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Man’s Greatest Honor; To Be God’s Friend

God Takes Up Enoch      Genesis  5:24   (Read about this great man)
23    So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.
25    Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and became the father of Lamech.
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620 × 335 – eastbaytimes.com
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Friendship with God

From: Utmost.org

Friendship with God

The Delights of His Friendship. Genesis 18 brings out the delight of true friendship with God, as compared with simply feeling His presence occasionally in prayer. This friendship means being so intimately in touch with God that you never even need to ask Him to show you His will. It is evidence of a level of intimacy which confirms that you are nearing the final stage of your discipline in the life of faith. When you have a right-standing relationship with God, you have a life of freedom, liberty, and delight; you are God’s will. And all of your commonsense decisions are actually His will for you, unless you sense a feeling of restraint brought on by a check in your spirit. You are free to make decisions in the light of a perfect and delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will lovingly produce that sense of restraint. Once he does, you must stop immediately.

The Difficulties of His Friendship. Why did Abraham stop praying when he did? He stopped because he still was lacking the level of intimacy in his relationship with God, which would enable him boldly to continue on with the Lord in prayer until his desire was granted. Whenever we stop short of our true desire in prayer and say, “Well, I don’t know, maybe this is not God’s will,” then we still have another level to go. It shows that we are not as intimately acquainted with God as Jesus was, and as Jesus would have us to be— “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22). Think of the last thing you prayed about— were you devoted to your desire or to God? Was your determination to get some gift of the Spirit for yourself or to get to God? “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). The reason for asking is so you may get to know God better. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). We should keep praying to get a perfect understanding of God Himself.

 

Running and Rest

From: Our Daily Bread

Running and Rest
 
 

[Jesus] said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

The headline caught my eye: “Rest Days Important for Runners.” In Tommy Manning’s article, the former member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team emphasized a principle that dedicated athletes sometimes ignore—the body needs time to rest and rebuild after exercise. “Physiologically, the adaptations that occur as a result of training only happen during rest,” Manning wrote. “This means rest is as important as workouts.”

The same is true in our walk of faith and service. Regular times of rest are essential to avoid burnout and discouragement. Jesus sought spiritual balance during His life on Earth, even in the face of great demands. When His disciples returned from a strenuous time of teaching and healing others, “He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (Mark 6:31). But a large crowd followed them, so Jesus taught them and fed them with only five loaves and two fish (vv. 32–44). When everyone was gone, Jesus “went up on a mountainside to pray” (v. 46).

If our lives are defined by work, then what we do becomes less and less effective. Jesus invites us to regularly join Him in a quiet place to pray and get some rest.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your example of prayer alone with Your Father. Give us wisdom and determination to make rest a priority as we follow You.

In our life of faith and service, rest is as important as work.

 

Arlene Pellicane March 20, 2017
No Longer Shy
ARLENE PELLICANE

From: Crosswalk.com

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10 (NIV)

I was reserved as a child. When my parents started attending a church, I didn’t want to be separated from them, so I refused to go with the other elementary school kids. I enjoyed my comfort zone, just a few feet away from my parents. As an only child, I was accustomed to a predictable life, free from siblings. I was afraid of being in unfamiliar territory.

What if I couldn’t find anyone to sit next to me in kid’s church?

What if I had a question, but I didn’t know who to ask?

After many months of comfortably sitting next to my parents in the main service, my mother decided to give me a little pep talk.

“You are going to try the children’s program soon,” she said. “When you go into the room, look for the other kids who are by themselves. Show interest and ask questions about what they like. If you care for others, you won’t be lonely yourself.”

That conversation with my mom helped me reframe my young fears. At first it was hard to overcome my nervousness to talk to other children I didn’t know. But over time, I learned to say hi to any girls who were sitting alone. My fear of being separated from my parents turned into an interest in others (with a little prodding from my mom). I became more comfortable — and now almost 40 years later, I still follow my mom’s advice when I’m in a room filled with people I don’t know.

Look for the lonely.

For many of us, it’s easy to walk into a crowded room and either stick with the people we know or hide in a corner with a phone. Yet in today’s key verse, we’re instructed to consider others, even if it costs us something. When you’re shy, it’s difficult to make that first move toward a stranger. But as God’s children, we are called to reach out to others, which is an act of service to the Lord.

This idea of reaching out to others isn’t just for children’s church, work parties or networking events. It’s the way a Christian ought to behave: looking outwardly, looking for the lonely, looking for ways to bless others.

In this context of being affectionate to each other in brotherly love, the Apostle Paul writes we are to be diligent and fervent (Romans 12:11). Not lagging in diligence means not being lazy when serving the Lord. To be fervent in spirit means to glow with enthusiasm for God. Romans 12:13 says we are to contribute to the needs of the saints and to be given to hospitality. Our hearts, homes and pocketbooks should be open, generously and joyfully creating opportunities to reach out to those in need.

In our brief key verse, the phrase “one another” is mentioned twice, denoting just how important loving others is to God. We are to be devoted to one another and to honor one another. Verse 16 continues this theme; we are to live in harmony with one another.

Herein lies the cure for loneliness and shyness.

Be “one another” minded toward your brothers and sisters in Christ. Look for the lonely. When you look outwardly to serve others, putting the spotlight on your family, friends, neighbors, pastors or co-workers, you won’t be lonely very often. Shyness melts away when God’s people make a heart-to-heart connection.

Although I’m an only child, I do have many brothers and sisters … in Christ. You are not alone, my friend. You are part of God’s beautiful, loving family.

Lord Jesus, thank You for loving me first, which gives me the ability to love others. Help me notice those around me who need a special touch from You. Use me to befriend the friendless. May I overcome any inhibitions to become the caring person You want me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Jesus Sets The Prisoner Free

The Rejection at Nazareth      Luke 4: 18
17    the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it was written:
19    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”…
Did you know that Jesus was arrested, imprisoned, and executed not for His sin but for ours?   Through his death and resurrection we can be redeemed by faith.
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Trapped in Sin

From: Our Daily Journey

Trapped in Sin

Read:

Romans 3:9-31
Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins (Romans 3:24).

A police officer rescued a deer whose head had become lodged within a discarded light globe. The officer’s first attempt to pull the plastic object off the frightened animal’s head failed, although it came free during a second try. Officials estimate that the animal had been caught with the globe on its head for at least one full day!

Similar to the deer’s helpless predicament, Paul says that we are poor, sinful, lost creatures, incapable of getting ourselves out of our own dilemma. He notes that our hearts are trapped in sin—all of us are born under sin’s power and “fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:9,23).

In Romans 3:10-18, the apostle quotes from six Old Testament passages revealing that we’re born alienated from God, don’t naturally seek Him, have turned away from Him, and don’t have a true view of His greatness. Without God, we’re utterly helpless and can’t rescue ourselves.

But in view of humanity’s helplessness, God stepped in and provided a perfect rescue by His grace through our faith in Jesus His Son (Romans 3:24). Jesus alone provided the perfect sacrifice God required, and His death for us on the cross satisfied the demands of sin—freeing us from the grip of sin and making a restored relationship with God possible (Romans 3:25).

You and I no longer need to remain trapped in sin. God saw our hopeless condition and extended grace, love, and mercy in order to restore us to Himself. We’re rescued and “made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes” (Romans 3:21-22).

Are you trapped by your sin? Receive God’s gift of salvation today through faith in Jesus!

Jell-O Knees

From: Get More Strength.org

“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6

Somewhere in the distance I heard a siren. Buildings loomed on either side of us and my pulse quickened each time we passed an unlit alley. I was a boy at the time and my family was attending a night service at a church located in one of the sketchier parts of New York City. We all know that as children certain places and situations seem scarier than they might be for adults—so I felt a bit shaky—you know, like my knees were made of Jell-O. And, I wasn’t looking forward to going back to the car later that night.

After the church service, the pastor asked two of his deacons to escort us back to our car. These were two seriously big dudes. I felt no fear with a “church bouncer” on either side of us. I was sure they were larger and more intimidating than anything or anyone we would encounter.

Fear is a funny thing. It enlarges whatever we’re afraid of and shrinks our view of God. As Christians, we need to reclaim our view of God’s greatness by focusing on His presence, power, and protection when we are afraid.

I don’t know about you, but my fear tends to wither away when I remember that God is present everywhere, all the time. He has no boundaries. He is in New York City, east Mongolia, and the south of France, all at the same time! It’s clear that David had a great grasp of this reality when he said: “Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (Psalm 139:7-8). In the rest of that psalm, David affirms that whether it’s dark or light, morning or evening, or whether you are sleeping or awake, God is present.

It gets even better. Not only is God everywhere, but He is also all-powerful. He has unlimited power, and He delights in sharing it with you and me. If you are a follower of Jesus, you can access God’s power when you pray and ask Him to act on your behalf. You also draw on His power when you open the Word of God and discover how much He loves and cares for you, and how anxious He is to protect and help you. And you draw on the power when you allow the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts, words, and actions. In 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV, we read, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power.” Rest assured, God’s power can disarm any intimidating influence in your environment!

The combination of God’s presence and power make Him the greatest protector of all time. He alone has the power to keep you safe wherever you go, and He promises to never leave us or forsake us. If you’re walking in the light of that promise, you have the right to say, with confidence: “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

As a kid on that dark street in New York City, I was imagining all sorts of things that man could do to me. But when those two guys walked us back to our car, all fear was gone! They weren’t God, but I’ve often thought that they did what God does for me every day of my life no matter where I am. Keeping God’s enduring presence, infinite power, and supernatural protection in mind will take the Jell-O right out of your knees—every time!

 

Abraham’s Life of Faith

From: Utmost.org

Abraham’s Life of Faith

In the Old Testament, a person’s relationship with God was seen by the degree of separation in that person’s life. This separation is exhibited in the life of Abraham by his separation from his country and his family. When we think of separation today, we do not mean to be literally separated from those family members who do not have a personal relationship with God, but to be separated mentally and morally from their viewpoints. This is what Jesus Christ was referring to in Luke 14:26.

Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason— a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world.

The final stage in the life of faith is the attainment of character, and we encounter many changes in the process. We feel the presence of God around us when we pray, yet we are only momentarily changed. We tend to keep going back to our everyday ways and the glory vanishes. A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles’ wings, but is a life of day-in and day-out consistency; a life of walking without fainting (see Isaiah 40:31). It is not even a question of the holiness of sanctification, but of something which comes much farther down the road. It is a faith that has been tried and proved and has withstood the test. Abraham is not a type or an example of the holiness of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith— a faith, tested and true, built on the true God. “Abraham believed God…” (Romans 4:3).

 

A Small Fire

From: Our Daily Bread

A Small Fire
Read: James 3:3–12 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 1–3; Mark 16

The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. James 3:5

It was a Sunday night in September and most people were sleeping when a small fire broke out in Thomas Farriner’s bakery on Pudding Lane. Soon the flames spread from house to house and London was engulfed in the Great Fire of 1666. Over 70,000 people were left homeless by the blaze that leveled four-fifths of the city. So much destruction from such a small fire!

The Bible warns us of another small but destructive fire. James was concerned about lives and relationships, not buildings, when he wrote, “The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (James 3:5).

But our words can also be constructive. Proverbs 16:24 reminds us, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” The apostle Paul says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6). As salt flavors our food, grace flavors our words for building up others.

Through the help of the Holy Spirit our words can encourage people who are hurting, who want to grow in their faith, or who need to come to the Savior. Our words can put out fires instead of starting them.

Lord, I can always use help with the way I talk. For this day, help me to speak words of hope and encouragement to build up others.

What will our words be like today?

Are We Small Yet?

13   Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them; and the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
15   And after He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there.…
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Are We Small Yet?

From: Get More Strength

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” Philippians 2:3 NASB

Kids are great! Things that we take for granted are occasions for awe and wonder for them. And their perspectives are often convictingly right on.

Take, for instance, the little girl who loved watching the planes that took off from a nearby airport as she played in her backyard. From her point of view, planes literally got smaller and smaller the farther they flew away. Which explains the strange thing she said to her dad after he decided to take her on a business trip. Soon after taking off, she turned to her dad and said, “Daddy, are we small yet?”

That’s a really important—and challenging—question to ask ourselves. There is something about us that doesn’t like feeling small. It starts early. Any kid worth his salt will gladly throw up his arms and do the “so big!” routine when you ask him, “How big are you?” We may stop throwing up our arms, but we never really grow out of wanting to be “so big” in other people’s eyes. It’s amazing how quickly life gets to be all about who’s got the nicest house, the best job, the coolest car, the highest degree, the biggest diamond, or the best office on the executive floor. We are quick to defend ourselves to keep ourselves looking good. We like to draw attention to our accomplishments and turn conversations to focus on us, and we find ourselves a little put out when we are not noticed or invited to hang out with the “in” crowd.

For most of us, life is about anything but making ourselves small. We are the tall “I” in the middle of our universe.

And that’s a problem.

In Philippians 2:3-11, Paul tells us that we need to stop living to advance ourselves and our own interests and instead start considering others as more important than ourselves. In fact, he says that we should do nothing from “empty conceit”—which literally means the puffing up of our nothingness. I love the graphic picture in that thought. No matter how big you puff up a zero, it’s still a zero!

And then he points us to Jesus who didn’t consider his “big” standing in heaven a thing to hang on to, but rather He humbled himself to care for our interests by becoming obedient to death on the cross. Think of that! Jesus thought of us and our needs as being more important than His own! He made himself small that we by His abundant mercy might become big in the riches of His grace.

Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus!

Are you small yet?

 

From: Streams in the Desert

He answered nothing (Mark 15:3).

There is no spectacle in all the Bible so sublime as the silent Savior answering not a word to the men who were maligning Him, and whom He could have laid prostrate at His feet by one look of Divine power, or one word of fiery rebuke. But He let them say and do their worst, and He stood in THE POWER OF STILLNESS–God’s holy silent Lamb.

There is a stillness that lets God work for us, and holds our peace; the stillness that ceases from its contriving and its self-vindication, and its expedients of wisdom and forethought, and lets God provide and answer the cruel blow, in His own unfailing, faithful love.

How often we lose God’s interposition by taking up our own cause, and striking for our defense. God give to us this silent power, this conquered spirit! And after the heat and strife of earth are over, men will remember us as we remember the morning dew, the gentle light and sunshine, the evening breeze, the Lamb of Calvary, and the gentle, holy heavenly Dove.
–A. B. Simpson

The day when Jesus stood alone
And felt the hearts of men like stone,
And knew He came but to atone
That day “He held His peace.”
They witnessed falsely to His word,
They bound Him with a cruel cord,
And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
They spat upon Him in the face,
They dragged Him on from place to place,
They heaped upon Him all disgrace;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
My friend, have you for far much less,
With rage, which you called righteousness,
Resented slights with great distress?

Your Saviour “held His peace.”
–L. S. P.

I remember once hearing Bishop Whipple, of Minnesota, so well known as “The Apostle of the Indians,” utter these beautiful words: “For thirty years I have tried to see the face of Christ in those with whom I differed.”

When this spirit actuates us we shall be preserved at once from a narrow bigotry and an easy-going tolerance, from passionate vindictiveness and everything that would mar or injure our testimony for Him who came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.
–W. H. Griffith Thomas

 

Something’s Wrong

From: Our Daily Breadd

Something's Wrong

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

The morning after our son, Allen, was born, the doctor sat down in a chair near the foot of my bed and said, “Something’s wrong.” Our son, so perfect on the outside, had a life-threatening birth defect and needed to be flown to a hospital 700 miles away for immediate surgery.

When the doctor tells you something is wrong with your child, your life changes. Fear of what lies ahead can crush your spirit and you stumble along, desperate for a God who will strengthen you so you can support your child.

Would a loving God allow this? you wonder. Does He care about my child? Is He there? These and other thoughts shook my faith that morning.

Then my husband, Hiram, arrived and heard the news. After the doctor left, Hiram said, “Jolene, let’s pray.” I nodded and he took my hand. “Thank You, Father, for giving Allen to us. He’s Yours, God, not ours. You loved him before we knew him, and he belongs to You. Be with him when we can’t. Amen.”

Hiram has always been a man of few words. He struggles to speak his thoughts and often doesn’t try, knowing that I have enough words to fill any silence. But on a day when my heart was broken, my spirit crushed, and my faith gone, God gave Hiram strength to speak the words I couldn’t say. And clinging to my husband’s hand, in deep silence and through many tears, I sensed that God was very near.

How has God used people to strengthen you when your spirit was crushed? Share your story at Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

The best kind of friend is a praying friend.

 

Will I Bring Myself Up to This Level?

From: Utmost.org

Will I Bring Myself Up to This Level?

“Therefore, having these promises….” I claim God’s promises for my life and look to their fulfillment, and rightly so, but that shows only the human perspective on them. God’s perspective is that through His promises I will come to recognize His claim of ownership on me. For example, do I realize that my “body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” or am I condoning some habit in my body which clearly could not withstand the light of God on it? (1 Corinthians 6:19). God formed His Son in me through sanctification, setting me apart from sin and making me holy in His sight (see Galatians 4:19). But I must begin to transform my natural life into spiritual life by obedience to Him. God instructs us even in the smallest details of life. And when He brings you conviction of sin, do not “confer with flesh and blood,” but cleanse yourself from it at once (Galatians 1:16). Keep yourself cleansed in your daily walk.

I must cleanse myself from all filthiness in my flesh and my spirit until both are in harmony with the nature of God. Is the mind of my spirit in perfect agreement with the life of the Son of God in me, or am I mentally rebellious and defiant? Am I allowing the mind of Christ to be formed in me? (see Philippians 2:5). Christ never spoke of His right to Himself, but always maintained an inner vigilance to submit His spirit continually to His Father. I also have the responsibility to keep my spirit in agreement with His Spirit. And when I do, Jesus gradually lifts me up to the level where He lived— a level of perfect submission to His Father’s will— where I pay no attention to anything else. Am I perfecting this kind of holiness in the fear of God? Is God having His way with me, and are people beginning to see God in my life more and more?

Be serious in your commitment to God and gladly leave everything else alone. Literally put God first in your life.

What Does Jesus Expect From Us?

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

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Liz Curtis Higgs March 17, 2017
What Does Jesus Expect from Us?
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3 (NIV)

Every year I count on a special gift from my husband: a small, 1-ounce bottle of my favorite perfume. If I limit myself to a few careful squirts a day, I can make that beautiful scent last the entire year.

The last thing I would do with something so precious is pour it onto a man’s feet (yes, even the feet of a man I love). But that’s exactly what Mary of Bethany did.

Just six days before the Lord’s crucifixion, Mary of Bethany broke her alabaster jar of perfume and released every drop, saving nothing for herself. Ounce after ounce drenched Jesus’ skin, soaked the hem of His garment and pooled on the floor around His heels. With the fragrant perfume running through her fingers, Mary anointed and massaged His feet right there in front of God and everybody.

Friend, it was scandalous. And glorious.

Was this aromatic substance cool to the touch or warm? Sticky or silky? Only Jesus and Mary knew how it felt. But everyone knew what it meant. I love You, I honor You, I worship and adore You.

And she wasn’t finished. Following the same path as her perfume, her dark hair spilled across His feet, as Mary of Bethany “wiped his feet with her hair” (John 12:3a). The original Greek simply reads “the hair of her with the feet of him.” Yes, that’s it. Her hair. His feet.

Since a woman’s hair, then and now, is closely tied to her sense of self-worth, Mary was quietly letting go of self — her longing to be looked up to, her desire to be attractive, her need to be liked.

This devout follower, this beloved sister, used her long hair to dry a man’s feet, the lowest job for the lowliest servant. She laid her whole being before Him: her pride, her reputation, her social standing, her clean hands, her pure heart.

“And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3b). In fact, the scent carried right out the door, since the aroma of spikenard oil could travel half a mile away. Their neighbors in Bethany no doubt lifted their heads and sniffed the evening air.

Today we marvel at Mary’s story and stand in awe of her sacrifice, but we’re also left wondering how we could ever hope to duplicate it. Her perfume was worth a year’s wages” (John 12:5b, NIV) — about $30,000 in today’s currency. Is that what the Lord expects us to do? Give up everything we have?

Yes. But don’t panic.

Everything we have comes from God — our possessions, our bodies, our talents, our spiritual gifts, our everythingSo, He will provide what He intends us to sacrifice, and He will give us the strength and courage to let go. That’s how amazing our God is. He is “… able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV).

What does Jesus expect from us? Only what He’s already given us.

Lord, we long to be as generous as Mary of Bethany, pouring out our lives for Your glory. Help us trust You to provide what’s needed, certain You will fill our hands and hearts with every good thing, so we may give them back to You with joy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 12:1, “So I beg you, brothers and sisters, because of the great mercy God has shown us, offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him — an offering that is only for God and pleasing to him. Considering what he has done, it is only right that you should worship him in this way.” (ERV)

 

After You

From: Our Daily Bread

After You

Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left. Genesis 13:9

In some cultures a younger person is expected to permit his elder to enter a room first. In others, the most important or highest ranking individual enters first. No matter what our traditions, there are times when we find it difficult to allow someone to choose first on important matters, especially when that privilege rightfully belongs to us.

Abram (later called Abraham) and his nephew Lot had so many flocks, herds, and tents that the land could not support both of them as they traveled together. To avoid conflict, Abram suggested they part company and generously gave Lot first choice of the land. His nephew took the fertile Jordan Valley, leaving Abram with the less desirable land.

Abram did not insist on his rights as the elder in this situation but trusted his future to God. “So Abram said to Lot, ‘Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me . . . . Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left’ ” (Gen. 13:8–9). Lot’s choice eventually led to dire consequences for his entire family (see Gen. 19).

Today, as we face choices of many kinds, we can trust our Father to guide us in His way. He has promised to care for us. He will always give us what we need.

Father, Your unfailing love and faithfulness guide us in every choice we make. May our lives speak well of You and honor You today.

God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.  Jim Elliot

 

The Servant’s Primary Goal

From: Utmost.org

The Servant’s Primary Goal

“We make it our aim….” It requires a conscious decision and effort to keep our primary goal constantly in front of us. It means holding ourselves to the highest priority year in and year out; not making our first priority to win souls, or to establish churches, or to have revivals, but seeking only “to be well pleasing to Him.” It is not a lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but a lack of working to keep our eyes focused and on the right goal. At least once a week examine yourself before God to see if your life is measuring up to the standard He has for you. Paul was like a musician who gives no thought to audience approval, if he can only catch a look of approval from his Conductor.

Any goal we have that diverts us even to the slightest degree from the central goal of being “approved to God” (2 Timothy 2:15) may result in our rejection from further service for Him. When you discern where the goal leads, you will understand why it is so necessary to keep “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Paul spoke of the importance of controlling his own body so that it would not take him in the wrong direction. He said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest…I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

I must learn to relate everything to the primary goal, maintaining it without interruption. My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life. Is my primary goal in life to please Him and to be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how lofty it may sound?

God Never Changes

Romans 12:1-2

1   Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
 
 
2    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
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Before and After

From: Get More Strength

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” Ephesians 2:10

I’m sure that you’ve seen those before and after pictures in ads for diet pills. The before picture always features some tremendously out-of-shape obese guy. The after picture then shows him looking trim, sculpted, and usually holding out the waistband of his old pants, which are now many sizes too big. The ad then tells the story about how this particular diet plan melted off the pounds in record time.

Whether or not you believe those amazing testimonials, there is an even more amazing before and after picture that is not only believable but available as well. It’s the picture of your life before and after Jesus.

The before picture would show how purposeless, sometimes burdened, often confused, searching, and sinful your life really was. The Bible is pretty clear about our condition before we met Jesus. It describes us as being lost, broken, guilty, condemned, and even “enemies” of God (Col. 1:21).

But then we met Him. Realizing that He wasn’t chasing us down with the sheriff’s posse to lock us up for our sin, we repentantly responded to His amazing offer of mercy and grace. Thanks to Jesus, our before picture now lays in pieces amidst the rubble of our past lives, and we have the privilege of stepping up to have our after snapshot taken.

But, I wonder—what would that picture look like?

Ephesians 2:10 describes the after picture in a simple, yet profound way. Paul writes that as a result of being saved by His grace, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” God is the new designer for our lives—a kind of divine personal trainer! And what does He desire to make our lives look like the after picture? Our text goes on to say that we have been “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”

When Scripture talks about “good works,” it’s a lot more than going to church every Sunday and tithing. Good works are actions that reflect God’s mercy, grace, compassion, and righteousness. It’s the action of loving others, even when they aren’t all that loveable; forgiving; reaching out to the poor and disadvantaged; caring for the lost and the losers; being patient and tolerant with the faults and failures of others; serving the needs of others without clamoring for applause; providing the fruits of righteousness for those around us to be blessed by.

Here’s a good way to think of it. Our after picture ought to be a duplicate picture of the good works that God has so generously showered on us. In fact, His good works in our lives are like a workout seminar on how to treat and respond to others.

When I see the after pictures in diet ads, I often wonder what the person looks like now. Believe me, I know what it’s like to trim down only to lose sight of the goal and chub back up again. So, let’s not lose sight of the goal.

You’ve been saved to be an ad for the glory of God’s goodness in your life and His good work through you to the lives of others. So what’s your after picture looking like today? Shed the excess fat of your past and let His glory show!

 

Spilling Through My Fingers

From: Our Daily Bread

Spilling Through My Fingers

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand . . . ? Isaiah 40:12

After I clumsily knocked over my glass on the restaurant counter, the spilled beverage began to cascade over the edge and onto the floor. Out of sheer embarrassment, I tried to catch the waterfall with cupped hands. My efforts were largely unsuccessful; most of my beverage rushed through my fingers. In the end, my upturned palms held little more than a meager tablespoon each, while my feet stood in puddles.

My life feels similar on many days. I find myself scrambling to solve problems, oversee details, and control circumstances. No matter how hard I try, my feeble hands are incapable of managing all the pieces and parts. Something invariably slips through my fingers and pools on the floor at my feet, leaving me feeling overwhelmed. No amount of contorting my hands or squeezing my fingers more tightly together makes me able to handle it all.

Yet God can. Isaiah tells us that God can measure the globe’s waters—all the oceans and rivers and rain—in the hollow of His hands (40:12). Only His hands are large enough to hold them all. We needn’t try to hold more than the tablespoon He’s designed our hands to carry. When we feel overwhelmed, we can entrust our cares and concerns into His capable hands.

 

Broken Community

From: Our Daily Journey

Broken Community

Read:

Matthew 9:9-17
I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners (Matthew 9:13).

Many of our neighbors’ experiences have left them wondering how to reconcile what they know of the church with what they know of God. They’ve tasted harshness in place of conviction, rejection in lieu of love, and isolation instead of family. Sadly, refraining from any local church involvement has become a norm for them.

If inviting a tax collector to follow Him wasn’t reason enough for their disdain, Jesus provoked the full weight of the religious community’s criticism when He dared to dine with less than commendable individuals (Matthew 9:10). In a culture where eating a meal together spoke of communion, relationship, and belonging, He defied their socioreligious hierarchy by sitting in community with “scum” (Matthew 9:11). In the religious leaders’ estimation, Jesus should have known better, and—in truth—He did.

Reminding them that it’s the sick that need a doctor (Matthew 9:12), Jesus challenged the idea that spiritual community should be contingent upon one’s level of religious perfection. Later, Paul revealed that God’s plan for us is wholeness—in spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). But the real power behind this restorative work becomes evident in verse 24: “God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.”

Scripture doesn’t leave us without a model of compassion to follow (John 8:10-12). Love moved the heart of God to intervene on our behalf so that we might be set free from sin. Our response to others should be no less—extending compassion from hearts that understand true restoration comes only through repentance (Psalm 103:13; Isaiah 30:18). As God provides what we need to extend community to the broken, we move from a fragmented community to one of grace.

Jesus Sacrificed Himself For Us

Jesus sacrificed His life for our sins so we would be saved. 
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The Parable of the Prodigal Son    Luke 15:23
22   But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
23   Bring the fatted calf and kill it. Let us feast and celebrate.
24   For this son of mine was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.…

This Time It’s Personal

From: Get More Strength

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son’ ” Luke 15:21

I’ll make a confession if you promise not to tell.

Having been selected to represent my college in a traveling music team one summer, I had a few days to relax at home before returning to campus for a week of practice before we started our tour. During my short visit home I discovered a bag of M-80s in my dresser drawer. In case you don’t know, M-80s are like firecrackers on steroids! Deciding that these would be perfect boredom breakers during our pre-tour rehearsals, I brought them back to campus and wasted no time showing them to my friends. No sooner had I pulled them out of the bag than someone mentioned that they go off under water.

The bathroom down the hall provided the perfect laboratory to prove the claim. I opened one of the stall doors, lit the M-80, and dropped it into the toilet bowl. I backed into the shower stall nearby and waited. For a few quiet seconds, nothing happened. But then—KABOOM! I opened up the stall door to find thousands of porcelain shards and a gaping hole in the floor where the toilet used to be!

Since there were only five of us on campus, I knew that it would not take long for the authorities to find the culprit, so I decided it would be best to make a preemptive strike and contact the Dean of Students immediately. We had a brief conversation, talking about me paying for the damage and other potential consequences, and then I headed off for our first week of summer tour, thinking: There, that takes care of that!

But when we came back to campus for some supplies after our first week on the road, I was informed that the president of the college wanted to see me in his office. Gulp! What made matters worse was that the president was a close and long-standing friend of our family.

After dropping the M-80 into the toilet bowl, it never crossed my mind that the real problem with my foolishness was not a blasted toilet and a flooded bookstore below the bathroom. The problem was that I had offended an important person in my life and had potentially damaged a significant relationship.

This is exactly what Jesus is getting at in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:21. While we normally think that the boy’s guilt relates to his dabblings in the darker side of life in a faraway land, that’s not Christ’s point. The prodigal asked for his inheritance early, which in that day was like saying to his dad, “I wish you were dead!” And in addition, he squandered a portion of the family estate, which was an equally egregious offense to his father.

The story of the prodigal was told to demonstrate that our sin is first and foremost a deep offense to God. It’s easy to focus on the external consequences of sin by playing games of cover-up, using repentance as a strategy for damage control so that we can get on with life. But the heart of true repentance is an acknowledgement of grief and sorrow over the way that we have personally offended our God who has given us so much and who loves us so deeply.

Thankfully, God—like the prodigal’s father—waits for us to come and repent of our sin against Him so that He can stun us with His compassionate grace of forgiveness and restoration. How good it is to hear Him say, “Kill the fatted calf. Let’s have a party! My son who was lost has come home!”

 

A Good Inheritance

From: Our Daily Bread

A Good Inheritance
 
 

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice. 2 Timothy 1:5

Grandpa and Grandma Harris didn’t have a lot of money, yet they managed to make each Christmas memorable for my cousins and me. There was always plenty of food, fun, and love. And from an early age we learned that it was Christ who made this celebration possible.

We want to leave the same legacy to our children. When we got together last December to share Christmas with family, we realized this wonderful tradition had started with Grandpa and Grandma. They couldn’t leave us a monetary inheritance, but they were careful to plant the seeds of love, respect, and faith so that we—their children’s children—might imitate their example.

In the Bible we read about grandma Lois and mom Eunice, who shared with Timothy genuine faith (2 Tim. 1:5). Their influence prepared this man to share the good news with many others.

We can prepare a spiritual inheritance for those whose lives we influence by living in close communion with God. In practical ways, we make His love a reality to others when we give them our undivided attention, show interest in what they think and do, and share life with them. We might even invite them to share in our celebrations! When our lives reflect the reality of God’s love, we leave a lasting legacy for others.

Father, may I leave a good spiritual inheritance to my family as You use me to show Your everlasting love.

If someone has left you a godly inheritance, invest it in others.

 

Giving Out of Love

From: Our Daily Journey

Giving Out of Love

Read:

Deuteronomy 15:4-11, 24:17-22
Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him (Proverbs 14:31).

A UK survey revealed that 96 percent of the generous donors surveyed gave to charity because they wanted to give back to society and tackle inequality. And 71 percent said they gave because of their faith.

Giving generously to those in need is central to being a believer in Jesus—something that reflects His heart. Our God, the defender of the poor and the oppressed (Psalm 12:5), told His people that He keeps a watchful eye on the orphans, widows, and foreigners—giving them justice, food, and clothing (Deuteronomy 10:18). He wanted them to be compassionate, to “not be hardhearted or tightfisted” but to “give generously . . . , not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do” (Deuteronomy 15:7,10).

When harvesting crops (Deuteronomy 24:19-21), the people were to provide food for the poor by leaving some behind so they could harvest it. God twice reminded them that they too were once poor. “Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from your slavery. . . . That is why I have given you this command” (Deuteronomy 24:18,22). God blessed them materially so that they could enjoy His good gifts. But they were to share them with those in need (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).

How are we living out the heart of God for those in need? Whether we have little or much, it’s our joy to pour out on others what He’s given, remembering that “those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.” And, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and he will repay you!” (Proverbs 14:31, 19:17).

May we give to those in need as God prompts us and provides, using us as conduits of His love and compassion.

You Are Safe In Jesus’ Hand

John 10: 27- 29
27    My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.
28    I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.
29    My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.…
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No Cause For Alarm

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath. —Ephesians 4:26

The sound of the alarm blaring from inside the church struck panic in my heart. I had arrived at church early one Sunday morning, planning to spend a little time in peace and quiet before the congregation arrived. But I forgot to disarm the burglar alarm. As I turned the key, the disruptive and annoying blasting of the alarm filled the building—and no doubt the bedrooms of sleeping neighbors.

Anger is a lot like that. In the midst of our peaceful lives, something turns a key in our spirit and triggers the alarm. And our internal peace—not to mention the tranquility of those around us—is interrupted by the disruptive force of our exploding emotions.

Sometimes anger appropriately calls our attention to an injustice that needs to be addressed, and we are spurred to righteous action. Most of the time, however, our anger is selfishly ignited by the violation of our expectations, rights, and privileges. In any case, it’s important to know why the alarm is sounding and to respond in a godly way. But one thing is sure, anger was never intended to continue unchecked.

It’s no wonder that Paul reminds us of the psalmist’s warning: “‘Be angry, and do not sin’; do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph. 4:26; Ps. 4:4).

Spirit of God, please change my heart
And give me a new desire;
Help me to be a man of peace
Who’s not controlled by anger’s fire. —K. De Haan

Anger left unchecked is cause for alarm.

 

Yielding

From: Utmost.org

Yielding

The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the past I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because at some point in my life I yielded myself to Him.

If a child gives in to selfishness, he will find it to be the most enslaving tyranny on earth. There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding. For example, yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust, and although you may hate yourself for having yielded, you become enslaved to that thing. (Remember what lust is— “I must have it now,” whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind.) No release or escape from it will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. “…He has anointed Me…to proclaim liberty to the captives…” (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1).

When you yield to something, you will soon realize the tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, “Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like,” you will know you can’t. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, “He will break every fetter,” while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person’s life.

 

Open Arms

From: Our Daily Bread

Open Arms

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23

The day my husband, Dan, and I began our caregiving journey with our aging parents, we linked arms and felt as if we were plunging off a cliff. We didn’t know that in the process of caregiving the hardest task we would face would be to allow our hearts to be searched and molded and to allow God to use this special time to make us like Him in new ways.

On days when I felt I was plunging toward earth in an out-of-control free-fall, God showed me my agendas, my reservations, my fears, my pride, and my selfishness. He used my broken places to show me His love and forgiveness.

My pastor has said, “The best day is the day you see yourself for who you are—desperate without Christ. Then see yourself as He sees you—complete in Him.” This was the blessing of caregiving in my life. As I saw who God had created me to be, I turned and ran weeping into His arms. I cried out with the psalmist: “Search me, God, and know my heart” (Ps. 139:23).

This is my prayer for you—that as you see yourself in the midst of your own circumstances, you will turn and run into the open, loving, and forgiving arms of God.

Gracious Father, I recognize today my desperate need of Your love, wisdom, and grace. Search me and know me. Pour out Your grace and mercy in my life to bring healing to my heart.

 

When worry walks in, strength runs out. But strength returns when we run to God.

The Joy Of Singing To God

O Lord, My God, You are Very Great    Psalm 104:33
32  He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke.
33  I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
34  Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.…
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The Song Of The Saints

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. . . . Your judgments have been manifested. —Revelation 15:4

We’ve all heard the expression, “I don’t get mad; I just get even.” Reading about the judgments described in Revelation, one might assume that God will get “even” with sinners for their phenomenal offenses throughout the history of mankind.

The truth is that God’s final judgment is a necessary expression of His holy justice. He can’t turn a blind eye to sin. In fact, if He doesn’t finally carry out justice as described in Revelation, it would be a denial of His holy character. That’s why in the midst of His judgments, the saints will sing His praise: “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. . . . Your judgments have been manifested” (Rev. 15:4). Those who know God best do not judge Him for His judgments; rather, they worship and affirm His actions.

What should surprise us is not the massive scale of God’s judgments, but that He’s waiting so long! Desiring that none should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), God is now mercifully restraining His judgment and giving maximum space to His marvelous mercy and grace. Now is the time to repent and take advantage of His patient love. And when we do, we’ll join the saints in praising Him for all eternity!

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song. —Lehman
© Renewal 1945, Nazarene Publishing.

When God’s justice is finally and fully revealed, His praises will resound!

 

 

Surprise Interview

From: Our Daily Bread

Surprise Interview

The King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” Matthew 25:40 nlt

On a crowded London commuter train, an early morning rider shoved and insulted a fellow passenger who got in his way. It was the kind of unfortunate and mindless moment that usually remains unresolved. But later that day, the unexpected happened. A business manager sent a quick message to his social media friends, “Guess who just showed up for a job interview.” When his explanation appeared on the Internet, people all over the world winced and smiled. Imagine walking into a job interview only to discover that the person who greets you is the one you had shoved and sworn at earlier that day.

Saul also ran into someone he never expected to see. While raging against a group called the Way (Acts 9:1–2), he was stopped in his tracks by a blinding light. Then a voice said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (v. 4). Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The One speaking to him replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (26:15).

Years earlier Jesus had said that how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, and the prisoner reflects our relationship to Him (Matt. 25:35–36). Who would have dreamed that when someone insults us, or when we help or hurt another, the One who loves us takes it personally?

Father, forgive us for acting as if You were not present in our moments of need, hurt, anger, or compassion.

When we help or hurt one another, Jesus takes it personally.

 

 

The Skeptic

From: Our Daily Journey

The Skeptic

Read:

John 20:24-29
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28).

Not long after the fall of the Iron Curtain, I traveled to Ukraine with a Christian ministry. One evening, I met with two college students who peppered me with questions about faith and God. I was struck by their open and earnest searching, because they had lived for years under a communist regime in which God and religion were outlawed. They weren’t looking for easy answers, but simply wanted to figure out what they believed.

It’s likely this encounter has stuck with me because I often operate the opposite way—with a skeptical rather than seeking posture. I can be overly cautious, slow to commit, and prone to poke holes in a belief wherever I possibly can.

Perhaps Thomas was somewhat similar. After Jesus’ resurrection, the Savior met with His disciples, but Thomas wasn’t there. When the disciples excitedly told the skeptical disciple about their encounter, Thomas dismissed the story. “I won’t believe it,” he insisted, “unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side” (John 20:25).

It’s unfortunate we’ve saddled the disciple with the name “doubting Thomas,” for apparently Jesus was little bothered by Thomas’ suspicion. Jesus came to him, offering His wounds for him to investigate. Face to face with his friend and teacher, the skeptic fell to his knees. “My Lord and my God!” he exclaimed (John 20:28).

Perhaps it would have been better if Thomas had been able to take his friends’ words without requiring evidence, but I’m struck by Jesus’ kindness. He came to Thomas, loving him even in his doubt. None of us has to leap very far to find ourselves in Jesus’ open arms. We have only to say yes to the love He offers to us.

Surrender To God’s Grace

 

James 4:7

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Mark 14:35-36

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

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Total Surrender

From: Utmost.org

Total Surrender

Our Lord replies to this statement of Peter by saying that this surrender is “for My sake and the gospel’s” (10:29). It was not for the purpose of what the disciples themselves would get out of it. Beware of surrender that is motivated by personal benefits that may result. For example, “I’m going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin, because I want to be made holy.” Being delivered from sin and being made holy are the result of being right with God, but surrender resulting from this kind of thinking is certainly not the true nature of Christianity. Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, “No, Lord, I don’t want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ‘This is what God has done for me.’ ” Gaining heaven, being delivered from sin, and being made useful to God are things that should never even be a consideration in real surrender. Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.

Where does Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our natural relationships? Most of us will desert Him with this excuse— “Yes, Lord, I heard you call me, but my family needs me and I have my own interests. I just can’t go any further” (see Luke 9:57-62). “Then,” Jesus says, “you ‘cannot be My disciple’ ” (see Luke 14:26-33).

True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion. If we will only give up, God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender. Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.

 

It’s Not Me

From: Our Daily Bread

It's Not Me

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others. 1 Peter 4:10

While on vacation recently, I gave my razor a rest and grew a beard. Various responses came from friends and co-workers—and most were complimentary. One day, however, I looked at the beard and decided, “It’s not me.” So out came the razor.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of who we are and why one thing or another does not fit our personality. Primarily, it’s because God has bestowed us with individual differences and preferences. It’s okay that we don’t all like the same hobbies, eat the same foods, or worship in the same church. We are each uniquely and “wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). Peter noted that we are uniquely gifted in order to serve each other (1 Peter 4:10–11).

Jesus’s disciples didn’t check their characteristics at the door before entering His world. Peter was so impulsive that he cut off a servant’s ear the night Jesus was arrested. Thomas insisted on evidence before believing Christ had risen. The Lord didn’t reject them simply because they had some growing to do. He molded and shaped them for His service.

When discerning how we might best serve the Lord, it’s wise to consider our talents and characteristics and to sometimes say, “It’s not me.” God may call us out of our comfort zone, but He does so to develop our unique gifts and personalities to serve His good purposes. We honor His creative nature when we permit Him to use us as we are.

 

Is God Necessary?

From: Our Daily Journey

Is God Necessary?

Read:

Luke 24:13-34
Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! (Luke 24:31).

A few years ago, writer Maureen Dowd was in Australia to promote her book Are Men Necessary? At one event, Dowd and a female interviewer were on stage when a member of the audience asked if a podium blocking her view could be moved. In an instant, two men heaved aside the heavy podium as the audience began to laugh. “Are men necessary?” the interviewer quipped, “I think the question has been answered.”

A variety of voices today proclaim the “irrationality” of belief and the “nonsense” of divine things. In their own words they ask, “Is God necessary?” As I ponder Maureen Dowd’s experience, I wonder if there isn’t an ironic twist to their question too.

“Is God necessary?” the critic asks, using the very breath God has given him (Acts 17:25). “There is no God,” says another, as she enjoys God-given sunshine and rain (Acts 14:17). “I’m living fine without God,” says a third, not realizing his place of birth was divinely determined (Acts 17:26). “God is the cause of all wars,” says a fourth, forgetting all the hospitals, assisted-living homes, and charities started in His name. “God is dead,” said Friedrich Nietzsche, while in fact God is on the stage helping us out.

Two disciples once walked along a dusty road talking about religious things (Luke 24:13-34). As they traveled, a third person joined them. They didn’t recognize His face, but His words made their hearts “burn within [them]” (Luke 24:32). Only later, as they urged Him to stay, did they discover it was God-in-the-flesh (Luke 24:31).

As debates about God’s existence continue, isn’t it ironic that He is walking beside us as we talk? He’s there, hidden but present, revealing Himself more fully to those who invite Him to stay.

Be Part Of Salvation

The First Disciples       Matthew 4: 18-20
18   As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.
20   And at once they left their nets and followed Him.…
Image result for pictures of people fishingImage result for pictures of people fishing
Image result for pictures of people fishingImage result for pictures of people fishing

Image result for pictures of people fishingImage result for pictures of people fishing
Image result for pictures of people fishingImage result for pictures of people fishing
Image result for pictures of people fishingImage result for pictures of people fishing

Gone Fishin

From: Get More Strength. org

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs’” John 21:15

Not long after I married my wife, Martie, I realized that she had a deep love for animals in general and dogs in particular. She grew up with Trudy, a black lab, who was a faithful friend and companion. I grew up in a home that never had any pets. (Actually, my mom had a canary, but it’s not easy to bond to a bird!) I’m sorry to admit this to all you dog lovers, but my feeling was, “Dogs? Who needs a dog? They’re for people who can’t make it with humans and need props from the animal kingdom.”

So, when Martie said, “Joe, let’s get a dog!” my answer to her was less than satisfactory. It was at that point that I woke up to a very important principle of loving relationships. It is this: You demonstrate your love to someone by caring about what they care about. Which meant that if I wanted to prove my love for Martie, I would set aside my rather warped view of pets. So that’s exactly what I did, and we bought a dog. And I helped walk the dog and feed the dog, and eventually I ended up liking the dog!

This is exactly what’s behind Jesus’ interrogation of Peter. Loving Jesus is not proven by our singing about our love for Him in church. It is most clearly demonstrated when we care about what He cares about. And, more than anything else, He cares about people. Reading through the Gospels, it becomes clear that He is “into” one thing—people. He came to our planet because people needed what He only could bring to us. And, as you probably know, He went to the extremes of self-sacrifice to prove how committed He was to meeting our needs.

What I find interesting is that His love for people was not reserved only for the people who were easy to love. He cared about the needs of tax collectors. He extended His love to despised Samaritans. He ate and fellowshiped with sinners and granted the freeing power of mercy and forgiveness to prostitutes. It didn’t make any difference—if you were warm and breathing, you mattered to Jesus.

In John 21, Peter had bailed on his calling to “fish for men” and had gone back to his old career of fishing for fish (John 21:3). After he and some others had fished all night and caught nothing, Jesus showed up on the beach and filled their nets with fish. It was at this point that He did some serious business with Peter. In a triple interrogation, Jesus wanted to know if Peter loved Him. Though Peter verbally affirmed his love, Jesus made it clear that He would know that Peter loved Him only when Peter left his nets again and gave himself to the needs and nurture of people.

So here’s the takeaway. It really doesn’t make any difference how fervently you and I verbally affirm our love for Jesus. If we aren’t into extending our love and resources to the needs of others, then He doesn’t feel loved by us. It’s just that simple! But here’s the good news. People are everywhere—all kinds of them! You can find them at home, in the office, on the streets, and in heavy traffic. There may even be a few at church! So what are you waiting for? Today, Jesus has shown up on the beach of your heart and called you from a life lost in your own interests and offered you the privilege of getting involved in what He cares about—the needs and nurture of people!

 

Obedience to the “Heavenly Vision”

From: Utmost.org

Obedience to the

If we lose “the heavenly vision” God has given us, we alone are responsible— not God. We lose the vision because of our own lack of spiritual growth. If we do not apply our beliefs about God to the issues of everyday life, the vision God has given us will never be fulfilled. The only way to be obedient to “the heavenly vision” is to give our utmost for His highest— our best for His glory. This can be accomplished only when we make a determination to continually remember God’s vision. But the acid test is obedience to the vision in the details of our everyday life— sixty seconds out of every minute, and sixty minutes out of every hour, not just during times of personal prayer or public meetings.

“Though it tarries, wait for it…” (Habakkuk 2:3). We cannot bring the vision to fulfillment through our own efforts, but must live under its inspiration until it fulfills itself. We try to be so practical that we forget the vision. At the very beginning we saw the vision but did not wait for it. We rushed off to do our practical work, and once the vision was fulfilled we could no longer even see it. Waiting for a vision that “tarries” is the true test of our faithfulness to God. It is at the risk of our own soul’s welfare that we get caught up in practical busy-work, only to miss the fulfillment of the vision.

Watch for the storms of God. The only way God plants His saints is through the whirlwind of His storms. Will you be proven to be an empty pod with no seed inside? That will depend on whether or not you are actually living in the light of the vision you have seen. Let God send you out through His storm, and don’t go until He does. If you select your own spot to be planted, you will prove yourself to be an unproductive, empty pod. However, if you allow God to plant you, you will “bear much fruit” (John 15:8).

It is essential that we live and “walk in the light” of God’s vision for us (1 John 1:7).

 

Mayday!

From: Our Daily Bread

Mayday!

When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. Psalm 86:7

The international distress signal “Mayday” is always repeated three times in a row—“Mayday-Mayday-Mayday”—so the situation will be clearly understood as a life-threatening emergency. The word was created in 1923 by Frederick Stanley Mockford, a senior radio officer at London’s Croydon Airport. That now-closed facility once had many flights to and from Le Bourget Airport in Paris. According to the National Maritime Museum, Mockford coined Mayday from the French word m’aidez, which means, “help me.”

Throughout King David’s life, he faced life-threatening situations for which there seemed to be no way out. Yet, we read in Psalm 86 that during his darkest hours, David’s confidence was in the Lord. “Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.  When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me” (vv. 6–7).

David also saw beyond the immediate danger by asking God to lead his steps: “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (v. 11). When the crisis was past, he wanted to keep walking with God.

The most difficult situations we face can become doorways to a deeper relationship with our Lord. This begins when we call on Him to help us in our trouble, and also to lead us each day in His way.

Lord, even as we call to You for help today, please help us to keep walking with You when this crisis is over.

God hears our cries for help and leads us in His way.