend was feeling very alone during this time so I was determined to be on standby to help her if she needed me. When her first call came, I was heading back to San Antonio from a meeting in Austin. She explained that her dad’s vitals did not look good and that he did not have long. This was the first real indicator that I needed to go to Houston that day. About two hours after our initial conversation she finally said, “Please come now.”

My friend needed me and that became the priority in that moment. I was back in my car and on the road within 45 minutes of the request. I called my friend to let her know I was on my way to Houston, a trip that would take about four hours. As my thoughts about the situation were rolling around in my head, the cell phone rang once again. I saw that it was her on caller id and I said, “How are you?”

My friend’s response pierced my heart. Even though she knew that I was only thirty minutes down the road, she asked a question that went beyond logic. With a sound of desperate aloneness in her voice she said, “Where are you?”  She wasn’t being conversational or asking me about my actual location. She was communicating from a much deeper place expressing her loneliness – her feeling of loss. Those three words still resonate in me today. These are the same words our Creator used a long time ago when we went missing.

In a garden that none of us can yet imagine where there was no loss, Adam and Eve would walk with God. This was a place of extreme beauty and bliss – a place translated, “delight or paradise.” Every day in majestic surroundings the ones made in His image found themselves interacting with the Creator of the universe. Their relationship was one of complete intimacy with nothing between them. God loved His creation and they knew it beyond any doubt. Actually, they had never experienced doubt to know what it felt like.

God was in paradise with two others whom He deeply loved and He seemed to find fulfillment just being with them. Adam and Eve gave God something the angelic host could not. They could choose to love Him back the way that He loved them. They could choose to stay intertwined in an eternal relationship with nothing hidden and nothing to be afraid of. Then, one day after walking in all that love and beauty, Adam and Eve chose to walk away.

God’s response to this choice is forever etched in the earth. The words that poured out of His heart were ones that expressed His anguish. These were desperate, longing, searching words communicating His great feeling of loss just as my friends had the day she felt so alone. They are the same words that can be heard now when one has wondered far away from the garden where God is and looks for us to be.

If anyone wonders what God is all about – what He is really interested in, take a walk back to paradise when His heart first broke. Go back to the first time He missed you. Hear the deep longing beyond the words. Listen with your heart as you hear His. His words do not hide what our Creator really desires, what He really longs for. God’s words to all humanity remain the same today as it was that day in the garden,“Where are you?” Three gut-wrenching words explain God’s heart toward us. In them we find Him. They echo His passion. They forever communicate – it is us that God wants.

Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:9 (NLT)

Let Us Keep to the Point

By Oswald Chambers

Let Us Keep to the Point

My Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness. “Whether it means life or death-it makes no difference!” (see My Utmost for His Highest. “…my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed….” We will all feel very much ashamed if we do not yield to Jesus the areas of our lives He has asked us to yield to Him. It’s as if Paul were saying, “My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest— my best for His glory.” To reach that level of determination is a matter of the will, not of debate or of reasoning. It is absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will at that point. An undue amount of thought and consideration for ourselves is what keeps us from making that decision, although we cover it up with the pretense that it is others we are considering. When we think seriously about what it will cost others if we obey the call of Jesus, we tell God He doesn’t know what our obedience will mean. Keep to the point— He does know. Shut out every other thought and keep yourself before God in this one thing only— my utmost for His highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone. Philippians 1:21). Paul was determined that nothing would stop him from doing exactly what God wanted. But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide— for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.

Be Thankful To God

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.” Ps. 118:29

“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Ps. 9:1

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Ps. 7:17

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faithwill grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Col. 2:7

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Col. 3:15

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Col. 4:2

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Honoring God with Thanks

Honoring God with Thanks
Read: Psalm 50:8–15 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 37–39; 2 Peter 2

Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:15

The doctor wasn’t frowning, despite talking to my husband about his recent cancer diagnosis. Smiling, she offered a suggestion: start each day by giving thanks. “For at least three things,” the doctor said.  Dan agreed, knowing that gratitude opens our hearts to find encouragement in God’s goodness. Thus, Dan starts each day with words of praise. Thank You, God, for a good night’s sleep. For my clean bed. For sunshine. For breakfast on the table. For a smile on my lips.

Each word is heartfelt. But could it sound trivial? Does our praise in life’s small details matter to Almighty God? In Psalm 50, David’s chief musician, Asaph, offers a clear answer. God has “no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens” (v. 9). Instead of these once-formal Israelite sacrifices of gratitude, God wants His people to give Him our hearts and lives in gratitude (vv. 14, 23).

As my husband experienced, whole-hearted gratitude helps our spirits flourish. Then when we call on the Lord “in the day of trouble,” He will “deliver” us (v. 15).  Does this mean Dan will be healed, spiritually and physically, during his two-year treatment? Or not until after this lifetime? We don’t know. But for now, Dan delights in showing God he’s grateful for His love, and for who God is: Redeemer. Healer. Friend. And friends delight to hear these beautiful words: Thank You.My gratitude to God is great to Him.

 

The Power of a Life Well Lived

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By: Joe Stowell

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Philippians 2:14-15

In the years leading up to the fall of the Iron Curtain in Russia, I remember praying for Russian Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. The political situation in that land seemed grim, and quite honestly I wasn’t really expecting to see God answer our prayers for freedom in that land. But in 1989 the unthinkable happened—the curtain collapsed, ushering in a new era of freedom for the people who had been under the iron fist of that communist government. The world rejoiced at the news, and I was especially thrilled that our fellow believers in that land could now freely express their faith in Christ.

Soon after that happened, three leaders of the Russian church came to visit the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. As president of Moody at the time, I was privileged to give them a tour. While we walked, I asked them what events had led to the cessation of oppression and persecution against the church. They explained that their economy had been failing because alcoholism was rampant. People who didn’t believe in God had no purpose, and absenteeism from work—largely due to alcoholism—was wreaking havoc with the economy. They said that once when Gorbachev, who was then the Prime Minister, met with his cabinet, he asked, “Why is it that we persecute the Christians? They are the ones who are not alcoholics. They show up for work every day and give us a good day’s work. Why is it that we persecute people like this whom we desperately need?”

It’s a great example of the power of a life well-lived. When non-Christians in this “crooked and depraved generation” notice that we are different, it gives us an opportunity to make a difference for Christ. I wonder if the people where you work would agree with Gorbachev’s observation? Or would they say, “Those Christians—they are always the ones who are griping, murmuring, arriving late, and leaving early?” Even in environments where we may feel challenged or unappreciated, we are called to bear witness to the reality of God in our lives by being “pure and blameless.” It’s often true that the more difficult the environment, the more challenging it is to show the uniqueness of God’s character through our actions and attitudes. Yet it is in those dark times that the light of Jesus in us and through us can shine most brightly.

When we maintain the witness of a life well-lived even in the face of hardship, we have the power to make a difference in our home, workplace, and significant relationships.

Live in such a way that your boss will be prompted to say, “I don’t always get it about Christians but one thing is true—our business is a lot better place because they work here!” And then maybe, just maybe, your boss will be open for you to help him “get it” about Christians—all the way to Jesus. Now that would really make a difference!

November 30

Jacob’s Ladder

 

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From:  Through The Bible Devotions

Isaiah 40:25-27 (NIV) 25“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. 27Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”?

What will you compare God to? What or who has always been? Who is unchanging throughout eternity? How ridiculous to think we could make some image of our infinite Creator! How arrogant to think that we could give Him advice or suggest a better way than that which He has chosen!

Look at the stars on a clear night sky. You know you can only see a small fraction of them, and yet, God has each one set just where he would place it. It is there at His command and exists for His purposes. Each one has a name given it by its Creator, just as He intimately knows each of the billions of people on earth. None can hide or go unnoticed. We have a hard time remembering all the names of our few friends. When you contemplate God, do not compare Him with finite and error prone men.

Considering His greatness, considering His omniscience, dare we complain that God is not acting on our behalf? Do we think that somehow our case slipped by Him? Do we really believe He isn’t concerned? He knows every detail. He knows a million details about your situation that you are not aware of. Trust Him. He will one day help you see why things happened as they did. The one who places their trust in God will never be disappointed. He is the Holy One. He makes no mistakes.

Meditation: The Eternal One knows what I need and can bring into my life anything He deems necessary.