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Keep A Firm Spiritual Foundation

 

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Our Foundation

The Bavarian city of Nördlingen is unique. It sits in the middle of the Ries Crater, a large circular depression caused by the impact of a huge meteorite a long time ago. The immense pressure of the impact resulted in unusual crystallized rock and millions of microscopic diamonds. In the 13th century, these speckled stones were used to build St. George’s Church. Visitors can see the beautiful crystal deposits in its foundation and walls. Some might say it has a heavenly foundation.

The Bible talks of a different kind of heavenly foundation. The Lord Jesus came to our world from heaven (John 3:13). When He went back into heaven after His death and resurrection, He left His followers who became the “living temple” of God, of which He is the foundation. The apostle Paul says, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).

The church building in Bavaria is built on a foundation from pieces of rock from the physical heavens. But the spiritual church—all believers in Christ—is founded on the ultimate heavenly foundation, Christ Jesus (Isa. 28:16; 1 Cor. 10:3-4). Praise God that because of what Jesus has done our salvation is secure.

On Christ salvation rests secure;
The Rock of Ages will endure;
Nor can that faith be overthrown
Which rests upon the “Living Stone.” —Anon.
Christ, the Rock, is our sure hope.

Stop Fighting God

Streams In The Desert

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day (Genesis 32:24).

God is wrestling with Jacob more than Jacob is wrestling with God. It was the Son of man, the Angel of the Covenant. It was God in human form pressing down and pressing out the old Jacob life; and ere the morning broke, God had prevailed and Jacob fell with his thigh dislocated. But as he fell, he fell into the arms of God, and there he clung and wrestled, too, until the blessing came; and the new life was born and he arose from the earthly to the heavenly, the human to the divine, the natural to the supernatural. And as he went forth that morning he was a weak and broken man, but God was there instead; and the heavenly voice proclaimed, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”

Beloved, this must ever be a typical scene in every transformed life. There comes a crisis-hour to each of us, if God has called us to the highest and best, when all resources fail; when we face either ruin or something higher than we ever dreamed; when we must have infinite help from God and yet, ere we can have it, we must let something go; we must surrender completely; we must cease from our own wisdom. strength, and righteousness, and become crucified with Christ and alive in Him. God knows how to lead us up to this crisis, and He knows how to lead us through.

Is He leading you thus? Is this the meaning of your deep trial, or your difficult surroundings, or that impossible situation. or that trying place through which you cannot go without Him, and yet you have not enough of Him to give you the victory?

Oh, turn to Jacob’s God! Cast yourself helplessly at His feet. Die to your strength and wisdom in His loving arms and rise, like Jacob, into His strength and all-sufficiency. There is no way out of your hard and narrow place but at the top. You must get deliverance by rising higher and coming into a new experience with God. Oh, may it bring you into all that is meant by the revelation of the Mighty One of Jacob! There is no way out but God.

At Thy feet I fall,
Yield Thee Up My ALL,
To suffer LIVE, OR DIE

For my Lord crucified.

 

Don’t Be In Danger Of Judgment

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:21-22).

IDEA: To understand what Jesus is saying about the real substance of God’s righteousness, we need to keep four factors in mind as we interpret what He is saying.

PURPOSE: To help listeners read the teaching of Jesus intelligently.

What do you think Jesus is doing in Matthew 5:21ff when he talks about our needing a righteousness that goes beyond the conduct of the scribes and Pharisees? Is He giving us a more stringent set of rules to follow? Is Jesus giving us a tougher law?

To understand what Jesus is saying, we must be aware of how to listen to Him.

I. We must read what He says in the context of what He has already taught in the Sermon on the Mount:

Have you ever had something you said taken out of context? What happened?

II. We must realize that Jesus preached in Palestine in the first century.

In that oral culture, preachers and teachers loved to tell stories.

They told stories without explaining them. The parables don’t work in the same way as illustrations do.

We use illustrations to explain an abstract concept to our hearers.

The Near Eastern speaker tells a story but lets the listeners figure out the point for themselves. The listener comes to the lesson intuitively.

III. Sometimes the speakers in the first century used hyperbole to make a point.

Jesus said that we must “hate” our families before we can be his disciples (Luke 14:26). That’s strong stuff. Is Jesus saying that we must cherish harsh feelings toward those who are closest and dearest to us? What is He saying?

Later in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:29), Jesus is talking about lust, saying, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.”

Do you think Jesus meant that literally?

Would that be helpful advice for someone addicted to pornography?

IV. Jesus wanted to pound home the principle that having a righteousness expressed in the Law isn’t merely doing the commandment as it appears on paper. Obedience lies in the spirit in how we keep the command.

If we fail to keep that in mind, we will turn what Jesus said into another set of laws.

Moses Had Faith

From; Discover The Word

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Hebrews 11:23-26).

Idea: Sin is disobedience to what I know God wants me to do.

Purpose: To help listeners realize that sin is often an attitude more than an act.

When I was younger, I remember evangelists taking off on a phrase in Hebrews 11:25 about Moses: “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”

How do you think the evangelist applied the phrase “the pleasures of sin”?

I. The phrase probably isn’t referring to the indulgences of the appetites.

Notice two men who are mentioned next to each other and who had much in common: Joseph and Moses (Hebrews 11:22-23).

Joseph lived in Egypt from the time he was 17 years old. He rose to the top of the Egyptian government.

He was made the secretary of agriculture. He was in charge of all the grain in both lower and upper Egypt.

He enjoyed the perks of that position (Genesis 41:41-43).

Joseph was a wealthy man.

He had the confidence and ear of the Pharaoh.

Moses was also a man of power, wealth, and influence in Egypt.

He had the title “son of Pharaoh’s daughter.”

He had wealth and education (Acts 7:22).

II. Why do you think the writer of the letter to the Hebrews says that Moses turned his back on “the pleasures in Egypt”?

Do you think the lifestyle involved in being part of Pharaoh’s court was more wicked than in Joseph’s time?

Was Joseph’s position in Pharaoh’s court a compromise with evil?

Were the first 40 years that Moses spent as part of Pharaoh’s court lived in sinful indulgence?

III. The “pleasures of sin” would be the sin that Moses would have committed by turning his back on God’s people and God’s call.

Apostasy is choosing some value as being more important than Christ (Hebrews 10:30).

Joseph, as an official in Pharaoh’s court, protected God’s people by his position. But Moses, as an official in Pharaoh’s court, would have had to put himself in opposition to God’s people.

It isn’t necessarily wrong to be part of Pharaoh’s court, but it is a sin if God has called you to a different life or to another place.

Come To God With Singing

 

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Is Somebody Singing?

From 200 miles above Earth, Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut and commander of the International Space Station, joined in song with a group of students in a studio on Earth. Together they performed “Is Somebody Singing,” co-written by Hadfield and Ed Robertson.

One phrase of the song caught my attention: “You can’t make out borders from up here.” Although we humans draw many lines to separate ourselves from one another—national, ethnic, ideological—the song reminded me that God doesn’t see such distinctions. The important thing to God is that we love Him and each other (Mark 12:30-31).

Like a loving father, God wants His family united. We cannot accomplish what God has for us to do if we refuse to be reconciled with one another. In His most impassioned prayer, on the night before He was crucified, Jesus pleaded with God to unite His followers: “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us” (John 17:21).

Singing illustrates unity as we agree on the lyrics, chords, and rhythms. Singing can also promote unity as it binds us together in peace, proclaims God’s power through praise, and demonstrates God’s glory to the world.

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace. —Wesley
Singing God’s praises will never go out of style.

 

From: Streams in the Desert

I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me (Acts 27:25).

I went to America some years ago with the captain of a steamer, who was a very devoted Christian. When off the coast of Newfoundland he said to me, “The last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, something happened which revolutionized the whole of my Christian life. We had George Mueller of Bristol on board. I had been on the bridge twenty-four hours and never left it. George Mueller came to me, and said, ‘Captain I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec Saturday afternoon.’ ‘It is impossible,’ I said. ‘Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement for fifty-seven years. Let us go down into the chart-room and pray.'”

“I looked at that man of God, and thought to myself, ‘What lunatic asylum can that man have come from? I never heard of such a thing as this.’ ‘Mr. Mueller,’ I said, ‘do you know how dense this fog is?’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.'”

“He knelt down and prayed one of the most simple prayers, and when he had finished I was going to pray; but he put his hand on my shoulder, and told me not to pray. ‘First, you do not believe He will answer; and second I BELIEVE HE HAS, and there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.'”

“I looked at him, and he said, ‘Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to get audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door, and you will find the fog gone.’ I got up, and the fog was indeed gone. On Saturday afternoon, George Mueller was in Quebec for his engagement.”
–Selected

If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine,
In the sweetness of our Lord.

 

Doing What Is Right 

August 17

From: Through The Bible

2 Chronicles 26:4-5, 16 (NIV) 4He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done. 5He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success… 16But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.

If you read yesterday’s devotion you will be wondering about verse 4. How could the author say that Amaziah did what was right in the eyes of the LORD? Perhaps the Old Testament authors knew more about grace than we give them credit. Many of the kings did terrible acts and yet were called right in the eyes of the LORD. The only way to really reconcile this is that the grace of God covered their sins because they had given their lives to God. This should encourage us that though we have backslidden at times, the grace of God covers ALL our sin. The stories of these kings are so much like the lives of Christians today. At a memorial service we hear the very same thing that the author writes here. Every person has failures and shortcomings but to what or Whom did they commit their soul?

There is a cycle of testing in the lives of most Christians that is similar to the one Uzziah experienced. When they commit themselves to obeying God and serving Him, they find their lives are blessed in many ways, including physical abundance. Here is where the testing becomes more difficult and the refinement more intense. We can go the way of Uzziah and become prideful, thinking our blessings are the result of our efforts and skills, or we can go the way of David, who humbled himself and realized that without God he was nothing. Both of these kings were credited as doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but one finished with a powerful testimony of repentance and restoration. The other, Uzziah, ended his life isolated and in shame. Much of the fruit of our actions is seen in this life, especially at the end of life. The prideful are then powerless, and those that flocked around them while they held power desert them. The humble, however, even though powerless, will be surrounded with the lives of those they have blessed.

Consider: Which will you be?

Evening

August 17

Romans 10:8-10 (NIV) 8But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

In chapters 9 and 10 of Romans, the Apostle Paul is describing his intense desire to see Jews come to believe in Jesus as their Messiah. He goes on to describe the problem they are having. In trying to obtain righteousness by keeping the Law, they are stuck in an impossible effort. To be righteous through the Law is only possible if you keep all the Law, and none but Christ has ever been able to do that. But there is another righteousness that is found within the pages of the Law. It is the righteousness that comes from trusting in God. Paul quotes the prophet Joel as saying, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (vs 13)

In the passage for today, he sums up what the stories in the Law teach us. They show us that when Messiah comes, we need to trust in Him for our righteousness. Then, you will confess that righteousness is not from you but from the One who is your redemption. To confess Jesus is Master over all and believe that God raised Him from the dead is to place your hope entirely in Him. This is the only way to be saved.

What you believe in your heart cannot help but come from your lips. When you believe enough to confess, you will know you are saved. He becomes Lord of your mouth and reputation today. He does not merely remain an intellectual idea that you ascend to that gives you entrance into heaven, but He is your Master. You recognize that He is Master over all. You declare it in your conversations. When He is your King, you have entered the Kingdom.

Consider: Have you believed in your heart and confessed with your mouth? If so, you have the righteousness of Christ credited to your account. You are saved. If not, why not? Choose to do so now?

A New Friend

 

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Does He Know Me . . . ?

From: My Utmost For His Highest

When I have sadly misunderstood Him?(see John 20:11-18). It is possible to know all about doctrine and still not know Jesus. A person’s soul is in grave danger when the knowledge of doctrine surpasses Jesus, avoiding intimate touch with Him. Why was Mary weeping? Doctrine meant no more to her than the grass under her feet. In fact, any Pharisee could have made a fool of Mary doctrinally, but one thing they could never ridicule was the fact that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her (see Luke 8:2); yet His blessings were nothing to her in comparison with knowing Jesus Himself. “. . . she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. . . . Jesus said to her, ’Mary!’ ” (John 20:14, 16). Once He called Mary by her name, she immediately knew that she had a personal history with the One who spoke. “She turned and said to Him, ’Rabboni!’ ” (John 20:16).

When I have stubbornly doubted? (see John 20:24-29). Have I been doubting something about Jesus— maybe an experience to which others testify, but which I have not yet experienced? The other disciples said to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord” (John 20:25). But Thomas doubted, saying, “Unless I see . . . I will not believe” (John 20:25). Thomas needed the personal touch of Jesus. When His touches will come we never know, but when they do come they are indescribably precious. “Thomas . . . said to Him, ’My Lord and my God!’ ” (John 20:28).

When I have selfishly denied Him? (see John 21:15-17). Peter denied Jesus Christ with oaths and curses (see Matthew 26:69-75), and yet after His resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter alone. Jesus restored Peter in private, and then He restored him publicly before the others. And Peter said to Him, “Lord . . . You know that I love You” (John 21:17).

Do I have a personal history with Jesus Christ? The one true sign of discipleship is intimate oneness with Him— a knowledge of Jesus that nothing can shake.

A New Friend

From: Get More Strength

I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. —John 15:15

While flying from Europe back to the US, I found myself sitting next to a little girl who never stopped talking from the moment she sat down. She told me the history of her family and all about her puppy, who was in the hold of the plane. She pointed excitedly to everything around us, “Look at this! Look at that!” I couldn’t help but think that 8 hours of this could make for a very long flight!

We chatted for a while until she suddenly got quiet. She pulled her blanket up around her, so I thought maybe she was going to doze off. I quickly took advantage of the break and reached for the nearest magazine. But before I could open it, I felt a little elbow in my side. I looked down at her, and she threw out her little hand and said, “Hey, Joe, wanna be friends?”

My heart melted. “Sure,” I said, “let’s be friends.”

In the midst of the turmoil of life, when we think all we want is to be left alone, Jesus extends His nail-scarred hand and invites us to be His friends. He says, “I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). We have a choice: to keep to ourselves, or to open our heart to a friendship of unlimited love and guidance.

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer. —Scriven

Jesus longs to be your Friend.

 

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name.”
Psalm 29:2

God’s glory is the result of his nature and acts. He is glorious in his character, for there is such a store of everything that is holy, and good, and lovely in God, that he must be glorious. The actions which flow from his character are also glorious; but while he intends that they should manifest to his creatures his goodness, and mercy, and justice, he is equally concerned that the glory associated with them should be given only to himself. Nor is there aught in ourselves in which we may glory; for who maketh us to differ from another? And what have we that we did not receive from the God of all grace? Then how careful ought we to be to walk humbly before the Lord! The moment we glorify ourselves, since there is room for one glory only in the universe, we set ourselves up as rivals to the Most High. Shall the insect of an hour glorify itself against the sun which warmed it into life? Shall the potsherd exalt itself above the man who fashioned it upon the wheel? Shall the dust of the desert strive with the whirlwind? Or the drops of the ocean struggle with the tempest? Give unto the Lord, all ye righteous, give unto the Lord glory and strength; give unto him the honour that is due unto his name. Yet it is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence–“Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name be glory.” It is a lesson which God is ever teaching us, and teaching us sometimes by most painful discipline. Let a Christian begin to boast, “I can do all things,” without adding “through Christ which strengtheneth me,” and before long he will have to groan, “I can do nothing,” and bemoan himself in the dust. When we do anything for the Lord, and he is pleased to accept of our doings, let us lay our crown at his feet, and exclaim, “Not I, but the grace of God which was with me!”

Evening

“Ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit.”
Romans 8:23

Present possession is declared. At this present moment we have the first fruits of the Spirit. We have repentance, that gem of the first water; faith, that priceless pearl; hope, the heavenly emerald; and love, the glorious ruby. We are already made “new creatures in Christ Jesus,” by the effectual working of God the Holy Ghost. This is called the firstfruit because it comes first. As the wave-sheaf was the first of the harvest, so the spiritual life, and all the graces which adorn that life, are the first operations of the Spirit of God in our souls. The firstfruits were the pledge of the harvest. As soon as the Israelite had plucked the first handful of ripe ears, he looked forward with glad anticipation to the time when the wain should creak beneath the sheaves. So, brethren, when God gives us things which are pure, lovely, and of good report, as the work of the Holy Spirit, these are to us the prognostics of the coming glory. The firstfruits were always holy to the Lord, and our new nature, with all its powers, is a consecrated thing. The new life is not ours that we should ascribe its excellence to our own merit; it is Christ’s image and creation, and is ordained for his glory. But the firstfruits were not the harvest, and the works of the Spirit in us at this moment are not the consummation–the perfection is yet to come. We must not boast that we have attained, and so reckon the wave-sheaf to be all the produce of the year: we must hunger and thirst after righteousness, and pant for the day of full redemption. Dear reader, this evening open your mouth wide, and God will fill it. Let the boon in present possession excite in you a sacred avarice for more grace. Groan within yourself for higher degrees of consecration, and your Lord will grant them to you, for he is able to do exceeding abundantly above what we ask or even think.

God Helps You Conquer Life

 

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The Evidence of the New Birth

From: GetMoreStrength

The answer to Nicodemus’ question, “How can a man be born when he is old?” is: Only when he is willing to die to everything in his life, including his rights, his virtues, and his religion, and becomes willing to receive into himself a new life that he has never before experienced (John 3:4). This new life exhibits itself in our conscious repentance and through our unconscious holiness.

But as many as received Him. . .” (John 1:12). Is my knowledge of Jesus the result of my own internal spiritual perception, or is it only what I have learned through listening to others? Is there something in my life that unites me with the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior? My spiritual history must have as its underlying foundation a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. To be born again means that I see Jesus.

“. . . unless one is born againhe cannot see the kingdom of God ” (John 3:3). Am I seeking only for the evidence of God’s kingdom, or am I actually recognizing His absolute sovereign control? The new birth gives me a new power of vision by which I begin to discern God’s control. His sovereignty was there all the time, but with God being true to His nature, I could not see it until I received His very nature myself.

Whoever has been born of God does not sin. . .” (1 John 3:9). Am I seeking to stop sinning or have I actually stopped? To be born of God means that I have His supernatural power to stop sinning. The Bible never asks, “Should a Christian sin?” The Bible emphatically states that a Christian must not sin. The work of the new birth is being effective in us when we do not commit sin. It is not merely that we have the power not to sin, but that we have actually stopped sinning. Yet 1 John 3:9 does not mean that we cannot sin— it simply means that if we will obey the life of God in us, that wedo not have to sin.

AUGUST 15, 2014

From: Crosswalk.com

My Hidden Tattoos
LEAH DIPASCAL

” … the LORD’s declaration. ‘I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.'” Jeremiah 31:33b (HCSB)

I didn’t mean to stare, but I couldn’t help it.

After exchanging a quick smile, she continued placing grocery bags into her cart, while my eyes glanced back at her arms.

Tattoos covered every inch of skin from her tiny shoulders to her delicate wrists.

Images of hearts, religious symbols, quotes and names of those I imagined she loved over the years. Woven together in a tapestry of flesh and ink.

Some of the designs had faded with time, while others popped with fresh, bold colors. Forever inscribed with permanent ink from a tattoo machine.

It was obvious she had a passion for art … and a relationship with a trusted tattoo artist.

If I ever wanted to get a tattoo, how could I possibly decide on one design? I thought to myself.

As she gathered her things and left the store, I wondered about the sting of the tattoo gun and how it must have hurt.

Lord, if I chose to go through the pain, where should my special tattoo be placed?

To my surprise, today’s key verse from Jeremiah immediately came to mind:

“I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.”

As a grin emerged from my soul, I whispered to Him, Thank You, Lord, as I pictured my heart covered with colorful tattoos.

Inscribed Scriptures placed ever so carefully with great detail. Engraved instructions written by the holy finger of my Heavenly Father.

Some had faded over the years. Weathered by life’s trials.

Others were stained with bold, fresh colors. Some were recently tattooed as I had claimed new promises.

It was a fresh perspective right there in the grocery checkout line! Something totally unexpected, but wonderful at the same time. A teachable moment. His heart connecting with mine.

Originally, God’s teachings were written on tablets of stone (Exodus 31:18) and scrolls made from parchment or papyrus (Jeremiah 36:2). This was established under the old covenant.

But as believers under the new covenant, God has chosen to place His Word on our hearts, at the very center of our being, making it familiar and readily available to us. He carefully positions His promises over our hearts to protect our emotions, desires and perceptions of ourselves and others.

As life moves on and years go by, I long for the Master Artist to continue etching His Word on my heart until every inch is covered. Inside and out. I hope you do, too.

Although these special tattoos aren’t visible for everyone to see, I know they are there and that’s what is most important to me.

I can’t wait to see my tattooed heart when I get to heaven one day. As I kneel before God and if I dare to ask, “Lord, do You have a tattoo?” I won’t be surprised if He reaches out, and there in the palm of His hand, my name beautifully inscribed for all of eternity. A tattoo, of sorts, that will never fade away or be removed.

“Can a mother forget her little child and not have love for her own son? Yet even if that should be, I will not forget you. See, I have tattooed your name upon my palm.” (Isaiah 49:15b-16, TLB)

Lord, Thank You for placing Your Word on my heart so that it’s always available to me. When life is difficult and nothing seems to go right, help me remember You are near and Your promises are true. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Adorn yourself in True Treasures!

Friday, May 30, 2014 (4:19 pm)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Revelation 16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

The king of the birds was looking in the mirror one day and was disappointed to see that his feathers were not as bright as they were once. “I am getting old,” he said, “I think it will soon be time to choose a new king”. He decided to announce that on a certain day, all the birds will gather and present themselves before him so that he would be able choose from among them the most beautiful of all to be their next king. The crow got wind of the king’s plans and began to fret. “There are so many beautiful birds in the kingdom and I am only a colorless crow. I don’t have a chance at becoming king.” Suddenly, he had a terrific idea. He began to search through the woods and fields for colorful feathers fallen from the wings of his companions, and stuck them in amongst his own.

When the appointed day arrived and all the birds had assembled before the king, the crow also made his appearance in his array of fine found feathers. When the aging king spotted the crow and all the beauty of his plumage, he immediately chose him to be king. As the crow pranced down the isle with pride to accept his crown, the birds began angrily plucking out their feathers from between his, leaving the crow nothing but an old black crow.

Too often, we try to “improve our worth” by adorning our selves in “pretty” things. Fine clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, friends, money, power, fame among others, top the list. But there is really only one way to improve our appearance. Putting our faith in the Lord and walking wholeheartedly with Him. Despite what the world around us thinks, only He can improve our fallen condition and our search for happiness.

Those feathers we find aren’t going to fool anyone — especially our King. Let’s come to God as we are today and ask Him to adorn us with the treasures he desires, peace, patience, love, joy and all the fruits of the Spirit.

 

Look to the Lord of Blessing!

Monday, September 23, 2013 (6:10 am)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Luke 5:3-11 Then He entered into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, nevertheless at Your word I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught such a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Yeshua’s (Jesus’) feet, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” For he was astonished, and all that were with him, because of the catch of the fish which they had taken, And so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Yeshua (Jesus) said to Simon, “Fear not, from now on you will catch men.” So when they brought their ships to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

Sukkot is a festival about rejoicing in the blessings that God has provided, but let’s be sure our focus is on the Lord of blessing – instead of the blessings!

We read in Luke that Yeshua (Jesus) told His disciples to go into the deep waters and let down their nets for fish. When they did, their nets were filled up with fish to the point of breaking. Being fishermen and businessmen, they may have been tempted to start doing business. I mean, think how much they could make!

But God had a different purpose. The disciples’ occupation as fishermen was just a vehicle for God to demonstrate His great power and love. He wasn’t blessing them with fish so that they would get excited about fishing — He was blessing them with fish so that they could get their eyes off their fishing and on to the greater call He had for them! Thankfully, they left the fishing business and went off with the Lord to do great and mighty things.

Let’s make sure we’re not getting up wrapped up in fish! We seek the Lord for His blessings, prosperity, and success. But true discipleship is focusing not on the blessings of the Lord, but on the Lord of the blessings!

We can rejoice in our blessings this Sukkot season, but let’s not dwell on them! Let’s set our eyes on the Lord and the calling He has for us. When He sees that we have pure and willing hearts, He will be faithful to use us to accomplish His glorious plan!

Remember His Sufferings!

Monday, June 10, 2013 (11:25 am)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

John 12:36-38 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them. But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

The apostle John quotes Isaiah 53:1, saying to whom has the z’roah [arm] of the Lord been revealed? It’s a question that God answers throughout the rest of Isaiah 53, describing in detail the life of Yeshua (Jesus) and the ultimate price He would pay for the sins of the world.

The word translated, “revealed” (in Hebrew: “galah”) actually has a more negative connotation. One of its meanings is “to be stripped naked in a disgraceful way”. It also means “to be treated like a captive”, and “to be carried away into exile”, or, “to be shamelessly uncovered”. So the Lord is not simply revealed, but stripped, humiliated, and deeply degraded in order to save us. The cost He paid was terrible.

It’s never easy for us to remember this or to think much about it, since it’s hard enough to imagine an innocent human being suffering so much; but then to realize that I had some part in it… Yet, we should remember; because the reality of the Lord’s cross belongs to us in every way, and we may yet be called to endure our own share of suffering with Him and for Him. Remembering His sufferings will prepare us for whatever may lie ahead.

Remember the Lord’s sufferings. It will keep you spiritually honest, and prepare you for your own small share in them — His memory will also draw out your love and gratitude, and keep your heart tender toward Him and everyone else.

Stay Busy For God

The Parable Of The Sting

I can still see Jay Elliott’s shocked face as I burst through his front door almost 50 years ago with a “gang” of bees swirling around me. As I raced out his back door, I realized the bees were gone. Well, sort of—I’d left them in Jay’s house! Moments later, he came racing out his back door—chased by the bees I had brought to him. I had more than a dozen stings, with little effect. Jay had a different experience. Though he’d been stung only once or twice by “my” bees, his eyes and throat swelled up in a painful allergic reaction. My actions had caused a lot of pain for my friend. That’s a picture of what’s true in our interpersonal relationships too. We hurt others when our actions aren’t Christlike. Even after an apology, the “sting” sticks. People would be right to expect an absence of harshness and an air of patience from those who follow Christ. We forget sometimes that people struggling with faith, or life, or both, watch Christians with expectation. They hope to see less anger and more mercy, less judgment and more compassion, less criticism and more encouragement. Jesus and Peter told us to live good lives so God is given the glory (Matt. 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12). May our actions and reactions point those around us to our loving Father.
We have found that it’s easy to hurt others with our words or actions. Teach us, Father, to pause and to think before we speak or act. Fill us with kindness and care.
May others see less of me and more of Jesus.

Insight

Peter wrote to Christians who were going through fiery trials of intense persecution (1 Peter 1:6; 4:12). He encouraged these believers to persevere, to remain faithful, and to view these difficult times as opportunities to strengthen their faith and bear witness to Christ. In today’s passage, Peter reminded them of their special identity and spiritual status as God’s chosen people (vv.9-10). “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” are descriptions applied to the Jews in the Old Testament (Ex. 19:5-6; Isa. 43:20-21), but here Peter applies them to believers. He reminds them—and us—that we are chosen by God for the purpose of witnessing and testifying to God’s love (vv.9-10).

Speak a Word of Encouragement in Due Season!

Friday, May 4, 2012 (7:56 am)
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. William Wilberforce led a campaign against the British Parliament to abolish slavery in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. During the course of his intense efforts, Wilberforce came to a desperate place of discouragement, feeling he had absolutely no more strength to continue. In this condition he was about to give up, when his elderly friend, John Wesley, lying on his deathbed, was informed of his friend William’s distress. Wesley requested pen and paper, and with a quivering hand, wrote these words, “Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God? Oh be not weary of well-doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery shall vanish away before it.” John Wesley died six days later, but William Wilberforce fought for forty-five more years, and in 1833, three days before his own death, witnessed the abolition of slavery in Britain. Do not grow weary in well-doing, for we can still triumph! It’s exactly when everything looks hopeless that our God has opportunity to display His awesome power. Even the great men that changed history needed a word of encouragement now and then – so be encouraged, and be an encourager! You never know when you may enable another saint to continue pressing on, or how that may change the world!

Press through the Swamps!

Thursday, March 13, 2014 (11:58 am)
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Psalms 107:2-6 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
In his book, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan has written one of the most beautiful allegories about the journey we all travel as a believers.  The book describes the hero, Christian, and his journey from the City of Destruction to his heavenly destination, the Celestial City. Now there’s one part of Pilgrim’s Progress that I want to focus on today — walking through the Swamp of Despondency! At one point during their travels, Christian and his companion suddenly find themselves there….in the Swamp of Despondency. Still bearing his burden, Christian, begins to sink in the mire.  His traveling companion manages to get out, but he returns to the City of Destruction without giving aid to Christian.  Christian is left all alone and sinking even deeper in the mire, until Help, the allegorical figure for the Holy Spirit, pulls him free from the swamp. Christian then asks Help why this dangerous plot of land has not been mended so that poor travelers might go safely to the Celestial City. Help replies, “This miry slough is such a place that cannot be mended.” How true it is in real life!  As hard as we try to avoid them, whether young in the Lord, or spiritually mature…swamps of despondency seem inevitable, and we must struggle through them! Charles Spurgeon once wrote to his students in the book, “Lectures to my Students”, “Fits of depression come over most of us.  Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down.  The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.  There may be here and there men of iron…but surely the rust frets even these.” There are times in our lives when we will struggle through the swamps of despondency — but praise God that He has provided us a helper for those times of need!  We need to press through, seeking and trusting the power of the Holy Spirit to pull us out of those nasty swamps, and set our feet back upon the Rock of our salvation.  Let’s also look around us to see our brethren who may be struggling in the swamps of despondency, so that, rather than abandoning them, we might give them a hand on their journey to the celestial city!

Joash Did What Was Right

August 14

From: Through the Bible 2 Chronicles 24:2,5-6 (NIV) 2Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years of Jehoiada the priest… 5He called together the priests and Levites and said to them, “Go to the towns of Judah and collect the money due annually from all Israel, to repair the temple of your God. Do it now.” But the Levites did not act at once. 6Therefore the king summoned Jehoiada the chief priest and said to him, “Why haven’t you required the Levites to bring in from Judah and Jerusalem the tax imposed by Moses the servant of the LORD and by the assembly of Israel for the Tent of the Testimony?”

It was really Jehoiada’s love for God and faith in His promises that motivated him to risk his life to see that the throne was restored to the lineage of David. Being Joash’s surrogate father, he had a great deal of influence on the king. Our passage today indicates that his influence kept Joash obedient to God as long as Jehoiada lived.

Joash, was probably a young teen when he ordered the collection of the temple tax. He wanted the temple repaired. Former Queen Athaliah had robbed the temple for the temple of Baal. When the priests were slow to obey the command, he called Jehoiada and asked him why he wasn’t seeing that the Word of God was being lived up to. Now it is Jehoiada’s turn to reap what he had sowed. He sowed the word into Joash’s life and now Joash was requiring him to act on that word. For those who love the Lord, a challenge to obey is not a trial to bear. It is a blessing.

Sometimes the ones we mentor can turn around and mentor us in areas we are blind to, or making excuses for. What better evidence could we have that our work in the LORD is being blessed and taking hold? Proverbs 12:1 tells us the man who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 13:8 says the one who heeds it is honored.

Consider: Do you welcome the correction of others, even when they are someone you have taught?

Evening

August 14

Romans 8:9-11 (NIV) 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

The Apostle saw things in black and white. He declared that every man and woman is controlled by the sinful nature or by the Spirit. The Spirit of God cannot live in someone without controlling him or her. Most Christians seem to think that the Spirit lives in them but they are often controlled by their sinful nature. That isn’t the teaching we find here.

Paul is telling us that if the Spirit of God lives in us, that old nature is dead to us, and our spirit is alive because of the righteousness of Christ. In 6:11 he encouraged us to consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God. Yet, most Christians consider themselves alive to sin and barely alive to God. We have compromised the Word and the power of the resurrection. It is not that we must insist that we have become sinless, but that we must recognize the power of the resurrection to break the control of sin and replace it with the control of the Spirit.

Because of this common misconception, we tend to read verse 11 as something that will happen when we are physically resurrected one day off in the future. He is speaking of this very moment. The power of the Spirit that raised Jesus is at work in you, this very moment, to give life. Throughout the New Testament, death is walking in sin, and life is being in the Spirit of God. This physical house of our bodies can be made alive to obey the Spirit of Life, the Spirit of Christ, who indwells us. If Christ lives in you, consider yourself awakened to life, empowered to walk in holiness, and controlled by the Spirit of God.

Remember: Know that you are enabled by the power that raised Jesus to walk in newness of life.

Sailing Toward God or Away?

 

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sailing : A fully crewed racing yacht racing hard and leaving a big wakesailing : Yacht sail against sun light  Holiday lifestyle on yacht during the sea sunset  Stock Photo

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sailing : Close up on the bow of a classic sailboat breaking through a wave

Drifting Away

From: Get More Strength

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” Genesis 3:1

On a recent vacation, Tom was casually bobbing around on a raft just offshore. He closed his eyes, basking in the warm sun. Before he realized it, he had drifted too far from shore. He hopped off the raft to get back to the security of the sand, but the water was now over his head. He didn’t know how to swim.

The drift of our lives away from God is just as subtle. And just as dangerous. We drift one thought at a time, one small choice at a time, and often one damaging doubt at a time. In fact, our adversary is delighted to help our rafts drift from the protection and presence of God by casting doubt on God’s goodness to us. If you sense that your life has been set adrift—that God is not as close and precious as He used to be—then you may have just been in the riptide of an old trick of the enemy of your soul. The same trick he used to sever Eve’s heart from the joy of her relationship with her Creator.

Satan’s opening volley was not a blistering attack on God; it was a simply a question that he wanted Eve to think about. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1). Actually, God had said that she could eat of every tree but one. But Satan twisted the facts to suit his purposes and to lead Eve’s mind to the conclusion that God was not the generous God she had known Him to be, but rather a stingy, restrictive, joy killer. Once she had let her heart drift to the wrong conclusion, it was easy for her to believe Satan’s lie that God just wanted to keep her from being as knowledgeable as He is and that the threat of them dying was just God’s way of scaring them into compliance with His stingy ways.

Satan still sets us adrift by planting doubt about God’s Word and spinning the facts to his own evil advantage.

Once we begin to suspect God instead of trusting Him, we inevitably drift away from Him. So, beware! Your life is full of scenarios where Satan can put his deceitful twist on your experiences. He is the spin-doctor of hell, and as Jesus said, “When [Satan] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

With that in mind, keep a lookout for some of Satan’s favorite spins:

  • Lie #1: God is to blame for the evil that Satan has inflicted on our lives.
  • Lie #2: God has not rewarded me for being good. I’ve been used, not blessed!
  • Lie #3: God’s rules are restrictive and oppressive. He just wants to take the fun out of my life.
  • Lie #4: God is good to others but not to me. He must not love me!

And there are many other lies, all custom-made for your head and heart. If you believe them, you have begun to drift away from the safe shores of God’s love and protecting provision. You’ll soon discover that you are adrift in the middle of nowhere, bobbing dangerously over your head. And count on it, as Eve was soon to learn, Satan won’t stay around to make you happy and fulfilled. He’ll be slithering off to more interesting company, leaving you in the deep waters of shame and regret.

God gives rain upon the Earth

From: Streams in the Desert

If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth (Ecclesiastes 11:3).

Why, then, do we dread the clouds which now darken our sky? True, for a while they hide the sun, but the sun is not quenched; he will be out again before long. Meanwhile those black clouds are filled with rain; and the blacker they are, the more likely they will yield plentiful showers.

How can we have rain without clouds? Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will. They are the dark chariots of bright grace. These clouds will empty themselves before long, and every tender herb will be gladder for the shower. Our God may drench us with grief, but He will refresh us with mercy. Our Lord’s love-letters often come to us in black-edged envelopes. His wagons rumble, but they are loaded with benefits. His rod blossoms with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. Let us not worry about the clouds, but sing because May flowers are brought to us through the April clouds and showers.

O Lord, the clouds are the dust of Thy feet! How near Thou art in the cloudy and dark day! Love beholds Thee, and is glad. Faith sees the clouds emptying themselves and making the little hills rejoice on every side.
–C H. Spurgeon

What seems so dark to thy dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright
Making some brightness doubly bright.
The flash that struck thy tree–no more
To shelter thee–lets heaven’s blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.
The cry wrung from thy spirit’s pain
May echo on some far-off plain,
And guide a wanderer home again.

“The blue of heaven is larger than the clouds.”

 

 

Man-Centered Christianity

Biblegateway from AW Tozer

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all.—1 Chronicles 29:11

Christianity today is man-centered, not God-centered. God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men. The image of God currently popular is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heartbroken desperation to get people to accept a Saviour of whom they feel no need and in whom they have very little interest. To persuade these self-sufficient souls to respond to His generous offers God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking down to them in the chummiest way imaginable. This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarrassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show. Man: The Dwelling Place of God, p. 27

“Lord, take me to my knees this morning in worship. Then let me go to share with the world, or at least with anyone with whom I might have meaningful contact, a great and majestic God Who deserves their worship. Amen.”

Reprinted from Tozer on Christian Leadership by A.W. Tozer, copyright © 2001 by Zur Ltd. Used by permission of WingSpread Publishers, a division of Zur Ltd.

Tozer on Christian Leadership is protected by copyright and may not be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, translated, transmitted or distributed in any way.

Tozer on Christian Leadership was compiled by Ron Eggert.

 

“The cedars of Lebanon which he hath planted.”

Charles Spurgeon

Biblegateway
Psalm 104:16

Lebanon’s cedars are emblematic of the Christian, in that they owe their planting entirely to the Lord. This is quite true of every child of God. He is not man-planted, nor self-planted, but God-planted. The mysterious hand of the divine Spirit dropped the living seed into a heart which he had himself prepared for its reception. Every true heir of heaven owns the great Husbandman as his planter. Moreover, the cedars of Lebanon are not dependent upon man for their watering; they stand on the lofty rock, unmoistened by human irrigation; and yet our heavenly Father supplieth them. Thus it is with the Christian who has learned to live by faith. He is independent of man, even in temporal things; for his continued maintenance he looks to the Lord his God, and to him alone. The dew of heaven is his portion, and the God of heaven is his fountain. Again, the cedars of Lebanon are not protected by any mortal power. They owe nothing to man for their preservation from stormy wind and tempest. They are God’s trees, kept and preserved by him, and by him alone. It is precisely the same with the Christian. He is not a hot-house plant, sheltered from temptation; he stands in the most exposed position; he has no shelter, no protection, except this, that the broad wings of the eternal God always cover the cedars which he himself has planted. Like cedars, believers are full of sap, having vitality enough to be ever green, even amid winter’s snows. Lastly, the flourishing and majestic condition of the cedar is to the praise of God only. The Lord, even the Lord alone hath been everything unto the cedars, and, therefore David very sweetly puts it in one of the psalms, “Praise ye the Lord, fruitful trees and all cedars.” In the believer there is nothing that can magnify man; he is planted, nourished, and protected by the Lord’s own hand, and to him let all the glory be ascribed.

Evening

“And I will remember my covenant.”
Genesis 9:15

Mark the form of the promise. God does not say, “And when ye shall look upon the bow, and ye shall remember my covenant, then I will not destroy the earth,” but it is gloriously put, not upon our memory, which is fickle and frail, but upon God’s memory, which is infinite and immutable. “The bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant.” Oh! it is not my remembering God, it is God’s remembering me which is the ground of my safety; it is not my laying hold of his covenant, but his covenant’s laying hold on me. Glory be to God! the whole of the bulwarks of salvation are secured by divine power, and even the minor towers, which we may imagine might have been left to man, are guarded by almighty strength. Even the remembrance of the covenant is not left to our memories, for we might forget, but our Lord cannot forget the saints whom he has graven on the palms of his hands. It is with us as with Israel in Egypt; the blood was upon the lintel and the two side-posts, but the Lord did not say, “When you see the blood I will pass over you,” but “When I see the blood I will pass over you.” My looking to Jesus brings me joy and peace, but it is God’s looking to Jesus which secures my salvation and that of all his elect, since it is impossible for our God to look at Christ, our bleeding Surety, and then to be angry with us for sins already punished in him. No, it is not left with us even to be saved by remembering the covenant. There is no linsey-wolsey here–not a single thread of the creature mars the fabric. It is not of man, neither by man, but of the Lord alone. We should remember the covenant, and we shall do it, through divine grace; but the hinge of our safety does not hang there–it is God’s remembering us, not our remembering him; and hence the covenant is an everlasting covenant.

Be Happy In The Lord

joyful : Birthday cupcakes isolated Happy Birthday birthday card    Illustrationjoyful : Christmas concept with red shoes and white chalk Stock Photo
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joyful : colored Happy Birthday balloons in the skyjoyful : Beautiful portrait of a happy couple – isolated over white
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This Experience Must Come

From: My Utmost for His Highest

It is not wrong for you to depend on your “Elijah” for as long as God gives him to you. But remember that the time will come when he must leave and will no longer be your guide and your leader, because God does not intend for him to stay. Even the thought of that causes you to say, “I cannot continue without my ’Elijah.’ ” Yet God says you must continue.

Alone at Your “Jordan” (2 Kings 2:14). The Jordan River represents the type of separation where you have no fellowship with anyone else, and where no one else can take your responsibility from you. You now have to put to the test what you learned when you were with your “Elijah.” You have been to the Jordan over and over again with Elijah, but now you are facing it alone. There is no use in saying that you cannot go— the experience is here, and you must go. If you truly want to know whether or not God is the God your faith believes Him to be, then go through your “Jordan” alone.

Alone at Your “Jericho” (2 Kings 2:15). Jericho represents the place where you have seen your “Elijah” do great things. Yet when you come alone to your “Jericho,” you have a strong reluctance to take the initiative and trust in God, wanting, instead, for someone else to take it for you. But if you remain true to what you learned while with your “Elijah,” you will receive a sign, as Elisha did, that God is with you.

Alone at Your “Bethel” (2 Kings 2:23). At your “Bethel” you will find yourself at your wits’ end but at the beginning of God’s wisdom. When you come to your wits’ end and feel inclined to panic— don’t! Stand true to God and He will bring out His truth in a way that will make your life an expression of worship. Put into practice what you learned while with your “Elijah”— use his mantle and pray (see 2 Kings 2:13-14). Make a determination to trust in God, and do not even look for Elijah anymore.

 

Streams in the Desert

The Fig Tree

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

Observe, I entreat you, how calamitous a circumstance is here supposed, and how heroic a faith is expressed. It is really as if he said, “Though I should be reduced to so great extremity as not to know where to find my necessary food, though I should look around about me on an empty house and a desolate field, and see the marks of the Divine scourge where I had once seen the fruits of God’s bounty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.”

Methinks these words are worthy of being written as with a diamond on a rock forever. Oh, that by Divine grace they might be deeply engraven on each of our hearts! Concise as the form of speaking in the text is, it evidently implies or expresses the following particulars: That in the day of his distress he would fly to God; that he would maintain a holy composure of spirit under this dark dispensation, nay, that in the midst of all he would indulge in a sacred joy in God, and a cheerful expectation from Him.

Heroic confidence! Illustrious faith! Unconquerable love!
–Doddridge

Last night I heard a robin singing in the rain,
And the raindrop’s patter made a sweet refrain,
Making all the sweeter the music of the strain.
So, I thought, when trouble comes, as trouble will,
Why should I stop singing? Just beyond the hill
It may be that sunshine floods the green world still.
He who faces the trouble with a heart of cheer
Makes the burden lighter. If there falls a tear,
Sweeter is the cadence in the song we hear.
I have learned your lesson, bird with dappled wing,
Listening to your music with its lilt of spring

When the storm-cloud darkens, then’s the TIME to sing.
–Eben E. Rexford

 

Jehoshaphat Inquired of The Lord

From: Through the Bible

August 11

2 Chronicles 20:2-4 (NIV) 2Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.

In spite of Jehoshaphat’s lack of discernment, he knew what to do in time of trouble. This is a model chapter in how to face difficulty in our lives. Instead of running to his generals, he ran to the LORD. He resolved to inquire of the LORD. When we are alarmed, we will run to where our trust is placed. He proclaimed a fast. The people of the nation came together to seek God. From every town they came to seek Him.

We need to learn a lesson from this. We often put our heads together to come up with a solution. We are great at running to friends to ask for advice, like Rehoboam did. We even grab a book like, “How to Deal with Troubled Teens”. What we need to do is be resolved to inquire of the LORD. When we do, those under our influence will also. Jehoshaphat’s good example led the nation down the only path that would save them. Believe it or not, America has had a nationally declared day of prayer and fasting in its history, too.

Once they decided they would wait upon God, He spoke to them! First, Jehoshaphat led them in a prayer in which he laid the situation before God. He declared that power belonged to God. He confessed their weakness and ignorance and that their eyes were upon God. Then they stood before the LORD with their wives and children and waited. What an example for us today! We need to learn to wait on the Lord. God spoke through Jahaziel. God said the battle was His, and He gave them their marching orders.

Prayer: Lord God, help us to learn to turn to You first, recognize our need, and wait until we get Your answer.

Evening

August 11

Romans 6:11-13 (NIV) 11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

When our Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross, He died for sin once and for all. His resurrected life did not carry the sin that was laid on him. That sin was dealt with in His death. The Apostle is telling us to identify with Jesus’ death. If our sins were dealt with there in His death, we are raised with Him to new life. This new life does not carry the sin that the old life bore. Instead, it carries the life of God in Christ Jesus. We were once alive to sin, mastered and manipulated by it. Now we are alive to God.

The power that sin reigned over us has been dealt with. We do not have to let it rule us any longer. Now we are free to offer our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness. Before the cross came into our life, we could have offered our bodies to righteousness, but we did not have the power to break the control of sin. Now that it is broken, we must offer ourselves to our new Master. Sin controlled us to bring death. Jesus masters us to bring life.

Once we offered our mouths for vile speech, our ears to hear gossip, our eyes to lust, and our mind to self-seeking. Now we can offer our mouths for instruments of praise and proclamation of the truth. We can offer our ears to the Spirit to hear His direction. We offer our minds to dwell upon the beauty of the Lord, His marvelous attributes. Have you taken the time to consciously go before the Lord in prayer and dedicate the parts of your body as instruments of righteousness? I would encourage you to do it now. As you do, the Spirit of God may remind you of His grief over the use of some of your members that should be given to life and not to death. Dedicate them to Him alone right now. He went to the cross and conquered death that you might do so.

Prayer: Lord, use my body for Your glory. Keep my thoughts pure and holy. Use my arms to serve the needy, my feet to take me where You send me, my ears to hear your Word, my eyes to see the need around me, and my mouth to tell others of Your love.

Worship God Who Loves You

 

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Holy, Holy, Holy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity! —Heber
A heart in tune with God can’t help but sing His praise.

 

 

The Holy Suffering of the Saint

From: My Utmost for HIs Highest

Choosing to suffer means that there must be something wrong with you, but choosing God’s will— even if it means you will suffer— is something very different. No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God’s will, just as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. And no saint should ever dare to interfere with the lesson of suffering being taught in another saint’s life.

The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God. But the people used to strengthen us are never those who sympathize with us; in fact, we are hindered by those who give us their sympathy, because sympathy only serves to weaken us. No one better understands a saint than the saint who is as close and as intimate with Jesus as possible. If we accept the sympathy of another saint, our spontaneous feeling is, “God is dealing too harshly with me and making my life too difficult.” That is why Jesus said that self-pity was of the devil (see Matthew 16:21-23). We must be merciful to God’s reputation. It is easy for us to tarnish God’s character because He never argues back; He never tries to defend or vindicate Himself. Beware of thinking that Jesus needed sympathy during His life on earth. He refused the sympathy of people because in His great wisdom He knew that no one on earth understood His purpose (see Matthew 16:23). He accepted only the sympathy of His Father and the angels (see Luke 15:10).

Look at God’s incredible waste of His saints, according to the world’s judgment. God seems to plant His saints in the most useless places. And then we say, “God intends for me to be here because I am so useful to Him.” Yet Jesus never measured His life by how or where He was of the greatest use. God places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him, and we are totally incapable of judging where that may be.

 

“Christ, who is our life.”

From: Bible Gateway
Colossians 3:4

Paul’s marvellously rich expression indicates, that Christ is the source of our life. “You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” That same voice which brought Lazarus out of the tomb raised us to newness of life. He is now the substance of our spiritual life. It is by his life that we live; he is in us, the hope of glory, the spring of our actions, the central thought which moves every other thought. Christ is the sustenance of our life. What can the Christian feed upon but Jesus’ flesh and blood? “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.” O wayworn pilgrims in this wilderness of sin, you never get a morsel to satisfy the hunger of your spirits, except ye find it in him! Christ is the solace of our life. All our true joys come from him; and in times of trouble, his presence is our consolation. There is nothing worth living for but him; and his lovingkindness is better than life! Christ is the object of our life. As speeds the ship towards the port, so hastes the believer towards the haven of his Saviour’s bosom. As flies the arrow to its goal, so flies the Christian towards the perfecting of his fellowship with Christ Jesus. As the soldier fights for his captain, and is crowned in his captain’s victory, so the believer contends for Christ, and gets his triumph out of the triumphs of his Master. “For him to live is Christ.” Christ is the exemplar of our life. Where there is the same life within, there will, there must be, to a great extent, the same developments without; and if we live in near fellowship with the Lord Jesus we shall grow like him. We shall set him before us as our Divine copy, and we shall seek to tread in his footsteps, until he shall become the crown of our life in glory. Oh! how safe, how honoured, how happy is the Christian, since Christ is our life!

“The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.”
Matthew 9:6

Behold one of the great Physician’s mightiest arts: he has power to forgive sin! While here he lived below, before the ransom had been paid, before the blood had been literally sprinkled on the mercy-seat, he had power to forgive sin. Hath he not power to do it now that he hath died? What power must dwell in him who to the utmost farthing has faithfully discharged the debts of his people! He has boundless power now that he has finished transgression and made an end of sin. If ye doubt it, see him rising from the dead! behold him in ascending splendour raised to the right hand of God! Hear him pleading before the eternal Father, pointing to his wounds, urging the merit of his sacred passion! What power to forgive is here! “He hath ascended on high, and received gifts for men.” “He is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins.” The most crimson sins are removed by the crimson of his blood. At this moment, dear reader, whatever thy sinfulness, Christ has power to pardon, power to pardon thee, and millions such as thou art. A word will speak it. He has nothing more to do to win thy pardon; all the atoning work is done. He can, in answer to thy tears, forgive thy sins today, and make thee know it. He can breathe into thy soul at this very moment a peace with God which passeth all understanding, which shall spring from perfect remission of thy manifold iniquities. Dost thou believe that? I trust thou believest it. Mayst thou experience now the power of Jesus to forgive sin! Waste no time in applying to the Physician of souls, but hasten to him with words like these:–

“Jesus! Master! hear my cry;

Save me, heal me with a word;

Fainting at thy feet I lie,

Thou my whisper’d plaint hast heard.”

Judge Not And Be Not Judged

 

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Prayer in the Father’s Hearing

From: My Utmost for HIs Highest

When the Son of God prays, He is mindful and consciously aware of only His Father. God always hears the prayers of His Son, and if the Son of God has been formed in me (see Galatians 4:19) the Father will always hear my prayers. But I must see to it that the Son of God is exhibited in my human flesh. “. . . your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit . . . ” (1 Corinthians 6:19), that is, your body is the Bethlehem of God’s Son. Is the Son of God being given His opportunity to work in me? Is the direct simplicity of His life being worked out in me exactly as it was worked out in His life while here on earth? When I come into contact with the everyday occurrences of life as an ordinary human being, is the prayer of God’s eternal Son to His Father being prayed in me? Jesus says, “In that day you will ask in My name . . .” (John 16:26). What day does He mean? He is referring to the day when the Holy Spirit has come to me and made me one with my Lord.

Is the Lord Jesus Christ being abundantly satisfied by your life, or are you exhibiting a walk of spiritual pride before Him? Never let your common sense become so prominent and forceful that it pushes the Son of God to one side. Common sense is a gift that God gave to our human nature— but common sense is not the gift of His Son. Supernatural sense is the gift of His Son, and we should never put our common sense on the throne. The Son always recognizes and identifies with the Father, but common sense has never yet done so and never will. Our ordinary abilities will never worship God unless they are transformed by the indwelling Son of God. We must make sure that our human flesh is kept in perfect submission to Him, allowing Him to work through it moment by moment. Are we living at such a level of human dependence upon Jesus Christ that His life is being exhibited moment by moment in us?

The Pharisee in All of Us

 From: Getmorestrength

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47

I’ll never forget hearing the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir in concert. The sincerity and depth of feeling the singers brought to the music showed that it was more than a mere performance. When they sang “I’m Not Afraid Anymore,” you could tell that many of the singers identified with the experience of living in constant fear before they met Jesus—fear of violence, fear of not having enough money, fear of what might happen to their children, fear of not being able to get the drugs needed to feed their addictions, fear of every tomorrow. As the soloist, Calvin Hunt, sang, the spotlights showed tears flowing down his cheeks. No wonder—Calvin spent years as a crack cocaine addict on the streets of Brooklyn before being transformed by the life-saving power of the gospel. That’s why he could sing with such passion; each word of the song flowed from the heart of one who had been forgiven much.

It reminds me of the woman who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet. The drama unfolds for us in Luke 7:36-50, when she crashed the dinner party at Simon the Pharisee’s home. She knew that Jesus was there. This was her chance to express adoring worship to her Savior. He was worth the risk for her, the town prostitute, to show up uninvited, worth the embarrassment to step from the crowd and approach Him, worth the price of the valuable perfume and the kisses and tears that she poured out at His feet.

But as moving a moment as that was, Simon the Pharisee was not impressed. He was indignant about the “waste” of perfume (Mark 14:4-5) and thought, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). I suppose we shouldn’t expect the proud Simon, in bondage to his unbending tradition, to understand this kind of extravagant, self-effacing worship. But before we come down too hard on him, let’s consider the fact that there might just be a Pharisee in all of us.

Unfortunately, it seems that over time we grow accustomed to what we have been rescued from and what we really deserve. Without a continuing awareness of why grace is so necessary for us, we are lulled into forming an exaggerated perspective of our own worth before God. It’s no wonder, then, that our worship is often lacking the kind of passion that Calvin Hunt and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir display in their love for the Savior.

Jesus, knowing what Simon was thinking, rebuked him for his graceless, self-righteous attitude and for the pride that put his interests above the needs of others. In fact, Simon thought so well of himself that he felt it was too risky to honor Jesus as the guest of honor at his dinner. Yet Jesus commended this town prostitute for her extravagant worship. He told Simon, “I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:44-47).

Let’s take the lesson personally. True ongoing love for Jesus flows from a heart that is gripped by the awareness of how much we have been forgiven. When we grasp both the depth of our sin and the depth of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, then we’ll be looking for ways to join this woman at his feet to extravagantly express our love and gratitude to Him!

Morning

From: Biblegateway

“The city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it.”
Revelation 21:23

Yonder in the better world, the inhabitants are independent of all creature comforts. They have no need of raiment; their white robes never wear out, neither shall they ever be defiled. They need no medicine to heal diseases, “for the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick.” They need no sleep to recruit their frames–they rest not day nor night, but unweariedly praise him in his temple. They need no social relationship to minister comfort, and whatever happiness they may derive from association with their fellows is not essential to their bliss, for their Lord’s society is enough for their largest desires. They need no teachers there; they doubtless commune with one another concerning the things of God, but they do not require this by way of instruction; they shall all be taught of the Lord. Ours are the alms at the king’s gate, but they feast at the table itself. Here we lean upon the friendly arm, but there they lean upon their Beloved and upon him alone. Here we must have the help of our companions, but there they find all they want in Christ Jesus. Here we look to the meat which perisheth, and to the raiment which decays before the moth, but there they find everything in God. We use the bucket to fetch us water from the well, but there they drink from the fountain head, and put their lips down to the living water. Here the angels bring us blessings, but we shall want no messengers from heaven then. They shall need no Gabriels there to bring their love-notes from God, for there they shall see him face to face. Oh! what a blessed time shall that be when we shall have mounted above every second cause and shall rest upon the bare arm of God! What a glorious hour when God, and not his creatures; the Lord, and not his works, shall be our daily joy! Our souls shall then have attained the perfection of bliss.

Evening

“He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”
Mark 16:9

Mary of Magdala was the victim of a fearful evil. She was possessed by not one devil only, but seven. These dreadful inmates caused much pain and pollution to the poor frame in which they had found a lodging. Hers was a hopeless, horrible case. She could not help herself, neither could any human succour avail. But Jesus passed that way, and unsought, and probably even resisted by the poor demoniac, he uttered the word of power, and Mary of Magdala became a trophy of the healing power of Jesus. All the seven demons left her, left her never to return, forcibly ejected by the Lord of all. What a blessed deliverance! What a happy change! From delirium to delight, from despair to peace, from hell to heaven! Straightway she became a constant follower of Jesus, catching his every word, following his devious steps, sharing his toilsome life; and withal she became his generous helper, first among that band of healed and grateful women who ministered unto him of their substance. When Jesus was lifted up in crucifixion, Mary remained the sharer of his shame: we find her first beholding from afar, and then drawing near to the foot of the cross. She could not die on the cross with Jesus, but she stood as near it as she could, and when his blessed body was taken down, she watched to see how and where it was laid. She was the faithful and watchful believer, last at the sepulchre where Jesus slept, first at the grave whence he arose. Her holy fidelity made her a favoured beholder of her beloved Rabboni, who deigned to call her by her name, and to make her his messenger of good news to the trembling disciples and Peter. Thus grace found her a maniac and made her a minister, cast out devils and gave her to behold angels, delivered her from Satan, and united her forever to the Lord Jesus. May I also be such a miracle of grace!

He’s With You Through the Storms

 

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(The storm comes, and the storm goes. God was there for you before the storm. And He is there for you after the storm is gone. God never fails to be with you) .

Prayer in the Father’s Honor

From: My Utmost for HIs Highest

If the Son of God has been born into my human flesh, then am I allowing His holy innocence, simplicity, and oneness with the Father the opportunity to exhibit itself in me? What was true of the Virgin Mary in the history of the Son of God’s birth on earth is true of every saint. God’s Son is born into me through the direct act of God; then I as His child must exercise the right of a child— the right of always being face to face with my Father through prayer. Do I find myself continually saying in amazement to the commonsense part of my life, “Why did you want me to turn here or to go over there? ’Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ ” (Luke 2:49). Whatever our circumstances may be, that holy, innocent, and eternal Child must be in contact with His Father.

Am I simple enough to identify myself with my Lord in this way? Is He having His wonderful way with me? Is God’s will being fulfilled in that His Son has been formed in me (see Galatians 4:19), or have I carefully pushed Him to one side? Oh, the noisy outcry of today! Why does everyone seem to be crying out so loudly? People today are crying out for the Son of God to be put to death. There is no room here for God’s Son right now— no room for quiet, holy fellowship and oneness with the Father.

Is the Son of God praying in me, bringing honor to the Father, or am I dictating my demands to Him? Is He ministering in me as He did in the time of His manhood here on earth? Is God’s Son in me going through His passion, suffering so that His own purposes might be fulfilled? The more a person knows of the inner life of God’s most mature saints, the more he sees what God’s purpose really is: to “. . . fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ . . .” (Colossians 1:24). And when we think of what it takes to “fill up,” there is always something yet to be done.

AUGUST 8, 2014

From; Crosswalk

Finding His Power in the Midst of Our Storms
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)

It was a dark and stormy night. Alone in my writing study, I pounded away on my laptop computer, while the air conditioner hummed in the background, holding the summer heat at bay.

A glance at the clock confirmed the late hour, with many pages yet to be written. After several extensions on my book deadline, the pressure was intense. Like having five college term papers due the same day.

On my calendar I’d circled July 22, the day my family and I would head to Pennsylvania for a reunion my sister had planned for two years. If it meant writing around the clock, I had to finish my manuscript before we left town.

All at once a deafening crack of thunder sounded overhead, and the lights blinked out. After saving my work on the laptop’s hard drive, I located a candle and made the most of my waning battery.

Our power returned the next afternoon, but not for long. A second storm left our old farmhouse in the dark — this time for two days. My editor called to check on my progress. “Not good,” I confessed. “We’ve lost power. Again.”

Although my laptop was portable, my many bookshelves full of resources were not, which ruled out moving to a hotel room or a friend’s kitchen table. When the electricity finally returned, I brushed away tears of relief and fired up my computer.

One week later, a third storm struck.

The blackout was so massive our city made the national news. Five powerless days dragged by. Meals were fast food, showers were cold, and tempers were short. After my husband tracked down an overpriced generator, I had electricity flowing into my laptop. What wasn’t flowing were words or ideas, as my stress mounted.

When July 22 dawned, I still had two dozen chapters to go. Genuine panic set in. My siblings and I hadn’t gathered in one place for nearly a decade. How could I miss my own family reunion? Yet how could I go, when my publishing contract required a completed manuscript — right away, if not sooner?

I didn’t dare phone my editor and ask for more time. Heartsick, I called my sister instead and begged for mercy.

Guilt washed over me as I helped my family pack. My husband promised he would hug all my relatives, especially my understanding sister. But I still felt awful.

With a heavy heart I watched our car disappear down the driveway, then returned to my desk, determined to write nonstop. I’d paid a terrible price for this time, and I wasn’t about to waste it.

My fingers flew over the keys. By nightfall, I’d almost completed another chapter. Then the unthinkable happened: the lights blinked out again.

“Nooo!” I shrieked, fumbling for my cell phone. With trembling hands I called the utility company, only to hear, “Could be an hour, ma’am. Could be tomorrow. Sorry.”

I sank across my desk, tears flowing in earnest. Sorry? I was the sorry one. Sorry I hadn’t started sooner and worked harder. Sorry I’d sent my family off without me. Sorry I’d once again put my work first.

I closed my eyes, afraid of the truth. Are You punishing me, Lord? I didn’t really think He was; blackouts from summer thunderstorms are business as usual in Kentucky. But I still felt the weight of regret. Lord, can You help me? Please?

In the silence of my study, I was unprepared for the sudden whir of the air conditioner and the lights blinking back on.

 

August 8

Through the Bible

2 Chronicles 18:19-21 (NIV) 19And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that.20Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “‘By what means?’ the LORD asked. 21″‘I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’

This passage is troublesome to many. God is not a man that He should lie. What is happening here? Ahab was one of the wickedest kings of Israel. His wife, Jezebel, was the wickedest queen. Jehoshaphat had become the king of Judah and was his ally. Though Jehoshaphat was a godly king, he must not have had much discernment. Many prophets declared that Ahab would win the battle, but Jehoshaphat wanted to hear from a prophet of Jehovah. When he was called, he first told him to go and win the battle. When Ahab pressed him for the truth, he told what he saw in the halls of heaven, today’s passage.

God was asking the angels how to get Ahab to go to his doom in a battle against Ramoth-Gilead. The text suggests the angels made suggestions, but all were declined. Finally one angel said, “I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.” I believe this was a fallen angel. They are always seeking to harm mankind. God’s hand of protection holds them back unless it serves His ultimate purpose in which he allows them freedom to act. We see the same kind of scenario in the beginning of Job.

Ahab had Jehoshaphat wear royal robes while he dressed in normal soldier attire. When the Aramean army went after Jehoshaphat’s chariot, he fled. A stray arrow found the joint in Ahab’s armor and mortally wounded him. You can’t get away from the decrees of God. A fallen angel and a heathen army were used to bring judgment on the murderer, Ahab. Tomorrow we’ll see how God dealt with Jehoshaphat for befriending Ahab.

Consider: Be sure your sin will find you out.

Evening

August 8

Romans 4:19-21 (NIV) 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

The Apostle Paul makes the case that Abraham is the father of all believers, both Jew and Gentile. Since he trusted in the promise of God and was counted as righteous before he received the covenant of circumcision, he is father of those who have not entered into Jewish ritual but still trust in God. His example clearly shows us that it is not by works that we are made right with God, but by believing and trusting in God.

His faith is an example to us all. Even when his body and that of his wife’s were incapable of producing a child, he believed God’s promise that they would have a boy. If God told you that a 100-year-old man and a 90-year-old woman would have a child, would you believe it? Faith believes what cannot be seen or reasoned with the natural mind. Faith pleases God.

What has God promised to you? He has promised all believers that He will transform them into the likeness of His Son. You may look at your thoughts and actions today and think it is impossible, but God has promised. Won’t you be like Abraham who looked beyond the natural and was fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He promised? Once you are fully persuaded, begin to act by faith on the promise.

Consider: Live in the confidence that what He has begun, He will bring to completion. It will keep you from wallowing in your failures.